Wednesday, October 24, 2018

So you're in Disneyland, and want great wine, and don't want to overpay for it? I have two words for you: Carthay Circle.

If you've ever been to Disney's California Adventure Park (at least in the last decade or so), you have seen the Carthay Circle Restaurant. You couldn't miss it's imposing visage adjacent to the main hub in the park.

It really is quite impressive, especially at night. Inside, you are taken back to Hollywood's Golden Age. Serving what is described as "modern global cuisine", it would be tough to have a bad meal here. We have eaten here several times over the years and have been blown away each time.

As for the wine? Wow. Their wine list is impressive, to say the least, and the prices are off-the-charts reasonable. How reasonable? Well, we all know when you go eat in a restaurant you are going to pay a significant premium over retail prices. Not here. For example, one of the wines we enjoyed was $110 on the menu. I had just paid $128.99 for the same bottle from! It was LESS at the restaurant!

Not to mention, they have a spectacular list of wines by the glass. Opus One. You read that right, we paid $40 for a 6-oz glass of Opus One. Oh, and if you only want ONE ounce, you can get that too.

These deals aren't Disney-wide. We ate at Napa Rose a couple days later and the wine prices there were what you would expect in most restaurants. Not outrageous by any means, but certainly not under retail!

We had such a great meal here that the next day, while we had a few minutes before a parade, we stopped into the lounge to have another nice bottle with a charcuterie plate. That was this one:

The accompanying charcuterie board was incredible, and I particularly remember a slab of honeycomb that was so amazing we asked for another one!

From dinner the night before, this was the bottle that was CHEAPER than I had recently paid retail:

And we weren't in the mood for a second bottle of wine, but we weren't about to pass up a couple bottles of this beauty. A bottle, IIRC, was about $300. Again, cheaper than you could buy it from the winery itself!

So there you have it. Our meal, including a bottle of Almaviva and 2 glasses of Opus, plus appetizer, dessert and a great tip? $400. Pretty tough to beat that!

Can't wait for our next trip!

Next up: Lots more great stuff to update on, plus the Okanagan trip rolls along at Intrigue!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Okanagan Trip, Part V, we head to the current home of controversy, Ex Nihilo!

Don't understand my blog title? Well, then you obviously haven't heard about their most recent ad campaign. Here is a sample of this campaign that showed up on the Instagram page of Chaos Wine and Spirits, which is designed to be their "provocative" brand, I suppose.

Believe me, this was not the most startling image that was posted.

To be honest, I kind of like this ad. I don't really have a problem with ad campaigns that get people talking, and this one certainly succeeded at getting the BC wine industry buzzing. But in this day and age of #MeToo and a spotlight on women's rights, do you really want to be known as the winery trying to sell wine with T&A? I just cannot imagine who thought this was a good idea. Getting people talking, good thing. Pissing off a large segment of your customers? Notsomuch.

Obviously the backlash had consequences. This image, and all the others, have been taken down.

Anyway, we were at Ex Nihilo for a lovely seated wine and food pairing in August where we got to sample a few wines we had not yet tasted; so enough controversy, let's get to the wine.

That's it for new stuff from this tasting; we always have a quality experience here and this time was no exception.

Next up: The Okanagan trip continues at Intrigue, and I have another catch-up random entry that you are not going to want to miss, because there will be at least THREE wines reviewed that make my "Best of the Best" list! It's a big one!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Another random catch-up entry features a little bit from BC, a little bit from here, a little bit from there, a little bit from everywhere.....

We have really been enjoying some great stuff over the past few months, as evidenced by the scores on these wines. Ten wines reviewed below, and 9 of them scored 91 or higher. First, we might as well start with the only one that didn't....

Next up, four beauties from right here in BC!

Viva Italia!! Literally have no clue where this came from or how long I've had it. But I liked it!

And, from our friends down South!

There you have it, a little bit of everything! Reminds me I should go online and get another one of those Calera Pinots. Delicious!

Next up: Still more random stuff to report on, still have to get to Ex Nihilo, still have so much wine to drink and write about! Oh, the horror. :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Not-so-random blog update focusing on just one winery - our first love - Quails' Gate!!!

Going through my notes recently and noticed an alarming trend; we drink a ton of Quails' Gate wine, but I often overlook writing about it. I think I often assume I have already reviewed them, and I am generally wrong.

Time to fix that, at least partially. Reviews of 8 random Quails' Gates wines, some new, some aged, that we have enjoyed in the past couple of months.

Quails' Gate was our first Wine Club, and their annual party at their gorgeous multi-million dollar Lake House is a "can't-miss" event for those of us in the Barrel Club, which is the highest of their two wine club tiers. I'd recommend you all join it, but I believe they have reached capacity (or if not, they will very soon).

These guys don't make a bad wine, and one of the great perks of the Barrel Club is that a large portion of the wine we get is already Library wine, meaning we have already aged wine to drink right away while cellaring the rest of it. It's a great club, a great winery, and great people. Cannot say enough good things about them!

Up next: More random stuff to get to, plus the next stop on our Okanagan trip, Ex Nihilo!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Okanagan Trip report continues in Lake Country at Arrowleaf!

We tend to get to Lake Country every couple of years, and we will generally try to hit all the wineries in the area in a day. If, for some reason, we can't get to them all, Arrowleaf is one we generally skip. In the past, we have found that the quality of the wine has never made this a "must-do", although that's not to say the wine is lousy; far from it, it has always been perfectly pleasant. While we rarely have encountered a bad wine here, we've also rarely encountered anything so spectacular that we just can't miss out.

Our last visit here was in 2015. They opened up a gorgeous new tasting room and a little kitchen/bistro/bakery that serves small plates to pair with the wines. You can sit out on their patio and soak in the spectacular view while enjoying a glass or bottle from their portfolio. After our tasting, we did that as we had a bit of time before our next appointment. We had them pour us a couple glasses of Pinot Gris and headed out to the beautiful terrace to enjoy some scenery. Unfortunately for us, someone forgot to tell the weatherman that it is THE MIDDLE OF AUGUST IN THE OKANAGAN!! As if the smoke from the fires wasn't enough, it was windy, it was cold, and it was RAINING!

The author's lovely wife, who really did comb her hair this morning. That is how windy it was.
I didn't think it was allowed to be this cold in the Okanagan in the middle of Summer. Disapproved.

Anyway, on to our tasting! One thing I do remember about this winery, we have always been treated very well by the staff, and today was no exception. Our guide, Janet, was an absolute delight.

As usual, not a bad wine in the bunch. I would suggest that, although there are still not any wines that absolutely knocked us over (although the Riesling has a chance), the quality has improved since our last visit, and we will be back next time we are up in this neck of the woods.

Next up: I think it's time for another random update of some great stuff we've been drinking, still gotta find all my notes on the wine we enjoyed in Disneyland, and the Okanagan trip continues at Ex Nihilo!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The latest country for our food and wine theme nights isn't actually a country at's "OTHER" night!

What exactly does "OTHER NIGHT" mean? Well, if you've been following along over the past couple years, you will know that we've been taking a country and having an entire night of food and wine from that country. Most of the nights have been rousing successes. But what about all those poor countries that make wine and food, but didn't get represented with their own night? Well, this night was all about them.

In all cases, the countries produce a lot of wine, but it's tough to source enough of it here to have an entire night dedicated to them. So let's see what all the fuss is about! Links to all the recipes can be found by clicking on the recipe name.

I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting much here. A lot of these countries feature traditional dishes that I'm not crazy about, and wine is always a crapshoot when you don't have much to choose from. Even though this evening was being hosted by our dear friends, who know their way around a kitchen, I expected that this lineup of dishes was going to pose a challenge. Let's see if I was right or pleasantly surprised.

Oh, and there was supposed to be another couple enjoying the evening with us, but they bailed out because of the lame excuse of childbirth. I kid you not, she was literally having the baby at the time that they were supposed to be attending this event. Some people will use any excuse to get out of things, won't they??

Course 1


Full disclosure: I despise chick peas. So.....not much chance I am going to love this dish made almost entirely from chick peas. My wife, however, who loves chick peas, loved this dish, and said it paired well with the wine.

Course 2


Spiced Pea & Courgette Fritters with Minty Yogurt Dip

These were really tasty, and the minty yogurt dip gave them a beautiful tang. Liked these quite a bit.

Course 3


Turkish Style Kebab with Turkish Style Rice Pilaf with Orzo

The chicken was very juicy and tasty, but the Rice Pilaf was the absolute star of this dish. Seriously, I could have just eaten nothing but that rice all night long and been totally satisfied. It was phenomenal. The wine was one we had tasted (and bought) at last year's VIWF.

Course 4


Potato and Poblano Taquitos

Yum yum yum yum yum. These were just as tasty as the name implied. Served on fresh, homemade tortillas. Delish. As for the wine, our friends go to Mexico just about every year and picked this bottle up. Not traditional wine and very sweet, but it was an interesting adventure to taste it.

We also tried this wine with this course; another sweet red, although not nearly as sweet as the one from Mexico.


Course 5

Republic of Moldova

Hands up, who out there has to look up where Moldova is on a map? Just for the record, most of you who don't have your hands up are liars.

Kind of a Romanian-style Cabbage Roll, frequently enjoyed in Moldova. Some of the best cabbage rolls I have ever tasted. Scrumtrulescent. Thankfully, they didn't need wine, because this one was undrinkable.

Course 6


One dish to pair with a Greek White, one to pair with a Greek Red. 


Another fabulous dish. I tell you, with the exception of the chick peas, our friends outdid themselves on the menu tonight. If only the wine had been able to stand up to the quality of the food!!

Course 7


Apple Cake Almas Pite

This was also delicious, but I admit I was getting too full to properly enjoy it by this point. The wine was another one we had tasted and picked up at last year's VIWF.

So there you have it, our "theme nights" have come to an end.....until we start over!! We have also discussed having a "best of the best" night where we take our favorite dishes from all the theme nights and try pairing them with different wine. After that, we will start again, with the proviso that whomever hosted each individual country last time cannot host them again. It will be like starting from scratch!

I was pleasantly surprised at how much of the food from these countries I really enjoyed! As for the wine, well, except for the red from Greece that was faulty, it was basically about what I expected. Having said, that, I'll certainly never regret trying new things.

Next up for the blog, still have a lot of wine from Disneyland to report on, plus another huge random catch up entry, and the Okanagan trip continues at Arrowleaf. Stay tuned, true believers!