Wednesday, August 24, 2016

August 23, 2016 Lunch – Couscous, Roasted Pork, and Tzatziki, Dinner – L’Olivier

August 23, 2016 Lunch – Couscous, Roasted Pork, and Tzatziki,  Dinner – L’Olivier 

I ate PPI Couscous, Roasted Pork, and Tzatziki for lunch. The Tzatziki seemed a little old.  I hope it does not reignite my diarrhea.

Then at 5:00 we drove to Santa Fe for Suzette’s Birthday Dinner at L’Olivier, which is probably the most authentically French restaurant in New Mexico.  We sat on the patio bathed in the glow of warm late afternoon sun.  

I had read the menu on line when I made my reservation and knew what I wanted, sautéed sweetbreads and lobster salad.  Suzette decided to order the Spring Prix Fixe Menu ($35.00) with an appetizer of 4 Escargot served with ham, yellow tomato halves, and squash in a light garlic sauce in a ramekin, then for her entrée a large piece of sautéed salmon served on a bed of wild rice and squash on a puddle of creamy saffron sauce, and finally a homemade lava cake gushing chocolate sauce when cut into served on a clear raspberry coulis with a scoop of raspberry sorbet sitting beside the lava cake.

My sweetbreads were divine, tender, creamy and served with sautéed finely diced potatoes in an a jus sauce.  I loved the sweetbreads.

Then I was served a small lobster salad with a side plate of house salad, organic greens and small yellow tomato halves dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette. The lobster salad contained finely diced fresh apples and was served on a pink puddle of homemade mayonnaise sauce and garnished with fresh chives.  The chunks of lobster claw meat were wonderfully fresh.  

We ordered a bottle of 2014 Daulny Sancerre ($42.00).

Fresh bread and butter were served with the meal.

Suzette said it was the best wild rice she had ever eaten.  Her saffron sauce was very impressive, orangish with a strikingly intense flavor of saffron.  I tried her dish and it was really delicious; medium cooked salmon that was golden brown on the outside and fully cooked but delicately moist on the inside.  The wild rice was so tender it tasted as if it had been cooked for hours in a vegetable stock.

It felt like we were back in France except when the low riders drove by with their loud music blaring.  The restaurant is located at the corner of Gallisteo and Alameda, which must be on Santa Fe’s low rider cruising route, because I saw one vehicle come by several times with its music blaring in a high decibel range.

We enjoyed our meal and drove home around 7:30. The restaurant was kind enough to grant me the early bird 15% discount on my two items because we arrived a bit before 6:00. The restaurant opens at 5:30.

  The restaurant's front door

   The snails

  The sweetbreads

  The wine

   The sautéed salmon on wild rice and saffron cream sauce

  The lobster salad

  The house salad

  The lava cake and raspberry sorbet on the puddle of raspberry coulis

I love going out to eat when I can order dishes I can not or will not cook at home.  Suzette’s salmon and wild rice was a new wonderful dish because of the wild rice and the light saffron cream sauce.  My sweetbreads were among the best I have ever eaten, for no other reason than because they were tender and lacked any hint of blood.

They rank right up at the top with those I ate at Scandia in L.A. in the 70’s that were served en croute with a creamy shallot, demiglace sauce.

We both  loved dinner and count it as a memorable meal, Suzette for the wild rice and me for the sweetbreads, which is about the best one can hope for.

Bon Appetit

August 22, 2016. Lunch – Pho Miso Noodle Soup, Dinner – Roasted Pork Tenderloin Tapa, with cottage fried potatoes, and steamed Broccoli

August 22, 2016. Lunch – Pho Miso Noodle Soup,  Dinner – Roasted Pork Tenderloin Tapa, with cottage fried potatoes, and steamed Broccoli

Today I rode ten miles for the first time in a month. It tired me a it so I lay down.  Then worked and at 11:00 made brunch. I should have eaten sooner as I had exhausted my energy level.  I made a pot of pho miso soup as usual with a pho flavor bouillon cube, two sliced fish balls, four heads off shrimp, one stalk of baby bok choy, a shallot, 1 T. of Red miso, 1 T. of wakame seaweed, using rice noodles and a bundle of Japanese Somen noodles, and garnished with two scallions.  The soup was so flavorful it did not need any additional flavoring.  I ate a whole pot of it and laid down until my energy returned.

At 3:00 I went to MVD to register the Mini and found out I needed an emissions certificate.  I then drove to Sprouts and bought a pork tenderloin, a head of cauliflower, milk, 4 gala apples, 3 ears of fresh white corn, yogurt, twice dipped peanuts, mushrooms and 1liter of Spanish olive oil.

When I returned home I chilled a bottle of 2013 Domaine Guy de Mousset Cotes du Rhone Rose (Total Wine and thawed a large pork tenderloin.  

I had invited Charlie and Susan Palmer for dinner and wanted to make our favorite roasted pork tenderloin tapa from Jose Andreas Tapas Cookbook for them.  I sliced 1 of the gala apples plus the small gala Apple from our tree and 1 large white onion. 

When Suzette came home at 6:00, she had a cocktail and then we began to cook.  She shucked the 3 ears of corn, I sliced the four PPI baked potatoes, and sectioned the pork tender into about seven segments.  I also went to the garden and picked six or seven sprigs each of oregano and chives.  Suzette then began toto cook.  She sautéed the onions a and apples in 2 T. of Spanish olive oil on the top of the stove until they softened.  The she added the pork an after its color changed, laid Six sprigs of oregano on the ingredients and placed the sauté pan into the oven at 300 degrees to roast from for 30 minutes.  I made ½ cup of chicken stock and fe chef the cognac.  Suzette heated a pot of water and boiled the corn for following be to six minutes until it was cooked. In a large Iron skillet, she sautéed the sliced potatoes in a mixture of olive oil and butter until the potatoes turned golden brown.

I removed the flowerets from two stalks of broccoli and Suzette steamed them.  

After the pork was cooked she removed the pork segments from the an and added 2 T. of cognac and after cooking that for a minute or two added the ½ cup,of chicken stock and reduced the sauce again.  The same center's was rather light but delicious.  I chopped the chives and garnished the fried potatoes with chives. Whenever the broccoli was cooked Suzette assembled the dishes.  Here are some photos.

I poured the rose’ wine and Suzette and I drank the entire bottle.

After dinner I served Charlie and myself a bowl of Chocolate ice cream with Hershey’s chocolate syrup.  Later we watched TV and ate chocolate and drank glasses of grappa, calvados, and cognac.

Bon Appetit

Monday, August 22, 2016

August 21, 2016. Brunch – A steak, potato, and tomato tortilla, fresh Tropical fruit salad and grilled artichoke. Dinner – Chicken with Cassarecce pasta tossed with fresh pesto

August 21, 2016. Brunch – A steak, potato, and tomato tortilla, fresh Tropical fruit salad and grilled artichoke.  Dinner –  Chicken with Cassarecce pasta tossed with fresh pesto

We watched Olympic coverage and news programs.  Then at 10:00 we began to cook.  Suzette’s plan was to make a baked tortilla with PPI steak and potatoes and slices of tomato.

She first set the ingredients in the eggs in a large cast iron skillet on top of the stove and then baked the tortilla in the oven until fully cooked and golden brown.  We squeezed fresh orange juice and opened a bottle of Wilson Creek Almond Champagne from Temecula, CA.

Suzette grilled the half cooked artichokes I had bought at Trader Joe’s last week and boiled for about 45 minutes.

While watching the Olympics, I also made a fruit salad with papaya, mangoes, pineapple, peaches and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

After lunch we drove to Bombay Spices on Central, where we bought long black pepper, chai tea, and green raisins.

Then walked through the flea market at the State Fair grounds.

We took naps until 4:30.  When we determined that Willy was going to join us for dinner, we decided to use the chicken I had cooked last week with  fresh pesto to make a pasta dish.

Willy arrived and we went to the garden and picked a basket full of basil and chard leaves and made a cup of chai with the new Tea India chai tea bags I bought at Bombay Spices.

While I diced onion and garlic, Suzette diced the chicken and made pesto with Willy, who sautéed a small pan of piñon nuts for the pesto.

She combined the roasted piñon nuts, grated Romano Pecorino cheese, the basil leaves, 4 or 5 small cloves of garlic and ¼ cup of olive oil in the Cuisinart to make fresh pesto.

Then she boiled dried Cassarecce pasta in a pot of water and when it was ready, drained it and tossed it with the chicken, some white wine, the chard and pesto. The resulting dish was a delicious simple single dish dinner.

We drank the last of the 2014 Amancay Winery Torrontes white from La Rioja, Argentina. 

I later ate a bowl of my new favorite foods, yogurt, blueberries, green bananas slices dabbed with peanut butter.

Bon Appetit

Sunday, August 21, 2016

August 20, 2016 Breakfast – PPI Miso Pho Chicken Noodle Soup, Lunch – PPI turkey, avocado, and cheese sandwich, Dinner – stir fried Baby Bok Choy with Sautéed Scallops

August 20, 2016 Breakfast – PPI Miso Pho Chicken Noodle Soup, Lunch – PPI turkey, avocado, and cheese sandwich,  Dinner – stir fried Baby Bok Choy with Sautéed Scallops

I rode four miles just to get back on the bike this morning.  When I got back home I ate PPI soup for breakfast and watched the Olympics and worked until after noon.

I decided to heat the half sandwich given to me by Shane that he ordered yesterday at Central Grill.  It was delicious, a creamy combination of baked turkey, guacamole, roasted green chili, a tomato slice and lettuce. I even enjoyed the four tater tots with a bit of catsup.

When you are recovering from dysentery and reacquainting yourself to a wider range of food, everything seems to be fresh and flavorful.

Suzette had brought home some PPI fresh scallops from the seafood dinner Thursday night.  These were bought from Seattle Seafood, so they were top quality and very fresh.  We discussed how to prepare them at some length and finally decided to sautéed them and serve them with stir fried baby bock Choy over steamed rice.  

I chopped up three small heads of baby Bok Choy, separating the green leaves from the white stalks.  I then chopped ½ onion,. three cloves of garlic and 1 T. of fresh ginger.  Finally I sliced three shiitake mushrooms. And 

Suzette found a handful of string beans that she snapped and added to the Bok Choy leaves.

Suzette then dried the scallops and dusted them with salt, black long pepper and a mushroom salt given to us by Penny and Armand Remby.

Suzette fetched the wok and I heated 1 ½ T. of peanut oil in it and placed the seasoned scallops in the hot oil to sauté.  Suzette seasoned the exposed other side of the scallops and finished sautéing them.  We removed the scallops to a bowl and I added 1 T. more peanut oil and a few dashes of sesame oil to the oil and scallop juices that had resulted from the scallop sautéing.

I then stir fried the onion, ginger, and garlic.  After a few minutes when they began to soften, I added the white stems of the Bok Choy and then the slices of mushroom.  I then added some Chinese Cooking wine, ¼ tsp. of salt, ½ tsp. of sugar and finally 1 T. of Oyster Sauce.  Then I stirred in the green leaves Bok Choy.  In a minute everything was cooked evenly.  We had heated PPI steamed rice in the microwave.

  The vegetables in the wok

We plated up our plates with a pile of rice, then the stir fried vegetables and finally the scallops.  There was still about ¼ cup of sauce left in the wok so we added the liquid that had drained from the sautéed scallops to the liquid in the wok and heated the wok to thicken the sauce and then poured it over the scallops.  

I opened and Suzette poured a new wine I found at Trader Joe’s, a 2014 Amancay Winery Reserve Torrontes from La Rioja, Argentina.  The wine was a good representative Torrontes, a little sweeter and less crisp than some of the elegant high grown Torrontes, but still deliciously drinkable.

We both agreed this was an excellent meal.  The combination of fresh ingredients created a powerful flavor in their simplicity that made each flavor shine.  Sort of a California/Chinese Cuisine dish.  This meal proves that when you combine fresh high quality ingredients in simple combinations, you can create a wonderful dish and dining experience, which is the premise for lots off great cuisines, especially found in Italian and Californian cuisines.
We watched an excellent Gold Medal final match between China and Serbia’s women’s volleyball teams during dinner and later ate a few bites of bittersweet chocolate with almonds (Trader Joe’s $4.99).  Suzette had a sip of cognac with her chocolate and I sipped a bit of Calvados with mine.  I also had one of the delicious chocolates that Ioana brought me the other day.

A wonderful way for me to return to normal gourmet food.

Bon Appetit  

August 19, 2016 Lunch – Central Grill Dinner – Grilled Rib Steak and yellow squash with a tomato salad

August 19, 2016 Lunch – Central Grill   Dinner – Grilled Rib Steak and yellow squash with a tomato salad

Today I made my slow return toward a normal diet.  I actually have enjoyed the more digestible food of late and feel better, having lost a bit of weight.

Today I spent five hours with the Kassams and Shane, their broker, on a transaction, during which time we went to lunch at Central Grill.  I ordered a tuna melt sandwich on gluten free bread.  I enjoyed the soft tuna with celery and little or no mayo on potato bread served with a slice of tomato and lettuce.   Rahim ordered an interesting meal of roast beef tacos,   Shane ordered a delicious roasted sliced turkey sandwich with a slice of cheese, green chile, guacamole, and a slice of tomato and a side of potato tots, which we all shared.

Shane was particularly impressed with Central Grill and agreed that it was highly rated due to the quality of its well prepared food, great service and reasonable prices.

After 4:00 I went to the bank and stopped at Lowe’s on the way home to buy some potatoes for dinner plus several cluster tomatoes and bottles of club soda.

We had decided to cook several of the steaks I bought at Albertson’s on Tuesday.  When Suzette came home she wanted to make a salad with fresh tomatoes from our garden and wanted to grill slices of yellow squash from the Center’s garden. I had baked six potatoes at 5:00 at 400 degrees for 50 minutes.

Suzette gathered small yellow grape, medium yellow and dark purple cherry tomatoes from the garden, cleaned them, and sliced the larger ones into bite sized pieces and added small pieces of butter lettuce.. She then made a dressing with fig balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressed the tomato salad.

Then she sliced the squash and brushed it with fig balsamic and olive oil dressing and salted and peppered the squash slices and two steaks and grilled them.  We are using the black long pepper we bought in Marrakesh, now because it does not seem to trigger my gagging reaction to black pepper and has a slightly different more fragrant smell and flavor from black pepper.

Then when Suzette brought in the Grilled steak and squashes she grated Iberico cheese onto the squash slices.  Suzette filled plates with a baked potato, slices of grilled steak and squash, and the lettuce and tomato salad drizzled with the fig balsamic dressing for a lovely and pleasant dinner.  I am finally back to eating regular food most of the time and have finished taking the sulfa drugs prescribed by my doctor.

I opened a bottle of 2014 Chateau Haut-Sorillon Bordeaux Superieur Appellation d’origine Protegee (Trader Joe’s $8.99?) red wine.  I liked the wine a lot.  It was not a great wine but a good representative red  Bordeaux and excellent with the steak and tomatoes.  I have drunk this wine several times and it is a consistent wine that goes well with steak, so a good value.

 I must admit that I am still getting over my food poisoning episode and am not yet back to my full blown desire for great food and wine, which is probably a good thing.  

Here are several tasting comments on the wine:

Steve Sommerville
Rated It    Three stars 
Decent table wine at $9. Not as flimsy and "grapey" as some of the wines found at Trader Joe's. This is a medium bodied, dry Bordeaux that has a decent finish and is fairly smooth on the palate. Decent balance of earth, fruit and oak. Went well with tinga. A fair wine at this price range and is a good food wine because it stands up to most hearty tomato and/or beef based sauces, yet should not over power most lighter sauces either.

Anthony Caddell
Rated It    
This wine is a ruby colored, medium body Bordeaux blend of 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is not very good. Unbalanced, acidic taste of laissez-faire fruit, disinterested tannins and an anemic alcohol level of 12.5%. Terrible, in English or en francaise.
 19   People approve this review

I sort of agree with both reviews.  A good wine for the money for the foods we ate. the but not a great wine.  Perfect for a simple steak dinner.  

In fact a wine attendant at Trader Joe’s once referred to Chateau Haut-sorillon as chateau Sirloin because so many folks drank it with grilled steaks.

I ran to the garden and picked five or six stalks of chives and finely diced about 1/3 of them to garnish the baked potatoes after we mashed butter and cream into them.

I enjoyed dinner but was hesitant to eat and drink heartily for fear of upsetting my system.

We had a bit more than one steak and several slices of squash left as PPIs.

The best part of the the meal was the salad with its tender, delicate leaves of lettuce and the lovely small fresh tomatoes that tasted truly wonderful with the fig balsamic dressing Suzette made.  

Bon Appetit

Friday, August 19, 2016

August 18, 2016. Shell lecture and seafood dinner at Greenhouse Bistro and Bakery

August 18, 2016. Shell lecture and seafood dinner at Greenhouse Bistro and Bakery

I made my usual miso pho noodle soup for lunch.

Suzette planned a lovely evening at the Greenhouse Bistro this evening, so I drove to The Center in Los Luna's at 5:00.

She invited Tom Eichhorst to give a presentation on seashells during a wonderful three course seafood dinner.  Tom is the editor of theConchologist Magazine and is  one of the national shell identifiers for the Conchologist Organization of America.  He lives in Rio Rancho and is the leader of the High Desert Shell Club, of which I am a member.  Tom and Donnie arrived a little before 6:00 and set up his cooler full of shells and his power point projector.  Tom went through a thorough discussion starting with the place mollusks take in nature.  It is the second largest class of species after insects.  Vertebrates (animals with a back bone) are the third largest group.

Then he got into the different families of shells, like bivalves, and then cephalopods, and finally gastropods, all the while telling funny stories about shell collecting and showing examples of the types of shells he was describing from his extensive collection of over 7,700 species and sub-species of shells with over 100,000 individual shells.

Early in the lecture the appetizer course was served, a plate with fresh raw oysters served three ways, on the half shell with a sweet Rose' wine mignonette sauce, one in a shot glass with a cucumber and tomato coulis, and a fried oyster battered with what seemed to be a tempura batter served with a cilantro, daikon, and cucumber relish and a dab oh shiracha aioli. The three oysters were stunningly presented.  For example, the fried oyster was on a half shell.  I abandoned my monkish diet of chicken noodle soup and chicken and rice soup to enjoy the meal fully.  This dish would satisfy the most intrepid foodie and was probably the best dish served anywhere near Albuquerque this evening.

After stopping to eat his appetizer, Tom continued his presentation, going through a discussion of the history of shell collecting, which has been characterized by shells thought to be rarities turning out not to be rarities as scuba gear has made many parts of the ocean not previously accessible accessible.  The opposite is also true, in areas where man’s footprint has been heavy and altered the habitat, many previously relatively common shells have become rarer.  For example, there are few large Cervus cowries  left in Biscayne Bay at Miami, Florida.

Soon the entrée was served a bowl of polenta mixed with fresh local Mexican Squash topped with three lovely fresh sautéed sea scallops from Seattle Fish, and fresh herbs from the Center’s garden the garnish of fresh pickled julienned slices of Apple was served separately, a slight oversight in plating the entree.  The apple relish was delicious fresh and lightly fermented.  Chef Kelly is also very good at fermenting.

I enjoyed the polenta and scallops, which could not have been fresher.

The lecture resumed after the entrees were finished until it finally ended with the serving of dessert, a large scoop of vanilla ice cream sauced floating in a puddle of warm caramel sauce garnished with Himalayan rock salt and a homemade anise and lemon flavored sugar cookie. Chef Kelly’s caramel sauce is one of my favorites, dark, buttery with a creamy consistency.

The cost of this evening’s meal was $25.00, a fantastic value.  I loved every minute of the evening hand especially the food.  Fresh oysters served creatively, a wonderful combination of fresh scallops, local squash, and polenta, what could be better.  Not just seafood, but the freshest seafood.  Suzette had ordered the oysters from Ta Lin and picked them up this morning. And to top it off, the Chef’s classic caramel sauce on ice cream.

Suzette and the kitchen staff at the Bistro exceeded all expectations again.

I split a Stella Artois Apple cider with Suzette. 

 Bon Appetit

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

August 16, 2016 Lunch – La Salita, Dinner – cassarecce pasta with sautéed yellow squash, onion, red bell pepper, mushrooms, and pesto

August 16, 2016 Lunch – La Salita,  Dinner – cassarecce pasta with sautéed yellow squash, onion, red bell pepper, mushrooms, and pesto 

At 11:00 I made a large loop, driving to La Salita for a plate of two Swiss cheese filled chile rellenos with double beans, extra onions, and green chile laid on a puddle of turkey hash.  I could not finish the meal. I also bought Suzette a $50.00 gift certificate.  I then drove to Costco for gas and bought a bottle of Dry Creek Winery Sauvignon Blanc and an 18 oz. plastic container of organic blueberries.

Then I drove to Ta Lin where I bought Japanese rice vinegar, baby book choy, and tofu.

On my way home I stopped at Mike’s automotive too schedule a repair of the Prius.

I worked all afternoon until 6:00.

Suzette then suggested that we prepare a pasta primavera with pesto.

I chopped a small white onion, the remaining ½ of a red bell pepper, the remaining ½ of the yellow squash Suzette brought from Los Luna's.

Then Suzette took over and boiled Cassarecce pasta and sautéed the ingredients with butter and olive oil.  Then she combined the sautéed ingredients with the pasta and tossed that mixture with pesto we had made from fresh basil from our garden.

We drank the last of the Famille Perrin Reserve Cotes Du Rhone white and then opened the bottle of Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc I had bought at Costco and chilled when I arrived home at 1:30.

Ioana was so kind to bring us a box of chocolates when she came for her appointment today.  I was not feeling well and did not eat one but Suzette ate one and loved it.  

Later in the night the nasty dysentery I have suffered from for two weeks raised it ugly head.  Alas, I go to see my doctor tomorrow.  

Bon Appetit