Archive for 2007 Cameron Hughes Lot 125 Pinot Noir

TRATTORIA GIUSEPPE – BYOB

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Trattoria Giuseppe, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2010 by ballymote

 The sign looks big but it wasn’t easy finding Trattoria Giuseppe which sits back behind a shopping center off of West Chester Pike (Rt. 3) in Edgemont, PA. Judging by the crowd on this chilly Tuesday evening, I may have been one of the few who was challenged by the task of locating this very popular Delaware County eatery. I was having dinner with some childhood friends (Frank, Steve & Tom) and they are familiar with the area and had told me how popular this Italian Restaurant was and that we were lucky, even on a Tuesday, to not have to wait for a table despite having reservations. All of this made me curious as to why the place was such a local favorite.

 I had brought with me an unfinished bottle of the 2005 Cameron Hughes, Lot 125, Pinot Noir, Napa/Carneros. This is a really great Pinot for the money with a great nose and lots of strawberry and raspberry flavors and just delivers terrific value for the money. My other bottle was something I picked up at the PA State Store some time back. The 2007 Borra Vineyards, Field Blend, Lodi, California is a very different wine, made from a blend of grapes you seldom see. 48% Barbera, 23% Carignane, 16% Alicante Bouschet, 13% Petite Sirah. It’s a dark ruby red in the glass with a full mouthfeel. This is one you are going to either love or hate. I take that back because, come to think of it, I can’t quite decide.

Our server, Jeremiah, was poised and polished and also impressed that Frank was able to name Three Dog Night as the group that made the 60’s song featuring his name. He opened our wine, outlined the specials and brought us some complimentary bruschetta.

 Nice fresh tomatoes atop a crisp piece of Italian bread made this a great way to start off our evening. We spent some time conversing and reviewing the massive menu before the four of us had zeroed in on our selections. For appetizers, Frank and Steve split some more bruchetta; an order  which was large enough to end famine in a third world country. I would have a picture of it but I couldn’t get the entire plate in the frame of the lens.

 I ordered the Mozzarella Caprese, fresh mozzarella, sliced red tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and basil. This was another huge offering of which I ate about 40% and took the rest home. I was beginning to see why families were filling the tables here as dinners appeared to be such that each meal was enough to serve the family for the rest of the week.

 Entrees were more of the same as Tommy’s dish of Tagliatelle Giuseppe was chock full of seafood, featuring mussels, shrimp, scallops some chopped tomatoes and broccoli rabe.

Steve’s order of Ravioli Quattro Formaggio, fresh made ravioli filled with blue cheese, goat cheese, mozzarella and parmesan in a rich cream sauce looked like an artery clogging delight. I knew he would have a tough time finishing this one and although he totally enjoyed it there was quite a bit to bring back home.

 Frank’s Tilapia topped with shrimp and artichokes was, I believe, one of the “specials” and was the only dish that appeared to offer a chance of being totally consumed in one sitting. The fish was nicely baked and had a an appealing white wine sauce.

As for myself, I figured if I was in a true, Italian restaurant why not give the spaghetti and meatballs a try. When I order this dish I am always keeping my fingers crossed that I will have at least two nice sized meatballs to compliment the pasta. The bowl that arrived at my table, steaming hot, contained FOUR mammoth meatballs. I gave it a worthy attempt but still was unable to make much of a dent in the meal before I gave up and had it boxed. It provided not only another great dinner but TWO more dinners, which, to be honest, tasted better on each subsequent day.

We passed on dessert as we were all stuffed and settled for more wine and laughs. It’s always great to get together with these guys and tonight was no exception.

 Trattoria Giuseppe does not need me to give it a “thumbs up”. It’s apparent that enough people have done that. Weekends are virtually impossible to avoid waiting lines. It’s very good food, tremendous portions, we found Jeremiah to be a first class server and just an overall nice spot for a meal that will not break your budget.

CHRISTOPHER – BYOB

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Christopher, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2010 by ballymote

Open only three weeks, Christopher, on Kresson Rd (just off Brace) in Cherry Hill, had already drawn some nice reviews. Our little group of six hungry diners were anxious to see for ourselves what it was all about and that is what brought us there last evening. Nicely designed on the inside, Christopher features an alcove in the center that is unique and provides a more roomy feel to the room. With Sinatra-type music playing softly in the background, our server, Michaelangelo, painted us a picture of the evening’s lone “special” (sorry, couldn’t resist). It was a stuffed flounder with a three cheese sauce. It sounded pretty good. As our wines were opened, Michaelangelo suggested some appetizers and you could tell he took pride in being a part of this new culinary adventure. In fact, the entire staff seemed to work as a team in re-filling water glasses, removing dishes, stopping by to see if everything was OK.

As usual we had a few bottles of wine to go with our food. I had the 2007 Cameron Hughes, Lot 125, Pinot Noir, Carneros. I found this at Monster Beverage in Glassboro a few months back and I was pleasantly surprise how well this showed for a $20.00 Pinot Noir. Excellent notes of cherry and strawberries with a soft, smoky nuance. Joe B. has a very interesting wine, the 2007 O. Fournier, Centauri, Maule Valley, Chile. I have to confess, I have never been a big fan of Chilean wines but this one could convert me. It had loads of red and black berries with hints of tobacco and chocolate. It was exceptionally smooth and had a nice lingering finish. Jerry and Sue B.’s daughter, Katie, had just returned from a summer holiday in Greece and they had a .375 bottle she had brought home with her. The only word I could read on the label was Kastelli. The rest of the words were all Greek to me (I know…I know…I’ll stop). Anyway, it was from Santorini, on the island of Crete and it was light and, as stated on the label, dry and red.

One of the signature dishes at Christopher is the appropriately named, Christopher’s Signature New England Clam Chowder (cup 4.95…bowl 5.95). Five of the six of us opted for this as our appetizer. I was glad to see Carol B. show some individuality and order what would have been my choice had I not felt like I had to choose the soup. Carol ordered the Pot Stickers. Wontons filled with pork, garlic and ginger, served with a honey-soy dipping sauce. She shared one with me and they were very tasty and a good value for $6.95. The soup was excellent. It was served at the perfect temperature and was chock full of nice pieces of clam, potato and veggies in a yummy broth with a couple of secret ingredients that Michaelangelo made me take a blood oath not to reveal, so I won’t. I have had some really good soups and chowders during the past year and although Christopher’s was not the absolute best it certainly does not have to make any apologies.

Joe B. and Jerry C. both ordered the Christopher Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with Portabello, a portabello musroom, basted and grilled then topped with a jumbo lump crab cake (actually TWO), melted provolone and served over spring mix and drizzled with a vinaigrette dressing. Carol had the Crab Cakes without the Portabello and it was like a Tale of Two Cities. Jerry and Joe enjoyed theirs very much. Carol found her crab cake to be mushy with a distinct absence of crab and a preponderance of filler. It could have been she just had a bad batch. I actually tasted both and the addition of the portabello definitely was an added plus for the dish (and this from an avowed mushroom hater). Bottom line recommendation, for three more bucks get the Portabello!

I was totally pleased with my choice, the Spicy Crab. Linguine with jumbo lump crab meat in a homemade spicy marinara sauce. The sauce was good and the amount of crab meat was generous. I was able to take half home for another meal and I am looking forward to it.

My wife, Kathy, chose the Scallops & Shrimp, served over a bed of linguine with mushrooms, scallions, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. She enjoyed the shrimp and scallops but felt the linguine was over-cooked. I might add that most entrees are served with either a baked potato or a serving of summer veggies. They had run out of baked potatoes and so we settled for the vegetables.

Sue C. can’t eat a lot of seafood so she searched the menu and found an 8 ounce Angus beef filet which is normally served with shrimp or crab meat (add $1.00). Sue passed on both of the seafood items and thought the steak was good.

Michaelangelo came by to tempt us with his dessert tray and although we tried to be strong we were simply unable to utter the words “No Thanks” and consequently sampled the Chocolate Cake (light and luscious) the Carrott Cake  (sweet and creamy goodness) and his personal favorite, the Key Lime Pie (excellent thanks to the addition of Meyer Lemon). We did pass on the Double Chocolate Strawberries so it’s not like we had NO willpower.

Overall, I’d have to say that Christopher is off to a good start and that it shows lots of potential. Certainly, it merits another visit in the future.

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