Sunday, June 5, 2016

Hemingway's @ Havana Country Club

I have been hearing that the new owners of Hemingway’s have really raised the dining bar here in The Villages.  Well we had a chance to eat there last night after our Saturday couples golf outing and I am here to tell you the rumors are absolutely true!  What a meal!!!

We were sat right away and our Server Victor was right there.  He explained all of the specials and took Drink orders as we browsed the menu. One of the appetizers’s caught my eye.  I love escargot.  But this was so different I had to give it a try it was flash fried, served with flash fried spinach, and dressed with a Myer lemon sriracha sauce.  It arrives and I am blown away the bowl is filled with fried spinach and the snails are under that the dish is slightly warm a perfect temperature.  It was beyond delicious the snails were perfectly cooked nice and crispy.  The greens wonderfully crunchy and the dressing was simply out of bounds.  A prefect escargot dish in my mind.  My wife gets a beet salad that has this spicy dressing and wonderfully loaded with sweet beets and lots of goodies.  The entrees come. 

The Wife gets the Hawaii Tuna Poke.  A nice size portion for her and perfectly done.  The Tuna was rare, spicy, and delicious.  I get the bone in pork chop.  I was impressed they asked for a temperature on my chop.  I asked for medium, the server confirmed that meant a warm pink center, I agreed and that is exactly how it arrived. The chop came with greens beans Al Dente almost too much, but ok.  Also came with this wonderful mango cherry cobbler than was a perfect accompaniment to the sweet chop.  An entrée that needs to be mentioned is the one our golfing partners got. Shrimp and Grits, my goodness what a dish.; Cheese grits fired under the broiler then large shrimp ringing the plate with a chorizo sausage ragout in the middle of it all.  WOW is all I can say. 
A nice wine list is offered. We had friends eating with us that brought a bottle and were charged a $15 corkage fee.

Now this meal was not inexpensive.  For the two of us it was over $100 which is very expensive for The Villages.  But if you are looking for that white table cloth experience without the drive to Ocala or Orlando this is it.

The Village Wino gives Hemingway’s ★★★★☆


2484 Odell Circle, The Villages, FL 32162


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Truro Cellars Rose

Truro Cellars Lighthouse Series Rose

A small personal story/rant if I might?

When I was working as the Director of a large wine division one thing that used to set me off was the reading newspaper reviews of wines not in the market where the paper was sold.  (If you read The Daily Sun you know what I am talking about the wines are rarely if ever available around the Villages.)  Now let me qualify that.  The man who wrote for our local paper was and still is a genius.  He today has an extremely successful wine blog called Bigger than your head.  I highly suggest you frequent this site it is so educational and funny as well.  But I digress.

 When Fredric would write about samples he received that were not in our market and give them a rave review the calls would start.

The Wine Shop owner: Where can I get this wine? 
Me:  It’s not in our market! 
The Wine Shop owner: What? It was in the paper today!!! 
Me. I know that column is printed in 40 newspapers!  It is available in some of those markets and some not, we are the some not!!! And the conversations would go south from there.

I spoke to Fredric about this one time and he explained it perfectly to me and I never really got upset after the conversation.  He explained he had to think of all of his markets not just Memphis.  He told me that his column had to be relevant in all of his papers and the wine people of Memphis did travel and when he recommended a wine not here they in their travels could find that wine in a market where the wine was available and bring it back home to enjoy. Makes sense after he educated me on his process.  And this was not the only time I was educated by him.  He is such a nice guy.  I grew to call him a friend which made me proud. 

That leads me to the wine of the day.  A wonderful rose from Cape Cod!  Yep Cape Cod.  Truro Cellars the wine is 92% Cayuga and 8% Cab Franc.  A real quaffer for sure.  Strawberries hints in the nose and on the palate make this one a keeper for sure. Semi sweet with a light acid component to help the finish we enjoyed this bottle before dinner and all agreed it was a nice wine to start the evening with.  The Lighthouse bottle we believe can be returned to the winery for a small deposit return.  This one will never see that as it now will be our Olive Oil container!

Truro Cellars Rose good if you can get it!

The Villages Wino gives the Truro Cellars ★★★☆☆

 If you make it to Cape Cod buy a bunch and bring back one for The Villages Wino!!!

Truro Vineyards
PO Box 834
11 Shore Road (Route 6A)
North Truro, MA 02652
Phone: (508)487-6200


The Villages Wino

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Red Car Rose

Found this wine at Two Old Hags on Main Street in Leesburg.

First let’s talk about Two Old Hags.  This is one of the coolest places I’ve ever seen to drink wine meet and enjoy your friends.  The owner Joyce is the lead Hag for sure.  She is so great friendly and engaging and simply a joy to sit and visit with.  We found the Red Car in the ice box for $23.  They charge you $5 to drink it at the bar so our investment was $28. 

This is a Rose of Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast.  It is made saignée “to bleed”.  The grapes are placed in the vat and allowed to stay for about 72 hours then the wine is drained off and the fermented into rose wine.  It is more expensive because all you are doing is making rose.  This method is sometimes used to make a rose and a fuller body main wine like in the case of maybe a red Zinfandel from Central California or even Napa like Carol Shelton who make one of the finest roses in California.

Red Car makes a lot of great wine check out their website to see what might interest you and if there is one you might like Joyce at Two Old Hags can get it for you within a week of your order.

This rose shows its self to be wonderful dry.  The Pinot Noir is so clear it is wonderful juicy and so balanced.  It simply leaves you wanting another sip.  Serve cold and with plenty of conversation and good times.  This one is so nice!!!!

The Villages Wino gives Red Car Rose  ★★★★☆

The wine is available at Two old Hags


The Villages Wino

Monday, March 21, 2016

Chateau Cote Nord

Chateau Cote Nord Chardonnay

WOW what a wine!!  We picked this up at Aldi because it’s made by Francis Ford Coppla Winery, and the descriptor used on the label.  The $6.99 price kind of scared us but we weren’t gambling a lot so what the hey!!

The coloros bright and yelowish.  The nose is tropical with pineapple, pear and vanilla.  The taste is rich and round pineapple, vanilla, melon and a bit of sweet citrus.  Good acidity on the end to leave you wanting another sip.  This wine for the money is a powerhouse.  It drinks like wines costing upwards of fifteen dollars. This one is a buy by the case recommendation

The Villages Wino gives Chateay Cote Nord   ★★★☆

The only place I have seen this wine is at Aldi for $6.99


The Villages Wino

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Chefs of Napoli III

We attended a birthday celebration last week that was held at the Chefs of Napoli III on Hwy 301.  This is not the first time we have been and have found the restaurant to be consistently good on each of our previous visits.

It is sometimes a difficult task for a restaurant to handle large groups.   My opinion a large group is a party of eight or more.  However, Chefs of Napoli seems to have it down to a science.  They handled groups of 18-20 with ease.  We were 14 for the record. 

They sat us in a private area in the rear of the restaurant that already had a group of eighteen and a group of ten seated.  I was a bit concerned not only for the noise factor but service issues might be headed our way.  However they had three servers and two runners working the room.  Our server greeted us smiling and happy, which I couldn’t understand knowing her tables and the people counts.  She explained the specials and proceeded to take appetizer and salad orders.  The host had brought a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate his wife’s birthday so in the middle of all of this the servers flagged the runner down tells him what she needed and in a matter of seconds 14 champagne flutes appear!  She also tells us the two larger groups are tabbing out and the room will be totally ours in just a few minutes.  Information we all were happy to hear.  Sure enough the groups leave and we are all alone in a large private dining room.  The server closes the door and we feel special.

We order and sit back and enjoy each other’s company as best you can with fourteen people sitting at a long table. In a very respectable time the app and salads are sat and we start to eat.  Tomato soup is my first course.  It was wonderful full of tomato flavor and with bits of bacon offering a nice smoky background flavor.  The wife’s first course a salad, fresh and crisp with the proper amount of nice thick ranch dressing just like she enjoys.

The entrees all come out in a procession of large trays.  All of the food is sat almost at the same time!  Almost impossible but everything was hot and nicely presented.  My entrée was Vitello alla Fiorentina; a wonderful dish of sautéed veal in a spinach and white wine cream sauce, Parmesan cheese with cherry tomatoes.  Perfectly cooked and the sauce was the right consistency not to thick.  You could tell the sauce was made ala minuet as the French say which means in the pan with the food.  The wife ordered Gamberi alla Francese.  Shrimp lightly battered in and egg batter then sautéed   in white wine and lemon.  Great balance in this dish, the shrimp was not over cooked and the sauce a great compliment to the dish.  Each dish comes with a side of pasta and sauce. A very good meal.

As I looked down the table I didn’t see any one who was not enjoying their food.  Again, there were fourteen of us!  We ended the evening with a cake that the servers brought out and we all sang Happy Birthday as the honoree blew out the candles!

As I said at the beginning this is not the first time nor will it be the last time we eat at the 
The Chefs of Napoli III.

The Villages Wino gives the Chefs of Napoli III   ★★★☆

The Chefs of Napoli III

Friday, March 11, 2016

Red Diamond

Red Diamond

Saw this one on the shelf at Sam’s the other day.  What caught my eye was it was in the more expensive section where the wines layout in boxes.  However, this wine only costs $7.99!!!  It was surrounded by wines costing twice as much to three times as much.  Very odd. 

After a little research I found out the winery has been mainly an “On Premise” brand.  On Premise in the wine business means it is sold at place where the wine will be drank “On the Premises” of the business.  It started as a one wine brand Merlot from Washington State.  The first vintage of 25,000 cases sold out within a year.  The line has since been expanded to numerous offering all from Chardonnay to Malbec all from the great wine regions around the world.

This Cabernet from California is a value for sure.  In the mouth the wine shows soft, and smooth with hints of Blackberry and Coffee.  The finish is very velvety and smooth, a very easy drinking bottle of wine and one that 2 bottles doesn’t break the bank.

The Villages Wino gives this one  ★★☆☆☆

I found this bottle at Sam’s.  It is also available at Winn-Dixie, Publix, Wal-Mart supercenters, and some Walgreens.  The suggested retail on the winery web site is $10.  Happy Shopping


The Villages Wino

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Cocobon Vineyards

Cocobon Vineyards
A Red California Blend from California

This is a blend of Merlot, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. For the $6.99 you pay at Sam’s this is the bargain of the year.  Nice smooth almost silky.  Wonderful berries and fruit flavors jump from the glass.  The wine has a very rich feel on the palate.  It completes the circuit with a wonderfully smooth finish.  You could do much worst for your $7!

Technical stuff
Harvest Date: October-November 2014
T.A.: 0.6g/100mL
pH: 3.53
Alcohol: 13% 
Release Date: 2015

The Village Wino gives this great value a ★★☆☆
Cocobon is available locally at Winn Dixie, Sam’s, and Wal-Mart supercenters.


The Villages Wino

Wine Rating Systems

Talk about a muddy field!  There are almost as many rating systems as there are people rating wines.  I have always liked the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simply Stupid) path myself.  When I was in the business a 90+ rating from either Robert Parker or The Wine Spectator would sell cases.  Let it be 89 not so much.  It always bother me that one simply point could affect the sales of a wine that was simply stellar.  We had to work twice as hard to get those wines in the consumer’s hands as the “rated” ones.  And more often than not the 89 pointers  were cheaper and better than their 90 point counter parts.

Ok Wino what is the KISS system to rate wines?  Well it’s the system Decanter Magazine uses.  If you haven’t ever seen a Decanter Magazine it’s in my opinion the purest of the wine publications on the magazine stand.  Pick up one if you are a budding “Cork Dork”.  The system is a 5 point system and is explained in the graphic attached to this post.  It also explains the other systems about as well as anything I have ever seen.

The Chart   From Janice Robinson site

So here we go and I am trying to commit to give you wines that are available in and around the villages and will let you know the shops that carry the wines.

Well here we go!!!


The Villages Wino

Every Couple of Weeks, RIGHT!!!

Well so much for posting a wine every week or two, huh? It’s only been two years!!!

Well here is the re-commitment post.  

We will start with  a Restaurant review of a nice little lunch place we found in Gainesville. 

My lovely wife and I had to go to Gainesville this week to have some medical testing done.  We had a break between tests so we started looking for a place to have lunch.  Man were we lucky.  We found Bangkok Square it was recommended from a local food blogger in the Gainesville area.  The restaurant located on Archer Road west of 75, see below for more information.  It is in a shopping center where there is a Cloud 9 spa.  It is easy to miss so look for the spa it’s the anchor tenant. 
When you enter the restaurant it is clean and bright, booths down the outside walls and table against the windows, a full bar across the back wall. A friendly staffer greeted us and sat us at one of the booths. 

My wife and I were very blessed to travel as a team all over the world for a year on a special project for a large aviation company.  We decided to find the best Thai food in every city we visited during this project. So I feel like we have a good basic understanding of Thai food. My wife a Thai hot person me not so much so the spicing of the food is a very critical part of our reviews.

We sat down to a good menu with all of the staples of the Thai cuisine represented.  Red, Green and Mussaman curries.  Pad Thai and traditional soups.  The wife loves Thai hot Red Curry over fried fish.  Me any new places I always go for the Pad Thai.  However, this Pad Thai was like I had never seen Crispy Duck!  Yes you read that right Crispy Duck Pad Thai. The reviewer on the blog had suggested this dish as the best he had ever tasted so who am I to argue!

The lunch came with complimentary soup and egg roll.  The soup was quite a disappointment just weak chicken broth with about 6 spinach leaves and fewer slivers of something that I am sure was supposed to be chicken.  The egg roll just as disappointing over fried bundle of egg roll wrapping with no filling we were very worried about the entrees to follow after this first food service.

Our fears were calmed as soon as the food hit the table.  The wife’s Red Curry and my Pad Thai beautifully presented with vegetable garnished very well carved.  Then the taste.  My Crispy Duck Pad Thai was one of the best Pad Thai’s I have ever eaten.  The wonderful duck flavor in every bite of the dish.  The noodles perfectly cooked not sticking together and showing no signs of over cooking which leads to a gummy nasty mess.  The wife’s Red Curry ordered Thai hot was good shrimp not over cooked and she said the spice level was good even though the spice used was red pepper flake and not the traditional Thai Chile.  We enjoyed our lunch tremendously.  Then as a finale sendoff they brought out a small container of Coconut Ice cream.  The potion was exactly what you needed just enough to cleanse the palate but not overly fill you with this sweet ice cream it was a prefect finish!

We would recommend stopping by Bangkok Square just pass on the complimentary items and focus on the entrees.

The Villages Wino gives Bangkok Square   ★★☆☆

6500 SW Archer Rd., Suite J
Gainesville, FL 32608
(352) 375-4488
Monday -Thursday 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 – 9:30 p.m.
Friday 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Saturday 12:00 noon – 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Sunday 12:00 noon – 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 – 9:30 p.m.
Lunch until 3 p.m. every day.