Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March 30, 2016 Lunch – Vinaigrette, Dinner – Mapo Dofu

March 30, 2016 Lunch – Vinaigrette, Dinner – Mapo Dofu

I met Aaron, Amelia, and Ioanna at Vinaigrette for lunch.  Aaron ordered a ½ sandwich and salad, Ioanna and I ordered the Frisée, which is a classic French Salad with frisée, lardons, and a poached egg with a sweet French seed mustard vinaigrette.  Ideally the sweet mustard vinaigrette mixes with the warm yolk and the bacon fat from the fried lardons for a luscious dressing.

  The Frisée Salad

    Aaron's toting salad sandwich and salad

  Amelia's salad with grilled artichokes

  My kale, Apple juice and lemon spritzer

Amelia ordered an Omega salad with spinach and bacon plus grilled artichokes.  

Amelia also ordered a carrot, soda water, turmeric, and fresh ginger spritzer.  I ordered a kale, Apple juice, and lemon spritzer.  I liked the refreshing flavor.  There was a light touch of kale in my spritzer, which was mostly soda water and a goody amount of Apple juice.

I wanted to go meditate at 6:40, so a little after 4:00 I started prepping Mapo Dofu. I chopped 1/2" onion, two pork steaks, 1 T. Ginger, 1 T. Garlic, 1 eggplant, 15 stalks of asparagus, about 1/3 lb. of sugar snap peas, ¼ lb. of green chili, 6 or 7 fresh shitake mushrooms, 2 baby portobello mushrooms, 1 T. Wood ear, and 19 ounces of tofu.  

I first sautéed the onion, pork, garlic, ginger in 2 T. of peanut oil with 2 tsp. of garlic/chili paste.  Then I added the eggplant, mushrooms, asparagus, and sugar snap peas.  Then I added enough chicken stock to cover the ingredients and added the tofu, 1 T. each of Chinese Rice Wine and soy sauce and ½ tsp. of sesame oil.

I the covered the wok and went to meditate.  I invited Todd, the other meditator to dinner.  When we arrived home at 8:30 I heated the PPI rice and chopped a green onion and we served dinner.

Tonight I did things a little different.  I cooked the Mapo Dofu for two hours, which created a lovely natural sauce I chose to let the sauce stand on its own, without thickening

Mapo Dofu the way I make it is a perfect one dish dinner.  

I drank hot green tea with dinner.

My compulsion to eat dessert is somewhat under control these days.

I ate a second helping of Mapo Dofu instead of dessert.

As an afternoon snack I ate a couple of candied apricots.

Bon Appetit 


March 29, 2016 a PPI Day

March 29, 2016 a PPI Day 

Today, I was busy so I had a quick lunch of PPI Chirashi Donburi. Willy joined me with a plate of 15 pieces of nigiri sushi from Lowe’s.  

I took Willy to the Rail Runner station at 5:15.

I made guacamole at 6:00 and when Suzette arrived around 7:00 we heated the PPI Stuffed Pork with the Mustard sauce served with PPI Ratatouille on PPI rice.

We both drank beer..

Bon Appetit 

March 28, 2016 Lunch – Azuma, Dinner Party at Cynthia and Ricardo’s

 March 28, 2016  Lunch – Azuma, Dinner Party at Cynthia and Ricardo’s

I went to Azuma for lunch and got my favorite, Chirashi Donburi.  Today, for some reason today, I gave the sushi chef a $1,00 tip when I handed him my order, because my waitress was away for a while.  The result was a little more care and creativity in the presentation of the food,especially the wasabi that was molded and carved into the shape of a leaf and an added slice of lemon carved decoratively.

We were invited to dinner at Cynthia and Ricardo’s at 6:00, so at 5:30 Willy and I went to the garden raised bed to gather greens, which we washed and spun.  I grabbed several tomatoes, three avocados, and a bunch of radishes.  I also grabbed a bottle of 2010 Wellington Mohrhardt Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon.  

When I arrived there was a lovely selection of appetizers on the kitchen table, including the Baba Ghanoosh from Friday’s meal, plus several wonderful cheeses, a truffle semi-soft cheese, soft 4 pepper goat,  and a smoked Gouda with raisin and nut crackers.  

The Wellington cab had a lovely flavor, soft and with the typical floral bouquet., but the finish was a little tannic, which opened up after 30 minutes.  Suzette liked the wine.  I was offered a case of it by the winery at a 50% discount, so I ordered 2 cases of it for $15.00 per bottle.  Mohrhardt Ridge is one of my favorite cabs and I am happy that there will be lots more of it in my life soon. 

Cynthia had bought three prepared Gourmet Vegetarian pizzas fro Papa Murphy’s wrapped in Saran Wrap ready to heat and serve.  Cynthia made her lovely red wine vinegar dressing for the salad and heated two of the pizzas.  Soon Suzette arrived and later Terry and Budrun brought gelato and joined Dane, Ricardo, Cynthia and me and we moved to the dining room table, where we had a lovely dinner.  For dessert Cynthia and Ricardo had bought a cherry pie from Flying Star, which she cut into slices and I added scoops of gelato to.  

We had a wonderful conversation in which we learned that both Dane and Gudrun’s fathers were scientists.  

    A group of friends at the end of a good dinner 

A pleasant evening of good food and conversation.

Bon Appetit

Monday, March 28, 2016

March 27, 2016 Easter Dinner at Amy and Vahl’s, the South Rises Again. Baked ham, Cheese Grits, fresh steamed Asparagus

March 27, 2016 Easter Dinner at Amy and Vahl’s, the South Rises Again. Baked ham, Cheese Grits, fresh steamed Asparagus

Amy invited us for Easter a Dinner today.  Suzette had agreed to bring an Italian Cloud Cake.  Yesterday after Gruet, we went to Costco and bought eggs.

This morning we started cooking at 8:00.  Suzette made the cake with 15 egg whites in a spring form pan collared with parchment paper.  Here is the recipe: 

It was my job to make the pouring custard to be served with the cake.  Suzette asked me to make a lemon custard.  I quickly found a wine custard in my Classic Desserts Cookbook that used egg yolks to bind the custard instead of gelatin and used wine instead of milk.  Here is the.recipe:

Wine Custard

1 bottle of Nessa Albariño
6 2 inch long  slices of lemon peel
1 cup of sugar

15 egg yolks

You bring the wine, lemon peel, and sugar to a boil.  Then you let the wine mixture infuse off the heat.  Then you remove the lemon peel and add the cooled wine mixture to the eggs. Then you heat the egg and wine mixture over low heat until it thickens.  The recipe calls for baking the custard until firm in the oven, but I stirred the custard and stopped cooking it when it thickened to the consistency of thickened cream.

I used 1 bottle of wine which is slightly more than 3 ½ cups of wine and the entire 15 egg yolks, so the custard began to thicken almost immediately

I also took a bottle of 2010 Toulouse Winery Recipe Rose’ and a bottle of 2014 Archery Summit Rose’ because we were eating ham. 

Willy drove, so Suzette studied for a Food Service Certificate and I rested and read this Month’s Book Club selection, To Bury the Dead by Eskens.

We arrived at noon, which was the designated time.  Vahl and Amy had invited a number of Friends and neighbors.  The theme of the party was to wear an Easter bonnet.  There were several really creative ones the guests had made by attaching things,  like chickens, to a hat.

I  enjoyed talking to most of the men about wine and talked to Sarah, who is a Reynolds family descendant.  Sarah brought the other dessert, an almond cake made with almond extract, flour, sugar and eggs that is an old family recipe.  I loved the moist cake infused with almond flavor.  The Reynolds are an old ranching family from Fort Worth.  When Amy and I were married in Fort Worth, we were friends with Tommy and Karen Reynolds, because Karen was one of Amy’s old friends.  Tommy went toBerkley School to learn guitar, then returned to Fort Worth and took a degree in “ranch Management” from TCU, where he met Karen Deweese, who we knew.

The best wine of the day was brought by Rick, who was married to Sarah.  It was a 1999 Clos de Val Reserve.  It was the smoothest Cabernet Sauvignon I have ever tasted and had a fruity appealing bouquet.  I enjoyed two small glasses of it.  Amy had baked a swirl cut ham and her famous Baked Cheese Grits, which I think contain lots of butter and cheddar cheese.  There were also flake pastry rolls from Whole Foods, and a platter of beautiful steamed asparagus as thick as your finger doused with an herbed butter sauce.  There was sweet mustard and a strawberry jam for ham sandwiches and a fruit salad of sliced strawberries and fresh blueberries.  A pretty basic and wonderfully delicious meal.  I opened the 2010 Toulouse rose’ before dinner and the 2014 Archery Summit rose during the meal.  Both were wonderful, but the Toulouse was really elegant after it opened up.  I actually thought the delicately soft 1999 Clos de Val Cabernet went better with the salty ham.  It had a perfumed bouquet an elegant texture that flowed softly across and around the tongue. A memorable wine.  Most of the men seemed to know their wines.  I spoke at length to Mike who joined Amphora’s wine club, Sonoma County vineyard and told me that wine futures was a great way to buy wines from reliable wineries.  Ideally, you get to taste the fermented wine when it is aging in the barrel and then you pay for your wine months or a year ahead of release,  which is a win win,because it gets the winery cash for wine to be delivered in the future and the customer a discount on the wine.

 Everyone was super impressed with the Cloud Cake, which Suzette served on a puddle of the custard and some of the fruit salad and some orange zest we had grated at home. 

Finally we left at 4:00 after a dramatic finish to the meal when Vahl brought a large Nazi flag out that his father, who recently died at the age of 98,  had captured during WWII.  It was about 6 ½ feet tall and over 12 feet long with a huge Nazi Swastika in black in a white circle on the red background material.  It appeared to be made of cotton broadcloth.  Quite a souvenir of the war.

When we arrived home a bit after 5:00 we were not hungry, and decided to play bocce, since it was a warm sunny day.  We played two games with Willy and then went in to watch the last half of 60 Minutes.  We were not hungry, but Willy went to Little Anita’s for some Mexican takeout.

We went to bed early, as we were still feeling the effects of our yard work yesterday.  I have noticed lately that I often feel the effects of exercise the following day.  Resting in bed was delightful and soon Suzette joined me.  We went to bed around 9:00.

Bon Appetit 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

March 25, 2016 Lunch – Crab Imperial, avocado, and Swiss cheese Omelet, Gruet Spring Break Barrel Tasting and Tour, and Dinner – BBQ Shrimp and Chick Pea stew over rice.

March 25, 2016 Lunch – Crab Imperial, avocado, and Swiss cheese Omelet, Gruet Spring Break Barrel Tasting and Tour, and Dinner – BBQ Shrimp and Chick Pea stew over rice. 

Another full day of activity.  Willy, Suzette and I worked for about two hours cleaning the driveway and side yards of weeds.  Then at noon we made an omelet.  I minced a medium shallot and a garlic plant and about seven stalks of chives from the garden.  Willy then broke 5 eggs and I stirred them with Herbs de Provence salt a bit of water and two twists of the pepper mill.  I sautéed the shallot and garlic in 2 T. of butter.  Then I added the egg.  After a few minutes when the egg began to firm up I added the avocado, the chives and Swiss Gruyere cheese and Suzette added some Crab Imperial.  I cooked this combination of items for another five minutes until the bottom was firm.  I the flipped about 1/3 on top of the other portion and cooked the whole some more until I thought the center was still soft but congealed.  We toasted slices of Bosque Bakery baguette, which we served with fig preserves Suzette had made several years ago.  Willy filled a tea ball with Tazo chai tea,  which we drank and Suzette drank the last of the Prosecco from last night’s meal.

We took a nap after lunch and at 4:00 Suzette and I drove to Gruet Winery for its Spring Break Barrel tasting and Tour ($20.00). This is the first time we had done barrel tasting of champagne.  As we learned during the tour guided by Laurent Gruet, the winemaker and an owner, methods champagne is a three year process, involving an initial fermentation, then an aging on yeast, then a second fermentation with sugar and more yeast, then extraction of the dead yeast, and finally corking and aging the wine some more.  Prosecco takes only six months and skips the aging on yeast stage and simply goes from the initial fermentation to the final bottling with sugar and yeast.

When we arrived we were poured glasses of the newly fermented brut, then Chardonnay, which we liked very much for its light clean flavors, Then we went into a large room adjoining the tasting room to wait for the tour.  At 5:00 Laurent poured us glasses of a new wine he is making this year, a rose’ Sauvage.  Sauvage is a zero dosage champagne, which from what I can tell eliminates the third step of adding additional sugar and yeast after the initial fermentation and aging.  It produces a more pronounced statement of the richness of the fruit in Gruet’s 100 % pinot noir rose’.  Gruet also makes a 100% chardonnay Sauvage that again expresses the lightness of the unbaked chardonnay grapes.

I likes them both, but Suzette and Laurent liked the Rose’ Sauvage better.  One must not get confused between the yet to be released Rose’ Sauvage and Gruet’s current rose champagne thar does have a second dosage of sugar and yeast at the end of the process.

The most interesting part of the tour was seeing the large racks filled with several hundred bottles each of capped bottles of champagne aging on the yeast which are turned periodically to move the dead yeast down the neck of the bottle toward the cap, where it can be removed by freezing the cap area and removing the frozen plug of dead yeast before the final dosage.  There are large machines that do all of these processes now.  Laurent says that Gruet typically bottles 1000 bottles per day which means there must be 100s of 1000s of bottles aging in the warehouse at any given time.

After the tour we returned to the tasting room and tasted the Blanc de noir and finally Gruet’s Pinot Noir from the barrel.  Each were lighter in texture and complexity than the final wine. The Bland de noir, because it has yet to have its second dosage and the pinot noir because it had yet to fully bottle age.

Finally, Suzette asked Cora to pour three glasses, one of the rose from the barrel, a second of the rose’ Sauvage and a thirst  of the current rose’.  It was possible to taste the before, the barrel tasting rose against the near finished rose’ Sauvage and the finished rose.  One could readily taste the differences between the yet to be aged base rose, the nearly finished Sauvage without a  second dosage, and the finished rose’ that had had a second dosage.  Very interesting.  I liked the final rose’ that had had all of its aging and second dosage, while Suzette liked the rose’ Sauvage like Laurent, who during the Tour said, and I am paraphrasing, “If the champagne is properly made, the Sauvage will give the best indication of the richness of the fruit to one who has developed their palate to get beyond attraction to sweet wine.”

I guess Suzette and Laurent have more developed palates than mine.

We drove to Costco at 6:30 to buy eggs for a cloud cake Suzette will make for Amy and Vahl’s Easter Brunch.  We also bought corn chips for guacamole and a bottle of Chateau Ahon Haut-Medoc ($12.99) and two bottles of 2013 Clos de Val Cabernet Sauvignon (a steal at $23.49), rated 95 points.  

We drove home and I made a cup of rice and went to the garden, which Mario and his assistant were finishing today, and picked a handful of chard.  I de stemmed the chard, cut the leaves into bite sized pieces and added them, with about ½ cup of water to the stewed chick peas.

The Paul Prudhomme Louisiana Kitchen recipe for BBQ shrimp was its usual delicious spicy, but the shrimp were not of the best quality, because they were mushy and collapsed a little bit, when shelled.  We filled our pasta bowls with rice and added spoonfuls of chick pea stew to one side of the pile and BBQ shrimp to the other side. 

  The BBQ Shrimp

We drank cold Coors beer with dinner and watched a lovely movie named “for Keeps” with Mollie Ringwald.  I put dehydrated cherries into the PPI syrup we had cooked the fruit in for the stuffing, but I forgot to check it and the sugar burned and blackened into a sticky burned mess.

Alas, not everything succeeds.  But, at least, it is instructive if one learns why it failed.  I shall blame this failure on a wonderful afternoon of tasting champagne.

After dinner Suzette ate some ice cream, while finished my beer and we watched the movie.

Bon Appetit

March 24, 2016 Lunch – Chicken Salad, Dinner Party – Stuffed Rack of Pork, Baked Asparagus Grilled Sweet Potato slices and a Baba Ghanoush appetizer

March 24, 2016 Lunch – Chicken Salad, Dinner Party – Stuffed Rack of Pork, Baked Asparagus Grilled Sweet Potato slices and a Baba Ghanoush appetizer

I made another salad with PPI roasted chicken for lunch.

We had invited Cynthia and Ricardo for dinner and their friend Dane, and Greg Gould.  We decided to make the Stuffed pork Rib Roast.

We started cooking at 4:00.  I butchered the roast as illustrated by running a knife along the bones of the ribs and then cutting the meat in along flat swirl that laid the chop portion out in a flat sheet,which we stuffed with a stuffing made of cherries, apricots, toasted hazelnuts, and prunes cooked in cognac infused syrup and then laid on the rolled out pork roast in a flat sheet and covered with de stemmed leaves of Red Giant lettuce.  We rolled up the chop portion and tied it into it approximately original shape with string by cutting slits between the ribs to the level of the chop.  Suzette then baked the roast in a 350 degree oven for approximately 1 ½ hours to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. While the roast was cooking I chilled a french rose’ from Bordeaux and snapped the ends off of 42 stalks of asparagus, which Suzette then placed in a gallon freezer bag with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  

At 6:00 Cynthia and Ricardo and their friend, Dane, who is an artist and special Ed teacher in Los Angeles arrived with bottle of Invicta Prosecco, and apps, including olives, and a lovely bowl of fresh made Baba Ghanoush,which Cynthia made with roasted eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and chopped parsley, which she served with fig and almond crackers and pita chips and a bottle of La Crema Pinot Noir.  Soon Greg Gould arrived.  

I took Dane on a tour of the art collection, while Suzette took everyone else on a tour of the gardens and bocce court, which Cynthia designed. The wisteria is in full bloom, so we stopped for a few pictures in front of it,  Dane looked particularly wonderful with his hand embroidered Robert Graham shirt, which had several stripes the exact pale purple color as the wisteria blooms.  Suzette then made a mustard, Crema and white wine sauce for the pork dish, which we had to  adjust the flavor of because it was too strongly mustard flavored, by adding Sweet Madeira and more crema and I sliced two sweet potatoes Suzette had bought in the morning at Smith’s with the asparagus that was on sale for $.88/lb.

Suzette made a basting sauce for the sweet potato slices of butter, fresh chopped sage, and salt and grilled them after she put the olive oil, salt, and pepper coated asparagus on a aluminum tray into the oven.  

By 6:45 everything was ready.  I sliced the six rib chops and assembled them on 7 plates to equalize portions and added two grilled sweet potato slices and six baked asparagus to each plate.  Suzette then doused the top of the pork with her mustard sauce. Willy joined us and we sat at the dining room table. I poured the La Crema pinot and the Les Portes de Bordeaux Rose’ (Trader Joe's $5.99) and we enjoyed dinner after a wonderful blessing by Greg.  Greg also is an artist and had brought two notebooks filled with mandalas he designed.  Unfortunately, we did not have time to view all of them.  In the course of conversation, we learned that Greg’s dad was an art history professor at Columbia, so he has had art in his background.

    Dane and Ricardo

    The rose.


After we finished dinner I sliced seven strawberries so they could be fanned out and Suzette filled parfait glasses with scoops of vanilla ice cream, a chocolate chip cookie made by Willy and the strawberry, which we served with the Prosecco.  After dessert we talked some more and I fetched a ½ bottle of Londer 2007 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and latter a bottle of bottle of Archery Summit Pinot Noir Rose'. We talked and drank until 11:00. 

Bon Appetit 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

March 23, 2016 Lunch – Vietnam 2000, Dinner – Crab Imperial and Chick Pea Stew

March 23, 2016 Lunch – Vietnam 2000, Dinner – Crab Imperial and Chick Pea Stew

At 9:00 Suzette and I went to Ranch Market for the weekly specials.  We found lots of great specials ,including, Roma tomatoes for $.33/lb., cilantro for $.25/bunch, radishes for $.25/bunch, Crema for $1.29/lb., large heads on shrimp for $5.99/lb., eggs, a bag of roasted green chile for $2.49/lb., corn chips, eggplants for $.89 each, limes for $.99/lb. and avocados 7 for $1.00.

At noon Willy and I went to Vietnam 2000 for No. 21’s, which are bowls of rice vermicelli topped with grilled pork and fried egg rolls on a bed of lettuce cucumber strips, chopped cilantro, basil, and green onions served with a sweetened fish sauce dressing.

After lunch we drove to Sprouts, where I bought a standing rib roast of beef on sale for $7.99/lb., a standing rib roast of pork for $4.99/lb., mushrooms, chai mix, a zucchini, a can of garbanzos, dried apricots for $4.99/lb., and chocolate covered almonds for $4.99/lb.

I had been cooking a pot of dried garbanzos for a day with onion, cumin and a bit of salt.  They were finally getting soft by 2:30, when we arrived home, so I chopped a golden beet, five turnips from the garden, a tomato, and celery and parsley from the garden.  Willy added 3 peeled and chopped green chiles and we cooked the mixture until 5:00, when I added the leaves from the golden beets chopped, the zucchini chopped, ½ T. of sumac and ½ tsp. of fenugreek and 1 tsp. more salt. 

Willy made hummus with lemon juice, garlic, garbanzos, a little olive oil and salt, and tahini, which we ate with corn chips.

I went to meditate at 6:45 and when I returned at 8:10 Suzette was putting the Crab Imperial into the steaming oven to bake. I heated the Chick Pea Stew that had finally thickened and chilled a bottle of Neesa Albariño.

At around 8:45 we ate a simple dinner of Chick Pea Stew and Crab Imperial.

 Both were delicious.  The crab imperial was creamy without the addition of cheese, sort of a simplified soufflé.  The chick pea stew was very interesting, a combination of flavors and textures.

We watched a bit of news and then I read more Flashman until I fell asleep. 

Bon Appetit

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

March 20, 2016 A Big food day, Breakfast in the Kiva a Café, Lunch at Old Martina’s Hall, and Dinner at St. Bernard Resort

March 20, 2016 A Big food day, Breakfast in the Kiva a Café, Lunch at Old Martina’s Hall, and Dinner at St. Bernard Resort

We watched news programs in our room until 9:00.  Then we dressed and walked to the Kiva Café in the main building.  I love the round Kiva Café, which is round and painted with murals.  Unfortunately, our free breakfast was not much to write about a hard cooked omelet with a chile cream sauce and no vegetable garnish except for a few strands of melted cheddar. 

After breakfast at around 11:00 we drove to the Kit Carson House Museum.  We really enjoyed the museum, even though there is not much stuff.  The most interesting thing for me was a baby blanket made from bear skin sewn to silk.  They had lots of children and Josefina actually died in child birth and Kit Carson died four months later than she did in 1869.

  The original lock to the house

  Suzette walking up Dragoon Street toward Cemetary

  Kit Carson's last resting Place

The coolest new fact I learned was that when the Confederacy invaded New Mexico, Kit Carson and a few other citizens, mostly retired Mountain Men, raised the Stars and Stripes and slept on the plaza to guard it.  According to the information in the museum the U.S. Flag is one of 7 places that the American flag is allowed to be flown during night.  

After touring the four rooms of the house, we walked to the old cemetery and visited the family plot where Kit and Josephina are buried with several of their children and Governor Bent and his wife, who was Josefin’s sister, and a bunch other early settlers. 

  View of Ranchos de Taos church from Old Martina!s parking lot

At 12:45 we drove to Old Martina’s  Hall and both ordered Cesar Salads.  Their Cesar salad is my favorite in New Mexico, because it is made in an absolutely authentic manner with real anchovies, lettuce, a few croutons and a wonderful dressing.  I asked for extra anchovies and Suzette ordered hers with a Sautéed piece of salmon.  

   We drank glasses of Gazela Rose' 

After our salads we ordered desserts.  I ordered a dark chocolate mousse in a chocolate cup with a liquor soaked cake in the bottom of the cup and the mousse on top.

  Suzette's Hazelnut Carmel dessert

   My chocolate cup filled with dark mousse and cake

Suzette ordered a phyllo cup filled with hazelnut and salted caramel pastry cream.  Unfortunately both desserts were frozen, so I ordered tea and Suzette ordered a glass of Spanish Cava to drink as we let our desserts rise toward room temperature.   Mine did but Suzette’s remained firm.  She had to do some serious cutting to break the caramel into pieces, whereas my liquor soaked cake and mousse loosened after a while.  

After lunch we went to 203 Gallery, which used to be Tally Richards at the top of Ledoux street and saw several nice paintings, including several Earl Strohs and an automatic surrealistic Emil Bisstram.

  Ron Cooper's Maguey

We then drove to 222 Camino Pueblo for an art opening.  I did not care for the show opening but we loved the holographic pieces in the back gallery, the small Frank Hammond sketches and talking to Clift Hulse, the gallery owner about the art and artists.  

At around 4:00 we drove to the St. Bernard to meet Pierre Andre and Melissa for dinner.  After being mistaken for guests we were told dinner would be served at 6:30. We waited at a fireplace in the St. Bernard and later walked to the restaurant area at the base of the the ski runs and sat in the warm afternoon sun until 6;00, when we returned to the fireplace at the St. Bernard. Pierre Andre is the nephew of Jean, who owns  the St. Bernard and worked at the St. Bernard for twelve years before moving to Los Lunas to become a massage therapist.  He now works for Suzette at the Garden Gate Day Spa.  Melissa, who works as a respiratory therapist for the last twelve years, told me she suggested that Pierre Andre learn massage therapy because she believed he had an affinity for massage.  I have had massages by Pierre and he is very good.  

  The dining room at St. Bernard.  We sat at the round table 

  La Carte

 The chef, Pierre Andre and his cousin in the kitchen

    From left to right, Melissa, me, Pierre Andre, and Suzette

At 6:15 Pierre Andre and Melissa arrived and we sat at the table reserved for us.  We soon were greeted by Jean and Pierre said hello to all the staff and took us to the kitchen to meet the chef and his cousin.  

Soon the restaurant filed with guests who were mostly staying for a week.  The restaurant has a week’s menus and most guests arrive on Saturday and leave after breakfast the next Saturday.  

The menu started with a warm borscht of golden beets, which are in season, and red cabbage served with sour cream.  I enjoyed it.  Then the main course arrived, a Nova Scotia lobster tail with risotto and  a fresh salad of locally grown greens.  The lobster was perfectly cooked.  Pierre said that his uncle Jean once worked as a saucier at the Pierre hotel and later joined the 10th Mountain Division.  That he saved many people in Europe  and Ernie Blake called him and asked him to head the ski patrol in Taos Ski Valley.  That is how he came to Taos and the St. Bernard was started.  Sitting with Pierre I could see that the St. Bernard is really one big French family business. 

We enjoyed our dinner in the wooden lodge among the resort guests with Melissa and Pierre.  The wine was Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet. 

   The floating Island

  Another view of the floating island

Finally, dessert was served, a family recipe of Floating Island in a light crème Anglais  sauce with one blackberry and one raspberry.  Jean came by and he commented to us that the recipe was an old family recipe. Pierre told me that the Crème Anglais is flavored with real Tahitian vanilla. The cream was thinner than I am used to but was perfect as the liquid in which the islands of meringue floated. 
After dinner at around 9:30 we said goodnight and drove back to Albuquerque after another great day of food.  

Bon Appetit

Monday, March 21, 2016

March 19, 2016 Dinner with Barry in Taos

March 19, 2016 Dinner with Barry in Taos

We sautéed Elk Sausage and fried egg over easy with toasted French Baguette for breakfast. After packing up some clothes and picking lettuce from the garden, two rib eye steaks I bought at Sprouts for $7.99/lb. that the butcher had hand cut and trimmed for me that were 1 ¼ inches thick, the Delice cheese, our two bags of mushrooms and the pate’, we  went to Costco on the way out of town to get a new reading glass frame for Suzette  Unfortunately, the frames were out of the replacement period and Costco refused to replace the broken frame, which disturbed Suzette considerably.  I went to the wine department while she was at the optometrist and I had better luck.  I found a Fonseca late bottled 2009 port for $19.99, two bottles of 2013 Clos de Val for $23.99, and a 2010  bottle of Chateau de Ahon Haut Medoc for $13.99. We soon resumed our trip to Taos and arrived at Kachina Lodge at 4:00.  We checked in, dumped our grip, stopped at Smith’s for Ibuprofen for Suzette and arrived at Barry and Kylene’s new house, which they bought from Tom and Eleanor located high on the ridge southwest of Taos, near the water tower a little after 5:00.  

Their house is a pleasant two bedroom and two bath house with almost 360 degree views of Wheeler Peak, the Llano Quemado, and even Cabazon.  Barry served us chilled champagne and we looked around the house and took pictures of Wheeler for quite a while as Barry explained some of their intended improvements.  Kylene had to stay in Albuquerque to deal with rental property issues, so we and she missed seeing each other. 
    Bob's shadow at sunset

Barry made a wonderful loaf of bread, so he cut pieces of it and we opened the Delice and had snacks and talked for a while.  When I spoke to Barry in the morning, he told me he had a cucumber and carrots for the salad and asparagus, so I sliced some carrots and 1/3 of a cucumber for the salad and Barry placed those ingredients in a large painted Mexican salad bowl.  Then we decided upon the Chateau Ahon Haut Medoc, so we opened it to let it breath and I sliced 1/3 of an onion, ½ of a carrot, and about ten mushrooms.  We put the half thawed steaks in the window sill in the kitchen to thaw in the late afternoon Western sun.  Barry then setup his tripod and big Canon camera, aimed it at Wheeler and set the camera to take photos every 15 seconds.  We drank champagne and ate cheese and talked and peeped dinner. Barry has a charcoal grill and he filled a special  can with a grate near the bottom the holds about four lb. of charcoal briquettes and allows one to place a piece of newspaper under the grate to light the charcoal.  We waited about 45 minutes for the charcoal at the top to get lit, which in Barry abs Suzette’s opinion was too long because the bottom coal had turned partially to ash and the fire lost some of its intensity and did not char the steaks adequately.  Next time I will leave the grilling to Miss Grilleta.  Suzette took over the grilling and I counted out and snapped 15 medium asparagus from Costco and Barry prepared them by brushing them with olive oil.  When Suzette placed the steaks on the grill, I started sautéing the onion and carrot and tsp. of chopped garlic in a large skillet with 2 T. of butter and 1 T. of olive oil.  After about five minutes I added the mushrooms and 1 tsp. of capers and cooked that for a couple of minutes until the mushrooms soaked up the oil and butter.  I then added about 2 T. of red wine and simmered the mushrooms until the softened.  Barry and Suzette did the grilling.  In about ten minutes Barry brought in the grilled asparagus and put a sheet of aluminum foil over them to keep them warm and allow them to steam a bit.  When Suzette finished cooking the steak in about 20 minutes, she brought it in and I poured the collected juices generated in the plate from the steak into the mushrooms and heated the mushrooms briefly to integrate the steak juices and warm the mushrooms.  Soon we were ready to eat.  Barry placed bottles of toasted tomato dressing and a raspberry vinaigrette on the table and I sliced the two steaks, which were grilled perfectly to my mind, pink throughout.  Suzette said she would have preferred a more intense charring of the edges and a slightly pinker middle.  I did not disagree, but thought how difficult that was possible to attain without a gas grill on which the heat can be adjusted.  I poured the wine, and although it was a new Haut Medoc to me, but it had that typical Haut-Medoc velvety smooth French finish that I love with grilled steak.  I checked the wine on line and discovered than several private raters rated it  90 points. The reason why I prefer Haut-Medoc was perfectly evident in this meal and that was that the flavor components in the grilled meat and wine so perfectly complement each other that the both disappear slightly, forming a symmetry of flavor the blends both flavors. 

We plated the asparagus, steak and salad and enjoyed our wonderful dinner.  After dinner Barry served small chocolate chip cookies and we talked some more. Finally at 9:45 we said goodnight and drove to the Kachina and fell into deep sleep as soon as we arrived.  Perhaps the cool mountain air of Taos made us sleepy.

Bon Appetit 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

March 18, 2016 Lunch – Two Fools Tavern, Dinner – Chicken Salad and Israeli Couscous


I ate granola with fat free yogurt, blue berries and milk for breakfast.

I met Duke and Leonard for lunch at Two Fools Tavern.  They had ordered so I had to get up and find the waitress to order.  I ordered 1 piece of fried fish and a salad instead of fries.  It came instantly and long before Duke and Leonard’s order.  When the waitress next came by, she said something to Leonard and Duke  about a computer glitch 

I realized that I had ordered the perfect quick meal, a pre-prepared bowl of salad and a freshly fried piece of fish, also served with Two Fools wonderful Cole slaw dotted with chunks of Apple.  I ordered a Magner’s Apple cider, which at Two Fools is on tap.

Duke ordered Corn beef and cabbage and Leonard ordered fish.  I enjoyed our conversation.  We discussed some ideas I have about integrating the structure for private citizens growing pot with commercial production of pot.  Then we went next door and to look at Birdland.  After Duke showed me all their remodeling improvements, Duke and Leonard left to attend a bankers’ meeting and I stayed and spoke to Jay and his new employee for a few minutes. 

Then around 12:30 I drove back home and finished my pleading, filed it at 4:30 and then rode to Rio Bravo and back into a strong head wind coming home. When I arrived home around 5:50 Suzette had arrived with a roasted chicken.  I was tired from my ride home, so she decided to make a chicken salad for dinner.  She deboned the meat from the carcass into a pile of white meat and a pile of dark meat and put the bones in a pot, which I  covered with water and to which we added lemon, onion, celery, and carrots to make a stock.  Then I went to the garden and picked four small sprigs of tarragon and two stalks of garlic, which I chopped and added lemon juice to.  Suzette was hungry and put my beginnings of a dressing in the waring blender and added olive oil and 2 T. of  mayonnaise.  Then we added the juice of another lemon, 1 tsp. of Dijon mustard, and a bit more olive oil to make a rather loose creamy tarragon dressing.  When I went to the garden, Suzette had gone to the raised beds and picked a basket full of fresh lettuce that she cleaned and spun.  I was moving more slowly than she was so she took over making and plating three bowls of salad with chopped tomato, cucumber, and green onion, while I fetched and heated the PPI Israeli couscous and poured the last of the 2014 Marques de Caceres Verdejo from Rueda, which has turned out to be a very nice bottle of wine.  It is not too sweet and not too dry and has the unique character or terroir of Rueda, which is located on the Erbo upstream from the Rioja, near Burgos, Spain (Trader Joe’s about $8.00).

Suzette wanted to eat outside because it was 72 degrees, so we took our bowls, glasses of wine, extra dressing and couscous out to the gazebo in the garden and had a lovely al fresco dinner.  Willy returned from a bike ride just as we were finishing our prep, so he joined us for our first dinner of the year in the garden on this warm sunny, breezy evening.  The garden is being re-worked with new redwood borders and new lights so it is a mess at the moment, but progress is visible.  All the 2 x 8 redwood boards are in place and much of the new lighting is in.  The last major component yet to be finished is re-connecting the hoses for the irrigation system.  When Mario finishes the improvements we can add enriched soil and plant this year’s new plantings. 

After dinner I ate some dark chocolate with almonds with a cognac and Cointreau liquor while watching Washington Week.  We then soaked in the hot tub and went to bed.  

Bon Appetit

Friday, March 18, 2016

March 17, 2016 Lunch – Azuma – aluminum Baked Fresh Corvina with vegetables and Israeli Couscous

March 17, 2016 Lunch – Azuma – aluminum Baked Fresh Corvina with vegetables and Israeli Couscous 

The last two days I have been working on a pleading for my water case and we have not been cooking fresh meals, just PPI meals.

But today I went with Willy to lunch at Azuma.  Willy ordered a Bento box with Teriyaki steak and I ordered my usual Chiraski Donburi lunch with 12 pieces of seafood, except today the sushi chefs were different and my Chiashi was different.  Instead of a square box, the chef used a round bowl with sloping sides, which allowed him to layer the thick succulent pieces of fish like tiles  cascading down a roof or leaves laying on a hillside,for a different and very attractive presentation.  The chef even included a small mound of seaweed salad to give the dish a more floral appearance.  I loved the new look and the fish were cut in large thick rectangles and trapezoidal that were easier to cut and gave a good thick bite of fish.  Fresh fish are delivered onThursdays and Mondays.  Today the fish was amazingly fresh and succulent.

After lunch we drove to Sprouts.  I bought a 1.25lb. filet  of fresh Corvina from Mexico.  Wikipedia describes Corvina as follows: The corvina, also known as the corvina drum (Cilus gilberti), is a saltwater fish of the Sciaenidae family (commonly called croakers or drums). It inhabits mostly tropical to temperate coastal waters of the southeastern Pacific along Central and South America.

I also bought baby portobello mushrooms, asparagus for $1.88/lb,, yogurt, fresh basil and protein powder for Willy, vine ripened tomatoes at $.98/lb. and naval oranges for 3 lb./$.98.

When we arrived home I worked a bit and then at 3:30 rode to Montano.  We had another good day in the market in which the Dow finally passed its beginning point for the year.  With the concentration of energy stocks, my portfolio is up over 3% from the first of this year and up over 1% from its year end balance at the end of 2014, which is a better measure for me.  Actually the total obscures the fact that dividends have been added, so the portfolio is probably a little lower than at the end of 2014, when one considers the addition of a year’s  dividends.  

Suzette wanted to stay to help in the Greenhouse Bistro for the St. Patrick’s Day Dinner Special of Corn Beef and cabbage with a beer based cheddar soup.  When I reached her at 5:30 she said she would leave shortly and all the chickens had been sold.  

I told her we had a fresh filet of corvina.  When Suzette arrived home it to little time to decide to bake the fish in foil with vegetables and herbs.

I gathered and chopped 1/3 yellow onion, two of the baby portobellos, three small bell peppers and a tomato. Suzette then took over and cut the fish into three portions, placed it in two sheets of aluminum foil, garnished the fish with the vegetable blend I had chopped, doused the whole affair with salt, rose wine and dabs of butter, and sealed the fish in a double pocket of aluminum to seal in the juices and flavors. She the baked the packets over low heat on the propane grill for thirty minutes. 

I decided to make conscious with chard from the garden, so I went to the garden and picked about 2 cups of leaves and a stem of lovage.  When I returned to the house i de stemmed the chard and lovage and cut it into bite sized pieces. I then topped three stems of Epazote and removed the leaves and chopped the leaves and rinsed them in a colander.  I discovered that we were out of regular Couscous, so I fixed Israeli Couscous.

Willy and I were making an Onion, Avocado, and Mango Salsa so we had extra onion.  I melted 2 T. of butter in a sauce pan and added 1 T. of  onion and a chopped clove of garlic and sautéed them until soft.  I then added 1 ½ cups of hot water and 1 cup of couscous and cooked it over low heat for about five minutes.  I then added the chard, Epazote, and lovage and cooked the mixture another fifteen minutes to absorb all the water and make sure the couscous softened.  I have not cooked Israeli couscous enough to know how long to cook it. I am guessing I cooked it about twenty minutes on a low simmer.

Willy also made a spread he is fond of by chopping the fresh basil and mixing it with mayonnaise. 

When the couscous was ready, Suzette brought in the packets of fish and vegetables.

I had chilled a 2014 Marques de Caceres 100% Verdejo from Rueda, which is one of my favorite whites these days (Trader Joe’s for around $8.00) and I poured glasses of it.

Willy sliced the round loaf of sourdough bread Suzette had bought at Costco last Sunday and toasted pieces of it. 

Suzette put an aluminum packet on each plate and we each opened the foil and spooned Couscous into the bowl made when the foil was unwrapped that was filled with baked fish and vegetables in a wine and butter sauce.  We added spoonfuls of the avocado and mango salsa and spread Willy’s Basil mayo on the warm toasted bread and ate a meal fit for Montezuma with sips of the light, delicious Verdejo from Rueda.

What an amazing meal.

I worked on my pleading after dinner aided by sips of the Rueda.

Bon Appetit