Saturday, October 31, 2015

October 30, 2015 Lunch – East Ocean, Dinner – Roasted Chicken and Roasted Vegetables

October 30, 2015 Lunch – East Ocean, Dinner – Roasted Chicken and Roasted Vegetables

Today after I went to the Law Library, I went to East Ocean at noon for my favorite scallop dish, Scallops in Lobster Sauce with fried rice and Sweet and Sour Chicken.  But today’s preparation was interesting in a bad way.  Too much cornstarch had been added to the egg drop soup and it over thickened the sauce which did three bad things: it make the sauce not have its usual lovely texture and sheen, it did not mix well with the other ingredients, and it had a distinctly different flavor, more of cornstarch.  I love this dish because when it is cooked properly, the milk of the cooking scallop chunks blends with the cooking juices of the pork and green onion and the chicken and egg flavors of the egg drop soup to make an elegantly complex sauce that flows to mix perfectly with the fried rice.

For dinner, I asked Suzette to bring home a Roasted Chicken prepared by the Greenhouse Bistro at the Center for Ageless Living.

She arrived at around 3:30 and assisted Jose, our cabinet maker, with some design details in the kitchen remodel.  We agreed to roast some of the  vegetables we had for dinner, including a 2 Shishito peppers, a pimiento and three small eggplants we had picked from our garden, plus ½ of a large sweet potato and one small onion and a red cipolini onion plus three small heads of garlic from our garden.  Suzette went to the garden and picked a small handful of fresh oregano.   

Suzette took over the cooking from here and salted and sprinkled and tossed the vegetables in olive oil.  Then we read our new Bertizonni stove manual and decided to roast the vegetables on the convection bake setting for twenty minutes covered and then twenty minutes uncovered.  

Suzette heated the two leg quarters of chicken in the microwave and we each filled our plates with vegetables.  After we plated we returned the vegetables to the oven because Suzette thought they needed more cooking.  She was right they tasted better when I took seconds ten minutes later, so next time we will roast vegetables for 50 minutes on convection bake.

I opened a bottle of Santiago Station Sauvignon Blanc from the Mendoza Valley in Argentina; a simple wine for a simple dinner. 

We watched Ghostbusters, which is one of Suzette’s favorites, for a pleasant evening.  

Suzette was happy that we were finishing the remodel.  Jose hung the basement door and the door between my office and the TV room and put the black splashboard under the bottom of the cabinets and hung the spice rack and knife rack today, so things are looking much more finished.

We ate ice cream later in the evening.

I went to bed and Suzette stayed up to watch Ghostbusters II. 

Later I woke up and watched The Man Who Fell to Earth and Woodstock from 1:00 to 4:00.  Thank God some hipster is programming the late night movie channels for us aging baby boomers who do not sleep through the night.

Bon Appetit 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

October 28, 2015 Lunch – Greenhouse Bistro, Dinner – French Onion Soup

October 28, 2015 Lunch – Greenhouse Bistro, Dinner – French Onion Soup

Aaron drove me to a meeting in Los Lunas this morning that ended a little after 11:00, so at 11:30 I invited him to lunch at the Center for Ageless Living.  After a short tour of the buildings and grounds, we went to the Greenhouse Bistro.  There were two or three interesting soups.  Aaron ordered a green curry cream soup and I ordered a roasted tomato soup to compare the Bistro’s to the lovely one I had yesterday at Torino's.

The tomato soups were amazing similar and both delicious.  In fact the Bistro one may have been slightly more herby, which I liked a lot.

I tried a spoonful of Aaron’s. It was too spicy for me, but Aaron loved it. After considering the considerable number of menu choices, we decided to split a Cuban sandwich.  The kitchen was kind enough to put ½ on separate plates with a small salad, raspberry vinaigrette, and a pile of potato chips on each.  We drank water.  We both loved our sandwiches.  Aaron was very impressed with the Center and the restaurant and admired and understood the integration of the public retail areas with the assisted living areas.

For dinner I wanted to use the PPI ribeye steak and sautéed mushrooms to make onion soup.  I always use Julia Child’s recipes for classic French dishes and onion soup is no exception.  I thinly sliced 5 cups of onions and placed them in a large Le Creuset casserole with 4 oz. of butter and 1 Tbsp. of Spanish olive oil on low heat and tossed them to coat them with oil and the sweated them in the covered casserole for fifteen minutes.  Suzette came home at 6:00, so I uncovered the casserole and added one tsp. of salt and ½ tsp. of sugar. Suzette set the timer for forty minutes as I went out the door to go meditate.  

I stopped at Lowe’s for tonic water and bought a 1.75 liter bottle of Bacardi Gold Rum for $18.99, which seemed like a good price.  I returned home at around 8:30 and finished the soup by sprinkling 3 Tbsp. of flour on the wilted and slightly caramelized onions and cooking them for 3 minutes to cook the flour.  We the slowly added the 2 quarts of stock I had made with the diced PPI steak and portobello and chanterelle mushrooms and two beef boullion cubes so that the soup would not get lumpy.  I then ate a bowl and realized I had not adjusted the salt and pepper, so I added thre grinds of black pepper and about ½ tsp. of salt.

I made a cheese sandwich with the new Fano baguette and ate another bowl of soup for dinner with a glass of the Perrin Famille Cotes du Rhone Reserve ($8.99 less 10% at Total Wine).  I loved the extra added attraction of bits of steak and mushrooms in the soup, for their texture, their flavor and the variety they gave to the otherwise monochromatic texture of the onion soup.

At 4:00 on the morning of the 29th, we awakened to see the conjunction of Jupiter, Mars, and Venus and perhaps one of Venus' moons. Interesting.
Bon Appetit 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October 27, 2015 Lunch – Torino’s@home, Dinner – Steamed Salmon and Sweet Potatoes and Salad

October 27, 2015 Lunch – Torino’s@home, Dinner – Steamed Salmon and Sweet Potatoes and Salad

I had a mediation at the State Bar Center today, so at 12:45, my client, Rosemary, and I walked across the bridge that spanned the arroyo to Torino's@home for lunch.  Torino’s is my favorite Italian restaurant in Albuquerque, but I had never eaten lunch there before today.  The lunch menu featured mainly panini sandwiches and one side order for $12.00 or $13.00.  I immediately noticed that the side order items included a roasted tomato soup, which looked interesting, and tiramisu, so I suggested to Rosemary that we split a soup and a tiramisu and each order a panini.

She agreed and ordered a Duck Confit panini and I ordered a Speck panini.  I re quested that our tomato soup be brought first, our sandwich second, and our tiramisu last.  Our waiter was wonderful and agreed and the brought us the best bread I have tasted at a restaurant in Albuquerque, warm, moist, thick slices of bread studded with black olives, plus slices of French sourdough baguette with both butter and olive oil.  

The cup of roasted tomato soup was lovely, thick with puréed roasted tomatoes, onions and herbs.  We ate it with buttered slices of bread.

The our sandwiches were served.  Rosemary’s was filled with shredded duck confit and a little dry, which Rosemary fixed by adding a drizzle of olive oil.  I ordered a Speck panini, which was a slice or two of prosciutto, a sliced I'd grilled eggplant, slices of roasted red bell peppers and slices of fresh mozzarella sandwiched between two pieces of grilled bread smeared with a fresh pesto mayonnaise.  I loved my sandwich.  The pesto mayonnaise reminded me of the pesto mayonnaise that Willy is fond of and makes; it was creamy and fresh, with the pesto emulsified into the mayonnaise.  I need to make some soon.

We studied the wine list and agreed that we both wanted to try the Vara Viura white Spanish house wine for $7.00 a glass.  We clicked glasses to celebrate the successful completion of Rosemary’s case and enjoyed our soup and sandwiches.  Finally when each of us had finished ½ of our  large sandwiches and our wine, we ordered the tiramisu.  I was amazed by Torino’s tiramisu.  Rosemary, who is a chef and who owned Rose’s Table, told me it was a proper tiramisu, made with lady fingers soaked in espresso and marsacapone dulce. The tiramisu was garnished with cocoa powder that went into solution when scooped up. 

After lunch and finishing signing the settlement agreement, we drove to Sprouts Market, where I bought a 1 lb. piece of fresh Atlantic Farm raised salmon, Brussels Sprouts, vine ripened tomatoes, granola, and tofu.  Rosemary bought tofu, milk, and flour to make bread.  We then drove to Fano’ Bakery and each bought a fresh baked baguette.

I dropped Rosemary at her house and drove home.  After working for a while, Suzette arrived and she rested and I rode to Montano and back arriving home at around 5:45.

Suzette decided to use our new steaming oven to steam the salmon and a sweet potato she had bought from Mennonites at the Los Lunas Farmers’ Market several weeks ago. She asked me to make an herbed butter glaze to put on the salmon as it cooked and to use the fresh cherry tomatoes we picked yesterday in our garden to make a salad.

I peeled and sliced 1/2 of the enormous sweet potato and fetched the salmon filet and then went to the garden and picked fresh tarragon and thyme and stripped the leaves and used the soften setting on our new microwave to soften 3 Tbsp. of butter, which I mixed with the herbs, and then squeezed the juice of ½ of a small lemon.  

I then fetched and chilled a bottle of Shadduck Winery’s White Zinfandel that we bought at the Vine and Wine Society tasting at Las Golondrinias last July.  

While Suzette was setting up the steamer and organizing the steaming of sweet potatoes and salmon by time (30 minutes for the potatoes and 10 minutes for the salmon), I made the salad with thinly sliced onion, Bibb and romaine lettuce, the cherry tomatoes, thee slices of fresh mozzarella cheese diced, one of the vine ripe tomatoes diced, and some of the wonderful croutons we made in our new oven.  I then made a simple Balsamic dressing with two cloves of garlic chopped, balsamic vinegar, and Spanish olive oil and dressed and tossed the salad. 

In about forty-five minutes we had organized dinner.  I poured the wine and Suzette plated the salmon and sweet potatoes.  The wine was interesting it was a medium weight wine, not too sweet, not too dry, and very fruit, with a slightly syrupy consistency, which reminded me of cranberries that we like to eat with salmon.

The steamed salmon and potatoes were delicious, very moist and tender.  Steaming seems like a much healthier way to cook because it eliminates the use of most fat.  We are a long way from mastering it as a cooking method, but we are well on our way.  

The salad was delicious, a tossed Caprese salad, without the fresh basil leaves.  I had seconds of the salad.

Eating healthy can be fun.

Bon Appetit 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October 26, 2015 Grilled Lamb Chops, Eggplant Provençal, Pimientos, and Asparagus

October 26, 2015 Grilled Lamb Chops, Eggplant Provençal, Pimientos, and Asparagus 

PPI Miso Soup for breakfast and lunch.

Suzette came home around 4:30 when I awoke from a nap and Peter delivered the steel table and two chairs we bought from Carey Smoot because she can not take them to the Azores, due to the humidity in the Azores.  We carried the new table and chairs out to the bocce area and placed them under the trampoline awning.  I suggested that we play Bocce.  We each made a cocktail and I grabbed the box of bocce balls and played a game to 11 points and then sat in our new chairs beside the new bocce court and enjoyed a lovely sunset.

Suzette suggested that instead of making couscous, we harvest our remaining eggplants and make grilled eggplant Provençal to go with the lamb chops we bought at Costco yesterday and grill some asparagus. Suzette fetched a scissors and cut the last five eggplants from the vine and we also harvested a handful of ripe cherry tomatoes and two ripe pimiento peppers.

We brought the tomatoes, eggplants and two pimientos in from the garden around 6:00.

I snapped the ends of about fifteen stalks of asparagus (Sprouts Farm Market for $1.48/lb.) and sliced a small eggplant into five 1/3 inch thick slices and the pimiento into five or six approximately one inch wide slices. I brushed the slices with olive oil, but Suzette wanted to coat the asparagus, pimientos and asparagus in olive oil and salt, so she got a freezer bag an put the ingredients into the bag with some Olive oil and salt and pepper and shuck the bag to coat the ingredients with olive oil.  While I went to the basement to fetch a bottle of Famille Perrin 2011 Reserve Cotes du Rhone ($7.99 less 15% at Total Wine) and opened it to let it breath a bit and called a client while Suzette opened a package of fresh Mozzarella slices and garnished the top of the eggplant slices with split cherry tomatoes and mozzarella  and then grilled five lamb chops, the eggplant Provençals, the pimiento slices, and the asparagus.

In about ten to fifteen minutes all the ingredients were grilled to perfection. The asparagus, pimientos, and eggplants were soft but not burned and the lamb was medium rare to rare.  I poured wine and Suzette plated the grilled dinner and we had a wonderful grilled dinner as we watched the Antiques Roadshow.

After dinner I toasted a slice of Bosque Bakery French Sourdough bread and smeared it with goat cheese and enjoyed it with the last of my glass of wine.

Later during my new favorite cooking show, “I’ll Have What Phil Is Having”, which featured the food of Barcelona this week, I ate a bowl of vanilla bean and chocolate ice creams drizzled with Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup and cognac and garnished with dehydrated cherries rehydrated in Marashino cherry syrup. When I finished my ice cream, Suzette refilled my bowl with vanilla ice cream and poured a glass of cognac.

We loved the last meal of the year provisioned with mostly ingredients we had grown in our garden. 

I hope it does not freeze for a few more days so I can harvest the thyme, oregano, and tarragon in the garden. 

Bon Appetit 

Monday, October 26, 2015

October 25, 2015 Dinner – Grilled Ribeye Steak and Asparagus with Cesar Salad and Sautéed Mushrooms

IOctober 25, 2015 Dinner – Grilled Ribeye Steak and Asparagus with Cesar Salad and Sautéed Mushrooms

We had a busy morning cleaning the house, although I did grab two ribeye steaks from the downstair’s freezer to thaw and a bottle of  2008 Wellington Zinfandel to drink at dinner.  I made open faced sandwiches on Bosque Bakery French Sourdough bread, which is my new favorite bread, smeared with California Goat Cheese (Costco), capers, thinly sliced onion and my homemade Gravadlax.  I drank green tea and Suzette made coffee using our new Miele coffee maker.   

At noon I suggested we go to Costco because Suzette wanted a Bloody Mary and we were out of Clamato juice.  Suzette said she also wanted to buy a new toaster for our new kitchen.  We also bought Romaine lettuce for a Cesar Salad for dinner, plus some clothes washing detergent, Italian pasta, lamb chops, a 24 oz. box of white mushrooms, and a lb. box of Chanterelle mushrooms.

We drove home and I rode to Rio Bravo into a strong 15-20 MPH headwind, which made my return ride a breeze.

At 5:00 we became hungry and decided to start cooking. I diced some old slightly stale bread and we tossed it in a freezer bag with olive oil and sea salt and then Suzette roasted the croutons in our new oven on the turbo setting to a golden brown, which made the best tasting croutons we have ever tasted.  I chopped one of the heads of Romaine lettuce we had bought at Costco (6 heads for $2.99) and snapped the ends off 14 stalks of asparagus, which we also tossed in the freezer bag with olive oil and sea salt.  I chopped the last five portobello mushrooms and several of the chanterelles and a shallot and sautéed them in olive oil and butter and Amontillado sherry and finished the salad by slicing strips of Pecorino Romano cheese and tossing the Cesar salad while Suzette grilled the steaks and asparagus.

The cork in the bottle of 2008 Wellington Zinfandel had dried out so we had to dig the cork out and push it into the bottle and decant the wine by pouring it through a strainer into a pitcher.  The wine was lovely, soft and mellow in flavor, just the way we like good California Zinfandels. We could not finish our steaks, so there may be a French onion soup in the near future.

We watched 60 Minutes, Home Fires and Indian Summers with a glass of cognac and went to bed. 

Bon Appetit 

October 24, 2015 Lunch – Lan’s Dinner – Diana Stoneberger’s Retirement Party

October 24, 2015 Lunch – Lan’s  Dinner – Diana Stoneberger’s Retirement Party

I had a good long talk with Luke and a shorter talk with Billy in the morning.  At 10:00 I grabbed my new picture and my photograph of Georgia O’Keefe by Laura Gilpin and drove to Santa Fe.  I delivered the Agnes Sims picture to the framer and then drove to Andrew Smith’s Gallery.

 I had a wonderful conversation with Andy Smith during which he was kind enough to give me an appraisal price for the Gilpin photo and confirm the value of my William Clift.  Among the things we discussed included the newest tintype image attributed to Billy the Kid and another tintype of the Kid, both of which have been offered to Andrew.  He said he had passed on the one in the TV show because Billy’s face is obscured by some smudge of the plate, and that there is another image for which research is being done to validate it as an authentic photo of Billy the Kid at this time.  I loved talking with Andy, because is so pleasant and clever (he used to practice law) and seems to be at the center of the American photography market.

I then called Davida and made lunch plans to meet at Lan’s.  I then went to Owings Gallery and saw a nice Farney of a group of Indians talking ($300,000) and taked to Mark.   I then did a quick run through Aaron Payne Gallery, because Aaron was not there and went to Lan’s for lunch.  

I had to wait a while for Davida, so I read the current New Yorker article on the campaign for the Presidency.  After a while I became hungry, because I had only eaten a small Apple for breakfast, so I ordered an appetizer.  Lan brought me two lovely Sping Rolls with one of her wonderful aromatic Vietnamese sauces for dipping.  I had never had this kind of Spring Roll before.  It was vegetarian, a rice wrapper tightly wrapped around chopped lettuce, parsley, cilantro and homemade pickled ginger. It was fabulous.  I left one for Davida. When she arrived and tasted it, she went wild, and said, “this is the best thing I have ever tasted, I could eat these all day long, let’s get another one.”

So we did and it was delicious also. I ordered 

11. HOI AN CAO LAU $14 Pork tenderloin marinated w/ special viet spices, garlic + shallots, w/ organic salad: arugula, bean and sunflower sprouts, green onions, cilantro and fresh herbs served w/ rice noodles 

Davida was hungry and asked Lan, “What dish will be a lot of food.”  Lan gave several suggestions and Davida decided to order

9. BO SAO LEN (BEEF, LAMB, OR CHICKEN) $15 Thin sliced beef or chicken(breast) w/ pineapple, sweet onion, shallots, org. carrots, tomato, basil, limeleaf, roasted shallots, sesame seeds, cilantro served w/ jasmine rice or rice noodles

Davida did not specify whether she wanted rice of noodles and the dish was served with rice.  She said next time she would order it with noodles and more sauce.  There is always a shakedown period in getting to know a new good restaurant when one has to,learn how to order and get in synch with the menu and the kitchen and we are still in that period at LANs.  Alternatively, when i ate several weeks ago at LANs with Amy, she had settled on her favorite dish and ordered it and enjoyed it.  By the way Amy and Vahl are currently traveling on a postal ferry up the coast of Norway.  At this time of year it is the “Land of the Midday Sun” because the darkest period of the year is approaching.  I am looking forward to their return to hear all about it.

After lunch I returned to Albuquerque and slept for several hours. At 5:00 I rode to Montano and back, showered and at 7:00 went to Diana Stoneberger's home for her Retirement Party.  Diana is in Suzette’s girl group, so I talked with several of the members of it.  In fact I ate with Linda and her husband.  The dinner was catered by Bucco’s Italian Restaurant, I think.  It included a penne tossed with Alfredo sauce, chicken and Italian sausage, Lasagna Bolognese, and two types of salad.  I chose the Cesar Salad.  The food was delicious and filling.  I noticed that there were quart containers of sauce and I asked the caterer if I could have extra sauce and he said, “By all means, I prefer these dishes with extra sauce.”  The Alfredo sauce was a little heavy, but the Marinara sauce was fabulous and added flavor and a more saucy texture to the cavelike baked lasagna.  I also sprinkled Parmasen cheese on the dishes. 

  Dinner at Diana's Retirement Party

Diana’s brother Richard was pouring wine and poured me a glass of Hahn Pinot Noir, which was a heavier California pinot without the delicate pinot flavor, but very drinkable, especially with the zesty Marinara Sauce of the lasagna.

Many of Bob and Diana’s golfing buddies were at the party and when I asked Bob, her husband, if they had any plans, he enthusiastically said, “We love to play golf with each other and we plan to play a lot of golf.”

Mimi Montgomery came over and said hello and Larry and she stopped for a moment and said hello as they were leaving.

I passed on the cheesecake, which one person reported as tasting great and the garlic bread, which also looked good.

I left at 9:00 and drove to the airport to await the arrival of Suzette’s flight from Houston.  It arrived an hour late due to a delay in Houston as they waited on the runway for a gap in the rainstorm caused by   Hurricane Patricia.  We went home and fell into bed.

Bon Appetit 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

October 23, 2015 PPI Soups. Potato for Lunch and Pork Miso Soup for Dinner

October 23, 2015 PPI Soups. Potato for Lunch and Pork Miso Soup for Dinner

I was not feeling very adventurous after the unsettling dinner last night and I had to stay home to help Roland install the new upgrade to the security system, so at noon I went to the garden and picked four large stalks of chives and sliced them into thin ringlets and garnished the last of the Vichyssoise with the handful,of chives for a super chivey soup.  I wanted something warm and creamy, so I sliced and toasted a piece of the Bosque bakery French Sourdough bread I had bought last week and piled sliced Coastal cheddar cheese onto it and melted the cheesy bread in the microwave for one minute at a power of 9 and it turned into a gooey fondue open faced sandwich that was delicious, especially with sips of Chianti.  

For Dinner I decided to use ingredients in the fridge to freshen up the fish soup and turn it into a miso soup.  I went to the basement and found a sheet of roasted nori seaweed and crumbled that into the soup.  Then I added a couple of Tbsps. of brown miso and the thinly sliced three green onions and added four more heads-on shrimp and a diced pork cutlet.  The soup took on a newly revived flavor.  Although still bland, it had all the vegetable and fish stock clearly in the background.  This is a secret I learned from my mother, who made chicken soup with two chickens; one to make the broth and one for the flavor and chicken at the end.  The fresh shrimp and pork added at the end provided the fresh meat flavor to the vegetable and fish broth.  

Another example of this principle of making meat soups is the one given two days ago of the seafood soup restaurants at the fish market in Ensenada.  There are lots of small restaurants that are simply covered tables and a stove with large pots of simmering fish caldo (broth) and a refrigerator for salsas and beverages.  There are usually large glass containers filled with the catch of the day, diced or shucked , such as clams, fish, shrimp, etc.  you simply point to the items you want and tell the lady cooking how much soup you want and she puts your selected amount of caldo and ingredients in a smaller pot and cooks it for a few minutes until the ingredients are boiled and serves you a wonderfully fresh seafood soup that combines the lovely  caldo and fresh seafood.  Of course if you want really fresh ingredients, like Suzette did, you can walk into the fish market and buy your own ingredients and bring them to La Señora and she will add them to her caldo for an even fresher seafood soup.  We had one of the best breakfasts we ever had during a rainy morning in a restaurant on the pier beside the fish market in Ensenada eating seafood soup in February during an El Niño year.

Tonight I watched Super Typhoon Patricia pound the coast just south of Puerto Vallarta as I ate my caldo and thought about the horror those wonderful folks who make their lives on the Pacific coast of Mexico must be going through.  But they are incredibly resilient and will rebuild and probably be cooking soup as soon as the government re-establishes power to the cities.

Bon Appetit

October 22, 2015 Edible Santa Fe Appreciation Dinner

October 22, 2015 Edible Santa Fe Appreciation Dinner

I ate a bowl of the PPI fish soup I made last night in anticipation of tonight's  invitation from the owners and staff of Edible Santa Fe to attend their annual appreciation dinner at Los Poblanos.  It is one of my favorite food events of the year and I consider it the commencement of the Holiday Season.  

The dinner is held in the large hall of the Sports Center at Los Poblanos, which is the most beautiful and dramatic room in Albuquerque, designed by John Gaw Means, built in the 30s by the McCormack/Simms family, and now wonderfully restored and maintained by the Remby/Sedberry family.

Nicole, who is the Marketing and Communications Director for the Center for Ageless Living went with me, since Suzette was out of town.  It was fun having a companion to enjoy the evening with.  I was happy to see Nicole quickly introduce herself to people, so we both talked to several different people during the cocktail period preceding the meal.  There were no appetizers this year, but lovely wines, including a chateau bottled white Bordeaux, several nice Argentinean malbecs, several good local beers and Gruet Brut.  I tied the white but was not in the mood for a dry white and settled on champagne.  

After about 45 minutes we were called to dinner.  There were name cards at each person’s assigned seat, which made seating easy.  We sat next to the owners of Albuquerque Olive Oil Company and across the table from Christine, who works for Hilton Hotels as the event planner at Buffalo Thunder Resort. Christine brought two friends, who it turned out were delta delta delta sisters from college days at NAU in Flagstaff.  They were going to a reunion this weekend, so were already in a festive mood.  

I missed the lovely appetizers of past years, but realized when dinner was served the reason why.  Stephanie and Walt and Executive Chef John had planned a lovely five course seated dinner. 

The first course was a amor bouche/pre-appetizer of a thin sliced round of salami and pickled beet sandwiching a thin layer of herbed cream sauce garnished with fresh sunflower sprout pedals.  I liked it very much and it reminded me of what a creative appetizer chef John is. 

The second course was also very creative; roasted sweet potatoes, which I love , but the chipotle garlic sauce veered dangerously close to the edge of being too spicy for me that made me barely notice the fried sage and thyme garnish.

The entrée did me in; lovely pork tenderloin roasted at low temperature to pink, but coated with a crust of raw Szechwan peppercorns and served on a puddle of sauce made by emulsifying Thai green chile curry in cream.  I could not enjoy the pork for the hotness of the sauce and the overly pungent flavor and harsh crunch of the roasted peppercorns.  Of course I ate the pork but did not enjoy it.  The red pearl onions and oyster mushrooms in the pork dish were delicious though.  Christine from across the table allowed me to taste her Lamb Pot au Feu, which was a delicious lamb stew without any added heat, perhaps because as Chef John stated in his introductory remarks, ?”I cook it the way I was taught to cook the dish by the first chef I worked for.”  Therein lies the secret to the irrational quality of the food at Los Poblanos in my opinion.  When the chef cooks to a pre-established standard, such as a classic lamb Pot au Feu that he accepts as a correct recipe, the prep and flavor is fabulous because the quality of ingredients is first rate, but given the impulse to “be creative” his sauces and dishes inevitably veer off the chart in hotness.  This makes eating at Los Poblanos an unpleasant experience for me because it is a guessing game to determine what dish will veer off my heat scale.  

  The roasted pork tenderloin 

      The vegetarian entree of mashed celeriac, which was fabulous

    The lamb Pot au feu, also very good

Dessert included a lovely pecan tart and a so so panne cotta with a not very interesting Elderberry coulis with overcooked tiny lavender shortbreads.

    The pecan tart with Apple balls
  The panne cotta

The other things that made the meal memorable, other than the over used of chilis and peppercorns, were the lovely home made limoncello with a lovely gelatin served between the appetizer and the entrée to clear the palate, the fresh dinner rolls with organic butter, and the wonderful chocolates served after dessert, which made me think I had been served a French style five course meal.  The only thing missing was a cheese course, which would have completed a standard French six course meal, especially if the appetizer had included seafood. 

During the night my body experienced a somewhat allergic reaction with a runny nose and distress.  I don’t know exactly what caused it because I had eaten so much spicy food, but I guess it to be the raw Szechwan peppercorns and Thai green chile combination on the pork tenderloin.

The takeaway for me from this meal is to never and I mean never order anything at Los 
Poblanos with any chili or spicy ingredient in it, and preferably stay with dishes dominated by vegetables.

The wine that was served liberally during dinner and the three hour long meal with long periods between courses also made me think of a French style meal.

A rather unsettled Bon Appetit 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

October 21, 2015 Lunch –East Ocean, Dinner – Fish Soup

October 21, 2015  Lunch –East Ocean, Dinner – Fish Soup 

Today was wet and cool with intermittent rain most of the day.  I was torn between Vietnamese soup at Que Huong and Scallops in Lobster Sauce at East Ocean  I called James Turk, whose favorite restaurant is Que Houng, but he was not available, which made my decision for lunch and dinner easy. 

 I went to East Ocean for Scallops in Lobster Sauce and decided to make   three marlin steaks I had bought a few months ago at Ranch Market into a fish soup, since Suzette would never eat them.  Suzette is cruising the Caribbean with her sister.  Here is a picture of a sunset she sent me.  Quite lovely.

I love food that looks ugly but tastes delicious and scallops in Lobster Sauce may be at the top of my list.  Egg, ground pork and scallops swimming in a gooey thickened chicken stock sauce.  Here is a picture.  One mixes the rice into the sauce or the sauce with the rice to make a gooey mass that can be lifted with chop sticks to one’s mouth.  I usually get it with fried rice and sweet and sour chicken for $6.95.  I know of no better way to eat scallops in Albuquerque at any price.

For dinner I thawed out the marlin steaks and  removed the meat from the skin and bone and put it in a large pot with one medium chopped onion, four or five chopped cloves of garlic, the stalks of three Yu Choy, ¼ red bell pepper, three stalks of celery, and a chopped carrot and sautéed them in a Tbsp. of olive oil.  After a few minutes of cooking the fish and mirepoix I filled the pot with water and added a handful of chard leaves from the garden.  I then chopped and added two small tomatoes I had picked last week in the garden and three baby portobello mushrooms and covered the soup pot with a lid.  I then went to the garden and picked seven or eight stalks of thyme and about 1 tsp. of fresh oregano and added them to the soup.

After a few minutes I tasted the broth and it did not have much flavor, so I looked in the fridge and found two stalks of lemon grass.  I sectioned one stalk and added it plus about 1/3 cup of PPI fish sauce I had made and ½ cup of PPI basmati rice.  In another few minutes I tasted the soup and it tasted much better.

I ate PPI potato/leek soup for a snack at 6:00.  I turned down the heat and went to meditate at 6:45, but it was canceled due to the foul weather.  When I came home around 7:15 I turned the heat up slightly and brought the soup to a slightly rolling simmer.

I read Blood and Thunder about the life and times of Kit Carson for an hour and decided to eat soup, so I added 1 ½ cups of de-stemmed sugar snap peas (Costco $5.49 for 2 lb.) and let those cook for about 20 minutes.

Then I added a bag of La Moderna Mexican small macaroni elbows and six large heads-on shrimp and cooked those for another 15 minutes until the macaroni had cooked completely.

I loved the soup.  It was a wonderful fish caldo like those I have eaten at the great fish markets in Mexican beach towns, such aa in Ensenada, combined with lots of wonderful vegetables, which added a vegetable flavor.  Eating it was fun because of all of the small macaroni elbows among the vegetables and fish.

After two bowls of soup, there still remained a bucket of soup.  I put the soup pot into our new fridge.  There is enough soup to last for days.

Bon Appetit 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

October 19, 2015 Brunch – Polish Dog, Dinner – Stir fried Pork with Sugar Snap Peas, Yu Choy, and Bamboo Shoots

October 19, 2015 Brunch – Polish Dog, Dinner – Stir fried Pork with Sugar Snap Peas, Yu Choy, and Bamboo Shoots

It is really Fall.  Here is a picture of the changing leaves outside my front door.

I went to Costco at around 11:00 for medicine and stopped for my favorite inexpensive lunch, a Polish Dog and a drink for $1.50 plus tax.

I ate a little potato soup at 4:00 and started cooking dinner at around 5:30.

Stir Fried Pork, with Yu Choy, Sugar Snap Peas, and Bamboo Shoots

You I chopped 1/3 small onion, a quarter sized piece of ginger, four cloves of garlic, and five stalks of Yu Choy and put the white stems, with the just mentioned ingredients.  I chopped and put the green leaves into a different colander with a sliced mushroom.  I then diced 1 pork loin chop (Costco $2.99/lb.).

I made 1 cup of basmati rice with dried sliced shiitake mushrooms and Lilly flowers. 
I fetched sesame oil, peanut oil, soy sauce, Chinese rice cooking wine and oyster sauce and mixed them with 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 Tbsp. of, soy, 1 Tbsp. of rice cooking wine, 1Tbsp. cornstarch, 1 Tbsp. of oyster sauce, and a couple of dashes of sesame oil to make a thickening sauce.

I cooked the hard vegetable mixture first for about 2 or 3 minutes.  Then I added the pork and cooked it until it turned mostly gray, about five minutes.  Then I added the green leaves and mushroom.  After another minute I added the thickening sauce which thickened a bit too much, so I added some water to loosen up the gravy.  

The dish was a complete success.  The bamboo shoot threads almost softened to become a part of the sauce and coated the firmer pork and vegetables nicely.

The rice with the softened Shitake mushrooms and Lilly flowers also enhance need the total effect of the dish.  

I ate two plates, it was so delicious.  

Later I ate the PPI chocolate pudding with ice cream and a dash of Grand Marnier.

After the Antiques Roadshow I watched my new favorite show, “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having”. This week Phil went to Hong Kong. I love the fact that Phil calls his elderly Jewish parents and does a little part of the show with them every week.  This week he got his Dad to get up and do tai chi with him on Skype.  

At 10:00 I went to bed in a good mood. 

Bon Appetit

October 20, 2015 Lunch – Le Troquet, Dinner PPI – Cesar Salad and Stir Fried Pork, Bamboo Shoots, Yu Choy, and Sugar Snap Peas

Today Peter Eller took me to lunch at Le Torquet.  I ordered the onion soup, chicken crepe, and mousse.  Peter ordered the potato/leek soup, the calf’s liver, and a crème brûlée.  I did not like the sauce for the crepe so sent it back and ordered the calf’s liver.  The onion soup was its usual excellent, Peter’s potato soup was excellent, my liver was a little over cooked and tough, but Peter’s liver was perfect crisp on the edge and soft in the center.  Both livers had that wonderful balsamic and Demi-glacé sauce.  Peter liked his Crème Brûlée.  My chocolate mousse was served differently, a mound of whipped cream, a mound of chocolate mousse, a lovely thick fresh chocolate sauce, and several sliced strawberries, which seemed much fresher than last Friday’s mousse.

    Peter's Creme Brûlée 
  The Chocolate Mousse

After lunch I gave two food blog cards to a young lady who I had seen eating in the restaurant on Friday and her friend who claimed to be foodies.   Let’s hope more foodies come to Le Troquet, which means “The Tavern” in French according to John, the waiter, who speaks French.

I still contend that its $12.95 three course lunch is one of the best food values in Albuquerque.

After lunch Peter was kind enough to look at the Agnes Sims “Little Man with Monkey Eyes” and discuss frames.  

We had a piece of bread with Stilton and a sip of Chianti.

For dinner I ate PPIs, the Cesar Salad from several days ago and last night’s Stir Fried Pork.  

Bon Appetit 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October 17, 2015 Lunch – PPI Ratatouille. Dinner – Cesar a Salad and Chocolate Pudding

October 17, 2015 Lunch – PPI Ratatouille. Dinner – Cesar a Salad and Chocolate Pudding 

I worked with the electricians to fix the whole house fan and pump.

They also installed some outlets in the kitchen and fixed the surround sound in the TV room.

I ate the PPI Ratatouille and couscous for lunch and enjoyed it.  The ratatouille was a really delicious vegetable stew containing squashes, tomatoes, eggplant, onion and whole cloves of garlic.

I had a smoked salmon sandwich and several Lebanon Bologna sandwiches at 7:30 and then at 9:00 I made a Cesar Salad.  A little later I was hungry for dessert and wanted warm chocolate pudding.  I did not have a recipe, so I whisked three whole eggs, ¼ cup of heavy cream, 1 cup 2% milk, ½ cup of sugar, and 1 cup of chocolate chips and 1 Tbsp. of Grande  Marnier into a sauce pan and stirred it for about ½ hour on low heat on the new stove until it became a thickened stirred custard with flecks of egg white.

I have always loved warm chocolate pudding.  I ate it with a glass of Grande Marnier mixed with cognac.

I later watched a wonderful movie called “Brave One” with Jodie Foster,  Terence Howard, and Mary Steenburgen .

Bon Appetit 

October 16, 2015 Lunch – Le Toquet, Dinner – neighborhood Cocktail Party

October 16, 2015 Lunch – Le Toquet,  Dinner – neighborhood Cocktail Party 

I went to lunch with Bill Turner and Matt.  They were kind enough to go to Le Toquet.  Bill ordered Escargot Bourgogne and a cup of onion soup.  Matt ordered a Croque Monsieur sandwich.  Bill’s plump snails were floating in a lovely fresh garlic and parsley butter sauce. Yummy.  Matt’s sandwich was oozing Béchamel Sauce, the way one would want it to.

    Onion soup

     Creme Caramel

    Bill and the tab 

   See the Béchamel oozing from the Croque Monsieur 

I ordered the three course lunch with onion soup, ratatouille with couscous, and crème caramel.  The ratatouille with couscous was delicious but I could not finish it, so boxed it for lunch on Saturday.  The Crème caramel was well done.  The food continues to be surprisingly well prepared and tasty.  

At 5:00 I made a platter of smoked salmon canapés and then at 6:00 we went to the topographical photo show with Charlie and Susan at UNM Art Museum.

Then we returned home at 7:00 and grabbed the platter of smoked salmon canapés and a bottle of Chablis and drove to the Neighborhood Cocktail Party at Terry’s house.  

Everyone brought good mostly home made food, like two plates of pigs in the blanket, a plate of fried shrimp and a sweet dipping sauce, a plate of store bought pastries, hummus, antipasto,  and a wonderful fried kale.

There were many good wines also. This party had the best food and wine of any party in a long time.

Bon Appetit 

Friday, October 16, 2015

October 15, 2015 Lunch – Mary and Tito’s, Dinner – Tuna, Tofu, Yu Choy and Noodles.

October 15, 2015 Lunch – Mary and Tito’s,  Dinner – Tuna, Tofu, Yu Choy and Noodles.  

I made gravad lax (3/4 cup of sugar, nearly 1 cup of salt, about 1/2 tsp. of black pepper, and 3 oz. of dill) at around 9:30 and d and placed it in the new fridge to cure.

Rita and Ken came in from San Antonio for an appointment and lunch today.  They wanted authentic New Mexican food, so I suggested Mary and Tito’s for it authentic atmosphere and excellent red chili with meat.  You have to ask for meatless red chili.

Ken ordered a smothered burrito stuffed with carne adovado and Rita ordered blue corn enchiladas with red chili, her usual.  I ordered my usual, a stack of three enchiladas with beef and with red chili with onions and extra garnish.  The chili was just at the limit of what I can handle.  They loved it.  Rita grew up in Albuquerque and Ken is a foodie.

  Ken's smothered burrito 

   My Enchladas 

Suzette drove to Santa Rosa today after going to court for a no license traffic ticket, so she did not get home until almost 8:00.  I had planned to grill the tuna steak I bought at Sprouts on the 14th for $5.99/lb. and stir fry some of the Yu Choy with it.  I started peeping at 6:00 by cutting up six stalks of Yu Choy and separating the stalk white pieces from the green leafy pieces and then rinsed the pieces in our new sink with the new faucet’s sprayer setting, which worked well.  I called Suzette around 7:00 and found out she had just passed Moriarty and would be home in 45 minutes. I abandoned my idea of grilling and decided to make a noodle dish, since I did not want rice and the noodle dish could be cooked in one wok, which would save Suzette having to grill the tuna.

I thinly sliced ½ onion, three portobello mushrooms, two cloves of garlic, about 1 oz. of fresh ginger sliced, three oz. of tofu and the tuna steak and put the onion, tuna, ginger, and garlic with the hard stalks to be cooked first and the mushrooms and tofu with the leaves to be cooked second.

I then made a thickening sauce of chicken stock with Knorr dehydrated chicken stock and hot water from the kitchen faucet and added sesame oil, Chinese rice cooking wine, soy sauce, and corn starch to the sauce so I could simply stir fry the ingredients and the add the thickening sauce to quickly finish the dish. 

The only tricky part was cooking the noodles.  I chose the remaining two round flat wheat noodle bundles plus lots of broken pieces and put them in a pyrex bowl and covered them with water and a dash each of soy, sesame oil, and rice cooking wine. I then cooked them in the microwave for 5:55 minutes at a power of 70%, I think.  It cooked them to just beyond al dente, which is what I wanted because I intended to stir fry them into the dish after I cooked the other ingredients.

When Suzette arrived she was hungry.  She was able to light a burner on the new stove with a match, so I was able to cook on the new stove for the first time.

I put the hard ingredients and tuna in first and cooked them until the tuna turned from red to gray.  I then added the soft ingredients and cooked them for a minute or two until they mixed into the hard ingredients.  I the added the thickening sauce and told Suzette we were one minute away from being ready.  She found out two large soup bowls and I added the drained noodles after another minute or two as the sauce began to thicken.  The liquid in the noodles thinned the sauce a bit so I stir fried the noodles and other ingredients together for another minute or two and then scooped the thickened mixture into the soup bowls with the wok spatula.

We ate our pile of noodle and sauce with chop sticks.  Suzette drink her scotch with dinner and I drank a ginger beer, which enhanced the ginger flavor of the dish.

Suzette loved the dish.  I told her, “This is what I fix for lunch many days in the winter.”  (A soup made with some combination of meat, vegetables, and noodles). 

The sauce had thickened further in the wok, so I poured the liquid left  from cooking the noodles into the wok and made a noodle soup for my breakfast tomorrow.

Suzette packed and I retired to bed with the last of the bottle of XO Calvados and two Ferrero Rochers and read the Book Club selection for this month, “A Slight Shift of the Mind” about an imagined elderly Sherlock Holmes by Chris Mullins.

Bon Appetit 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

October 14, 2015 Lunch – Café Trang, Dinner – Tuna and Calamari Sashimi

October 14, 2015  Lunch – Café Trang,  Dinner – Tuna and Calamari Sashimi

I had a medical procedure until about 10:30 in the morning, after which I went to Trader Joe’s to buy artichokes.  There were no artichokes, but I did buy four of my favorite inexpensive wines, Chateau Haut-Sorillon 2012 Bordeaux Superiore ($7.99), La Granja Tempranillo/Grenache blend ($4.99), Monte Ducay Reserva 2011, and Guetano Di Aquino 2011 Riserva Chianti ($5.99).

I still wanted some fresh vegetables and meats, so I then drove to the Sprouts Academy store with the expanded meat department and found thee types of salmon on sale.  I bought 3 lbs. of the fresh wild caught salmon for $5.99/lb. and then bought two pieces of Aji Tuna also on sale for $5.99/lb., one chunk for a sashimi dinner tonight for me and a larger .8/lb. steak for Suzette and me to split for tomorrow night.  I also bought a 3 oz. container of fresh dill to make Gravad lax, two bunches of asparagus for 1.48/lb. and portobello mushrooms for $3.99/lb.

I went home, but soon was called by Karim to help him complete a real estate transaction no form a company to hold title.  I agreed to meet him and Nizar for lunch at Café Trang.  While I was completing the company formation paperwork, I received a call from Richie, another of my long time clients, who told me he was selling his business and wanted me to help him.  Suddenly, my corporate/ business/real estate practice seems to be picking up.

At 1:00 I met Karim and Nizar for lunch at Café Trang.  They split a bowl of tofu and vegetable soup, which is essentially what I had for breakfast because I ate the PPI miso noodle soup with halibut and shrimp, so I ordered a No. 56, which was a fried wheat noodle dish with beef, chicken,and vegetables.  It looked great and tasted great when the fried noodles and vegetables and beef were bathed in the puddle of light brown gravy on which the nest of fried noodles were laid on.

After lunch I went across the parking lot to Talin to buy a daikon for my sashimi dinner.  I went to the fish department looking for boiled octopus.  There was no octopus but there was three or four types of calamari, so I let my favorite fish monger suggest one.  He picked the largest size, so I took one of them.  Then I bought a replacement bottle of Hoisen sauce and went to the vegetable department, where I bought beautiful shallots ($1.49/lb.), a daikon ($.99/lb.), and a bag of Yu Choy ($.99/lb.).  

I drove home happily with lots of ingredients for two tuna meals, gravad lax, and lots of fresh vegetables.

At 5:30 I sliced the smaller tuna steak and sliced the larger end of the calamari and part of the daikon and ate them with PPI wasabi and tamari and PPI pickled ginger that had over-fermented in the fridge in the last year. 

I then went to meditate at 6:45 and had a good meditation because we turned out the overhead light and only had the light of the alter candle and a Japanese lantern, which was enough.

Suzette was celebrating her birthday with her girl’s group at Seasons.

I also called Peter Eller and made a lunch date to take him to Le Toquet on Friday.

Bon Appetit