Monday, January 30, 2017

Kir-Yianni Akakies Xinomavro Rosé 2015, Amyndeon, Greece - $12

This Kir-Yianni Akakies Xinomavro Rosé 2015 is so bright pink in color, had to try it! I've also been searching for this varietal for a few years, since I tried a red Xinomavro at Mulberry.

This is a dry rosé wine. It smells of red berries and finishes very crisply. It almost drinks like a very light Beaujolais or Pinot Noir. I really love it, and it's only $12 a bottle at central market! 

Yummy, and definitely a future purchase!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Château La Cottiere Côtes De Bourg 2010, Bordeaux, France - $14

I purchased this bottle of Château La Cottiere Côtes De Bourg 2010 at Central Market today for 20% off during their Bordeaux celebration. The regular price is $14 a bottle.

It needs to breathe a little bit, but after a few minutes, it's a lovely wine. It is dark and rich with a deep cocoa finish. It went well with the roasted duck and Chinese barbecued pork that we had for dinner tonight. Such an awesome deal!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Domaine Sainte-Eugénie Rosé 2015, Corbières, France - $10

This Domaine Sainte-Eugénie Rosé 2015 is light, dry, and fresh, with a very slightly bitter finish. I like it, especially for the price!

I purchased this wine for $8 a bottle on sale at the Austin Wine Merchant. Its regular price is $10 a bottle. I'm heading back for more before they are sold out!

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2015, South Africa - $13


I purchased this Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2015 for $13 a bottle at Twin Liquors. It was recommended to me by the salesman there. 

I love the color - a lovely pink! It tastes strongly of strawberry with a hint of gunpowder on the nose. I think that someone who would like a Sangiovese or Pinot Noir might like this as well.

I would have to be in the mood to purchase this again.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Stephen Vincent Crimson 2013, California - $10

I purchased this bottle of Stephen Vincent Crimson 2013 for $13 at Costco. It tastes of dark chocolate and finishes dry. Like it!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Tackle Box Local Grub Shack, Corona del Mar, CA - Restaurant Review

What a fun and easy place to eat right on our beloved Corona del Mar Beach. It was established in 2015 by Top Chef alum Brian Huskey.

This "restaurant" is located where the CdM beach snack bar used to be, so there is only counter service and all seating is outdoors. The menu includes salads, quesadillas, burgers, seafood, bahn mi, and falafel, all priced between $9 and $13 (lobster is market price, though). The friendly staff take your order at the window on the right, and in a few minutes you're called to pick up your order at the window on the left.

I scored during Newport Beach Restaurant Week! I got this fabulous meal, which included baby kale salad (one of the best I've ever had - bottom left of photo), fried catfish with lettuce/tomatoes/potato chips (bottom right of photo), and a Jones Ginger Ale for only $10! 

Hubby ordered quesadillas ($9.50 - top right corner of photo). Why would you order quesadillas outside of Texas?

Best of all, this is the view from the outdoor seating at the Tackle Box - heaven!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rosa Dell’Olmo Barolo 2012, Italy - $17

This wonderful Rosa Dell’Olmo Barolo 2012 is lighter than expected, dry, and delightful! Went great with a simple salad of romaine/tomatoes/homemade balsamic vinaigrette, and Trader Joe's Veggie Lasagna ($6 for 3 servings).

I purchased it at Trader Joe's for $17 a bottle. Definitely worth a repeat!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Red Ash Italia - Restaurant Review

Red Ash Italia is a fairly new restaurant in downtown Austin. I've heard such great things about it from my friends that I thought I should try it as soon as possible. On a Tuesday night after teaching class, MU and I met at the restaurant for what we anticipated would be a delightful experience.

Upon entering the restaurant, I checked in at the host's station. While we had reservations, there was still a wait. No problem, as I was still waiting for my friend, but where to wait if not at the bar, which was full? I stood awkwardly near the front door trying to avoid those exiting and entering while I waited for our table to be readied. Not a great first impression.

I did like the interior design of the restaurant. It reminded me a lot of Quality Meats in NYC. There are two levels of seating, and the interior is dark, yet warm. It's quite noisy with the hard floors and open kitchen. However, we were seated near the stairs and the kitchen, and the noise level wasn't too overwhelming - we were still able to carry on a conversation without having to raise our voices too much.

We ordered a bottle of the Coppo L’Avvocata, Barbera d’Asti, 2013 ($40), which was lovely and light enough to go wonderfully with both of our main courses.

To start, we split the Red Ash Caesar Salad (with garlic and anchovy dressing / torn ciabatta croutons / shaved grana - $9). The dressing was bright and very lemony, which we both loved! I would have licked the plate if I could have!

For my main course, I ordered the seafood pasta with lobster tail in a scrumptious tomato sauce ($24). It was divine! All of the flavors were balanced just perfectly - nothing was too salty or spicy.

For 2 people (1 bottle of wine, 1 salad, 2 entrées) we paid ~$60 each including tip. I would definitely return!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Phở Sàigòn Vietnamese Noodle House - Restaurant Review

Phở Sàigòn is a chain in Texas and Louisiana. Its Austin location is in the North Lamar Chinatown shopping center. It's large, efficient and so yummy! The service is quick and friendly, and the restaurant is clean. It is old and sees a lot of traffic, but there's a good reason for that.

The restaurant serves traditional dishes such as phở (noodle soup) and bún (rice vermicelli noodles with grilled meats). We ordered shrimp spring rolls (~$4 or $5 for 2), chicken phở (~$8 for a regular bowl), and chicken bún (~$8 or $9). 

I enjoyed every bite! The spring rolls were freshly made with a soft, slightly sticky wrapper, and came with a balanced peanut-butter sauce. My chicken soup was light and perfectly seasoned, and the bowl of condiments included the requisite bean sprouts, Thai basil, and sliced jalapeño peppers. The noodles were cooked exactly as I like them (not too firm or soft), and the proportions of the ingredients and flavor were just right. Can't wait to return!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Ramen Tatsuya South Lamar - Restaurant Review

I realize that a ton of you out there love this place, and that it's been named one of the top ramen restaurant in the US. I'll probably get a lot of grief for this review, but here goes.

This is the third time I've been to a Ramen Tatsuya location, and the second time I've tried this location. Let's recap:

Visit #1: North Austin on Research

This visit truly underwhelmed me, and I had been so excited to go. First of all, the service was weird. We went just as the restaurant opened, and the host assigned us, in an empty restaurant, to the 2-top just inside the front door. It was January and cold outside. I asked that we be able to sit at any table away from the door. He said he wasn't sure (we were the only customers at the time), but as soon as another couple walked in, he sent us to a table in the corner against the window and the other couple ended up sitting at the table he originally assigned to us.

I ordered the Tonkotsu Original (~$10 to $11), and we received our food fairly quickly. The broth was so salty that I just couldn't enjoy it! I did my best to eat the solid ingredients, but had to leave the liquid. As ramen aficionados know, the broth is what makes or breaks a bowl of ramen. This bowl was definitely broken.

Visit #2: South Lamar

My sister and I decided to try the new south location as soon as it opened. She had never been to RT before, and I thought the new location might prepare its ramen differently.

Again, the service was so weird and unwelcoming. I was a few minutes late, and again it was cold. The host had my sister waiting outside in the cold even though there was no line. NO LINE! How's that for hospitality? Apparently your entire party has to arrive before they let you in the door. Frustrating, especially when the weather isn't great out.

We ordered, and again I tried the Tonkotsu Original. Again, it was way too salty. Strike #2. Additionally, we were assigned to the communal table in the middle, but we saw a sign that basically indicated that since there was usually a line of diners waiting, we should not dawdle over our ramen but finish quickly and leave to make room for more guests. This was certainly the wrong restaurant for planning a sisters' night out. We were in and out in 30 minutes, and we found a second location to finish our sister date.

Visit #3: South Lamar

This final visit to RT was entirely my fault. I was craving ramen, but needed to be at work at 1pm on a Sunday, so I didn't want to have to drive all the way north to Kanji or Jinya for lunch. Again, I met my sister at RT South Lamar, which is close to my workplace. She was surprised I would want to try it again after our last experience, but at least a year had passed and I was willing to give it another go.

The service was much better this time - everyone was very friendly, and they apologized for keeping us outside for an additional 10-15 minutes while they attempted to fix a printer issue before opening. We also didn't feel rushed, although we only spent 40 minutes there in total.

This time I ordered the Ol' Skool (see photo above), which comes with chicken shoyu broth instead of pork bone broth - I thought it might be less salty than my previous two attempts. Wow, this broth was not salty enough! In addition to that, it was extremely oily, and the diced raw onions and the pickled bamboo completely overwhelmed the flavors of the rest of the dish. The egg was perfectly cooked, and was my favorite part of the bowl. I also liked the texture of the noodles. However, I was underwhelmed again. No salt or soy sauce on the table to amend my dish. I left unsatisfied. Strike #3. I highly doubt I'll ever be back again.

About ramen in general
I am a ramen expert, and I sincerely mean that. I grew up in Hawai'i with ramen galore, and have eaten ramen all over the world, including in Japan (in literally every city I visited there, multiple times). I can make a decent ramen at home, but I do prefer a really well-made ramen at a restaurant because it does take a ton of prep. I LOVE RAMEN, and I know a good one when I eat it. RT doesn't cut it for me.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Mi Mi En Provence Grande Réserve Rosé 2015, Côtes De Provence, France - $15

Mi Mi En Provence Grande Réserve Rosé  2015 is a really lovely wine. It smells slightly floral and tastes light with good acid and a dry, mineral finish.

I also love that the glass stopper makes the bottle a keeper - you can use it over and over again!

I purchased it for $15 a bottle at Central Market, and look forward to buying it again!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Traveller Pinot Noir 2012, Central Otago, New Zealand - $10


The Traveller Pinot Noir 2012 is flinty and finishes with black tea and a touch of cocoa. Nice and dry with light acidity, it's very food friendly and great for recipes, too! I used it to make Coq au Vin tonight.

I purchased it from Costco for $10 a bottle. Great deal!