So, having barely recovered from the amazing wine tasting on Friday night, we continued our explorations in wine and food, stopping at the Magnolia Grille for breakfast on Saturday a.m., followed by a visit to the Artisan Cheese Gallery in Studio City. (Note: I've included the link, but there are some problems with the site.) It's a lovely little shop filled with gourmet cheeses, a diverse and eclectic wine inventory, and delightful snacks and items to delight foodies. We explored the store and then had a wonderful tasting with a knowledgeable young man named Alex.
Alex asked what kinds of cheese we liked - strong or mild - and then led us on a tour of seven or eight cheeses in increasing intensity. When we realized we were loving all the cheeses, we pulled ourselves together and decided on three cheeses to take home with us. We bought 1/4 lb each of Ossau-Iraty sheep cheese, Montgomery Cheddar (raw cow from England), and Twig Farm washed rind raw goat and cow cheese from Vermont. What a great selection - and knowledgeable staff! At the checkout, we added a $4 chocolate chip cookie made by one of the store's staff - it was exceptional, made with gourmet, imported ingredients. We've been pulling off little pieces of it to keep the experience going! Yum!
Spent the rest of the afternoon writing and resting, and then went to the theatre for closing night of the ECT Xmas Cabaret - great fun! Belly dancers, burlesque, music, comedy, all held together with a fairly thin plot, but it all worked.
Sunday a.m., went out to Northridge to have dim sum with Ron and Phyl at the A & W Seafood Restaurant on Reseda Blvd. We've eaten dinner there many times, but R & P have talked up the dim sum. It was WONDERFUL. We got there around 10:45 and were seated right away. Had we gotten there any later, there would have been a wait. When we left around noon, there was a line outside the door, curving around the building! The service was so fast and intense, we were thru most of the meal before I realized I hadn't taken any pictures of the beautiful servings! Back to R & P's house for the rest of the day, where we talked and snacked and talked and snacked, and finally came home and crashed. A lovely day.
Monday - birthday! - slept in and had a slow quiet day reading the paper, responding to emails, reading all my birthday greetings on Facebook, and trying to decide where to go for dinner. After reading thru menus and reviews of all the new and trendy places in town, I realized that all I really wanted was a steak. We called the Tam 'o Shanter in Glendale for reservations and they had NO openings. On a Monday night!! So we called the Smoke House, and they were only too happy to fit us in.
We brought a bottle of 2006 Lone Madrone 'Barfandel' - an unfortunately named, but delicious wine. 53% Zinfandel, 21% Barbera, 26% Petit Sirah. Beautiful - a fruit bomb, but in a really good way! It was a great match for the fried calamari appetizer as well as my petit filet with baked sweet potato and creamed spinach, and JD's medallions of filet mignon, veggies and pasta. And the warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit and candied walnuts. Yum!
Got home and found birthday greetings on the answering machine from my old friend, Craig, and then got a surprise call from my old friend, Eric, who wanted to order some wine as a gift. Craig's doing great things in Albuquerque, and I miss him a lot. We've been friends since 10th grade. I've known Eric since 6th grade - we used to live across the street from each other - and hadn't seen each other in over 20 years until we attended our high school reunion in August. He's growing grapes and making wine in Temecula, and we'll go out there in January for a tour of the vineyard. I can hardly wait!
So far, a great birthday!