Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September 27, 2016. Lunch – East Ocean Dinner – Catalan Style Chard and PPIs; Vichyssoise, cheese sandwich, Grilled Pork chop and Onions, pesto pasta and broccoli

September 27, 2016. Lunch – East Ocean  Dinner – Catalan Style Chard and PPIs; Vichyssoise, cheese sandwich, Grilled Pork chop and Onions, pesto pasta and broccoli

Today I tried to avoid between meal snacks and carbs.  

I ate granola, yogurt and blueberries and then a little before 8:00 rode to Montano and back.

At 11:30 I went to lunch at East Ocean with Peter.  He ordered the Scallops in Lobster Sauce, but I ordered Moo Goo Gai Pan, an assortment of mushrooms, carrots, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, bok choy, baby corn, snow peas, broccoli, and chicken in a light thickened soy or oyster sauce sauce.  The assortment of vegetables is sufficiently interesting to make this one of my favorite  dishes and therefore there is need for little rice except to coalesce the small amount of sauce.  I gave most of my fried rice and my egg roll to Peter to take home with about 1/3 of his Scallops in Lobster sauce.

We agreed that one of the things we like best about East Ocean is the small bowl of Egg Drop Soup made with home made chicken broth.  It is the perfect way to start meal.  

Also hot tea and either Sweet and Sour Chicken or an egg roll is served with the meal.  There are different prices for different dishes, but both of our meals were $5.85 plus $1.00 for the substitution of fresh scallops for the usual shrimp.  As I have said many times lunch at East Ocean is the best food value in Albuquerque when you consider quality of ingredients, skill in cooking, and price.

My dish was delicious, a steamy pile of beautifully cooked and sauced fresh chicken and vegetables, except for the Oriental mushrooms, corn, and water chestnuts.

For dinner I had planned to fix two tapas from Jose Andres’ Tapas cookbook, the slow roasted pork tenderloin and the Catalan style Spinach, but substituting Chard, so we could try the green raisins we had recently bought at Bombay Spices at 6514 Central SE and enjoy the fresh pine nuts we bought Sunday at Costco.

At 5:30 I went to the garden and picked a basket of chard leaves and de-stemmed them and cut them into bite sized pieces.

When Suzette came home we discussed my dinner menu and decided to eat PPI Vichyssoise instead of cooking the Pork tenderloin, which was agreeable because the pork tender had not fully thawed and would be more flavorful and easier to cook after another day of thawing and also because we had two PPI Grilled Pork Chops with Grilled Onions in the fridge, so I could eat one of them if I wished.

Chard Catalan Style

I cubed 1 ½ Gala apples and fetched the green raisins and pine nuts.

Then I fetched the Vichyssoise and Suzette heated 2 T. of Spanish olive oil in the wok, which I had left conveniently on the stove.  

After stir frying the apples for a couple of minutes, Suzette added the chard, pine nuts, and raisins and in another minute the chard wilted a bit and the dish was ready.  Suzette plated it as I looked for a bottle of white wine.  We had nothing cold but both agreed that the bottle of La Granja Viura/Verdejo blend would be perfect, even if we had to drink it over ice.  So I put ice cubes into wine glasses and poured us glasses of Spanish white wine from the Rioja to accompany our Mediterranean meal.

We both agreed that a cheese sandwich would be nice to eat with the soup and salad, so Suzette sliced Fano baguette, toasted them and laid slices of French Comte’ cheese on them and melted the cheese in the microwave while I was dealing with the wine and was filling bowls with Vichyssoise and fetching silverware.

  The Catalan Style Chard

Soon we had a lovely dinner.  I was still a little hungry after a second day of riding bike and no snacks, so I heated the PPI pork chop and onion and some of the PPI broccoli and pesto pasta from last night’s meal, so I would not be further tempted to snack.

  See the green raisins 

  The Vichyssoise 

Willy came by at around 8:00 and ate the rest of last night’s PPIs plus the remaining Catalan Chard we left for him.

Then he and Suzette finished the Peach cobbler with some vanilla ice cream, while I sipped a cup of chai, which has become my go to beverage of choice after I found out it is recommended by the Ayurvedic Institute.

We watched the Frontline report comparing the lives of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  It was the most in depth psychological study of both I have ever seen and revealed them as highly complex individuals with lots of psychological baggage, as we all are.  I was riveted in front of the TV for the hour.  It is a must see program that will inform you about each, as no other program I have ever seen about them does.

Many of their friends, classmates, and biographers were interviewed on screen, who gave deeply analytical insights into the events that shaped their character.

Bon Appetit

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 26, 2016 Lunch – Café Da Lat. Dinner – Eggplant in Garlic Sauce with chicken, steamed rice, and steamed broccoli

September 26, 2016 Lunch – Café Da Lat. Dinner – Eggplant in Garlic Sauce with chicken, steamed rice, and steamed broccoli 

Today I rested a lot, I rode to Rio Bravo at 9:00 and met Terry Jassmann for lunch at Café Da Lat at 11:30.  I had not been to Café Da Lat in many years.  I noticed two things about it today.  First, the menu is extensive.  Second, the restaurant is very popular. 

I found several attractive items on the menu, but settled on Mussels in tamarind sauce.  What was odd today is when Terry arrived a few minutes after me and looked at the menu he ordered the same dish plus an order of spring rolls.  I was happy he ordered the appetizer, because I had not eaten breakfast and was hungry and devoured the spring roll.  A large plate with about a dozen green lip mussels on the half shell sautéed with onions and fresh pineapple, and cilantro in a tamarind sauce soon arrived, accompanied by a small appetizer plate on which was rice molded into the shape of an inverted saucer and three slices of cucumber.  The tamarind sauce was rather liquid so it coated the rice easily.  I would remove a mussel from its shell swirl it in sauce, onions, pineapple chunks, and rice and scooped up bites with my chop sticks.

I loved the mussel dish and will go back to Cafe Da Lat.

Many other people must feel the same way because by 12:30 when we left the restaurant was filled with folks.  This must be one of the most popular Vietnamese restaurants in Albuquerque, unless people come in greater numbers on Monday because other Vietnamese restaurants are closed.

 I returned home a little before 2:00 and worked until 4:30.  Suzette called to say she was going to Ta Lin and asked if there was anything we needed.  I mentioned that the eggplant we grew in our garden may be too small for the dinner and she should buy more eggplants.  

When she arrived around 5:15 she had bought three lovely Ichi ban eggplants.

After a quick snack of sliced gravad lax on buttered Wasa rye hard bread we launched into dinner.  Suzette decided to make her favorite Chinese Eggplant dish Eggplant in Garlic Sauce from the Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking.  Here is the recipe:

I made a cup of rice and steamed the flowerets of a stalk of broccoli.

I also sliced our garden raised eggplant and two medium Ichi ban eggplants into julienned strips of eggplant about 21/2 inches long.

I minced six small cloves of garlic from our garden and ¼ cup of onion for extra flavor.  I then diced about ½ lb. of chicken meat from the Greenhouse Bistro roasted chicken Suzette brought home last Friday.

Suzette stir fried the eggplant in 1/3 cup of oil, which is less than the recipe required.  Then she stir fried the onion and garlic on high heat until it started to brown.  She then added the chicken and added back the eggplant and made a well in the middle of the wok and added the seasoning sauce the recipe called for made with, oyster sauce, soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, and cornstarch.  

Suzette wanted to garnish the dish with chopped cashew nuts and chives, so while she chopped about ½ cup of cashews I went to the garden and gathered 7 or 8 chives and minced them.  

When the rice had 7:30 minutes to cook I started steaming the broccoli.  When the rice was cooked Suzette fetched beers and we piled rice and then the eggplant dish onto our plates and added steamed broccoli and garnished our piles with chopped cashews and minced chives.

We had a great dinner in the excitement of anticipation of the first Presidential debate at 7:00.  Willy arrived around 7:20 and ate dinner while we watched the debate.  He stayed until almost 10:00 when the MSNBC post debate coverage ended, during which we all ate PPI peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream.  I also drank a glass of yogurt drink and a few grapes.

We went to bed a little before 10:00.

Bon Appetit 

Monday, September 26, 2016

September 24, 2016 The Santa Fe Chile and Wine Grand Tasting

September 24, 2016  The Santa Fe Chile and Wine Grand Tasting

This is one of my favorite days of the year.  Thousands of happy people eating great food and drinking great wine.  It is sort of the super bowl of food and wine events in New Mexico, and actually is of a national stature.  We usually only attend every 5 or 6 years because it costs $150.00 per person, but we had so much fun this year we may go back more often in the future. 

We woke at around 8:30 and packed an overnight grip and ate a leisurely breakfast of a chicken, chard, and Comte cheese omelet.  

Then at 10:30 we drove to Santa Fe and parked in the PERA parking lot and boarded a bus for the Festival, which I'd held at the Opera.

This year there appeared to be four tents, two large ones and two medium ones.  One of the medium ones is filled with a live music stage and tables and chairs where folks can sit and eat and drink.

We arrived just after 1:00, which was when the gates opened to the regular ticket holders.  You could buy an early admission for a bit more money.  The event ends at 4:00, so we usually can eat and drink enough in three hours to satisfy ourselves.  This year it looked like two thousand tickets had been sold, so there were lines for most of the restaurants and wineries.  Suzette and I soon decided to create a wolf pack approach; one of us would take our two glasses and stand in a winery line while the other took the two plates and stood in a restaurant line.  Suzette seemed to be better at gathering food and often was able to gather food from two or more restaurants while I waited the longer period of time it took folks to decide on a wine or taste several wines from a vineyard.  

To make a long story shorter, we tried to drink over $30.00 wines today.  Since we had drunk lots of wine on Wednesday at the To the Trade Tasting, we were also looking for new wines.  I could not resist asking to taste Cocha y Toro’s Don Melchor.  Here are some ratings:

Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo Valley, Chile
red wine
7 reviews
2012  JS98  WS95  WE92  W&S92  RP91
2010  JS96  WS95  W&S94  RP93

The other great red we drank was Ridge’s Montebello Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon 
Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California
red wine
2004 WS94 ST94 W&S94
2003 RP94 ST94 W&S92
2001 RP99 WE97 WS95 V93
These wines were not placed on the table but were placed on the floor behind the pouring table so to taste one one had to know who had the great wines and ask nicely to try them. 
Among the new white wines, Suzette liked the Aix, a rose’ produced near Aix en Provence and I liked the Pedro Ximenez white from Chile. The Easton wines were lovely also, but we were having fun drinking and eating, so didn’t take notes. 

 Suzette after finishing the 20 bottle magnum of Aix Rose' in one of the big tents at the end of the day

There were a few surprises in food.  The best new restaurant was 
Sazon at 221 Shelby St., Santa Fe, NM. I spoke to the owner who said he tried to integrate Pre-Colombian ingredients.  The dish served was a poblano cream sauce with blue crab, which was delicious and seemed to express the New Mexican cuisine.

Other restaurants of note were Plazuela at the La Fonda that served a lovely short rib on a lovely piece of polenta with a Demi-glacé.  The Compound served fresh Hog Island oysters on the half shell and an oyster stew made with a mixed vegetable base rather than milk and flour. 

The most unusual dish was presented by The Club at Las Campanas that served a lobster flavored espresso with a small beignet.  I was so surprised by the unique flavor combination that I gagged a bit and jerked the plate and spilled some on my shirt.

By 3:30 most of the wine had been poured and the food served, so we made our way to the music venue and listened to music for about fifteen minutes, periodically walking through one of the tents to scour a glass of wine or plate of food.  We found chocolate mousse and Joseph’s butterscotch pudding.   Joseph had earlier served a lovely smoked salmon with micro greens.  

The last dish of food we ate was a Salmon sushi made by the owner of Izmi Sushi restaurant, which is the highest rated sushi restaurant.  The experience was wonderful.  As we approached the table filled with a pile of salmon and a large bowl of sushi rice.  We had eaten so much, we asked for sushi and the owner who obviously was a trained sushi chef cut two lovely long slices of salmon.  Suzette took a bit of wasabi and soy and we each picked slices of pickled ginger that we ate with sips of champagne. 

At 4:00 we walked out the gate, boarded a bus and rode back to the parking lot.  I had grabbed two bottles of water and drank them both while waiting in line for the bus and on the bus.  When we returned to our car, we drove across the parking lot to Kakawa, the chocolatier that serves several mixtures of hot chocolate.  I was amazed by the crowd.  The place was filled with folks.  


We bought a bag of chocolate for Amy and Vahl and drove to their house, where we talked and looked at their pictures from their recent trip to Yellowstone.  I drank two cups of Fortmason tea and three glasses of watershed a few pistachio nuts.

Finally at 9:30 we went to bed.

Bon Appetit 

September 25, 2016. Brunch – Harry’s Roadhouse. Dinner - Grilled Pork Chops and onions, steamed broccoli, and Casarecce Pasta with fresh Pesto and cherry tomatoes and peach cobbler

September 25, 2016. Brunch – Harry’s Roadhouse. Dinner - Grilled Pork Chops and onions, steamed broccoli, and Casarecce Pasta with fresh Pesto and cherry tomatoes  and peach cobbler

We spent the night at Amy and Vahl’s house in Eldorado. I woke a bit before 8:00 and watched Fareed Zakaria on CNN and then the Sunday morning news programs.  

At 10:00 we drove to Harry’s Roadhouse for brunch.  I ordered a plate of duck confit hash with potatoes, carrots, and onion topped with two poached eggs.  Suzette and Vahl's ordered another special a puff pastry filled with  eggs.  Amy ordered her usual Huevos Rancheros.

  Suzette and Vahl's eggs en croute

 My duck confit hash with poached eggs

We also shared a buckwheat pancake that was delicious with real maple syrup.

Suzette and I then drove to Stephens where we saw nothing thing and then we drove to Meow Wolfe, which is a giant installation piece that fills an abandoned bowling alley. It is ha d to describe,  it must be experienced.  Vahl’s description may be best, “It is like going down the rabbit hole into a new fantasy world.”  My favorite room was one rotating circular hands of changing color with three vertical sets of red lasers that would activate sound when the stream of light off the laser beam was interrupted by ones hand.  So one could play music by crossing ones hand through the red laser beams.

We were feeling stuffed from breakfast, so decided to stop for a beer at Santa Fe Brewing on our way out of town  Suzette ordered an Oktoberfest Ale and I ordered a Pale ale flavored with Willamette Valley  hops.  We sat at a table on the porch and sipped them looking at the Jemez Moutains lit by early afternoon sunlight.  The weather had finally warmed to about 68 degrees as forecast.  A couple from Detroit soon joined us  and we talked to them about touristy things for a few minutes. 

We then drove back to Albuquerque to Costco and bought lettuce, piñon nuts, lemons, pecans, pasta, a rack of lamb, Greek yogurt, grated Parmesan Romano cheese, lemons,  and a dozen pork chops.  

We then drove to Lowe’s to pick up vanilla bean ice cream and milk and then home.  After we unloaded the car, we went to the garden and picked about 2 lb. of fresh basil leaves and Suzette made pesto in the blender with pine nuts, olive oil, basil, and shredded Parmesan/Romano cheese.  Suzette added some lemon juice to the pesto to try to hold its green color and not turn dark green and spoil. 

   The fresh pesto

We wanted to eat pasta with fresh pesto for dinner and decided to steam some of the broccoli I had bought at Sprouts last week for $.48/lb., That left the only decision between the rack of lamb and the pork chops.  I opened the lamb and immediately was hit with a foul spoiled meat smell.  Suzette smelled it and agreed. So we froze the lamb to return to Costco and I opened the pork chops, which were beautiful.  I selected four chops and wrapped and froze the other 8 or nine.  Suzette sprinkled the chops with large Crystal's of Mexican sea salt and Moroccan black pepper.  I sliced a yellow onion into four slices and Suzette grilled them on the grill.  I de-stemmed the flowerets of broccoli from the stalk and steamed them.  I could not think clearly about a wine.  We had drunk so much, so I decided to try the 2011 Gnarly Head Limited Edition Authentic Black from Lodi, CA that Suzette’s niece, Karen, gave us.

It was a heavy, inky dark wine with a decidedly chocolate flavor that stood on its own as a wine.  I liked it with dinner but Suzette she would rather have had a rose’.  

Peach Cobbler

We also needed to eat the peaches Ed had given us and Suzette had peeled and sliced on Thursday and sprinkled with sugar, so I made Laura’s Jiffy Cobbler recipe with 1 stick (1/4 lb.) of butter melted in a Pyrex baking dish, 1 cup of flour, ½ cup of sugar, 3 tsp. of Baking Powder, ½ tsp. of salt, which I then mixed dry and added about ¾ cup of milk instead of the 2/3 cup indicated by the recipe.  Then I whisked the milk into the dry ingredients until the batter was smooth and poured it into the Pyrex baking dish with the melted butter.  Suzette then laid 4 cups of sliced peaches with a slotted spoon that allowed the syrup drain from them on top of the batter baked the cobbler in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for thirty minutes.  

I cooked 1 lb. of the Cassarecce pasta and steamed the broccoli while Suzette grilled the onions and pork chops.  When the pasta was cooked I drained it and poured about ½ of it back into the pot and Suzette heated 1 T. of butter in the pot and added a liberal amount of fresh pesto to flavor the pasta. I then sliced the cherry tomatoes Suzette had harvested from the garden today after she picked basil and tossed them into the pot with the pasta and pesto.

We then plated our plates with a pork chop and grilled onions, pasta with pesto, and steamed broccoli and I poured glasses of the Gnarly Head black wine.

I enjoyed the pasta with fresh pesto tremendously.  The fresh grilled pork chop and onions were great also.

And finally the fresh baked cobbler served warm with vanilla ice cream made this meal rather memorable.  This is the first time I prepared a cobbler and I found it exceedingly simple.  The use of ¾ cup of milk gave the cobbler a more cake-like consistency, rather than the more doughy biscuit-like consistency of the original recipe.

Bon Appetit

Friday, September 23, 2016

September 23, 2016 Lunch – coffee Bar and Café at 8th and Mountain Rd. Dinner – Grilled Rib Steak, Potage and steamed green beans

September 23, 2016  Lunch – coffee Bar and Café at 8th and Mountain Rd.  Dinner – Grilled Rib Steak, Potage and steamed green beans

Peter Eller arrived at my door at precisely 12:30, the time he had designated for our lunch.  He recommended a new café at Mountain Rd. at 8th, which turned out to be the old gas station next to the Warson’s house that has been converted into a coffee shop and café serving breakfast and lunch.

  My pickled shredded roast beef sandwich 

 Peter's elegant Turkey, tomato, and green chili sandwich

  Peter's latte

When I entered the brightly tiled space, probably tiled with Stefan’s Santa Fe Tile tiles, I felt comfortable. The menu was on the board.  Breakfast was served at lunch, but I saw a Reuben Sandwich with corned beef from among the six of seven Lunch sandwich choices and chose it with water. Peter chose the Turkey and green chili sandwich and a latte.

We sat at a table by the counter with a view of the kitchen and talked to Jacob, who was the owner, cook and sole employee.  Peter commented that Jacob had recently bought the café from the original owner and was a good cook.  

Another customer came in and ordered biscuit and gravy and a coffee and I was able to see Jacob heat a nice green chili and cheese biscuit in a small glass bowl in the microwave and add gravy to it.

Then Jacob started on our sandwiches.  He spread a pinkish dressing on bread, added sauerkraut and meat and prodded the  sandwiches in a sandwich press.  Each of our sandwiches was served with a mojo Cole slaw made with either the Goya sour orange juice or lime juice.  Jacob made the sauerkraut and Cole slaw, which were very good and the corned beef.  The problem was the corned beef, which was shredded roast beef that had been seasoned with pickling herbs and spices.  I saw a bay leaf,a coriander seed and a pepper corn in the shredded beef.  The problem was exposed when Peter asked, “Where is the pink stuff you served yesterday?”  Two things became apparent.  That Peter had gone to test the restaurant yesterday and that the restaurant had run,out of the usual corned beef yesterday and Jacob has hurriedly made a substitute corned beef by shredding and seasoning overnight some regular roast beef.  What I ate in my sandwich had no resemblance to traditional corned beef.  It tasted okay as seasoned roast beef though, so I suggested to Jacob that shredded roast beef was what was used to make Machaca and he could make a credible Huevos Mexicana with Machaca Burrito with it.  Jacob seemed dazed by my discovery of his attempt to create an ersatz corned beef and did not seem to grasp my suggestion to alter his menu to accommodate the newly created ingredient.  He also did not understand the cultural implication when I asked him, “Where is the slice of dill pickle?

Although Peter did, because my question launched a discussion about the wonderful breads baked by the now departed NY baker who used to own ABC Bakery.  Peter was kind enough to buy me lunch and I gave him a couple of the walnut/chocolate chip cookies when we returned home.  Peter appears to be walking better after his recent operation and has bought a cute little BMW sports car.

I had an appointment from 3:00 to 4:30 and then changed to my biking clothes, but was buffeted by strong winds that forced me back into the house when outside.

I decided to thaw a rib steak and make potato and leek soup for dinner and use the green beans I had bought for the last two weeks at Sprouts.

I fetched the three leeks from the garage and found Julia Child’s recipe in the Mastering the Art of French Cooking and entered that comfort zone I love to be in, cooking a Julia Child recipe, as I have done for the last 50 years.

The recipe was easy.  Four cups of chopped leeks, four cups of peeled and sliced potatoes and 1 T. of salt simmered for 50 minutes in 2 quarts of water.  Then purée the cooked ingredients and add 4 to 6 T. of cream and garnish with chopped parsley and or chives.  

There was a little problem with adapting the recipe because the amount of leeks was actually 8 cups, so I put in 6 cups of potatoes and 2 ½ or 3 quarts of water.  I got a little confused.  The result was a more liquids soup than usual, which meant that I needed to cook it more to reduce it, but I failed to do that because I kept a lid on the pot to speed up the cooking.  I went to Lowe’s and bought a pint of heavy cream.  Suzette arrived around six after I assembled the dish and declared the soup too liquids and flavorless.  She added the rest of the pint of cream and the a cup of crema and I must admit that the soup tasted better and had thickened slightly with her addition.  I had snapped the green beans, so Suzette took over and blanched the green beans in a Saran covered bread baking dish in the microwave, which preserved their tensile texture better than blanching in boiling water and grilled the steak.  I forgot to slice an onion for grilled onions in the fuss over the soup because I had to keep stirring it to try to thicken it.

  Puréeing the soup with the immersion mixer

Suzette brought in the orange pimiento and two shishito peppers she found in the raised beds and sautéed them in butter in a skillet and then added the steak to flavor it and coat it with the flavored butter sauce.  While Suzette was cooking the steak I went to the garden and picked seven,or eight stalks of chives and minced them and then de-stemmed and minced six or seven stalks of fresh Italian parsley to garnish the soup.  I then open a bottle of Chateau Sorillon Bordeaux Superior and poured us glasses.  Suzette grilled the steak perfectly for my taste, between medium rare and medium.  I loved bites of it with bits of buttery orange or green peppers.  I also liked the soup, which has finally expelled it watery texture and flavor.  Suzette had already planned a fix for the soup.  “We will roast the delicata squash and add it to the soup.”  One of the things I love about our cooking is that neither of us lack for imagination when it comes to creating new dishes, although Suzette usually takes the lead.

Willy arrived at around 7:30 and ate a bowl of soup and described his presentation for Friday on the ranking of traffic impacted roadways in the metro area for us as we watched the demonstrations in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Donald Trump does not seem to realize that his suggested solution to the demonstrations created  by all the police shootings of unarmed black men of “Stop and Frisk” will ignite a race war like we experienced in 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. He simply does not get it.

After dinner we nibbled chocolate chip cookies and I drank a cup of chai.

Bon Appetit

Thursday, September 22, 2016

September 21, 2016 Breakfast – Gravad Lax Sandwich. Lunch- East Ocean. Chile and Wine To the Trade Tasting in Santa Fe

September 21, 2016  Breakfast – Gravad Lax Sandwich. Lunch- East Ocean.  Chile and Wine To the Trade Tasting in Santa Fe

This is one of my favorite days of the year.  The day when all the wine merchants try to entice the wine purveyors of our region to buy their wines.  It is somewhere between a family reunion and an old fashion Irish wake.  Because wine is an annual crop, every year there are hnew beverages to try, many of which are among the highest expression of legal drugs on the planet assembled in one room with money and commerce fueling the excitement of sharing God’s bounty.

The Annual To the Trade Tasting at the Chile and Wine Festival is an assemblage of 90 vineyards, importers, and distributers eac pouring up to a dozen bottles of their wines for liquor store and restaurant proprietors.

Suzette gave me strict instructions as we drove north, “We want to find three reds, two whites, and a rose’ that taste great and cost less than $10.00 a bottle.”

When we arrived at the Santa Fe Convention Center Grand Ballroom we immediately saw that the room was arranged in two halves with rows of tables and iced plastic basins filled with wines arranged in rows on two sides of the large ballroom separated by a long table filled with food; cold platters filled with cheeses and salamis and bowls of particularly enticing small pickled red sweet peppers, then iced foods like a small mountain of ice covered with jumbo shrimp, and finally covered steam units filled with fried oysters on the half shell, spicy duck confit quesadillas, pulled pork sandwiches and at the end of the table, a chef carving thick wedges of roast beef and dabbing them with a dark brown Demi-glacé sauce.  This lavish offering of food was sponsored by Sysco, the huge food purveyor to restaurants and institutions.  It did not take long for David to introduce himself to us and then his boss when Suzette told him she owned a restaurant, a 45 bed assisted living facility, and a day spa and she was having trouble ordering from U.S. Foods, the other giant food purveyor.  They spoke for a few minutes about automatic reordering systems and we departed from the food table, cheered by the Sysco employees’ promises, “To Call next Week,” after exchanging cards. 

As I said before, the thirty or forty foot long food table is a sort of green line or no man’s land across the middle of the room that divides the producers and exporters who have pledged their allegiance to one of the two major alcoholic beverage distributers in New Mexico and the U.S., Southern Glazer’s assembled tables of their exclusive brands were on one side of the food table and National’s were arrayed on the other.  A  hundred or so ten foot long tables filled with wines filled the ballroom with pourers from wineries and exporters standing ready to pour any wine you wanted to try.  So it was soon impossible to follow Suzette’s admonition to only drink $10.00 wines.  How do you turn down an offered taste of Stag’s Leap Fry Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon or Roederer Vineyard’s Chateau Ott or vintage champagnes (think Cristal) or after tasting two lovely Concha y Toro Reserva Cabernets in the $11.00 range, you are offered a taste of its Don Melchor Cabernet with the encouragement that, “It is ranked number 9 in the world.”  As it melts in your mouth, you casually ask, “How much is it a bottle?” And the pourer cheerfully states, “$110 per bottle.”  And you nod approvingly, as if to say, “ A fair price for one of the best drinks on this planet.” 

No sane person can turn down such an offer and we are still sane, so we drank our way through all the rows of tables from 3:30 to 5:30, being particular to limit out tasting to $10.00 bottles.  And we found several.  Fetzer is one of the best producers of wines in that price range had several, but our favorite was Fiasco, a small distributers that offered two exciting whites, a Chilean Pedro Ximenez and an Argentinean Cabernet Gris.

We loved spending the afternoon tasting wines and at 5:30, when the pouring stopped, attacked the food table once again as a substitute for dinner while the Sysco employees stood by for another 20 minutes to allow those of us who wished to eat their food offerings save them the added labor of carrying the food laden trays back to the kitchen and throwing the food out as garbage because it could not be re-packaged or sold.

This morning I made open faced sandwiches for Suzette and me on toasted rye bread smeared with goat cheese and then layered with slices of Gravad lax, red onion, and tomato and capers.

Then after a 2 ½ hour meeting ending at noon I went to East Ocean for my favorite lunch of Scallops in Lobster Sauce with Fried Rice served with a small plate of Sweet and Sour Chicken, a pot of hot tea, and a bowl of really good egg drop soup for $7.46 to get my body and mind ready  to drink a lot of wine.

When we arrived home from Santa Fe we were hungry for something sweet, so we made a batch of chocolate chip cookies with chopped roasted walnuts and ate several of them with cups of chai.

I awoke at 11:30 from all the food and wine coursing through my body and finished reading “Breakfast at Tiffany's” and and read the great short story, “A Christmas Memory”, by Truman Capote.

Bon Appetit

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September 20, 2016 Lunch – PPI Miso Pho Noodle Soup, Dinner – New Recipes. Fried Mahi Mahi with melon sauce, grilled artichokes with a Tzatziki Sauce, and cauliflower Couscous

September 20, 2016 Lunch – PPI Miso Pho Noodle Soup,  Dinner – New Recipes. Fried Mahi Mahi with melon sauce, grilled artichokes with a Tzatziki Sauce, and cauliflower Couscous

I ate the PPI Bol of Miso Pho Noodle soup for lunch with two BBQ filled steamed Buns.  I heated the buns for 2 minutes on high heat in the microwave on a plate floating on the surface of water in a larger bowl to keep the buns moist.

I ate them with a combination of garlic chili paste, soy sauce, and sweet chili sauce and drank lychee tea.

I rode to Montano and back at 5:00 in 45 minutes,pretty close to a personal best.  Before I rode I ate a piece of Wasa hard bread spread with butter and slices of gravad lax, a real smorgasbrod, to boost my energy a bit and it worked.

Suzette arrived a little after I returned home at 5:45.

  We examined the Mahi Mahi filet, which was small and then examined the items in the fridge that needed to be eaten or cooked.  As a result Suzette created a menu with all new recipes:

Fried Mahi Mahi with a melon sauce – Suzette put flour, salt, and pepper in a freezer bag and dropped in and dusted the Mahi Mahi.  She then fried the Mahi in hot canola oil.

The melon sauce.  We had a half of an unusual melon Suzette raised in her garden in Los Luna's, sort of a cross between a cantaloupe and a honeydew in color, orange in the center and green toward the rind that was softer and sweeter than either a cantaloupe or a honeydew.  I cut away a bruised spot and removed the rind and cubed the melon into pieces small enough to be dropped into the food processor.  Suzette asked if we had any melon liquor.  Luckily we did and I went to the basement to fetch it.  Suzette then processed the melon with cream and Midori melon liquor into a rather liquid sauce that smelled and tasted wonderful.

The melon sauce

The Cauliflower and Garbanzo bean Couscous.  This was not as great a departure from a known recipe as the melon sauce.  Suzette had cooked a dish for our Christmas Party that combined pulverized cauliflower, garbanzo beans, and preserved lemon.  So tonight she pulverized the cauliflower in the food processor and sautéed it with canned garbanzo beans in a large skillet of heated olive oil and then, instead of the preserved lemon peel, dusted the dish with micro-grated
Lime zest and finished the dish with 1/3 cup of minced fresh Italian parsley.

  The Cauliflower and garbanzo bean couscous

Grilled Artichokes with Tzatziki sauce

We had bought a plastic container of four small artichokes at Trader Joe’s a week ago and last Sunday I had simmered them for 1 ½ hours to cook them.  Tonight I split them in half and Suzette coated them with olive oil and some coarse sea salt and grilled them on the grill.  Grilling does three beneficial things; it softens them, gives them a woodsy outdoor charred flavor, and converts some of the moisture accumulated in the inner leaves into a flavorful coating on each leave.  We both love grilled artichokes, especially smaller, more tender ones.

The Tzatziki Sauce.  I simply found an old bowl of artichoke sauce I had in the fridge that had been seasoned with chives and mayonnaise and lemon and added to it several T. of yogurt, a bit more lemon juice, about 1 T. of fresh dill, and a minced small clove of garlic to make about 1 cup of sauce.

  The Tzatziki Sauce and the container of fresh dill

When everything was ready, I opened and poured the new bottle of 2014 Carayon La Rose we had bought at Trader Joe’s for $4.99 Saturday a week ago from the Languedoc.  Pay d’ Oc is the large area east of the Southern Rhone that includes Aix en Provence that is not classified into village appellations, but is classified only as an appellation d’ origene protégé.  Languedoc is the large region west of the Rhone in southwest France that is not included in any village Appellation that is also identified as an appellation d’ origene protégé.  I think this classification has something to do with more recent European Union agricultural designation system, rather than the older French wine classification system.

Alas, the new rose’ proved to be very pleasant and drinkable, especially with this light Mediterranean meal that we ate in the gazebo in the garden as night fell. 

Unfortunately, I ruined the benefit of the low fat dinner later when I ate chocolate covered peanut and almond cluster candies with a glass of plum brandy and a glass of calvados.  I guess I am one of those  who thinks chocolate is a food group.

Bon Appetit

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September 19, 2016 Lunch – Miso Pho Noodle Soup with shrimp and Fish Balls. Dinner – PPI Pasta with Italian Sweet Sausage, yellow squash, garlic, onion, tomatoes in a beer sauce

September 19, 2016 Lunch – Miso Pho Noodle Soup with shrimp and Fish Balls.   Dinner – PPI Pasta with Italian Sweet Sausage, yellow squash, garlic, onion, tomatoes in a beer sauce

Lunch was a quick assemblage of ready to cook ingredients with a pho bullion cube and a T. of white miso and the PPI broccoli plus shrimp and two fish balls.

Dinner was very much the same.  Suzette sautéed a diced medium onion, 1 tsp. of  chopped garlic, the filling of three sweet Italian sausages (1.18 lb.), 2 cups of sliced Roma tomatoes, 2 cups julienned yellow squash, 1 cup of julienned broccoli, and 1 cup of PPI spaghetti.

Suzette browned the sausage filling p, add the onion and garlic, then the squashes and broccoli and then added ½ cu of beer and covered the mixture to steam and braise.

I toasted and Willy buttered five slices of bread.  I poured out the last of the bottle of Chianti for Suzette and split the last of the 2009 Montepulciano Del Abruzzo.

We enjoyed dinner immensely.  Willy seems to be enjoying his job, although his phone recently died, which is probably like the death of a close friend for a 27 year old millennial.  He was not taking it well.

Bon Appeit

September 18, 2016 Breakfast – Cinnamon Toast and fruit, cobbler, and yogurt. Lunch – Eloisa’s. Dinner – Mapo Dofu and rice

September 18, 2016 Breakfast – Cinnamon Toast and fruit, cobbler, and yogurt.   Lunch – Eloisa’s.  Dinner – Mapo Dofu and rice

We slept in a bit and tidied up and made breakfast.  Our goal was to make egg sandwiches, but when I discovered a shaker of cinnamon mixed with sugar I decided to make Cinnamon Toast, which is one of the most delicious simple dishes ever invented.  I spread bits of butter on slices of French bread and then shuck the cinnamon sugar mixture on the bread to cover it and the butter.  Then I baked the coated bread in the oven at 400 degrees until the sugar melted and started bubbling and the bread started turning golden brown at the uncovered edges

While I was making the toast, Suzette was cleaning out the fridge and packing the ice chest with the food and filling bowls with PPI peach and fig cobbler, fresh sliced peaches and blueberries and yogurt.

  He view from our breakfast table

After breakfast we packed up, finished cleaning up, and left for Santa Fe, only stopping at Old Marina’s for a cup of coffee.

We arrived at Santa Fe at noon and stopped at the traders' mall at De Vargas Center and then decided to eat lunch at the Shed.  We parked at Owing’s Gallery and walked to the Shed, but it was closed.  Suzette suggested Eloisa’s, so we walked through an arts and crafts show in the Cathedral Garden to Eloisa’s in the Drury Lane a Hotel, which used to be St. Vincent’s Hospital.  It was a warm sunny day, so we sat on the patio. We decided to split a grilled salmon Salad Nicoise and each have a bowl of Cream of Butternut Squash soup.  The soup was lovely, garnished with flash fried strips of cipollini onions or shallots and creamy but not lumpy.  We felt like fall food had arrived.

  The Cream of butternut Squash Soup 

  The Salmon Nicoise Salad

The salmon Nicoise was more conventional, but also very tasty with slices of purple Peruvian potatoes, a nice piece of grilled salmon, blanched string beans, halved caper berries instead of olives, grape tomatoes, sliced carrot, organic lettuce, and a sliced firmly boiled egg with a zippy lime, sugar,  and olive oil vinaigrette ($13.00).

At lunch I suggested we try the new Gruet Wine Bar, so we inserted its address into Suzette’s phone direction app and walked to the address on Don Gaspar.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that it was part of the first floor of the Hotel St. Francis, which used to be the De Vargas Hotel that I think may be the oldest hotel left standing in Santa Fe.  We sat in the garden and were served a tasting of five or six wines of our choice as members of the wine club.  We tried the newly released 2012 Gabrielle Reserve Rose’ champagne, which is 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir that had as lightly cassis flavor, then the newly released 2012 Gilbert Reserve, which is 100% Chardonnay, aged in French oak for six months and then three years of triage that induces the thousands of small bubble (it was our favorite with a rich yet delicate character) and worth the $39.00 per bottle price, we felt.  Then we tried the 2011 Grand Blanc de Blanc because it was one of the wine club wines this quarter and it was delicious but not as complex and rich as the Gilbert.  

Justin and Alicia were perfect host and hostess bringing bottles and pouring tastes as we warned  ourselves at a canopied table on the small enclosed patio.  

Then we tried the newly bottled 2015 Chenin Blanc, which we did not care for because it lacked the usual fruitiness of Chenin Blanc, a rather dry tart and slightly acidic wine.  Since a bottle of the 2013 Pinot Noir was included in the wine club selections, we tried it and found it to also be slightly tart and acidic.  So we asked to try the 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir ($34.00) and loved it, rich full bodied and more fruity that the regular Pinot.

Since Billy is having hip surgery and we can not carry on wine, we decided to send a bottle of each of the 2012 Gilbert and the 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir to Billy to speed his convalescence.

The Gruet winery took care of the shipping and with the FedEx shipping charge included the cost of the wine delivered to Billy and Elaine was $95.00.

Suzette then drove us home as I napped.  We arrived home at 4:30 and Suzette lay down for a nap.  I was restless and decided to make Mapo Dofu, one of my favorite Chinese dishes that is a Szechuan stew of eggplant, pork, wood ear, green onion, tofu, ginger, and hot chili paste.  I add garlic, and a vegetable; today it was broccoli,since it was $.48/lb. at Sprouts plus fresh sliced mushrooms (both oyster and baby portobello) and some dried slices of shiitake mushrooms.  

I sautéed about ¼ cup each of garlic and Ginger in 2 T. of peanut oil and then added 3 diced ichiban eggplants (about 3 cups) and 1/2 lb. of diced boneless pork sirloin to the wok.  Then I added the broccoli and the mushrooms and sautéed all of that until it took on color.  

Before cooking the dish I had started 1 cup of rice simmering in 2 cups of boiling water seasoned with 1 tsp. of Knorr chicken stock and a small handful of lily pods for 30 minutes on the lowest simmer setting on our stove.

After everything seemed to take on color and partially cooked. I added 14 oz. of medium firm diced tofu and a T. of wood ear and a T. of dried shiitake mushrooms that I had softened in two cups of hot water for about ten to fifteen minutes and then Enough water to cover the ingredients so they would stew.  I checked the recipe I use in the The Good a Food of Szechuan Cookbook and realized I had failed to add the chili sauce, so I added a heaping tsp. of garlic chili paste, less than ½ of what the recipe calls for.

I let the stew stew for about 30 minutes to allow the ingredients to cook and begin exchanging flavors.  Then I made a thickening sauce with 2 T. of corn starch, 1 T. each of soy sauce and Chinese Cooking Wine, about 2 T. of water, and 1 Tsp. of sesame seed oil.

After three or four minutes of turning the stew it thickened and was ready to serve on a pile of rice with a cup of Lychee tea.

Bon Appetit  

Sunday, September 18, 2016

September 17, 2016 A full day of activity and food in Taos

September 17, 2016 A full day of activity and food in Taos

We woke up and had a leisurely morning.  We left the house at 9:30 and drove to the city parking lot and walked to the plaza to the farmers’ market.  We walked around and did not find any wild mushrooms.  We stopped for a cup of coffee for Suzette and I bought us a small loaf of apple, cinnamon walnut bread for $3.00 from a bakery shop.  We then walks to the edge of the plaza where the friends of Taos Library were selling books, weight a pile of cookbooks for the restaurant for $17.00 and carried them back to the car..

We drove to Michael’s Kitchen and looked for the Estate Sale, but did not find it.  Instead we saw that Taos Auction was having a Closing Sale.

We walked over to it and soon Suzette found hand carved Wooden shoes from India that would make good door pulls and bought two pair for $100.00.  I saw a silver pin that had a Millicent Rodgers design and bought it for Suzette’s birthday for $150.00.  We then drove to the Millicent Rodgers Museum and went to the gift shop where we found that the same pins sold for $250.00.  I felt vindicated.

It was noon, so we drove further north and west on the gorge road to Mesa Brewing Co, where the was a food and art event for the Harwood Museum.  We were hungry so we ordered food and beers.  We ordered the daily special of chicken mole enchiladas with calabacitas and black beans, a spinach and roasted beet salad with walnuts and goat cheese and a slice of chocolate cake plus two beers, a Harwood Ale which provided a $1.00 donation to the Harwood and a doubleheader potter.

  The Spinach and Roasted beet salad

  The chicken mole enchiladas

  The chocolate cake

Everything was delicious except a bit more mole sauce I the enchiladas would have been tastier.

We discovered that there was an art project featured at the Harwood Art Fest.   For $15.00 you received a 6 inch by six inch block of compressed sand and concrete and a carving tool.  You scratched a design into the block and after 7:00 the iron workers would fill the scratched blocks with cast iron and the cool then blocks and remove the images carved into the blocks from the sand.  Suzette got the idea to make a door knocker in the shape of an artichoke.  She made the top thistle part and I scratched the bottom heart and stem part that she would later hinge together to make the door knocker.   After about 1 ½ hours we finished and left our creations and drove back to the house for a nap at 2:3o.  

We napped until 4:30 when we dressed again and drove to the Harwood Museum for a fabulous concert by the Taos Chamber Music that started at 5:30.  I loved the concert for two reasons. It was music inspired by Tibetan culture and because one of the members of the Taos Chamber Music group is Sally Guenther, who was in my grade at Paschal Fort Worth, which brought back memories of Paschal, such as the fact that awards were given to the best students.  I don’t recall if awards were given for musical achievement, which Sally surely would have won, but I won the awards for being the best chess player and being the best Economics student.  Sally’s father was head of the Music Department at TCU and she was an accomplished cello player in high school and attended Julliard after graduation.  This made me recall that another friend named David Cochaner’s whose mother taught us math in fifth grade attended MIT to study math after graduation.

The concert included a world premiere of a work adapted from Tibetan oral signing by Andrea Caulfield, who described her trek to northern Nepal to learn and record the music and then played and sang the vocal part of the piece along with the six members of TCMC who played the piece.  It was impressive and I thanked her and complimented her singing during intermission after the piece.  

  Sally is playing the cello seated on the right

After the concert We drove the few blocks to Stella’s at 210 Camino Pueblo, which had gotten several good reviews.  I ordered Sea Bass with wild rice and grilled asparagus.  Suzette ordered a Cajun Cream soup with shrimp.  We both liked our dinners.  I shared my dish with Suzette and gave her fresh spinach leaves and rice to add body and texture to her soup, which was barren of anything except a very flavorful Cajun Cream soup base and lots of shrimp.  My dish on the other hand was a platter full of lots of interesting ingredients.  First of all the platter was filled with a layer of fresh spinach leaves.  I guess bags of fresh organic spinach leaves are now readily available in Taos.  Then there was some sautéed zucchini and yellow squash mixed with a risotto merely of wild and regular rice that was in a thick sauce and finally on top was a sautéed filet of what I thought was fresh corvina with half a dozen spears of steamed asparagus leaning across the top of the fish filet.  I thought it was a good dish, especially for $20.00, as was Suzette’s soup for $10.00.  By 8:30 we were finished with dinner and on our way to Mesa Brewing Company to pick up our cast iron knocker.

  The Cajun Shrimp Soup

After picked up our knocker and thanked the iron workers for their effort, we saw Jay and Paula Steinberg and their two dogs in the brewery’s Main hall where the music was being played.  They were camping next to the brewery and this weekend was a mini music festival. I bought everyone glasses of wine and another slice of chocolate cake and we listened to the first hip hop band of the evening and talked to Jay and Paula until 9:30, when we decided to go back to the house.  

When we returned to the house we watched the French chef series ‘ episode on Yam’Thka in Paris which has championed French/Chinese fusion food and excellent tea. I was particularly interested in Suzette seeing the emphasis and skill in acquiring and serving tea.  I hope she liked it.  It reminded me again of the importance of serving a good cup of tea, like I had at Ichi Ban and can no longer have at Azuma, which has caused me to switch my allegiance to Ichi Ban with one sip of tea.

Bon Appetit

Bon Appetit