Eating Santa Marghertia – Da Michele

Restaurant: Da Michele

Location: Santa Margherita, Italy

Date: June 28, 2011

Cuisine: Ligurian

Rating: Solid


Another evening pick in central Santa Margherita, just a block away from the previous night’s Antonios.

Right in the main drag.

The outside seating was right on the square/street in front of the restaurant. I wish they did this more in America.

The menu.

Vermentino is one of the better quality local whites.

Seafood anti-pasta. This wasn’t as good as the raw plate the pervious night. But it was certainly tasty enough. This is more traditional, being marinated shellfish for the most part.

Another example of ravioli di noce (in walnut cream sauce). Also good, but not as good as Antonios’s version.

Trofie Genovese. Local pasta twists with pesto, potato and beans.

Tagliatelle ai gamberi, curry e piselli. Noodles with shrimps, curry, and peas. Something a little different, but very good. In it’s own way a little like a dish from Singapore. Maybe it’s the British influence in Santa Margherita.

Sea-bass Genovese. With potatoes, olives, pine nuts. This is the more traditional form.

Scampi all’agro. Shrimp in sweet and sour sauce.

This was basically a butter Vinaigrette, and it was absolutely delicious with the crawfish-like creatures. Finger licking good in fact.

Chocolate mousse.


This was a very solid and enjoyable meal. The food was a tiny bit better than La Paranza, but not as elegant or refined as that of neighboring Antonios.

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.

Thanksgiving – The Prequel

Restaurant: Umbria

Location: 7131 Germantown Ave. Philadelphia. 215-242-6470

Date: Nov 24, 2010

Cuisine: Modern American


Our traditional family feast, which we could dub the Thanksgavin, begins with the Wednesday night forefeast (to borrow a term from the Greek orthodox). In 2010 it was at an American place in Germantown outside of Philadelphia, called Umbria. Curiously the name might lead one to believe it was an Italian restaurant, but no.  regardless, it was very good. There were 14 of us.

Yesterday I blogged a bit about our PAST THANKSGIVINGS, and tomorrow I will cover the main event itself.

We really don’t mess around with the wines at these dinners. For the white lovers we had a brand new “2009 J.J. Prum Riesling Wehlener Sonnenuhr SpatleseFrom the sultry bouquet which exudes saline minerality, bounded by a medley of baked pear, raspberry, and lime skins…to the sweet, succulent attack of white fig, lemon and lime skins, and orange cream…to the mid-palate laden with pepper and dark blueberry and candied Meyer lemon flavors…I think that you can get the picture. Namely, this rich, vibrant wine is one of the most complex I have had the pleasure of tasting in 2010! Lithe minerality is present on the back palate and rich lemon ice notes reverberate on the 75+…yes, more than 75 second…finish. Pure ecstasy in a bottle? Quite possibly so!”

Next up. Parker gives the Nuits-St.-Georges 93 points, “An assortment of candied cherries explode from the glass of the 2002 Nuits-St.-Georges Les Perrieres. This seductive wine’s character is drenched in black cherry syrup, rocks, and earth. Medium-bodied, it has outstanding depth, concentration, and a long, expressive finish that reveals copious quantities of ripe tannin. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2018.”

Then the 91 point “2004 Brunello di Montalcino is a fresh, vibrant offering bursting with dark cherries, violets, underbrush, minerals and sweet toasted oak on a medium-bodied frame. The wine reveals terrific balance in an energetic, focused style, with firm yet ripe tannins. The finish is long, clean and refreshing. This is a gorgeous effort from Loacker. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2019.”

And then the 94 point, “2005 Shardana is an awesome Carignano endowed with exuberant dark fruit, smoke, licorice, sage, rosemary and tar. This is a fairly big, masculine wine with great intensity, depth and roundness. It needs another year or two in bottle for the tannins to settle down. The Shardana is formidable, though, and a terrific choice for hearty cuisines. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2021.”

The menu tonight.

The room, or at least half of it.


“Roasted butternut squash ravioli, sage hazelnut and wild mushrooms.” A fall take on an italian classic.

“Mixed green salad, asagio cheese, balsamic vinaigrette.”

“grilled fennel sausage, sweet and spicy fig sauce.” Wow! Wow! The sausage itself was amazing, and the sauce was basically what you would get at a thai or vietnamese place for fried spring rolls. Wow! The combo was amazing, with the sweet tangy goodness against the rich meaty sausage.

Escargot special.

Special “crab and wild mushroom soup.”

“Filet of salmon, cedar roasted, maple glaze.”

“lump crabmeat, fresh herbs, extra dry vermouth.” This emphasized the crab, without a lot of added fat or butter. It worked.

“Pork loin chop, apple bourbon grilling sauce.”

Grilled swordfish special.

Beef short rib special. The meat was seriously falling from the bone here, with a wonderful smoky flavor.

Hmmm.  Not sure. But it was a white meat or fish 🙂 This might have been the swordfish, and the above the chicken.  Hard to remember.

For the deserts, it was time to bring out the big guns — sweet wise — the motor oil vicous PX. Pure sugar in a bottle. Yum!

Carmel almond sundae. Wow!  This was amazing too.  The nuts toasted into a praline like whatever, and the homemade carmel with a bit of sea salt.

Pound cake with fruit.

Classic “creme carmel.” Good, and I love flan, but not as divine as the sundae.

ThanksGavin Calendar:

Wednesday night dinner

Thursday night Thanksgiving Feast

Friday night pork roast

Saturday Deli Brunch

Food as Art: Hatfield’s part 2

Restaurant: Hatfield’s [1, 2]

Location: 6703 Melrose Ave, Los angeles, Ca 90038. 323-935-2977.

Date: Nov 18, 2010

Cuisine: Modern American


I went back to Hatfield’s with friends to try it again. You can read about our PREVIOUS MEAL HERE.

They had the same Amuse, crab with quinoa and a light curry flavoring. It was okay, but certainly not mind blowing.

At one time I had two cases of the Gros Frere et Soeur 1998 Richebourg. This is my last bottle, and I’m sad to see it go. Not only were there only a couple hundred made, but it was last sighted on the internet for $1,332 a bottle. Oh well. Richebourg is one of my favorite wines, particularly when as balanced as this one. Some find it too subtle. Not I.


The Prix Fixe menu.

The regular menu.

The other half of the regular menu.

“Roasted baby beet and mizuna salad, french feta, falafel, balsamic vinaigrette.”

“Sweet corn soup, poached lobster, jicama, roasted hon shimeji mushrooms.”

I love these French style soups with the “pour in” around the stuff, I don’t know exactly why. I also love corn soups when done right.

“Warm creamy crab buckwheat crepe, pickled beets, marinated radish, fine herbs.” This was very yummy, particularly the guts of the crepe. Oddly, it was reminiscent of a high end version of that crab omelet thing they have a IHOP (haven’t been there in around 20 years — just so you know).

“Steamed skate wing salad, wild greens, fried maitakes, garnet yams, harissa.”

“Warm summer salad, corn agnolotti, cherry tomatoes, zucchini coulis, fava beans.”

“Charred octopus, caramelized fennel, saffron vanilla braised hearts of palm, red wine olive puree.” The fennel tasted like caramelized onions. Overall this was a very sweet (and tasty) dish with a variety of unusual textures.

“Slow cooked beef short rib, blue lake beans, braised radish, horseradish potato puree.”

“Sauteed Loup-de-mer, braised shelling beans, english pea puree, charred pea tendrils.” I always require my pea tendrils charred, otherwise The Day of the Triffids is a possibility.

“Brown butter-roasted cauliflower”, golden raisons, corn, etc.  — again (we had it on the previous vegetarian menu).

“Pan roasted duck breast, caramelized endive and cherry, pistachio pistou, celery root puree.” This was about as good as a duck breast dish gets (and I’ve tried plenty). The duck was medium rare, and perfectly tender.

The dessert options.

“Chocolate Carmel Semifreddo, salted peanut crunch, bitter chocolate sorbet.” Wow. This was a good dessert. Sort of like a chocolate caramel penut butter cup. There is a new trend to mix salt and caramel. Having always been a fan of the sweet/salty (I put syrup on my bacon), I’m loving it.

“Warm pear strudel, poached sour cherries, black walnut praline ice cream.” I only tasted the ice cream. It was pretty wonderful.

A repeat for the petit fours as well! At least the main menu changes up a lot. It takes a lot to create new dishes and it’s nice to see a place that is willing to experiment. Hatfield’s seems to me to spiritually pick up where Sona left off, with bright Franco-American market driven cuisine. I like it. Somehow it isn’t totally WOW, but it is very good. These are not easy dishes, and each was very good, nothing fell particularly flat. Our last meal at Sona before it closed, for example, felt limp. The chef’s here are as bold as a Ludo (SEE MY REVIEW HERE), but there is also a lower failure rate among dishes. I’d like sometime to try the chef’s “anything goes” menu and see what happens.