Archive for May, 2008

Gianni Gagliardo Wine Dinner, Rossini Restaurant – Bangkok

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Rossini Restaurant
Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Hotel
250 Sukhumvit Road
Tel. (66) 02 649 8888
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Moderate-Expensive

I was invited to attend a small dinner party at Rossini Restaurant in the Sheraton Sukhumvit Grande Hotel to taste the wines of Gianni Gagliardo, a celebrated wine maker from Piedmonte. Bravissimo!

Gianni, who is a delightful man who loves to travel, first explained, how his sons are taking care of the vineyards—and it definitely remains a family business. The production is about 350,000 bottles per annum.

The dinner began with a first course of, and for lack of another term; a Sicilian seafood couscous served in a mason jar (very interesting with intense flavors). To go along with this dish, a lovely and slightly frizzante wine called Fallegro, Vino de Tavola Bianco 2007 was served, made from 100% Favorita grapes—young, fresh and delicious. This course was followed by a well-made, attractively presented and ultimately edible dish of raviolis filled with vegetables and fish, to purposely show how it would pair with the accompanying red wine, Batie Langhe Nebbiolo made from a blend of mostly Nebbiolo with a small percentage of Barbera before it was matured in barrels, 2005. The pairing worked extremely well!

The following three Barolo wines in various styles and nuances accompanied what appeared to be a braised beef cheek, (an advance menu was sent to me by the distributor, however Mr. Gagliardo changed the menu at the bar with the chef just before the dinner, and what turned up at the table was not even vaguely similar to the original menu I received). This was all for the better, as the chef and the wine maker worked out the menu to best fit with the wines presented, to the advantage of both sides.

The Barolo’s presented were:
Barole Preve: a combination of Barolos with contrasting characteristics; one an elegant wine with great finesse and the other with structure and body 2001.

Barolo Serre: a wine with greater concentration and a fuller body 2004.
Barolo Reserva: aged for ten years and now beginning to show its full potential 1997 (one of the best years in Piedmonte).

The finale was a dessert served in a glass containing granita on the bottom and spooned on top was a layer of chocolate mousse. A low alcohol 4.5% lightly sparkling, Moscato was served along with this dessert and the flavor of this juice, loosely called wine, was so intense that I though I was eating freshly picked Moscato grapes straight from the vine!

Cheese & Wine Tasting at Le Beaulieu Restaurant – Bangkok

Friday, May 30th, 2008

I had the great pleasure last evening to attend a French cheese tasting with over 60 varieties spread out on tables in the bar and restaurant of Le Beaulieu, and of course, inevitably, the odd glass of wine, which flowed like water! This is the third in a series of French cheese tastings at Herve Frerard’s restaurant on the ground floor of the Sofitel Residence on Soi nineteen.

As usual, this tasting was well populated in spite of torrential rain and a 2500 baht ticket (well worth it). On the last cheese tasting there was a pre-election day mix-up, regarding whether alcohol could be served or not, and the verdict came down at the final hour that indeed alcohol could not be served. The hundred or so cheeses remained in the restaurant while the wine and a couple of dozen types of cheese were relocated to a private residence in the hotel belonging to one of the guests.

Palate by Octavio Becerra – Glendale (Los Angeles)

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Tel. 818 662 9463
933 Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91204
Opening Hours: Mon-Thurs, 5:30-10 pm, Fri-Sat 5:30- 11 pm; Wine Merchant Bar + Lounge Mon-Sat, 11 am – 10 pm
Prices: Moderate
Wine Prices: Reasonable

Octavio Becerra, a long time chef working for Joachim Splichal at Patina and other outlets in Spichal’s empire, is set to open on the ground floor of the enormous Wine Vault, on the site of the former Cinnebar, located on Glendale’s Brand Boulevard, which is car-dealership row and according to the website of Palate “is a wine-centric, passionate, and down-to-earth”. . . “restaurant, a wine merchant, a cheese cellar, a tasting bar and lounge and an eno-gastronomic library occupying the ground floor of a seven-story Bekins moving depot (circa 1928) turned wine-storage vault.”

Al Moro Restaurant – Rome

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Vicolo delle Bollette 13
+39 06 678 34 95
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 1-3:30pm and 7:30-11:30pm
Credit Cards: MC, V
Closed August
Prices: Expensive

Al Moro has been around for a long time, in fact since 1929, and was a restaurant favored by the director, Frederico Fellini and others in the film crowd during the sixties and seventies. The son of the founder Moro, called Franco keeps up the family tradition by appearing to be quite surly as he stands guard at the door. The rooms are quite dark and physically things have changed not at all since I used to frequent this restaurant in the seventies.

The menu still offers traditional Roman cuisine with classic dishes such as: fritti alla romana (zucchini flower and ricotta) or spaghetti alla Moro with egg, bacon and red peppers, calamari alla Moro, abbacchio al forno (roasted lamb), crispy roasted baby goat flavored with fragrant rosemary, Roman-style stewed milk-fed lamb with tomatoes, and or course, crispy fried artichokes.
I was able to find a proper bottle of Frascati here after some previous disappointing attempts.

I had heard that the cooking was a little watered down from its former self, but quite frankly, I found it still
good—although I stuck to the old favorites.

A16 Restaurant – San Francisco

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

A16 is located in the
Marina District of San Francisco at
2355 Chestnut Street
between Scott and Divisadero
Tel. (415) 771-2216
Operating Hours:Lunch: Wednesday – Friday: 11:30am – 2:30pm; Dinner: Sunday – Thursday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm, Friday & Saturday: 5:00pm – 11:00pm
Restaurant accepts Walk-Ins
Credit Cards: AMEX, MasterCard, Visa
Prices: Moderate

Facade of A16 (Photo from A16)The restaurant is aptly named after the highway A16 that winds through Campania the region that is home to Napoli, Positano, Pompei, the islands of Capri and Ischia that lie off the coast among many other lovely towns.

This restaurant is currently one of my haunts when I am in San Francisco; I really enjoy it!.
They have a wood-fired oven serving Neapolitan Pizza, which I will not delve into since there are so many varieties. Please check with the A16 website link above for the full menu and wine list.

Some of the interesting dishes served (some may be seasonal) are:
Beet and potato salad with radicchio, green olives and toasted almonds, Roasted young favas with green garlic, mint, chiles and lemon, Tripe napoletana with onions, tomato, white wine and breadcrumbs, La Quercia Berkshire prosciutto, La Quercia acorn edition tasting: coppa, lonza and lardo, Prosciutto San Daniele aged months,Smoked trotter terrina (house-cured), Ciccioli (house-cured),Pig ear terrina (house-cured), Lonza (house-cured), Bresaola (house-cured).

The wine bar serves around 40 wines by the glass or 375ml carafe and are mostly Italian with a few special boutique California wines, some made from Italian varietals.
I include only a few wines by the glass from Campania, although they have so many more, again check with the above website for the complete list:

White Wines: Glass or Carafe (375ml)
Campania Whites
Villa Raiano, Fiano di Avellino 2006,Terredora di Paolo, Greco di Tufo 2006, Alois,’Caulino’, Falanghina 2005, Marisa Cuomo, ‘Ravello’, Costa d’Amalfi 2006 (Falanghina/Biancolella)

The parking can be quite difficult so I would highly suggest going by taxi rather than spending time looking for street parking (very difficult) or big money to park in the lot

Chesa Swiss Restaurant – Bangkok

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Chesa Swiss Restaurant5 Sukhumvit Road Soi 20
Klongtoey, Khet Klongtoey
Bangkok 10110
946 Rama IV Road
Bangkok 10500
+66 (0) 2 261 6650
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 11:00pm 7 days
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Moderate-Expensive

Chesa is one of my all time favorite restaurants in Bangkok. It is hidden at the end of a small driveway across the street from the Windsor Hotel Suites on Sukhumvit Soi 20. The place is charming and cozy and the staff is very friendly as are the owners Chef Thomas Nowak and Rene Kuhn who opened Chesa Swiss Restaurant in 2000.
The food is consistently good and I have had many, many enjoyable evenings there over the years. The restaurant has an excellent selection of wines including wines from Switzerland including Fendant du Valais and Dole du Valais and white Chasselas and red Pinot Noir served by the glass.
Following are some of my favorites and other popular dishes at Chesa Swiss Restaurant: Capuns: Swiss chard dumplings with bacon, onions and cheese in creamy sauce, fresh imported Mache salad (Nüssli) with bacon served on a French dressing with boiled egg and bacon, traditional Cheese Fondue, pan-fried Foie Gras on raspberry vinegar and port wine sauce, beef fondue bourguignon, grilled veal sausage on an onion sauce with rösti potatoes, Geschnetzeltes Zürcher Art, (traditional sliced veal and kidney in a champignon mushroom sauce).
Swiss Chocolate Mousse, raspberries laced with kirshwasser with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.

Seafood Market & Restaurant – Bangkok

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

The Line of Chefs at the Entrance89 Sukhumvit Soi 24, Sukhumvit Rd.
Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110
946 Rama IV Road
Bangkok 10500
+66 (0) 2 2661 1252-9
Fax. 02-2661-2073
Opening Hours: 11:30 am – 11:30pm
Credit Cards: All Major
Moderate – Expensive

A battery of chefs are cooking on a long kitchen line, just to the left of the main entrance, where you enter an enormous room filled with literally hundreds or tables and chairs. Models of various fish are suspended from the ceiling and a large fabricated orange tree is plunked in the center. A vast counter, filled with crushed ice, is at the rear of the dining room that holds all the different fish, shellfish, and crustaceans. A sign in large letters above the fish counter states: No Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Added, which pleases me and one of the reasons I keep coming back. To the far right of the fish counter is a wine room where you may purchase wine and water.

At the Checkout Counter The system works like this: you are seated at a table and then you arise and follow a girl to the fish counter, she then helps you to pick out the fish, vegetables and places them into a supermarket cart along with any fruit, if you are so inclined. Then, you are led to the checkout counter and pay for the food, the wine is paid for separately at the wine store. You are led back to the table where after you are seated you tell the captain how you wish to have each ingredient prepared, and you then receive another bill for the cooking fee.

We typically order: clams cooked with garlic, basil and chili; red snapper sweet and sour style (in Thailand it is not the sickening sweet & sour found in some inexpensive Chinese restaurants); sautéed morning glory with chili; mixed vegetables (pea pods, bean sprouts, large round special variety mushrooms in oyster sauce); whole crab in curry sauce; large river shrimp or rock lobster simply grilled.

The service is usually very attentive and they have a large staff to accomplish this; the cooking is consistently good and seafood always fresh.
If it is available, we order a bottle of Muscadet of the latest vintage, at this writing 2006. We always enjoy dining here even though it is considered somewhat of a tourist spot.

BBQ Carnival & Sushi-Cyu – Bangkok

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Sushi Bar

3rd Floor,CRC Tower#303-4
All SeasonsPlace.87/2
Wireless Rd., Phatumwan, Bangkok 10330
946 Rama IV Road
Bangkok 10500
+66 (0) 2 251 1995
Opening Hours: Lunch: 11:30 am – 2pm
Dinner: 6pm – 11pm (Weekdays)
5pm – 10pm(Sat, Sun & National Holidays)
Henmi, Executive Chef (Mobile):085-142-5149
Tomizawa, Manager (Mobile):087-064-1887
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Moderate

As you enter the two restaurants, which are side by side, the sushi bar is off to the right and the Japanese-style BBQ is at the back and on the left.
Sushi-chu imports fresh seafood that is transported from Tsukiji, the best fish market in Tokyo, three times a week by air. They are able to do this since their head office is located in Chichibu, Japan and overseen by General Manager, Fukushima.
Henmi, the Executive Chef and Shimizu, Chef are serving you at the sushi counter.
The sushi is absolutely fresh; they do not depend on anything else to embellish the taste.
The Japanese BBQ restaurant follows the original recipes from Tokyo Calbi House using special Calbi sauce. The Japanese BBQ chef is, 26 years old, Sutsakrn Wongtakee he has had 13 years experience in preparing meat.

It is also very pleasant that in this combo of restaurants you have the opportunity to start with sushi or sashimi as an appetizer and then follow with Japanese BBQ.
Carnival has a broad selection of Japanese Sake and Shochu.
The Japanese barbecue is certainly the best quality you can find in Bangkok and the sushi that is imported from Japan is fresh and excellent as well.

Two very good glasses of Shochu that I tried, although quite different in style, were Kurokirishima and Tekkan both made from potatoes, and both priced at 220 Baht.

Piccola Roma Palace – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Dining Room Piccola Roma Palace144 Charoenprathet Road, Chiang Mai 50100
Tel. 0-5382-0297-8
No Website
Valet Parking
Credit Cards: All Major

Chef Angelo Faro opened his restaurant in 1991. He has an large extended menu as do most of the other Italian restaurants in town.Piccola Roma Palace
He has the most expensive Italian restaurant in Chiang Mai and considering the overall experience, it might merit the high prices or maybe, it is just the story of the big fish in the small pond. The wine list pricing starts at 1500 baht for red Italian wines and from this medium price escalates quickly to expensive and very expensive wines. The service is attentive and a lot of attention is paid to minute details. The chef spent a good deal of time making sure that my briefcase was in the right position when he arranged it on the small pedestal table, and then proceeded to straighten and align the cutlery and napkin before he would allow me to be seated. Piccola Roma PalaceIn fact you can see that he is a man who will put up with no nonsense. He was constantly reprimanding his dog who insisted on entering the dining room and he kept shooing him back. Chef Angelo Faro obviously likes salt, and there was plenty of it in the dishes I tasted. When he finally was seated to have his dinner on the table closest to the kitchen, the first thing he did was reach for the salt shaker.

Giorgio Restaurant – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Giorgio Restaurant2/6 Prachasamphan Road, Changklan, Chiangmai
Tel.(053 818 236)
Operating Hours: 11.30-2.30 lunch and 6-10.30 dinner.
Credit Cards
Inexpensive – Moderate

Giorgio Restaurant, named after the owner who hails from Vicenza in Italy, is reputedly among the best restaurants serving pizza and pasta in Chiang Mai, although as with every one of the Italian
Pastarestaurants we visited not one of them used a true pizza dough.The pasta dishes were well executed and the restaurant was clean and simply decorated.