Location: 3115 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292. (310) 574-0666
Date: November 4, 2021
Rating: Bold and balanced flavors
It’s time for my my Hedonist group to return to LA’s best Indian restaurant, Akbar (Santa Monica branch). Too many Indian places focus on low cost buffets of very over cooked food, but Akbar cooks everything to order — even baking their own Naan when you place the order. They are more focused on the cuisine of the Punjab (Northern India), with very good curries and kormas. You can get anything from extremely mild to blow the top of your head off. Once I had the “pepper lamb” on 5 (max heat) and my scalp sweat for hours.
Tonight’s event is a Dirty Dozen blind tasting focusing on Loire wines, both sweet and dry.
Fellow Hedonist Chef Avi commands the kitchen!
NV Henriot Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut. VM 91. Pale yellow-gold. Fragrant melon, white peach and tangerine aromas are complicated by smoky lees and floral honey. On the palate, supple melon and pit fruit flavors are energized by smoky minerality. Shows a gently sweet touch and finishes with excellent cut, clarity and persistence.
2009 Domaine Huet Vouvray Pétillant Réserve Brut. VM 93. The 2009 Vouvray Pétillant Réserve is dry and bracing. A wine of substance and power, the 2009 has a lot to offer. Today, I especially admire its breadth. Yellow orchard fruits, plum, dried flowers and chamomile abound, but the 2009 remains a wine endowed with tremendous palate presence. It is very much a wine for the dinner table. (Drink between 2020-2027)
Tonight’s special menu. It was custom designed to “try” to pair okay with the Loire wines, which is a bit of a challenge considering how strong and flavorful (in an entirely good way) Akbar’s food is.
Gobi Manchurian. Cauliflower breaded, fried, and tossed in a super spicy super delicious Chinese inspired sauce.
A non spicy variant.
Shrimp Makhani Cocktail.
2018 Didier Dagueneau Sancerre Les Monts Damnés. 90 points. Quite tight at first, air coaxing out an herbal profile, dried hay, perhaps the slightest bit of tropical fruit such as kiwi. Acidity is more balanced than expected. Give this time. Peter 91. This started out quite stinky and herbal and smoothed out after 15-20 min. slight kiwi here as well, high acidity, very nice, taught. Guessed ’18 Dagueneau. Very young. Will improve with 2-5 years+. Although I haven’t had any Dagueneau’s so far that have aged well past 10-12 years. DD at Akbar blind–Loire Whites.
2014 Didier Dagueneau Sancerre Les Monts Damnés. Peter 93. Like yellow with green hints; nice citrusy notes, slight herbal, kiwi flavors, clean, great concentration but balanced and silky mouthfeel. Really superb. My #1, came in 8th/12. DD at Akbar blind–Loire Whites.
2008 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Silex. Peter 89. Golden color, waxy note, honied, nutty; This was really dark and seemed like it had a lot more age on it than it did. Would have been ok for a 1998, not a 2008. Prematurely aged. DD at Akbar blind–Loire Whites.
2018 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Silex. Peter 92. This was very pale in color; neutral nose at first, closed. Really blossomed after 20 minutes or so. Rich nicely textured silky body with nice balancing acidity, deep but quiet at first. Light herbal quality, ripe grapefruit blossom. clean minerality. Very nice and ended up first place out of the 12 Loire whites. DD at Akbar blind–Loire Whites. Try again in 2-3 yrs.
Chilean Sea Bass Tandoori style.
2015 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux 1ère Trie Clos du Bourg. Peter 92. Dark orange; lots of apricot, aged kind of peach pit, honey, molasses, sauterne sweet. This was delish, but thought it had 20 more years on it than it did! (guessed ’96 Quart de Chaumes). Probably b/c the color. Very good, but curious about the color. Could have been a storage issue that did not significantly affect the quality (for a ’15 I’m pretty sure it should have shown brighter and a bit fresher). DD at Akbar blind–Loire Whites.
2015 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux Le Mont. Peter 92. Gold-amber; minty note, apricot juice, herbal note with floral honey thing going on, med. sweet (not like 1er Trie); bright, clean for a Vouvray, high acid. Very cool, interesting to compare with the ’15 1er Trie side by side. DD at Akbar blind–Loire Whites.
2016 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux Clos du Bourg. Peter 89. Med. gold, slight orange; almond, honey, med.- sweetness (as far as sweet wines go), a little bitter finish, wheat bread aspect, lower acidity on this. OK, but a top Chenin must have good acidity in my opinion. Not my fav. Interestingly enough, this came in 2nd place. DD at Akbar blind–Loire Whites.
2016 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux Le Mont. Peter 89. Medium dark orange, slightly less than the ’15 1er Trie. Not sure why these are showing so dark so young. Like the ’16 Clos de Bourg Moelleux, med. acidity, and slightly nutty, just a slight hint of age/oxidation? So far not a fan of ’15 or ’16 in Vouvray, unless these have bottle issues. This got 11/12th place, with no votes. DD at Akbar blind–Loire Whites.
Chicken Akbari. Milder creamy sauce.
Mushroom Pillau (rice with veggies).
1989 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux 1ère Trie Le Mont. Peter 91. Medium gold-orange; almonds, minty, herbal, old nutty aspect but just as it should. Med+ acidity. Nice stuff. Aged well. DD at Akbar blind–Loire Whites.
2002 Domaine Huet Vouvray Cuvée Constance. Peter 93. Dark orange, very sweet, nutty, honied, with great lifting acidity, complex and tasty. DD at Akbar blind–Loire Whites.
2002 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru. Peter 90. Darker golden-orange; honey, nuts, excellent structure and acidity. NOtes lacking on this one. Interesting next to ’89 Vouvray Moelleux Le Mont. DD at Akbar blind–Loire Whites.
1996 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru. Peter 93. Dark brown, pecan, botrytis notes, orange liqueur, orange peel, quite sweet but with good supporting acidity making it light on its feet, slight bitter phenolic finish, really good stuff. Like this vintage, sailed above the ’02. DD at Akbar blind–Loire Whites.
Rack of lamb.
Gosht Lazeez. Mutton Lazeez. Literally translates to delicious mutton, it is a dish of melt in mouth mutton cooked in mild spices, mixed in yoghurt and cream.
2019 Domaine Luneau-Papin Terre de Pierre.
2005 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre.
2015 La Source du Ruault Saumur-Champigny Clos de la Côte.
2016 Domaine de la Haute Olive Chinon.
2003 Kalleske Shiraz Greenock.
Hazelnut at the Ritz Gelato — Nocciola (hazelnut) custard base made with Pure PGI Piedmont hazelnut paste then mixed with house-made caramel and crushed Ritz Crackers (for that salty offset) — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #hazelnut #nocciola #caramel #caramello #ritz #crackers
Akbar has long been my favorite LA Indian, and this meal was probably my best yet — and very different than usual. Chef Avi really turned out a lot of unique things tonight as he tried to adapt to the wines. And the wines were really great too. However, I’m not sure the amount and strength of the food made for a perfect “fair” tasting. And also not sure how much the mix of sweet and dry in the same blind tasting works — but who cares when it’s this much fun?