UGs Hit The Town Together and Go Green!

Like a marriage, the UG relationship has to every once in a while be rekindled. Our schedules have been insane and we have only recently seen each other for events. The two of us have not sat down for a meal in a very long time. Fortunately, things are changing as tomorrow Josie will return to the UG Global Headquarters on a regular basis but this last Friday we had a romantic dinner together with a few more couples. In this last year we have had a fantastic relationship with Fleming’s Steakhouse it started with a contest we won via Twitter and then a burger mania night. We were invited by the restaurant’s PR company, Ink Foundry, to go to their special Go Green Dinner. The concept of the dinner was “Irish hospitality with a magnificent menu in the spirit of the Emerald Isle and a treasure trove of “green” earth-friendly wines.”

MENU
PASSED HORS D’OEUVRES
Irish cheeses featuring Sage Derby &
Cahill’s Farm Cheddar and fresh fruit
LOOSEN BROS., Riesling Mosel Dr. L Germany, 2008
Organic & Sustainable
APPETIZER
Citrus-cured Celtic Salmon on potato boxty
with chive sour cream
PARDUCCI, Sustainable White Mendocino County, 2008
Organic, Biodynamic & Sustainable
ENTRÉE
Irish-style Filet Mignon served on a deconstructed sauce
with bacon, carrots, new potatoes and thyme
CHELSEA GOLDSCHMIDT, Merlot Dry Creek Valley, 2006 Organic & Sustainable
DESSERT
Guinness Stout Chocolate Cake with chantilly cream
Coffee and Tea

We arrived in two cars and I had my CFO with me, I mentioned that this was going to be my first dinner just with Josie in a while and I asked her to text Josie something sweet while I was driving. When I got there we were escorted to the outdoor area of the restaurant in LA Live and were treated to cheese, Irish Soda Bread, and the most delicious Riesling.

We were laughing, tweeting, eating, and having a lovely time. Suddenly several other couples joined us outside and I realized that this was going to be a joint dinner. Perhaps it wasn’t the intimate night we were hoping for but these joint dinners are SO much fun. After cheese and wine we were escorted in to the backroom and we were seated with two other couples.

The potato boxty was delicious and for once I was jealous of Josie’s seafood allergy as she got Fleming’s delicious beef carpaccio appetizer.

We began talking to the couples at our table and they were all friends as the married couple met at the party of the engaged couple. They were the kindest people and we loved that they were Angelenos who love the Eastside/Downtown and beer. We all got lost talking tacos, Highland and Echo Park, bars, floors, and puppies. Josie and I were talking later at how much we love these dinners. They seem awkward at first and you sit with strangers but over the course of the night you have new friends. We cheered to their upcoming wedding and they cheered to our upcoming reunion in our office and our business venture.

I don’t know if my life has been sheltered but I never noticed Lent until this year. All of our interns are Catholic and I am learning so much about the sacrifice that they make, including no meat on Fridays. Our table mates that were married were the ones excited about the dinner since they were at Fleming’s for Valentine’s day. They knew the menu for the night but it wasn’t until their gorgeous medium rare Filet Mignons arrived that they realized they couldn’t eat it because it was Friday. I felt bad eating my steak in front of them but they were good sports and they got it to go declaring it would be their breakfast in the morning. I like steak a lot, but I am just not a steak ordering kind of gal. It is always a nice treat because it’s not normally something I would make or order for myself.

I also like my desserts like I like my men, fruity. However, the chocolate Guinness cake was delicious. Josie, who for years has been using cool whip and claiming it is chantilly cream, made sure the waiters brought us some of the real deal when it wasn’t on the plate. It was at this moment when I remembered how much I missed Josie and was grateful for her being the chantilly cream on the cake.

Flemings is everything and more of what a good steakhouse should be. The food was delicious and so was the wine with a zero carbon footprint. I loved the Riesling and Josie loved the Merlot.  Josie and I are both not that crazy about “green” or “organic” but when you can say that it just tastes better, we can’t argue. It was a great night of meeting new friends and reconnecting with your best friend. If you want to have this same delicious dinner head to the Woodland Hills Fleming’s this Tuesday for this same “Green” dinner, I can’t guarantee a reservation but I can guarantee great food and conversation.

Here are some more upcoming Fleming’s events:

Filet and Lobster for Two, $99 – Our New Memorable Meal
Exclusively for Friends of Fleming’s: Savor a 3-course dinner for two, featuring Filet Mignon and Australian Lobster Tail for each guest, plus appetizer, side dish and dessert. $99 for two, and also available at $49.50 for one guest. This Memorable Meal is exclusively available for Friends of Fleming’s and is not offered on our regular menu. Available through March 31st.
View menu and reserve

Easter Brunch with the Family, Sunday, April 4th
We’re opening early at 11:30 am on Easter Sunday to welcome you and your family for an exceptional meal in celebration of the holiday. It’s the perfect time to enjoy all your classic brunch favorites, including Filet Benedict, Stuffed French Toast and Smoked Ham Chop. $29.95 per guest, including appetizer and dessert. View menu

$39.95 Winter Prix Fixe Menu – Final Weeks!
Savor the bold and satisfying flavors of a 3-course dinner with three exceptional entrées to choose from: Braised Boneless Short Rib of Beef, Seared Scallops Peperonata or Roasted Half Duckling. This exclusive Fleming’s Prix Fixe menu ends March 29. View menu and reserve

Authentic Irish Cocktails for St. Patrick’s Day
One night only — March 17th — we’ll be serving up a pair of cocktails that are truly worthy of an Irish toast. Our Bushmills Irish Coffee and Jameson Whiskey Sour are the latest cocktail creations by our Director of Wine, Marian Jansen op de Haar. We’ll be serving them up on St. Patrick’s Day for just $6 each. And if you take a fancy to them, you can make them at home any night with Marian’s Irish cocktail recipes.

Get Thee to a Winery…and Get There Fast!

Last Saturday I saw a brilliant movie called “An Education” with my friend Zena. When we were walking back from the film we began talking about the plot of the movie and if we have ever felt like we have been detoured from our wants by a man. I never have but I started talking about The Baron, a guy that I spent some time with a few months ago, and how whenever I’d see him I’d forget all that I had to do. One hour would turn into a weekend and he would make his own parking spots for me all over the city. Zena and I had earlier polished off a bottle of wine together and she recommend that I call him since we hadn’t talked in a while. He lives in a hotel close to my house but is always out of town. I called him at 12:01A and he returned my call in a few minutes and invited us to the hotel bar for a drink. His foot was on ice when we arrived, apparently he twisted his ankle earlier that day. We drank, chatted, ordered sushi, and then out of the blue I asked the Baron when his birthday was. He smiled and said February 7th. It was a few hours into that date. He said he was shocked when I called him exactly on his birthday and had it not been for his ankle injury he would have been in a Hollywood club. It was one of those mystical nights. He then was in Vegas and I was on Jury Duty, so we decided to have lunch on Wednesday to catch up. He called me around 11AM to confirm and then asked if I wanted to go the winery. Of course, I said yes. Let me back up for a second, I call him The Baron because he comes from 8 generations of wine makers and one of his relatives had baron status from the emperor of Slovakia. The family history is a rich one that involves hiding from the Nazis, immigrating to the United States with nothing, and then completely rebuilding the family wine business. We drove one hour to the Herzog Wine Cellar in Oxnard for lunch, wine, and a tour. As soon as you walk in the wine store and bar are on the left and just past that is the restaurant Tierra Sur Restaurant. It is a kosher restaurant that serves all the finest local produce from a few miles away and great quality meat…even, get ready….LAMB BACON!

We were starving so as soon as we sat down we ordered platillos from the lunch menu. It was a great deal you get a trio of 3 for only $8. The restaurant has strong Mediterranean and Mexican influences. We got chili rellenos, Mediterranean eggplant caponata, and tabbouleh. I am neither a fan of eggplant nor chilis but I devoured both; they were absolutely excellent.

For the main course I ordered the special handmade pasta with porcini mushrooms and pesto The Baron had the steak. He was hungry but a rabbi came in looking for him to be the 10th in the minyan, so he had to step outside for prayer. I made a big faux pas by asking if I could have a side of parmesan when my pasta arrived. I stupidly grasped my mouth afterward, of course I couldn’t, it is a kosher restaurant and there is no dairy if meat is served. While I sat alone with the food the restaurant and events manager, Hugo Ham, came up and spoke with me. I imagine you can guess by his name that he is not Kosher and yet we had a great talk about how flavorful all of the food is still and how I really didn’t feel at all that my meal was lacking. Later the Chef, Todd Aaron, came out and I said that all the produce was great and he explained that everything is grown only 3 miles away. He said all of this stuff makes it down to the Santa Monica Farmer Market but he gets first pick. Chef Todd came from New York and used to work at one of my favorite SF restaurants, Zuni Cafe.

The Baron went on and on about their homemade churros and he was right they were fabulous. Dairy actually kills my stomach so I appreciated the dairy free meal. The chef was even kind enough to send out strawberry sorbet.

How can I be at a winery and forget to mention the wine? I got Sauvingnon Blanc and he had the Cabernet. One thing I loved about the wines is that they come in a large variety of prices but they are all premium wines and reasonably priced. After lunch, we walked upstairs and I got a tour of the factory. The vats, the barrels, and then the pouring, labeling and boxing. It was so cool. I have been to a ton of breweries and vineyards but I have never seen wine being produced.

The whole process was so cool. The staff was great, I especially liked Debbie at the front desk who the Baron referred to as his non-Jewish Jewish mother. I loved that her name was Debbie and thought of that old joke: Have you seen the new Jewish-American Princess Horror movie? It’s called “Debbie Does Dishes.” There is also a joke that says that Jews don’t drink because it gets in the way of their suffering. Trust me, anyone (Jewish or gentile) will love Herzog wine. They dominate 80% of the kosher wine market and the winery visitors are only maybe 20% Jewish. It is good food and wine for all and it is fascinating to learn what constitutes a kosher wine. I have already written about my very personal relationship with this area and I truly believe that the area between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful places in California.

I jokingly tweeted that I now have a new standard that I will only go out with people with wineries. I kid, sort of. Let me just say that holding up a water glass to 8 generations of wine makers and a beautiful winery kind of makes me want to roll my eyes.

SPECIAL PROMOTION: If you are going to be one of the thousands at LA Street Food Fest tomorrow, Josie and I will be working the cash box from 2-5 and I have 25 chips that will get you a wine flight at Herzog Wine Cellars for, get this…one quarter…25 cents. Find me and drink cheaply.

Herzog Wine Cellars
3201 Camino Del Sol
Oxnard, CA 93030
(805) 983-1560

What’s Bubbling and Brewin’ Around Verdugo Road

Our social lives were once again made possible by our bff, Twitter. Speaking of which, do you think in 2010 twitter talk will become the new baby talk? Twello twits, what’s tweetin’? Anyway, the owner of Rosso Wine Shop found our post on Montrose and wrote this:

@uncouthgourmand If the UG Headquarters is in Montrose how come you have not visited us in Sparr Heights @rossowineshop?!

It was a good question and actually I was talking about visiting some local wine shops for an upcoming budget wine post. Rosso is blocks away from our office and Josie and I arrived just in time to try some champagne. The special occasion of the night was their open house which featured neighborhood businesses. Bashan restaurant is neighbors with Rosso and they offered some complimentary small bites for the occasion including tuna tartare, cauliflower soup, and a braised pork sandwich. All were delicious and that will definitely be a restaurant to check out when the UG are back in the money.

The star of the night was the wine shop that was everything you imagine a neighborhood wine shop should be. If you read our Montrose post you know that this area has earned a place in our heart and it was reaffirmed at the wine shop when I ran in to the couple that I sat next to at Fork only days before. I am now a member of the community. Rosso owner, Jeff, was charming as he poured us some bubbly and it is clear that he is living his dream of bringing reasonably priced wine to this foothill neighborhood. It says on their site that they are a “neighborhood wine shop for the disenchanted Trader Joe wine-buyer, social nomad and local wine enthusiast.” I think that is exactly what LA needs more of and it was a fantastic neighborhood find. I hope they didn’t mind meeting us because I am pretty sure we will return often to grill them on all of our wine questions.

As I previously stated this night was made possible entirely by Twitter. I read early on in the day that Verdugo Bar was going to be serving the first pours of Eagle Rock Brewery brew. This was huge news because for the last year I have been following the progress of Eagle Rock Brewery on their blog and Twitter and find myself fully invested in this story and their success. Josie and I arrived at around 7:30 and despite being at Verdugo Bar before this was my first time driving there and arriving sober. I saw Josie’s car already parked and so I parked next to it, knowing that she beat me and was already inside. I saw a group of people of standing by a lit building with christmas lights and started walking towards the crowd. I heard yelling in Spanish and beer bottles being thrown. Clearly I was not at the right place, and these lights were from a house. I called Josie who walked outside from across the street and laughed at how I missed the enormous cocktail sign. She already ordered us are Eagle Rock brew, which was a black mild ale called Solidarity. I felt honored to be served the first batch and since we were one of the first 20 people to try it we got this awesome commemorative glass with the logo.

Leave it up to Josie to sit next to someone important and she was seated right next to Chris Spradley, the LA Craft Beer Examiner. Josie showed off her beer knowledge with IPA definitions that he already knew and I showcased my beer girly-ness in saying that my favorite beer was the lavender one from The Bruery and La Fin Du Monde from Unibroue. It was great fun to talk beer. I was telling the Beer Examiner that my main problem with beer is that I drink it too slowly and then it gets warm and I no longer want it and he said that most beers, like Solidarity, should be served a little more at room temperature. Who would have known? This was the first batch of Solidarity and while I am not the biggest fan of dark beers, Josie is, I still drank the whole thing. Chris introduced us to the Eagle Rock Brewers who were busy tasting and making sure that their baby was perfect. As I have known from the blog this is a family operation headed by father and son. The son, Jeremy Raub, was sure that he already met us at the LA Craft Beer Fest but honestly we remember very little of that day. The father, Steve Raub, was quick to point out that he was Vice President and that it was his son that was President. It was such a sweet family dynamic and it was so nice to hear their story. Steve started brewing at home as soon as Jimmy Carter lifted the ban and once Jeremy was married and moved in to his house he asked his dad to make a celebratory brew and the rest is history. That is the greatest birth of an enterprise since our baby, Uncouth Gourmands, was born on the trains of Europe. Relax, I kid. Anyway, as far as first batches go, this brew was pretty tasty and this is coming from a girl that likes her beer as she likes her men: light and fruity. There was a strong roasted coffee and chocolate aroma and definitely was something I’d drink again. In the next few weeks they will be launching 2 more brews. The next one will be a crisp Belgian-style beer and the final in the trio will be hoppy, floral, extra pale ale. With all of their beer bases covered we are excited to sample the trio and may even get a tour of the brewery soon.

When it comes to wine shops, brews, and bars on Verdugo Road we are in completely solidarity and wish them all the best of luck. We will be back and we are hoping that you all have plenty more to serve us!

Free Food + Friends = Fun Friday

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On Thursday morning I was in bed taking care of business. No, not that! I was responding to emails on barely any sleep and following-up with the volunteer coordinator for Taste of the Nation about Josie and I volunteering for the event, in effort to save money. I was sleep deprived and uncouthly wrote, “we are at your disposable”. I Tweeted about this blunder and then read the greatest Tweet from InkFoodie offering a free dinner for two at Fleming’s for the first to answer this question: what year was Flemings launched in Newport Beach? Since I was still in bed, with a Blackberry in hand, I called Fleming’s in Newport and asked when they first opened. I received the answer right away, tweeted it, and was then declared a winner. I called Josie to tell her the good news and she was on her lunch break and said she just won a free Fro Yo at Ikea for filling out a survey. We were winners, for once. I had a plan to pick her up Friday night and head to our free dinner in Woodland Hills. However, in typical Uncouth Gourmand fashion something got in the way, I got a flat tire on the way there. It was my first ever. Josie rescued me. Of course, I chose dinner over AAA and just figured I would deal with it after a good meal and a couple of glasses of wine. Traffic was atrocious and parking was even worse. Neither one of us had cash for valet so we drove around forever. But hey it was our first free meal in a very long time and we were going no matter what. It was the Napa vs. Sonoma Dinner which meant a lot of wine. We were escorted to a private room with two large tables already filled with people on the first course, with a champagne flute down, and already on to their Napa and Sonoma glasses of Chardonnay. The first course was a seafood cocktail but Josie got carpaccio due to her allergy.

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The second course was filet mignon with seared ahi and yukon potato balls. It was very good but I should have ordered mine rare. I looked at Josie and said, “Why don’t I ever eat steak?”. She said, “I know, it’s so good” We are not really steakhouse girls but that is mostly due to the ambiance which doesn’t always welcome our uncouthness. However, we are definitely meat eaters. It was around this time I was overwhelmed by how many drinks I had. I now had a Sonoma and a Napa fab cab to add to the drinks in front of me.

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Our table mates were all tipsy and wonderful and were giving us dating advice. There was an engaged couple at our table with mom and dad. I grilled the son on where I can meet a nice Jewish man, like himself, as Jdate isn’t panning out. (Oh yeah, that is “grill” and “pan” in the same sentence and I am not even discussing food). Our favorite at the table was the husband and wife couple that was across from us. The husband is a writer for LA Daily News and the wife is on Twitter as well as being a cat lover and animal activist. We told them that we were thinking about going to The Hangover premiere after party later that night and the husband said, “I could have written that movie”. The wife was telling us how to meet a man and then said, “Maybe you two are soulmates”. We looked at each other and laughed.

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The dessert was probably our favorite course. It was an apple cobbler with an aged cheddar. After the meal they did a raffle where every reservation group won a bottle of wine. It was my kind of raffle and I chose my favorite wine of the night the 2006 Picket Fence Chardonnay from Sonoma. I don’t know who won, Napa or Sonoma, but we definitely did! I kept getting the glasses confused and made them repeat a million times “Napa on the left and Sonoma on the right”. The best part of the evening was the company and the food but the $0.00 (say it like Dean Wormer in Animal House, zero point zero) check wasn’t too bad either.

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It was a great meal and we want to thank Fleming’s for taking such great care of us and Ink Foundry for the opportunity to win. As soon as we got on the Freeway I called AAA so that they’d be at my car by the time I arrived. Of course, they weren’t. I listened to the amazing Denise Richards interview on Howard Stern while I waited; the wine from dinner also helped my impatience. Josie went to shower and change at her friends house and I met up with them later. It was very tricky not going over 50 on the freeway. I know it was National Donut Day but that doesn’t mean I wanted to drive on one! Josie’s friend, Krissy, ended up not wanting to go out, we decide to skip The Hangover after party at Elevate, and headed to Tony’s Bar instead. We hadn’t been there since the soft opening and our downtown friends were already there. The drinks were super strong, last time I went with beer so I couldn’t report on such things. Also the place was bustling, much more than the first time we went, and we discovered the ping-pong table outside.

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