Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 18, 2013 Roadshow Volunteer Orientation and Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Vichyssoise

July 18, 2013 Roadshow Volunteer Orientation and Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Vichyssoise

We drove to the Convention Center for our Roadshow Volunteer orientation at 3:45 for an Antiques Roadshow Volunteers Orientation from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., where we were served coffee and industrial bakery baked goods: lemon bars, brownies and chocolate chip cookies.  There were 200 volunteers and we were given the opportunity to select our job. We chose to be Triage runners, which meant we would escort attendees and their valuables to the appropriate line for their appraisal.   That sounds easy but there were 27 of us chosen and there are 5000 to 6000 attendees expected with 2 items each, so there will be lots of moving people with items into the appropriate line during a 10 hour period. 

Our group of triage volunteered met our group leader, Kim, and we went on a tour of the Roadshow set and triage areas during which we walked past the area where the crew was filming an interview of the Keno brothers for the show.  We asked Kim if we could take photos of the set and she said, "Sure." so I took a photo of the set with the Keno brothers interview in the distance.


When we returned home we decided to cook one of the pork tenderloins we had bought at Costco.  The pork tenderloins come four to a package with two sides in which there are two tenderloins in each side ($3.99/lb.).  We have a favorite recipe for preparing pork tenderloin from José Andrés’ Tapas a taste of Spain in America called “Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apples” at page 236.
Here is the recipe:

I went to the fridge in the garage and fetched the Vichyssoise we made yesterday.

We wanted a green with the dinner and we had none except what was available in our garden, which was chard and the purslane that is starting to grow vigorously around our house and in our driveway due to the abundant rains lately, so there is lots of purslane growing in the normally unwatered areas around our house and in our gravel and sand driveway anywhere there is no car parked.  As Suzette says, “Purslane seems to like well drained sandy soil”.  

I went to the garden and picked a handful of chard leaves and five stalks of oregano while Suzette picked a handful of purslane growing by the kitchen door and we both de-stemmed and cleaned our respective greens.  

I then sliced one of the Granny Smith apples, that we had bought on Sunday at Pro’s Ranch Market in anticipation of making this dish, into 9 or 10 slices and sliced a yellow onion of about the same size into about the same number of slices and peeled and sliced a small bulb of garlic into slices and stripped sprigs of oregano from the stalks and we were ready to cook.

“Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apples” Recipe:

Suzette trimmed off the ends of the pork tender and cut it into three large chunks.  Then she melted 1 Tbsp. of butter in a large fire proof copper skillet we use for this dish and added 2 Tbsps. of Kirtland extra virgin olive oil (Costco) and heated them in the skillet and then added the apple slices and cooked them until soft and then added the onion slices the oregano sprigs and cooked all of that until softened.
Then Suzette seasoned the pork tender chunks with salt and pepper and then placing the pork on top of the onions and apples in the skillet and glazed the pork with some of the cooking medium.

She then placed the whole skillet into a pre-heated 250˚ oven for 20 to 25 minutes and then took it out and placed it back on the burners on the top of the stove and added 2 Tbsps. of cognac and cooked that for a minute and then added ½ cup of chicken stock and cooked that for a couple of minutes until the liquids thickened into a light sauce.

She then added the greens to the skillet and coated them in sauce and cooked them into the dish for a minute or two, until they softened also and the dish was finished.  I then sliced the three pork chunks into ¾ inch thick slices.
While the tenderloins were roasting in the oven Suzette went to the basement and fetched a bottle of 2013 Eguren Tempranillo Rosé (Total Wine $6.49), so we could have a totally Spanish meal.
Suzette then ladled Vichyssoise into soup bowls and I went to the garden and plucked 8 stalks of chives and sliced them into small rounds and garnished the soup with a tablespoon of chives and we were ready to eat.
We plated up the pork and our bowls of soup and took them with our glasses of wine to which we had added ice cubes to keep cool to the gazebo in the garden and enjoyed a lovely fresh meal.

After dinner and an extra glass of wine l prepared us bowls of European yogurt (Trader Joe’s $3.19) garnished with poached figs in port compote for a lovely light finish to pretty heavy dinner.

We remembered eating at Le Francais restaurant in Bourg-en-Bresse, which is where the Tour de France started two days ago, and where they brought a wooden bucket of yogurt to the table as Suzette’s dessert of white cheese fourteen years ago on our last trip with Mother to France.  They also brought us the largest bowl of chocolate mousse I have ever been served for Billy and my dessert.

Alas, so many great food memories.

Bon Appétit

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 22, 2014 New Recipe Cascades Baked Stuffed Flounder with Seafood Stuffing with Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy and Shitake mushrooms

July 22, 2014   New Recipe Cascades Baked Stuffed Flounder with Seafood Stuffing with Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy and Shitake mushrooms

It was hot today, probably around 100˚, so I went to Café Trang for a late lunch after a meeting with a client and ordered “Patted rice noodles with grilled shrimp sausage and pork” and an iced coffee.

I then went to Ta Lin to shop and in the fish department saw that they had a small fresh Rex flounder.  When I asked the fish department attendant, who I have known for at least fifteen years from helping me, “What is freshest today?”, he said,  “Flounder is freshest.” 

When I asked, “Do you have larger ones?  I need one about 1 ½ lb.”

He waved his head toward the refrigeration area in back and answered, “I get you a nice one.” And walked through the swinging rubber slats into the darkened back area of the store to fetch a fish.

Soon he returned with a firm large fresh 1 ½ lb. flounder from the back and cleaned it and bagged it ($4.99 lb.).  While he was cleaning the fish I picked up a 19 oz. plastic tub of medium soft tofu ($1.45)

As I walked around the corner from the fish department past the meat department I encountered another attendant bagging shrimp for a man from Santa Fe.  I stopped when I saw that there was a lovely batch of 30-40 count heads on shrimp and asked the attendant for a pound of them.   He said, “They are fresh and nice.  I just thawed them.” and bagged a pound of them for me ($8.95/lb.).

After being handed my shrimp with a smile, I picked up a bottle of Pho flavoring (for Vietnamese beef soup, $2.15) and made my way to the vegetable section where I picked up a bag of Shanghai Baby Bok Choy ($.98/lb.), a package of fresh shitake mushrooms ($3.98/lb.), selected some shallots ($1.49/lb.) and fresh green ginger root ($2.49/lb.).  When I returned to the car the temperature indicator on the dash read 102˚ and I had a déjà vu recollection of Fort Worth in the summer.

When Suzette got home and inspected the flounder, she said, “We should fix it the way they do in Maryland.” and soon she found her Williamsburg Cookbook.  Soon she found the “Cascades Baked Stuffed Flounder” recipe with Seafood stuffing and described to me that Cascades is a very famous restaurant in the Williamsburg, Virginia area. 

We decided that she I would prepare the flounder and I would prepare the baby bok choy and we would work together on the stuffing.

Soon we were talking about our respective trips to Williamsburg in our youth and our stuffed flounder recollections; Suzette’s at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where her aunt had a summer home and mine at King of the Sea Restaurant in New York City, where my dad took me once and I ate my most memorable stuffed flounder.  Suzette’s memories corresponded more closely to the Cascades recipe with a breadcrumb stuffing while mine memories were entirely of a blue point crab lump meat stuffing without any herbs and breading. 
Since the flounder was large, we decided to double all the ingredients for the stuffing recipe except for the breadcrumbs (We used only 1 ½ cups of them).  Suzette and I selected French onion and sourdough breads to make into breadcrumbs and Suzette put them into the oven to dry the bread and we went to the garden and picked a sprig of lovage and three sprigs of parsley and checked our tomatoes and eggplants.  When we returned to the house I started slicing and dicing onion, pasilla chili (we did not have a bell pepper and decided to substitute the pasilla for the bell pepper and cayenne chili), celery, and then the lovage and celery for the stuffing.  Suzette fetched a can of Spanish pimientos and chopped 2 tsps. of them and cooked and peeled and chopped up 1 lb. of shrimps from the freezer (We have decided to make Cajun BBQ tomorrow night with the big heads on ones I bought today).  We decided to use the fish seasoning we bought in Morocco in April.  I fetched the sherry and helped melt the 12 ounces of butter while Suzette processed the breadcrumbs and mixed the other ingredients for the stuffing together.  Soon we had a large bowl filled with stuffing.  Suzette had washed the flounder and I took it from the sink and dried it with a paper towel laying the fish flat on a cutting board, exposing the side on which its eyes face up (the darker colored top of the fish).  I made a slit along the darker line on the side of the fish facing up and found that that was the point where the large central bone protrudes to the skin.  I worked my knife under the flesh and gently lifted the flesh away from the central bone by sliding the knife from the central protrusion on the central bone outward toward the thinner edge of the fish.  Soon I had opened up a large cavity with the central bone serving as a firm base on which to rest the stuffing.  I placed the fish into a pyrex baking that Suzette had buttered and Suzette filled the cavity with stuffing and then drizzled the fish with 12 oz. of butter and lemon juice and put it into a 375˚ for 30 minutes.

While the flounder was baking I went to the basement and fetched a bottle of a new Albariño I bought last week at Total Wine for $14.99 named Val Do Sosego and chilled it in the freezer.

Then I sliced four shitake mushrooms and three baby bok choy, separating the green from the white parts and chopped about 1 Tbsp. of ginger root and 1 medium shallot and Suzette chopped about 1 Tbsp. of fresh garlic.  I then heated the wok and added 1 ½ Tbsp. of olive oil and the white portion of the bok choy, the shallot, garlic and ginger to the wok and cooked them for about five minutes.  Then I added the mushrooms and about 1 Tbsp. of Chinese rice cooking wine.  After another couple of minutes I threw in ½ tsp. of salt and ½ tsp. of sugar and then threw in the green parts and another 1 Tbsp. of rice cooking wine and covered the wok to let it steam.  In another couple of minutes everything seems to be soft and the fish timer went off and we were ready to eat.  We poured glasses of Albariño and placed sections of fish onto a plate and then we each scooped some bok choy onto the plate.

This was the most delicious meal we have prepared in months.  This new old time recipe was delicious, in large measure due to the abundance of butter in the recipe.

The Val Do Sosego went perfectly with the meal; not too sweet like Durans and not too dry like Laxas, just a very balanced albariño wine and my new favorite Albariño.

While the flounder was baking Suzette made a simple cobbler with apricot butter and fresh plums picked from our neighbor, Megan's, trees.  According to Suzette it was a perfect end to a perfect Summer meal.
Bon Appétit

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 21, 2014 Lunch - Vinaigrette, Dinner - Grilled Steak with Pasta with pesto and snow peas

July 21, 2014 Lunch - Vinaigrette, Dinner - Grilled Steak with Pasta with pesto and snow peas

I was doing some legal work for Davida today and she wanted a salad so we went to lunch at Vinaigrette, which is in the neighborhood.  She ordered the Cobb Salad and I ordered the French Frisee.

The waiter was wonderful.  I had indicated concern about the crispness of the lardons used in the salad because I have had greasy undercooked lardons before and they are not appetizing, so he brought me a lardon on a small plate to show me the consistency of the lardons and it was crisp and meaty, so I thanks him and confirmed that I wanted the French Frisee salad.  When the salad was served the poached egg was covered with ground black pepper and I told the waiter that I do not eat raw black pepper.  He said, “I can get you another poached egg without the pepper.”

I said, “Thank you; that would be great.”

I gave peppered egg to Davida and in few minutes he brought me a poach egg in a small plate on a bed of organic greens. And I thanked him.

I loved the salad with the crisp lardons (basically bulk bacon that had been cut into squared julienned strips and sautéed until cooked just short of overly crisp and definitely not burned like some bacon that is sautéed to crisp.

I had talked to Suzette in the morning and we had decided to use the PPI pasta from last night and fix a simple meal of grilled rib eye steak and pasta.  I had picked four snow peas in the garden yesterday, Sunday, and today when I returned to the garden I found four more snow peas that were large enough to eat and picked five sage leaves.

While I de-stemmed the snow peas and cut them in half and sliced the five age leaves into strips and chopped about six or seven anchovy filets I found in small container in the fridge.  Suzette put about 1 Tbsp. of olive oil into a large skillet and put the PPI penne pasta cooked in a tomato/pesto sauce into the skillet and sautéed that.  I then put the snow peas, anchovies and sage slices into the skillet, in which Suzette was sautéing the PPI penne pasta in a tomato/pesto sauce.

I fetched a bottle of 2006 Londer Vineyards Corby Vineyards Anderson Valley Pinot Noir from the basement that seems to be leaking a bit and opened it to air out and put a 5 in 1 stopper/aerator on it and put it into the fridge and took the PPI Béarnaise sauce out of the fridge to warm to room temperature, which is about 80˚ tonight.

In about twenty minutes the steak was grilled and the pasta and snow peas heated thoroughly.
Suzette plated the pasta and I sliced the steak into ½ inch thick slices and we each took the section of the steak we preferred.  I took the medium section and Suzette took the medium rare section.  I garnished my steak with dollops of béarnaise sauce and Suzette poured the wine into glasses and we sat and watched the Antiques Roadshow as we ate a simple, lovely dinner.

I could tell a very long story about the wine but instead I will give you the shorter version, which is simply an impression of how things change and yet don’t change in the wine industry.

I first met Larry Londer when he was pouring one of his first vintages at the NMSO wine auction tasting about ten years ago.  I liked his wine a lot.  He told me he had lived in Albuquerque, but had recently moved to Anderson Valley in California and bought a vineyard and was making wine.  I loved his Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and that became the beginning of our love affair with Anderson Valley pinot noirs, which continues to today.  I think they are the best pinot noirs in the world.  They seem to express the happy combination of an ideal climate and terroir that results itself in a fruitiness and elegance.  Anderson Valley is about twenty to thirty miles long, located in the coastal redwood country of northern California between Ukiah and the Russian River Valley over the hills to the east in the Navarro creek watershed that flows out to the Pacific Ocean at Mendocino on its western terminus.  Most of the redwoods have been cleared to make room for crops, vineyards and development but there are still large groves of redwoods along Navarro Creek at Philo and the valley just the north is still filled with a thick growth of coastal redwoods.
Here is what Wine Searcher says about Anderson Valley wines:

Anderson Valley Wine

The Anderson Valley is an increasingly prestigious AVA in Mendocino County; the Mendocino AVA lies just a short distance to the east. At the very northern end of California's prime wine-growing area, the Anderson Valley's key town, Boonville, lies 100 miles (160km) north-north-west of downtown San Francisco and 70 miles (115km) north-west of Napa.
The valley runs south-east to north-west between Boonville and Navarro, a distance of roughly 16 miles (25km). Its northern half follows the course of the Navarro river, which begins on the southern side of Philo township, at the confluence of Rancheria and Anderson creeks. Its southern half follows Anderson Creek between Boonville and Philo. On a relief map, the Anderson Valley appears to be a natural continuation of Alexander Valley, which starts at the meeting point of the Sonoma and Napa valleys. From the air, the northern Californian wine valleys form an elongated 'x' shape, of which Anderson Valley forms the north-western leg.
A vineyard in Anderson Valley
© Wikimedia/Ethan Prater
The lower (north-eastern) end of the Anderson valley is located ten miles (16km) from the Pacific Ocean. Narrow and low lying, the valley is perfectly positioned and shaped to funnel ocean breezes and fog in from the Pacific coast. Rain is also plentiful, making this one of the coolest regions of California – though there is significant temperature variation along the valley's length.
The south-eastern end of the valley is around 20 miles (32km) from the coast, and is consequently up to 10 degrees warmer than the north-western end, allowing such varieties as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and even Zinfandel to ripen towards the end of the long growing season. There are a small number of Zinfandel vines in Anderson Valley vineyards which are more than 100 years old – some of the oldest in the US, in fact. These still produce outstanding concentrated wines today, but in a lighter, finer style than is traditionally associated with this robust red variety. Although measurably warmer, the south-eastern section of the valley is still subject to the cooling effects of fog and wind: this is detectable in the balanced acidity and relatively light body of the finished wines.
Mostly cool-climate varieties are grown in the north-western end of the valley, where proximity to the Pacific Ocean lowers the temperature. Sparkling wines produced here are of exceptional quality, prompting the French Champagne house Louis Roederer to set up a local winery, Roederer Estate. Anderson Valley's Pinot Noir has a sweet, uncomplicated, unique style, and Chardonnay does especially well. Excellent examples of Riesling and Gewurztraminer are also produced, leading to the establishment of the International Alsace Varietals Festival.
Boonville plays host each year to the aforementioned Alsatian varietals festival (in February) and a Pinot Noir festival (in early summer), demonstrating the importance of wine to the local culture and economy. Each of the varieties successful in Alsace (Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer) is considered a cool-climate variety, as is Pinot Noir. The prevalence of these cool-climate varieties in Anderson is significant, and is in sharp contrast to the preference for warmer-climate varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah) favored in the warmer climes to the south-east, such as the lower Sonoma Valley.
Londer Vineyards is situated on 16 acres of both low ground near Navarro creek and high ground on the top of a small hill.  

Here is a good summary from Pinotfile:
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Londer Vineyards
Larry Londer, Shirlee Londer
Web site

Link to this site
Larry and Shirlee Londer left Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1999 and settled in the Anderson Valley to start a winery. A small 16-acre estate vineyard was planted (15 acres of Pinot Noir, 1 acre of Gewürztraminer), and the Londers set about sourcing grapes to produce Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir. Winemaker Greg La Follette got them started with their first releases in 2001, and Richard Davis, who worked with LaFollette for many years, has since taken over the winemaking duties.

The wines have received considerable accolades. The Pinot Noir lineup has varied but usually includes Anderson Valley, Corby Vineyard, Paraboll (a reserve), Ferrington Vineyard and Estate Grown.

In 2011, founders Larry and Shirlee Londer sold their home and estate vineyard in Anderson Valley, but continue to manage the winery from their home in Colorado, and still source fruit from their former estate vineyard.

The wines are sold primarily through a mailing list with some online and retail sales. In August 2009, Londer Vineyards opened their first tasting room in downtown Boonville. Total production is 6,500 cases, half of which is from estate grown fruit. The Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay is also recommended.

 Larry and Shirlee moved to Denver for family reasons, but in 2006 they were growing grapes and buying grapes and working with a great winemaker named Rick Davis who also makes his own wines and sells them under the Calstar Vineyards label ( Rick worked with the Londers from 2005 to 2011, when the sold the vineyard. Their first great success thanks in large measure to Rick was Paraboll.  

Rick described what they did as follows: “We had two different lots of pinot, one with a huge, jammy fruit flavor on the front but no finish and the other with no front fruit but with a long elegant, subdued pinot finish. Both of them failed as a complete wine, but when we combined them we obtained a great complete wine.” Londer named the wine resulting from that combination Paraboll.  People loved Paraboll and it consistently received ratings of over 90 points and put Londer on the California wine world map.  Here a few ratings to give you an idea.

Londer Vineyards Paraboll Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2007

Pinot Noir from North Coast, California
Price: $54.00 $44.99
Save $9.01 (17%)
Sold Out
Alcohol By Volume: 14.1%

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Alcohol By Volume Guide

Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Winemaker's Notes
Paraboll is bright ruby color with alluring aromas of black raspberry, cola, potpourri, star anise and minerals. Silky, pliant and sweet, with concentrated, expressive flavors of red and dark berries, floral pastilles and mocha. Offers palate-staining depth with no excess weight thanks to tangy acidity and pronounced spiciness. Tannins come on late, adding shape to the sappy, long finish. This should age well but it drinks nicely now.
Critical Acclaim
"Medium-deep ruby color; deep, lush cherry aromas with some vanilla and spice; rich, ripe, lush cherry flavors with lots of spice and herbal notes, silky texture, sweet oak; good structure and balance; long finish. Lush and deep Pinot with layers of flavor."
94 Points
"A rich, supple, full-bodied Pinot, showing layers of fleshy plum, black cherry and berry, with hints of spice and sage. Full-bodied and sharply focused, with a long, lingering finish. Drink now through 2013."
93 Points
"Long on concentrated, well-ripened fruit and fit with a good bit of rich oak, this weighty Pinot Noir is nicely balanced and surprisingly vital for the big wine that it is. It shows the substance and depth to make us believers in its future, and it is destined for very good things as its opens and expands when allowed some three to five years of bottle aging."
91 Points
Around 2006 we started going to Anderson Valley and visiting the Londers and attended several of the Anderson Valley Pinot Festivals held in May each year, which if you like pinot noir are a must. In the mid 00’s Anderson Valley had a bucolic rural feel to it and there were still lots of farmers who still raised grapes for sale and did not make wine.  Corby was one of them and Londer bought both Pinot and Chardonnay from them.

I really liked the 2006 and was pleased when Larry called and offered me a case at a slight discount. I count it among one of our best wines. The 2006 Corby does not have the huge jammy front but has lots of the pinot finish.   To get to the changes and finish the story, the Londers have moved to Denver and Duckhorn made a deal with Corby to buy his whole production of pinot grapes, so now to get the same wine you need to buy Duckhorn.

The reason why I selected this bottle was because I had noted that its metal cap that covers the cork was puffed out and there was a mold like white substance that had grown on the side of the bottle that indicated to me leakage, so I was not sure if the wine was still good and decided it needed to be drunk as soon as possible.  Although the bottle looked terrible the wine was still delicious and a real treat with a well grilled steak and the pasta dish.  The addition of anchovies and sage gave the pasta dish a more smoky flavor that I liked a lot also.

After dinner I ate a bowl of European yogurt with fig compote.

Bon Appétit      


Friday, July 18, 2014

July 17, 2014 Antiques Roadshow Reception at Los Poblanos

July 17, 2014   Antiques Roadshow Reception at Los Poblanos

At 6:00 we arrived at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Garden for a reception for the Antique Roadshow.  The 25 acres was originally designed and built by the Simms/McCormick family as a self-contained working estate that the superrich used to build as entertainment venues, with its own dairy, food gardens, large house with large entertainment rooms and gardens and a large greenhouse, like Winterthur-Du Pont and Stone Barns-Rockefeller.

Here is a bit of background on the Ruth Hanna McCormick Simms, who with her husband Albert Simms, built Los Poblanos.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
McCORMICK, Ruth Hanna, (daughter of Marcus Alonzo Hanna, wife of Joseph Medill McCormick and of Albert Gallatin Simms), a Representative from Illinois; born in Cleveland, Ohio, March 27, 1880; attended Hathaway Brown School in Cleveland, Dobbs Ferry (N.Y.) School, and Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Conn.; owned and operated a dairy and breeding farm near Byron, Ill.; publisher and president of the Rockford Consolidated Newspapers (Inc.), Rockford, Ill.; chairman of the first woman’s executive committee of the Republican National Committee, and an associate member of the national committee 1919-1924, in the latter year becoming the first elected national committeewoman from Illinois and served until 1928; active worker for the suffrage amendment from 1913 until the Constitution was amended; elected as a Republican to the Seventy-first Congress (March 4, 1929-March 3, 1931); was not a candidate for renomination in 1930, having received the Republican nomination for United States Senator, in which election she was unsuccessful; resumed her newspaper interests; married Albert Gallatin Simms, of New Mexico, who was also a Member of the Seventy-first Congress; and resided in Albuquerque, N.Mex.; died in Chicago, Ill., on December 31, 1944; interment in Fairview Cemetery, Albuquerque, N.Mex.

 Here is some more information about the history and architecture of Los Poblanos.
The Los Poblanos land was originally inhabited by the Anasazi (ancient pueblo Indians) in the 14th century. Many of the original settlers in this area were thought to have come from Puebla, Mexico, a citizen of which is called a “Poblano.” The land became part of the Elena Gallegos land grant around 1716. The original ranch land was owned by Ambrosio and Juan Cristobal Armijo through the 19th century but was reassembled by Albert and Ruth Simms in the 1930s. Los Poblanos today encompasses the original headquarters of the 800-acre ranch owned by the Congressman, Albert Simms, and his wife, Ruth Hannah McCormick Simms that extended to the crest of the Sandia Mountains. Our historic inn was their private residence and the center of operations of their dairy, farming, nursery, art businesses, and dynamic cultural and educational endeavors. In 1932, Ruth Hanna McCormick Simms commissioned architect John Gaw Meem and numerous WPA artists and craftsmen to renovate the ranch house and create the Cultural Center for political and community events and recreation with gardens designed by Rose Greeley.
Culture & Education
La Quinta Cultural Center was designed and used for civil, social, and cultural purposes. The art gallery held frequent exhibitions, which were open to the public. The ballroom and catering kitchen were designed to host meetings, lectures, and concerts for up to 200 people. It was the original home to the June Music Festival and boasted the first swimming pool in Albuquerque, complete with men’s and women’s changing rooms painted by Paul Lantz. A lecture series began in 1937, where Thornton Wilder, Rockwell Kent, Elmer Rice, and Paul Horgan were some of the speakers.
Using La Quinta as headquarters for their cultural and educational endeavors, Ruth and Albert Simms founded Manzano Day School, Sandia Prep, Albuquerque Academy, and Albuquerque Little Theater. The impact these institutions have had on New Mexico is immeasurable.
Los Poblanos was a model experimental farm in the 1930s and 1940s. It was home to the original Creamland Dairies, and supplied Albuquerque with a considerable portion of its milk. It boasted one of the finest purebred herds of Guernsey and Holstein cows in the Southwest and played a significant role in building up the dairy industry in New Mexico.
Los Poblanos also experimented with raising sugar beet seed in an effort to wean American dependence on imported sugar beets. Alfalfa, oats, corn, and barley were also grown on the property. On the base of the Sandias, purebred rams were raised with the intention of helping sheep herders of the state improve their flocks. The greenhouse was used as a laboratory for raising new varieties of roses and chrysanthemums commercially.  Photos by Laura Gilpin showing the ranch during this period hang in the gallery.
There are many books and articles written about the architectural significance of Los Poblanos and La Quinta. John Gaw Meem has long been considered New Mexico’s most important architect, but he is now recognized internationally for his contribution to 20th century architecture. Architects have visited from all over the world with the sole purpose of studying John Gaw Meem and the buildings of Los Poblanos specifically. His work at Los Poblanos is best summed up by James Moore, Former Director, The Albuquerque Museum:
“Speaking from my background in art history, I would say that La Quinta is not only perhaps the most important structure in the North Valley, but is one of New Mexico’s invaluable treasures. John Gaw Meem is without question the quintessential New Mexico architect of the early and mid 20th century and…La Quinta is one of his most important, if not the most important, projects of his career in this state.”
In addition to the architecture, Meem and the Simms contracted some of New Mexico’s leading artists and craftsmen of the period to create artwork for the building. There is a true fresco by Peter Hurd, carved doors and mantels by Gustave Baumann, tinwork by Robert Woodman, ironwork by Walter Gilbert, photography by Laura Gilpin, and the landscape architecture by the famed Rose Greely.
The Center is now owned by Penny and Armin Remby, who have done wonders to renovate and commercialize it with the help of their children and a large dedicated staff. 
Here is some more information on them and how they reconstituted the property.
“Our mission is to preserve the historic Los Poblanos Ranch by cultivating a dynamic business dedicated to sustainable agriculture, hospitality, historic preservation, and community.” -The Rembe Family
Meet the Owners
Three generations of the Rembe Family that own and operate Los Poblanos. In 1976, Penny and Armin Rembe purchased one half of the property from Albert and Barbara Simms, where they raised their four children and maintained the property as gentlemen farmers. In 1999, the second half of the property, which included La Quinta Cultural Center, came up for sale and was under threat of being developed. Together with their four children, they decided to reunite the properties and undertake a preservation plan to maintain the architecture, gardens, and open farmland in perpetuity. In their retirement, Penny and Armin ran the inn for five years. In 2004, their son Matthew Rembe became Executive Director, and has developed all areas of the business, from expanding the lavender spa product business to the addition of guest rooms, fine dining, and cultural programming.
Our Team
Matthew Rembe, Executive Director
Matt grew up at Los Poblanos and now oversees all aspects of the business on behalf of the Rembe Family.  He worked as Director of Mary-Anne Martin/Fine Art in New York City, where he became a specialist in the field of 20th Century Latin American Masters.  Matt attended Syracuse University, where he obtained a BA in Spanish, and received his MBA from the prestigious Thunderbird School of Global Management. His wife Teresa, and sons Mateo and Max have had a significant influence on Los Poblanos’s dedication to quality food and can often be found enjoying the myriad sights, sounds, and tastes of the Inn and Organic Farm.
Nancy Kinyanjui, Director of Hospitality & Sustainability
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Nancy joined the Los Poblanos team in 2005 and now lives in the original foreman’s house on the farm. After graduating with a degree in graphic design from Northern Illinois University, she served as a Guest Relations Manager at the InterContinental Hotel in Chicago. Nancy oversees all aspects of the inn and has played a key role in shaping the unique and authentic guest experience at Los Poblanos, from helping to develop a custom line of lavender spa amenities to implementing our green hospitality program.
Jonathan Perno, Executive Chef
A native New Mexican, Jonathan trained at the California Culinary Academy and spent time at Postrio under Wolfgang Puck, Splendido and Alain Rondelli in San Francisco, Sweet Basil in Vail, Colorado, Splendido at The Château in Beaver Creek, Colorado, and Metropolitan in Salt Lake City, Utah. His résumé also includes the requisite European culinary tour, a return visit to work at La Tante Claire in London. In addition, he spent a year in Berkley, California at an organic farm learning raised bed farming.
Ann Therese Manzanares, Event Sales Director
Ann Therese has a family history rooted in New Mexico that includes both farmers and craftsman. Her grandfather, a stone mason, helped build the Santa Fe Cathedral. Ann Therese graduated from New Mexico State, before traveling the world as flight attendant. When the pull of New Mexico was too overwhelming to ignore, she returned and started her hospitality career in Santa Fe where she realized hospitality was her passion. After working in Santa Fe, she moved to California and worked at the Fairmont Hotels in Sonoma and Santa Monica, as well as the St. Regis in Los Angeles. Since her return to New Mexico, she worked at Tamaya Resort & Spa for eight years. Ann Therese is happy to be on board at Los Poblanos, ensuring that all events are seamless, and a true reflection of the Los Poblanos mission.
Stephen Humphry, Manager, Farm Shop
Stephen and his family would drive 40 miles every weekend to work on the family Christmas tree farm on the bluffs of the Mississippi. It took a lot of weekends, but this family of four planted over 20,000 trees. Stephen graduated from the Harrington Institute in Chicago, specializing in art, architecture and design, and worked for Gallery 37 co-instructing sculpture and design classes for adults. He moved to New Mexico in 2005 to work with modern southwestern adobe architecture. Since completing several projects with a small local architects office, Stephen has worked on renovating the old dairy processing room at Los Poblanos into what is now the Farm Shop.
Kyle Johnson, Head Lavender Farmer
As a first generation New Mexican, Kyle attended public schools in Albuquerque and received his BA in Linguistics and Spanish, with a minor in Anthropology from UNM. He also studied Spanish and Native Cultures of the Americas for one year in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since graduation his life took a 180 degree turn, when he stumbled upon organic agriculture in 2011 when he began an internship at local CSA Skarsgard Farms. As a farm hand at Los Poblanos, he has learned the importance of pure seeds and sustainable agriculture and fell in love, this time with lavender. Today as Head Farmer, he is still able to use his university education by speaking Spanish and immersing himself into the ancient agricultural traditions of the Middle Rio Grande Valley, and by learning and striving every day to improve the fertility, production and beauty of agricultural lands here at Los Poblanos.
If you have not been to Los Poblanos, you should go.  It is a wonderful property and well worth a trip, if only to see the John Gaw Meems architecture and the 1931 Peter Hurd fresco.  We said hello to Penny and she raved about the Inn restaurant and its chef, Jonathan Perno.  I promised myself we would go for a dinner.  She also explained how she and Armin have been involved in organic gardening in New Mexico for over twelve years and she and Suzette discussed some of their gardening travails, like bind weed.

But back to the party. The party was held under the lovely John Gaw Meems portal of the La Quinta Conference Center. The wine was supplied by Il Vicino and the finger food was catered by the Inn’s restaurant.  I loved the appetizers prepared by the Inn.  Three meat sausages with heavy mustard seed mustard, tuiles made from parmesan cheese, which were formed into cylinders with an open end and tightly closed at the other end using the standard French tool I suspect and filled with dressed micro greens, and roasted halved dates that had been sprinkled with large sea salt crystals.

The wine was Il Vicino's private label chardonnay and a cabernet sauvignon, which the bartender said was from Rutherford or St. Helena.  It tasted like a good Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon and was delicious cooled with a few cubes of ice which the bartender served graciously and instantly.

The other thing I was impressed by was the degree of care and attention to detail shown by the wait staff at Los Poblanos.  Everyone was skilled in their position and hospitable, from the car attendants to the servers, to the bartender.

After about thirty minutes the wait staff began bringing trays filled with more appetizers, baked eggplant rolls spiced with chili, wedges of baked zucchini, roasted turnips from the garden, thin slices of salami and prosciutto and wonderful cheeses, like Humboldt Fog and a new cheese to me, round semi-soft cheese that looked to be about the size of a mimolette, but with a white skin and with a white soft body inside.

At around 7:00 we were invited inside the big room where chairs were set up and a presentation was given by Mark Wahlberg and Marcia, the executive director of the Antiques Roadshow, about the organization and approach to its job of presenting the appraisals.  The appraisers in attendance were then introduced and there was a short Q and A.  When the presentation ended desserts were served on the portal and we all milled around talking to appraisers about what to bring and eating lovely deserts, including a fried pastry shell filled with a dollop of chocolate sauce and then a thin slice of banana and then a caramel custard cream.  There were also small fruit tartlets in small pasty cups filled with egg custard and fresh cubed fruits and Mexican wedding cookies.  I loved them all.

We spoke to a pre-war American art expert named Sartain who was very helpful in discussing what kind of art to bring but the most helpful comment came from a furniture appraiser named Nye, who said, “Bring something you don’t know anything about”.  It made me decide to bring the two paintings given to my mother by her brother, my Uncle Sydney, who bought them during the Post-war occupation in Europe.

After an enchanting two hours, we fetched our car from the valet attendants and returned to our humble little homestead in the south valley, but the memory of a wonderful evening of food, wine and hospitality and thrilling conversations will last for a very long time.       

Bon Appétit 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 16, 2014 Lunch Soup, Dinner Pizza, Cut finger, and Vichyssoises

July 16, 2014  Lunch  Soup,    Dinner  Pizza,   Cut finger, and Vichyssoises

I ate the rest of the soup for lunch with a newly sprouted handful of purslane from the driveway.
Purslane is what Suzette calls a “super food”.  It looks and cooks like green algae, but it makes me feel clean and clear and good.

After 5:00 we were removing the cloves of garlic Suzette had roasted on Sunday from the pods and putting the sticky cloves of garlic into bottles and Suzette added olive oil to preserve the garlic for later use. 

At 6:15 I cut my finger badly with my new knife when I started to cut leeks for vichyssoises.  I was holding the leek stalk and cutting down from the outside and the outer skin of the leek and the knife slid onto my finger and made a surgically deep cut into the skin and nail.  The lesson here is to not put your finger near where the knife blade can go, but more importantly to organize your cutting so that you do not have any place for the knife blade to slide.  What I discovered was that you can organize the cutting.  In this case I cut segments crosswise along the stalk of leek and then cut vertically down through the sections that now could lie flat on the cutting board, so the knife cuts down through the flat surface of the column of leek and can not get pushed off the side of column by a sliding piece of skin because there is only a flat surface for the knife to pass through.  Anyway Suzette went to Walgreens and bought lots of butter fly bandages and several bandages I had never seen before that are made especially to bandage fingers.  One made with gauze wrapped around rubber bands that can be pulled over a finger to protect it with a sheet of gauze and a more ingenious one that is actually a tiny rubber condom that seals the finger in a protective sheath of rubber.  Here is a picture of my finger with sheathed in the latter.

Suzette put a blob of anti-bacterial ointment on the cut and then a rolled gauze bandage and then the small condom and rolled them up the finger to cover and hold the cut closed and they sealed the cut from the air.  Suzette said that the two finger bandages are used in the food service industry and are considered sanitary and safe methods for treating cuts.  Who knew?

Anyway, after I stopped most of the bleeding and got the bandages on the finger that acted like a tourniquet the bleeding stopped and I was able to continue cutting leeks and potatoes for the Vichyssoises.  I used Julia Child’s recipe for the Vichyssoises from her Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1., page 39. It is simple.


3 cups of chopped potatoes
3 cups of the whites of leek, chopped
1 ½ quarts of white stock, chicken stock or some other stock
A dash of salt
1 cup of heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste.

Preparation directions: You cook the chopped potatoes and leeks in the stock until they are soft.

You then puree the cooked soup mixture in a blender with 1 cup of heavy cream (Suzette used half and half)

Add salt and pepper to taste and chill overnight.

An incredibly easy soup, and my favorite summer soup.  I especially like it garnished with finely minced chives.

Suzette is going to serve Vichyssoises in August at the Bistro with the surface decorated with streaks and dabs of different colored herb and spice infusions to imitate the actively colored surface of a Jackson Pollack painting for the Art of Food tour sponsored by Edible Santa Fe.  She informed me that she will be taking some of this batch of soup to the Bistro tomorrow for decoration experimentation.  We discussed how to make a yellow and I suggested mustard, but I now think turmeric would work well for a more orange color.

So after my big surgical emergency with my finger and a couple of hours of cleaning garlic, Suzette suggested that we not cook and instead eat a pizza for dinner and I agreed immediately.  I drove to Little Caesar’s shop across the bridge and bought a $5.00 large pepperoni pizza.  When I returned home with the hot baked pizza, I sliced the whites of three large Mexican scallions and two white mushrooms and spread those ingredients on top of the pizza and we baked the pizza for an additional 5 minutes at 400˚ to bake the ingredients into the pizza and I went to the basement for a bottle of chianti.

I selected a 2010 Castello de Monastero produced by Lionello Marchesi (Denominozione di Origene Controllata e Garantita).  The back label offered this additional information:

                “Legendary inventor and entrepreneur Lionello Marchesi has fulfilled his lifelong dream and passion for wine, pioneering state of the art techniques to create high quality artisanal wines that fully express the terroir and sprit of Tuscany.  85% Sangiovese with 8% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon”

We both agreed that the Chianti was delicious and very clean tasting.  The merlot seemed to give the wine body and the cab gave it a lightness and floral quality.   We liked it a lot and at $4.99/bottle on closeout at Quarters it was a deal.

I know I am supposed to act like a grown up and buy better wines for $10.00 to $20.00 per bottle but some of the best wines I have ever drunk are among the least expensive and I count this Marchesi Chianti Superiore among them. I guess I just keep gambling on hitting a great closeout deal like this one.  Of course this one was tried and liked at Barry and Kylene's Christmas party on or about December 15, 2013

After dinner Suzette fixed me a bowl of European yogurt and PPI figs poached in port.

Bon Appétit