Full of Life Flatbreads
This casual restaurant is a terrific source of spectacular pizza (sorry, I can’t get use to the term “flatbread”). Located on the approach to Los Alamos, a tiny one-horse village in the Santa Ynez wine region, they are only open Thursday through Sunday, and while they do have a good beer and wine list, most people BYOB. The quality of the ingredients in every dish – the heirloom salad, tomato soup, stuffed artichokes and exquisite pizzas - was sensational. Each dish was just bursting with flavor. It’s a shame that a place that is this good, this much fun and so casual with such an emphasis on high quality raw materials has to be 3,000 miles away from me.
The wines included a delicious 2008 generic Brewer-Clifton Santa Rita Hills Chardonnayand a young, magnificent 2003 Guigal Côte Rôtie La Landonne that was black as a moonless night and still needs another 5-6 years of bottle age. Revealing lots of earth, truffle, asphalt and meat juices, it worked wonders with the flatbreads. The 2000 Sine Qua Non Incognito remains one of the greatest, possibly THE greatest fully mature Grenache ever made in California. If I recall correctly, about 5% Syrah was blended with the Grenache, and the result is a magnificent wine boasting loads of kirsch liqueur, lavender, spice box, pepper and meat juices, a velvety, opulent texture, stunning purity and a singular personality. This phenomenal wine is fully mature, and is not likely to improve any further. Those lucky enough to have bottles in their cellars are advised to drink it up.
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Petit Louis Bistro
A lookalike, authentic French bistro, Petit Louis in Baltimore's Roland Park is the creation of restauranteurs par excellence Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman. You feel like you’ve walked into a bistro on the Left Bank of Paris when you enter Petit Louis. The food is classic bistro, and they do it well. All of the courses we had were flavorful, sometimes a trifle rustic, but delicious in their intensity. This was good comfort food prepared extremely well. The wines started with one of the major surprises for me over the last year, the 2006 sparking wine from Tony Soter in Oregon. I had this several times while I was out visiting Oregon, and I had always been impressed, but this is a 10-year-old sparking Rosé that is just sensational, and I’m talking world class—it’s that good. Something this good from France would cost at least two to three times as much, so kudos to Tony Soter. The 1995 Billaud-Simon Chablis Mont de Milieu was oxidized and undrinkable. The 1996 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos St. Urbain Rangen de Thann was sweet, and although it went well with the foie gras, it was just a little too unctuous and sweet a wine...