Summer Special: Uproot’s 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Astoria

Uproot summer wines

When Uproot announced its new summer wine offerings, I knew I had to try it. Summer wines are my favorite; light, chilled and often fruity, they’re always refreshing. Uproot is re-imagining wine-making to create a fresh, modern, energized experience for a new generation of wine drinkers. Even their unusual packaging is fun and unique; I love how the bottles are fun to unwrap.

uproot 2011 sauv blanc

The first wine we tried is their 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (above; I also have a bottle of the 2011 Grey Edition Sauvignon Blanc, which I will post about shortly). Let me tell you, I’d carted this wine around with me multiple times, to the Hampton’s and back, to friend’s apartments, etc. and yet we never opened it. It seemed like a special bottle of wine that I really wanted to enjoy, rather than guzzle along with beer and other beverages on a night of heavy drinking.

Sunset from Astoria Park

Finally, Kiyo and I brought it to Astoria Park one night after work, just in time for sunset.

Kiyo with uproot wine in the park

He’s very focused on not-so-secretly opening the wine, in this picture. We picked up some Thai food nearby (from Thai Pavilion. It was OK, nothing great).

2011-sauvignon-blanc-aroma

The wine however, was special and I loved it. This particular wine, made from a white grape, starts out crisp and lightly sweet, “but rounds out as you go,” according to Uproot, and I agree. Even though I’m not quite sure what it means for wine to have notes of “fresh cut grass,” I love the above illustrations they use on all their bottles as a sort of tasting-note guide. Luckily, they’re beginning to offer monthly “Virtual Tastings,” so maybe I’ll be able to learn more. Even if you’re not an expert (which I by no means am) their cute charts (“Flavor Palettes”) make it easy to select a wine that you’ll enjoy. The size of each block tells you how dominant that note is. Who doesn’t love the sound of passion fruit and melon notes in their summer Sauv Blanc?

Uproot picnic in the park

Since they just explain it so well, here’s what Uproot has to say about this wine: “Here’s proof that Sauvignon Blanc is just so underrated. A crisp, sweet pop followed by a smoothness and a completely dry finish makes our debut 2011 Sauvignon Blanc surprisingly complex and brightly optimistic. Whatever you thought about SB before, think again. We’re all about that. We fermented half in stainless steel for brightness; the other half in oak to smooth out the green notes. Then we blended them back together for a complexity that reflects the best of both worlds. Proving once again that good things come to those who wait an extra three weeks.”

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Bangkok Chef Pad Thai, Honolulu

Bangkok Chef Pad Thai

My friend Aaron texted me this picture on Monday of his lunch: pad Thai from Bangkok Chef in Manoa. The dish consists of fried rice-noodles with egg, chicken, tofu, bean sprouts and chives, all doused with “house pad Thai sauce.” He added some hot sauce. For all that food, it costs about $8! Bangkok Chef is one of the best places to pick up lunch due to the obvious value, and the quality is great as well. Everything I’ve had from their varied menu is delicious. They’re also fast, so it’s great for take-out but you can also sit down and eat in the small, no-frills dining room.

Bangkok Chef

Open: Monday – Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., Sunday noon – 8:00 p.m.

Location: 2955 East Manoa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822 Phone: (808) 988-0212

Bangkok Chef on Urbanspoon

Hillstone Salads, Santa Monica

Hilstone LA Kale Salad Takeout

When I visited my sister Lana in California this spring, we met up late on a Friday night at our Santa Monica hotel. We had both missed dinner, so I grabbed some beverages from the nearby pharmacy and Lana picked up some takeout for us to share back in our room. Upon her suggestion (and based on the fact that almost no place else was taking orders after 10 PM) we ordered from Hillstone, which is a Napa Valley-inspired restaurant with outposts across the US.

I ordered the kale salad, which is actually a side dish, with roasted peanut vinaigrette. It was simple and clean yet addicting, and left me wanting more.

Hillstone Takeout

Lana had a full-sized salad, the Thai steak and noodle salad with filet mignon, avocado, mango, herbs and Thai dressing. I loved my kale salad, but her salad was so good I wished I’d ordered my own! Lana had to keep swatting me away as I tried to steal bites. The sweet mango with the salty noodles, fresh herbs and creamy avocado was such a winning combination. The steak helped transform the salad into an entrée and like all perfect salads, the textures and flavors were all different yet came together perfectly.

Hillstone

Open: Sunday – Thursday 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Location: 325 Wilshire Blvd. #202, Santa Monica, CA 90401 Phone:(310) 576-7558

Hillstone on Urbanspoon

Smith Street Fair, Brooklyn

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Despite the overwhelming crowds and stifling heat, I love New York’s summer street fairs. Last year, Kiyo and I were staying with a friend in Cobble Hill, who told us to check out Smith Street’s “Sunday Funday” fair. 

Street Fair Corn on the Cob

The event’s website states: “Deliberately not the longest, only 8 blocks long, we are the choosiest of street events. Fun Day Sunday 2012 was no exception to that rule – rather we have gained a reputation among crafters and independent designers as a showcase for their talents and people come from as far away as Virginia Rhode Island, and Massachusetts to take part in our day.” To be honest, I wasn’t paying much attention to the crafts; rather, Kiyo and I began our afternoon of sampling with a grilled cob of corn, a quintessential summer treat.

Street Fair Samosa

Kiyo’s favorite cuisine is Indian, so of course we had to try a crispy vegetable samosa. I love when samosas are really stuffed like this one was. The accompanying sauces were also good.

Street Fair Meat Kebabs

Kiyo doesn’t believe in vegetables without meat, so next up was a BBQ chicken skewer.

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Top 10 Posts of 2012

Happy New Year! In the American spirit of making lists to commemorate the end of one year and the beginning of the next, here are the 10 most popular (most viewed) posts on eyechow from 2012. Thanks for reading!

Jim's Steaks Philly Cheese Steak

  1. Philly Cheese Steaks, Springfield

    Flour Bakery Sticky Bun

  2.  Joanne Chang’s Sticky Buns, HonoluluTamarind Candy
  3.  Sweet & Sour Tamarind Candy, BangkokBorscht Veselka NYC
  4.  Dinner at Veselka & Ruby Stinson at The Bitter End, New YorkHomemade Chicken Soup Eyechow
  5.  What I Ate Wednesday: Astoria & New YorkLe Halle Skirt Steak
  6.  Dinner at Les Halles, New YorkTom Kha To Thai For Honolulu
  7.  Tom Kha Gai, HonoluluBlue Smoke Cocktails
  8.  Blue Smoke: Restaurant Week, New YorkSnow City Cafe Stuffed French Toast
  9.  Snow City Cafe, AnchorageWIAW Eyechow
  10. What I Ate Wednesday: Astoria & New York