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Reno chowdown: Cooking class and dinner at Lanna Thai

The Greater Reno Grub and Gripe Group gathered at Lanna Thai Café and Culinary School for an evening of a cooking lesson and eating. Everyone loved the experience and as the evening ended there was talk of planning another.
Lanna Thai operates as a restaurant six days a week. On Monday nights they are closed, but if you have a big enough group Chef Pim will hold a cooking class. You eat what you cook and as GRGAGG member Robin observed, thanks to Chef Pim we were pretty good cooks.
Our menu was Thai chicken coconut soup (tom kha gai), a spicy clams appetizer and a pumpkin shrimp curry. We were escorted from the front to the kitchen where they had cutting boards for us with the recipes for all three dishes printed out.
Chef Pim started us with the pumpkin shrimp curry. We all had knives and Chef Pim had us cut the rind off what I believe were kobocha, an Asian pumpkin. She was speedy with her knife. I brought up the rear but I got enough cut off. We also sliced the pumpkin and then moved on to other vegetables. Finally we had everything prepared and it was time to cook. We started by heating oil in a pot and then adding red curry paste. The trick was to let the paste and oil cook together and then stir until the oil started coming out of the top of the mix. Then we added coconut milk. Chef Pim talked about the different types of curry and their uses (she feels yellow curry is used for vegetarian dishes, for example). We added items that needed to cook the longest first, like roots, and moved through the vegetables. Chef Pim brought out shrimp that had marinated overnight lime juice and something else, I can't remember what. Soon it was time for the final touches. We had put in fish sauce and sugar and Chef Pim would taste our dishes and tell us what to add. It was usually more fish sauce or sugar. After about 25 minutes of cooking we were done. And the pumpkin shrimp curry tasted fabulous.
Next we did the spicy clams. I only watched on this one as others stir fried the clams in woks, adding in sauces and basil leaves, among other ingredients. The clams were also excellent.
Chef Pim had us go eat the curry and clams while she cleaned up the kitchen. There was plenty of food and plenty of leftovers to take home. And like any GRGAGG event, there was also plenty of good wine flowing.
Everyone was stuffed, but it was time to go back into the kitchen and make the chicken coconut soup, a favorite of mine. We started with coconut milk in the pot and added the other ingredients. I had my "Ah Hah!" moment when she tried my soup, which tasted good already, and suggested adding more sugar and fish sauce. About a teaspoon of each gave the soup that extra oomph and made it extra delicious.
Of course, whether I can make it this good at home is another question. I won't have Chef Pim right there to check it and tell me what it needs.
I've eaten at Lanna Thai once before and enjoyed the meal, so it's a great place for either a cooking lesson or just a meal.

Lanna Thai Cafe and Culinary School
800 W 2nd St
Reno, NV 89503
(775) 284-1080

Apr 06, 2014
SteveTimko in Southwest

Wedding wines

Ecco Domani is by Gallo. It's jug wine from Italy. No, wait. Italy jug wine can be pretty good. But it's crappy wine from Italy.
Looks like Columbia Crest is the best wine on this list.

Apr 03, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Best inexpensive wine?

If you're still in Pennsylvania, WineSearcher shows Di Majo Norante is on sale there for $12 a bottle. This is made from sangiovese, which is the primary grape in Chianti.

Apr 03, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

wine auction at K&L Wines

I've only bid on a K&L Wine auction twice and I've lost both times.
However, my cellar has a couple of dozen bottles of wine that K&L bought out of someone else's cellar and put up for sale. I can think of only one that had a problem. The ones that I've opened have been enjoyed by me and my wine geek friends. I'd say they do a good job of picking what wine they sell.

Apr 03, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

How long do Pinot Noirs last?

Blackstone is more of an industrial producer. If you look on CellarTracker!, even their reserve wines have a drinking window of a couple of years after release.
I have Cronin pinot noir from the 1990s that's doing just fine, thank you.
Two years ago I had a 1983 Eyrie pinot noir that was also doing well.

Mar 28, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Random Reno notes: New Middle Eastern and a Panaderia

That place on Wells near Oddie was a Mexican restaurant for a few years. It was okay. I'll have to check out the new business.
The reason it looks almost like a greenhouse was because it was a Wendy's back in the early 1980s when I was going to UNR and they remodeled it to give it that sunny, atrium look. It took forever to remodel, like a year or more, and then it only stayed open for about another year after it was finished.

Mar 23, 2014
SteveTimko in Southwest

Wine tours in Burgundy and Rhone Valley?

Well, you're proving my point. Who the heck goes on wine tours just to taste drinkable wine? Take a cab to a grocery store and buy a couple of boxes of wine and you are set.
I've had to drink these Total Wine imports at my monthly tasting group. They were horrendous to most everyone. They were direct imports by Total Wine.

Mar 20, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Wine tours in Burgundy and Rhone Valley?

Total Wine sells some pretty horrendous wine bottled under the Burgundy and Rhone labels.

Mar 19, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Wine tours in Burgundy and Rhone Valley?

I had some friends sign up for a wine tour of Sonoma County a few years ago. After they came back I saw their itinerary and there wasn't one place among the eight they visited that I'd recommend. I guess they had a nice lunch with a beautiful view at one place, but you have to wonder about the quality of these places that turn up on tours. I'll bet it's the same situation in France.

Mar 18, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Looking for an inexpensive white wine recommendation.

stainless steel. It a chronic Robert Parker 90-pointer. That's a bad thing for some people.

Mar 07, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Looking for an inexpensive white wine recommendation.

They carry Foxglove chardonnay at Apex Beverage Company in North Carolina for $15. It's a good value wine and people will feel comfortable drinking chardonnay. Foxglove is the second label for Varner.

Mar 06, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Another corkage thread

Typically it is $15 to $20 a bottle. The worst is a place that charges $35 a bottle and notoriously has one of the worst wine lists of any Reno restaurant. But it's probably one of Reno's better restaurants.
A few places have free corkage nights.
We have Craft Wine and Beer, which has the best selection of Kermit Lynch, Louis/Dressner, Neal Rosenthal and De Maison. Plus there's good wine to be had at some other stores.

Mar 05, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Another corkage thread

One problem in the Reno area is that the wine lists absolutely suck. Even in the good restaurants. There's three or four restaurants (outside casinos) that will dare to have red Rhones. White Rhones are pretty much non-existent.
So that means if a wine list has a dozen reds, seven or eight will be cabernet sauvignon and the rest will be pinot noir, merlot and zinfandel. White wine lists are oaky, ripe chardonnay, pinot gris and maybe a Washington riesling that retails for $8.
So corkage at many restaurants in Reno isn't a matter of getting a preferred wine or a great wine, but getting a decent wine.

Mar 05, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Parker: Natural Wine will be Exposed as Fraud

Parker does make money from a winery. His brother in law manages Beaux Freres and Parker is a partner in the operation.
Beaux Freres was biodynamic a few years ago. Their web site is silent on the issue now.

Here's an article that talks about their biodynamic technique.

Feb 27, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Parker: Natural Wine will be Exposed as Fraud

Schildknecht would probably be the one who does most of the small, natural wine producer reviews with Neal Martin adding some.

Feb 27, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Huet refuses to let two wine bloggers taste their wine

I agree that they can buy Huet and write notes to their delights. What might be hurting them financially is that other wine critics will get to taste the wines first and write reports first. People may have already made their buying decisions by the time the censored writers get around to tasting and publishing their notes. So there's a financial penalty for having access cut off.
The other part is that they don't get the benefit of the winemaker's expertise if they are cut off from access to the estate.
On the flip side, wine writers may be forced to be cheerleaders if they allow themselves to be beholden to winemakers for access to their wines.

Feb 20, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Huet refuses to let two wine bloggers taste their wine

This is making the rounds on other wine discussion boards. THought I'd post it here.

Huet refused to let two wine critics taste their wine after the critics wrote unfavorably about them.
Here's the guy who runs

This is another reviewer.

Huet hasn't given their side of the dispute yet. I hope it's not as nasty as it seems. I recognize that a winemaker has the right to refuse to let anyone taste their wine, including wine bloggers. But it seems to be intended to have a chilling affect on free speech.

Feb 19, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Chicago style pizza in Sacramento?

What are the Chicago-style pizza places in the Sacramento area, and which is the best?

Feb 18, 2014
SteveTimko in California

Alsace: the new generation

I've had the privilege of drinking a few aged off-dry gewurztraminers at San Francisco offlines. The person who got them offered an internship to Catherine Weinbach (I think that's her name) when she was a UC-Davis student and the family repaid the favor in part with wine.
They were 20 years old or close it at the time I drank them and they are among the best wines I've had. The nose was incredible. You just wanted to go stand in the corner and huff the wine. I guess I can see the interest in dry wines, but slightly off-dry wines can be magical as well.
The guy who used to have the best wine store in Reno said he couldn't sell Alsace wines.

Feb 17, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Wine to go with salmon with a mustard sauce?

Lewis and Clark, not William and Clark.

Feb 11, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Wine to go with salmon with a mustard sauce?

I went with a 2002 Medici pinot noir. The dinner included a lecture and the topic was William and Clark. The Medici vineyard is about 50 miles southeast of where Lewis and Clark spent their winter before heading back east.
Actually, I wanted to find an Oregon Gewurz, but got tired hefting boxes and decided to go with the pinot noir. It clashed with the mustard sauce. I wrote up the dinner here.

Feb 09, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Reno chowdown: Dinner and a lecture at Daughter's Cafe

Daughter’s Café has offered dinners with lectures for a year now and The Greater Reno Grub and Gripe Group attended the dinner and lecture on Friday night. The lecture was on Lewis & Clark and the café tries to match food with the lecture theme. So for dinner we had warmed arugula with a blueberry and corn succotash, smoked salmon in a mustard cream sauce and a blueberry dessert. There was plenty of food and no leftovers as everyone either ate their food or took it to go.
The arugula and blueberry and corn succotash exemplifies why I like Daughter’s Café, where I’ve only tried the breakfast or brunch before. Blueberry and corn in a succotash may not sound like much but it was great. The corn wasn’t as sweet as corn might be so it was a better match with the blueberries. They meshed together nicely. And fresh arugula is always delicious. We also got some fresh dinner rolls with that course.
For the entrée we each got a nice piece of smoked salmon. It was expertly cooked. My only disappointment with the meal was that the mustard sauce seemed to overwhelm the salmon. It seemed almost like the salmon suffocated in it. It didn’t have the delicacy that I expect from Daughter’s Café food. But it was probably an easy dish to prepare for a large dinner crowd. And as I said before, everyone ate their food. There were no complaints.
The dessert was a nice way to wrap up the meal.
I brought a 2002 Medici pinot noir. The vineyard is about 50 miles southeast of where Lewis & Clark spent their winter before heading back east. Corkage is $5. For wine, they provide regular drinking glasses and not wine glasses.
I had assumed the dinner lecture were at the same time. They’re not. The dinner started at 6:30 p.m. and the lecture started at 8 p.m., ending just after 9:30 p.m.
Daughter’s Café is in a home in the Powning addition just west of downtown Reno. They use three rooms – I’m guessing the original dining room, living room and one bedroom – to seat customers and cook in the kitchen. The people who operate the café live upstairs. It’s wonderful to eat a weekend brunch there outside in the spring and fall, by the way.

So for the lecture they cleared the table out of the way in what I assume used to be the living room and lined up some chairs and also put chairs in what I’m assuming used to be the dining room. They all faced a screen with a PowerPoint-type of presentation. Michael Thomas gave the lecture. The next topic is gladiators. A future topic includes Thomas’ look into claims that ancient astronauts visited the earth.
The lectures are on two Fridays a month.
They had room for more people for the Lewis & Clark lecture, but the prior lecture, on Black Death, was filled up at 30 people.

Daughter's Cafe
97 Bell St
Reno, NV 89532
(775) 324-3447

Feb 09, 2014
SteveTimko in Southwest

Wine to go with salmon with a mustard sauce?

I've got a 1994 Schleret gewurz I once promised to drink with my favorite wine pimp, but he's never around any more. Maybe this would be a good time to drink it.
I had a Belle Pente gewurz that was delicious and would probably go well with this as well, but I think I'm out of them now.
What about a Heidler pinot blanc? It sees wood, so that changes the texture of the wine.
All I'm told is that the entree will be salmon in a mustard. The chef is usually quite good about mixing flavors. I usually eat breakfast there and the omelets don't sound like much but end up being delicious.
Edit: CellarTracker! shows I bought two of the Belle Pente Gewurz, so I should have a second. I think I want to try the Heidler too.

Feb 01, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Wine to go with salmon with a mustard sauce?

I'm going to go to a dinner that will have salmon with a mustard sauce. I believe it will be a strong mustard sauce.
Picking wine for salmon is easy. The mustard sauce is a curve ball, though.
I'm thinking making a German spatlese riesling.
Any other ideas?

Jan 30, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

White Merlot or Grenache?

Grenache blanc is fairly common. There's a couple of good vineyards in the Santa Barbara area.
The best I've had is from Tablas Creek in Paso Robles.

Jan 23, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Wines for harissa roast chicken

How spicy is the harissa? If it's got much punch at all, I think you're looking at an off-dry white wine or beer. If you are certain you want to go with wine, look for a spatlese riesling from Germany or Gerwurtraminer from the Alsace that is off dry.
I've liked sangiovese with spicy marinara, but red wines generally don't pair well with heat.

Jan 20, 2014
SteveTimko in Wine

Best substitute for Choricero peppers?

I'd like to try to make a Basque Biscayne sauce. The original use choricero peppers, which are not available in the U.S. I'm wondering if anyone has tasted the original sauce, also called salsa vizcaína, and which pepper available in the U.S. tastes most like choricero peppers.

Jan 13, 2014
SteveTimko in Home Cooking

poor mans sous vide

This is an interesting thread because I was looking at doing the same thing myself.
The other issue now is finding something to circulate the water so there are no hot/cold spots.
I've seen where others have tried to use aquarium pumps but they melt from the heat.

UPDATE: After searching the Internet, I found someone who faced the same problem and is using one of these.

Dec 25, 2013
SteveTimko in Cookware

Oregon Wine Country vs. California Wine Country (Sonoma)

As far as a hotel goes, I travel cheap. I've stayed twice at the Travelodge in Newberg and I can recommend that. It's clean and relatively new.
For wineries that make chardonnay:
Belle Pente has some of the best values for wine in the New World. If you want to buy wine, and not just taste, this is the place to go. It's open by appointment only. They make a couple of whites, including chardonnay, riesling and I think pinot blanc. They no longer make gewurtztraminer. The riesling is pretty good, too. And the pinot noir is quite nice. Be forewarned, though, this is not a formal tasting room. You taste either in a shed/barn or on a table outside. The first time I went there a llama stood at the fence, giving me the whole alpha male eye as if to say, "Come over here and I'll kick your ass." I like that. People who like fancy tasting rooms may not.
Scott Paul: A wine importer and winemaker has a tasting room in Carlton near Belle Pente. Call ahead to see if they are tasting any whites. They might have white Burgundy.
Stoller: The best white wine I tasted in Willamette Valley on my last trip was a Stoller chardonnay. They have old vines and young vines versions as well as pinot noir. Plus, it's a beautiful estate. This does have a nice tasting room.
Domaine Drouhin: A French winemaker opened a winery in Oregon. Elegant wines. You drive up a road to get to Drouhin. At the bottom is DePonte (not to be confused with Belle Pente). They make a wine from melon de bourgnone, the grape in Muscadet, but I didn't think much of it when I tasted it. You make a right turn to get into Drouhin. You make a left turn to get into Domaine Serene. The Domaine Serene wines are big wines, not typically Oregon. I used to like them more before they got so expensive. Since you're up there, it might be worth a stop.
Brick House: The best red wine I tasted on my last trip was the Brick House pinot noir named after the winemaker's mother. They also make a chardonnay. Again, a restrained, elegant wine.
Ayres: They only make pinot noir, not chardonnay, but it's in the neighborhood of Brick House and the wine is great and a good value.
St. Innocent: Their pinot blanc is probably better than their chardonnay. It will give your girlfriend a chance to try both.
Evening Land: The guy behind Evening Land is a Hollywood producer. He got the owners of a prominent vineyard to either sell it to him or give him exclusive rights, taking it away from St. Innocent. This generated some bad publicity at the time. He makes wine in Oregon, Sonoma Coast, Burgundy and I think Santa Barbara County. I tasted his wines, including his Oregon wine, in the Lompoc wine ghetto and I was impressed. If the Dundee tasting room is run the same way as the Lompoc room, you'll get a chance to taste a wide variety of wines.
Chehalem: Coowned by the people who own Stoller.
Antica Terra: Haven't tried it but it has a good reputation.
Brooks: No chardonnay here, but an wide range of riesling (dry to fairly sweet). Good riesling and good pinot noir. Again, it would give your girlfriend something to try.

This is where Sonoma wins easily, as JBL said.
On my first serious trip to Willamette Valley, I had a fantastic meal at Tina's in Dundee. It was exceptional, a destination kind of place. My next trip, it was ordinary. I've had several good meals in Willamette Valley, but since that first meal at Tina's, nothing to rave about.

Dec 25, 2013
SteveTimko in Wine

Oregon Wine Country vs. California Wine Country (Sonoma)

I've been to both and I prefer both over Napa. Tells us where you decide to go and I can make some specific recommendations as long as she doesn't like oaky chardonnay.
There's plenty of good chardonnay in the Williamette Valley.

Dec 18, 2013
SteveTimko in Wine