Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 28, 2012 Memorial Day Dinner – Roasted Duck and Sweet Potato and Fiddlehead Ferns.

May 28, 2012 Memorial Day Dinner – Roasted Duck and Sweet Potato and Fiddlehead Ferns.

Suzette wants to go back on our diet, so she decided that she wanted a low calorie dish like sweet potatoes and fiddlehead ferns for dinner and we decided to make tabouli with the abundance of mint parsley that had gone to seed in our garden, so we stopped at Sunflower Market and bought grains, cous cous ($2.49/lb), bulgur wheat and sweet potatoes, artichokes ($.88 each) and yams.

When we arrived at home, we got into a cooking frenzy.  I soaked a cup of No. 2 Bulgur in water and plucked a basket full of parsley and a large handful of mint and chopped them and threw them into the drained Bulgur and then added Moroccan olive oil and the juice of a lemon and chopped up two roma tomatoes and put all that into the tabouli and put it into the fridge. 

I then cut a bit of the stalk off the artichokes and boiled them for 1 ½ hours in water flavored with olive oil and red wine vinegar.

I then made a sauce for the artichokes.  I mixed about on cup of mayonnaise in a bowl with some lemon juice a chopped shallot, some tarragon vinegar, some fresh tarragon from the garden and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce. 

For dinner we looked in the freezer and saw the frozen PPI beast quarters from the Roasted Duck dinner we had prepared before we left town, so we thawed those out and Suzette cleaned the Fiddlehead Ferns and I fetched the PPI Orange Sauce from the fridge and chopped up about 1 Tbsp. of onion and melted abut 1 ½ Tbsp. of butter in an enameled sauce pan and sautéed the onion for a few minutes.  Then I threw in the sauce and some Madeira and Suzette put in a few slices of orange and some orange juice and I put in more butter.

Suzette chopped the sweet potato into chunks and blanched them and put the duck breast into a baking pan and put them in a 350° oven.  Then Suzette chopped a shallot and sautéed it in a skillet with a clove of garlic and then threw in the blanched sweet potatoes and then the fiddlehead ferns.  After a few minutes of sautéing the fiddleheads and when the orange sauce was hot and the duck heated through, we plated the lovely multicolored ingredients.   They made a beautiful plate of food. 

We served the food with a bottle of De Ponte Rosé from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  Although lovely and light, I thought the rosé was a little light for the heaviness of the duck and sweet potatoes.  I guess we should wait for garden parties during the hot days of summer to fully appreciate the rosé.

Bon Appétit

27, 2012 Pike Street Market – Seattle, Washington

May 27,
2012 Pike Street
Market – Seattle, Washington

            After a bagel and cream cheese we left UBC around to make sure we cleared U.S. customs and immigration, returned our rental car and picked up our wine we had cached in Snohomish.  We hit the border around and there was only a five minute wait.  The Border Guard had been stationed in Fort Worth, so we had a pleasant conversation about Fort Worth instead of the usual twenty questions to satisfy him we were U.S. citizens. We drove the 120 miles to Snohomish and picked up our wine and repacked our suitcases in Snohomish and at around around decided we could go to the Pike Street Market for about 45 minutes and still make it to the airport by .

We found a public parking lot about one block from the market and went along only about one block of the market, but in that one block were a large assortment of permanent stands.  I bought a steamed bun filled with BBQ pork for Suzette and me (2 buns for $5.00) at a Zagat rated Chinese Pastry shop.  We then stopped at a fish monger shop and examined and purchased two pieces of smoked salmon ($19.95/lb.) and next door was a cheese shop where we purchased about 4 ounces of Leyden ($13.50/lb) and a small package of locally produced lavender flavored goat cheese ($7.00).

We then turned around and started back to our car when we passed a terrific fruit and vegetable stand with beautiful fresh berries.  We bought a quart box of blueberries ($3.99) and a pound of red Brooks cherries ($6.99) that were plump and delicious.  As we were paying I saw a quart carton of fiddlehead ferns ($5.00) next to some of the loveliest morels ($40.00/lb.) I have ever seen.   We bought the fiddlehead ferns and threw them in our bag with the salmon and cheese and baguette from the Mix Bakery in Vancouver and headed back to the car and to the airport.  We checked our boxes of wine and suitcases and took our food to a restaurant/beer pub in the airport and, with the assistance of the restaurant’s plastic forks and knives and plates and napkins, feasted on the blueberries, cherries, turkey sausage, smoked salmon, chesses, bread and beer.  After I fetched my sweater and hat that I had left at security check in, I met Billy, Elaine and Suzette at the gate.  We took the Southwest flight back to Albuquerque and said goodbye to Billy and Elaine, who stayed on the plane for its continuation to Dallas.

A wonderful ending to a wonderful trip.

May 26, 2012 Fort Langley, Circle Farm Tour and Lunch – Bacchus Bistro at Domaine De Chaberton Winery

May 26, 2012 Fort Langley, Circle Farm Tour and Lunch – Bacchus Bistro at Domaine De Chaberton Winery

We waited for Willy in the Mix Bakery next to his apartment and ate breakfast rolls and drank coffee and bought a baguette. 

Then we drove to Fort Langley where there was a Farmer’s Market that we wanted to visit.  We visited the Fort, which was established in 1827 by the Hudson Bay Company as its main gathering point for the fur trade in Western Canada.  Upstream gathering points brought furs down river and the Company also salted and shipped salmon and cranberries in barrels from the area.  It lies about 30 miles upstream east of Vancouver on the Fraser River about fifty miles downstream from the confluence of the Thompson River that leads to the headwaters of the Columbia River.  A paddle wheel boat was used to take furs down river to Vancouver and bring supplies up stream and open skiffs and canoes were used upstream from Fort Langley.

The headquarters of the Fort is also famous because it was the place that British Columbia was declared a colony of Great Britain in 1858.  There was no evidence that the First Nations people were anything other than peaceful and the Company policy was to encourage its male employees to marry native women.

The fort has been reconstructed as it existed in the 1800’s and is a Canadian National Historic Site now.  The store house is original and the headquarters has been reconstructed to its original plans.  We also visited the barrel cooperage, the living quarters of employees and a garden area.

After the Fort we went to the Farmer’s Market but it was only a couple of stands.  So we went on the Langley Circle Farm Tour (, which was a collection of food producers in the area of Langley.  There is a town of Langley and a town of Fort Langley. Although there are 15 facilities and attractions on the tour we stopped at only five.  One was Fonrt Langley National Historic Site.

The first stop after the Fort was The Fort Wine Company.  It was a series of cranberry bogs and berry patches on the flat land near the Fraser River that were used to make fruit wines and vinegars.  I found the wines unusual after drinking so many grape wines, but like the dessert wines, but Willy liked the wines and I bought two bottles of wine for Willy to take back to his apartment.

We then went to Krause Berry Farms and Estate Winery but it was not yet open for the season. Our goal was to go to Domaine De Chaberton Estate Winery, but we stopped at JD Farms Specialty Turkey Store on the way and tasted their delightful turkey sausages and bought turkey sliced breast for Willy and a about ½ lb. of Turkey sausage for us.

We arrived at Domaine De Chaberton Estate Winery at around and checked into the Bacchus Restaurant for a reservation and then went to the tasting room.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Bacchus Bistro had been given a 24 rating by the Zagat Guide. The wines were not as well made or did not have the clean finish as the ones we had tasted in Oregon and Northern California but the Bistro was lovely and we were called to lunch shortly after we arrived.  The Bistro had a covered patio facing the 55 acre vineyard with a French menu.  We were lucky to get a table on the patio next to the vineyard.  I ordered the Table d’ Hotel, a three course meal with different prices for different entrees.  I order the cheapest choice, Steamed Island Mussels in a light cream sauce with julienne strips of fresh fennel poached in the ($26.50). The choice of appetizers was the soup of the day (Roasted Garlic) which I chose, or a balsamic mushroom salad with fresh goat’s cheese, which Suzette chose or a salad.  The soup was a smooth but heavy cream soup garnished with a few purple chive flowers, which were in bloom everywhere and lovely.  Elaine and Billy and Willy ordered an entrée each.  Elaine ordered the broiled Rockfish filet and Billy and Willy ordered the lamb shank garnished with a bell pepper and onion reduction.  Suzette ordered the Oysters Rockefeller served as a milky stew with Pacific Northwest Coast oysters. It was the waitress’ first day and I did not communicate well with her about the wine, which caused a delay, I said I wished a taste of the wines to help decide and she said, “The tasting room is next door,” which actually turned out to be the right idea.  After Suzette and I ordered, we ran back to the tasting room and tasted, in quick succession, all the white wines and several of the reds.  A taste is usually less than one ounce of wine.  The Sylvaner white had a creamy texture and a balance of both tart and sweetness, so I ordered a bottle for lunch for the table ($27.50).

Suzette and I ordered Rhubarb Upside Down cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert and because of the mix up in the wine and delay in service the main waitress/bar tender brought us an extra dessert of Chocolate Mouse. The entire bill was $175.00 and it was around

Since I wanted to see the Cone Collection Exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver we started back to town.  Unfortunately the winery was a long way from the Trans Canadian Highway and it was crowed and several places under construction, so w did not get back to the Museum until around 4:20 p.m. Billy and Elaine parked the car and waited for us at a coffee shop near the Museum while we ran through the Cone Collection.  I saw pieces that I do not recall seeing in Baltimore.  The exhibit was set up like the Baltimore Exhibit.

Because the Vancouver Art Gallery closed at , we were unable to see the Emily Carr paintings.  I really became interested in her work when I saw that she was a member of the Theosophical Society.  Also on Granville Island we saw an art school named after her.  She is considered B.C.’s greatest artist.  Alas, not enough time to see everything.

Here is a description of her work from the Vancouver Art Gallery website:

“Throughout her career, Emily Carr’s art was informed by a questioning of organized religion. This was strengthened through her encounters with Lawren Harris, a founding member of the Group of Seven and a proponent of Theosophy, in the mid-1920s. From 1930 on, Carr focused much of her activity as a painter on her vision of nature as a “god-like” vehicle that held out the possibility for linking consciousness to a realm beyond earth-bound human culture.”
Bon Appétit

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 20, 2012 Lunch – Sandwiches under the tallest trees in the world; Dinner – Morrison’s Rogue River Lodge

May 20, 2012 Lunch – Sandwiches under the tallest trees in the world;  Dinner – Morrison’s Rogue River Lodge
We awoke at . and made sandwiches with the fresh bread Molinari’s salami and Toma cheese we had bought at Lemon’s Grocery in Phil on Saturday.  We left Boonville at and drove to Ukiah and then up U.S. Hwy. 101 to the Redwoods.

We left Hwy. 101 and got on the Avenue of the Giants at Richardson State Park.  When we wee paying our $8.00 admission, a friendly guide told us that there were several trees over 375 feet tall in the Lower Bull Creek Loop in the Rockefeller forest of the Humboldt State Park that were among the tallest.

We did a ½ mile hike through the Richardson Grove, which had one grove of really big trees.

Then we drove to Humboldt State Park and found the Lower Bull Creek parking area.  It is located next to the South Fork of the Eel River.  The forest towers above you.  We did about a 1 mile hike through four or five groves of unbelievably tall trees that blocked out the sun when you looked up.  It is impossible to see the top of the trees because other trees get in the way when viewed from a distance and the branches block a view of the top from under the tree because of the spread of the their limbs canopy . 

Many of the trees had trunks that exceeded 25 feet in diameter.  The largest coastal redwood’s trunks are not as wide as a sequoia (about 24 feet vs 44 feet for a sequoia) t but they are taller. If measured by height coastal redwoods are the tallest.  If measured by weight the sequoias are the biggest.  Because there are a lot more coastal redwoods driving through mile after mile of them is very impressive.  We took our lunch into the forest at Humboldt and sat on a hillside near the convergence of the South Fork of the Eel and the main channel of the Eel and ate our sandwiches with the asparagus marinated in olive oil and clumps of fresh spinach leaves and the last of our Dry Gewürztraminer.

After lunch we drove up the coast on Hwy. 101 and we stopped at Orick where Suzette bought a slice of redwood burl and then on to Crescent City and turned onto Hwy. 199 and drove up the Smith River and down into Oregon to Morrison’s Rogue River Resort n the Rogue River, arriving around 5:30 p.m. .

The lodge is a lovely wood lodge set back from the Rogue River about 200 yards with an open manicured lawn between it and the River.  It specializes in fly fishing and is one of the top rated fishing lodges by Orvis.

At around Elaine came to our room to tell us the solar eclipse had started and I remembered that this was the day for it. We walked out onto the large lawn where a group of six or seven folks who had ridden in from Portland had set up their cameras on tripods and were shooting photos of the eclipse.  They also had darkened glass to look at the sun without burning one’s eye and lent me the glass for a minute.  So I was able to see the eclipse.  We discussed why it was not a total eclipse and the fellow who lent me the glass explained that because the moon was so close to the earth (remember this is the year of the Mega super moon) that it did not fully obscure the sun.  I noticed that at the point that the moon fully covered the sun, there was still a slight ring of light of the sun around the moon and then a broad penumbra.

Before dinner I spoke to the chef, Walt, who had been to Taos where his relative is Malcolm Nichols, lawyer from Texas also.  He said he would send out the beef flank steak for me to try for dinner.   At we were called to dinner.  Dinner was a four course meal.  The first course was red lentils with a sprig of cilantro, the second ocurse was the best, a Greek salad with slices of tomato, cucumber, and red onion with a light vinaigrette with a few kalamata olives and a few crumbs of feta cheese.  The third course was the entrée. We all ordered chicken flavored with caramelized fennel and onions that had been roasted in the oven until tender but not overcooked as stated by Chef Walt.  Brandon, our waiter also delivered another plate with a sliced up teriyaki marinated flank steak.  The plates were garnished with potatoes au gratin and sautéed Zucchini and yellow crook neck squash.

We had tried several whites and did not like any so we finally ordered a bottle of Fortis Pinot Noir which is the local Pinot, and very delicate and feminine that went well with all of the food.

Finally for dessert we had a chocolate roulade which is a thinly sliced flat sheet of chocolate cake covered with whipped cream and then rolled into a log that is cut and with a puddle of berry coulis poured beside it.

The vegetables were a little\e    

We took dinner at the Lodge and it was a lovely setting on the open patio overlooking the river.    


May 19, 2012 Lunch - Pinot Festival and Dinner – Salmon, Asparagus and sautéed Cippilini Onions.

May 19, 2012  Lunch - Pinot Festival and Dinner – Salmon, Asparagus and sautéed Cippilini Onions.

This full day of activity started with a stop at a church Barn Sale where I bought ties, and a pair of L.L. Bean Khaki pants.  Suzette bought scarves for handicraft projects for the seniors.

Then we went to Lemon’s Market in Philo.  The main reason for going was to buy sandwich fixings for tomorrow’s drive to Oregon.  When we arrived at Lemons we walked back to the meat counter and saw piles of fresh salmon steaks and fillets.  The Lemons have two fishing boats that bring in fresh fish and seafood. Today they had the freshet salmon I have ever had.  It had been caught last night and kept live in a tank on the boat until the boat arrived at the dock.  We bought a salmon steak that was a little over one lb. ($14.99/lb).  Then Suzette saw lovely fresh cippilini onions and said why not make a warm Salmon salad for dinner.

So I walked over to the vegetable area and found a bag of fresh baby spinach leaves and a beautiful bunch of asparagus.   We then went back to the meat counter and bought Molinari salami and sliced toma cheese and a tomato for the sandwiches and a lemon for the salmon.

            We then drove to Boonville and went to another yard sale, but it was all old junk like old tools.  A block away next to the Boonville Hotel, we stopped at the Boonville Farmers’ Market next to and bought a bottle of Tuscan field mix (five varieties of Tuscan olives) olive oil from Yorkville for $18.00.  Then we took all the groceries back to our room and put them in the refrigerator and got dressed for the wine tasting. We drove over to Goldeneye Winery at around and checked in around and then waited until when the festivities began. 

            The wine tasting was held, as usual, in the Goldeneye Vineyard in a four sided tent with a central open area.  About 40 to 50 tables with wineries at each table lined the outer edge of the tented area on three sides with four food serving areas on inner edge and tables in the courtyard formed by the four sides of the tented area.  The front side of the tented area was the entrance and a silent auction area and wine glass distribution and payment area.  The wineries were lined up alphabetically with Balos at the beginning and Zine-Hyde at the end. The only wine being poured was pinot. We started drinking rosés both still and sparkling. The best rosé was Toulouse Winery’s and the best sparkling rosé was made by Handley Winery.  We then ate a plate of chicken mole with beet and carrot and cabbage slaw and white rice and a warm tortilla and salad. 

            Then we started into the red pinots.  Anderson Valley is the premier producer of pinot in the Country as far as I am concerned.  There not many pinots that we drank that were ranked less than 90 points by Wine Spectator or Parker. There were hundreds of great pinots, because many wineries were pouring samplings of their last four or five years’ (2005 or 2006 to 2011) production. Others wineries that had several properties were pouring from several of their properties, single vineyards like Block 5 and others who bought from growers like Ferrington and Londer were sampling their wine making by offering their wines from one year such as 2009 from each of three different growers’.    Even the new wineries, like Balos, offered at least two wines, a rosé and a red, but most offered three or four wines.  I have never been to a better offering of Pinots.  This is heady company where famous well financed wineries like Roderer and Goldeneye (Duckhorn’s Anderson Valley winery) get submerged by the mass of great wines.  At the end of the day I walked over to Londer and said hello to Larry Londer, who poured me a sample of his Londer 2006 Reserve.  A great wine with a rating probably around 95 that tasted clean and delicious but not exceptional in this rarified company, as it would anywhere else.             

            As for the food besides the black chicken mole, there was a table of cheeses and fruit.  The Point Reyes blue goat cheese was my favorite. 

            Also there was a table making queso fresco quesadillas with fresh handmade tortillas with black beans and organic salad and your choice of a tomatillo salsa verde or a pico de gallo red salsa.  Then in the other corner was a table with pork belly and cheese egg rolls and fruits and fresh vegetables like sugar snap peas.  As approached we decided to go to Handley and Toulouse to buy wine, so we could hit the road early in the morning.  But then we saw the Mexican women making the fresh tortillas so we went over to the grill area a few feet outside an opening on one side of the tent and asked for one hot off the grill handmade tortilla. As usual the women obliged us and gave a hot tortilla which was lovely but too hot so I went to the quesadilla table and got a scoop of black beans and a dab of green tomatillo salsa and had a Mexico moment. 

At we left and drove to Toulouse Winery and drank several more whites and bought a bottle of Dry Riesling for dinner and ordered a case of rosé to be shipped to our home.  We then continued west on Hwy 128 to Roderer Winery and tried a few wines. We were impressed with their L’ Ermitage, which is a little like a VC Grand Dame and decided to buy a Magnum of it for $92.00 for Willy’s graduation party, but as we were getting ready to pay, saw a Jeroboam sitting on a table in the tasting area.  I asked if it was a L’ Eritage and the pourer said, “No, it is a brut.”  So we asked to try the brut and when he poured it, it tasted bright and light and very clean and bubbly and drinkable.  So we got a little crazy and bought a Jeroboam of Brut for $120.00 (3.liters or 4 bottles of wine in one bottle).  We then asked about Chateau Ott, and the pourer said they had three bottles of 2008 left, so we purchased one of those also for $33.00 which is a great price. Chateau Ott is one of the greatest rosé wines in the world, it usually makes most people’s top ten list and is grown in Bandol, like Tempiers. 

Then we drove to Handley and tried several more wines and settled on two bottles of their sparkling Rosé and two bottles being offered on a close out at $12.80 2008 Ranch House Red that was 82% Pinot and staggeringly delicious.

We then went to John Hendy Woods State Park that had recently been saved fromclosure by the financial commitment of AndersonValley residents.  We walked for about forty-five minutes through groves of some of the largest Coastal Redwoods I have ever seen stretching along the western slope of the valley along Navarro Creek.  I didn’t measure any but there seemed to be lots that were over 300 feet tall.  Finally at around we drove back to the room and prepared dinner. I peeled the cippilini onions and snapped and cut the asparagus stalks into ¾ inch sections.  Suzette washed the spinach leaves and I opened the Toulouse Dry Riesling. Then Suzette began sautéing the onions in olive oil and butter and then threw in the asparagus and a dash of wine and covered them to sweat them while I chopped up some fresh dill and parsley from the Nickless’ garden.  She piled spinach on plates and then started sautéing the salmon steak in olive oil.    After the salmon was cooked to pink on the edges she stopped cooking it and took it off the heat and made a sauce by adding a scoop of sour cream and the chopped dill and parsley and salt to the salmon cooking juices in the pan. When the sauce was ready, we laid the salmon on the spinach and slid the sautéed onions and asparagus onto the plate beside the salmon and poured a glass of Dry Riesling.  We thought the Dry Riesling was a little heavy and sweet for the sautéed salmon and only drank one glass each. But we agreed the salmon was the best we had ever tasted.  It was still uncooked in the middle and was as tender as any I have ever tasted.  It had no fishy flavor and as Suzette said, “It tasted like butter.”

            This is how Suzette and I like to travel. We rent a car and drive around looking at lots of things and buying food and wine.

Bon Appétit



May 18, 2012 Dinner – Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival BBQ A three sandwich Day

May 18, 2012  Dinner – Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival BBQ  A three sandwich Day

I was awaken at with one more thing to do for a case before we left.  We hen got ready and made four sandwiches with Nine Grains bread, Gelbwurst (veal bologna) and Genoa Salami from Alpine Sausage Kitchen and Irish cheddar cheese with mayo and German Deli mustard.

Then we jumped in the Cruiser and drove to the airport and took a flight to Oakland on which I ate my first sandwich with a bag of Vanillas Wafers.
When we arrived in Oakland we rented a van and drove to Healdsburg.  We stopped at the Tourist information Center and asked the lady about wineries and she recommended several. 

Healdsburg  is in the Russian River Valley north of Santa Rosa and a major wine growing area in Sonoma County.  We drove to Sebeghios in town and tried a tasting of their wines.  The one we liked the best was a Landslide Zinfandel.  Landslide is a single vineyard near the Chalk Hill region south of Healdsburg . The wine was crisp and yet smooth, a very lovely wine. Eight wines down and lots to go, we went to Simi, which is one of the oldest wineries in the area dating back to the 1870’s.  It Is now part of Constellation Brands, the largest wine and spirits conglomerate in the world and its wines seem to reflect that homogenization.  No rough edges and nothing exciting, just clean drinkable wine.  So we drove north and turned east onto
Alexander Valley Road
and went to White Oak Winery, recommended by the lady at the Chamber of Commerce Information office.  It was another old zinfandel winery with fifty year old vines.  The pours were about two ounces each so we decided to eat one of our sandwiches when we were served a very smooth and tasty Merlot.  So we sat at a redwood table in the shade of the administration building and ate our sandwich and two apples with the merlot, a Cabernet Sauvignon and then their great Reserve Zinfandel.

It was about 2:00 pm. When we finished our lunch and wine at White Oak, so we decided to go to one more winery on our way up the Russian River Valley to Cloverdale where we took Hwy.128 to Boonville.  We stopped at Robert Young Winery, which is quite large with over 360 acres planted in grapes and supplies grapes to many Vineyards, like Rodney Strong, Chateau St. Jean and Franciscan.  They make their own wine also, so we tried a tasting.  The most interesting wines at Robert Young were a Petite Verdot and Cabernet Franc.  The Petite Verdot both expressed a really crisp even a little sweet flavor and character and we bought a bottle for $60.00.  We discussed with the lady pouring at Robert Young the characteristics of Alexander Valley. She was from Minnesota, so was somewhat objective, and said Alexander Valley is the warmest area so it was best for the big Rhone and Bordeaux  style grapes like Zinfandel, Petite Verdot, Petite Syrah, and Cabernet Franc. Napa Valley was a little cooler and was best for Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and Anderson Valley was cooler and wetter still, so best for Pinot Noir and the Northern White Grapes. I agree.

We arrived at the Nickless’ house in Boonville at around and went to sleep for about an hour.  We then got ready and went to the BBQ. This year it was at Husch Winery. We drove to Standish Winery and were shuttled to Husch. When we arrived at it looked like most of the interesting wines had already been drunk, because the event started at   The Friday BBQ is the most unique BYOB event I have ever gone to.  The event is catered and this year was no exception.  The catered served pulled pork sandwiches with caramelized tomatoes and onions, black bean and coleslaw salad and fresh green salad.  There are two tables.  On one are large buckets of ice and on the other is just a table cloth.  Wine makers bring a bottle of wine and usually the wines are experiments that succeeded in some respect.  This year was a little different.  There were not as many experimental wines, perhaps evidence of the maturing of the Anderson Valley’s wine production.  So one is given a glass and one walks up to either the white table with the buckets of ice or the red table filled with bottles of red wine and picks one and pours and drinks from as many as one wants and there are at least a 100 and they keep changing as others are brought.  As I said, the most interesting BYOB event I have ever been to.     We met Brad Hayes in line for food and tagged along with him and his wife,     , and sat with them and had a lovely conversation and dinner as we returned to the wine tables to replenish our glasses several times. I finally ended up with a Mary Elke Pinot Noir Boonville Barter 2009 that was delicious.  As the sun set at around we said goodnight to the Hayes and a lovely conversation. Brad is a fifth generation Californian and was a home builder.  We seemed to be about the same age and having fun.  Suzette said she wanted to dance and the live band wa playing lots of old 60’s West Coast music and Bob Dylan, so I got to dance to “Like a Rolling Stone”.  I loved it. 

People kept coming over to the fence near our table and looking at the woods to the West and I finally realized I was sitting looking west as the setting sun was sending long fingers of light through the Valley’s Coastal Redwood forest, eating a Northern California Wine Country dinner in Northern California Wine Country   What a picture perfect and delightfully indescribable moment! 

We stopped at a convenience store in Boonville for chocolate and EJ. Brandy VS, which I am finding to be quite drinkable.

Bon Appétit        

May 22, 2012 Lunch - Dundee Bistro

May 22, 2012 Lunch - Dundee Bistro

We woke up and after a smoked Chinook salmon on fresh French read  with cream cheese sandwich and hot tea breakfast, we drove about ten miles to Domaine Drouhin located on the Dundee Hills for a tasting and tour at 10:00 am.  The Winery has a lovely view to the East of a deep valley and miles of grape vines.   We bought two bottles of their rose and one bottle of the 2010 Pinot Noir.  Drouhin is the largest negociant (wine producer) in Burgundy France, with vineyards in Echezeaux, Vosne, Clos deVouget, Gevrey-Chamertain, Nuit Saint George and Mersault.  We bought their 2010 Pinot Noir ($28.00) and Rosé ($15.00) at a 30% discount).

Then we went to De Ponte Winery, which is on the next hill over and whose wine maker used to be Drouhin’s winemaker until the next generation of the family took over wine production at Drouhin about ten years ago.  We really like the De Ponte wine. We all agreed that it had the best rosé and a killer 2008 Pinot.Noir, so we bought more of it than Drouhin at a 25% discount because Suzette had a restaurant. 

After that we decided to stop at one more vineyard on the hill we were on and the next vineyard on the same hill was Archer’s Summit.  This area reminds me of Sauternes where the wineries are clumped around a hill top.  Archer’s Summit has a cave dug into a hillside with a small tasting room next to it.  The tasting was $15,00 and we were reluctant to pay that until the man doing the tasting said he wanted us to try their wine.  So we tried it and it was a different kind of pinot, very bio-dynamically rich and very extracted.  I commented that the wine had a leathery front on the palate and he said I was the second person that day who had made that comment. When he said the wines were highly extracted, I asked if they had a rosé and he looked at me and then pulled a chilled bottle out of the fridge and poured it.  Unfortunately it had a leathery front also, so we did not buy it.  The wines started at $48.00 and went up to $100.00 per bottle, Suzette said they were the kind of huge pinots she thinks of as Oregon Pinots and they were huge wines, like big heavy Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa. I think of them as Scotch and cigar wines.

After Archer’s Summit, Billy and Elaine anted to go to Lange Winery because they thought they had been there before and liked it.   It around , so we decided we would go to lunch at Dundee Bistro in Dundee after visiting Lange.  We drove about 5 or 6 miles north to the Yamhill district to Lange and when we rolled in to the tasting room in a moderately heavy rain, we found a woman and wines that had not personality.  They charged $10.00 per tasting and would not pour the rosé when I said I only love rosé, “Because it is not on our pouring list for today.”  All the other wineries will pour you whatever wine is open or in new release at the time, if you express an interest in their wines, so Lange was a decidedly different and bad experience and their wines were washed out and flavorless. 

So we went to Dundee with our heads reeling a bit from forty or so tastes of wine, a taste is about ounce, but after 40 you feel it.

The Dundee Bistro had an interesting, but limited, food menu, but its wine menu included most of the good wines made in the area and was single spaced and a legal sheet of paper long and it had received the Wine Spectator Wine Recognition Award for four yeas in a row.  I ordered a baby frisee with poached egg salad.  Suzette ordered local oysters fried in cornmeal and panko drizzled with truffle oil and the Clam and Mussel Chowder.  Bill ordered the Chowder and Elaine ordered the Redland Hills beef Burger with fried potato sticks with a truffle oil aioli.  I loved my salad.  It was better than Vinaigrette.  It had a circle of locally made salami slices around the mound of frisee and was garnished with crushed, toasted hazelnuts.  The egg was perfectly cooked and broke with a gush of yellow onto the salad.  The chowder was also good.  The baby manila clams and mussels were amazingly fresh and the soup was a wine bouillabaisse. After lunch we went across the street to the Red Hill Market, a gourmet shop and deli with seats and tables and sandwiches and light food offerings, where Suzette bought a few almond macaroons.

We had been calling Willy before and during lunch and found out he was caught in a traffic jam on Interstate 5 and was delayed.  After Suzette gave him instructions to Dundee we got in the car to go to Argyle, which specializes in sparkling wines.  Its “Extended Triage” Brut is the top ranked wine on the Wine Spectator’s sparkling list and Argyle has three other wines (Knudsen -  80% Pinot Noir/20% Chardonnay, Blanc de Blanc 100% Chardonnay, and Brut Rosé  – 50% Pinot Meunier, 40% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay. The Brut Rosé was very French, the Extended Triage was more balanced and the Knudsen was my favorite with its pinot noir softness and subtlety.  So they are deservedly proud of their wines. Our pourer was unreserved about their wines, kind of like Stanley Marcus who used to say how wonderful everything was at Neiman Marcus.  How could it not be, he said it was? Gruet came in about twenty on the affordable list at $14.00.  It would have been higher if folks could all buy it at Costco for $11.00.   

We called Willy again and he was close, so we decided to meet in Minneville and drove on to a growers market where Elaine bought strawberries and we then called Willy and found out he was ahead of us and waiting in Minneville.  We met at the Staples in Minneville and Billy and Elaine went with Willy to a bakery for a rhubarb pie and then downtown Minneville and Suzette and I followed. Downtown Minneville is very charming with a main street filled with wine tasting rooms, specialty shops, restaurants and wine bars and brew pubs, a theatre and a small market.  We went into the market and bought Redhill Ranch ribeye steaks, sweet potatoes, vine ripened tomatoes, butter lettuce, green onions, bagels, and some beer and chicken salad and an apricot for Willy to eat since he missed lunch.  

Then we went back to the house on Amity Hill and rested and took showers and began cooking at around I made the salad and sautéed mushrooms with white wine and onion, Elaine made the dressing, and Billy made the steaks and a lovely sweet potato mash with cream and butter.  We opened a bottle of Ribera de Duero Vino Tinto 2009 Billy brought from Dallas.  I sliced some strawberries and Billy heated the pie and we ate pie with tea.  Then they watched “Good Night and Goodbye” the film about Edward R. Morrow and I read my Warmth of Other Suns book.  
Bon Appetit .        

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 16, 2012 Roast Duck, Pasta with Mushroom, Sugar Snap Pea, and Asparagus Medley

May 16, 2012 Roast Duck, Pasta with Mushroom, Sugar Snap Pea, and Asparagus Medley

I thawed out a package of two pre-cooked duck halves (Costco $13.95) and at around 7:00 p.m. Suzette put them on a broiling pan and into the oven to roast at 375°F for twenty minutes or until golden brown.

I then cleaned one cup of sugar snap peas and Suzette cleaned and chopped about one cup of asparagus into ½ to 1 inch pieces and fetched last night’s PPI Pasta Primavera with Pork from the fridge.  She then sautéed the asparagus, sugar snap peas and pasta in a pan with some olive oil and butter.

I made an Orange Sauce by combining the two packets of prepared orange sauce that came with the duck, about one 4 ounces of PPI Orange Sauce and 2 Tbsp. of Madiera and 1/1/2 Tbsp. butter, the zest of 1 orange and a drizzle of orange juice.

I went to the basement and found a Perrin Cotes de Rhônes Villages2007 and opened it.

When the duck was hot (the fat starts to run) we took it out of the oven and separated the leg quarter from the wing quarter and each took a leg quarter and left the wing quarters for PPI duck burritos for our trip to California on Friday morning.

The pasta with fresh vegetables was wonderful with bites of duck and orange sauce.

I love a Cotes de Rhône with duck and the Perrin was light and complex; a perfect accompaniment to the duck.

Bon Appétit     

May 13, 2012 Mother’s Day Northern California Brunch Dungeness Crab and Artichoke

May 13, 2012 Mother’s Day Northern California Brunch Dungeness Crab and Artichoke

Suzette had purchased two large Dungeness Crabs at Costco ($5.99/lb.) and I had purchased and cooked two artichokes on Saturday.  The crabs are sold frozen so you must allow them to thaw, which we did in the fridge overnight.

Then on Sunday at around began preparing the Brunch.  I removed the heavy tops shell and removed the gills and yellow stuff from inside the shell and the male sex organ and washed the remaining yellow stuff away from the meat while Suzette placed ice on a medium sized steel Chinese platter.  Suzette then made a cocktail sauce with catsup, horseradish, and the juice of ½ lemon while a made a mignonette sauce with tarragon vinegar, fresh chopped tarragon leaves from the garden, mayonnaise, two minced shallots and a dash of salt and white pepper and a few drops of Worchetshire Sauce and lemon juice.  It became a thick creamy sauce.  I noticed that as we ate brunch the shallots in the sauce began to become picked as they absorbed the vinegar, which I liked very much. Next time I will make the sauce ahead of time to allow for that pickling effect of the shallots.

When the sauces were ready, we took the sauces, crabs, the artichoke, and a bottle of Gruet Blanc de Noir Champagne to the garden with a large cooking pot.  We sat and picked the crab out of its shell and ate crab with the two sauces and dipped artichoke leaves in the sauces and drank champagne and had a lovely morning in the garden.

We ended up with one cup of cleaned crab meat and a cooking pot with all the half-eaten artichoke leaves and crab pieces that we then took back into the kitchen and put on the stove with some water to boil into a lovely crab stock. 

A perfect Mother’s Day brunch without having to dress up and go out to restaurant.

Bon Appétit  

May 15, 2012 Dinner – Pasta Primavera with Pork

May 15, 2012 Dinner – Pasta Primavera with Pork

            We were both busy getting all of our work done before our trip, so did not get through until   I had thawed two boneless pork tenderloin chops. Suzette ha a mozzarella cheese making class on Tuesday and so there was a fresh ball of mozzarella in the fridge that needed to be use.  We discussed having pork chops with a pasta primavera to use up some of our vegetables, like broccoli and tomatoes with some kale from the garden.   .

I went back to work and Suzette went to the kitchen to cook.  In about twenty minutes she came out and announced that dinner was ready.   She had cut the two pork chops into 1 inch by ½ inch cubes and had boiled the egg noodles.  While the noodles were boiling  she sautéed the pork, garlic, onion, broccoli, tomatoes and the mozzarella in a skillet.  I then went to the garden and picked several sprigs of parsley and chopped up parsley and threw it on the finished pasta dish.  I do not remember exactly, but think we drank a bottle of a dry Spanish Laxas Alberino with it.  It was light and summery, yet filling meal.

Bon  Appétit

May 11, 2012 Neighborhood Cocktail Party

May 11, 2012 Neighborhood Cocktail Party

            This month the party is at our neighbors the Colliers’ home two doors down from our house.  Neighborhood potlucks are potlucks and everyone brings a beverage of choice. We made a pot of cous cous with kale, red onion, and raisins.  The cous cous dried out a bit just like it is when you get it in Morrocco before they pour the vegetable or meat stew on it.  The combination of the stew and the steamed cous couse is the cous cous dish, but in this case we had only ½ of the combination, so it was a little dry.

            As I have mentioned before, the quality of food has gotten significantly better in the last year. I think that improvement corresponds to the fact that new people are moving into the neighborhood and fixing up the older homes.  We have been to several homes in the last few months that have had major renovations.  In fact our neighborhood is looking more like Highland Park in Dallas everyday.   

            Anyway folks are making more creative appetizers.  Gone are the days of chips and salsa and hummus and pita chips.  This month was a smaller gathering but the bottom line appetizer seemed to be he plastic container of large shrimp with cocktail sauce, which are delicious big hunks of white meat.  Among the prepared appetizers this month wee our cous cous, and egg rolls made by Diane Souder, a lovely Middle Eastern sampler plate made by Chrystal Baker with fresh home made dolmas, pickled string beans, fresh peppers stuffed with cream cheese and small mozzarella balls. The dolmas were wonderful.  I spoke to Janice LaFontain and she said the secret to making dolmas is that after the grape leaf is wrapped around the filling the pile of dolmas is then simmered in chicken stock and olive oil bath for a while.  The domas on the appetizer plate must have been cooked all day because they were the softest most tender I had ever tasted.  Ron Baker, Crystal’s husband, is Syrian and he said that the dolmas were made by one of his Middle Eastern clients. 

The best appetizer was a plate of tacos made in small tortillas from Smiths or Albertsons with a red chili dipping sauce made with red chili, oregano and garlic and then cooked until thickened.

As for drinks, we brought a bottle of Wellington Zinfandel that was terrific.  There was an Estancia Pinot Noir and the Bakers brought a wonderful Spanish blend of four grapes that was a very pleasant blend.  There was a Vino Tinto from Spain and several other good bottles.

The Collier’s house a lovely older house built originally in 1936 that had a Beaux Arts feel to it.

The cellar had been renovated about ten years ago and my younger son, Willy, and the Colliers younger son, Drew, who are the same age, grew up together.

Bon Appétit     

May 14, 2012 Dinner - Crab Chowder

May 14, 2012 Dinner - Crab Chowder

Simple is wonderful and easy if you have great PPIs.  Monday’s dinner was a good example of that principle; a hot hearty soup and a light French white wine.  On Sunday we had eaten Dungeness crabs and kept about 1 cup of crab meat as a PPI and made the crab shells into a stock with the intention of making a crab soup.  We had a discussion Monday evening about what kind of soup to make and mentioned my Mother’s crab and ham and corn soup and then Suzette said she wanted crab chowder, because we had potatoes that needed to be cooked.   

            The kale and parsley in our garden was shooting up and I had to pick the tops off to prevent it from going to seed and ended up with about two cups of leaves.  I cleaned and de-stemmed about 1 cup of the leaves while Suzette went to the basement and fetched a bag of frozen corn put up last year and chopped up the potatoes.  I also picked about 2 tsp. of fresh thyme and a few sprigs of parsley that I chopped up.  Suzette added some whole milk to the broth and then threw the potatoes, and corn and a few pieces of old French bread (to give the soup more body) into the pot of crab broth.  After the chowder cooked for a while, she added the kale and fresh herbs and about ¼ cup of white wine. 

            I had brought up a bottle of Muscadet sur Maine? (Trader Joe’s $7.99?) and then plucked ten or twelve stems of chive and chopped them into 1/8 inch pieces.

            When the kale had cooked for about ten to fifteen minutes, we opened the Muscadet and Suzette added about 1 Tbsp. of butter and I added a couple of drops of Worchestshire sauce and ladled the chowder into large pasta bowls and garnished the soup with chives and served the soup with chilled white Muscadet. 

We are going to be in the Loire Valley in France in August, where Muscadet is grown, so I was interested to see how light white wine went with the heavy soup and the answer was, pretty well.”  The Muscadet was light and crisp but not much flavor or character  I can see why it is the preferred wine for oysters  It was almost as light as a blanc de blanc champagne.

Bon Appétit. 


Thursday, May 10, 2012

May 8, 2012 Dinner – PPI Lasagna with sautéed Kale and Broccoli

May 8, 2012 Dinner – PPI Lasagna with sautéed Kale and Broccoli

We went for simple tonight.  We loved the PPI lasagna we ate Monday evening, so we simply heated up some more of it in the microwave and I made a simple sauté of broccoli flowerets and chopped kale with about 2 Tbsp. of minced onion and two cloves of garlic in the good Chilean olive oil given to us by Michelle Varner and Ed. for Christmas.

I ate the last piece of PPI Praline cake with Earl Grey tea for dessert.

Bon Appétit

May 5, 2012 Cinco de Mayo dinner party

May 5, 2012 Cinco de Mayo dinner party

Susan and Charles Palmer invited us and Mark and Suzette Dawson for dinner and we were to bring a Mexican appetizer to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  I made Guacamole, Suzette Dawson made a wonderfully authentic Mexican style shrimp coctel, Susan made shrimp in an onion and olive oil and caper marinade.  I brought a bottle of Jillipepper Pineapple salsa with extra fresh pineapple added and Susan made fresh regular salsa. We sat and talked and ate all this with a pitcher of margaritas made by the Dawsons with Sauza Silver Tequila and Santa Fe Margarita Mix..

I brought fresh asparagus (Sunflower Market $1.43/lb) which we steamed in Susan’s tall cylindrical asparagus steamer.  Susan made a Veal fricassee with white rice and we served it with the fresh steamed asparagus and red and La Crema Chardonnay white wine.

Dessert – spice cake with pecan praline icing.  I could not believe how good the praline icing was.  It reminded me of being in New Orleans, where I first ate this type of brown sugar caramel soft chewy style of praline.  Perhaps the memory of New Orleans pralines was enhanced by the lilting voice of Suzette Dawson, who is from near there in Mississippi.

I loved the evening and the juxtaposition of the fresh Summery Mexican food and the hardy European comfort food was actually an interesting and pleasant contrast; like experiencing directly, instead of just seeing, two cooking shows on TV that show the country and its food, one after the other.  This is the kind of pot luck dinner I like, where there is a theme and we each bring dishes that complement that theme.

Bon Appétit  

May 9, 2012 Lunch – Wild Rice and Chicken Sausage and Kale Soup; Dinner – Smoked Pork Chop and Sauerkraut and Apple Medley

May 9, 2012 Lunch – Wild Rice and Chicken Sausage and Kale Soup; Dinner – Smoked Pork Chop and Sauerkraut and Apple Medley

Lunch - I was working and needed a quick lunch so I went to the fridge and grabbed three PPI ingredients: kale from the garden, an old chicken sausage (Sunflower Market $1.99/lb.) and the last cup of wild rice still left in its cooking pot.  The chicken sausage was about 1 week old and I thought it might not be good but when I washed it off, it seemed okay. 

Same for the wild rice.  It seemed a little funky, but I added about two cups of water to it and heated it and threw in the chicken sausage of which I had cut the skin lengthwise to open up the meat and threw it into the wild rice pot and then stripped the stems from about two cups of kale and threw that into the pot and then sliced one mushroom and threw those slices in with 1 tsp. of Knorr chicken stock and two dashes of salt and let it boil covered while I worked a bit more. In about twenty minute I smelled it and found it was boiling, so I ladled out a bowl and found it to be the best soup I have tasted in months.    

The puffed up wild rice kernels, a wild aquatic grass, combined with the light white chicken meat flavored with feta and red bell pepper, with the fresh kale and mushrooms seemed to blend their flavors into a delicious naturally flavored broth.  Simple can be better.  Instead of throwing up, I felt great, so I rode 18 miles while Suzette was doing her dance of a thousand errands

Dinner – Suzette has been working on the Garden Gate Day Spa’s new Secret Garden, which is scheduled to open Thursday May 10 and I was going to meditate, so while she was on the run she called and we talked.  I told her I had smoked pork chops (Pro’s Ranch Market $3.99/lb) that were not frozen and some sauerkraut (Alpine Sausage Kitchen).  She asked, “Do you have an apple?  I said, “Yes.”  So we decided to do a skillet of pork chops, cooked with sauerkraut and apples.  When she arrived I was finishing up making a fresh mango salsa with manila mangos that are in season now (Pro’s Ranch Market 4 for $.99), red onion (Pro’s Ranch Market $.99/lb.), cilantro (Pro’s $.25/bunch), a small avocado (Pro’s $.33 each), about 1Tbsp. of green Anahiem chili (Pro’s $.33/lb) and juice of 1/2 lime (Pro's $.50/lb).  For really authentic Mexican ingredients Pro’s is my favorite place to shop.  I think they have their own growing facilities or exclusive relationships with growers in Mexico, so their produce seems to be the freshest and cheapest.  Unfortunately sometimes it is seconds, but you just leave that, as does almost everyone else, unless the prices are ridiculously cheap.  Most of these prices are sale prices. Sales of produce are on Thursday and before 11:00 am at Pro's.
We ate the salsa with Michael’s chips, a Mexican style chip, probably cooked in lard (Pro's, 40 oz for $3.99) and connected with Mexico’s cuisine for a moment.

After our little snack at around 6:30 p.m., I went to meditate and when I returned at 8:20 p.m. there was a covered skillet on the stove turned to a low heat.  When I lifted the lid I was surprised to get a rather sweet smell and saw a slightly browned pile of braised sauerkraut, apple, Brussel sprouts and smoked pork chops.  When I asked, Suzette said she had added some Spanish rosado wine and some cherry juice to the skillet. 

I ate the very pleasant dish with a glass of the Spanish Bobal Albero Rosado and Suzette had a more traditional German style beer (Kirtland from Costco).  Again Suzette had gotten that Northern European flavoring of sweet and sour and ingredients, just right.

After dinner I could not resist washing down the meal with a small glass of my new favorite cheap calvados (Menorval Calvados Prestige $30.99 at Jubilation) and three French chocolate truffles (Costco). The calvados is smooth, with some character and just a bit of a bite on the end of the first sip that can easily be obscured by the chocolate. 

This day’s preparations are a good example of how one can fit good food into a busy day.   The total prep time spent by each of us was about ½ hour.

Bon Appétit

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 7, 2012 Sautéed steak and mushrooms with artichoke and lasagna

May 7, 2012 Sautéed steak and mushrooms with artichoke and lasagna

I boiled two artichokes yesterday.  They were the flatter ones, but they turned out to have leaves that were thickly covered with soft flesh, so I now think I like them better than the more elongated type.

We decided to eat PPI lasagna with the artichokes so we thawed a boneless rib eye steak to grill.  Since the wind was howling and Suzette did not wish to outside to grill, I suggested that we sauté the steak with mushrooms and Suzette agreed.  So I sliced four mushrooms and two shallots and smashed a clove of garlic and Suzette sautéed that in a large iron skillet with the steak and a bit of garlic infused olive oil and about 1½ Tbsp. of butter.  After the steak had cooked for about ten minutes I added about 2 Tbsp. of red vermouth and we cooked it for about another five minutes, which cooked the steak to medium rare.  We heated several slices of lasagna in the microwave and I made a sauce for the artichoke using about ½ cup of mayonnaise, the juice of ½ lemon and a dash of dried dill.

We selected a bottle of Cutler Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (Sunflower Market $3.33 per bottle), which was very light and let the subtle flavors of the meat and mushrooms shine through.  The lasagna tasted better the second day.  We loved the meal.

A note - I found a kale leave that had fallen near the gas flame on the stove and dried out or become toasted.  I tasted it and it was crisp and yet chewy and I loved the flavor.  I will experiment with this concept. We have previously fried sage leaves in olive oil but I think I like the flavor of the dry roasted kale better than the oily flavor of the sage.

A very simple meal if you have the proper PPI.

Bon Appétit

May 6, 2012 The Best Lasagna Ever

May 6, 2012 The Best Lasagna Ever

We had a smoked salmon and kale and onion omelet for breakfast and a guacamole salad for lunch, so were not really hungry for dinner.

We worked in the garden a bit and among the tasks we did was to remove the tops that were starting to go to seed from the kale and parsley.

We decided to use some of the topped kale and parsley in lasagna for dinner.  So after lunch I thawed out three chicken and feta cheese sausages (Sunflower Market, sale priced at $1.99/lb) and cut the leaves off the stalks of the kale and then went back to work on my computer, while Suzette made a broth with chicken stock, carrots, onion and mushrooms. 

After Suzette started making the lasagna pasta and rolling it into sheets in the pasta machine.  She then went to Pro’s Ranch Market and bought some ricotta style cheese, a mozzarella style cheese, a red bell pepper and mushrooms.  When she arrived home she constructed the lasagna by brushing the lasagna dough with some of the fresh Spanish olive oil we bought in Spain last year and then made a three pasta layer lasagna with sliced mushrooms, kale, sautéed sausage, red bell pepper and mushrooms and ricotta and kale layered between the sheets of pasta with mozzarella sprinkled on top.  Suzette then filled the ceramic casserole with the broth and put the lasagna into the oven to bake.

The result was fabulous.  The lasagna exuded a light, deliciously balanced flavor without any flavor overpowering any other flavor, so that one tasted a cake like effect of pasta and ingredients expressing one flavor – Lasagna with the topping of mozzarella melted to a golden color giving an icing like experience.  I do not think I have ever had a better lasagna.

Suzette went to the basement and selected a Château Bailloux-Rival, Bordeaux Superior 2008 (Costco 1-16-11 $7.99) which was awarded a Medaille d’Or in Paris in 2010.
We loved the wine.  It had a hint of chalkiness and was a deep purple claret color with a rich grape flavor, not unlike a good Spanish Vino Tinto.  Suzette’s comment was, “Do we have any more bottles of this wine.”  A very high compliment to the wine by Suzette. 

We loved the simple dinner and drank the entire bottle of wine and were in heaven all the way.  We discussed how one could convert the recipe into a vegetarian dish by making a vegetable  broth and using more kale and ricotta or fresh local mozzarella in the filling and how this would be a good dish to serve at the June 23rd Field to Food dinner that will be held at the Center for Ageless Living this year.  This year’s theme for the Field to Food Dinner is E’scape the Ordinary” and will feature garlic and garlic scapes in a five course gourmet dinner featuring locally grown ingredients and wines.  The menu and tickets are available at  

I had a slice of PPI pecan praline cake with some cognac and a cup of Earl Grey tea later in the evening.     
                                     Bon Appétit

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May 2, 2012 Lamb Chops with Cous Cous and Kale

May 2, 2012 Lamb Chops with Cous Cous and Kale

When we walked in the garden this morning we discovered that our Kale is going to seed Suzette said we needed to be top it to keep it growing leaves, so in the afternoon I topped all the kale and parsley and stripped the central stem from the leaves of the kale and cut the leaves of the stalks of the parsley, which yielded about three cups of tender leaves.

I then cubed about 2 Tbsp. of onion and Suzette then sautéed it in butter for a few minutes and then added the kale and sautéed that for a few minutes and then added about 1 1/2 cups of PPI Cous Cous with kale and added a splash of chicken stock (liquid from Costco) and let the whole affair simmer for about five minutes and then turned off the heat.

While Suzette was cooking the Cous Cous I salted and peppered the four small lamb chops I had thawed out.  Suzette then grilled them on the BBQ grill outside.

When the chops were grilled to rare she brought them in and put them on a wooden cutting board and covered them with aluminum foil to allow them to set their juices for about fifteen minutes.

I went to the basement and since I love Spanish wine with lamb, I fetched a bottle of Monte Ducay Reserva 2005 (Trader Joe’s $5.99), a dark mercurial vino tinto from the Cariñena Denominacion de Origen that we had cellered for about six months.

We had a very satisfying dinner with lovely pinkish red cooked lamb and fresh greens in our cous cous.  As I said before cous cous benefits from the addition of other ingredients.

Bon Appétit