Saturday, January 30, 2016

January 29, 2016 Lunch – Doc Martin’s, three wine seminars, birthday dinner for Rebecca and Mickie

PJanuary 29, 2016 Lunch – Doc Martin’s, three wine seminars, birthday dinner for Rebecca and Mickie

We awakened around 8:00 and ate some Nutella Baba that Mickie brought from New York with coffee and tea.  

At 10:45 Suzette and I drove the short three miles to town and parked at Taos Inn.  We were hungry so we went to Doc Martin’s Restaurant at 11:00 when it opened.  We were tired of Mexican food and I wanted a duck confit salad and was pleasantly surprised to see a duck, confit salad with blue cheese and walnuts on the menu, so I ordered it.  The other interesting item was an Elk meat burger, which Suzette ordered with home cut fried potatoes.  The items were $12.00 each and the kitchen split each item for us.

   Duck Confit Salad

  Elk Burger

I loved both items.  We were not hungry enough to eat all of the salad, so we put about 1/3 of it in a to go box.  We heard later the Billy and Elaine also ate ate Doc Martin’s. Billy ordered the Huevos Ranchos and enjoyed it.

After lunch we called Elaine and found out that she was shopping at a book store on Bent street, which was 1 block from the Taos Inn, so we walked to the book store.  I saw a paperback copy of “Blood and Thunder” on sale, so I bought it as a birthday gift for Mickie and the bookstore was nice enough to gift wrap it for me.

Elaine bought note cards with images by Gene Kloss on them and a book.

We then walked the 1!/2 block to Robert Parsons’ Gallery, where we saw more Gene Kloss prints. 

It was 12:10 and the first wine seminar started at 12:30, so we bid Elaine goodbye, waked back to the car parked at Taos Inn, and drove the ½ mile to Monte Sagrado (Sacred Mountain in Spanish). 

The first seminar was a vertical tasting of Ridge Winery’s Monte Belo Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.  As stated in Wednesday’s blog,the Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet is judged to be one of the best wines in the world.  We first tasted the 2004 and 2012 Chardonnays to compare how they aged.  The 2004 tasted amazingly fresh and fruity, which is unusual for an 11 year old white wine.  There was some discussion about how this could occur and Eric Baugher, VP of Winemaking suggested it was due to the stressed environment of the hillside on which the wine grew that developed higher alcohol and tannins in the wine.  He said the winery was trying to make the vines relax a little to reduce the alcohol and the winery fined the wine with egg whites to reduce the tannins in the wine.  Apparently tannin is attracted to a chemical in egg whites and subsides out.  The winery experiments with the number of egg whites per barrel and has used up to 7 per 60 gallon barrel.  The other noteworthy thing about Monte Belo is that it makes a Bordeaux style Cab in which small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdote, and Merlot are blended with the Cabernet Sauvignon until the wine has the preferred flavor.  The wine is aged in mostly American barrels made with eastern Appalachian oak from Kentucky, which is the oak with the most stressed and thus tightest or hardest wood.  Eric thought the Eastern oak barrels were comparable to French oak and cost less than ½ the amount of French barrels.  Ridge buys about 10 to 15% new barrels each year and reuses the barrels for about 12 years.  The grapes are processed and fermented in small lots of about 1 ½ tons each and then blended later after they have fermented and aged.  There is a lot of care taken to separate the early juice flowing from the press from the later juice.

  Eric moderating the Ridge wine tasting

The other really interesting aspect of Monte Bello' viticulture is that it raised by dry land farming.  There is no irrigation. The vineyard relies upon the 20-30 inches of rain that falls on the Santa Cruz Mountains annually plus all that ocean fog.

I was astounded with the amount of science and record keeping associated with a great wine.  We then drank our way back from the newly released 2012 Monte Belo Cab, to the2004, the 2000, the 1995, the 1992, and finally the 1985.  I found the 2000 and the 1992 to be the most enjoyable, which was interesting because both of those years, according to Eric, were hot years with below average rainfall, so the grapes took longer to mature and therefore produced more tannin because the seeds inside the grapes np matured and turned very brown.  So a hot year with less rainfall in an area with a large diurnal shift in temperature is good for great wine. 

I think Eric said that Monte Bello Mountain contains some limestone and sits next to the San Andreas Fault.  It is located in the northern Santa Cruz Mountains at 2300 feet on the ridge between Southern San Francisco Bay (Cupertino) and the Pacific Ocean on its west and Santa Cruz to the south.  Eric studied science at UC Santa Cruz before going to work for Paul Draper the wine maker at Ridge in the late 70’s.

After the Ridge tasting Suzette and I went to the billiard room and played a game of eight ball and each drank an extra glass of Monte Bello cab with our PPI duck confit salad.

At 2:30 we attended an Italian wine primer given by Shelley Lindgren, who has been associated with Italian wine for many years and is sommelier for three Italian restaurants in the Bay Area, including SPQR.

Here is the tasting sheet of wines and notes.  My favorite was the Lambrusco rosato prosecco named Cleto Chiarli from Modena, which is located in Emilia-Romagna, east of Tuscany near the Adriatic.

After the tasting we bought the SPQR cookbook and Shelly autographed it to Suzette.  Here are the pictures.

Greg, who is the organizer of the Winter Wine Festival invited us to stay for the Calera's wine tasting with Josh Jensen at 4:30. I am not sure whether he was trying to fill seats, liked my questions, liked that we bought a cookbook, or was honoring the years of support Suzette and I have given to the Festival, but we stayed and enjoyed a rare opportunity to hear the history of one of America’s premier Pinot Noir wineries from its founder.

Josh Jensen became interested in French Burgundy and worked in the Cote d’ Or as a young man for five years where he learned wine making from the best in France.  He became aware that the best burgundy was produced on the eastern slope of the Somme Valley because that is where there was an ancient sea bed that left a shelf of limestone.  So when Josh returned to California in the early 70’s he began looking for an area with limestone and finally found a mountain of it at Mt. Harlan in the northern Gavillan Mountains on the boundary between Monterrey and San Benito Counties, where he bought his first land and planted his first vines in 1975..  He now has six separate vineyards surrounding Mt. Harlan, with the youngest, De Villiers and Ryan being 17 and 18 years old, respectively.  The tasting included the six vineyard’s 2013 pinots.  All the pinots rate from 91 to 98 in the Wine Spectator, so these are America’s best pinots.  They are chalky, full bodied wines with great complexity and that austerity and elegance of great pinot.  Josh has single handedly transferred the great wine making traditions of France’s Burgundy region to the U.S.

Amazingly, Mt. Harlan is at 2200 to 2500 feet in elevation and clings to an equally steep hillside as Monte Bello Vineyards.  Josh’s explanation for the grape growing is, “the vines are naturally stressed” from the hard limestone laden soil.  Also, the last four years of drought have intensified that stress.  Calera’s production has dropped in each of the last three years.  Josh seemed resigned to the fact that he had to live with what nature provided, both good and bad.  If history is a guide the 2015 vintage could be one of the best.  It relies on some irrigation, but Josh noted that the salty fog from San Francisco Bay imparts some saltiness to the wine and of course provides moisture for the vines.

After three terrific seminars we were a little tipsy, but managed to drive  to Smith’s to buy cilantro, blackberries, and lemon sorbet for dinner and then made our way back to the house by 6:30.

When we arrived Billy was cooking in the kitchen, Rebecca had finished sautéing her zucchini and eggplant marinated in lemon juice, parsley, and olive oil.  Elaine and I de-stemmed about 1 pound of sugar snap peas and we steamed them when Billy thought his chicken and rice baked with onions and currants and seasoned with cumin and cinnamon was nearly ready.  We opened the two bottles of Wellington 2007 Mohrhardt Ridge Vineyard Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon.  This is another of those wines grown high on the ridge line next to the Pacific Ocean where there is the largest diurnal shift between day and night temperature but I don’t think there is any limestone on Mohrhardt Ridge and the wine pales in comparison to the Ridge Vineyard Cab.  Of course it is 1/7 the price of Ridge’s Cab and rates a very respectable 88 to 91 points to Ridge’s 94 points and Calera’s up to 98 points, both of which are in the $170.00 to $200 range per 750 ml. bottle.

We enjoyed a hearty dinner of chicken thighs and rice, sugar snap peas, and the marinated eggplant and zucchini with the Wellington Cab.

Then we celebrated Mickie and Rebecca’s birthdays, which are on February 2.  Billy’s is on February 6, so I will give him a bottle of Wellington Noir de Noir, which is his favorite Wellington wine.

We ate a lovely dark chocolate torte from Whole Foods with the lemon sorbet and blackberries and opened a bottle of Gruet Brut Amy and Vahl had given us for a lovely dessert.

Suzette and I went to sleep after our full day of wine drinking around 9:00.

Bon Appetit 

Friday, January 29, 2016

January 28, 2016 Lunch – The Shed, Reserve Wine Tasting at Taos Winter Wine Festival

January 28, 2016 Lunch – The Shed, Reserve Wine Tasting at Taos Winter Wine Festival

After a lovely bowl of fresh blueberries and yogurt Suzette and I drove to town for my 9:00 hearing.  I was called to the lectern three times so it was important that I attend the hearing.  The most interesting thing said was when Judge Weschsler asked Lead attorney for the State Laurie Knowles, “when do you anticipate this adjudication being completed?” When she answered, “Optimistically by 2045,.” You could almost hear all the attorneys internal career retirements clocks turning in their heads. Mine stopped at 98.  I almost wanted to go to the lectern and say, “My fondest hope is we all are in attendance together on the day the completion of this case is celebrated.”

When the hearing ended at 11:10 I walked to The Shed on Palace and found all seven of the group already seated at the table for eight in the large main dining room and ordering.  I quickly gave my order, No. 5 with extra onions and beef with red sauce and double Posole.  That is an order I have been giving for the last forty-five years I the same location.  My first introduction to New Mexican food was at the Shed, so I have imprinted it as the most authentic form of New Mexican food and always feel good returning to The Shed to eat it.  I guess you could say it is now part of my cultural DNA.
Suzette then drove us to Taos as I napped.  When we arrived we drove to the rental house off Witt Rd.  It was a lovely four bedroom house with living room , kitchen/dining room and atrium.  

At 4:00 we drove to Monte Sagrado for the Reserve tasting that began at 4:30.  We went in at 4:30, grabbed our glasses, hung our coats, and started drinking and eating.  This year both the wine and food was good,  among the foods stand outs was a pork lettuce wrap, tuna tartare and beef tartare.  There was also a seafood ceviche and lots of other delicious dishes.  The wines were almost all superb.  We started with an Archer’s Summit and things did not go down much from there.  Here are some off the bottles I liked:

The best syrah was Jaffur. My here were lots of great pinots, but two in particular were Archer’s Summit from the Willamette Valley, a huge complex fruity pinot and at the other extreme, Calera’s Ryan Vineyard pinot, spare and chalky with strong tannins.  Strangely, I liked the Merryvale a Cab a lot.  We all agreed the best white was the Sancerre.

At 7:00 we drove home and were in bed soon after

Bon Appetit

January 27, 2016 Bistro 315’s Ridge Winery Winemaker Dinner

January 27, 2016 Bistro 315’s Ridge Winery Winemaker Dinner

We ate light lunches and breakfasts today because we had reservations for dinner at Bistro 315’s winemaker dinner in Santa Fe at 7:00.

Billy, Rebecca, and Elaine left around 1:20 to pick up Micky at the airport and then drove to Santa Fe and dropped Rebecca and Micky off at the St. Francis Hotel.  We left Albuquerque at 2:30 and drove first to Matteucci Gallery where we found the image that Billy and Elaine liked and took a picture of it.  

We then met them at the Cheese Monger’s on Marcy St., where we bought an Italian cheese named chippolini de truffeor something like that that was a round of goat cheese with a slice of black truffle on it.

We then viewed the Kloss prints at Owings  Gallery and got some helpful advice as to value from Mark.  We then decided to go to Zaplin Lambert Gallery on Canyon Rd., where Jeff and Richard showed us a wall filled with Kloss prints.  The reason for this is is because Peter Eller offered us two Kloss prints at what appears to be a very attractive price.

When we finished looking at Zaplin I drove us back to downtown Santa Fe and we walked to the La Fonda Hotel, but found its temporary bar to be filled.  The hotel is renovating its bar to its original  appearance in the 1920’s.  So we walked the short two blocks to the St. Francis and had drinks in the lobby.  

Amy and Vahl joined us and soon Rebecca and Micky came down to join us. At 6:45 we went to Bistro 315 and were seated at a table for eight.

Billy and I informed the group that we were paying for dinner with money from mother’s trust she set up for us, because we were all shared a close connection to Florence.

We were offered wine and Vahl ordered a bottle of Schug Pinot Noir.

Then the chef owner Louis Moscow came by with a ramekin filled with fresh black truffles from Perigord and said he would add an ounce of truffles for an additional $20.00 per ounce to the entrée course.  Suzette ordered an ounce for the entire table to share.

Soon the first glass of wine was served, a 2012 Estate Chardonnay produced at the famous Monte Belo Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  The wine was very interesting; a complex conglomeration of fruit, oak, and tannins that was surprisingly tasty.  The first course was soon served: a small mound of strips of fresh Marinated strips of Palm heart from Hawaii mixed with fresh crab lump meat.  Around the pile of crab and palm hearts was a circle of a thick Meyer lemon and saffron mayonnaise sauce with three small mounds of black garlic emulsion interspersed at three point on the circle.  We asked the Chef about the black garlic and he said he was usually garlic averse, buy enjoyed this form of garlic that was made by slow cooking garlic for a week at around 120 degrees of ambient heat in an adjoining oven to the one being used or wrapped in foil and placed on a hot water heater.  A new cooking method discovery. The slow cooking completely eliminated that sharp pungent taste of fresh garlic,while leaving a mild garlic flavor, sort of a preserved flavor.  We all loved the first course’s excellent fresh ingredients and the sauce’s flavor.  The Meyer lemon/saffron mayo with the crab and wine was a superb combination.  Suzette even liked and drank the Chardonnay, which is a rare compliment.

Soon the second glass of wine was poured, 2013 Pagani Ranch Zinfandel with grapes grown by the family in the Sonoma Valley.  This wine was also a huge fruity wine but thankfully lacking that spicy, peppery flavor of so many Zins.  I call this type of zin a new California zin because it emphasizes the fruity almost sweet characteristics of the zin grape, a very full bodied and jammy wine with dark berry overtones that I really enjoyed.  The second course was the fish course, a chunk of salmon roasted whole in a wood fired oven.  I loved the melt in your mouth tenderness of the barely cooked salmon infused with all of its juices. The salmon was garnished with porcini mushroom dusted fried onion rings and was resting on a small mound of blanched Brussels sprouts and roasted winter squash (probably butternut) that had been caramelized in a brown sugar and butter sauce flavored with sage.  I realize. That sage is a strong but wonderful accompaniment to winter vegetables.  The dish also contained thin slices of pickled caper berries.  I liked the hugely flavorful, almost syrupy zin and I loved the melt in your mouth salmon.  I just did think one complemented the other particularly well. I would have served the Chardonnay with the salmon.  I spoke to the winemaker about this mis-match at the Reserve Tasting in Taos the next night and he said Ridge simply does not produce enough wines to have complimentary wines for every course, so they pour the closest they have.  I liked the tossing of the squash and Brussels sprouts in a sage flavored caramelized butter sauce.  I don’t think I have ever had that combination before.

The third course was slices of beef tenderloin laid on a pile of creamed parsnips and potatoes purée flavored with black truffles and accompanied by a slice of wild mushroom strudel.  The meat was garnished with shallots cooked in a light cream sauce flavored with Rosemary and on the side of the dish was a Demi-glacé flavored with red wine.  In my opinion there were too many things going on with this dish.  I especially thought the red wine Demi-glacé over powered the subtle aroma and flavor of the truffled puréed vegetables’ flavor.  But these and criticism of small import in the overall breathtaking excellence of the combination of food and wine flavors of this dish.  The dish was served with Ridge’s 2012 Monte Belo Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, newly famous since the New York Times Wine Editor included the 1976 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon among the ten best wines he drank last year.  This now a $180.00 bottle of wine and the reason we chose to attend this wine dinner. At the end of this article I will share with you my secret for how to choose a great wine dinner, like tonight’s.

We passed the ramekin of fresh black truffles around the table and each person took one or two thinly shaved slices of truffle.  I put mine with the meat and puréed vegetables and enjoyed the subtle flavor and aroma of the truffle as much as I could in the flurry of sauces and flavors.  This was a completely successful dish with a fabulous wine.  

The Cabernet Sauvignon was full bodied, but an elegant smoothness and noticeable tannins which made Suzette and me realize that it was still quite young, although its complexity made it a very drinkable wine.  I would have liked to have tasted the 1976, leached of all tannin overtones.

The fourth and final course was a combination of a cheese course and a dessert course, a pastry turnover (think calzone) filled with bits of fresh pear and Raclette cheese baked Ito the pastry.  Unfortunately it was not served warm, which detracted from its flavor, because Raclette is best when it is warm and runny.  The turnover was garnished with poached huckleberries, which were delicious and laid on a slice of grilled Belgian Endive, which had an awfully bitter taste and tough texture that made it inedible for most of us.  The course was served with Ridge’s Petit Sirah produced at its Lytton Spring in the Dry Creek valley, which is the west side of the Russian River Valley as it flows from the north, north of Healsburg. The slightly drier region produces lighter fine bodied wines and this was a perfect example of such a fruity, light wine, light, smooth wine.  I liked it a lot.  

In fact I liked all the wines. The complex Monte Belo Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon met or exceeded my expectations, the heavy jammy, slightly sweet zin was a revelation, and the Petite Sirah was perhaps the best I have ever tasted, light, clean, yet fruity.

My method for selecting wine dinners is to compare the food menu and wines being served to the price.  What you want is beautifully prepared dishes with the highest quality ingredients, such as tonight’s dishes at a price that reflects only the cost of the food.  That means that the vineyard is contributing the wine at or below cost.  That had to be the case tonight.  The Monte Belo Cab is a $180.00 bottle, the Monte Belo chardonnay is at least $50 and the zin and Petit Sirah are not far behind.  Therefore, for the price of a good dinner one is receiving the wine for almost free.  Tonight’s wines would cost about the same $95.00 price tag as the food, so you are getting either the food or the wine for free.  This type of a meal is the best example of a great wine dinner, usually associated with major wine events, like the Taos Winter Wine Festival.  I tend to avoid more expensive wine dinners because at those the cost of the wine has to be accounted for as part of the cost of the dinner and often one or the other or both the quality of the food ingredients or wine quality is compromised.  Also, I have a good idea of what the food at a great restaurant, such as Bistro 315, should cost, once I see the menu, so I can tell whether the wine producer is supporting the meal with free or nearly free wine.  $95.00 is a good rule of thumb for an ideal price for the best ingredients prepared in stunning combinations at a great restaurant, such as Bistro 315’s Winemaker Dinner tonight.

Bon Appetit 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

January 26, 2016 Shed Family Dinner

January 26, 2016 Shed Family Dinner

I spent most of the day with Ricardo hanging the Florence Pierce pieces in the stairwell. 

I had a meeting with Jay this morning and he brought his ladder to help us gain access to the stairwell wall.

We went to Lowe’s for parts at noon and I dropped Ricardo off at his house at 1:00.

I went to a 1:30 meeting and then stopped at Cynthia and Ricardo’s house on the way home, where Cynthia showed me several great recipes in a recent issue of Real Simple magazine, including an Italian Wedding Meatball recipe with creamed Cauliflower.

At 3:00 I fetched the Posole and ate a couple of bowls of it for a late lunch.
Billy, Elaine, and Rebecca arrived just before 5:00.  I fetched the red sauce for Suzette and then started making guacamole with avocado, onion, cilantro, salt, lime juice, and Cholula hot sauce.  Suzette and Rebecca made the enchilada casserole by softening the blue corn tortillas in chicken stock flavored with red sauce and laying a layer of tortillas in a 13 X 9 inch pyrex baking dish with successive layers of cottage cheese, chicken, spinach, shredded longhorn and mozzarella cheeses, more tortillas and finally a garnish of powdered cojita cheese.

By 6:30 Ricardo had finished hanging the 3 Florence Pierces and we said goodbye to Ricardo, who had a lovely dinner of Italian Wedding Meat balls on puréed cauliflower waiting for him at home with Cynthia.

We started dinner with bowls of Posole and then ate the enchilada casserole with beers, crema, and guacamole.  Finally we made decaf coffee and ate pieces of mocha cake and fresh made whipped cream flavored with about 1 T. of confectioners sugar and a dash of vanilla extract. 

After dinner I gave Billy a tour of the recent art acquisitions.  

Here is a picture of the new Florence Pierces in their new home in our stairwell.


Bon Appetit

January 25, 2016 Shopping and cooking for Shed Dinner, Lunch – Chicken Fried Rice, Dinner - Crab Louis Salad

January 25, 2016 Shopping and cooking for Shed Dinner, Lunch – Chicken Fried Rice, Dinner - Crab Louis Salad

I ate fruit salad with granola and yogurt for breakfast again.

At 10:30 I made a quick Fried rice with chicken and chopped Bok Choy and an egg and the PPI Bobby Flay chicken and rice and Fried Tofu and steamed rice.

At 11:00 I drove to Ranch Market to purchase the ingredients for the Shed Red Sauce and Chocolate Mocha Cake.  When I saw large cans of Hominy on sale for $2.99 I could not resist the urge to make Posole so we could mimic my favorite dish at the Shed, No. 5, Blue Corn Enchiladas with double Posole.  I then went to the meat department, which is huge at Ranch Market and bought 3.5 lb. of pork Posole blend, which is end cuts of various kinds of pork plus split feet and neck bones.  I had a meeting with Aaron at 12:30, so as soon as I returned home I sliced ¾ of a large onion, chopped five or six cloves of garlic, and threw that into a large pot to sauté with a handful of Mexican Oregano.  

As the meat Sautéed I butchered it to remove tendons and fat and get it to bite sized pieces.  When Aaron arrived I added the Posole and covered it with water.  This took me about ½ hour, which is the quickest it has ever taken me to make Posole thanks to the pre-cooked hominy and the ore-cut Posole blend.

When Suzette came home we made crab Louis salads with the PPI greens we had picked in the garden yesterday , plus some extra romaine lettuce, the remaining 1/3 cucumber, the remaining 4 or 5 radishes, a tomato, and I made a quick Louis Sauce dressing with mayo, catsup, lemon juice, a dash of salt, and sweet pickle relish.

We halved and peeled the two avocados I bought at Sprouts and Suzette filed the halves with the crab claw meat I had bought at Sprouts ($12.99/lb.).

We drank a bottle of wonderful Romainian dry Riesling that Aaron gave me that was a pleasant blend of fruit and minerality.

After dinner we worked together to make first the red chili sauce and finally, the chocolate mocha cake.  I love making both dishes because they are such clever recipes.  The reason they seem clever to me is because they are both clever adaptations of classic French recipes to make local dishes.  For example, the red chile is really a Béchamel sauce made with a roux with the addition of garlic, emulsified with tomato juice and flavored with ground red chile; simple and quick.

The chocolate cake is not much more difficult.  It is a chocolate mousse or more appropriately a simple Hollandaise Family egg yolk sauce made by melting 12 oz. of bittersweet chocolate chips with 2 T. of coffee, 2. T. of sugar, 2 T. of water, and when that mixture is smooth adding 7 egg yolks off the heat and then whipping the 7 egg whites until stiff and folding them into the egg yolk mixture with the addition of 1 t. of vanilla extract.

Here are the two recipes.

I was jazzed to have my brother and his family visiting and from the cooking adventure, so I stayed up until midnight watching Charlie Rose, who had Hwa, the former Prime Minister of Hong Kong, and Mohamed el Erian, Chief economist for Allianz Ins. Co. and author of the recent book, “When Worlds Collide”.  Hwa gave a very hopeful perspective on China and El Erian gave a very clear warning of what needs to be done to save the U. S. Economy from collapse.

Bon Appetit

Monday, January 25, 2016

January 24, 2016 Breakfast – Blueberry Pancakes, sautéed roasted pork chop, fruit salad and yogurt, Dinner – Duck confit salad

January 24, 2016 Breakfast – Blueberry Pancake, sautéed roasted pork chop, fruit salad and yogurt, Dinner – Duck confit salad

During the morning news shows I peeled and diced 1 papaya, two mangoes, three oranges and a pineapple to make a tropical fruit salad of the type we usually make in PV or Sayulita.

We made breakfast this morning.  We used the last of the blueberries and blackberries to make pancakes.  I thinly sliced the last PPI roasted pork chop which Suzette sautéed in olive oil as a bacon substitute.  We garnished the pancakes with Maple syrup and yogurt.

I rode to Rio Bravo at 11:00.  When I returned we picked greens, turnips, and  radishes from our garden for our planned duck confit salad for dinner and Suzette washed and then spun them and bagged them and put them in the fridge.  We then then drove to Home Depot for light bulbs, s hooks to hang the utensils in the kitchen, and screws to use to mount the new Florence Pierces.

We then drove across the street to Costco where we bought Hershey’ chocolate syrup, spinach, sugar snap peas, a bunch of yellow tulips, and Suzette bought several items she needed to remodel a bathroom in Los Lunas including a toilet. Then it was back home to watch the AFC and NFC playoff games.  Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers looked dominant and I suspect will be favored to win the Super Bowl.  

At 5:00 I diced the turnips, three Yukon Gold potatoes and an organic leek from Sprouts, which Suzette tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper and baked in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes covered with aluminum foil and then uncovered for twenty to thirty minutes.. 

 While the vegetables were roasting I de-boned the duck and sliced the five radishes we had picked and I went to the gardens and picked fresh rosemary and garlic chives, which I chopped and used to flavor a balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and olive oil salad dressing with a bit of salt and two twists of fresh ground black pepper, which I let sit for about thirty minutes before dinner.  I also opened a bottle of 2013 Tuella Portuguese red wine from the Duero Valley (Trader Joe's for $6.99) and Suzette cut slices of Fano baguette.

When Suzette was heating the diced duck in olive oil she said, “this is not enough duck. We need more meat. Please dice up a piece of the PPI Bobby Flay chicken”, which I did and then I added a small handful of Nicoise olives from those Cynthia and Ricardo had brought yesterday.

In a few more minutes we were enjoying a lovely salad composed by Suzette of fresh romaine lettuce and greens from our garden garnished with warm roasted vegetables and sautéed duck, Nicoise olives, and chicken dressed with the lovely, creamy balsamic dressing.

After we ate our salad I ate several slices of the hard Italian San Joaquin cheese on my third piece of bread with sips of the dark complexly fruity Duero red.  The complexity of Duero wines, in my opinion, is the result of cultivation of the 77 different type of grapes grown in the Duero Valley randomly.  When one grape vine fails it is randomly replaced with another of the same or a different variety typically, which produces the unique complexity of Duero wine and port. 

Then before  this week’s episode of Downton Abbey I opened the chocolate sauce and Suzette chopped and in sautéed a small handful of pecans in 1/2 Tbsp. of butter.  She then scooped Java Chip ice cream into small bowls and I garnished them with chocolate syrup and Suzette topped them with the hot sautéed pecans.  She drank cognac with her dessert and I doused mine with rum and we watched TV.

We then soaked in the hot tub and went to bed around 9:30.

I think we planted our winter garden in September and covered three of the four raised beds and the chard in the garden with a frame of PVC and sheets of plastic.  The result has been fabulous; Beautiful greens and large tender turnips and radishes so far, with carrots, daikons, and beets hopefully to follow.

Bon Appetit 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

January 23, 2016 Bocce and Lunch with Cynthia and Ricardo, Dinner at East Ocean

January 23, 2016 Bocce and Lunch with Cynthia and Ricardo, Dinner at East Ocean

I left home at 9:30 and stopped at Zen Coffee where I bought a 12 oz. bag of fresh roasted coffee beans.  The beans were from Costa Rica and they were roasted to medium dark, which is the darkest roast produced by Zen Coffee.  I guess everyone knows by now that coffee is like wine.  It is a combination of the climate and soil in which it is grown.  All coffee we consider quality coffee is the arabica species of coffee.  The other major component is the manner and degree to which it is roasted. Generally the best quality control and consistency is achieve by roasting in small lots of less than 200 lb.  My guess is Zen roasts in lots of less than 40 lb. so they can heat and cool all the coffee very uniformly.

I then drove to Birdland for a meeting and when I returned at 11:30 Cynthia and Ricardo had arrived with lots of snacks, including olives, foie gras, crackers, goat cheese, and a large pot of vegetable soup. They also brought their patenk balls, six steel balls and a wooden marker ball.

  Bocce balls, patenk balls and snacks

Suzette made them Bloody Mary's and I grabbed a beer and we went took the snacks to the bocce court and played one game of patent and then a game with our bocce balls.

Around 1:30 we came back inside and heated Cynthia’s soup and toasted pieces of Fano Baguette.  The soup was a delicious vegetable soup with lots of curly kale, 
ITalian sweet sausage, and tomatoes.  We decided we needed some Northern White Beans, so Ricardo and I drove to Lowe’ and bought a 15 oz. can of beans.  When we returned Cynthia put them into the soup and we cooked the soup for an additional ten minutes to integrate their flavor.  We opened a bottle of Famille Perrin Cote du Rhone Reserve red wine (total Wine $7.99 less 15%) and sipped wine and ate buttered toast with the soup.

Finally around 2:30 to 3:00 we al decided we were tired and ready for naps and said our goodbyes.

At 6:00 Suzette and I decided we did not wish to cook dinner and decided we wanted roast duck, so we drove to East Ocean and ordered ½ Roasted duck for $10.95 and a platter of baby Bok Choy cooked in a garlic sauce with fried tofu.  The fresh vegetables are priced at market price.  Baby Bok Choy was $9.95 and the fried tofu was $3.00.  Suzette ordered a Tsingtao beer and we both started with hot tea.

Dinner was heavenly.  We sat by the window with a view of the full moon.

After dinner we went home and soaked in the hot tub.

Bon Appetit 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

January 22, 2016 Lunch – East Ocean, Dinner – PPI Bobby Flay Chicken and Fried PPI Rice and Sugar Snap Peas

January 22, 2016 Lunch – East Ocean, Dinner – PPI Bobby Flay Chicken and Fried PPI Rice and Sugar Snap Peas

I made some oatmeal with raisins and chopped walnuts for breakfast

Then for lunch I went to East Ocean for my favorite Chinese dish, Scallops in Lobster Sauce with Sweet and Sour Chicken, with hot tea for $6.95.  The restaurant uses the rather new to our market Peruvian deep sea scallops that are smaller than the North Atlantic ones but just as tasty for me and far better tasting than bay scallops.  The use of the cheaper Peruvian scallops allows East Ocean to include more scallops in the dish, which I find to be a big improvement.  Today’s prep was exceptionally good with lots of egg and sauce.  It is my favorite restaurant lunch experience.

After lunch I bought two baguettes at Fano’s Bakery and then went to Landmark Estate Sales and bought three 24 inch Florence Pierce resin works that Suzette found yesterday.  It seems like lots of art is coming our way these days.  

I then drove to Sprouts Farm Market at Academy and San Mateo, where I purchased baby portobello mushrooms, tomatoes, green onions, asparagus, a 1 lb. can of crab meat, large avocados, and leeks. 

Suzette has been shopping a lot lately and found a really wonderful nearly life size figure of a chef. 
Here it is sitting in our TV room.

When I returned home i rode to Rio Bravo and back without cold weather gear for the first time this year. 

Today was finally a good day for the market, so when I returned home I watched Cramer and then the news programs until Suzette arrived.  

We had tentatively decided to eat the PPI Bobby Flay chicken we fixed a couple of nights ago with PPI rice and Sugar snap peas and that is what we fixed.  I de-stemmed 1 cup of peas and Suzette sautéed them in the wok with rice and microwaved four thighs.  I asked Suzette what she wanted to drink with dinner and she said, “A light red Rioja” So I went to the basement and fetched a La Granja 50/50% Tempranillo/Grenache blend from Rioja and poured glasses of it.  Soon the food was ready. We enjoyed our simple, quick, and delicious dinner.  

The Bobby Flay method of cooking chicken pieces combines fricassed cooking for twenty minutes and the roasting the chicken in a 350 degree oven for twenty minutes.  The chicken is dusted with a rub made with black pepper, salt, ground fennel, and paprika. 

 After dinner I ate a bowl of Dark Cherry ice cream with dehydrated cherries that I rehydrated in the juice left in the bottle after all the Maraschino cherries are eaten.
I was tired after working most of the last two days and nights on a Petition for Rehearing for a part of my water case  on appeal to the 10th Circuit, so I went to bed around 8:30 and slept until 10:45. I could not sleep, so I watched “Children of a Lesser God” which I really enjoyed.  It is a love story between a deaf person, Marlee Matlin, and a speaking person, John Hurt.  
A terrific movie.

Bon Appetit 


Friday, January 22, 2016

January 21, 2016 New Recipe - Cloud Egg Noodles

January 21, 2016 New Recipe - Cloud Egg Noodles

I was on deadline for a 10th Circuit filing today, so did not have time to shop or cook. 

Surprisingly, I came up with an amazing lunch dish.  There was only about 1cup of noodle soup left, so as I heated it and stirred in two eggs whipped with 1 tsp. of Chinese Cooking wine and 1 stalk of Bok Choy diced and ½ cup of water.m

The result was amazing.  I put the whipped eggs in as the soup was coming to a simmer and they fully emulsified, which worried me a bit because I saw no egg curds  But, as the soup cooked and the temperature rose, the eggs congealed into soft clouds.  The result was lovely mounds of egg custard floating in the light soup broth with all the other ingredients mixed in.  It was one of the best lunches I have had in a long time.  

Dinner was reheated stroganoff goulash in a skillet with ½ cup of milk to emulsify it.

Delicious but nothing to write home about.

I got my filing filed on time.

Bon Appetit 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January 19, 2016 Lunch – PPI stroganoff goulash, Dinner – PPI Fish soup

January 19, 2016 Lunch – PPI stroganoff goulash, Dinner – PPI Fish soup

Today was a busy work day.  I had agreed to be a witness in an arbitration at 1:00 so I grabbed a quick delicious lunch at 12:00 by reheating some of the pork stroganoff goulash from last night’s dinner laid on top of the last of the fresh spinach 

    The PPI Pork Stroganoff Goulash 

I had no special plans for dinner when I drove to Albertson's to buy milk at 4:45 but when I arrived at the Butcher’s block counter I saw large shrimp on sale for $5.99/lb. and fresh flounder on sale for $2.99/lb.  I bought 1 ½ lb. of shrimp and 1 lb. of Flounder.

Then I bought a family pack of 9 or 10 fresh chicken thighs on sale for $.79/lb. and stopped at the ice cream coolers and picked up another 1.5 quart container of Java Chip ice cream, which is a new favorite flavor.

Suzette did not arrive until 6:00, so I cleared out some of the old books from my office so Jose can paint the office and hallway next week.

Suzette helped me carry the last load of books to the dumpster.  After we dumped the books, Suzette suggested we check the fish soup in the garage before she locked the garage door. It was frozen, so we decided to eat the PPI fish soup with the addition of the newly purchased flounder and some of the shrimp.  I asked Suzette whether she wished to drink Sauvignon Blanc or Albariño with dinner.  When she said, “Albariño.” I went to the basement and fetched a bottle of the 2010 Nessa Albariño and we chilled it while I cut up the flounder and peeled the shrimp and Suzette heated the soup.

I had taken the foie gras and butter out of the fridge and sliced and toasted three slices of French baguette before going to the cellar and while I was in the basement Suzette made herself an open faced canapé of foie gras.  After I returned and put the bottle of Albariño in the fridge, I ate the two remaining pieces of toast smeared with butter and foie gras, while Suzette heated the fish soup and sliced more French bread and toasted it in our new toaster.  

I continue to marvel that our little neighborhood grocery store, Lowe’s now stocks duck and pork foie gras ($7.99 for an 8 oz. slice).  I heard our neighborhood is becoming trendy and now I have proof of that.  I can hardly wait until Paul Silverman’s new Silver Street market at the corner of Silver and 2nd opens.  

After the soup had reheated Suzette added the diced flounder and peeled shrimp to the soup and about ½ cup of additional milk.

Then an odd thing happened; the flounder disintegrated and turned to white mush.  Fortunately, the large deveined Malaysian shrimp were fine and cooked into plump tender perfect shrimp.  The soup turned into a white mush looked very unappealing but tasted like a high protein fish porridge.  Ugly, but tasty.  Here is a picture: 

The wine was delicious.  Light, slightly fruity with just a bit of tannic bite at the end.  Not the best, white wine I have drunk in the last week, but a great wine for the $3.99 I paid for the Nessa Albariñoq

I had a second bowl of fish soup and later had a cup of Earl Grey and a Dark Lindor chocolate.  We were in bed by 9:30 after a busy day of work.  Suzette has an 8:00 appointment in the morning.

Bon Appetit 

January 16, 2016 Dinner at Linda and T.R’s

January 16, 2016 Dinner at Linda and T.R’s 

We had a busy day today.  We left home around 9:00 and made several stops, including shopping for shoes at Dillard’s, where Suzette purchased a pair of UGGs to replace the ones she recently wore out and a quick run through Total Wine to purchase eight bottles of wine at the 20% off sale.  Here are the bottles we bought.

We returned home around 12:30. While Suzette showered and dressed I made a salad with red leaf and romaine lettuce, Kalamata olives, diced tomato, diced cucumber and sliced and cubed San Joaquin cheese from Italy with a vinaigrette dressing utilizing our new bottle of Sprouts’ Spanish olive oil ($7.99/liter).  After we ate salad for lunch, we drove to Santa Fe.  

We started by going to Nedra Matteucci’s Gallery where we saw several nice paintings.  Then we went to Aaron Payne’s to see the Raymond Jonson pictures he had recently acquired at 4:00. There was one pen and ink piece that we both liked very much because it demonstrated Jonson’s technical gifts, so we negotiated a price and told Aaron to wrap up the piece at 4:30, while we drove to Santa Fe Clay to view its cup show.  Suzette had recently broken the last cup we bought at a Santa Fe Clay cup show several years ago, some we wanted to replace it, if possible.  Luckily, we soon found a nice cup that was made with high fire clay for $43.00 that we both liked and bought it.

Then at 5:00 we drove back to Aaron Payne’s Gallery and picked up our new Raymond Jonson piece.

    The bottom of the piece is on the left side of this picture

We drove to David Richard’s new Gallery on Pacheco to see the gallery and its inaugural show,featuring an English artist named Huxley.  I did not ask if he was related to the famous family of writers.

At 6:15 we drove to Linda and T.R. Phillips’ house on Old Pecos Trail for dinner and to spend the night.  We took two bottles of wine, an 2013 Archer’s Summit rose and a 2014 Gruet rose.

When we walked in we were offered a drink and I immediately saw a bottle of Raicilla. Raicilla is crafted in the mountains above Puerto Vallarta,  Jalisco and is not controlled by a Denomination of Origin.
The Angustifolia, Rhodacantha, Maximiliana, and Inaquiden agave are used in the production of Raicilla, not the root of the agave as many have thought.  The "mezcal producers in the state of Jalisco called their product raicilla (which means root), to get around the "legalities" of mezcal and tequila.

Linda and T.R. developed a cluster of homes near Sayulita named Baliville, where we stayed several years ago, so they are familiar with all the local food stuffs and spirits.  I took a glass of it and found it quite tasty on rocks. 

Suzette had a scotch on rocks. Soon the three other dinner guests arrived, Steve and Mitzi, who deal in European mid-century modern furniture, and Les, who was a neighbor and going to go with T.R to Sayulita this week, and is in finance.

We sat and talked for a while, mainly about Mexico. Les has visited San Miguel de Allende for the last 15 years, so we asked him about it and talked about Lake Chapala and the colonial highland area of Mexico.

After about an hour we were ushered into the dining room.  I poured glasses of 2013 Archer’s Summit rose and then Gruet rose for dinner.
Linda had baked a spiral cut ham, which seems to be the only kind one can find these days, that was delicious and a very interesting baked bread custard infused with slices of sweet potato, and pan sautéed blanched green beans garnished with grated Parmesan cheese.

After dinner we returned to the living room and ate slices of store bought tiramisu that was perfectly made with coffee soaked lady fingers and sweet marsacapone.

We talked until after 11:00 and then went to bed in the guest bedroom that T.R. and Linda had added onto the house. 

Bon Appetit

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January 18, 2015 New Recipe – Suzette’s Hungarian Style Stroganoff Goulash

January 18, 2015 New Recipe – Suzette’s Hungarian Style Stroganoff Goulash

I ate granola, blueberries, milk, and yogurt for breakfast.

I ate the PPI Red Cooked Chicken ,Stir Fried Bok Choy and Water Chestnuts with rice for lunch.

It was finally 51 degrees by 2:00 for the first time in weeks, so I rode to Rio Bravo without full leggings for the first time this year at 2:20.

At 4:30 Suzette came home to meet Mario to organize his efforts in the garden. This year Mario is going to repair the rotten boards and non-functioning low voltage electrical system in the old formal French garden after about twelve years of wear and tear.

So as around 5:15 I suggested we cook Pork Stroganoff with the PPI Roasted pork from our Jose Andreas  pork tapa dish. 

Suzette, “I know what I want to make Stroganoff Goulash!” I agreed immediately.

I suggested using egg noodles, but Suzette selected a package of Penne pasta and started a pot of water to boil it.

Suzette’s Stroganoff Goulash

1 lb. meat (beef, pork, or Chicken)

I medium onion 

4 cloves garlic

2 15 oz. cans chopped tomatoes

1 lb. mushrooms

½ cup water

10 oz. pimientos or paprikas chopped

1 Tbsp. Smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste


Chop the onion, pimientos, meat, and garlic and sauté  in a pot with olive oil until softened, about fifteen minutes.

Add  the tomatoes and water to the pot and simmer for 45 minutes.

When the ingredients are integrated add, the paprika, salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the mixture until their flavors begin to mix, about another 15 to 25 minutes

Add ½ cup sour cream and adjust the seasonings.

Suzette wanted a Hungarian red wine for dinner like we drank in Hungary.  She suggested Bull’s Blood which we drank with Goulash in Hungary.  

Here is some information on Bull’s Blood: "Egri Bikaver uses individual grapevine grades, separately picked, in order to produce this wine according to the 500-year-old recipe. Bull's Blood contains the best features of grapes such as Kekfrankos, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Oporto. This wine embodies a harmony of tannin, velvetiness, and delicacy, along with its characteristic aroma. Winner of the Silver Metal at the World Wine Championships, Egri Bikaver Bull's Blood upholds the rich traditions of Hungarian winemaking." –Winery

I did not find a bottle of Bull’s blood in the basement but I did stumble upon a bottle of 2004 Marisol Colchagua Valley, Chile Carmenere Reserve.  I thought it would express the heartiness and yet velvety balance of tannins of Bull’s Blood and probably needed to be drunk sooner rather than later, so I selected it.  Suzette approved and we tasted it and it was wonderful, silky smooth, probably due being aged for 10 years, but balanced with rich tannins and rich berry notes of cherry.  We both liked it and in researching it I found that it was rated 79 by Wine Spectator and 85 by other reviewers, so not a shabby wine at all.

I had eaten so much for lunch that I only ate one bowl of Goulash, but after dinner we shared several pieces of toast smeared with Pont L’Eveque cheese that went well with the wine, but mysteriously, Dark chocolate Lindors complemented the Carmenere better than anything.  We each also ate bowls of Java Chip ice cream, while we watched the Antiques Roadshow from El Paso.

Bon Appetit 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

January 17, 2016 Lunch – Eloisa’s, Dinner BBQ boneless Pork Ribs, PPI Savoyard Mashed Potatoes, and PPI Roasted Brussels Sprouts

January 17, 2016 Lunch – Eloisa’s, Dinner BBQ boneless Pork Ribs, PPI Savoyard Mashed Potatoes, and PPI Roasted Brussels Sprouts   

We spent the night in Linda and T.R’s lovely guest room.  After watching Fareed Zacharia and President Obama speak in the morning we talked for awhile until Linda had to go to work at 11:00.  We then drove toward Lan’s for a early lunch but when we discovered that it was closed, we changed direction and drove to Eloisa’s at the new Drury Plaza Hotel in what used to be St. Vincent Hospital at the corner of Peralta and Palace.  We immediately liked the interior décor and the view of the the open kitchen from almost every part of the restaurant.m we arrived ten minutes before opening and were the only guests for at least thirty minutes during which time we were expertly waited upon by Witt Smith.  Suzette started with her obligatory Sunday Bloody Mary, while I ordered a wine I had not ever drunk before, a godella from Galicia, Spain.  The godella was a delightfully fruity white wine with lots of tannic aftertaste.  Suzette did not like it's minerality, but I thought it tasted a little like a high grown Torrontes from Argentina.  I note in Wikipedia that Torrontes grapes are also grown in Galicia: Godello is a white variety of wine grape grown in northwestern Spain, in particular in Galicia.[1] The Gouveio found in northern Portugal is thought to be the same grape variety.[2]

We then turned our attention to the menu.  I immediately saw two items that looked interesting; Pastrami Tacos and Duck Confit Enfrijoladas and was intrigued by a corn flan served in a corn husk and garnished with black quinoa accompanying a carne adovado dish. 

Suzette agreed with my choices, so I asked Witt about the dishes.  He told us that the Pastrami Tacos were created by John Sedler for a reception for Pavarotti many years ago, when John had restaurants in L.A.

I first became acquainted with John Sedler when I wrote an article for Chile Pepper Magazine, thirty or thirty-five years ago when I interviewed him for an article in which I identified his St. Estephe Restaurant in Manhattan Beach, Ca. as one of the then four New American Southwestern Restaurants in America, along with Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill in Chicago, Mark Miller of Coyote Café in Santa Fe, Robert Del Grande of Café Annie in Houston as pioneers of a new uniquely American food movement evolving from Alice Waters’ New American Cuisine; all of whom have been honored as Food Arts Magazine’s Silver Spoon award recipients.

The Pastrami Tacos were straight forward enough small blue corn Tortilla shells fried to crisp and filled with a squirt of ballpark mustard, sauerkraut, a slice of pickled jalapeño, pastrami and garnished with a fresh sprig of watercress.  An order of four were served in a grooved cardboard holder.  

Next came two separate plates, each with a soft blue corn tortilla filled with shredded duck confit and crema and garnished with chopped frisée and radicchio, and a lovely reduction sauce of Cabernet Sauvignon, Demi-glacé, and red chili.  This was a very special dish that demonstrated the breath of knowledge and experience of John Sedler’s  New American Southwestern roots.

The Enfrijolada was served with a corn fan garnished with black quinoa served in a hibiscus dyed corn husk tied at both ends to shape it into a semi circular deep draft boat shape.  This dish reminded me that John Sedler is a master of creative presentation.  

The entire meal with drinks totaled a little over $61.00.

After lunch we resumed our intended trek to Stephen’s Consignment, but as we passed Kakawa Chocolate House, across Peralta from Matteucci Gallery, I asked Suzette if she had ever drunk Kakawa’s chocolate and she said, “No.”  I then asked, “Would you like to? 
To which she replied, “Yes.” 
So I turned into the PERA parking lot and parked beside Kakawa’s building.  When we walked in and approached the counter we were offered tastes of the eight or nine formulations of Kakawa’s hot chocolate.  We both liked the Marie Antoinette blend that includes 72% chocolate, almond milk and orange flavor, so we split a 6 oz. cup of it and a 72% cacao chocolate brownie.  What a fabulous dessert to a fabulous meal.

We then drove to Stephen’s and Costco to refill the car with gas, which was $1.53/gallon, and stopped to shop.  We got boneless BBQ pork roast fot dinner.  

When we got home we watched Denver beat Pittsburgh in the AFC playoff and heated the Pork BBQ and ate it with PPI Savoyard Mashed potatoes and PPI Roasted Brussels Sprouts and cans of Coors beer.

Bon Appetit

Friday, January 15, 2016

January 15, 2016 Lunch – Ming Dynasty, Dinner with Debbie and Jeff

January 15, 2016 Lunch – Ming Dynasty, Dinner with Debbie and Jeff

I was in the Northeast Heights around lunch time so I drove to La Salita and noticed that Ming Dynasty was open as I drove by.  When I arrived at La Salita, it's parking lot was full, so I turned around and drove back to Ming a Dynasty at 1551 Eubank.  I ordered shrimp dumplings and BBQ pork buns off the dim sun menu and a pot of green tea.

I was first surprised when the tea in the pot was loose green tea instead of a tea bag, which made me think that I was in an authentic Chinese restaurant because they cared about the tea they served.  When the two small dim sun containers were served one contained 4 shrimp filled dumplings and the other  3 BBQ Pork filled steamed breads.  The dim sun were dead on with the dim sun I have eaten in other Chinese dim sun restaurants in San Diego and San Francisco.  I asked for the chili sauce and a bottle of it with a spoon was brought immediately.  I enjoyed my meal and will return.  The prices seemed fine; $3.20 for each Dim Sun (although there are more and less expensive selections on the Dim Sun menu) and $.70 for the pot of tea. 

We were invited to Debbie and Jeff’s house at the top of Glenwood Hills for dinner at 6:00.  Debbie made a pot of tortilla soup with tomatoes, black beans, chicken, and some broth, plus all the fixings: fried tortilla strips, sour cream, sliced bell peppers, and slices of avocado.  We started drinking a Gabbiano Chianti Reserva,  then a Gathering Tree Cabernet Sauvignon and after dinner we drank the bottle of Nessa Albariño we brought with the dessert of custard pie garnished with a berry compote.

By 8:45 we were all tired and said goodnight.

Bon Appetit 

January 14, 2015 Breakfast – Granola, Blueberries, and Yogurt, Lunch – The Greenhouse Bistro, Dinner – Grilled Rib Steak, Savoyard Mashed Potatoes, and Steamed Sugar Snap Peas

January 14, 2015 Breakfast – Granola, Blueberries, and Yogurt, Lunch – The Greenhouse Bistro, Dinner – Grilled Rib Steak, Savoyard Mashed Potatoes, and Steamed Sugar Snap Peas

I had a breakfast of granola, fresh blueberries, and Trader Joe’s European style yogurt.

I drove Aaron Lohmann to a meeting with the Village of Los Lunas at 11:00.  At 12:15 after the meeting we drove to the Greenhouse Bistro for lunch with Suzette.  Suzette had the daily special, which was a melted four cheese sandwich on home made bread with a bowl of Smoked Tomato Soup,I had my usual, Dill Chicken Salad Salad, and Aaron ordered the Cubano Sandwich with slices of roasted pork and ham.  I love the Bistro’s Chicken Salad, especially when paired with organic greens and spinach, as it was today, or greens and vegetables from the Center’s organic gardens in the Summer.  I asked Suzette what she wanted for dinner and we were not clear on what to prepare, so I said I would defrost a steak, which I did when I returned home and fetched a bottle of 2009 Wellington Vineyards Estate bottled Zinfandel.

After I completed a draft of a pleading at 3:00 I rode north to Campbell Rd. Slowly into a strong headwind and very quickly back home.

At 6:00 when Suzette returned home I asked if she would eat mashed potatoes and steamed sugar snap peas.  So I diced four Yukon Gold potatoes and put them on the stove to simmer.  I de-stemmed about 1 cup of sugar snap peas ( Costco $5.49 for 2 lb.) and put them in the steamer with water and put them on the stove ready and to steam.  I then sliced six or seven white mushrooms and put them into a medium skillet with about 2 Tbsp. of butter and 1 Tbsp. of olive oil, a large clove of garlic minced,  and a dash of dried Chervil and a tsp. of chopped fresh oregano and sautéed the mushrooms while Suzette Suzette took over to perform her Grilletta function and grilled the steak to rare.  When the mushrooms had softened a bit I added about 2 Tbsp. Of Amontillado sherry and turned down the heat to cook the mushrooms slowly until the steak was cooked and turned the heat on the double ring burner under the sugar snap peas to moderately high to they would steam in about eight minutes.

I fetched a container of PPI sauce that had been produced when we made Potatoes Savoyard last Wednesday, which contained a rich combination of butter, turkey stock and Raclette cheese.  While the steak was grilling Suzette drained the potatoes and stirred the PPI Savoyard sauce into the potatoes and I opened the Wellington Zinfandel and poured glasses of it.

When Suzette brought the charbroiled steak in I sliced it and we found that it was barely rare so Suzette cooked the steak slices in the. Skillet with the mushrooms for a minute of two to bring the steak to medium rare and we divided the slices onto two plates and Suzette ladled on spoonfuls of the Savoyard mashed Potatoes and we each took ½ of the steamed sugar snap peas and Suzette then divided the sautéed  mushrooms and their Sherry/butter sauce and we were ready to eat. 

Every dish in this meal tasted great, especially with the smooth, yet powerful full bodied Zinfandel.  A great wine will not make an inferior meal successful, but a great wine will enhance a great meal to the point of making a great meal memorable.  That is what happened tonight.  The Potatoes Savoyard were excellent, the mushrooms were more than adequate, the sugar snap peas were fresh and new steamed to a bright green color, and the aged beef was superb, dense and yet tender as only heavy aged beef can be.

This meal reminded me of many meals I ate growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, with my family.  In the 50’s I remember going with my father to one of the locker plants in Fort Worth and picking one of the half yearling steers that hung on large hooks in the aging locker after having been butchered.  We would discuss with the locker plant representative how we wanted the beef aged and processed, which was usually at least ½ hamburger meat, a few roasts and all the steaks that could be cut.  The locker plant would usually age the beef by air drying the whole side of beef in the locker room for 21 days and then cut the half beef into the desired cuts and freeze them.  I do not recall precisely if individuals could rent lockers at the plant to store their beef but we had a deep freeze so we usually took delivery of our beef and stored it at home.  The selection and aging and butchering of whole sides of beef was an annual event in Fort Worth, usually in the Fall, similar to our New Mexico tradition of roasting and freezing a year’s supply of green chile.

I can not say enough good things about the 2009 Wellington Zinfandel.  It had a lovely soft smoothness from aging in the cellar combined with a pretty powerful tannic character and as it opened up after about 20 to 30 minutes, a fruity floral bouquet and flavor.  It is unusual for us to drink wines of this complexity and strength of character, simply because I do not usually buy such expensive wines.  That is the benefit of being in a wine club.  You are forced to buy better wines because the winery sends you an assortment of all of its wines at a discount, usually including its better wines because those are more expensive.  We have chosen to remain members of Wellington Vineyards for over ten years because they produce my favorite Cabernet Sauvignon, Mohrhardt Ridge Vineyard Cab, which is grown on top of the coastal range of mountains just inland a bit from the Pacific Ocean in northern Sonoma County, south of Santa Rosa and the Russian River and north of San Francisco.

We had a glass of cognac and a chocolate later in the evening as we watched a new episode of Doc Martin and went to bed in a good mood at 10:00.

Bon Appetit