Coffee Review: MADCAP “Reko” Ethiopian Coffee

Pardon the Punctuation…Madcap coffee from Grand Rapids, Michigan has been roasting some killer coffees for some time now. I recently got to sample their “Reko” blend from Ethiopia and here’s the rub. Notes of flowers punch you right in the nose. Citrus on the back of the palate with an elegant finish. This coffee is definitely foodie worthy and will brighten up your morning cup. Best part about Madcap is you don’t have to travel all the way to Michigan to get you some. They deliver and places like the “Coffee Commissary” in Los Angeles server their brew.

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Wine Review: Bodegas Moraima 2012 Albariño

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Pardon the punctuation…it’s summer so lets review a perfect summer wine. Bodegas Moraima 2012 Albariño is a stellar example of the of what an Albariño should bring to the table. This wine is from the Galecia region of north west Spain. Every palate refreshing characteristic is highlighted in this wine. Reasonably price under $20 it will pair well with grilled fish and chicken. Also pairing it with Spanish manchego cheese and some honey drips will make you the star of any dinner party.

Tasting notes: The nose has floral hints with subtle fruit. Bright flavors fill your mouth and linger in a long finish. This is a wine I’ll always have on hand in my cellar.

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If you like that cutting board check out Maestro Blocks.

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Café Evoke…The Best Surprise in Oklahoma City.

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Pardon The Punctuation…When it comes to OKC the last thing I expected to find was good coffee. All I had was steak and BBQ on the brain. So you can imagine how happy I was when I discovered Café Evoke in Edmond, Oklahoma. Surrounded by mom and pop antique shops and restaurants sits this coffee gem. Serving up featured premium coffee from the likes of Ritual Coffee and Cafe Grumpy…some of the best roasters in the country, the people at Evoke know what’s up. Not only is their coffee killer but they’ve got some solid food items for you to scarf down. My favs were the waffle breakfast sandwich and any of their freshly baked goods. You pretty much can’t go wrong there. The staff is attentive and friendly. The seating area is inviting and has a cool mural painted by a local artist. If in OKC and you’re a coffee lover…have no fear… Evoke will satisfy your cravings and get you though the day.

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Great Breakfast featuring some Cafe Grumpy Ethiopia and a fresh baked blueberry muffin.

What a cool mural. They should sell shirts with this image.

Review: Decca Restaurant in Downtown Louisville Kentucky

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Pardon The Punctuation…Located in a hip section of downtown Louisville sits a this farm to table gem. Not only does Decca support local farmers…it supports your taste buds too. Chef Annie Pettry has brought an innovative menu to this renovated 1870′s building. Her unique take on American cuisine puts Decca a cut above the rest. It was my last meal in Louisville and here’s what I had.

Diver Scallop Crudo: with Chive, Sesame, Kiwi Vinaigrette. The perfect dish to cleanse your palate and start the meal. Fresh popping flavors and sushi grade diver scallops. The last thing I expected in Louisville was to eat Scallops that were as fresh as the ones I eat in California. The highlight of the dish was the kiwi vinaigrette. Who knew that kiwi and scallops are a match made in heaven.

Pan Roasted Mussels: with Flageolet Beans, Leeks, and La Kama Spiced Aioli. I’m a sucker for mussels and theses did not disappoint. Could have spent the rest of the night ducking my bread in the sauce…too bad I had other food to try before the night was over.

Duck Liver Terrine: with Grilled Bread, Cherry Mostarda, Pickled Vegetables. House made duck terrine…need I say more. After every bite I could have closed my eyes and felt like I was sitting on a corner in Paris..loving life.

Wild Shrimp a la Plancha: with Couscous, Shaved Fennel, Chorizo, Labna. Not to beat a dead horse but again..more fresh seafood. The chorizo and fennel were a great combination to bring out the flavors of the shrimp. A little on the lighter side so if you’re getting a little full this is the perfect main course.

Wood Grilled New York Steak: with Carrots, Charred Bread, Currants, and Harissa Oil. I love a good NYC strip. Cooked to medium rare perfection and just a complete dish. From the fresh carrots to the jammy currants every bite had me excited about the next one. Would eat this every day if I could.

Ice Cream Sandwich: with Honey Gelato, Oatmeal Cookie, Lavender Caramel, and Pine Nuts. An elegant and simple dessert. I think they should package and sell the lavender caramel…they could make a killing. The perfect way to put induce the food coma that was coming.

If you’re in Louisville and looking for an amazing and unpretentious meal this is the place. The food, service, cocktails, and decor are all of the quality of some of the best restaurants in NYC. I see this place sticking around for the long haul.

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Dining room.

Diver Scallop Crudo

Pan roasted mussels

Duck Terrine

Wild Shrimp A La Plancha

Wood Grilled New York Steak.

Oatmeal Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich

Wine Wednesday Review of Bodegas Valderiz 2009 Cosecha from Ribera Del Duero

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Pardon The Punctuation…Some of the best value wines on the market happen to be from the “Ribera Del Duero” region of Spain. By value I don’t mean cheap. At about $20 a bottle this wine kicks some serious ass. I’ve had wines for double the cost that don’t even come close. This is still a young wine yet it drinks well now. It could easily be good for 4-6 more years. Hints of balsamic glaze, spice, and ripe fruit. Soft tannins with a smooth lingering finish. Try some and you won’t be disappointed.

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“La Caridad” Cuban Restaurant in Echo Park.

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Pardon The Punctuation…Being originally from Miami and the son of Cuban refugees, always has me on the prowl for good Cuban food in other cities. I was invited to check out La Caridad family run Cuban restaurant in the Echo Park neighborhood in Los Angeles. After finding out it’s the favorite spot for famed Dodgers right-fielder Yasiel Puig, I knew it would be good. After being greeted by the kind owner it was suggested that I have the Rabo Encendido aka spicy oxtail. The oxtail was washed down with a yummy papaya shake.

Rabo Encendido: Spicy oxtail with white rice, black beans, and sweet plantains. Oxtail has a tendency of being a bit fatty. This one in particular was not fatty at all. A high quality piece of meat and full of flavor. The rice and beans tasted like my grandmother was hiding in the kitchen and making them. Felt like home. The plantains weren’t greasy and wonderful. At $11.99 I’d have this dish all day.

If you’re craving some Cuban food or never had authentic Cuban food, this is a place that will satisfy both. The family like atmosphere ensures that I’ll dining here for years to come.

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Papaya shake

The full serving.

Perfect way to end the meal. A little cafecito

Wine Wednesday Review of Porter Family Vineyards 2007 Estate Cabernet From Napa.

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Pardon the Punctuation…I’m a sucker for a good story and an underdog. Porter Family Vineyards is just that…a family. Go to the tasting room and that’s how you’re treated. Like Family. They are a small producer making great wines from the heart. 2007 was a great year in Napa and their 2007 Estate Cabernet is a true expression of what that year meant to Napa. I know that $96 for a bottle of wine is steep for most folks but think of it as a rare treat. Only 870 cases were ever produced so you do the math. Hints of vanilla, ripe fruit, and oak. Chewy tannins and a smooth finish. Check them out if you ever have the chance.

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Restaurant Review: Lucques on Melrose.

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Pardon The Punctuation…Finally had the chance to make it over to Lucques on Melrose for dinner. This pan- Mediterranean restaurant was a hit in my book. The venue is gorgeous. I sat close to the interior fireplace and really had the sense that I was eating in someones rustic home. There is an elegant simplicity to the dining room that enhances the foodie experience. Here’s what I had.

Lamb Kibbeh-Nayeh: with spiced carrot salad, cucumber, raita and kumquats. A kind of a lamb tartar. Wonderfully seasoned and the carrot salad was amazing. I could eat a bowl of that alone.

Grilled Niman Ranch Hanger Steak: with baked ricotta, grilled leeks and salbixada. So glad I went with this dish. I never thought that baked ricotta would compliment the steak so well but now I can’t wait to try this at home. Perfectly medium rare and the leeks worked well with the flavor profile of the meal.

S’mores Chocolate Cake: with marshmallow, honeycomb and vanilla ice cream. The best way to describe this would be if crack were a s’mores dessert, this would be it. Decadent, rich, and full of chocolate goodness.

Chef Suzanne Goin has put together a great menu and this is definitely a place I’d recommend to any fellow foodie.

Lamb Kibbeh-Nayeh

Grilled Niman Ranch Hanger Steak

S’mores Chocolate Cake

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Wine Review: Souverain 2011 North Coast Cabernet

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Pardon the Punctuation…I don’t know about you but I love me some value wines. Recently picked up a bottle of Souverain 2011 North Coast cabernet at Costco to try it out. I figured at about $11 a bottle it couldn’t hurt to try. Right on the first taste you’re hit with vanilla and blackberry with the finish of smooth tannins. A solid buy for the price. It’s a drink today and not a drink tomorrow wine. Would go great with a rack of lamb or a hearty steak.

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Review “Proof on Main” in Downtown Louisville Kentucky

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Pardon the Punctuation…When touring the “Bourbon trail” in Kentucky a foodie has to eat. A friend of mine who toured the trail recommended “Proof on Main” located at the 21 Museum hotel in downtown. Chef Levon Wallace from Los Angeles has brought a primo example of modern cuisine to town. Here’s what I had.

Charred Octopus: with bagna cauda, lime and toast. I’m usually a little skeptical about eating any seafood this far away from the ocean but it was brought to my attention that there is a hub for UPS close by so all of the seafood is fresh. The octopus was charred perfectly and tender in the middle. Bagna cauda is so yummy I suggest getting some extra bread for dipping when you’re done with the pulpo. I’m such a slut for good octopus.

Smoked NC Catfish Dip: with homemade hot sauce and sea salt crackers. Being from Florida I know me some fish dip. This one rocks…nothing more to say.

Woodland Farm Hog Chop: with shelling beans, confit tomato, salsa verde, and pea tips. Nothing like a farm fresh pork chop. The beans, tomato, and salsa all come together to enhance the chop. A good size portion that will take care of business.

Diver Scallops: with country ham, “corn bread”, and asparagus. The country ham alone is slightly too salty for the dish but when combined with everything on the plate it blends like a symphony of flavor.

Chocolate Goo Cake: espresso gelato, ganache, citron, and nibs. They had me at goo. Great way to end the meal.

If in Louisville and you want to elevated food, walk your butt into Proof on Main and have yourself a meal. Worth every penny.

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Charred Octopus

Smoked Catfish Dip

Woodland Farm Hog Chop

Diver Scallops

Chocolate Goo Cake