Sunday, March 30, 2014

Gaja Ca'Marcanda Magari IGT 2009

Date of Tasting: 26 January 2014
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc
Alcohol: 14.5%
Origin: Tuscany, Italy
Appellation: IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica)
Expect to Pay: ~ THB1,500 - THB2,500
Web: n.a.
Chubby Score: 90/100
Value for money: 5/10
Professional Rating: WA - 92/100, WS - 92/100, FS - 92/100, CT - 91/100

Appearance: deep and dark garnet/violet
Aroma: ripe cherries and plums with floral and cloves notes and hint of coffee and dark chocolate
Palate: full, big, and rich on the body. Fine tannins. A little sweet dark berries and spices of Merlot characters. A touch of oak and bitter dark chocolate. Long length on the finish.

I don't think it is quite there just yet. The bottle seems to shut itself down though showing some promising characters. Fruits do not just yet exhibit wonderfully. I shall keep the rest for a few more years before another examination.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Appia @ Soi Sukhumvit 31, Bangkok - แอพเพีย @ ซอยสุขุมวิท 31 กรุงเทพฯ

Cuisine: Italian
Price: THB710 per person (what we paid for)
Visited: 16 February 2014
Food: 8/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value for money: 7/10
Services: 7/10
Scale: [ 1=poor ----- 5=average/standard ----- 10=outstanding/exceptional ]

This is the first time for us to visit this Roman trattoria, Appia at Soi Sukhumvit 31, and we have already fallen in love with it. It is not so difficult to locate Appia: going into Soi Sukhumvit 31 not more than 500 metres and it is on the right hand side, just next door to Cassia Cafe and Tearoom. The nearest BTS station is Phromphong station. However, driving is not so bad as well. There are quite a number of parking lots. The place is kept in the casual way of trattoria, no such formality here: the classic wooden furniture, the candle-lit-style chandelier, the local bar that displays variety of food. We love the chillax style that is fabulous for family meal and even friends gathering. I would recommend you to book in advance if you were gonna visit Appia. The place can be packed though it is a comfy venue but it can perhaps accommodate up to around 50 pax max.

Appia @ Soi Sukhumvit 31 - แอพเพีย @ ซอยสุขุมวิท 31

local and chill ambient

simple flatware

The style of food is rustic and local with quality ingredients that offers such joy and satisfaction, created by Paolo Vitaletti who is the chef and the owner. Over the bar counter, guests can see the roasted classic porchetta which looks really delicious and I promise myself to give it a try next time. The wine list comprises of selections of Italian wine as the majority which reflect the Mediterranean character. There are also selections of wine by glass available: I had a glass of Enate Tempranillo and it costed THB250 a glass.

the bar that is full of food

wine by glass selection

We happened to visit Appia during a weekend lunch and they also offer additional menu during weekend lunch apart from the normal menu. The first we had was carbonara with dried paccheri pasta, Paolo Parisi's egg from Tuscany, cured pork cheek, pecorino (9/10). This pasta alla carbonara was really impressive. It is the best you can find in Bangkok perhaps. Instead of using the classic spaghetti, Appia uses paccheri that has the ability to capture the creamy sauce. Paccheri was also cooked to perfection "al dente". The salty and crisp cured pork paired gorgeously well with the creamy texture of the sauce. The secret of this creamy and aromatic carbonara was the special egg created by Paolo Parisi. It is claimed that such egg is laid by hen (galline Livornesi) that have been fed with fresh goat's milk. The result yields in egg that gives a slight taste of almond, softer yolk, and fatty but light. You know what, just order it.

The second dish to arrive was Polpettone: my mother's meat loaf, grilled marinated eggplant, spinach and fried eggs (7/10). This was the unexpected dish for us in the way we did not order. The dish we had ordered was poached eggs, Italian sausage, chicory, n'dujia sabayon, sour dough bread instead. The thing was Polpettone arrived at our table and there were fried eggs on top, it was egg but we didn't notice that it was fried egg and not poached egg. We didn't even hesitate but went ahead to taste. A few moment later the poached egg arrived, both the staff and us were confused. Appia, without hesitation, said the non-ordered Polpettone was the complementary from the restaurant. Really impressive and friendly service from Appia. We are thankful to that. Anyway, the Polpettone was delicious and was a good choice for weekend brunch. The tasty meat loaf was tender and juicy and went really well with eggplant and fried egg. However, the dish can be a little oily and strong in flavour for some people though.

carbonara with dried paccheri pasta, Paolo Parisi's egg from Tuscany, cured pork cheek, pecorino (THB380)

Polpettone: my mother's meat loaf, grilled marinated eggplant, spinach and fried eggs (THB280)

so yum meat loaf

Poached eggs, Italian sausage, chicory, n'dujia sabayon, sour dough bread (8/10) was another tasty brunch dish. Poached eggs, Italian sausage, and n'dujia were served on top of sour dough bread here. They are so generous with the portion of Italian sausage which balanced well with creamy poached egg. The Italian sausage was so flavourful and rich. If sour dough was served separately in crisp style, that would be a perfect dish.

Lastly, we had barley salad with duck leg cont, farro salad and pomegranate (8/10). I personally love this dish a lot. The overall impression was light and fresh. If it was to be an al fresco meal, this dish would be even more delightful. The barley salad was light, when combined with sweet and refreshing pomegranate it was a pleasure to eat. Duck leg was soft, tender, and yet full of flavour. If you like duck, this one cannot be missed indeed.

Simply said, we shall be returning many more times for this trattoria "Appia".

poached eggs, Italian sausage, chicory, n'dujia sabayon, sour dough bread (THB250)

barley salad with duck leg cont, farro salad and pomegranate (THB300)

Appia @ Soi Sukhumvit 31, Bangkok - แอพเพีย @ ซอยสุขุมวิท 31 กรุงเทพฯ
20/4 Soi Sukhumvit 31
Sukhumvit Road
Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana
Bangkok 10110

Open Hours: Tue - Sun from 06:30pm - 10:30pm for dinner and Sat - Sun 11:30am - 02:30pm for lunch

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Framingham Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Date of Tasting: 4 January 2014
Wine Type: White
Grape Varieties: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Alcohol: 13%
Origin: Marlborough, New Zealand
Appellation: Marlborough
Expect to Pay: ~ THB650
Chubby Score: 88/100
Value for money: 7/10
Professional Rating: WA - 90/100, WS - 87/100, WE - 89/100, CT - 87/100

Appearance: pale straw lemony yellow
Aroma: fragrant and aromatic grapefruit and nectarines, stony edge and mineral, hint of smoke, and floral
Palate: medium body that comprises some fair length of complexity. Dry with crisp and balanced acidity. Tropical fruits on the flavour. Some lemon, herbs, and forest floor. Chalk and mineral stone.

A wine to drink now with fading life. Fairly priced New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. This is an easy to drink one. Clear cut acidity and lack of after taste heat are really accessible. Smooth and cool with fine nose character. Only if complexity and charm are not so interesting, otherwise a classic cool climate Sauvignon Blanc. It can be really good with white fish dish, asparagus, and raw fish. Drink up now if you have in stock. Cheers!!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Quince Eatery and Bar @ Soi Sukhumvit 45, Bangkok - ควินซ์ อีทเทอรี่ แอนด์ บาร์ @ ซอยสุขุมวิท 45 กรุงเทพฯ

Cuisine: International / Pub / Cafe / Wine Bar
Price: THB750 per person without alcohol (what we paid for)
Visited: 25 January 2014
Food: 3/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value for money: 3/10
Services: 5/10
Scale: [ 1=poor ----- 5=average/standard ----- 10=outstanding/exceptional ]

Quince Eatery and Bar is located shortly within Soi Sukhumvit 45, right next to Casa Pagoda (furniture shop) which is at the entrance of the street. At first impression, the place is lovely and it seems to be a brilliant joint for brunch and chitchatting amongst friends. The ambient is friendly with decoration of wooden furniture in a seemingly retro style. The high ceiling coupling with long glass windows give such reviving and relax touch. Honestly, I do like the way sunshine glazing into the dining room, it makes photo capturing so natural. The al fresco can also be great here but fingers crossed in case of hot weather.

Quince Eatery and Bar on the day with Booza Wooza

simply relax ambient

I like the wooden table

In the middle of the hall, there is a bar which can probably accommodate around 8 guests. Again, I do like its classic look. Menu of Quince ranges from salads, to cannot-be-missed pasta variety, to classic beef steak, and even high end kurobuta pork and lamb shoulder. In brief, expect to see those menus in typical bistro joints but may be served in its own way. Menu is seemed to be adapted every now and then. For wine list, it does comprise of decent range and at just acceptable marking up.

the bar

classic flatware

bread to go with olive oil

For us, we happened to pop by this place because we were joining the Booza Wooza event which was organised at Quince Eatery and Bar. We only had quick starter and main course today. For starters, we had Albondigas, pork meatballs, spiced tomato sauce (5/10) and baked champignons, chorizo, manchego, leaves (4/10). These were menus by guest Chef Mario Hekke from Restaurant Sa Sal, Mallorca, Spain, which was visiting Quince from 17 to 25 January. We say they were just on average home cooking standard. We do not fancy these dishes at all. They seemed to be plain and flat and didn't get us excited. Meat ball tended to lack flavour and spice, whilst baked champignons tended to be too mild.

albondigas, pork meatballs, spiced tomato sauce (THB250)

baked champignons, chorizo, manchego, leaves (THB280)

We then had pasta for the mains. Spaghettini, blue swimmer crab, chili, garlic, tomato, basil (2/10) was not so impressed. Spaghettini was just soft and far away from what Italian call "al dente". The flavour of crab overwhelmed tomato and spices. We were not sure if it was meant to be like that. But we were sure not impressed. The other one was pappardelle, slow cooked duck, portabello mushroom ragu (2/10). You know what, I thought this was a Chinese stir-fry noodle dish when eating. Duck and mushroom did not seem to balance in this case. The overall picture was a bit soaked. At least, they get the pappardelle right texture for this one.

At the end, we both mutually agree that Quince is sure a restaurant with fabulous ambient but lack eagerness in culinary term. We would not called those pasta dishes, "pasta", and just off THB400 for a dish. You must be really funny. As for service, they were not excellent nor poor. Staffs might not be attentive even the place was less than half full but at least not too slow to service. The little tingy problem that annoyed us was a minor adjustment in price in the menu and no warning until we found out ourselves in the bill. Another wise, ok service.

But to go back for another experience, probably allowing us to skip would be kind. We do look for yummy food rather than just cool ambient.

spaghettini, blue swimmer crab, chili, garlic, tomato, basil (THB380)

pappardelle, slow cooked duck, portabello mushroom ragu (THB400)

Quince Eatery and Bar @ Soi Sukhumvit 45, Bangkok - ควินซ์ อีทเทอรี่ แอนด์ บาร์ @ ซอยสุขุมวิท 45 กรุงเทพฯ
Soi Sukhumvit 45
Sukhumvit Road
Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana
Bangkok 10110

Open Hours: daily from 11:30am - 01:00pm

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV

Date of Tasting: 31 December 2013
Wine Type: Sparkling White
Grape Varieties: 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier
Alcohol: 12%
Origin: Reims, France
Appellation: Champagne
Expect to Pay: ~ THB2,000
Chubby Score: 89/100
Value for money: 5/10
Professional Rating: WA - 92/100, WS - 91/100, WE - 91/100, ST - 89/100, JR - 17/20, DC - 16.5/20, FS - 92/100, CT - 89/100

Appearance: pale lemony yellow with fine bubbles
Aroma: almond and toast character, lemon, and yeast
Palate: rich and dry with citrus and green apple flavour as well as mineral. acid is on somewhat high side. clean and sharp. fine and creamy mousse with lively texture. show medium length on the palate.

Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV is simply a beautiful non-vintage that can be perfect for all festive occasions. It combines power, complexity, and elegant together. This should be so good with sushi. I personally like this non-vintage champagne to a degree though champagne is never cheap.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Yuutaro @ Sukhumvit 51, Bangkok - ยูทาโร่ @ ซอยสุขุมวิท 51 กรุงเทพฯ

Cuisine: Japanese / Sushi
Price: THB2,500 per person (what we paid for)
Visited: 12 January 2014
Food: 6/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Value for money: 3/10
Services: 5/10
Scale: [ 1=poor ----- 5=average/standard ----- 10=outstanding/exceptional ]

Once again that I have to mention about the "Baby Boom" of sushi bar in Bangkok. There have been so many new sushi bars during the past few years. Most of them are even serving similar stuff: ranging from sushi and sashimi sets (of course with toro, hamachi and etc. that come from the very same suppliers), variety of rolls, and recently the trend of omakase. Well, honestly they are just really enjoyable but most of them are not at high standard and dearly cost: you can end up with bill more than THB2,000 per head easily. Ok, people always say hang on, you will get xx% discount if you use this and that credit card to pay. Oh boy, all the same marketing scheme everywhere. Why isn't there any proper sushi place with the right pricing?

Anyway, let me get back to the main topic of this blog. Yuutaro is not an exception for the sushi bar baby boom. It was launched towards the end of 2013. It is located in Soi Sukhumvit 51. If you come from Sukhumvit Road, Yuutaro will be on the right hand side at the end of Soi Sukhumvit 51. The place is grand and there are so many parking lots which is really great. Even you do not drive, Yuutaro is also within a walking distance from BTS Thonglor station. The interior is not spectacular but fairly cosy. I do like the fact that the place is really big and each table is kept at a good distance from the neighbouring table. The sushi counter can accommodate around 10 guests.

Yuutaro @ Sukhumvit 51, Bangkok

spacious with many parking lots

large sushi counter

comfortable dining room

When I glanced through the menu, I was rather shock with the pricing of dishes here (or I did overreact). Admittedly, they are really expensive especially the raw fish part. From the moment, I did expect some really good meal here. Let me give some example of pricing: THB400 for tonkatsu, THB800 for crunchy crab roll (spider roll), and THB1,500 for aburi sushi set (seared matsuzaka, otoro, scallop, botan ebi, hamachi, and salmon). After the meal, I was sure that this would not be a regular place for me to have sushi. Overpricing from my point of view. I expect more on cooking skill and quality from this range of pricing, not just the expensive kind of ingredient.

sake for the night

condiment to go with sake

roasted ginkgo

Having googled to do some research before visiting, toro tsuke inaniwa udon (6/10) was in our top list to be ordered as it looked pretty yummy. The dish came in a small bowl consisting of inaniwa udon at the bottom topped with fatty tuna, soft boiled egg, nameko mushrooms, ikura, and a piece of uni. THB900 for this, I must be made to have ordered it. It may combine all the good ingredients but flavour of each one seems to cannibalise each other. It was fun but not wonderful. As for zeitaku maki (6/10) and wagyu toro roll (7/10), they were lovely enough to be pleasurable. Zeitaku maki was decent but the mayonnaise with sushi has always been the overwhelming part for me. The wagyu toro roll, which was tender and almost melted in the mouth, was a more approachable modern maki for me.

toro tsuke inaniwa udon (THB900)

toro tsuke inaniwa udon

zeitaku maki (THB1,200)

wagyu toro roll (THB2,400)

We did also have sashimi omakase (6/10) to try. The set consisted of otoro, hamachi, kampachi, salmon, ama ebi (sweet shrimp), hirame (flounder), and hotate (scallop). The portion seemed to be decent for this menu but the quality was not up to my expectation. You can probably see from the picture below that the colour of each piece does not look that fresh. This was also the similar case for ikura gunkan maki (5/10).

sashimi omakase (THB2,200)

otoro - fatty tuna

ikura gunkan maki (THB360)

For non sushi dishes, we had tempura moriawase (6/10), buri kama shioyaki (6/10), and wagyu beef tobanyaki (6/10). Both tempura and buri kama shioyaki (grilled yellow tail jaw with salt) were pleasant and of standard quality. Tempura was crisp and enjoyable whilst grilled yellow tail jaw was of enjoyable texture. However, the pricing of grilled yellow tail was rather high. Lastly, the wagyu beef tobanyaki was an enjoyable piece of wagyu steak in Japanese style. The quality of ingredient was acceptable. But having wagyu beef grilled in this style does not bring the best taste out of good quality beef. Yes, it was tender and juicy but it lacked the natural scent of beef and can be too oily.

tempura moriawase (THB350)

buri kama shioyaki (THB1,200)

wagyu beef tobanyaki (THB2,500)

For dessert, green tea lava cake (5/10) was ok. It was served with green tea ice-cream. The fondant texture was just right and not overcooked. When cut, the green tea lava just flowed out immensely: a little too much and too liquid in fact. It would be more enjoyable with denser liquid. Chocolate yuzu soufflé (2/10), on the other hand, made us laugh coincidently concurrently. The portion was so small; tiny in fact. Around 1.5 inches in diameter, I suppose. It was ridiculously small, I have to say. The texture was sure not soufflé. It was dense with no fluffiness of soufflé character. The chocolate and yuzu scents did not seem to pair well in this case too.

green tea lava cake (THB200)

chocolate yuzu souffle (THB200)

Yuutaro @ Sukhumvit 51, Bangkok - ยูทาโร่ @ ซอยสุขุมวิท 51 กรุงเทพฯ
64 Sukhumvit 51
Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana
Bangkok 10110

Open Hours: daily from 12:00am - 02:30pm for lunch and from 06:00pm - 10:30pm for dinner
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