Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Wine of the Week: Panilonco Carménère

2016-05-13 00.05.09

One of the first grape varietals I “discovered” while legitimizing my wine consumption through sommelier training, was Carménère*.  It was one of the bottles I got in my monthly Club W shipment and I was having steak.  So I needed a red.  I was immediately struck by the strong by aroma of bell pepper. Wait, no it was jalapeño pepper.  Regardless of the pepper, it was big and bold and paired great with the steak.  And since then Carménère has been my secret budget red with steak.

I wrote “discovered” because it was at one time a widely planted grape  in the Mèdoc area of Bordeaux .  It found its way down in Chile where it was thought to be Merlot until they did some gene sequencing and found it was really the long lost Bordeaux grape, Carménère

So for my second wine for Wine of the Week I wanted to introduce this varietal to my dedicated readers**.  So I pulled a $5 bottle off the shelf of my neighborhood Trader Joe’s and here’s what I found.

  • Appearance – clear dark purple, almost like Welches
  • Nose – clean dark fruit, dark cherries and raspberries, but with some rotted fruit.  Just a hint of oak and green pepper.
  • Palate – lowish tannins, not much acid, low flavor in general. Notes of black cheery and a tiny bit of chocolate.

Overall, not very good.  If I was forced to describe it, I would say it tasted like a generic red wine you would drink at a bar that doesn’t really server wine.

$5 was probable too cheap for any wine in the US, even at TJ’s.  I’ll try one again later in the $9 price point.

Eat it with a burger if you must.  Don’t waste a steak on this one.

Oh and if anyone wants a free box of wine, let me know.   I can give four away from Club W.  But, to be honest, I’ve only had a handful from them that were any good.



*Yes, I’m going to stick with the pretentious accent marks.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Recently in my Face : Parker & Barrows

2016-05-13 13.41.06

This is the Texas Pastrami sandwich at Parker & Barrows in Bishop Arts.  I’m not sure if it really is pastrami.  But it’s damn good fatty smoked brisket.  And the sandwiches are huge.  This was from my second visit.  The first time I had their take on a Reuben, which was also quite good.

King Wally says check it out.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Wine of the Week: Alain Suisse Brut Nature Champagne

2016-05-13 00.04.50

It’s been a year now since my hard work and dedication* earned me a Level II from the International Sommelier Guild.  So, in an effort to share my knowledge and as an excuse to try more wine, I’ve decided to start a weekly** feature in which I try a wine I’ve never had before or a wine of particular importance to me.

That is the case of this week’s wine, Alain Suisse Brut Nature Champagne.

The good news is we’re starting of with a really good example of this style of Champagne.  The bad news is you can’t drink it in the US***.

  • Appearance – clear light amber with an abundance of effervescence
  • Nose – apple, a bit of peach, toffee
  • Palate – bone dry, lots of acid,  mild sour apple with a hint of caramel

I don’t want to come off sounding like a wine douche*****, but this wine is exquisitely balanced.  While bone dry and extremely acidic, it never comes off as painful to drink like those “champagnes” they use in your mimosas for Sunday brunch.  I dare you to try to drink those without orange juice.

Immensely drinkable, light  and refreshing.  The perfect Champagne to drink after mowing the lawn on a hot summer day.  What?!?!?  Seriously, after mowing the lawn would you rather drink the Champagne of Beers or the Champagne of Champagne??  Ok, then.



* Translation – I drank a cubic decameter of wine.
** As with all weekly features on The Summer of Steve, expect this to be the last episode.
*** Unless you’re a close friend of mine and I still have a bottle****
**** I do
***** Too late

Monday, May 16, 2016

Music Monday: Midlake-Roscoe (Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve Remix)

Recently, after enjoying yet another Thursday night quiz victory, I was sitting on the patio of The Old Monk and I heard a song that sounded familiar.  I finally figured it out, that it was Midlake’s Roscoe.  But it sounded different.  Did they have an extended dance mix?  The next day I scoured the internet* and found this version of Roscoe.  I’ve been listening the shit out of it ever since.

* A made one google search.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Recently in my Face: The Big Texan Steakhouse

Contrary to popular opinion, I’m not always just looking for a fine dining experience.  Sometimes I just want to get some local flavor or check off a famous landmark or maybe there just aren’t that many options available beyond Applebee’s. 

The Big Texan fulfills the latter two criteria.

Stuck in Canyon, where the culinary spectrum ranges from Applebee’s to Quizno’s, I headed up to Amarillo to soak in some panhandle touristy kitsch.  I was not disappointed except for everything I put in my mouth.

As some will recognize, this is the restaurant featured on many shows on Food or Travel channels where, if you can eat their 72oz steak dinner, you can get it for free.  Well, I wasn’t going to do that. I had hiking to do the next day and the last thing I need was a meat coma.
The food was exactly as expected.  A steak that you could make at home for half the price.  Even more disappointing was their own brew-pub beer.  The pale ale I had possessed only the tiniest hint of flavor one normally associates with the mega-brewers.

What I Had

  • Drink – Palo Dura Pale Ale (blech)
  • App – Prime Skins (meh)
  • Main – 18oz Ribeye, mashed potatoes, Caesar salad
  • Zert – none



Saturday, May 7, 2016

Recently in my Face: Opa’s Schnitzel Haus

schnitzel cordon bleu
When I was a kid growing up in Fort Worth, when mastodons roamed North Texas, my favorite restaurant was Heidelberger Hof on Jacksboro Highway.  I would pretty much get the same thing every time, kartofel suppe and schnitzel cordon bleu.  So it has been literally a million years since I last had schnitzel cordon bleu.

That has now changed thanks to Opa’s Schnitzel Haus, a surprisingly  good German restaurant in Witchita Falls.

I apologize to every single one of my Witchita Falls readers* for being so surprised.  But when I walked in, the interior was a very kitschy old school German motif that appeared to have not been changed much since the mid 80s.

But the food is what’s important and the food was good.  Kitzbüheler Stuben has nothing to worry about, but the schnitzel at Opa’s was solid.  As was there sausage which appeared to be house made.  And to wash it down, a fairly impressive list of German beers all of which can be consumed via the liter stein.  I like to get those because it make me feel like I’m getting in workout while getting schnockered.

What I Had

  • Drink – Warsteiner Dunkel (liter)
  • App – Sausage Plate
  • Main – Schnitzel Cordon Bleu
  • Zert – none, too stuffed


* Do they even have the internet up there?

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Canyons 2016: Caprock Canyon


It could certainly be included in my crimes against nature and humanity that in my nearly half century of living in the great state of Texas, I have never visited the beautiful canyons residing in our panhandle.  “We have canyons?”, you ask. 

Yes.  And while many may have heard of Palo Duro Canyon, the smaller, closer and way more beautiful Caprock Canyon was the real star of this quick road trip.