Tag Archive for Wine

Mac & Cheese Night #8 at Fat Angel

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Fat Angel’s menu is focused on nibbles to go with their exceptionally long list of beers, wines, and meads, including after-dinner selections for all of their beverage categories. As usually happens, that leads to meat and cheese boards, nuts and olives, and in their case, a selection of fancy butter schmears served with Firebrand breads. Because they also offer flatbreads, salads, and a trio of larger plates, Fat Angel doesn’t operate quite like the typical trendy wine/beer bar. They do, typically, not take reservations, but you don’t have to fight for elbow room and hunker over a tiny corner of surface space and can instead enjoy your meal with friends in relative peacefulness after your wait is over—ours took about 20 minutes for 3 people at 8 pm on a Saturday.

The main dining room.

The main dining room.

We opted to start with one meat and one cheese, choosing the El Trigal semi-hard sheep’s cheese and the salametto piccante for $10.25 total. I don’t think I’d order either the meat or cheese again—the meat was too dry and thinly sliced to leave an impression, and the cheese had good texture but not much flavor.

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The most memorable part of the cheeseboard was the jam, which was overloaded with vanilla bean. Like wow. That was a lot of vanilla! Perhaps lovers of vanilla would be pleased? For me, it was too much, especially in light of meat and cheese that couldn’t stand up to it.

Of course, the mac and cheese was the real reason I was there. It’s one of Fat Angel’s larger plates.

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Price: $12. Worth it.

Cheese: Gruyere, cheddar, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. The cheddar stood out most, which I consider essential for a good mac and cheese. I’ve had enough at this point to know cheddar really is better.

Creamy vs. Stringy: Creamy. I have had few stringy contenders during these mac and cheese nights. I guess the Bay Area prefers their mac and cheese saucy? This béchamel cheese sauce was possibly too thick, in that it threatened to congeal fast. But it did taste luxurious. Of note, a ton of cayenne is mixed into the sauce as well, making for a very spicy dish! We loved the spice. It actually tasted more like jalapeno than cayenne, to the point that I wondered if jalapeno had been pureed into the sauce, but the ingredient list verifies cayenne as the spice factor.

Noodles: Corkscrew, cooked almost to the point of falling apart. I have learned that overcooked is a good thing for mac and cheese, as it contributes to making it all come together as one dish rather than disparate elements.

Breadcrumbs: Sparse, fine dice, and toasted croutons of bread. Just the right amount not to detract from the dish.

Grease: None.

Verdict: This is a definite contender for best mac and cheese. The heat of the cayenne made every bite stand out and it did the important job of cutting through the rich sauce. Great cheddar flavor. Will happily eat again.

My husband, who’s cut carbs out of his diet, went for the romaine salad instead ($12).

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He added roast chicken for $3, and without the chicken, the salad would be on the boring side. Interestingly, the salad includes fried capers, whose texture and salty flavor actually gave a nice approximation of anchovies. It’s a unique caesar but could use livening up.

Friend #1 had the chicken pot pie ($13; I mainly feasted on mac and cheese).

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It used the same roast chicken as the salad and boasts of carrots, sherry, and tarragon on the ingredient list. Perhaps unsurprisingly for our Fat Angel experience, it needed more flavor and we had to hunt down the waiter to acquire salt and pepper. Good chunks of chicken and a nice pastry crust, but not a stand-out selection.

Now that I’ve written up the review, my impression of Fat Angel has become clear. While offering some inventive ingredients, most of our selections underwhelmed. But the drink offerings are great, and the mac and cheese is worth coming for all on its own. Pair all that with a pleasant atmosphere and sure, I’d drop in again. As long as an order of the mac and cheese is placed for the table.

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Fat Angel
1740 O’Farrell St.
Fillmore District, San Francisco
Website
$12–$15

Reviewed 21 March 2015.

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Akiyoshi Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Akiyoshi Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Clarksburg, CA

David Akiyoshi is one of NakedWines.Com’s go-to winemakers in California. So far, I’ve tried his 2013 Sangiovese Rosé, and it placed firmly in my second-best grouping, the Avocados. That’s a 69/100 on the Quini scale. All that means is I expect a pretty good, though probably not exceptional, wine as I open this cabernet sauvignon.

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I stare at a cup holding the blood of many slain burgundy roses. Or grapes. They were probably grapes. The nose is waxy cinnamon, plum, and everything else I will list in the Quini profile that follows. Drinking it takes me on a journey with my mother’s favorite movie star, the young Shirley Temple. I am compelled to write a new verse for “The Good Ship Lollipop,” and I only hope the actress can forgive me from her heavenly vantage point:

“Oh, the good ship Berry-pop, made of cardamom and cinnamon logs, floats off to where violets sway, in the tasty Coconut Roll Bay.”

The finish is simple but lasts forever, unlike that new verse of song, which I’m trying to forget I wrote even as type this next sentence. The wine is certainly complex, but it could use more balance. Perhaps aging would bring it?

Here is my full Quini profile:

Akiyoshi Quini Profile
That 76/100 places it ahead of its rosé sister but not quite into my highest rank. It still earns an rating_avocado1.

I think it’s safe to say I like David Akiyoshi’s wines despite wanting more balance in this one. If you’re intrigued, you can purchase his 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon through NakedWines.Com by clicking this button. It’ll take you right to it:

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It’s selling for $18.99 if you aren’t an Angel with NakedWines.Com, which is a fair deal. If you are an Angel, it’s an amazing deal at $10.99! To find out more about the NakedWines.Com Angels program, click here.

Reviewed 10 March 2015.

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Bandit Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

Bandit Wines Cabernet Sauvignon
California

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Bandit Wines is a boxed wine company that you can find on Safeway’s lowest shelf. I haven’t had much boxed wine in my life. But when I tap into the foodie party line, I hear from craft enthusiasts that beer in a can has no metallic aftertaste and that boxed wine can be just as good as wine in a bottle. It appears as though mere reputation alone has kept me from embracing either thus far.

I’m not ready for beer in a can. I’m barely ready for beer in a pint glass—half pints do me well. But wine in a box? I could try that…and I swear my willingness has nothing to do with how ridiculously cheap this box was (about $5). Nope, what sold me is what that the pretty little lavender box said clear as day (good job, marketing!): At a liter, one box is the equivalent of one and a third bottles of wine, making it even more ridiculously cheap than it already was. Sold!

(Yes, I realize that means I bought it for exactly the same reason as I claimed I didn’t buy it. You don’t need to tell me that. And now I’ve lost my literary effect. I blame you.)

How does it taste? As I drink, I feel a kinship emerge with one Violet Beauregarde and her amazement as the gum she chewed at Willy Wonka’s factory shifted and reshaped itself into something new. A lovely, simple, cherry-leather nose broadens to include eucalyptus and pine notes on the palate. Those fade away, and the cherry reasserts itself to engage in delicious dessert play with milky cocoa. Luckily, no adverse side effects have been detected…yet.

I’ll be clear; this wine exceeds all my expectations. It gets an 80/100, and I will be back for more of that value buy. Heck, I’ll even give their chardonnay a chew.

Here’s my full Quini profile for more specific tasting notes:

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