Monday, September 30, 2013

September 27, 2013 Dinner Party at Cynthia and Ricardo’s House Grilled Salmon, Salad and Spaghetti Squash

September 27, 2013 Dinner Party at Cynthia and Ricardo’s House Grilled Salmon, Salad and Spaghetti Squash

On Saturday morning Cynthia called to tell us that there was going to be a music event at the Art Museum in celebration of the Afro-American Art exhibit from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. and that they were going.  I told her we would love to join them at the Museum but Suzette was working and we would be late.  I then asked them if they had plans for dinner and they said, “No.”  So we decided to have dinner together.   Cynthia and I decided that Suzette and I would go to Costco at 5:00 p.m. and purchase some fish to grill and bring a bottle of wine and come over at 6:30 p.m.  Cynthia said she would fix the rest of the meal.
Luke had arrived at 2:00 a.m. this morning from his trip to Hawaii and we talked until 3:00 a.m. so he slept late.  We all went to the Growers’ Market at around 9:30 a.m. with Luke.  I bought a couple of delicata squashes from his classmate from Sarah Lawrence, Marjorie Sterling of Sterling Farms.  Suzette bought three dozen ears of corn from the Schwieb Farms in Moriarty for her Camino Real menu for the weekends of October 9th – October 26th and then left us to go work in Los Lunas. 
Luke and I returned home and made brunch.  Luke cut up a Mexican Squash and I picked a yellow onion, small yellow cherry tomatoes and lettuces from the garden, including several leaves of Red Giant Mustard.  Luke sautéed the diced squash with some onion and turmeric, while I made a salad with the sliced fresh onion, tomatoes, lettuces and cucumber from our garden, plus some chopped avocado and I dressed it with tarragon vinaigrette.  We ate our lovely brunch in the gazebo.
Luke made arrangements to go to Santa Fe to meet a friend, so I drove him to Flying Star at around 3:30.  Suzette came home at 4:30, so I called Ricardo and told him that we would not make it to the Museum but would see them at 6:30 p.m.  At 4:30 I chilled a bottle of Wellington 2011 Sauvignon Blanc.  Around 5:30 p.m. Suzette and I drove to Costco and we decided upon a wild caught Coho Salmon filet ($9.99/lb.).  We also bought portabella mushrooms, lemons and asparagus and one bottle each of a Brunello from Montalcino ($27.99) and a French Haut-Medoc ($12.99).

At 6:30 we arrived at Cynthia and Ricardo’s house.  Cynthia had laid a table of appetizers, including chopped artichoke hearts, a black and green olive medley, and wedges of a triple cream brie and Danish Rosenborg blue cheese and slices of toasted bread.  She was baking a large spaghetti squash on a baking pan in the oven that Ricardo and she had bought at the Grower’s Market and there was a lovely salad made with greens and green bell pepper and small red tomatoes from their garden and wonderfully fresh sunflower sprouts from the Grower's Market.  We put the salmon in their fridge and we went out to the patio where they had set a table for four on their raised patio overlooking their horno fire place, garden and back yard and ate appetizers.  

The best part of the meal was probably a wonderful tuna fritter appetizer Cynthia made with PPI tuna, onion, basil and garlic risotto.  She rolled the risotto into balls and coated the balls with panko and fried the pankoed balls in about 1/2 inch of oil to crisp the outsides and heat them throughout.  She served the tuna fritters with a creamy tartar sauce with pieces of spinach in it.  They were great and very Spanish.
While we sat, nibbled and sipped red wine, Ricardo went to Lowe’s to get an axe handle and when he returned, he chopped wood for a fire. After he got back, we looked at the garden and Cynthia found a three inch long caterpillar and tossed it in the fire place.  Cynthia suggested that we grill the salmon with butter and lemon.  We asked if they had a 1 X 6 board and Ricardo produced one from their wood pile that was about 13 inches long, so I placed the salmon skin side down on the board and cut the salmon to the length of the board and put sprigs of fresh tarragon, butter and slices of lemon on the fish and Ricardo, Cynthia and Suzette took it to the grill and Cynthia removed the baked squash from the oven.

After about fifteen minutes, Ricardo peeled the spaghetti squash out of its shell into a large serving bowl and the salad was dressed.  Cynthia brought a lovely light tartar sauce she made with fresh basil to the table.  When the fish was deemed ready, the board was removed to a steel baking pan and brought to the table and I cut sections from the board and served each person a slice of fish topped with a lemon slice.  The fish was pink throughout, but retained its moistness and was not charred at any point because I had pushed its edges onto the board and Suzette had turned the heat in the grill down so it stopped the board from burning, a very successful effort.

We drank the 2011 Wellington Sauvignon Blanc with the wood plank grilled salmon, spaghetti squash and salad and Suzette and I discussed how this meal expressed all the characteristics of California Cuisine; no sauces or complex preparation, each ingredient prepared simply and good California wine.     

We had brought a bag of banana chocolate chip cookies we had made Friday night, so Ricardo filled small ramekins with Hagen Daz tres leches and vanilla ice cream and made a pot of manzanilla/chamomile hot tea and brought out a bottle of Benedictine liquor.  Cynthia and Ricardo lit the fire and we drank cups of tea and ate ice cream and sipped Benedictine and watched the fire from the patio.  When we finished our dessert, we moved near the fireplace and continued sipping Benedictine and talking until around 10:30 p.m. when we all got sleepy.
Bon Appétit     




Friday, September 27, 2013

September 26, 2013 New Recipe - Scampi with orrechiette pasta, onion, Japanese peppers and green beans in a pesto white wine sauce

September 26, 2013 New Recipe - Scampi with orrechiette pasta, onion, Japanese peppers and green beans in a pesto white wine sauce

This was a fabulous new recipe Suzette made. I looked for scallops in the freezer and only found large 16-20 count shrimp, so I thawed them out. When Suzette came home we met with the Five Day Kitchen remodeling crew and then at 5:15, when they left, I mentioned that I had time to eat before I had to leave for book club at 6:40. I showed Suzette the shrimp and mentioned that we could make them with the PPI pasta in pesto sauce. We could not find the pasta in pesto sauce so I mentioned that we had frozen fresh orrechiette pasta that we had made a few weeks ago. Suzette said she would make a dish with the shrimp. While I peeled and deeply deveined the 16 large shrimp so their top and sides would pop open when sautéed, Suzette went to the garden and picked several of the long, skinny, sweet Japanese peppers we grew this year and thinly sliced 2 Tbsp. of yellow onion and snapped the ends off and then chopped into 1 inch pieces a handful of green beans and the peppers into ¼ inch long pieces.

When I brought in the shrimp, the onion and chiles were already sautéing in a large skillet with butter and olive oil. Then Suzette added the string bean pieces and asked me to peel and press some garlic into the skillet. I peeled 4 small cloves of garlic from our garden and pressed it into the sauté pan. Then Suzette asked for some white wine and the only white wine we had for cooking was an PPI bottle of almond champagne that had turned flat and tasted like sherry (bad to drink, great to cook with), so we added it (about 1/3 cup) to the skillet. Suzette then added about three Tbsp. of her homemade pesto to the sauce and we boiled the orrechiette in a separate pot. Suzette thought the sauce was too thick so she added some water to thin it and then added the shrimp. I opened a newly purchased bottle of 2012 Le Pont Bandol rosé from Lauris, France (Appellation Controlle Bandol). Bandol is one of the most famous rosé producing areas in France. I bought the 2012 Le Pont Rosé at Total Wine using a 15% off coupon for purchases of over $100.00 and its regular mix six Dollar-Off discount, which reduced it from its regular price of $17.99 to $15.33; a wonderful bargain for this wine. But the bargain is in the tasting and when Suzette and I opened it and drank it with the sautéed shrimp in pesto sauce, not only did its steely gray pink color match the color of the shrimp but its tannins, elegantly reserved fruit, and minerality complemented the rich buttery shrimp and pesto sauce. I loved the great dish Suzette had fixed.


We cut the orrechiette and shrimp in half to allow the thicker parts of the pasta to soften by coming into contact with the warm sauce. At 6:40 I grabbed a bottle of Bougrier Chenin Blanc, also bought at Total Wine as part of the 8 bottle lot of wine in which I bought the three Bandol Roses and five Bougrier Chenin Blancs (the 2011 Bougrier Chenin Blanc regularly sells for $8.99 but, with the discount, cost $7.66) and ran outside to meet Charles palmer to go to Book Club.

Bon Appétit

Thursday, September 26, 2013

September 25, 2013 El Farol Restaurant and Chile and Wine to the Trade Wine Tasting

I have been writing less lately because my laptop is not working well and will not convert my text to the blog properly and even worse, will not import pictures into the blog. I will work on this problem, but in the meantime I am using Suzette’s old Dell computer and seeing if its ancient technology will do the job. Today was a great day. We went to Santa Fe for a meeting at 12:00 and then went to El Farol for lunch. El Farol is one of the landmark restaurants in Santa Fe. It sits near the corner of Monte Sol on Canyon Road and has been serving Spanish Tapas for over ten years. I have a watercolor of folks dancing from the 70’s and I remember a wonderful dish of baked enchiladas I had there in the early 70’s. We went because El Farol serves one of Suzette’s favorite tapas, an avocado half battered in corn meal and deep fried and filled with pico de gallo and garnished with a chili crema dressing.



Today we sat in the outdoor patio facing Canyon Road. Suzette ordered the Tuna Salad ($16.00) because they were out of Halibut and her favorite avocado tapa ($7.75). I ordered a bowl of Posole clam chowder. I asked the waitress if the clam chowder was out of a can and she assured me that it was made fresh in the kitchen every morning. When it arrived I was impressed, especially after just having eaten real clam chowder in Maine. The bowl was filled with fresh corn kernels, whole baby clams, onion, small pieces of fresh a red chile, probably Serrano, and posole in a milk base broth. I was amazed and charmed by the use of posole instead of potatoes. Suzette’s salad was brought first and it had a piece of tuna taken from the end of the steak where the white tendons meet and it was inedible. I encouraged her to send back the tuna salad and she did. When the dish was prepared again with a proper piece of lightly seared tuna it was delicious. They used an interesting reduced balsamic and seeded Dijon mustard dressing on the salad that I liked a lot. Suzette had a glass of Burgen’s Albarino ($9.00) and I drank water because I knew that we were just minutes away from a wine tsunami. I was uncertain about the kitchen and still a little hungry after my bowl of soup and a small plate of Suzette’s tuna salad, so I ordered a flourless chocolate torte with a cherry port wine sauce ($8.00). The torte was flourless and really just a slab of baked chocolate fudge on a small plate with a sauce mad from soaking dehydrated cherries in port and a small mound of whipped cream, probably out of a can. Very uninteresting. This proved to me that the kitchen at El Farol is just going through the motions of cooking and not really stretching to create interesting food. It has the history and location to be a favored tourist restaurant and unfortunately has fallen into that category.

At 3:00 p.m. we drove to the Eldorado Hotel for the Chile and Wine event. This is a unique event that is put on each year by the trade for the trade. What I mean by that is that the Chile and Wine Festival draws producers and their wines from all over the world. They come or their importers or their distributors bring the wines for tasting. There is a wine tasting, usually on Wednesday afternoon in the large ball room at the Eldorado where wine shops, liquor stores and restaurants can come and try the wines. If you like the wine, you get the name of its New Mexico distributor and some literature or a link to its website or an offer of information to be sent to you, so you can buy the wine. Suzette’s Greenhouse Bistro is introducing a new menu in October, so she was looking for some new wines to serve and we were diligently tasting as many of the hundreds of wines that we had yet to try to see if we could find some wonderful wines that were not too expensive, that could be served by the glass at the Bistro. As you can imagine there was lots of selling and tasting. Anything you asked to try was gladly poured into your glass. Our favorite was a new importer (M Imports) of wines and ports from Portugal. We were looking for a sweet wine and we found a great Muscat Canelli made by Kendall Jackson. There was also a new lovely product. A real Bellini made by the grandson of the creator of the Bellini in Venice in a handsome 250 ml bottle.

I said hello to Josh Jensen, Owner of Calera and congratulated him for being featured on the cover of this month’s Wine Spectator and tasted a new wine, Ravn?.

Here is the Calera story:
 Calera is a vision, and Calera’s wines truly express the sense of place. Rather than follow the recommended path, Josh Jensen became a pioneer in search of the perfect spot on the globe to grow grapes. Taking his cue from the great domaines of Burgundy which have grown grapes in limestone soil for centuries, he set out in search of the perfect spot in California to create wines unique to the world but in the style of the greatest wines of France. Site selection was vital as he ventured off the grid to plant on the site of an old limekiln in the Gavilan Mountains of California. Today Calera wines still express that pioneer spirit and are revered the world over. We are proud to report that even Robert Parker is convinced: "Calera is one of the most compelling Pinot Noir specialists of not only the New World, but of Planet Earth."

We said hello to Suzette's main distributor, Bacchus Wines and Spirits, which is a division of Southern Wine and Spirits, one of the two biggest distributors in New Mexico. National is the other one. This year I was impressed with how many good new wines National is distributing. Wine distribution falls into two main categories. There are small companies that own one or several properties that produce a small line of wines like Calera or Ridge from in one distinct area. Then there are the huge wine producing companies that produce in several continents and several areas in one main area, like Drouhin, that produces mainly in Burgundy and Oregon. We did not taste every wine because there were five to ten wines at every one of the over 80 booths. How could you? But it was fun and we made it home alive.

We were a little hungry when we arrived home, so we prepared a PPI meal of Ratatouille and Suzette heated up some of the PPI roasted chicken, broccoli and potatoes from last nights meal at the Palmers. We drank water with the meal.

Bon Appétit

Friday, September 20, 2013

September 19, 2013 Millennium 2000

September 19, 2013 Millennium 2000 I went to Pro’s Ranch Market in the morning and bought Mexican Squash ($.33/lb.), vine ripened tomatoes ($.33/lb.), ham ($.97/lb.), fideo for Suzette’s restaurant, a can of anchovies for cesar salad dressing and few lovely haricot vert string beans ($2.29/lb.). I intend to make calacitas with the old corn, onions, green chili and ham this weekend some time. Then I went home and after working for a while I made a ham sandwich and went to the UNM Art Museum for Robert “Chip” Ware’s lecture on the large Raymond Jonson Earth Rhythms Triptych in the current 75th Anniversary show. At 5:30 Suzette came home and we went to Poulin Design and Remodeling to discuss remodeling our kitchen. After that meeting we did not want to go home and cook and Suzette suggested eating Vietnamese food, so at 7:30 p.m. we drove to Millennium 2000. Suzette and I checked the board of Specials. She picked No. 10, stir fried beef and vegetables with flat rice noodles. I asked the proprietress what dish she liked the best and she said No. 7, Macaroni and tomato with beef, so although it did not sound appetizing I ordered it. Suzette’s dish was exactly as it was represented; a large array of vegetables (broccoli, snow peas, bamboo shoots, bok choy and carrot slices) with stir fried with sliced beef. My dish on the other hand was something quite unusual. It was ziti pasta sauced with a sort of catsup tomato and fish sauce on one side of the plate and on the other side of the plate a mound of sautéed pieces of thinly sliced beef and onions garnished with sprigs of cilantro. We enjoyed our meal and not having to cook and then went home to watch Jon Stewart and Colbert Report and go to bed. Bon Appétit

Thursday, September 19, 2013

September 18, 2013 Lunch – Azuma Dinner- Sautéed Pork Tenderloin, Eggplant, Onion and Pimiento

September 18, 2013 Lunch – Azuma Dinner- Sautéed Pork Tenderloin, Eggplant, Onion and Pimiento I rode this morning and got tired so I needed some protein. I called Robert Mueller who was up for lunch, so we met at Azuma for Chirashi Donburi. It was my usual 2 salmon, 2 tuna, 2 octopus 2 ultra white and 4 yellowtail slices on sushi rice with a shrimp two slices of omelet and two slices of daikon pickle on a bed of sushi rice in a box. I loved it and, more importantly, was re-energized. I thawed out a package of two pork tenderloins (Costco) two days ago, with a view to roasting them and having PPI pork for sandwiches for Globalquerque this weekend. I went to meditate and stopped at Lowe’s on the way home an ought an eggplant ($1.88/lb.) and five lb. of yellow onions ($.24/lb.). When I got home Suzette was not in the mood to cook, but I encouraged her and finally she said yes to doing a pork sauté with a pimiento pepper we had bought at the Farmers’ Market two weeks ago that was getting a little soft, one of the onions and a few strips of eggplant. She said we did not have olive oil, because we did not have any Costco Kirkland brand, but I found an open bottle of the beautiful Sleman’s olive oil from Chile that Ed and Michele gave us last Christmas in the pantry. Sleman’s is my favorite olive oil. It is smooth and flavorful with a hint of floral essence. I sliced four pieces of pork from the thinner end cutting diagonally to make a slightly parallel sided medallion and leaving the larger thicker, rounded ends to be roasted. I then peeled the skin top off the upper stem end of the eggplant and sliced off a wedge of it to make fried potato style slices and sliced the pimiento into thin slices and made slices of onion from 2/3 of an onion and Suzette put the onion, peppers and eggplant into a large skillet with some olive oil and started sautéing them. She and I each then cut a Gala apple into 8 wedges and put them into a ceramic casserole with one chopped onion. I then went to the garden and picked a stalk of sage and three or four stalks of oregano. We were loosely following the roasted pork recipe in our Tapa cookbook but instead of slow roasting at 225˚, Suzette covered the ceramic pan with aluminum foil and roasted the pork at 350˚ because it was already 9:00 p.m. and we wanted to finish roasting it before we went to bed. I plucked the leaves from the age and oregano and chopped them up and ended up with about ¼ cup of herbs. I spread 1/8 cup of the herbs in each of the sauté pan and the ceramic casserole. I then went to the basement to fetch a bottle of La Granja red Rioja wine (50% Grenache and 50% Tempranillo) and opened it and poured two glasses and handed one to Suzette. After ten to fifteen minutes the vegetables had softened in the pan and Suzette added the pork medallions to the sauté pan and in about ten more minutes we had a lovely dinner. This simple meal of sautéed onions, eggplant, pimiento pepper and pork is a complete dish because each of the ingredients complemented the other ingredients and personified the best of Mediterranean Cuisine; good fresh ingredients that complement each other cooked simply in good olive oil. Heaven. I had bought a baguette at my new favorite bakery, Fano’s Bakery Outlet on McLoed, after lunch. I cut four slices from the baguette and toasted them and put them on the table and we were ready to eat as we watched Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report. After dinner I sliced several slices of Manchego cheese and ate them on the two remaining slices of baguette with a few sips of wine. Tonight’s meal was a great example of how simple food cooked simply can make a lovely meal. After about one hour Suzette removed the roasted pork from the oven and after letting it cool, we put it in the fridge and were ready to make sandwiches for Friday night. I made chocolate chip cookies last night. So I now have enough food for both nights of Globalquerque; pork sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies. Bon Appétit

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September 14, 2013 New Recipe - Moussaka We drove to Santa Fe today to see the new Erin Currier show at Blue Rain and we went by Gerald Peters and Zaplin Lampert Gallery and spoke to Richard Zaplin a bit and said hello to Jim Parker and his wife Linda, who were there. Then we drove home and on the way discussed dinner. I had bought Chinese egg plants at Ta Lin ($1.49/lb.) and pork steaks at Pro’s Ranch Market ($.97/lb.) and a 10 lb. bag of potatoes ($1.99), so we discussed making an eggplant dish we had not made in while and quickly decided to make Moussaka, because we had lots of PPI béchamel sauce and milk and the tomato sauce she had made Thursday night and the pork and potatoes. When we arrived at home Suzette looked up a recipe on the internet posted by Peggy Lynninma. Here is the recipe. We did not have parsley, so we used celery leaves and lovage instead of 2 T of lovage and instead of fine herbs we used about 2 t. of a mix of Sumac, Feenegrek and Zaattaarr, which is a mixture containing roasted sesame seeds, Oregano, Thyme, and Sumac, that I bought a few years ago at the Middle Eastern Spice booth at the Flea Market next to the Opera in Santa Fe. Also, I had picked and de-stemmed and chopped up several cups of chard, so we put a layer of chard in the moussaka. Suzette sliced the eggplants and the potatoes and chopped the onion and I chopped up about 1 c. of pork steak and then de-boned and bagged the rest for future use and put it in the freezer. We have been eating tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden with many meals lately and this meal was no exception. Suzette sliced up a ripe tomato and I sliced up ½ cucumber and we dossed them with PPI tarragon vinaigrette as our salad. The ripe includes ½ cup of red wine. Suzette said do we have any Bull’s Blood, meaning a cheap Eastern European red. We did not but I found an equally inexpensive red, Cutler Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, which was a pretty close match to Bull’s Blood because the grape in Bull’s Blood is a relative of Cabernet Franc and the Cabernet Sauvignon grape is a hybrid of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. We also substituted Romano Pecorino for some of the 1 1/2 c. of Parmesan cheese. The moussaka was delicious with the red wine and tomatoes and cucumbers, especially since it was a chilly night. Bon Appétit

September 13, 2013 The Green House Bistro’s new prix fixe is a fine dining experience at a good price.

September 13, 2013 The Green House Bistro’s new prix fixe is a fine dining experience at a good price. For food that is so imaginative and creative and free flowing in its design, just like a rift of jazz improvisation played by a virtuoso grabs hold of you, try Green House Bistro’s $18.00 prix fixe dinner. The dinner started with a garden vegetable and lettuce salad dressed with a slightly sweet dressing juxtaposed with a note of edginess created by the addition of habanero chili. For a few dollars extra, I could not resist the cream of squash soup served I a mason jar and generously dosed with fresh herbs from the Bistro’s garden and served with fresh Zucchini squash croutons. I put bits of Bistro’s fresh homemade crusty sourdough bread into the soup bowl to add crunchiness and enjoyed the soup’s rich herbiness. The entree was entirely improvisational; a lamb roulade rolled in an herb infused panko coating and slow cooked at 184˚ in a soubise bath until the meat was thoroughly cooked and infused with the herbs’ flavor. Then the lamb roll was sliced and the sliced roulade was laid on a bed of fluffy couscous mixed with slices of steamed zucchini and garnished with a molé tuille and lemon comfit (lemon peel stewed in sugar and herbs). I drank a glass of Drouhin Beaujolais ($9.50) that complemented the herb suffused lamb and then mixed bits of lamb with the lemon comfit and couscous and mole tuille for additional flavor improvisations. Finally, when I thought I was completely satiated with exciting flavor improvisations, my senses were assaulted again when dessert was served; a pumpkin muffin made with gluten free ingredients flavored with allspice and nutmeg topped with a creamy spice infused butter cream icing served on a plate drizzled with a thick caramel sauce; a perfect ending to a lovely meal; light and flavorful, like eating a pumpkin cake without the heaviness of wheat flour. The Bistro’s new Executive Chef Angeloe Dixon hit all the high notes from start to finish with this meal. Dixon says there are more surprises coming in October when the Bistro’s new menu is unveiled. I think you will enjoy trying his improvisational exciting creations utilizing the fresh organic ingredients of the Bistro’s organic gardens. Bon Appétit

September 12, 2013 P’tit Louis Bistro

September 12, 2013 P’tit Louis Bistro What a wonderful evening. Cynthia and Ricardo and we decided to go to the 50th Anniversary opening of the UNM Art Museum and then P’tit Louis for dinner. I mentioned the plans to Mike on Wednesday when we went to La Salita for the first time in about three months and he said he would join us for dinner. We went to their house for a drink at 6:00 and after trying a new Scotch we drove to the Museum. The Art Museum was remodeled about one or two years ago to add another floor of space. It now is on three and one-half floors. Three of the Gallery spaces are named for seminal figures in the history of UNM’ art department, Raymond Jonson (Lower Gallery), Van Deren Coke (a side gallery a few steps up from the main gallery), and Clinton Adams (Upper Gallery). The Raymond Jonson Gallery - There are nearly 2,400 artworks in the Raymond Jonson Collection, which are divided into four distinct collections. The largest and most significant is the Jonson Reserve Retrospective Collection composed of over 600 paintings and drawings by Raymond Jonson selected by the artist in 1978 as most representative of his 65 year career. The next largest collection, the Raymond Jonson Estate Collection, consists of approximately 400 paintings that Jonson set aside to be sold in support of the permanent collection. The Other Artists Collection is made up of works by Agnes Martin, Elaine DeKooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Josef Albers, members of the Transcendental Painting Group (1938-1942), co-founded by Jonson and Taos painter Emil Bisttram, and many others. Finally, the Jonson Students Collection consists of artworks by many of the artist’s students during his 20 year tenure as professor of art at UNM (1934-1954). Jonson taught and lived at UNM for the latter part of his life. The Van Deren Coke Gallery (the new gallery) - The University of New Mexico Art Museum’s permanent photography collection includes some 10,000 photographs (by over 1,000 different photographers) and early cased objects, spans the entire history of the medium and constitutes, along with the print collection, the heart of the museum’s holdings. Begun in 1962 by Van Deren Coke, the museum’s first director, this significant collection is without question the foundation on which the museum’s reputation was built and rests to this day. It is the largest fine art photography collection in the state of New Mexico and one of the major collegiate collections in the country. Some of the renowned artists in the collection include: William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron, Nadar, Hill and Adamson, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Edward Steichen, Ansel Adams, Walker Evans, Diane Arbus, Henri Cartier-Bresson, August Sander, Laura Gilpin, Helen Levitt, William Eggleston, Cindy Sherman, John Coplan and Alex Soth, to name only a small selection. and the Clinton Adams Gallery - The UNM Art Museum is the archive for Tamarind Institute, founded in the 1960s by June Wayne (1918-2011) in Los Angeles, and accordingly collects and preserves multiple impressions of all lithographs executed at Tamarind from its early days in California to the present in Albuquerque. In addition, the museum holds and maintains the estate of Clinton Adams (1920-2002), which includes paintings and his graphic œuvre. Adams, who worked closely with June Wayne during the early genesis of Tamarind, eventually brought the lithography workshop to New Mexico under the umbrella of the university in 1969. He was an indefatigable artist and writer whose scholarship on both the history and technique of lithography was instrumental in renewing interest in and appreciation for lithography. Adams served as the director of Tamarind Institute from 1970-1985 and Dean of the College of Fine Arts at the university from 1961-1976. The five anniversary exhibitions included paintings from the permanent collection, works on paper and photos from the permanent collect (which included my favorite piece, a 1913 water color painted by Georgia O’Keefe from inside a tent when she was on her first trip to the Southwest), an exhibition of photographs made by Andy Warhol, an exhibition of Agnes Martin’s early works from 1947 to 1957 and a photography show of Martin Parr’s photos of people on beaches. Cynthia made a reservation for six for 8:15 at P’tit Louis. About 7:45 we had seen everything and took off for the restaurant in a petty heavy rain storm. The restaurant turned out to be a lovely small bistro, sort of a movie set version of a small French bistro, with glass mirrors with the prices of vin and a carte of the lunch specials written on them. I did not know what to expect. The last meal we had had at P’tit Louis was at its downtown location after it had opened the Nob Hill location and the food was terrible downtown; almost as if they abandoned the downtown location to persons who were not chefs and could not cook and did not pay any attention to ingredients. Thank goodness that chapter is closed and the Café Miche crew has taken over P’tit Louis’ downtown location. Shortly after we arrived, Mike and Heidi joined us. Heidi is a Biology graduate student at UNM studying cockroaches. Her thesis is identifying 39 additional species of cockroaches, which she claims are one of the most important components of life on earth because they are benign and do not interfere with humans and they clean up all the nasty stuff in the environment. I think she said she was going to Rutgers next year to finish her doctorate. She was very interesting, having been born in Rhode Island and spent her youth in Botwana. Our meal could not have been better. Our waiter, Alex, an energetic 50 year old African American and Ben, a Frenchman, who knew about wine and service provided great service. The menu was interesting and all of the dishes were well executed. Mike started with steak tartare and Suzette ordered it for an entrée. It was well prepared with egg, capers, mustard, pepper and chopped steak. I found it to be a little harshly seasoned with pepper, but Heidi enjoyed its bold flavor. Alex brought us a complimentary cheese sampler plate of the cheeses that the restaurant served garnished with several different chutneys. I enjoyed a goat gouda and a Spanish cheese, made with cow, sheep and goat milk. Ricardo and Cynthia started with a beet and goat cheese salad. Heidi ordered Moule Frites which appeared to be done well also. Cynthia and Ricardo both ordered the Special, Sea Scallops garnished with a béchamel sauce served on a pile of mashed potatoes. The béchamel tasted as if some of fish stock had been used to make it, quite nice. I ordered a filet mignon with a Sauce Perigueux served on a pile of mashed potatoes and four stalks of steamed asparagus, all bathed in sauce. Recipe Serves: 1 Ingredients: Goose fat as needed ½ c White wine 3 T Cognac 1 medium Onion, sliced 3 Shallots, chopped 3 Truffles 1 T Beef stock 1 T Flour Salt and freshly ground pepper Directions 1. Fry the shallots in some goose fat. 2. Add the wine and brandy and ignite. 3. In a different pan lightly brown the onion, adding a little beef stock. 4. Prepare a roux with more goose fat and the flour. 5. Stir in the onion and shallots with their liquid and simmer over a very low heat for an hour, stirring frequently. 6. Season with salt and pepper. 7. Dice the truffles into small pieces. 8. Strain the sauce, add the truffles and reheat for a few minutes. 9. NOTE: The single best-known and widely cooked recipe from this tradition of Perigord cooking is sauce perigueux, now an essential ingredient of many dishes and part of the repertiore of every French chef. 10. It is often, mistakenly, called Dorgogne sauce, sauce perigourdine, which obscures its origins in the capital of Perigord. 11. In culinary terms, it is very similar to a Madeira sauce with the addition of truffles. BENTLEY, James Life and Food in the Dordogne. New Amsterdam Books New York MM Format by John Hartman Indianapolis, IN 21 December 1996 Obviously there were not 3 truffles in my sauce but I swear there were truffles in the sauce and the sauce was garnished with slices of truffle; a very pleasing surprise for only $26.00. We requested and were brought glasses of house wine to try. We ordered carafes of house wine. Alex brought carafes of red, white and rosé and kept bringing wine and did not charge us. It turned into a very jolly group with banter among us and Alex, who was a dancer, so had lots to talk about with Ricardo. By 10:15 when we dispersed I felt like I had spent an evening in New York or Paris; seeing a great art opening and then meeting friends for a lovely meal on a rainy evening at a wonderful French Bistro. P’tit Louis is an immediate entry at the top of my favorite French bistros in Albuquerque. Bon Appétit P'tit Louis bistro 3218, Silver avenue SE Albuquerque, NM 87106 (505) 314-1110

Saturday, September 14, 2013

September 11, 2013 New Recipe - Crabmeat Mornay

September 11, 2013 New Recipe - Crabmeat Mornay

This morning I went to Pro's Ranch Market for their weekly produce specials and bought 9 avocados (4 for $.99), a couple of Hatch green chiles (3 lb. for $.99), pork steaks ($.97/lb.), large limes (3lb. for $.99), cilantro (4 bunches for $.99) and Michael's Mexican chips ($1.99 for 14 ounces).  There was a little coolness in the air and it looked and smelled like Fall because store employees were roasting green chili in the parking lot.

I went to meditate at 6:45 p.m. and returned home at 8:30 p.m. and was surprised when Suzette said, “Let’s cook dinner. We need to eat the crab.”  So I went to fridge and fetched about the two ounces of PPI sautéed salmon, the PPI crab cake, the PPI crab meat and the PPI béchamel sauce mixed with crushed panko we used for the crab cakes.
When we looked at the recipe for Crabmeat Mornay on page 69 of the Williamsburg Cookbook we were short some heavy cream, so I decided to use grated Swiss cheese which is an ingredient substituted for cream in Sauce Mornay contained in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking p. 61.

I combined two egg yolks and ½ cup of half and half in a bowl.  Then Suzette heated the PPI béchamel sauce and we added some half and half to the béchamel sauce to emulsify it and I added about two ounces of grated Swiss Gruyere cheese to it as a substitute for the heavy cream and to bring the sauce closer to the French version.  Then we combined the béchamel with the egg yolks and half and half and then flaked the crab cake and sautéed salmon into the sauce and added the approximately 1/3 lb. of fresh crab.  We ended up with a little less than the 1 lb. of crab meat required for the recipe but we were close and we had added some extra panko that provided filler for the dish. 

I preheated the oven to 400˚ and greased a small soufflé dish with butter and we laid the crab mixture into the dish and I grated about 1 ounce of parmesan and fresh tarragon leaves onto the top of it and we  put the chilled bottle of Cutler Creek Pinot Grigio into the freezer to chill further.   Suzette selected a lovely yellow tomato and a red tomato from our garden and I sliced them and then peeled on-half of a Japanese cucumber from our garden and de-seeded it and slice it and place cucumber and a few slices of avocado and the tomato slices on two plates.
In a few minutes when the oven was preheated, we placed the dish in the oven for twenty minutes at 400˚.  After 20 minutes the crabmeat had risen a bit but not yet browned.   Suzette said that the dish needed more time because we were at high altitude, so we let it bake for an additional ten minutes.

Finally Suzette declared it ready and scooped a couple of spoonsful of the crabmeat Mornay onto each dish and I poured glasses of Pinot Grigio and we had a lovely light summer evening meal with our delicious new recipe and fresh vegetables from our garden.

The Cutler Creek Pinot Grigio was exceedingly clean tasting and quite fruity so it enhanced rather than interfered with the delicate flavor of the crabmeat mornay.
Bon Appétit   

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 10, 2013 Grilled Rib Eye Steak with Baked Delicata Squash and sautéed Mushrooms and String Beans

September 10, 2013 Grilled Rib Eye Steak with Baked Delicata Squash and sautéed Mushrooms and String Beans

We are still into simple and flavorful.  I thawed out a bone in rib eye steak yesterday.  Saturday we bought a delicata squash at the Farmers’ Market and Friday I had bought about ½ pound of lovely tight white mushroom caps (Sprouts $2.99/lb.).
So tonight we decided to make our usual steak dinner.  Suzette,” the Great Grilletta” salted and peppered the steak and cut the delicata squash lengthwise and de-seeded it and saved the seeds for planting next spring.  Suzette then filled each cavity with four or five cloves of garlic, some chopped red onion and several pieces of butter and baked them in a 400˚ oven for about 45 Minutes.

I asked Suzette what she wanted to drink and he said, “A good red wine.”  So I went to the cellar and selected a bottle of 2007 Londer Vineyards Anderson Valley Pinot Noir that I immediately opened to allow to breath.  Pinot Noir usually is greatly improved by breathing for ½ hour. 


When Suzette put the steak on, she asked me whether I wanted to sauté the green string beans with the mushrooms or blanch them separately and I said, “Let’s do them together.”

So I sliced about five or six mushrooms into slices and Suzette put them in a skillet with butter and the green string beans and some red onion she had chopped and I sautéed those ingredients for a few minutes and then added ¼ cup of Amontillado sherry about 1/8 cup at a time about five minutes apart.  I then picked and de-stemmed the leaves from several stalks of fresh oregano (1 tsp.) from our potted plant in the dining room window because it was still raining outside and I did not want to get wet going to the garden and put them into the mushroom and string bean sauté. Then I fetched the small pitcher of PPI Béarnaise Sauce from the fridge and put it on the stove beside the skillet to come to room temperature but not melt.  
When Suzette brought the steak in from the grill, I sliced the steak and she plated each plate with one of the baked delicata squash halves and I put four pieces of steak on each plate and Suzette garnished one half of the steak slices with the mushroom and dabbed the other side with a spoonful of Béarnaise Sauce.   I poured glasses of wine and we were ready to eat.

 Two notes.  One:  The Londer Vineyards Pinot Noir wine was delicious but a relic of the past.  Larry and Shirlee Londer sold the Vineyards a couple of years ago, so each bottle we drink now is a rather nostalgic experience with memories of visiting and staying with them at the Vineyard and tasting their amazing pinot noir wine. Here is the story as told in Wine Spectator:  Mendocino Pinot Noir Specialist Londer Vineyards Is Closing

Couple moved to Anderson Valley in 2000 to pursue a passion for wine

Aaron Romano
Posted: May 6, 2013


After 12 years making Pinot Noir in Northern California, Larry and Shirlee Londer of Londer Vineyards in Anderson Valley have decided to close their winery's doors and exit the business at the end of May. The Londers, who turned a passion for wine into a second career, had been pulling back from the business in recent years.

The couple made their midlife move into winemaking in 2000, arriving in rural Anderson Valley via Albuquerque, N.M. Larry was a retired ophthalmologist who had been fascinated by wine since his days working in a store while attending medical school. The Londers decided that the coastal reaches of California were calling them from the desert, and with help and advice from vintner friend Dan Duckhorn, who founded Goldeneye Winery in Anderson Valley in the mid-'90s, found a property at the end of a twisting dirt road among towering redwoods.
The Londers planted 17 acres of Pinot Noir, 1 acre of Gewürztraminer and 5 acres of gardens, which Shirlee put to good use, making homemade raspberry jam and cured olives. Londer's wines debuted with the 2001 vintage, made from purchased grapes; the 2004 vintage was the first to include estate fruit. The tenacious couple went door to door trying to sell their wines, and thanks to winemaker Greg LaFollette's contacts, landed numerous placements throughout the Bay Area.

"It is great to be dumb, stupid and naive about the enormous risks involved when you make this life change into the wine business," Larry told Wine Spectator in 2005. "We made it based on a passionate desire to make great wine." Their passion showed in the glass—Londer Vineyards received two dozen classic and outstanding scores from Wine Spectator during their 12-year run.
In recent years, however, the couple stepped back from the business. They sold their vineyards in 2011, relocating to their native Colorado to be near family. The Londer brand was retained and they continued making wines, sourcing fruit from the new owners. General business manager Joe Webb, who had been with the company since 2007, oversaw management and winemaking, but the couple remained actively involved from afar.

The Londers will keep the winery open through May and plan to throw a farewell party for their fans.

I discovered Londer Vineyards Pinot Noirs around 2005, at the NMSO’s Vintage Albuquerque event where Larry was pouring his newly minted pinot noir.  I was blown away and we immediately became fans of his Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs and started traveling there to enjoy the area's wines and fresh seafood (Anderson Valley opens into the Pacific Coast about thirty miles west at Mendocino and is just over the ridge from the Pacific Ocean, that brings the damp moisture laden air that is so loved by coastal redwoods and wine plants).  If you like pinot noir, Anderson Valley Winegrowers host an annual Pinot Noir Festival every May that will allow you to taste all the pinot noirs produced in the Valley in one tasting.  It is my favorite wine event because of the wonderful quality without being pretentious or expensive.    

Two:  I was amazed by the consistency and flavor of the PPI Bearnaise Sauce.  I think I made it four to six months ago and it has been sitting in the fridge since then.  What was amazing is that while sitting in the fridge during that period of time the sauce has developed a richer, creamier consistency and more delicious flavor.  Some of the harshness of the vinegar used as an ingredient has moderated.  Suzette says, “It is because the vinegar preserves and prevents bacteria from growing in the sauce.”  Anyway, it was a delicious complement to the steak and mushroom and string beans.

After dinner, Suzette toasted slices of the baguette we bought at the Farmers' Market from Bosque Bakery ($2.50) and fetched the remaining triple cream Delice cheese from the fridge and we enjoyed slices of bread smeared with creamy cheese with the last sips of the Londer wine.
Bon Appétit

September 9, 2013 Crab Cakes with Corn on the Cob and fresh sliced Tomatoes

September 9, 2013 Crab Cakes with Corn on the Cob and fresh sliced Tomatoes

We wanted a simple light meal.  Suzette suggested making crab cakes with the can of crab I had bought at Costco about two weeks ago and eating it with an ear of Moriarty corn we bought at the Farmer’s market last Saturday.  I agreed immediately.
Suzette has a favorite recipe for Crab Cakes that she and her mother both use which is from the Williamsburg Cookbook, Page 68-69.



When the Crab cakes were formed Suzette put them into the fridge for a few minutes to allow the sauce and ingredients to emulsify a bit.  Then she sautéed them in butter and olive oil and she started a pot of water boiling to simmer the corn.  I shucked two ears of corn and slid them into the boiling water and then sliced one red and one yellow tomato from our garden and refreshed the tarragon vinaigrette dressing I had made for my salad at lunch and drizzled that over the sliced tomatoes that Suzette had arranged artistically on our plates.  When the corn and crab cakes was cooked, Suzette laid them on the plates and we were ready to eat. 

I opened a bottle of 2012 Whispering Angel rosé from Côtes de Provence (Costco $15.99) produced by Caves D’ Esclans, which is about the most I will pay for a rosé.  I consider it worth it for this bottle because it is the most elegantly light rosé that I am aware of available in this market for the price.  I love an elegantly clean French finish in my wines and Whispering Angel has every other rosé beat in that category.  If you ever want to drink a really light rosé with a dish such as fresh crab, Whispering Angel is  always a good choice.  

Bon Appétit

Monday, September 9, 2013

September 4, 2013 An Amazing Day of Food and Sightseeing in Boston Lunch – Quattro and

September 4, 2013 An Amazing Day of Food and Sightseeing in Boston   Lunch – Quattro and
Dinner- Du Midi

 Today was one of those whirlwind days packed full of great sights and food, as impressive as the food and sights of yesterday were unimpressive.

 Around 10:00 a.m. we started by talking to the concierge about restaurants.  He recommended Quattro for fresh contemporary Italian Cuisine in the North End and Du Midi as the favorite of the hotel’s Manager for French food near the hotel. 

 We then started our sightseeing by walking from the Revere Hotel to Copley Square near the beginning of the Freedom Trail.  The Freedom Trail is the self guided walking tour of sights associated with the American Revolution.  I waited at Copley Square surrounded by the First Public Library, the Old South Church, another church and the Copley Hotel, while Suzette and Willy walked to the Apple Store, so Willy could get a new charger and a European adapter for his new charger ($140). 

While Willy walked back to our room at the Revere Hotel to drop off his computer, Suzette and I got on the subway at Copley Square and went to Government Center to visit the Park Service Information Office, where I received another map of the Freedom Trail.  The Freedom Trail is marked by a line of red bricks bordered by gray granite bricks.  We then walked a short block to the nearby Faneuil Hall, where the Sons of Liberty met in the 1770’s to plan the Boston Tea Party and other Revolutionary actions.

Then we walked next door to the Quincy Market and waited for Willy at Ned Devine’s Irish Pub, where Suzette drank a Red Ale made exclusively for the Freedom Trail by Samuel Adams Brewery Co. and I drank a Mangers Irish Apple Cider in honor of Willy’s trip to Ireland.  

When Willy arrived, we followed the red brick marked trail across the I-93 freeway to the North End of Boston and soon arrived at Hanover Street where there are many Italian restaurants and bakeries.  We saw many names we had seen in the Guestbook Guide and soon found Quattro.  We made a tentative reservation and then walked on to the lovely small square where Paul Revere’s house is located (built in 1680) and through the narrow historic streets of the North End to the Old North Church where the two lanterns told Paul Revere that the English were coming to Lexington and Concord.

We then toured a colonial house beside the Church with a printing shop and chocolate manufacturing area.  This was the shop in which the original copy of the Declaration of Independence was printed.  It currently contained a 1700’s Revolutionary era printing press that the lady who was demonstrating the printing techniques said was in all respects identical to the original Guttenburg press, except the press lever that pressed the weight was metal instead of wood.  She spread ink onto lamb skin covered sticks over wadding and inked the type face and printed a facsimile copy of the Declaration of Independence.  Then we walked through a door into the other side of the shop to a table where chocolate processing was demonstrated.   We were given a sip of hot chocolate laced with orange, fennel, chili, salt, pepper, and other herbs, which is the way people took their chocolate in the revolutionary era.

After our chocolate experience we walked back to Quattro and were seated at a window table.  The menu was interesting: I chose octopus salad, Willy ordered a lovely fig, feta and arugula pizza and Suzette ordered ground spit roasted chicken filled ravioli.  We ordered a bottle of 100% Cortese 2011 Gavi Rene di Basasiolo white wine grown on the Niovi Ligure Hillsides.

 Slices of flattened loaf of dark bread filled with olives, baked at a bakery owned by the same food group at Quattro, were served with a lovely olive oil infused with garlic cloves.  Soon we were dipping and nibbling dark heavy bread and sipping wine.

When the Octopus salad arrived, it was drizzled with olive oil and parsley flakes with large chunks of what appeared to be pressure cooked boiled octopus, blanched string beans and chunks of sun dried tomatoes and halved fresh cherry tomatoes, roasted wedges of potato and marinated red onion threads. 


Then the pizza arrived crispy and slightly charred, topped with a white sauce, slices of feta and parmesan and a pile of baby arugula.  

Then the ravioli arrived.  It was the least interesting dish flavor-wise but the most authentic, stuffed with ground spit roasted chicken and sauced with a wild mushroom ragu and garnished with roasted tomatoes.  The mushroom in the mushroom cream sauce seemed to be sliced lobster mushrooms.


We loved today’s meal as much as we hated the lunch yesterday.

After lunch we walked through the North End, stopping at an Italian bakery for a Florentine, on our way to the bridge over the Charles River that led to the Navy Yards where ships have been fitted out and refurbished from the 1700’s through the 1970’s.  The Navy Yard has been turned into a National Historic Site where the USS Constitution and WWII SST and a destroyer are berthed.  We took a tour of the USS Constitution, which was one of the original six ships built for the original U.S. Navy in 1797 that saw engagements in the War of 1812.  The ship has been restored to its original condition, minus all the ship’s stores and crew, but it has all its cannons and rigging and one or two sails.   


I loved it; the open deck was lined with cannons and there was a gun deck below the top deck and a third level that was for eating and sleeping in hammocks with less than 5 feet of clearance in height in places.  The ship’s name of Old Ironsides was derived from its sandwiched American oak hull that deflected cannon balls (clearly the highlight of my visit to Boston).  


We then walked through the Navy Yards to a ferry that took us across the Inner Harbor to the Aquarium, where we caught a Green line subway back to the hotel.  At the hotel, we washed up and changed for the evening.  Then at 5:00 Suzette and I left for the Fine Arts Museum and Willy returned to Apple store to try to get a back up cable for his I Phone 5 instead of the I Phone 4 one he had gotten this morning.
The Fine Arts Museum was amazing also.  It has a superb collection of art from all periods except perhaps American Modernism.  Two Georgia O’Keefes, Two Marsden Hartleys, etcetera.  But lots of Albert Bierstadts, including the amazing “Storm in the Mountains”  (,  a room full of Winslow Homers, including “Boys in a Pasture”,  a bunch of large format original prints from "Birds of America" by James Audubon and several of the smaller format versions of Birds of America in their original bound volumes.  We finally decided to limit our tour to Contemporary, European Impressionism, Millet's Barbizon School, Pre-Raphaelites and Chinese and Japanese art.  I saw the most beautiful Peach Bloom glazed ink jar and vase I have ever seen and then the best Buddha statute I have ever seen.

Then we went to the Impressionist hall and saw some great Claude Monets and Paul Cezannes, but we could walk no farther.


 Finally at 8:30 we left the Museum and returned to the Arlington station and walked the block to Boylston St. and then beside the Boston Commons, past beautiful Haute Couture shops such as, Christolfe, and Hermés, and soon arrived at Du Midi.

Du Midi's menu and wine list were amazing.  It is hard to decide.  After studying the extensive menu and wine list, the only thing I was sure about was that we wanted the chocolate soufflé ($10.00).  I decided to order the raw scallop Live Sea Scallop, Cucumber, Coriander, Freeze Dried Corn, Shaved Foie Gras Torchon  $ 15) and a Seared Duck Breast, Chickpea Croquette, Black Olive, Almonds, Black Mission Figs, Lavender Jus   ($30.00).   Suzette ordered Slow-Cooked Crispy Pork Belly, Lentilles de Puy, Parsnip Purée, Pork Jus  $ 14 and Willy ordered Braised Lamb Neck, Goat Cheese Polenta, Morels, English Peas, Favas, Persillade $ 30.  Since the menu items were beginning to add up and the cheapest bottle of wine on the extensive Wine Spectator awarded wine list was around $50.00, Suzette and I decided to order individual glasses of wine and Willy ordered another Dark and Stormy (Dark Rum and Ginger Beer).

I cannot begin to describe how delicious the food was.  When asked about the foie gras torchon, our knowledgeable waitress described that it was foie gras that was wrapped in cheese cloth that was then twisted tightly until most of the fat was squeezed out of the foie gras and then it was placed in the freezer to chill.  Then the frozen foie gras was grated onto the top of the scallop dish and garnished with frozen kernels of sweet corn.

When I tasted the pork belly, I was amazed that it was pork comfit and the most tender piece of pork I have ever eaten.     I also loved the small Lentiles de Puy with it and the parsnip puree.

Willy’s lamb neck dish was the most interesting dish; it was slow roasted and the variety of ingredients, Goat Cheese Polenta, Morels, English Peas, Favas, Persillade; wonderful.


I loved my beautifully prepared duck breast with its lavender jus was very classical but nice, except for the unusual garbanzo puree croquettes set on slices of Mission figs.  The sauce was a demi-glace infused with fruit flavors and lavender; elegantly refined in every respect.

Finally, the chocolate soufflé came with a small pitcher of crème anglais.  We ordered a glass of Ferrand Amber cognac ($16.00) and opened the soufflé and poured the crème anglais into the soufflé that was perfectly cooked; creamy dark chocolate in the center and crisp on the edges; a perfect ending to a perfect meal.  The cognac was a generous glass that lasted beyond the end of Suzette and my tastes of the soufflé.

I have not had so perfect and interesting a meal since the Gramercy Tavern meal in NY for Rebecca’s graduation in May.  In fact this was the best French meal I have had in several years.  We did not do a full five or six course meal, but everything was exquisitely conceived and executed in a completely classical manner and sharing a seafood and a pork comfit appetizer and a duck and lamb entrée and a dessert seemed like a perfectly balanced meal.

 Bon Appétit