Sunday, April 28, 2013

Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2008

Quilceda Creek is sure another fantastic vineyard from Washington area. In Thailand, it is not yet so famous like Napa Valley. Nevertheless, if you are a big fan of dense hot climate New World style cabernet sauvignon, ranges of wine from Quilceda Creek are what you should be looking for to stag up your cellar.

Date of Tasting: 3 April 2013
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 98% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot
Alcohol: 15.2%
Origin: Washington, USA
Appellation: Columbia Valley
Expect to Pay: THB8,000 - 10,000 (retail price in Thailand)
Chubby Score: 96/100
Value for money: 9/10
Professional Rating: WA - 99/100, WS - 94/100

Appearance: dense red almost black
Aroma: exotic spices and berries with woodiness
Palate: big firm and dense, high tannins that should integrate well in a few years, silky touch, present of complexity, dancing finish of 60+ seconds, well balance with sounded acidity, layers of sweet blackberries, mocha, and vanilla

Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 is the truly holy God blood. Fascinating and charming that goes on and on. This is a wine to to age surely. Long life span but can be consumed wonderfully with decanting at this stage of life. Wish I could have tonnes of this Quilceda Creek in my cellar. By the way, have it along with good steak or rack of lamb, and you will never forget it.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Juan Amador (3 Michelin Stars) @ Water Library Chamchuri, Bangkok

Cuisine: Modern Cuisine
Price: THB4,500 per person (what I paid for)
Visited: 30 March 2013
Food: 9/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value for money: 8/10
Services: 7/10

Need no speaking, Water Library has been well-known for its yummilicious fine dining and pricey high end meal. Yet during the weekend 29-31 March 2013, Chef Juan Amador from Restaurant Amador in Germany who is famous for his innovative cooking style, gave Water Library Chamchuri a visit. We, hence, without mistake made a reservation right away. Upon being seated, the staff asked what kind of water we would like to have. Ahhh.....almost forgotten that it is Water Library, and Water Library must sure offer various kinds of water. We decided to go for the recommendation of the staff which was mineral water from Germany, Liz. Well, not really get the kind of wow impression though.

It was the lunch meal that we visited Juan Amador special meal. The meal was set with 4 courses which costs THB2,900 a person and if you would like wine pairing then there would an additional of THB1,200.

Amador Lunch at Water Library Chamchuri

Menu for Amador Lunch

Liz Still Mineral Water for the meal

Just a quick illustration of Water Library Chamchuri in case you have not been there. Water Library Chamchuri is located on the second floor of Chamchuri Square on Rama 4 Road. It may be strange if it was your first visit as this such fine restaurant is situated within high street shopping mall. Inside, the decoration is rather modern with a touch of loft style in my feeling. The place is in circular shape allowing most of the seats could have a good view of outside. There is a circular shape bar in the middle of the floor with stacks of various mineral water shelf. The place may not be grand nor elegant but instead gives rather relaxing tone  which we do like a lot.

the circular bar of Water Library

round shape room expressing outside view to every seats

As a tradition of Water Library, clients are served with Croissant that flew all the way from France daily to start with. Yes, it was fabulous: one of the most flavourful croissant in town indeed. Fluffy and soft touch, can be eaten on its own wonderfully. Comparable to its rival Le Beaulieu surely. (8/10)

The second kind of bread was Manitoba with Truffle Butter (8/10). This one was home-made style instead of being imported. Chewy and tough texture but remain its softness. Combine well with the aromatic truffle butter.

French croissant (fly all the way in from France)

Manitoba with Truffle Butter

The first course of the meal was Beef Tea in Texture, Parfume de Siam (8/10). It was beef tartar with ginger yuzu jelly that came along with beef tea. The tartar was supremely smooth that matched the aroma of fresh ginger and tangy yuzu: balance. Beef Tea was somewhat beef stock with herbs. Though it was delightful, it was a little salty to my taste. The problem was the portion to small and we just wanted more. (T.T)"

The course was matched with dry Riesling from Germany, Dr. von Basserman-Jordan Riesling Trocken 2009 (91pts). The wine had yellow ornament colour. Nose of limestone and sea breeze that was fresh. On the palate, it was light touch of lime with fruity peach and fig. Medium bodied and elegant. It matched well with beef tartar somehow. Love it.

Beef Tea in Texture, Parfume de Siam

closer look of beef tea

von Basseman-Jordan, Riesling trocken 2009

It was then followed by Norway Lobster, Boudin Noir, Sauerkraut, Granny Smith (10/10). The one was amazing. Love it, love it, love it!!!! The lobster almost melted in my mouth. So smooth, so tasty, and so complex. Grated granny smith apple, and sweet and sour foam of apple just brought out the other dimension of lobster taste. The creamy and brown sauces that you could see in the picture below were boudin noir and saurkraut. I know, I know, you are now saying "What!!! Saurkraut???? Boudin Noir????" Yes, that what was in my mind too. It somehow perfectly went with each other. Memorable dish.

For this course, the paring wine was Frank Family, Chardonnay Napa Valley 2010 (90/100). Greenish yellow in colour. Aroma of passion fruit and pear giving light and fresh impression. Delicate acidity and light tangy of lemon with rich honey like touch. Smooth and fine.

Norway Lobster, Boudin Noir, Sauerkraut, Granny Smith

Frank Family, Chardonnay Napa Valley 2010

The main course was Lamb, Black Mustard, Roasted Onion Cream, Pak Choi (7/10). Well, well, well, this may be my least favourite of the meal. It was delicious but not a surprise given the standard of 3 stars restaurant. Medium-cooked lamb that was tender but could be juicier. The black mustard sauce was thick and gave slender sweetness. Nice but not so savoury from my perspective.

The lamb was matched with Silvio Grasso, Barolo DOCG Turne 2005 (88/100). The colour was dull and opaque red with browning tone. On the nose, it was rose petal, spices, and cherries. Very dry type with flavour of cherry to dominant. Mid weight and traditional style. Need time to develop just yet to show its true muscle.

Lamb, Black Mustard, Roasted Onion Cream, Pak Choi

Silvio Grasso, Turne Barolo 2005

The dessert was the highlight for me actually. Spring Cocktail, Yoghurt, Cucumber, Garden Sorrel (10/10) was a combination of yoghurt espuma, cucumber sorbet, and parsley oil. Ahhh!!!! does not sound drooling, right? It was opposite instead. So yummy, so fresh and light, and even elegant. It reminded us of spring garden. The fresh taste of it just washed away all previous flavour and aroma in the mouth. What an ending course it is. Wish I could have more.

I was fortunate to be allowed to have Sauternes along with this Spring Cocktail, Chateau Filhot 2005 (92/100) which is of course a combination of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle. It was so dense and so sweet, almost honey like. Lively and lingering with balancing acid. Orange flavour in the background. The bouquet was wonderful. Though I am not a fan of sweet wine but this one is gorgeous, I have to say.

To end the meal, we were offered with coffee and tea. The coffee latte was well made give creamy foam and delicate aroma scent of fine coffee. Yes, that is the standard of Water Library.

Spring Cocktail, Yoghurt, Cucumber, Garden Sorrel

Chateau Filhot 2005, Sauternes

Cafe Latte

All in all, this was such a fantastic experience. In term of food, we could not agree more with its quality and innovation. In fact, we were lucky to be there to experience the creation of Chef Juan Amador without having to fly all the way to Germany. Chef Amador is also lovely, friendly, and polite, he even came out to greet his clients at the end of the meal. Staffs of Water Library are also wonderful: good manner and friendly services. However, we still get the sense that some staffs still lack of knowledge when a more serious question popped up.

There were two points that we clearly noticed. Firstly, before wine is poured into the glass for the first time, normally clients should get the chance to taste a sip to see whether it is ok. It was not the case when we were there. Anyway, not a big deal this time as all wines were great. The second point was the speed of serving. This was just way way way too fast. One right after the other immediately. Ok....we appreciated it that it was not too slow. Nevertheless, some lacking time between each course will be more delightful. At least, to give me some time to breath (-_-)"

We say, wherever you are in the world, if you are given a chance to experience the gastronomic meal of Juan Amador, do not miss it.

Water Library Chamchuri @ Chamchuri Square, Bangkok
Fl.2 Chamchuri Square
Rama 4 Road, Pathumwan
Bangkok 10330

Open Hours: 11:30am - 02:00pm for lunch and 06:00pm - 10:30pm for dinner daily 
Tel: +66 (0) 2160 5188

Restaurant Amador @ Mannheim, Germany
Floßwörthstraße 38 
68199 Mannheim

Open Hours: Tue - Sat from 07:00pm till late for dinner
Tel: +49 (0) 621 85 47 496

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2010

Date of Tasting: 29 March 2013
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 80% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 5% Syrah
Alcohol: 14%
Origin: Tuscany, Italy
Appellation: Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)
Expect to Pay: THB900 – 1,400 (retail price in Thailand)
Web: n.a.
Chubby Score: 92/100
Value for money: 8/10
Professional Rating: DC - 96/100, JR - 16.5/20.0, JS - 90/100

Appearance: crimson red
Aroma: mixed berries bouquet and spices
Palate: structured with fine tannins, medium bodied with vibrant acidity, long and lingering finish, sweet red fruits with deliciously charming complexity

This is not an ordinary wine give quality to price ratio. It is just adorable. Though I am normally a fan of Sangiovese, this is an extraordinary one. I particularly like the silky touch of it. The life span may not be so long, say 5 years or so but drinking well now too. Cheers.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

L'ulivo Italian Cuisine @ Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra, Bangkok

Cuisine: Italian
Price: THB1,200 per person (what I paid for)
Visited: 22 March 2013
Food: 6/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value for money: 5/10
Services: 7/10

L'ulivo (or Olive Tree) is a fine Italian restaurant that is situated in Soi Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra 7: pretty easy to find. This place is currently run by Chef Danilo Aiassa who used to be a part of Biscotti at Four Seasons Bangkok. Chef Danilo is so friendly and lively, he did come to chat with every single tables during the course and recommended dishes to suit our liking. What impressed us was the way he checked every bills before releasing to guests to make sure no mistake.

L'ulivo Italian Cuisine

Colonial style building

the entrance

Anyway, the impression of L'ulivo started with the yellow colonial style building. In the dining room, it is bright and soft tone with paintings to reflect Italian atmosphere: relax and chill. Dining tables are arranged loosely from each other allowing space and distance so clients are comfortable and do not have to be aware about overheard. There are also garden seats, hence, alfresco if you like but surely not in the Summer time.

chill and relax dining room

garden seats also available

Chef Danilo Aiassa in operation

To start our dinner, we were served with Tomato Soup with Ricotta Cheese (6/10). The thick tomato soup was a great one and went well with the smooth ricotta cheese. There was also a selection of breads to go along during the course.

Another good point is the selection of wine by glass that comes at a good range. I decided to go for the sparkling choice to start which was Masottina Prosecco Extra Dry DOC (90pts, THB200). Masottina came in pale gold appearance and intense fruity and citrus bouquet. On the palate, it was fresh and tangy. An easy drinking style sparkling wine.

I then ordered another glass of red wine to go along the main course which was Gianni Gagliardo Dolcetto d'Alba 2011 (89pts, THB280). The colour of purplish red with fresh and fruity nose. It was dry with rather good acidity. This goes really well with pasta.

Tomato Soup with Ricotta Cheese

Bread Selection

Our course began with Risotto with Amarone Wine Reduction and Pumpkin Cream (6/10) and Homemade Tortelli with Mediterranean Seafood Guazzetto and Clams (7/10).

Risotto was nice and creamy texture with balance taste of pumpkin and sweet amarone flavour. The texture was a little overcook, i.e. soft, to my liking though but still acceptable. I felt like I was eating pure carbohydrate (T><T) or some kind of vegetarian dish. Too much of this would surely make me fat even it was delightful.

Pasta was in turn a more compliment in taste. The tortelli was al dente. The sauvory matching of tomato sauce and seafood was enjoyable. Love this dish.

Risotto with Amarone Wine Reduction and Pumpkin Cream (THB430)

Homemade Tortelli with Mediterranean Seafood Guazzetto and Clams (THB390)

Moving on to desserts, Warm Ciocolate Souffle with Vanilla Ice-cream and Banana Caramilazed (5/10) was lovely. It was sure (and should be) a way better chocolate lava than many places on high street like After You. Oh oh oh!!! if you notice the name of this dish is souffle but it is really chocolate lava. I love the bitter chocolate taste of it. However, I think there is probably too much butter as an ingredient as the characteristic taste of butter showed rather noticeably. The caramelised banana went along well with chocolate lava. Vanilla ice-cream and whipped cream did let the whole thing down a bit. Especially the ice-cream if it was home-made style with excellent ingredients, it would bring the whole thing even tastier.

Next was Chocolate Mousse and Vanilla Mousse Made in Grandmother Style (4/10). Well, it may be a classic quality choice of dessert but too plain vanilla for us in fact. It was nice and not overly sweet. The texture of vanilla mousse reminded us of pudding texture.

Warm Ciocolate Souffle with Vanilla Ice-cream and Banana Caramilazed (THB270)

Chocolate Mousse and Vanilla Mousse Made in Grandmother Style (THB270)

Before ending the course with lovely Petit Fours, Chef Danilo kindly complimented us with a fine selection of desserts: tiramisu, turon, and amaretti cake. All of which were pleasant. Personally, I like the tiramisu (^^).

Selection of Desserts by Chef Danilo (tiramisu, turon, and amaretti cake)

Petit Fours

Well, we do like this L'ulivo quite a lot. Foods are nice, staffs are friendly, and most of all the atmosphere is relaxing and chill without the pressure of fine restaurant. We would surely return to this place from time to time. By the way, they also do serve lunch course with rather good value which is less than THB500 for 3 courses if I am Buon Appetito!!!!!

L'ulivo Italian Cuisine @ Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra, Bangkok
43 Soi Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra 7
Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Road
Thung Maha Mek, Sathon
Bangkok 10120

Open Hours: Mon-Fri and Sun 11:30am - 02:30pm for lunch and Mon-Sat 05:30pm - 10:30pm for dinner 
Tel: +66 (0) 2677 5756

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sushi Tanabe (鮨 田なべ) @ Sapporo, Japan

Cuisine: Japanese (sushi)
Price: JPY13,000 per person without alcohol (what Penguin Junior paid for)
Visited: 11 April 2013
Food: 8/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value for money: 9/10
Services: 10/10

During SongKran holiday of Thailand, Penguin Junior  had got a chance to visit Sapporo, Japan (without both Deadly Bunny and Chubby Penguin of course T.T"). Indeed, Penguin Junior gave a visit to one of the best sushi place in Sapporo, "Sushi Tanabe". He mentioned that the place is small (but larger than standard sushi bar) and one would not notice its existence of being 3 Michelin Stars restaurant if not known before. The sushi counter can accommodate around 12 customers only, the rests are just a few typical tables. Chefs, including the owner and master chef Masashi Watanabe, would show their skills at the counter. Unlike other michelin sushi places, Sushi Tanabe comprises of a few skilled chefs instead of the master chef runs the whole place alone. However, the experience of Penguin Junior was skill tremendous.

Here, you can choose to have either a la carte menu or Omakase Course. Without hesitation, Penguin Junior went straight for the large Omakase Course which includes starter, 5 kinds of sashimi, grilled dish, 12 kinds of sushi, and dessert. For sashimi, it was described as being fabulous, particularly the octopus which looks really normal and nothing special but amazingly tender: must be octopus from heaven, he swore!!!!

starter of seaweed, sea snail, and mini octopus

Hokkaido crab

Hirame or Halibut ?????? (not sure, sorry)

Tsubugai or Snake Shell

Tako or Octopus

Sake or Salmon with a touch of seaweed

Grilled Scallop and Shirao 

a closer look to scallop

For sushi, almost all kind of sushi were served: clam, white fish, red fish, roe, eel, and egg. Penguin Junior said that the best went to Engawa. He has never seen something like this engawa before. Otherwise, all were splendid.

Hokkigai or Surf Clam

Squid or Ika

Sayuri or Sardine

Amaebi or Sweet Shrimp

Aji or Horse Mackerel

Engawa or Flounder

Akami or Red Tuna

Ikura or Salmon Roe

Negi Toro or Minced Fatty Tuna

Uni or Sea Urchin

Anano or Conger Eel

Tamago or Omelette

To end the meal, 2 desserts were served: Creme Brulee and Strawberry Sherbet with Orange. The ice-cream was magnificent. It just washed away all scents in the mouth: falling in love with it, he described.

Well, this place, Sushi Tanabe, seems to be one of the place I have to give a particular visit soon. All look pleasantly and delightfully yummilicious. (><)"

Creme Brulee

Strawberry Sherbet with Orange

Sushi Tanabe (鮨 田なべ) @ Sapporo, Japan
New Blue Nile Bldg 2F
West 3 South 5, Chuo-Ku
Sapporo, Hokkaido
064-0805, Japan

札幌市中央区南5条西3丁目 ニューブルーナイルビル2F

Open Hours: Mon - Sat 05:00pm - 10:00pm
Tel: +81 (0) 11 520 2202
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