Friday, February 5, 2016

February 4, 2016 Lunch – East Ocean, Dinner – PPI Posole and Enchiladas with Shed Red Sauce

February 4, 2016 Lunch – East Ocean, Dinner – PPI Posole and Enchiladas with Shed Red Sauce

Suzette had a business guest who was of Chinese heritage who offered to take us to lunch.  I suggested that we go to East Ocean. 

We decided to get one dish each.  I recommended a roasted ½ duck, stir fried baby Bok Choy with fried tofu, and a large pile of Manila clams in spicy sauce.  This my favorite dinner at any Chinese restaurant in Albuquerque.  Our host Luan’s family owned a Chinese restaurant and he has worked in Chinese restaurants for years.  He liked the food, especially the  roast duck, which seems to be the standard by which he judges the quality and capabilities of a Chinese restaurant.

I loved every dish.  We finished only one dish, the clams, which makes it the favorite.  Clams were $9.95, roast duck was $10.95, and vegetables with fried tofu was about $13.00.  All the dishes were delicious.  I recommend this meal at this restaurant for a great Chinese meal.  East Ocean also serves all the usual Chinese American favorites, like sweet and sour anything and Kung Pao anything. 

We now have accumulated a refrigerator full of PPIs.  We decided to eat the week old Posole and Blue Corn Enchladas.

I heated up the Posole and we split the PPI plate of enchiladas and spinach I made the other evening while we watched the Democratic debate and spoke to Willy, who is vacationing in Chen Mai, Thailand, be Skype.

I ate a few bites of chocolate mousse cake with a cup of tea. 

Suzette’s diet is beginning to work. She has lost three pounds by giving up alcohol justly.
Bon Appetit


Thursday, February 4, 2016

February 3, 2016 Cooking Lunch out of the Refrigerator, Dinner – Grilled Pork Chops, Apples, Onions, and Calvados, with shredded Brussels Sprouts, raisins, and pecans

February 3, 2016 Cooking Lunch out of the Refrigerator, Dinner – Grilled Pork Chops,  Apples, Onions, and Calvados, with shredded Brussels Sprouts, raisins, and pecans

I made lunch around 11:15. My first thought was to make a salad with the PPI salmon, but there was no lettuce, so I went to the garage and fetched a bag of spinach.  When I got back to the kitchen, I sliced four mushrooms and three slices of Stilton cheese.  I then looked in the fridge and saw PPI penne pasta and decided to make a hot meal.  I sliced one stalk of Palm heart, ½ tomato diced, two cloves of garlic.  I heated a skillet and added 1 T. Butter and 1 T. Olive oil.  I then added a handful of pasta, then the ½ lb. of salmon, about ten or twelve olives, mostly Nicoise, the chopped tomato and Stilton, the sliced stalk of Palm heart, the tomato, garlic, and about 1/4 cup of Mexican cottage cheese (regreson?).  The mixture was too dry, so I added ¼ cup of seafood stock, then filled the skillet to a slight mound.with the spinach with about 2 T. of Amontillado Sherry and covered the skillet.  I then added ½ tsp. of salt with herbs de Provence and stirred the mixture, which was now yielding juices to the dish.  After a couple of minutes, I sliced 2 green onions to give the dish some onion flavor.

I love dishes where the ingredients make the sauce.

I poured a glass of Chateau Le Hermitage, which was much better with this array of wildly contrasting flavors, actually settling them down a bit.

After lunch I drank a cup of coffee made by our new fancy Miele coffee maker with a few bites of chocolate torte with whipped cream.

Suzette arrived around 6:00. We began cooking around 6:30.  I had made a tentative menu of pork chops Sautéed with Apple and onion slices with a chicken stock and calvados sauce and sautéed shredded Brussels Sprouts with onions and sage.  Suzette decided to add golden raisins and chopped pecans, which made a lovely dish.

I drank the last of the Chateau Le Ermitage white Cotes du Rhone, which went rather well with the strong favors in the two dishes.


We ate some new desserts made by Chef Kelly, the new chef at the Greenhouse Bistro which were quite lovely.  I enjoyed a baked cheese cake with a liquor soaked crumble crust for dessert with Earl Grey tea.

Bon Appetit 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February 2, 2016 Lunch – East Ocean, Dinner – PPI Blue corn Enchilada Casserole with Shed Red Sauce and Posole

February 2, 2016 Lunch – East Ocean, Dinner – PPI Blue corn Enchilada Casserole with Shed Red Sauce and Posole 

Today I met Aaron for lunch at East Ocean at 11:30.  I ordered my usual Scallops in Lobster Sauce ($5.75), but today asked for “No MSG”, which produced a lighter more flavorful rendition of the dish to my learned palate.

Aaron ordered Kung Pao Scallops (No. 18 on the lunch menu).  Aaron is a Szechuan fan and enjoyed the liberal use of Szechuan red pepper flakes in the dish ($6.50).

   The Kung Pao Scallops

   The Scallops inLobster Sauce and sweet ans sour chicken

As I told Aaron today, “East Ocean is my favorite seafood restaurant in Albuquerque and my favorite Chinese restaurant in Albuquerque.”

Ma, the chef/owner is a seafood cook from Hong Kong, so the seafood is impeccable.  And since I have no other strong favorite in the Chinese food category, the fair prices, properly cooked dishes, and great seafood and vegetable dishes at East Ocean give it a leg up on all the other contenders.

Besides the fair prices for lunches, we like to go to East Ocean for roast duck, which costs $10.99 for 1/2 duck with a light five spice sauce; a price I can not match at home.

For dinner I thawed out two pork chops. My intention was to prepare grilled pork chops with spinach couscous. Mi went to the garage fridge and fetched the spinach.  When I returned Suzette said she did not want to eat couscous because it was a carb.  I mentioned seeing the PPI enchiladas and Posole from last Tuesday’s dinner.  Suzette, “Let’s eat those.  They need to be eaten.  So I heated up the Posole and Suzette heated up a plate of enchiladas and I made a spinach side dish by spreading Crema on the bottom of a pyrex asking dish, filling the baking dish  with spinach leaves, and dousing the spinach with Sherry.  I then covered the dish with Saran Wrap and cooked the spinach in the microwave for 2.22 minutes at full power.  The spinach compressed into a cake like consistency under the pressure of the heated saran, but fluffed out a bit with some prompting with a fork.

I enjoyed a second bowl of the flavorful Posole on this chilly winter night in front of the fireplace, so I put most of my enchiladas and the spinach in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch.

I drank a Coors beer with dinner and Suzette,  true to her February commitment to go alcohol free, drank water.

Bon Appetit

Monday, February 1, 2016

February 1, 2016 Brunch – PPI Red Rice, Stir Fried Vegetables, and Salmon, Dinner – Red Beans and Rice with Kolbassa, onions, and chard

February 1, 2016  Brunch – PPI Red Rice, Stir Fried Vegetables, and Salmon,  Dinner – Red Beans and Rice with Kolbassa, onions, and chard

I ate the PPIs from last night for brunch today.

I went to the grocery store but found nothing I wanted to buy, because I remembered we had chard in the garden, cans of beans and rice, and Kolbassa sausage in the fridge and Suzette had said she wanted to make red beans and rice.

When Suzette arrived home we recovered the beds that had become partially uncovered due to high winds and then picked a basket full of chard.  

When we went back into the house I finely diced 1 medium onion, four or five cloves of garlic, two rings of Kolbassa sausage, and fetched two cans of prepared red beans and rice.  Suzette Sautéed the onion and garlic and then added the Kolbassa to a large Le Crueset casserole.  She then added the red beans and rice after the sausage had seared a bit and the onion had softened.  After another twenty minutes of simmering the red bean and rice mixture, Suzette added the chard and cooked the casserole another couple of minutes and dinner was ready.

We watched the Antiques Roadshow and then the results from the Iowa Caucuses.

Suzette drank water and I drank a Coors beer.

No dessert for either of us tonight.

Bon Appetit

January 31, 2016 Lunch – Ming Dynasty, Dinner – Crab Sautéed with Penne, asparagus, onion, garlic, and zucchini in cream sauce

January 31, 2016 Lunch – Ming Dynasty, Dinner – Crab Sautéed with Penne, asparagus, onion, garlic, and sugar snap peas in cream sauce

For breakfast I toasted three small slices of French baguette.  I smeared Pica goat cheese on one, Licet on one, and 
Lime Marmelade on the third and ate them with lychee tea.

We drove to Great American Car Wash to clean the car after a muddy weekend in Taos.  I was a little hungry after the car wash and drove us to Ming Dynasty for Dim Sun.  I ordered my favorites: steamed buns stuffed with BBQ pork and shrimp dumplings.  As the dessert tray came by, we passed on desserts until we saw a plate with two fried quail.  We loved the small fried birds.  

Then we went to Total Wine, where we selected 15 bottles of wine at a 20% discount, plus a bottle of sake and a bottle of scotch for $208.00.

Here is the list of purchases: 

At around 6:00 we decided to use PPIs to make dinner.  I chopped onion, garlic, sugar snap peas, and Suzette chopped asparagus and sautéed that with PPI penne pasta with fish stock, white wine, and then added the ½ lb. or so of crab meat and finished the dish with a dissing of heavy cream.

I drank the last of the Nessa Albariño and then opened the bottle of Chateau Le Ermitage Cotes du Rhone white blend of 40% of Roussane, 20% Grenache, and 20% of Viognier (Total Wine $11.99 discounted to $9.59).  I actually liked the clean taste of the single grape Albariño better with the crab in cream sauce.  The Cotes du Rhone seemed musty and lacking in clarity.  

A full bowl of pasta got me over my urge for chocolate and I only ate 1 Lindor for dessert.

Bon Appetit

January 30, 2016 Lunch – Old Martina’s Hall, Dinner – Plank Grilled Salmon Filet, Stir Fried Vegetables, Steamed Red Rice, and Pineapple/ Mango Salsa

January 30, 2016 Lunch – Old Martina’s Hall, Dinner – Plank Grilled Salmon Filet, Stir Fried Vegetables, Steamed Red Rice, and Pineapple/ Mango Salsa

After a cup of green tea and Challah smeared with peach preserves 

We packed up and left the rental house at 10:30.  We stopped at the two Pieces second hand stores looking for a shelf for the utility room.  We did not find one and then went looking for the flea market in Ranchos de Taos.  When we drove into the center of Ranchos I recognized the name of the restaurant of the chef whose steak tartare I had enjoyed; Old Martin’s Hall.  Since it was 12:00 we stopped and went in.  We decided to eat and then find the flea market.

The menu looked wonderful.  I chose a Cesar salad with anchovies and Suzette chose Fish and Chips with sweet potato fries.  Both dishes were superb.  My salad was 100% authentic in every respect plus the chef had made a special cheese wafer by melting Parmesan cheese in a frying pan until it fused into a solid wafer, a nice touch.  Suzette said her fish, which was fresh Atlantic cod was the best she has ever had.  We were mightily impressed.  Then I saw the chef and waved to him and he recognized me and came over (it must have been due to the two or three times Thursday evening when I returned to his table for extra beef tartare appetizers.  We complimented him on the menu and the food.  Suzette asked if they had steak tartare on the menu and chef Damon said, “we do not have tartare but we had carpaccio, which is almost the same thing. Would like for me to prepare an order of it for you.”  We said, “Yes.”  Then when the server returned I ordered a glass of Chateau de Roch southern Cotes du Rhone red, lovely blend of 50% Grenache, 25% Cinsault, and 25% Syrah.  The wine was smooth and not overtly tannic or dry.  I enjoyed it with the tender beef lightly dusted with parsley, sea salt, and capers and garnished with a drizzle of not too garlicky aioli.

We loved this dish also.  So Old Martina’s Hall is a major success foodwise.  Old Martina introduced herself.  The server told us it had taken over five years to renovate the building, which pre-dated the Ranchos church and was a defensive enclosure and garrison into which the settlers could herd their cattle and defend them during Comanche raids.

After lunch we walked upstairs and saw why Old Martina renovated the property.  There is a third floor deck with a perfect view across the highway to the back of the Ranchos church.  I can hardly wait until summer to return to eat on the deck for table side made paella on the deck on a Saturday.

We then drove to the flea market without difficulty with the instructions our waitress provided us.  Suzette found a vintage mid-century modern chair and ottoman for $20.00.  After we loaded the chair, we drove to Santa Fe and stopped at Cos-bar for Suzette to get some cosmetics.

Then Suzette drove us to Costco in Albuquerque, where we bought an Atlantic farm raised salmon filet ($8.99/lb.).  We gassed up and drove home at 4:00.

I made teriyaki sauce with 7 T. each of soy sauce, Aji-Mirin, and sake plus 1 T. of sugar brought just to a simmer and then cooled.  I put the salmon filet in a gallon freezer bag and when the teriyaki sauce cooled Suzette added it to the salmon and put the bag into the fridge to marinate.

Billy, Elaine, Rebecca, and Mickie stopped for a late lunch at the Range in Bernalillo at around 3:00, so they were not very hungry for dinner.  

At about 6:00 Suzette began soaking a cedar plank in water in the bathtub.

Suzette and I delayed dinner, but around 7:30 we began cooking.  I chopped a zucchini, the Bok Choy separating the white stalks from the leaves, four oz. of onion, 2 T. of ginger, and 1 T. of garlic. Then I sliced five mushrooms and put them with the Bok Choy leaves.

Stir Fried Vegetables

When Suzette put the salmon on the cedar plank and put it in the grill to roast I started cooking 1 cup of the red rice Rebecca brought us.  I then turned on the heat under the wok and put two oz. of peanut oil in the wok and heated it for a minute or two.  I the added the garlic and ginger for a minute to allow it to impart its flavor to the oil.

I then added the chopped onion and cooked at medium high temp for three or four minutes.  I then added ½ T. of soy sauce and 1 T. of Chinese Rice Wine and the chopped zucchini and white portions of the Bok Choy.

  In a separate bowl I made the thickening sauce by putting 1 ½ T. of soy, 2 T. of Chinese Rice Wine, 3 T. of water, ½ T. of cornstarch, and a dash of sesame oil.

In another five minutes I added the Bok Choy leaves, the PPI sugar snap peas from Friday night’s dinner, and the sliced mushrooms. I then covered the wok and steamed the mixture for about five more minutes.

   Before the addition of the thickening sauce

   After the addition of the thickening sauce

While I was organizing my Stir Fry dish Rebecca and Mickie picked pineapple and mango chunks out of the PPI fruit salad and added a diced avocado, some diced fresh Pasilla chili, and lime juice to make a pineapple/mango salsa for the salmon.

When the fish was grilled to medium in about 25 minutes Suzette brought it in and I added the thickening sauce to the vegetables in the wok and stirred to coat all the vegetables with sauce until the sauce glistened which told me the sauce was well mixed and thickened.  I added a small amount of water to adjust the thickness of the sauce and we were ready to eat. 

We served the red rice, Stir Fried vegetables and salmon buffet style from the stove and board.  Suzette made a pot of Lychee tea with the tea I bought in Xian’s Arab Market when we visited China and Rebecca put her salsa on the table. 

The salmon was perfectly grilled.  Smoky in flavor with a hint of teriyaki sauce and tender with most of its juices of the sea still intact and completely cooked to a light pink.

   After our meal we all looked very satisfied

The vegetables also were well cooked, still fresh and tender, but having given up a certain amount of their juices that had been captured in the sauce.  The salsa was refreshingly fresh and added a dimension of fresh fruit and a zip to the meal.  

Although still a little wet the red rice was tender, perhaps because I did not measure when I removed some of the original 2 cups of water to add some fish stock for the 1 cup of red rice.

Mickie went back for seconds, which made me very happy.

After diner we thawed the Shed Mocha Cake and took out the birthday chocolate torte and Billy made decaf coffee and I opened the Bruenil 15 year old Calvados Billy had brought and poured us glasses of it with the dessert course.  Billy and I both agreed that the Calvados was a bit harsh even after fifteen years.  I guess I will put it in the basement for a few more years. 


We all went to bed soon after dinner because Rebecca and Mickie were getting up at 5:00 for their 6:30 flight back to NYC. 

Bon Appetit

Saturday, January 30, 2016

January 29, 2016 Lunch – Doc Martin’s, three wine seminars, birthday dinner for Rebecca and Mickie

PJanuary 29, 2016 Lunch – Doc Martin’s, three wine seminars, birthday dinner for Rebecca and Mickie

We awakened around 8:00 and ate some Nutella Baba that Mickie brought from New York with coffee and tea.  

At 10:45 Suzette and I drove the short three miles to town and parked at Taos Inn.  We were hungry so we went to Doc Martin’s Restaurant at 11:00 when it opened.  We were tired of Mexican food and I wanted a duck confit salad and was pleasantly surprised to see a duck, confit salad with blue cheese and walnuts on the menu, so I ordered it.  The other interesting item was an Elk meat burger, which Suzette ordered with home cut fried potatoes.  The items were $12.00 each and the kitchen split each item for us.

   Duck Confit Salad

  Elk Burger

I loved both items.  We were not hungry enough to eat all of the salad, so we put about 1/3 of it in a to go box.  We heard later the Billy and Elaine also ate ate Doc Martin’s. Billy ordered the Huevos Ranchos and enjoyed it.

After lunch we called Elaine and found out that she was shopping at a book store on Bent street, which was 1 block from the Taos Inn, so we walked to the book store.  I saw a paperback copy of “Blood and Thunder” on sale, so I bought it as a birthday gift for Mickie and the bookstore was nice enough to gift wrap it for me.

Elaine bought note cards with images by Gene Kloss on them and a book.

We then walked the 1!/2 block to Robert Parsons’ Gallery, where we saw more Gene Kloss prints. 

It was 12:10 and the first wine seminar started at 12:30, so we bid Elaine goodbye, waked back to the car parked at Taos Inn, and drove the ½ mile to Monte Sagrado (Sacred Mountain in Spanish). 

The first seminar was a vertical tasting of Ridge Winery’s Monte Belo Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.  As stated in Wednesday’s blog,the Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet is judged to be one of the best wines in the world.  We first tasted the 2004 and 2012 Chardonnays to compare how they aged.  The 2004 tasted amazingly fresh and fruity, which is unusual for an 11 year old white wine.  There was some discussion about how this could occur and Eric Baugher, VP of Winemaking suggested it was due to the stressed environment of the hillside on which the wine grew that developed higher alcohol and tannins in the wine.  He said the winery was trying to make the vines relax a little to reduce the alcohol and the winery fined the wine with egg whites to reduce the tannins in the wine.  Apparently tannin is attracted to a chemical in egg whites and subsides out.  The winery experiments with the number of egg whites per barrel and has used up to 7 per 60 gallon barrel.  The other noteworthy thing about Monte Belo is that it makes a Bordeaux style Cab in which small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdote, and Merlot are blended with the Cabernet Sauvignon until the wine has the preferred flavor.  The wine is aged in mostly American barrels made with eastern Appalachian oak from Kentucky, which is the oak with the most stressed and thus tightest or hardest wood.  Eric thought the Eastern oak barrels were comparable to French oak and cost less than ½ the amount of French barrels.  Ridge buys about 10 to 15% new barrels each year and reuses the barrels for about 12 years.  The grapes are processed and fermented in small lots of about 1 ½ tons each and then blended later after they have fermented and aged.  There is a lot of care taken to separate the early juice flowing from the press from the later juice.

  Eric moderating the Ridge wine tasting

The other really interesting aspect of Monte Bello' viticulture is that it raised by dry land farming.  There is no irrigation. The vineyard relies upon the 20-30 inches of rain that falls on the Santa Cruz Mountains annually plus all that ocean fog.

I was astounded with the amount of science and record keeping associated with a great wine.  We then drank our way back from the newly released 2012 Monte Belo Cab, to the2004, the 2000, the 1995, the 1992, and finally the 1985.  I found the 2000 and the 1992 to be the most enjoyable, which was interesting because both of those years, according to Eric, were hot years with below average rainfall, so the grapes took longer to mature and therefore produced more tannin because the seeds inside the grapes np matured and turned very brown.  So a hot year with less rainfall in an area with a large diurnal shift in temperature is good for great wine. 

I think Eric said that Monte Bello Mountain contains some limestone and sits next to the San Andreas Fault.  It is located in the northern Santa Cruz Mountains at 2300 feet on the ridge between Southern San Francisco Bay (Cupertino) and the Pacific Ocean on its west and Santa Cruz to the south.  Eric studied science at UC Santa Cruz before going to work for Paul Draper the wine maker at Ridge in the late 70’s.

After the Ridge tasting Suzette and I went to the billiard room and played a game of eight ball and each drank an extra glass of Monte Bello cab with our PPI duck confit salad.

At 2:30 we attended an Italian wine primer given by Shelley Lindgren, who has been associated with Italian wine for many years and is sommelier for three Italian restaurants in the Bay Area, including SPQR.

Here is the tasting sheet of wines and notes.  My favorite was the Lambrusco rosato prosecco named Cleto Chiarli from Modena, which is located in Emilia-Romagna, east of Tuscany near the Adriatic.

After the tasting we bought the SPQR cookbook and Shelly autographed it to Suzette.  Here are the pictures.

Greg, who is the organizer of the Winter Wine Festival invited us to stay for the Calera's wine tasting with Josh Jensen at 4:30. I am not sure whether he was trying to fill seats, liked my questions, liked that we bought a cookbook, or was honoring the years of support Suzette and I have given to the Festival, but we stayed and enjoyed a rare opportunity to hear the history of one of America’s premier Pinot Noir wineries from its founder.

Josh Jensen became interested in French Burgundy and worked in the Cote d’ Or as a young man for five years where he learned wine making from the best in France.  He became aware that the best burgundy was produced on the eastern slope of the Somme Valley because that is where there was an ancient sea bed that left a shelf of limestone.  So when Josh returned to California in the early 70’s he began looking for an area with limestone and finally found a mountain of it at Mt. Harlan in the northern Gavillan Mountains on the boundary between Monterrey and San Benito Counties, where he bought his first land and planted his first vines in 1975..  He now has six separate vineyards surrounding Mt. Harlan, with the youngest, De Villiers and Ryan being 17 and 18 years old, respectively.  The tasting included the six vineyard’s 2013 pinots.  All the pinots rate from 91 to 98 in the Wine Spectator, so these are America’s best pinots.  They are chalky, full bodied wines with great complexity and that austerity and elegance of great pinot.  Josh has single handedly transferred the great wine making traditions of France’s Burgundy region to the U.S.

Amazingly, Mt. Harlan is at 2200 to 2500 feet in elevation and clings to an equally steep hillside as Monte Bello Vineyards.  Josh’s explanation for the grape growing is, “the vines are naturally stressed” from the hard limestone laden soil.  Also, the last four years of drought have intensified that stress.  Calera’s production has dropped in each of the last three years.  Josh seemed resigned to the fact that he had to live with what nature provided, both good and bad.  If history is a guide the 2015 vintage could be one of the best.  It relies on some irrigation, but Josh noted that the salty fog from San Francisco Bay imparts some saltiness to the wine and of course provides moisture for the vines.

After three terrific seminars we were a little tipsy, but managed to drive  to Smith’s to buy cilantro, blackberries, and lemon sorbet for dinner and then made our way back to the house by 6:30.

When we arrived Billy was cooking in the kitchen, Rebecca had finished sautéing her zucchini and eggplant marinated in lemon juice, parsley, and olive oil.  Elaine and I de-stemmed about 1 pound of sugar snap peas and we steamed them when Billy thought his chicken and rice baked with onions and currants and seasoned with cumin and cinnamon was nearly ready.  We opened the two bottles of Wellington 2007 Mohrhardt Ridge Vineyard Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon.  This is another of those wines grown high on the ridge line next to the Pacific Ocean where there is the largest diurnal shift between day and night temperature but I don’t think there is any limestone on Mohrhardt Ridge and the wine pales in comparison to the Ridge Vineyard Cab.  Of course it is 1/7 the price of Ridge’s Cab and rates a very respectable 88 to 91 points to Ridge’s 94 points and Calera’s up to 98 points, both of which are in the $170.00 to $200 range per 750 ml. bottle.

We enjoyed a hearty dinner of chicken thighs and rice, sugar snap peas, and the marinated eggplant and zucchini with the Wellington Cab.

Then we celebrated Mickie and Rebecca’s birthdays, which are on February 2.  Billy’s is on February 6, so I will give him a bottle of Wellington Noir de Noir, which is his favorite Wellington wine.

We ate a lovely dark chocolate torte from Whole Foods with the lemon sorbet and blackberries and opened a bottle of Gruet Brut Amy and Vahl had given us for a lovely dessert.

Suzette and I went to sleep after our full day of wine drinking around 9:00.

Bon Appetit