Saturday, August 30, 2014

August 29, 2014 Appetizers in Garden and La Merienda Dinner at Los Poblanos for Suzette’s Birthday

August 29, 2014  Appetizers in Garden and Dinner at Los Poblanos  for Suzette’s Birthday

Mike and Kathryn were coming by at 5:30 for appetizers, so at 4:00 I drove to Bosque Bakery and bought three day old baguettes for $1.25 each (half price).  Kathryn commented, “Geeks bearing Gifts”, as Mike unpacked the back pack he was carrying filled with bottles of wine.  We stored the wine for Monday evening and opened the can of foie gras and bottle of fig confit Mike and Kathryn had given us at Christmas and plated those with the last of the Le Delice cheese.  I cut and toasted slices of baguette and Bosque’ rye bread that we had bought at the Farmer’s Market last week and took them to the garden.

We sat in the shade at the small table at the east end of the garden, which gave us the longest view of our yard with its new orchard area addition.

I opened a bottle of Guadalupe Vineyards Muscat and then a bottle of Hungarian Tokjai 5 pts. And we nibbled toasted bread slices smeared with the foie gras and fig confit or cheese and talked as we sipped the sweet wines for about 1 hour.

We had made a reservation at Los Poblanos for dinner at 7:45 and since Mike and Kathryn also had a dinner commitment, at around 7:15 we said goodbye and drove to Los Poblanos to celebrate Suzette’s Birthday.

When we arrived we walked through the woods and pond with it huge lotus plants to the dining room in the Inn.  Wednesdays through Saturdays the Inn serves

La Merienda Dinner

Open Wednesday – Saturday by reservation.
Wednesdays through Saturdays we offer our guests the option of ordering evening meals from our La Merienda menu. The menu changes seasonally, and features artisan ingredients from our farm and local growers. In addition, guests can choose from select beverages such as our signature lavender lemonade, Blue Sky sodas, or order from our beer and wine list. Vegetarian friendly.

We were seated in the small but lovely dining room and about ten minutes later were shown to a table on the outside patio as we had requested.  The menu was not very extensive but was interesting.
Suzette chose a bowl of cold corn chowder for her first course that creatively combined fresh kernels of corn and small cubes of potato floating in a creamy amalgam of creamed corn held together with a béchamel sauce or perhaps potato flour or corn starch, garnished with very picante fried strips of Los Poblanos' green chili dusted in flour (Penny Rembe told me they harvested and roasted 1200 pounds of green chili this year). 

I ordered a glass of Meiomi pinot noir because Keith Gilbert recommended it last night at my Book Club meeting.   Here is some information on the wine from the winery:

Our Vineyards
Where does Meiomi come from? Well, it comes from a series of vineyards all selected by Joe Wagner, Winemaker & Viticulturist for Belle Glos and Meiomi. Each vineyard is chosen for its unique flavors, textures and aromas. Bucking tradition, this Pinot Noir is a blend of multiple vineyards stretching along the California coast starting from Sonoma, to Monterey, and last but not least...Santa Barbara.
Each of the vineyards within these three appellations are in Region I climates, designated by UC Davis as the optimal climate to grow this temperamental variety ...we couldn't agree more. Each unique area yields fruit that is distinct in character and style. The individual characteristics of each vineyard combine in one blend to enhance Meiomi's broad flavor profile and allow us to consistently craft a balanced Pinot Noir bursting with aromatics, mouthfeel and depth of flavor, every year, regardless of vintage.

My first sip of Meiomi overwhelmed me with flavors of jammy fruit, a light cranberry acidity and some spiciness.  We both tasted it and our shared conclusion was this was a huge pinot noir, not unlike an Archer’s Summit, which is Keith Gilbert’s favorite.   We asked our waiter about sourcing it and he said it was distributed in New Mexico by National and can be bought at Total Wine, where he used to work.  It is great to have knowledgeable wait staff.  

Suzette ordered a glass of German Riesling.  I took a sip of it with the corn chowder and it had a pleasing lemony citrus flavor and was not too sweet.  The wine menu was very pleasant with lots of good choices of wine as was the food menu.

I selected a smoked pork belly served with spinach on a corn cake and garnished with fresh apricot compote.  We started with a bowl of cold corn chowder, which was a new one on me.  The corn chowder was chowdery with creamed corn mixed with a sauce bechamel garnished with fried strips of fresh green chili that were so hot they were inedible.

 Suzette chose a house special of fresh halibut served with fresh squashes and cherry tomatoes for her entree that looked great and tasted wonderful laid on a slice of sauteed pitti pan squash with a bit of spinach and garnished with a fresh tomato colis.

We both enjoyed our entrees.  I had never had smoked pork belly and found it interesting although the smoking did dry the meat out a bit, which is good or bad depending upon your attitude about eating fat. I had previously eaten pork belly at Suzette’s Greenhouse Bistro and Bakery in Los Lunas that had been cooked with the  sous vide method, which retains all of its internal juices and in Boston Suzette ordered it and it was prepared confit style which makes it very tender and juicy.  The smoking took away some of those juices and imparted a very smoky flavor, which imparted a very different texture to the meat.  

When I tasted the smoky, yet moist pork that I was struck by the realization of the concept behind the food at Los Poblanos; to as closely as possible replicate the foods and styles of cooking of the traditional ingredients found in New Mexico’s Middle Valley using as many of the food stuffs produced at Los Poblanos’ Farm and locally.  For example, smoking pork has been a traditional method of preserving meat for hundreds of years in this area.  It is actually a more challenging task to create a delicious meal using only traditional food stuffs and cooking techniques than to utilize all the fancy new cooking techniques and ingredients.   I realized Los Poblanos had achieved its goal as I examined the plate in front of me, with its combination of smoked local pork belly, served with fresh local greens on a fresh corn and green chili pancake, garnished with fresh apricot compote made from fresh local apricots.  The corn pancake infused with bits of green chili and spinach and fresh corn kernels was wonderful, soft and filled with fresh spinach and corn kernels.

Pork Belly on Corn pancake with spinach garnished  with apricot compote 
I really enjoyed combining bits of the smoked pork with bits of the excellent corn cake, with bits of fresh steamed spinach and apricot compote.   This meal with its traditional food stuffs prepared in the highest culinary order as one can imagine in this traditional setting spoke to the historic position that Los Poblanos  holds in New Mexico’s food tradition.

  It is hard to balance the competing demands of creating interesting modern cuisine with traditional food stuffs and preparation techniques, but Los Poblanos has done an admirable job.  It has been recognized as one of the Top 10 Hotel for Food Loversby Bon Appétit Magazine | 2013 and was selected by diners at Open Table as the diners’ choice winner in Albuquerque.  If you have not been to this historic estate originally built in 1934 by the Simms/McCormicks with all of its own self-contained food production facilities, not unlike Winterthur in Delaware (Duponts) or Stone Barns in New York (Rockefellers) although perhaps on a slightly smaller scale, you owe to yourself to explore its rich history and enjoy the bounty of its gardens in the restaurant.  The Rembe family has done an amazing job of rehabilitating and breathing life into this historic estate, which now contains the 34 acre core of the original 800 acre estate.

Penny Rembe hosted us to the wine and dessert.  After we finished our entrees and sipped the last of our glasses of wine, we were served flutes filled with beautiful buttery smooth Cazanove Champagne with the chocolate dessert we had ordered. 

The dessert is hard to describe, so here is a photo of it.

Chocolate dessert with Bottle of Champagne Cazanove
The Birthday Girl confronting champagne and dessert

The dessert actually was my favorite part of the meal, perhaps because the pastry chef, not constrained by any local food traditions, created a stack of fresh raspberry and chocolate ganache layers with layers of chocolate mousse and strawberries topped with a soft crumbly round chocolate French style macaron/macaroon and held together with chocolate meringue breadsticks on end and supported by a slather of thick chocolate sauce with a crumble of chocolate meringue on the side.  We deconstructed the dessert pretty quickly and enjoyed combining all of its diverse elements as we sipped the lovely richly textured champagne with its lemony notes and strong character.  If you put Dom Perignon with its effervescent nothing texture on one end to the texture spectrum of champagne, the Cazanove Brut would be near the other end of the spectrum; a big rich buttery textured champagne, but with small beautiful bubbles that persisted for as long as we sat and drank it. 

deconstructed dessert
At around 10:00 p.m. we left happy and filled with Los Poblanos’ wonderful food and atmosphere of its historic buildings set so beautifully in its extensive gardens.   Suzette enjoyed her lovely birthday dinner.

Bon Appétit

Monday, August 25, 2014

August 24, 2014 Brunch, Waffles Dinner, Pasta Primavera with fresh pesto and a day of dinking rosé

At around 9:00 we transitioned from Sunday Morning TV News shows and reading the newspaper to check the sales on TV’s, since our TV died this week, to gardening.  After an hour’s work in the garden, we showered and Suzette toasted four of the Belgium Waffles Marie Paul made yesterday at the Center for Ageless Living’s Wafflemania.   Suzette heated syrup and we put Marie Paul’s raspberry, blueberry and strawberry medley and Suzette’s brandied peaches on top of the waffles and drank a bottle of Gruet Brut Rosé for a lovely brunch under the gazebo in our newly cleaned garden.

Around noon we drove to HD for wasp spray to get rid of an unwanted nest of wasps where our hot tub will be placed on Tuesday and then to Costco to look at TVs.  We discovered that Target had the same 55" Samsung smart TV we wanted at a better price, so we quickly drove there and bought it.

Then Suzette went to a lecture about how to deal with the medical effects of aging at UNM and I reconstituted the fish chowder with clam juice and milk and ate two bowls with 2-3 ounces of cubed avocado and toasted sourdough bread (Costco) and worked a bit.

At 5:30 when Suzette returned home, she was hungry so we began fixing dinner.  Suzette wanted to make pesto with the lovely basil growing in the garden.  We decided to make pasta primavera with fresh mozzarella, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and squash.  I cubed an onion, 1 yellow crook necked squash and ½ of a zucchini squash (Sprouts Farm Market at $.98/lb.) and minced about ten cloves of garlic, while Suzette made pesto with fresh basil leaves, garlic from our garden, Pecorino Romano cheese, pinon nuts and olive oil in the Cuisinart.

I asked Suzette what she wanted to drink with dinner and she said, “A light red.”  So, I went to the basement and found a bottle of Toulouse 2010 Anderson Valley Rosé of pinot noir and chilled it in the freezer for about ½ hour.

Suzette boiled about ½ lb. of gemilli pasta (Costco) and tossed it with olive oil.  She then sautéed the cubed onion, garlic, and squashes with olive oil in a pan and tossed about three cups of pasta with the sautéed vegetables and 1/3 cup of cubed fresh mozzarella. Then Suzette toasted two large pieces of Bosque Bakery baguette and put some of the pasta Primavera in a bowl and laid one piece of baguette on each plate.  I poured the Toulouse Rosé and we took our plates and glasses of wine to the gazebo in the garden and enjoyed a fresh light meal.

We were amazed by the 2010 Toulouse Rosé.  It had character and body and age on it that made it a pleasure to drink. I always thought that it is important to drink rosés as soon as possible (within 9 months to one year after bottling), while they still have their fruitiness.  But the 2010 Toulouse Rosé was an entirely different animal; smoothly fruity but with the strength of the pinot noir grape and the nuttiness of age coming through also.  We liked it very much and it only got better as it opened up.  In about 20 minutes we were sipping a really nice glass of wine.  So I guess I now think you can age a Rosé of Pinot Noir into a really good wine.  It reminds me of a bottle of 1957 Beaujolais we drank at Mother’s house around 1978.  I thought it would be vinegar, because they say to drink Beaujolais young.  It turned out to be a memorable bottle of wine, very much like the 2010 rosé tonight. The 1957 Beaujolais was still good.  In fact it was fabulous; without any astringency but still possessing that characteristic gamay grape fruitiness and incredibly smooth without any ill effects of aging, a memorable bottle of wine.  The aged flavor that I tasted tonight reminded me of the 40 year old aged tawny ports we drank in Oporto, Portugal, this spring and that 1957 Beaujolais, a caramel nuttiness that enhances the wine’s flavor.  The only sign of aging I saw in the 2010 Toulouse bottle tonight was a aggregation of reddish pink crystals on the bottom of the cork, no sediment, and the cork was partially dried out and broke as i pulled it and I had to pull the half still stuck in the bottle a second time to pull the entire cork. 

Bon Appétit   

Sunday, August 24, 2014

August 22, 2014 Lunch Mr. Powdrell’s BBQ Dinner High County Shell Club

Susie and Dana Finley took me to Mr. Powdrell’s BBQ for a business lunch.  I ordered ¼ smoked chicken with collard greens and beans and corn bread ($6.75).  I loved the fresh smoked chicken and doused it with BBQ sauce from a glass syrup dispenser with one of those sliding metal flanges that you opened by pushing down on a small lever on the top that sat on the table.  The flat quartered round of cornbread reminded me of the Johnny cakes we used to get with the business man’s lunches when I lived in Fort Worth, Texas as a young lawyer.  In the early 70’s many restaurants featured a business man’s lunch that included a salad, a meat, two vegetables, bread and a dessert for $1.39.  My Dad told me that when he worked downtown in the 40’s he used to eat a bowl of chili was $.25 for lunch.  Everything has been kept old fashioned at Mr. Powdrell’s, even though he has now passed.  I loved my lunch and even though it was a lot of food I ate every bit of it.  Dana and Susie had plates with a sandwich and two sides.

I am a member of the High Country Shell Club, whose leader is Tom Eichhorst.  We had a meeting this evening at 7:00 at Tom and Donnie’s house.  I called at 4:00 to see what the menu was and Donnie said they were cooking filet Mignon.  Suzette and I had tentatively decided to take a cucumber and onion salad with fresh cucumbers from the garden.  I decided to take some of the fresh corn from Sprouts that I had bought yesterday and Donnie said that if we had some fresh tomatoes from the garden to bring them. So at 5:30 when I finished working I went to the garden and picked two cucumbers and one yellow tomato.  When Suzette arrived home around 6:00 and we started to prepare our dishes.  It was simple.  Suzette peeled and cubed the two cucumbers and I diced about ¼ cup of red onion.  She then put the cucumber cubes into a bowl and we added the onion and we made a dressing with white balsamic vinegar, red vermouth, sugar and salt and aji mirin and we poured that over the salad to begin to ferment.  I then bagged the two yellow and one red tomato from our garden with a bag of basil leaves I found in the fridge and we drove to the meeting.
The High Country Shell Club is the only shell club in New Mexico and one of the longest existing in the U.S.   The meeting was held on the 22nd because Bruce Neville was visiting from Texas A&M where he is the science library head librarian.  He used to be at UNM, but moved a few years ago.  Bruce and Tom are among the best shell identifiers in the country, so it is always fun to meet and learn about shells and shelling adventures.  Tom is also the editor of American Conchologist,

“American Conchologist is the official publication of the Conchologists of America. It is a well-illustrated quarterly journal of conchology, containing scientific articles, first-hand accounts of collecting spots, books reviews, advertisements, shell club news, COA Trophy winners, shell show schedules, convention news and a wealth of information about mollusks--land, marine, freshwater and fossil.”

Tom had just returned from the Conchologists of America’s Annual meeting (COA), which is usually the largest gathering of shell collectors, shells, and shell dealers in the world.   Next year the COA meeting is in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and we may go to fil in my cowrie collection a bit.  It is always fun and informative, if a bit pricey, due to the cost associated with purchases of shells.  

After examining all the new shells Tom had bought at COA and looking at a drawer of shells Pat (who brought of vegetable platter with Ranch dressing) had given to Tom, we started cooking.  Tom grilled the filets in the rain, which merited battle duty pay, I told him.  Tom’s career was spent flying refueling tanker planes for the Air Force all over the world.

Mike Sanchez, who is on the education staff of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History arrived with a casserole filled with twice baked mashed potatoes, Donnie and Suzette shucked and boiled the corn and I sliced the basil leaves and the three fresh tomatoes and garnished the tomatoes with the thin slices of fresh basil and then doused the tomatoes with white wine vinegar and olive oil.  Then Laura and Bill Krausman (Bill works as mapping director for the Regional Office of the U.S. Forest Service) arrived with a large bowl of salad and two bottles of red wine from her sister’s wine club that markets wines produced by small production wineries in California.  The Club offered three levels of wine, silver, gold and platinum.  The two bottles Laura brought were platinum.  Tom also bought a 2011 Chateau Rochecolombe Cotes du Rhone at Costco that was very smooth and drinkable.  Also he had  
Laura's two platinums 

Tom's Cotes du Rhone with Miss Suzette in the background
 Soon we were ready to eat and we sat at a long table set up in the den area of Tom and Donnie’s house between the mynah bird cage and the large salt water fish take with lots of different types of cichlids.  The conversation at Shell Club always centers on biology.  Mike showed us the diagram he is preparing linking all the genera of sea shells based on recent DNA testing that looked like a broad fan with lots of inner connected ribs.  Bruce made several comments, based upon his research into the age of various genera. 

Although I am not a biologist or even knowledgeable, I asked a few questions and determined that there are many holes and guesses about the links of various genera to each other, due to the lack of a complete fossil record that would clarify the linkage of various genera to each other (many of the perceived links are over 65 million years old).  Bill caught all of our attention as he described the new 3D aerial photography technology he is learning and working with at the Forest Service that can simultaneously look at both at the canopy of trees and through the tree canopy at the ground.

While we were eating Tom showed us that the more brightly colored fish in the big salt water tank were the alpha males.  So there is no problem identifying the leader in each species’ grouping of cichlids.  I guess the evolutionary function of that is that when the fish are schooling, they know who to follow if they are split up.  
I always enjoy shell club meetings because of our little group’s knowledgeable, geeky, interesting and fun people who share my love for shells and because I always learn interesting stuff.

After dinner, Donnie served cookies, fresh raspberries with vanilla ice cream for dessert.  

At around 9:15  after two hours of eating, drinking and discussion, Pat, our oldest member (I think she got the shelling bug, while serving as a WAC in the Pacific in WWII), said she was tired and ready to go home and we all agreed with her and said goodnight.

Bon Appétit


August 23, 2014 New Recipe: Stir fried fresh udon noodles with cabbage, purslane, pork, red onion, garlic, and mushrooms and Dinner Eggplant in Garlic Sauce with purslane

I slept-in today.  Suzette left around 9:30 for a full day at the Center of Walfflemania for brunch, Lunch on the lawn with music by Los Radiators and hamburgers and hot dogs, and a Spa Day featuring the introduction of a new product line.

I had a distinctly quite day.  I lay in bed and finished Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwen, my Last Thursday Book Club selection for this month and the article I have been enjoying in the August 4, 2014 issue of New Yorker about a Lawrence Livermore physicist’s machine that captures the sound from old recordings by scanning their grooves with a computer without playing them with a stylus, which can destroy the recording.  He has made it possible to play the oldest recordings ever made, such as the French inventor of recorded sound, Martindale-Scott’s recording of songs on soot covered cylinders made in  1860 and Alexander Graham Bell’s first spoken works from the 1870’s plus all the old Edison cylinder recordings and the old acetate recordings at the Smithsonian Museum.

Finally at 11:00, after a few moments of not being able to find my wallet, I sat down and meditated about where it could be and got the thought that it was in the car, so I went to the car and found it lodged in the seat well on the outside of the passenger's seat.  I then vaguely remembered throwing it onto the passenger's seat yesterday after lunch.  I guess Suzette pushed it off the set when she sat in the passenger's seat last night when we went to the Shell Club meeting.

I then returned Sweet Tooth to the library, went to the bank and to Birdland to discuss improvements to increase security with Jay, who has been broken into twice recently (I am the kind of landlord who believes that if the tenant has a problem, the landlord has a problem).  Then I drove to Sprouts because I wanted to try making a stir fried udon noodle dish for lunch with the fresh udon noodles we bought at Costco last week.  Sprouts was full of shoppers.  I found a nice 2/3 lb. pork porterhouse chop (2.99/lb.) and then again asked a produce man to fetch more fresh corn and took 6 ears this time (4 ears /$1.00).  I then picked about 1/3 pound of green beans ($.1.50/lb.) and about the same amount of Brussels Sprouts($1.99/lb.).

I arrive at home around 2:00 and, following the recipe on the bag of noodles, shredded ½ lb. of green cabbage, a couple of cloves of garlic, 1 tsp. of fresh ginger, 1 Tbsps. of red onion, and ¼ lb. of pork, some purslane  and 1 large white mushroom.  I first heated about 2 tsps. of sesame oil, 1 tsp. of chili pepper flavored sesame oil, and ½ Tbsp. of peanut oil in the wok.  Then I stir fried the cabbage, ginger and onion for about five minutes.  I then added the diced mushroom and garlic to the wok after another couple of minutes added the udon noodles.  After a minute of cooking I drizzled about 1 Tbsp. of dark soy, 1 Tbsp. of Chinese rice cooking wine, 1 Tbsp. of Aji Mirin, and ½ Tbsp. of Sweet soy to the noodles to try to replicate the seasoning described in my Japanese Cook Book, Japanese Cooking, a Simple Art.

Suzette came home around 3:30 p.m. and we unloaded the steel pipes that will be used to raise the trampoline to make it into a canopy for another seating area and inspected the progress of the new fence being built by Mario to extend the back yard to include an orchard area. Then I rode to Rio Bravo while she rested until 5:00.  I showered and then called Charles’ Place, which did not answer and Los Poblanos, which was full.  I made a reservation on Open Table at Los Poblanos for next Friday night for Suzette’s Birthday dinner.  I asked Suzette what she wanted to do and she said she was tired and did not want to go out, so we discussed dinner.  I suggested that we make her favorite Chinese dish, Eggplant in Garlic Sauce with the fresh Ichiban eggplant from our garden and the fresh pork to which she agreed.
So, around 7:00 I made 1 cup of rice.  Then I sat on the stoop of our back door porch and picked a basket full of purslane growing beside it and Suzette and I picked off the clean larger leaves and threw the rest away, yielding about 1 cup of fresh purslane leaves.  With about five minutes left to simmer, we added ½ cup of purslane leaves to the rice.

Eggplant with Garlic Sauce.

the Sauce:
1 Tbsp. double dark soy sauce
2 tsp. Oyster Sauce
1 tsp. white rice wine vinegar
½ tsp. Shaoxing wine
½ tsp. pepper flakes from hot oil (we reduce this to avoid making the dish too spicy)
½ tsp. of cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp. of chicken stock

Then I started slicing the large 1 1/2 lb. ichiban eggplant into 2 inch julienne slices and then chopped up about ten small cloves of fresh garlic from our garden that Suzette brought me, while Suzette combined the liquid ingredients for the sauce.  I then removed the pork from its bone and removed the fat and white skin and sliced it (I should have halved the ½ inch chop and made threads instead of slices) ending up with about ½ lb. of pork slices.

Suzette started stir frying the eggplant slices in peanut oil to soften and cook them. Then she stir fried the pork and garlic and added the eggplant slices back to the wok and after a minute or two of stir frying, made a well in the center and added the other ½ cup of purslane  and the sauce.  After another minute the dish was ready.  Suzette made a special effort to not overcook the dish so it would retain as much freshness as possible.

Suzette Stir Frying before adding sauce

We loved the purslane dotted rice with the fresh eggplant in garlic sauce.  We both agreed that the fresh eggplant from the garden had a firmer, more meaty flavor that complemented the fresh pork texture particularly well.  It is always more fun to cook with fresh ingredients from one’s own garden and this meal was no exception. I drank a black and tan made with Mike Campbell’s great bock beer and a Modelo Especial pilsner.  

We ate under the gazebo looking at our pond and fountain listening to the evening's symphony of sounds.  Suzette decided the solar lighting illuminated the pond and fountain sufficiently, so we decided to move the four original low voltage lights to the orchard area or the new gazebo we were making by raising the trampoline.

Bon Appétit 

Friday, August 22, 2014

August 20, 2014 My Typical Day and Fish Chowder with Espiral Vinho Verde

Today’s meals were fairly typical of my normal diet.

A 10 mile bike ride to Montano and back at 7:00.

Breakfast – a bowl of granola with a cubed ½ of a fresh Manila mango with European yogurt eaten around 10:30.

A bit of drama around 2:00 when the director and staff of “Better Call Saul” came to view our living room as one of the locations for the TV series.

 Lunch – A late lunch at around 3:30 to 4:00 of organic salad greens garnished with the last cup of PPI faro, cucumbers, onions and tomatoes, 1 sliced tomato, 1 diced stalk of celery, 12 kalamata olives, and five diced slices of salami with a drizzle of olive oil and the juice of about ¼ lemon.  Sort of an antipasto salad.

Dinner - When I arrived home from meditating and stopping to pick up bottles of tonic water and club soda to replenish our drink mixer larder at around 8:20 Suzette had heated the fish chowder she had made on Sunday.  She toasted a piece of French Sourdough bread and we ate a bowl of hot fish chowder and the bread with a glass of Espiral Vinho Verde White wine from Gaia, Portugal (Trader Joe’s $5.99).  I usually do not buy Vinho Verde, but we toured the Espiral Winery when we visited Portugal this spring and I bought it for sentimental reasons.  The thing that requires getting used to with Vinho Verde is the slight gaseousness of the wine and the tart carbonated flavor.   In other words, when you open the bottle there is a stream of bubbles that rises to the top.  This is due to the fact that the wine is bottled before it is fully fermented and the bubbles are due to the formation of the CO2 formed in the final stages of fermentation. 

Although we did not fancy their wine, we loved visiting Espiral.  It is a 350 year old winery with 12 acres of garden and park and great old house and tasting room along with a highly sophisticated production facility that produces approximately 25,000,000 bottles of wine per year.  

Here is the story on Vihno Verde from Wikipedia:

Vinho Verde is a Portuguese wine that originated in the historic Minho province in the far north of the country. The modern-day 'Vinho Verde' region, originally designated in 1908, includes the old Minho province plus adjacent areas to the south. In 1976, the old province was dissolved.
Vinho Verde is not a grape varietal. The name literally means "green wine," but translates as "young wine", as opposed to mature wine. It may be red, white or rosé, and it is meant to be consumed within a year of bottling.[1] In its early years of production, the slight effervesce of the wine came from malolactic fermentation taking place in the bottle. In winemaking this is usually considered a wine fault but Vinho Verde producers found that consumers liked the slightly sparkling nature. However, the wines had to be packaged in opaque bottles in order to hide the unseemly turbidity and sediment that the "in-bottle MLF" produced. Today, most Vinho Verde producers no longer follow this practice and instead complete malolactic fermentation prior to bottling with the slight sparkle being added by artificial carbonation.[2]

The region is characterized by its many small growers, which numbered more than 30,000 as of 2005. Many of these growers train their vines high off the ground, up trees, fences, and even telephone poles so that they can cultivate vegetable crops below the vines that their families may use as a food source.[3] Most countries limit the use of the term Vinho Verde to only those wines that come from the Minho region in Portugal. In Europe, this principle is enshrined in the European Union by Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status.
White Vinho Verde.
The Vinhos Verdes are light and fresh. At less than one bar of CO2 pressure, they do not quite qualify as semi-sparkling wines but do have a definite pétillance. The white Vinho Verde is very fresh, due to its natural acidity, with fruity and floral aromas that depend on the grape variety. The white wines are lemon- or straw-coloured, around 8.5 to 11% alcohol, and are made from local grape varieties Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura, Avesso and Azal. Vinho Alvarinho is made from Alvarinho grapes, from a small designated sub-region of Monção and Melgaço. It has more alcohol (11.5 to 14%) and ripe tropical aromas. The reds are deep red and tannic, and are mostly made from Vinhão, Borraçal and Amaral grapes. The rosés are very fresh and fruity, usually made from Espadeiro and Padeiro grapes.

The secret to enjoying Vinho Verde, in my opinion, is to let the wine gas off the carbon dioxide, which takes a few minutes.  The wine tastes fairly pleasant after it becomes still.  We are particularly fond of the white albarino grape (Alvarinho in Portuguese) that is grown in the far north of Portugal.

So we had a fun dinner reminiscing about our time in Portugal this summer and why we do not like vinho verde, but then how likable it was, after the gas subsided.

Bon Appétit 

August 21, 2014 Lunch with Peter Eller at East Ocean Dinner, Grilled Salmon Steaks, fresh corn on the cob and steamed asparagus and Caprese salad

Peter Eller called today and we went to lunch at East Ocean (3601 Carlisle NE) because he said he was happy to eat seafood and I wanted to introduce him to what I consider the most delicious, least expensive seafood lunch in Albuquerque.  I ordered my favorite lunch dish, Scallops in Lobster Sauce with sweet and sour chicken ($5.50 or $6.50, depending upon who your waitress is).  Basically I select No. 8, which is Shrimp in Lobster Sauce, and I then substitute scallops for the shrimp and substitute sweet and sour chicken for the eggroll.  Perhaps I should call this a, “Bob’s No. 8”.  The scallops are always fresh deep sea scallops that have been each sliced into three or four rounds.  My favorite preparation is when the scallop slices are put in at the end of cooking and cook in the sauce releasing a puddle of scallop juice around each slice that I then mix with the.  Heaven.    

We were talking about Peter’s recent selection to serve on the Board of the Holocaust Museum and he mentioned that one of its board members was a child in the Kindertransport, which I had never heard of before.  Peter explained the Kindertransport briefly and I looked it up in Wikipedia later when I went home.  
That led me to more extensive musings in the middle of the night in a series of emails to members of my family. 

Here they are:   
On Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 11:46 PM, <> wrote:
Sometimes horrific events create a major movement in response, like the beheading of an American Journalist in Syria.

Here is an example from before WWII that Peter Eller mentioned to me today at lunch.

Love, Dad 

-----Original Message-----
From: Luke Simon <>
To: Robert Simon <>
Cc: Willy <>; Suzette Lindemuth <>
Sent: Thu, Aug 21, 2014 9:49 pm
Subject: Re: Kindertransport
Wow, heartbreaking, but always beautiful how Love shimmers through war. ;(
Thanks for sharing.

Later in the middle of the night I wrote,

I think I can tie the reactions to Kristalnacht in Germany before WWII, the Ferguson, Mo. demonstrations and the beheading of the American in Syria together.  

It may seem slightly different to compare the massive international reaction to blind religious and ethnic violence (Kristalnacht and ISIL beheadings) to the dynamics in an internal revolution (Fergusson, Mo. or the Arab Spring), but I think I see a commonality in both.

I recall what I heard on the radio recently when the author of a recent study of violent revolutions was interviewed.  She said that when the success of violent revolutions is compared to the success of peaceful revolutions, peaceful revolutions win out by a factor of 10 to 1.  She said that in her opinion, the reason for that is that in successful peaceful revolutions, more and larger segments of the populace (such as the military, the judiciary, religious and ethnic groups, etc.) are committed to changing the perceived oppressive political leadership.  The example she gave of peaceful revolution was the essentially peaceful over throw of Milasovic in Serbia.  I guess you could now add the recent revolution in the Ukraine.  She said that the army was ordered to shoot to kill to disburse the peaceful demonstrators, but it stood silently, rather than fire.  When asked why they did not fire on the crowd several of the soldiers said, "Because my children may have been in the crowd" she said.  

I think the basic human response is similar in both situations.  It is like Obama said when he spoke about Trevon Martin's killing in Florida, "If I had a son, he would have looked like Trevon."

It seems to me that the unifying factor is that at some level, we put ourselves in the position of the persons for and against the actions we observe and judge and react based upon how we would be affected by their actions on us and our loved ones.

That is why I am hopeful that some of the great divide between the attitudes of conservatives and liberals on the issue of police violence and possibly gun violence may change soon, just as it has on gay marriage.

More people are touched by mindless indiscriminant violent behavior, especially when it is targeted indiscriminately at specific groups of people, like Jews or Christians or Americans or Europeans or blacks, and willingly accept a peaceful change writ large away from such behavior. 

I think that that common reaction toward indiscriminate violence is one of the forces that moves society toward becoming more inclusive and liberal or homogenized.   Just as mobs lynching blacks or beheading Europeans is no longer considered socially acceptable and society takes peaceful action to stop it as it did in the Civil Rights movement of the 60's, what we are seeing in Ferguson, Mo. now is peaceful action to stop unfettered violence of police against blacks and Huffington Post reporters and I predict that soon we will see that such actions will be deemed socially unacceptable.  

ISIL in Syria and the police in Ferguson, Mo. have exposed a cancer in our midst that will start a revolutionary change in societal standards to rid our society of such behavior.  I think that peaceful societal reaction is a peaceful revolution and that change in social norms is pretty much the same as change in political revolutions.  

That is why the Arab Spring will succeed in overthrowing oppressive dictators in the Middle East, as it already has in Tunisia and Libya and is starting to in Syria, thanks to ISIL.  Although the peaceful demonstrations in Cairo are quantitatively different than the reaction of the world society to ISIL's oppression of diverse religious populations in Syria and Iraq, they are the same at their core.  Just as international tribunals and laws were passed to legislate against genocide after the Nazi destruction of European Jewry after WWII. I see the change as the same.  

As Attorney General Holder said, "Change is on the way."

I bet the Kurds in Irbil and the moderate revolutionaries in Syria are saying the same thing right now, just as the politicians in many Western capitals are.

What I think we are seeing in both instances is the action of massive peaceful revolution/change overpowering indiscriminate oppression and violent revolution.  I like to think that the result of such action and reaction, is the evolutionary action of society moving toward a healthier, more inclusive and liberal society, whether at the national or international level, by destroying or changing a harmful diseased part of its body politic.       



Suzette has started a big project at the house, converting our side yard into an orchard by tearing down the existing fence and building a new fence 3 feet from the sidewalk which will enclose another 2000 to 3000 square feet of yard within our back yard.

I am also struggling to get the Candy store finished and trying to get a federal action commenced in the LRG water case, so we are very busy.  At around 6:00 I asked Suzette what she wanted to do for dinner and she said she wanted weed the garden. I said I wanted to go to Sprouts Farm Market to get some corn (on sale at 4 ears for $1.00), but I would pick up a pizza on the way home and we could eat pizza and a salad, which she agreed to.

When I arrived at Sprouts Farm Market it was crowded.  I made my usual circuit, fresh meats, vegetables and bulk goods.  Tonight turned out to present an exceptional array of high quality items.  At the meat counter I saw beautiful fresh salmon steaks on sale for $5.99/lb.  I bought two large 12 oz. belly steaks. 

Then I rolled to the vegetable section and saw that the corn special had been picked over.  I asked the produce assistant if there was more corn and he took off to the back of the store for more corn, I hoped.  

Next to the corn was fresh lovely asparagus at $1.98/lb. so I got a bunch of it.  I looked around a bit at other vegetables and saw medium avocados at $.98 each and picked up one of them.  In a couple of minutes, the produce guy returned with four boxes of fresh corn and began by cleaning up the debris in the corn section and putting the fresh corn out.  I bagged 12 ears from one of the boxes and the display as a pesky woman said I could go ahead of her, as if she had some special priority.  I almost told her I had asked for the fresh corn and had been waiting for it for several minutes longer than she had, but I held my tongue and continued to select ears of corn as she patiently or not so patiently waited for me to finish.

I then rolled over to the bulk section and hit pay dirt again; natural granola (I hope that means less sugar) for $1.98/lb. I took a 1.33 lb. bag of it.  Then I rolled to another side of the section and found chocolate covered raisins on sale for $3.99/lb.  I bought a bag of mixed dark and milk chocolate covered raisins.  Is the reason they call them raisins, because they are sinful to eat if you are on a lowered sugar diet?  I guess I became a little giddy from all of my great purchases.

When I got back to the car I called Suzette and told her I had bought fresh salmon steaks and would like to prepare dinner at home.  She graciously agreed to make a meal at home, so I drove directly home.

She liked the look of all the produce and fish. We quickly decided to steam the asparagus, boil ears of corn, grill the salmon steaks and make a caprese salad with slices of fresh mozzarella (Costco), two species of yellow tomatoes and basil leaves from our garden drizzled with a balsamic and olive oil dressing.  The meal seemed to be a perfect California Cuisine meal, so I suggested that we drink a good California Sauvignon Blanc.  Suzette agreed and I went to the basement and fetched a bottle of Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc; my favorite moderately priced California Sauvignon Blanc ($10.99 at Costco).  

I then broke the tough ends off the asparagus and put the tips into the steamer, while Suzette made the Caprese Salad and shucked four ears of corn and started a pot of water boiling for the corn.  Then Suzette put the salmon steaks on the grill on slices of lemon and said, “We have lovely cilantro in the garden, how about a cilantro and lime butter sauce on the fish?  I said, “Yes, great”. So off she went to make the sauce.

It seemed like in about twenty to thirty minutes we had made a beautiful meal. 

We enjoyed the meal beside the pond under our gazebo watching and listening to the fountain that Suzette recently remodeled.  After our hard day’s work, we ravenously devoured our dinner.   The salmon seemed really fresh, almost as fresh and succulent as the salmon steaks we bought at the Philo Market in Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, California, fresh caught on their own boat. Suzette grilled the fish to just the point where there is a warmed center and the rest of the fish is cooked to the point that it contains its maximum moisture and still is fully grilled.  Delicious.

I then fetched the rest of the bottle of Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc and we enjoyed sipping it as we discussed our plans for plantings in the new orchard area, such as the possibility of adding two more gazebo frames to create grape arbors.  Suzette loves having sitting and dining areas in the garden area.  We are up to four or five depending upon whether you count the bench we made along the side of the raised beds that can seat about 45 people.  As a result of the new orchard construction we could add an additional three more areas.  

Then we can have some awesome garden parties.
Bon Appétit

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August 19, 2014 Garcia’s Kitchen Machaca/Huevos Locos and PPI Dinner of Bobby Flay chicken, Tabouli, tzatziki and string beans

I received a call from Buddy around 8:30 this morning about our meeting with a new client.  I was getting into the shower after a bike ride with Suzette, so I said I would call him after I showered and he said they would go to Garcia’s Kitchen for a cup of coffee.  I returned his call at 9:00 and I said I would join them.  So I drove the five blocks to Garcia’s Kitchen at 1736 Central SW,

When I arrived Buddy was finishing a plate of Huevos Rancheros. As we began discussing Eric’s legal issue, I became hungry, so when the waitress asked me what I wanted to eat I asked, “Do you have machaca?  She replied, “With beef or ham?.

I had never heard of machaca with ham, but wanted beef anyway, so I answered, “With beef, please” and described the dish I wanted and mentioned that I wanted corn tortillas with it.
In a few minutes she brought me a plate filled with an egg omelet filled with fresh chopped jalapenos, tomatoes, beef brisket, and onions on one side and refried beans and fried potatoes on the other side and a small plate covered with aluminum containing three warmed corn tortillas.  I loved it and we came to a satisfactory conclusion for Eric’s legal problem.  When I received the check I saw that my dish was identified as “Huevos Locos”. Upon re-examination of the menu, it appears that the dish I ordered as machaca is on the “Breakfast Anytime” portion of the menu identified as Huevos Locos ($7.00), so I have a new breakfast joint to go to. 

I loved Garcia’s Machaca/Huevos Locos.  It was a sufficiently large portion to power me through the whole day until Suzette arrived at 6:00 as I was finishing up an incorporation for another client.   

At around 6:30 we decided to use up the PPI Bobby Flay chicken from Thursday evening and the tabouli, caprese salad and tzatziki from last night’s meal and steam the string beans I bought at Sprouts Farm Market last Thursday ($.98/lb.).

I de-stemmed the green beans and washed them and Suzette heated up the chicken and steamed the green beans and we were ready to eat in about ten minutes.

We smeared the last of the  Bobby Flay recipe's honey mint sauce on the chicken and Suzette drank a beer and I drank a glass of the PPI J Winery Pinot Gris. The J’s Pinot Gris is the lightest pinot Gris I have tasted, which puts it into the elegant French category for me. Unfortunately, it lacks a fruity flavor.  My favorite American Pinot Gris is still Elk Cove from the Willamette Valley.  J’s is grown in the Russian River district of northern California, just south of Healdsburg and next door to Rodney Strong Vineyards. . We visited J’s Winery a couple of years ago and I see from its current website that it still specializes in food and wine paring tastings.   Here is the website address and a bit of info on its pinot gris wines:

I bought the bottle of J California Pinot Gris at Costco last Friday for $11.99.  According to J’s website J makes two better grades of Pinot Gris.  Perhaps they have more fruit flavor?
Here is a picture of the bottle of pinot gris I bought.

Our big TV finally died, so I went to bed after dinner.

My most recent weight loss regime seems to be to eat only two meals a day, to reduce my sugar intake and to ride the bike as many days of the week as possible.  It actually seems to be working.

Bon Appétit