Sunday, November 30, 2014

Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru Les Chaumes 2007

Date of Tasting: 22 October 2014
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 100% Pinot Noir
Alcohol: 13.2%
Origin: Bourgogne, France
Appellation: Appellation Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru Controlee
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR80
Chubby Appreciation: 92/100
Professional Rating: ST - 90/100, BH - 92/100, JR - 17.5/100, CT - 92/100

Appearance: bright ruby
Aroma: red pinot fruits aroma, floral scented, a bit of spices
Palate: medium bodied with fine volume of juicy red berries and blue berries forward. fruit seems to dominate rather than oak. lively with charming complexity. well balance.

Beauty and elegant in style. It possesses some heavy body but not really overwhelming. Arnoux-Lachaux Les Chaumes 2007 is drinking wonderfully now but yet the life span is still bright ahead. I like the purity and balance of this bottle which perhaps represents the charm of this terroir without forcefully driven. Shall indeed enjoy more of this.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ristorante Le Torri @ Castiglione Falletto, Cuneo, Italy

Cuisine: Italian
Price: EUR37 per person (what we paid for)
Visited: 9 October 2014
Food: 7/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value for money: 7/10
Services: 7/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

Here is the first review during the 2014 Italy trip where we had an opportunity to try and experience some restaurants in Piedmont, Aosta, and Lombardy areas. Ristorante Le Torri was the first restaurant we tried in Piedmont after a long drive from Aosta. It is located in Castiglione Falletto area at the top of the hill with neighbouring of Vietti, which is a splendid wine producer in Piedmont.

The place and surrounding of Ristorante Le Torri are just brilliant. Beautiful and relax ambient. Simple but elegant decoration. Wonderful view of landscape as well. Staffs were lovely and friendly. They were so helpful. At the first glance, without having tasted anything, we were already thinking that this is going to be a good meal.

Ristorante Le Torri @ Castiglione Falletto, Cuneo, Italy

relax and spacious ambient

If you are one lover of Piedmont wine, Le Torri also offers a rather good range and at friendly price (somewhat 300 labels in the cellar). For menu range, it is categorised in the usual Italian way of antipasti, primi piatti, secondi piatti, and lastly dolci (if you are not still full by then). Each course comprises around 7 to 8 choices of classic Piedmont menu. During the visit, which was at the beginning of October, it was a fortunate event that it happened to be the season for white truffle. Le Torri, without fail, also served truffle menu which was marked with higher price from the ordinary menu (around EUR20+ per dish). Well, we could not really miss the opportunity to try, right?

wine cellar

truffle menu

bread basket

Ardoino olive oil

For us, we had the opportunity to try antipasti and first course only and could not go further than that really (was so full by then). For appetisers, we had Veal Tartare with Black Truffle (7/10) and Small Carrots Pie with Anchovies Sauce (7/10). Both were fine and splendid. Veal tartare was naturally tender and of course went pretty nicely with shaved black truffle. A touch of salt (himalayan if not mistaken) flakes complimented the dish well. The carrot pie is, on the other hand, something new to us. We were reluctant to order but did not regret at all. It turned out to be so smooth and creamy but not over powering. Really like the dish.

amuse bouche of tomato salad

Veal Tartare with Black Truffle (EUR10)

Small Carrots Pie with Anchovies Sauce (EUR9)

As for the mains, we had Carnaroli Risotto with Barolo Wine (7/10) and Tajarin with White Truffle (8/10). I love the risotto here. It looked so plain and simple but packed with flavours. Such a combination of barolo and cheese. The texture was as well tremendous. I love the bit of al dente in risotto as much as in pasta. For Tajarin with White Truffle, needless to say that this is a classic dish created by god for humanity. Just simply egg noodles on topped with white truffle, and that's it. The magic started to show its performance. The white truffle might be of the best quality but enough to make us happy with its perfume and aroma.

Carnaroli Risotto with Barolo Wine (EUR10)

Tajarin with White Truffle (EUR25)

white truffle

During the course, I did have Cavallotto Barbera d'Alba Vigna del Cuculo 2011 (91/100) and Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato 2009 (94/100) to accompany the dishes. The Cavallotto performed beautifully with red fruits aroma and palate. The high acidity that usually found in barbera was well balanced and lingering. On the other hand, Pio Cesare Ornato 2009 was such a compliment. The perfume of truffle was just charming and lingering. It is a wine that can be enjoyable now and a few decades to go really.

In overall, we were happy with this meal at Ristorante Le Torri and are looking forward to revisit in the future. Cheers.

Cavallotto Barbera d'Alba Vigna del Cuculo 2011

Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato 2009

Ristorante Le Torri @ Castiglione Falletto, Cuneo, Italy
10 Piazza Vittorio Veneto
Castiglione Falletto
Cuneo 12060

Open Hours: Wednesday to Monday 12:00pm - 02:00pm for lunch and 07:30pm - 09:30pm for dinner

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bellavista Franciacorta Alma Cuvee Brut DOCG NV

Date of Tasting: 13 September 2014
Wine Type: Sparkling White
Grape Varieties: 80% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir), 1% Pinot Bianco
Alcohol: 12.5%
Origin: Lombardy, Italy
Appellation: Franciacorta DOCG
Expect to Pay: ~ THB1,000
Chubby Score: 90/100
Value for money: 7/10
Professional Rating: WA - 92/100, AG - 90/100, WE - 92/100, JR - 16/20, CT - 90/100

Appearance: bright straw yellow
Aroma: white flowers, ripe pear, and hint of vanilla
Palate: creamy fine bubble with satisfying finish. vibrant and harmony notes of tanginess and white fruits: pear and apple. 

An Italian champagne and yes it is Italian with Methode Champenoise. It was seductive, smooth, energetic but yet elegant. A fruity style that is enjoyable at any moment. The lot was L0234-14023000208 which may survive well for a said period of 5 years. Looking to grab more for my cellar.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Umi Sushi Restaurant @ Piman 49, Sukhumvit 49, Bangkok - ร้านอาหาร อูมิ ซูชิ @ พิมาน 49 ซอยสุขุมวิท 49 กรุงเทพ

Cuisine: Japanese (sushi)
Price: THB2,500 per person without alcohol (what we paid for)
Visited: 8 November 2014
Food: 7/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Value for money: 4/10
Services: 6/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

Japanese restaurants have been the popular choice for Bangkokian during the last decade and undoubtedly sushi kind of restaurant is one at the top list. New stores have kept opening, especially in 2014, with omakase style of sushi and high end sushi as the new trend. Umi Sushi Restaurant, at Piman 49 Project (the same block of building as Saigon Recipe) in Soi Sukhumvit 49, is no exception one of the kind. Umi has just been launched recently at the beginning of November 2014. As for atmosphere, it has been kept in classic Japanese style of simplicity with mainly wooden furniture in soft tone. Once walking into the restaurant, there you would see a sushi counter which can accommodate around 10 guests comfortably. There are also normal seats inside but we did not have a chance to take a look. It was only during soft launch when we visited and even the menu was not completed. Only course menu was offered.

As for service, staffs are lovely and friendly. Though the service was slow (it took us almost 2 hours for lunch), it was still better than expected for newly launched restaurant. Perhaps sushi chefs need to have assistant in order to perform faster. Chef Poj, who is the head chef and co-owner, is skilful and was an apprentice at Sushi Cyu at All Seasons Place. I was rather impressed with sushi he made. Not entirely matched with those classy ones in Tokyo but enjoyable in the light of Thai sushi chef.

Just one little thing that other co-owners who were at the restaurant during the meal did not pay much attention to customers as ones would expect a newly opened restaurant to do. There were 2 other groups of a few guests, in which I believe to be owners' friends, dined at the same time. At first, they did not recognise my reservation and seemed surprise with our walk-in but one of the staffs did at least. Secondly, they seem to pay much attention with their friends and forgot all about taking care of other customers e.g. asking about how their food were or what could be improved and etc. Anyway, not a big deal but just would like to share impression.

Umi Sushi Restaurant @ Piman 49, Bangkok

ingredients for the day

a sushi counter for approx. 10 seats

Chef Poj performing his skill

It was only the soft launch period during our visit and as mentioned, there were still only course menu available ranging from THB1,800 for lunch and from THB2,500 for dinner. We were there for lunch and went for THB2,500 sushi course which comprised of 12 sushi (including maki). Just a little tip, some of lunch and dinner courses may look the same but are priced differently for example 12 sushi course would cost THB2,500 for lunch but THB3,500 for dinner. Many would have thought that it is only the different between lunch and dinner pricing scheme only. Well, it is not for Umi. Ingredients also get varied. Simply said the higher priced, i.e. dinner, does come with more expensive ingredients and vice versa. Management decision in such difference of lunch and dinner menu is questionable from the light of my view!!!!!

The mean began with a small appetiser of steamed egg (5/10) which was just on par with most of Japanese restaurants in town. There was a piece of prawn inside and nothing else special. A particular attention that should be made is the preserved ginger. It was made in-house with the style such that the level of sweetness and sourness are lower than usual. Spices' touch of ginger was still abundant. It was cut in thick pieces rather than this slices. Well, it was enjoyable in its own style but judge it for yourself though.

The first piece of sushi was Ika (Squid) - 烏賊 (8/10). It was served with a touch of salt and lime juice. Smooth, tender, and fresh in style. Not chewy nor fishy at all. Madai (Red Seabream) - 真鯛 (6/10) was then followed. Not an entirely wonderful bite. There was a trace of fishy aroma though served with grated yuzu and lime juice.

Before I forget, I better mention about rice. Of course, ingredients, which are mainly seafood, are largely imported from Japan. Rice is no exception. I was told that sushi rice at Umi is a blend of Akitakomachi and Koshihikari if I was not mistaken. Out of many sushi restaurants in Bangkok, this is perhaps one of the few that serves rather nice rice with almost al dente (I would say) kind of texture and sourness from vinegar still presents. Many places would serve rice that is too soft and soaky. Temperature was as well kept warm in rice cooker and only some part would be taken out at a time to be used.

steamed egg as appetiser

in house preserved ginger

Ika (Squid) - 烏賊

Madai (Red Seabream) - 真鯛

Next were fattier types of fillet. Akami (red fillet of tuna) - 赤身 (8/10), maguro zuke in this case, was marinated before being served and came along with grated yuzu. I like the lovely scent of citrus which cut through the sweet fattiness of tuna. This was a pleasant bite. Chutoro (medium fatty tuna) - 中とろ (7/10) had a nice fragrant of its own. Mild but compliment. However, the cutting proportion of fillet did look a little distorted for this piece. Then Shima Aji (White Trevally) - しま鯵 (6/10) was served. It was delicious but that was it for me. Only the balance between soft and firm texture that played their roles. On the palate, it was kind of bland. This was similar in the case of Aburi Kinmedai (Lightly Grilled Splendid Alfonsino) - 炙り金目鯛 (6/10). The texture and fattiness of kinmedai were wonderful. Nevertheless, the addition of momiji oroshi (condiments made from grated daikon radish and chilli) didn't seem to pair well with aburi kinmedai. Overwhelming, I would say.

Akami (red fillet of tuna) - 赤身

Chutoro (medium fatty tuna) - 中とろ

Shima Aji (White Trevally) - しま鯵

Aburi Kinmedai (Lightly Grilled Splendid Alfonsino) - 炙り金目鯛

Saba () or Mackerel (7/10) happened to be a surprise for me. It was nicely marinated that yielded mild flavour that incorporated with natural tenderness. But still a trace of saltiness and fishiness. Kohada (Gizzard Shad) - こはだ (6/10), on the other hand, was presented with primary taste of sourness from marination. Not my style but can be enjoyable. At this point, I started to notice that it was coming towards the end of the course when Uni (Sea Urchin) - 海胆 (7//10) was served. It was sure a nice piece with the expected sweetness and creaminess. Still, this was not a fantastic one just yet. Ikura (salmon roe) - いくら (6/10) is usually one of my favourite sushi choice. This time at Umi, it was served in a small bowl rather than in gunkan maki style. When asked whether this supposed to be sujiko (salmon roe in sac), Chef Poj honestly agreed without hesitation. Problem was the quality was not quite there and Chef Poj decided to take the sac off and served in this style. Well, it was still nice with the balance between sweetness and saltiness. The grated yuzu on top did also help bringing up the flavour.

Saba () or Mackerel

Kohada (Gizzard Shad) - こはだ

Uni (Sea Urchin) - 海胆

Ikura (salmon roe) - いくら

At this juncture, Chef Pof mentioned that tamago was not quite ready and he would serve something else instead. Aburi Toro (lightly grilled fatty tuna) - 炙りとろ (7/10) and Anago (Sea Eel) - 穴子 (8/10) were the final two pieces. Aburi toro was nice with the almost immediate melting effect as the key. The burnt aroma was pleasurable. Momiji oroshi did pair with this aburi toro better than the previous piece of kinmedai. Lastly, the anogo was served with the classic sweet tare sauce. Nice and soft texture, it possessed.

Negi-toro Temaki (fatty tuna hand-roll) - ねぎとろ手巻き was then served and followed by a soup that was made with minced toro as the main ingredients. Charcoal ice-cream was then served to end the meal. This was an enjoyable ice-cream with smooth and chewy texture but I could not really tell it was charcoal. Nice to have anyway. But not so sure which brand the ice-cream was though.

Well, Umi is a rather decent high end sushi at the end. Of course, it is very expensive with pricing almost in the same range as those in Japan. Surely there are some other more expensive out there in town. I am personally not a fan of this expensive trend in Bangkok though I do enjoy sushi a lot. But as an experience, I could not avoid experiencing, right?

P.S. Almost forget to mention that toro here would be preserved for 8 days before serving and 5 days for akami, in case you are curious.

Aburi Toro (lightly grilled fatty tuna) - 炙りとろ

Anago (Sea Eel) - 穴子

soup with toro as base ingredient

Negi-toro Temaki (fatty tuna hand-roll) - ねぎとろ手巻き

Charcoal Ice-cream

Umi Sushi Restaurant @ Piman 49, Sukhumvit 49, Bangkok - ร้านอาหาร อูมิ ซูชิ @ พิมาน 49 ซอยสุขุมวิท 49 กรุงเทพ
Floor 3, Piman 49 Project
Soi Sukhumvit 49
Sukhumvit Road
Khlongtan Nuea, Wattana
Bangkok 10110

Open Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 11:30am - 02:30pm for lunch and 06:00pm - 11:00pm for dinner
Tel: +66 (0) 85 251 2200

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno 2010

Date of Tasting: 9 September 2014
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: ~ 45% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot
Alcohol: 14.5%
Origin: Tuscany, Italy
Appellation: Toscana IGT
Expect to Pay: ~ THB2,000
Chubby Score: 94/100
Value for money: 9/10
Professional Rating: WA - 96/100, WS - 94/100, JS - 96/100, CT - 93/100

Appearance: dark purplish ruby
Aroma: complex bouquet of ripe dark berries, black pepper, tobacco and graphite, and vinegar
Palate: exciting sweet red and black fruits and herbs. refined and supple. silky but masculine tannins and impressive length. 

Simply beautiful and gorgeous at excellent price comparing to many other Super Tuscan and Bordeaux. Wonderfully crafted. It was rich and structured. Sleek and sexy but enormous at the same time. Long live ahead so you better stock up. Salute!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters @ Rain Hill, Bangkok - ร้านกาแฟพาคามาร่า @ เรนฮิลล์ กรุงเทพฯ

Cuisine: Coffee Shop
Price: THB100 per person without alcohol (what we paid for)
Visited: 10 August 2014
Coffee: 7/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Value for money: 8/10
Services: 5/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

Boutique coffee shops are sure to be spreading all over the place in Bangkok nowadays. Some seem to come and go pretty fast. Pacamara is another boutique coffee shop that has not long been established in Bangkok. In fact, it is originally from Chiang Mai. I have not been to the one in Chiang Mai personally but have heard about Pacamara in Chiang Mai from time to time. When I had heard about its establishment at Rain Hill, I thought I might opt for a try.

Pacamara is on the 2nd floor of Rain Hill. If you are not sure where Rain Hill is, it is right at the entrance to Soi Sukhumvit 47. Hence, taking BTS to Phrom Phong Station or Thonglor Station may be the easiest routes and you can reach Rain Hill on foot within a few minutes. The place is rather small, tiny actually. Just a small room with a few tables. I am not really sure whether this is really a place opened to do commercial or just to let people aware of its name. They do serve some nice coffee beverage. But such a small place like this, not really sure about its customer turnover and takeaway order. However, Pacamara is not just a coffee corner, it is as well a coffee bean roaster and seller (both retail and wholesale level). Personally, I did buy back some coffee beans back to try: House Blend and Roaster Blend. They both are not bad and of some decent quality.

Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters @ Rain Hill

small coffee corner

We did pop by for a really quick shot of coffee. If you are an expert, you might as well go for espresso shot to taste. But we cannot really take that though. We instead went for Caffe Latte and Piccolo Latte. At the price of THB85 a cup, I think it is rather good for these days. Caffe Latte is usually smooth and creamy and this one was as well rather well made and smooth. For Piccolo Latte, it is not much different from Caffe Latte but with reduced milk portion which gives a more intense coffee flavour and aroma. I do like both type of latte, just the former one that is easier to consume.

Though Pacamara does brew good cup of coffee, it is still not a destination that you might want to specifically drop by for just a cup of coffee. In case you are already at Rain Hill, this is not a bad place to stop by.

smooth vs. intense

Caffe Latte (THB85)

Piccolo Latte (THB85)

Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters @ Rain Hill, Bangkok - ร้านกาแฟพาคามาร่า @ เรนฮิลล์ กรุงเทพฯ
Floor 2, Rain Hill Community Mall
777 Sukhumvit 47 Road
Khlong Tan Nuea, Wattana
Bangkok 10110

Open Hours: for lunch Thu-Mon 11:30am - 01:30pm and for dinner Wed-Mon 05:30pm - 11:00pm
Tel: +66 (0) 2261 7830
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