Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wine and His Personality

Not to long ago Rodney Hand (Publisher of the Addison and the North Dallas Corridor magazine) asked me if would be interested in tasting a selection of wines from someone that he knew (Ramon Guerrero of Meadowlark Vineyard).

Ramon and his wife actually live in Plano TX and it was their dream to buy 17 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley (45 minutes away from Santa Barbara). Meadowlark Vineyard does not have currently have an affiliation with a local distributor but they have a total production of 2000 cases. I invited Ramon to Mercy as I thought it will be great to taste his "boutique-style" wine. Ramon brought in four wines for me to taste that day: 2006 Syrah, 2007 Merlot, 2007 Syrah and his 2007 Cabernet.

I specifically want to discuss the two Syrah selections but I should also mention that Meadowlark Vineyards is registered as an organic grower with the California Department of Agriculture and the Guerrero Family motto is: "We are what we eat and drink ".

2006 Syrah: It was very good but very old world in style, more dominant with the dried fruits of " figs, dates and prunes", medium to high acidity and an extreme level of minerality with an herbal finish. It was very Rhone in the style.

2007 Syrah
This wine was so bright and full of joy, had good density with a dominance of fresh fruit "black cherry, blackberry, plum", the structure was very silky, velvety, with low acidity and soft tanins. I understand that one vintage can be slightly different from another, that is what Mother nature has to offer. So, I had to ask the question "is this the same winemaker for both wines, the 2006 and the 2007 "?

He said "No" and then I understood why they tasted so differently. The 2006 was much more traditional style from an older gentleman (old school) and the 2007, much more brightness,density and younger expressions. Ramon told me that has just hired a new winemaker, fresh out of school and that he is very happy with what he is done with the wine. The wine takes on the personality of the winemaker.

Like I was saying earlier, Meadowlark Vineyard does not currently have a distributor in Texas but we will be working to bring it to Mercy and share my experience with you.

Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spoiled by service

Viva Las Vegas ! My girlfriend and I just recently went to Las Vegas for a much needed vacation and of course, we had a blast. The bright lights, the ringing of the slot machines, the cheers of people hitting it big, the long faces of the ones who just lost it all, the extravagant shopping, the lavish night clubs and the fine restaurants everywhere, the awesome weather, all combined for a memorable trip. I have been to Vegas several times over the years but this is the first time I really observed everything around me. I wanted to bring back an experience that I could share at Mercy and one thing really impressed me !

The one thing that really stood out for me was the quality of service I received. No matter where I went, it seemed that it was the same, whether I was at a patio bar or a five star restaurant. We went to a couple of fine hotel restaurants for dinner and it’s sad to say, that I was overall disappointed with the service that we received, especially considering we were dropping $200-$400 for the two of us. My girlfriend thought I was overreacting with my disappointment. Granted, I am picky because I expect the same service that I provide, but it really made me realize how exceptional our service is at Mercy!

I did however take one of our guest's recommendations and visited a restaurant and wine bar on the outskirts of town called Ferraro’s. I had made reservations for dinner. I was already not happy with my dining service experiences in Vegas so I walked in as merely a novice putting my 16 years industry experience aside and approached it as if I was a guest at Mercy. We simply sat down and I told our server to save his opening speech and placed everything from the water to the desserts in his hands. As a result of us letting the waiter have control of our evening, it was by far the best experience I have every had at any restaurant. Everything was to the tee of what I expect our staff to provide at Mercy. The things that impressed me the most: the bus boy, the waiter, the sommelier, and even the executive chef, came by our table and without being bothersome, to make sure everything was great. After the evening was over I introduced myself and raved about my experience. We even had a picture taken with our waiter and sommelier.

I learned a lot from both the great and the not so great service we received in Las Vegas and that experience provided me with a few ideas to fine tune our already awesome service that we provide at Mercy!

Craig Brazeal
Bar Manager

Monday, April 12, 2010

A favorite memory

It became a fond memory for a cold winter day, mom's grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of hot tomato soup. My brother was always a picky eater but that was one lunch that we both could agree upon. A quick hot lunch before we went back outside to play in the snow.

The Grilled Cheese Sandwich has come into its own now with the celebration now of National Grilled Cheese Month in April. Mercy's contribution to this national event, Grilled Cheese Apple Sandwich with Fontina and Jarlsberg cheeses and Granny Smith apples has been a customer favorite for several years now.

A few minutes of scouring the Internet turned up this following tidbit about National Grilled Cheese month. As the story goes, a 123-page report to Congress on the National Dairy Promotion and Research Program and the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Program including a reference to April’s National Grilled Cheese Month.

As I got older and our family grew (with an additional brother and a sister), my mom returned to the work force. As the eldest, I took up the task of preparing this tasty and quick luncheon item to myself and siblings. But, I never quite mastered mom's touch for preparation of this satisfying lunch.

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My annual pilgrimage to Miami

I just got back from my annual pilgrimage to Miami for the Sony Ericsson tennis tournament. Another outstanding year, one of the highlights of the year for me. I have been doing this trip for 10 years now and this year was no disappointment. Despite a day of rain, I saw two full days of tennis and had a chance to see some of the greats, Nadal, Murray, Nalbandian, Bryan Brothers, Baghdadis, Henin and many more. This is one of my favorite tournaments of the year. This is just below the level of the US Open, held in NY every August. I just love this tournament! For me, it is the beginning of summer. Sitting in the sun in Miami at 80+ degrees with the ocean breeze blowing, watching the best tennis players in the world, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Our first evening there, it is a tradition to have dinner at the Blue Door in the Delano Hotel on South beach (www.Delano-hotel.com). It was a beautiful evening dining on the patio, overlooking the wading pool. The food is amazing and the service impeccable and the scenery, just as good! Everything about this experience is amazing and over the top!

This year our group of five stayed in Coconut Grove, which was a first. We loved this little town. Park your car and walk everywhere! We found ourselves gravitating back there every night for dinner. We discovered a great restaurant right on an outlying corner named Green Street Café, www.greenstreetcafe.net. What a great concept! The lounge is outdoors. Right on the sidewalk are couches and high back comfortable chairs with tables. Patrons are relaxing with their feet propped up and enjoying a drink or an appetizer.

Along two streets the sidewalks are donned with small tables for outdoor dining. I ended up eating there for the next three nights! A simple menu of Italian cuisine that was outstanding. Homemade pasta and a willingness on the part of the waitstaff to customize your dinner was the order of the day. Several lighter fish dishes, which a couple of my group ordered, were really great as well. I would have liked to have seen a few more Italian wines and more by the glass would have taken a great evening way over the top. During the course of our meal, we were enjoying the eye candy of Maseratis and Ferraris cruising the streets. Ah, the purr of that Maserati with a nice glass of Chianti!! What a great combo. For some reason, they just go together!

This was another great trip of remarkable tennis, revisiting a world class restaurant and hotel and discovering a great new little village. What a great way to escape the real world for a few days. I can’t wait for next year!!

Glen Agritelley