Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dinner in San Antonio

I flew with the regular copilot to San Antonio to visit my Ballerina Daughter with Ballet San Antonio, watch her in the Nutcracker Ballet, and meet her boyfriend's parents.  You can read about the trip on my aviation blog at --click on the Aviation Blog link.  You can also get to it from

During the trip, we went to Texas de Brazil in San Antonio.  Texas de Brazil is a  Brazilian "Grill" or "Barbecue."  I used to routinely go to one in Albuquerque.  They have a buffet for veggies and other side stuff--I mostly skip it.  The buffet is usually nice with very high class salads, cheese, and stuff, but the meats are the center piece of any Brazilian Grill. 

You have a card or a round block on your table or at your place, when you turn the card or block to the green side, one of the many servers brings you freshly grilled meat on a skewer to your place and cuts or pulls off a piece for you.  These restaurants typically have from 20 to 30 different types of meat to serve you.  The goal is to get a bite of each.  The goal of the servers is to give you enough meat so you puke.

I like the classice Brazilian grill.  The meats tend to be more of the South American style and taste.  Texas de Brazil was Americanized, but that didn't detract from their presentation, service, or meats.  The amount and quality of very high quality meat was excellent.  From top sirloin to tenderloin to fillets, to lamb, lamb chops, pork, chicken in various styles, all the meat was excellent.  The drinks were excellent too.  The usual copilot had a dirty Martini (a Cloudy Rio), and I had their signature Brazilian lime and sugar cane spirit drink.  I can't pronounce it, so I can't spell it, but it starts with a C.  Just ask for the signature drink--you'll get what I had.  The only thing I missed was the sugar cane that comes in the real drink if you get it in Brazil.  Next time you are in San Antonio visit the Texas de Brazil--you won't be disappointed, and don't forget to make reservations (or you will be disappointed). 

We stayed in the Sheraton Gunter Hotel.  If you stay in San Antonio, I recommend this hotel.  It is only steps from the Alamo, Riverwalk, Majestic Theatre, Texas de Brazil, and a host of other great places to visit.

Right now, I'm enjoying a Partagas Number 10 cigar, a cappuccino, and an Avatini.  The weather is cold, but the ambiance is fantastic.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Steak Tartar and Cigars

I'll put together two restaurants in Wichita because, as far as I know, they are the only places you can get Steak Tartar here.  On Wednesday my bud asked me to the Candle Club for cigars and drinks.  I brought the cigars.  The cigars were pretty spectacular.  They were four cigars (two pairs) I received in my Fuentes event humidor box.  One pair was a five inch 50 ring pressed box maduro torpedo Fuentes.  I saved the rings, but I didn't note the other information.  The other pair of cigars were an English wrapper four and a half inch 40 ring by a manufacturer I didn't recognize.  We had martinis and cigars then both ordered the steak tartar.  The martinis were okay--they should have been shaken longer.

The cigars were both strong, but they went well with the martinis and the steak tartar.  The steak tartar is very nicely prepared at the Candle Club.  It is not overly spicy and is served with a raw egg yoke on top.  The bread served with the steak tartar is very fresh and very nice.  It is an Italian style bread that is just the right consistency to hold up to scooping and holding steak tartar, but still soft.  The steak tartar was excellent.  It wasn't overpowered by too many spices or flavors and is just the right amount for a single meal.

On Friday, I took the usual copilot (my wife) with a couple of friends to Newport Grill.  Newport Grill also offers steak tartar as an apetizer.  We didn't have the steak tartar (I have had it many times there) but I'll report on it.  Newport Grill's steak tartar is different than the steak tartar at the Candle Club.  It is served similarly, but it is spicier and a slightly different consistency.  It is more typical to the steak tartar found in Europe and not the USA.  The flavor is consistently excellent and very meaty, but still with strong spice.  The bread served with it is very nice, but not as nice in quality as that at the Candle Club.  The different steak tartars are an excellent contrast in flavors, and I recommend both.  By the way, we usually have to order extra bread with each steak tartar, so be ready.

At Newport Grill, we did try out two new appetizers.  The first was a fillet wrapped with a date and bacon with a sweet sauce and orange sauce.  It was very nice and worth a second try.  The orange sauce didn't really complement the flavor, but the overall sauce did.  A cranberry sauce might be excellent with it.  The presentation was great.  The other appetizer was lobster deviled eggs.  For people who like deviled eggs this was a fantastic addition to the menu.  The lobster flavor was very muted, but that didn't matter, the deviled eggs were perfect.  If you like deviled eggs this is the appetizer for you.

We had the usual Newport grill main courses: fish and steak.  The fish is first rate and always great.  The steaks are perfect.  I recommend them all.  Newport is basically a "yes" restaurant.  They'll do about anything you want.

I especially need to remark on the drinks and our server.  We had a young lady as our server and she was the best and most attentive we've had at Newport.  The drinks were correctly shaken and correctly made to request.  If anything, Newport has the best martinis and the most properly done.  All in all, the evening was a success.  Oh, I should mention, we shared the bread pudding for dessert.  Their desserts don't rotate much, but they are very nice.

Go try out the Newport Grill and with a member, the Candle Club--especially if you like steak tartar.    

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ciao - 11 Nov 2011

We made a visit to the new Italian restaurant on the east side of Wichita--Ciao.  The place was filled when we went there on Friday night at about 7:20 and were told there was a 45 minute wait.  We went to the bar--of course.  The bar was filled but we got seats pretty quickly.  We ordered a gin dirty martini with blue cheese olives and a dry vodka martini with blue olives.  Both were shaken.  The martinis were excellent.  They were shaken correctly and very nicely done.  The blue cheese olives were freshly packed.

We needed some basis for our drinking so we ordered the combo appetizer.  Wow.  There was calamari, chicken fingers, fried provolone, fried Spanish ravioli, fried zucchini, artichoke dip and they gave us fresh bread and dipping oil.  The bread and oil was great.  The appetizers were all fried, but the food was good--and lots.  We decided that was all we needed and went home.  We didn't get to try anything else.  We put it on the list again, and we recommend it.  Go try out Ciao.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cigar, Shortstory - 10 Nov 2011

My friend came over after hunting last night.  He had a chance to put an arrow in three bucks, and took one.  One of the bucks, a juvenile, took a strong liking to his decoy--he described it as deer porno at 20 feet.  His wife told him (via text message) to go ahead a shoot it--it would only grow up to be a pervert.  The perverted buck was allowed to live another day--his big brother is being processed.

In any case, I offered dinner, a cigar, and an avatini.  My wife put together a great simple meal of chicken (boneless thighs) with a slightly hot spice (jerk), broccolini, rice, and corn bread.  Great dinner.

I made avatinis with Safire Gin.  The cigars were from the Fuentes event.  They were a special darker release of the Fuente Hemingway Shortstory.  The shortstory is a small reverse torpedo cigar with a twist at the burn end and a round smoking end.  They are a great 45 minute smoke.  This was a larger version.  Usually, the larger the Hemingway the worst the cigar.  These were a darker cigar and larger. 

The cigars were sweet to the palate--both the taste of the wrapper and the smoke.  We "v-cut" them and lit them with wooden matches.  They burned very nicely.  I thought about letting the ash go as long as possible--it was very dense and might have lasted, without clearing, nearly the entire cigar as it burned.  Like your usual shortstory, the smoke was delicate and gentle with spice.  Unlike the usual shortstory, these cigars were a bit stronger and more pungent with a hint of leather and chocolate.  They also lasted longer on the pallet.

The avatinis were great.  I didn't go hunting, but the end of the day was fantastic.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saturday Cigars - 5 November 2011

I had a wonderful cigar on Saturday.  My friend came over.  I served cappuccino and salads (Avatini).  An Avatini is a dry shaken gin or vodka martini with avocado and olives for garnishment.  The avocado is bland and creamy, the olives are a little astringent and strong, the martini is alcohol and sweet.  The flavors together are very nice.  The cappuccino was normal.  I learned to make it in Italy.  I have Gaggia machine.  The trick is to properly froth the milk--that is a real skill.  The other point is good pressure based espresso.  A Gaggia cappuccino maker is the one I recommend.  I've used many different types, but this makes the best consistent cappuccino and is well automated (it grinds the beans for each cup).  I make cappuccino in mugs and put in 1.5 shots of espresso for each.

The preliminaries were complete with the cappuccino and Avatinis.  They were the setting for the cigars.  The cigars were Diamond Crown Churchills--a very large cigar.  I got them in a humidor package at the September Fuentes event.  The Fuentes event is a cigar charity event put on by the Cigar Chateau locally.  The Fuentes Family Charity is the beneficiary of the event.  I have gone to every Fuentes Event since they started.  The second largest (as I understand it) is in Wichita, Kansas.  The event has been at Flint Hills for the last few years.  An auction is one of the main parts of the event, but cigars, great drink, and good food are all supplied.  I'll write about it when it comes up next September. 

At this event, I won the auction of a beautiful red enameled table top humidor (I didn't need one, I have two floor standing humidors with automatic humidity controls in them).  I wanted the contents of the humidor.  It had over 20 great cigars in pairs, a large box of Coco Dolche chocolates, a scissors cigar cutter, a cigar lighter, and a bunch of gift certificates to local restaurants.  It was a great deal.  The Diamond Crown Churchills came in the humidor.

I usually smoke Partagas number 10s, but I like to try something new and the Diamond Crowns are a great cigar.  They smoked very well.  I like to punch a cigar, and I have an extra large punch (about 3/8 inch).  That was the right size for this cigar.  I use wooden matches to light my cigars.  I lite it until I get a red glow and then take the first triple puff.  My Diamond Crown started a little uneven, but quickly corrected itself.  I didn't have to light it again once it started.  It matched the cauppachino well and the Avatini nicely.  The cigar was a long smoke, so I ran out of drink before the cigar was done.  It lasted about 2.5 hours.

The taste was gentle spice with a typical Cohiba aroma.  That is a warm leather and silk.  It wasn't really similar to a Partagas.  The cigar burned nicely and only got a little stronger at the end.  Otherwise it was very consistent in burn and flavor.

My wife didn't like the aroma it left in my mouth.  She usually can handle the Partagas, but she thought the after smell of the Diamond Crown was strong.  It didn't particularly leave a strong flavor and dissipated in an evening.

Overall rating was that I liked it and it was a great cigar for conversation.    

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sushi - Sumos 4 November

I intend this blog to be an occasional blog--I don't want to write on it every day, but I did have a dining experience on Friday.  I took my wife to Sumos for sushi.

They don't accept reservations, but we didn't need them even though the place was full.  It's a Japanese hibachi style restaurant sometimes called a chop-chop house.  The kind where they cook your meal as an entertainment.

We had sushi--that's the point.  I love raw fish and meat--the problem of world traveling.  And we love sushi.  I was disappointed.  The restaurant was crowded and it is loud.  My late cousin designed it, but they need to do something about the noise.  Simple Japanese half opening coverings and banners on the walls would help, but that's the engineer in me coming out.  The service was very good.

We started with a tempura appetizer.  It was nicely presented and well done--a little greasy, but tasty.  Our main complaint is that it didn't come with the usually tempura dipping sauce, but rather a ranch-like dressing and sweet and sour sauce.  We didn't ask for tempura dipping sauce--we should have.  I had a hot sake that wasn't very hot and my wife had a Sapporo light (Japanese beer) that wasn't very cold.

We both ordered a seaweed salad.  She didn't like the cucumbers in the salad and the dressing could have been a little stronger.  We also had miso soup.  The miso was too strong, but the soup was hot and presented properly.  We both also ordered a spicy tuna hand roll (a conically wrapped maki (roll)).  That was very good, but we could tell they used the older tuna--that's typical in many places. 

My wife ordered sushimi (raw fish).  She received tuna, salmon, and yellow tail.  I had sushi pairs and ordered unagi, salmon, firecracker yellow tail, and a special tuna.  Mine was okay.  The salmon was smoked when I ordered sake (raw salmon) and I had a small bone in the unagi (cooked freshwater eel).  My wife's sushimi was good, but the yellow tail appeared a little dull and her salmon didn't seem to be sushi grade.  I tasted it.  She also found a bone in the salmon--that's an indicator.  None of the fish smelled fishy--that's a good sign.  We don't touch any sushi that smells fishy.

So, all in all, the sushi wasn't that great, but like I said, the service was good.  We'll probably not try it again for a while.  In Wichita, the options for great sushi decreased significantly with the closing of Kwan Court which was one of the best sushi restaurants in the country.   

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cigar Night 3 Nov

4 November 2011, Cigar Night at the Candle Club

We have out cigar night out the first Thursday of every month.  We've been congregating at the Candle Club.  This is a private club in Wichita, Kansas.  Kansas has passed laws that prevent business owners from exercising the private property rights on their own property--the legislature has prevented the use of tobacco products in non-private clubs.  Someone should take these legislators to court for taking the value of property from property owners.  Our country is doomed as long as property owners can't determine the legal activities they will allow on their own property.

In any case, we had cigar night at the Candle Club--there we can have drinks, cigars, and dinner.  The food at the Candle Club is outstanding.  I brought cigars. 

The usual bartender wasn't in the smoking bar.  I ordered a vodka martini with grape based vodka (I like potato based vodka because I don't like the sweet flavor of grain based vodkas).  She came back with a vodka martini made with grape flavored Sky vodka--yuck.  Okay, reload.  She had a discussion with the regular bartender and came back with the right drink.  I thought it was funny.

I brought a bunch of cigars, but started with a Partagas number 10 (my favorite), but my buddy brought a special Cohiba torpedo.  The Cohiba was a great cigar.  It was tightly wrapped with the usual great Cohiba flavor.  A nice gentle chocolate and cream.

For dinner, I ordered the Steak Tartar.  There are only two places (that I know of) where you can get Steak Tartar in Wichita Kansas:  the Candle Club and the Newport Grill.  The Steak Tartar at the Candle Club is wonderfully fresh with very little spice or stuff mixed in.  It has a raw egg yoke on top.  It is excellent.  I looked forward to it all day.  With it I had a Flexinet Cordon Negro half bottle.  I wanted to have another--Steak Tartar and Fexinet.  The bread with the Steak Tartar was a thin sliced French style with a brush of oil.  All in all this was a very pleasant meal.  I recommend it.

My bud recommends the chicken fried steak at the Candle Club--that's what he had.  After the Cohiba, I went back to the Partagas number 10.  That was my limit and I got almost 3 hours out of the cigars--wonderful.  The flavor of a Partagas 10 is slightly sweet and honey with cream.  Very close to the Cohiba but a gentle cigar that doesn't stay with you for two days.

That was my planned end of the evening, but another friend offered me a Nub English Wrapper.  I ordered a Jamison on the rocks to match the Nub.  The Nub cigar was nice and not too long a burn.  It is a similar cigar to the other two.  It is a light and sweet cigar with a nice flavor.

So, the end of this cigar night.  We had 13 members and a great evening of conversation.