Archive for 2008 Pillar Box Red

POSSIBLY USELESS WINE & DINE INFO – VOL 1 #5

Posted in Info on Wine with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2010 by ballymote

Lots of little events to mention and it’s been awhile since I did this, so here goes. First, it was very sad to hear that Bryan Sikura and Aimee Olexy, the dynamic duo that made Talula’s Table in Kennett Square, PA, the ultimate Delaware Valley BYOB, have split up. The rumors had been prevalent for months but a front page article in this past Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer gave all the sordid details. In fact, I felt it may have gone a little too far. Suffice to say, recent diners are saying that Talula’s continues to shine and gives every indication it’s popularity will continue going forward. We certainly wish both Bryan and Aimee the very best and ideally, if it’s meant to be, perhaps they can find again what they once had.

Another loss, of a totally different nature took place yesterday when the Robert Parker Wine Board closed it’s internet doors to all but paid subscribers. For years it had been a source of great reading on every possible aspect of wine, food and travel. It was a place you could count on to hear first of new wines, wine regions, and opinions of all types. Henceforth, it will cost $99 a year to take part in the dialogue or even read what others have written. It feels like I have lost a friend as I spent many hours enjoying that board.

Saturday, May 8th, the Ninth Annual Philadelphia Wine Festival will take place at the Marriott Hotel. This is an excellent opportunity to sample lots of great wines and enjoy foods from local restaurants. If I were not doing a photography assignment at a friend’s wedding, I would be there myself. Tickets are $125.00 per person or $225.00 for early admittance which allows you to enter 90 minutes early when the REALLY good wines are offered. Here are the details:

Philadelphia magazine and The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Present The 9th Annual Philadelphia Wine FestivalSaturday May 8, 2010 The Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. Over 150 of the world’s finest winemakers and winery representatives will be pouring their wine at a GrandTasting and an exclusive VIP Tasting.  At the VIP Tasting, guests will sample vintages of some of the most prestigious wineries from around the world in a more exclusive environment than the Grand Tasting. Winery representatives will include winemakers, presidents, and brand ambassadors, all available and interested in discussing your thoughts on their wines. Includes Grand Tasting Admission. $5 Processing fee per order. Admission is limited.    Philadelphia Wine Festival VIP Admission Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 5:00 PM.

Where: Philadelphia Marriott Downtown

Source: http://www.tix.com/Event.asp?Event=221614

When: 5:00pm Sat 5.08.10

 

 

The recent earthquake in Chile not only brought death and destruction to the people and structures of the country but it also proved devastating to the Chilean wine industry. The 6.9 tremblor resulted in a loss of over 100 million bottles and an estimated loss of as much as 30 BILLION to the country’s economy.

Wine from Chile has gained great acceptance in this country and despite the tremendous loss, sources say, there will be no noticeable shortage of these wines on the shelves at your local wine shop. The main wine producing region of Chile, the Casablanca Valley, was spared and only small losses were experienced there. The Maule Region was hit the hardest with an approximate 12% of their wine destroyed during the quake.

 

Now that I have been there and loaded up on my own supply I can tell you that the wine pictured on the right, The 2008 Pillar Box Red, one of the great QPR (Quality/Price Ratio) wines of all time, is available while supplies last at your neighborhood PA State Stores as a Chairman’s Selection at the ridiculous price of $6.99 a bottle. This wine normally sells (and currently sells in most NJ wine outlets) for $12.99 a bottle and that is not a bad buy. You can spend $12.99 for a lot of lesser wines than this one. If I were you, I’d stop reading this nonsense right now and hurry over to your nearest State Store while this yummy juice is still available.

SYCAMORE RESTAURANT – BYOB

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Philly BYOB Reviews, Sycamore Restaurant, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , on April 9, 2010 by ballymote

Sycamore Restaurant in Lansdowne, PA is not that hard to find. I managed to make a minor adventure out of it but a phone call from one of my dining companions guided me to the door. Tonight’s group was the childhood perv, oops, I mean, the guys I grew up with. We last met at Pesto on Broad Street a couple months back. This evening we were meeting at a BYOB within walking distance of our old neighborhood. Joining me were Steve J, Ange C. and Val S. Our fifth derelict, Frank D. was not feeling well and became a last-minute cancellation. Our wine for the evening were a couple of PA State Store Chairman’s Selections. The 2008 Pillar Box Red and the 2006 Clare Luce Abbey, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon. Both of these reds showed lots of dark fruit, some pepper on the Shiraz blend and some smooth mocha on the Cabernet. I had previously had the Clare Luce Abbey at the Spring Mill Inn in Conshohocken back in 09. The Pillar Box has been one of my favorite QPR (quality/price/ratio) wines for many years and the crazy price that it is currently selling for as a Chairman’s Selection makes it a strong candidate for case purchase.

Our server, Elenore, wasn’t quite sure what to make of our group but to her credit she maintained her composure and good humor throughout the night.

Sycamore offers a Cheese Plate, a Charcuterie Plate and a Combo Plate  (3 cheese selections and two meats for $19.00) as an appetizer. The others all passed on appetizers but I ordered the Pancetta, Onion and Goat Cheese Tart, Phyllo Crust and Deep Carmelized Onion for $7.00.        

 It proved to be a nice flavor combination with the crispy tart and tangy cheese and a few dressed greens on the side. Entree selection was a little  more difficult. I was considering the chicken but it was served with scrambled eggs. There was another item that came with a fried egg. I am seeing this more and more and I have to confess I am not a fan of eggs with my dinner. In my mind, eggs are a breakfast item and should be limited to pre-noon meals. That’s just a personal flaw in my culinary make-up. Anyway, I quickly reduced my choices to the Scallops and the Crab Cakes.  Elenore helped me settle on the crab cakes and it turned out to be a good choice. Two perfectly cooked cakes low on filler and high on crab were joined by the Chipotle Like Jimaca Slaw and a delicious Roasted Pepper Remoulade that was a great marriage for the crab cake.  Ange C. also ordered the same dish and he too enjoyed his meal. Val opted for the Poussin, Deboned Young Chicken, Stuffed with Seasonal Greens, Mushrooms and Brie, Scrambled Eggs with Spring Asparagus. As I mentioned earlier, I would have been unable to get past the scrambled eggs but Val found his dish flavorful and nicely prepared. He even paused once in a while in his story-telling to eat a bite or two. I was proud that he was able to feed himself without his wife, Patty being there. The guy is making real progress.

Steve J. took time out from insinuating that my Grand Prize Win in the NCAA Tournament Pool run by my son, Brian was more than just good fortune and coincidence  to place an order for the lamb.  Cumin Dusted Lamb Steak, Artichoke Pistachio Pesto, Merguez and Spinach Fricassee. His medium well dish was just as he had requested and, although I think he still feels the pool was fixed, he at least did not go home hungry.

As with most of these “neighborhood” dinners, stories were told and retold for the 200th time and lots of laughs accompanied the meal. We split two of the desserts , the Banoffee Tart  (Banoffee = Banana and Toffee explained Elenore) and the Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Both of these were very good but I would give a slight edge to the cake which was extremely good.

Sycamore is a very nice BYOB with some great menu choices, a warm and welcoming atmosphere and very reasonably priced. The meal, with tax and tip was $41.00 per person.

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