Sunday, April 30, 2017

April 29, 2017 Lunch – O Ramen, Dinner – Sautéed Morcilla and Oaxaca cheese salad and French Onion Soup

April 29, 2017 Lunch – O Ramen, Dinner – Sautéed Morcilla and Oaxaca cheese salad and French Onion Soup

I ate my new favorite breakfast today; yogurt, ½ mango cubed, granola, and milk allowed to sit with the yogurt until the milk is converted into a light yogurt sauce.

I met with a new client today to form a corporation and purchase of a cleaner’s.

Then I went to get an MRI of my right hip area.  As the X-ray machinery whirled around me I kept thinking, this better than exploratory surgery.

They put headphones on you and play a selection of your favorite music loudly so it drowns out most of the noise and give you a suction ball to hold in case you have a panic attack or claustrophobia and want to be pulled out of the machine.  I was inside the machine about 35 to 40 minutes, so I could understand how one could get anxious.  I was able to rub my nose and chin when they itched, so I was okay.

I then called Willy and he told me he and Robin Orsofsky had a plan to go to lunch with the parents.  I went home to wait for Suzette and Willy’s call to tell us when and where to meet for lunch.  Suzette pulled into the driveway seconds before I arrived at 1:15.  Soon after we arrived Willy arrived and told us that we all were meeting at O Ramen on Central between University and Yale.  After a bit of driving around we found the restaurant and said hello to Robin and Willy.  Soon Robin’s Uncle Bill arrived and then his parents, Richard and Anna, arrived. There were several interesting appetizers, including Takoyaki (deep fried balls of mashed potato with pieces of boiled octopus inside) sort of a Japanese take on a Spanish potato fritters, fried Gyoza (fried pork and cabbage stuffed dumplings, deep fried tofu, and seaweed salad.

There were essentially only two choices of entrees, curry with rice or ramen noodle bowls with various ingredients.  The ingredients included shiracha chili sauce (spicy), sheets of toasted nori, boiled pork, soft boiled egg.  The choice of broth was between soy or Miso flavored broth.  I selected a Miso regular large bowl of ramen.  Suzette selected the seaweed salad and a large plate of Takoyaki.  Willy ordered a small bowl of spicy super ramen, which contained sheets of nori and more pork.

We had a pleasant lunch and then went home for a nap.  I awoke at 5:00.  Suzette checked with Cynthia and she and Ricardo were available, so we invited them over for dinner.

  I had bought morcilla sausage and flat pieces of Oaxaca cheese at El Super on Wednesday, with an idea of making Mexican appetizers for Cynthia and Ricardo, so my plan actually worked out.  The only difference, was a good one.  No one wanted to eat extra carbohydrates, so instead of serving tapas of grilled morcilla and Oaxaca cheese we made them the Center piece of a fresh salad.  I sliced 8 slices of morcilla and cut one long strip of cheese into four slices of cheese. I then went to the garden and picked a large basket of lettuce, which was beautiful after the two days of drizzling rain, we have had.  When Cynthia and Ricardo arrived Suzette cleaned the lettuce and sautéed the morcilla and cheese slices while I opened a bottle of 2012 Chateau De Segries Cuvée Reserve red wine from the Lirac Appellation in the Rhone Valley around Avignon (Total Wine $23.99 less 20% to $19.19) and a bottle 2012 Chateau Farrell-Laurens l’ Ardoise from Appellation Faugeres (Costco $7.99 in January 2015).  Both were Southern style wines.  Although the Chateau Fardel was in a Bordeaux style bottle it clearly contained  a Southern Rhone blend of 40% Syrah, 40 % Grenache, and 20% Mourvèdre grapes. Appellation Faugeres is located in the Rousillon-Languedoc wine district east of the Rhone in Southern France and is known locally as Coteaux de Langedoc and is actually not a true Appellation, but is actually an appellation d’ origins protégée because the area became an  established wine district after the 1855 designations were enacted.

Both were stunning wines, but I preferred the soft smoothness of the Lirac.

Suzette plated up salads in pasta bowls and laid the sautéed morcilla and cheese on the salad and I warmed the Cesar dressing. I also put a bottle of salsa from Los Poblanos on the table for those who wanted a little extra kick.

Ricardo said he was watching his weight and had lost ten pounds, so I thought we had picked the perfect dinner for him.

After we finished our salads, Suzette filled French soup crocks with heated French onion Soup, toasted slices of French bread and laid slices of Swiss Gruyere cheese on the toast and baked the crocks in the oven until the cheese melted while I poured the Faugeres wine.  Soon we were eating soup and sipping more red wine.  It was a cold drizzly night, so hot French Onion Soup was the perfect dish for the weather.

After dinner I brought out a new bottle of Calvados and we sipped Calvados and talked until 10:30.

A wonderful evening spent by friends sharing their most intimate thoughts with wonderful food and wine.  What could be better.

Bon Appetit

April 28, 2017 Dinner - Broiled Lobster tails with baked potato and salad

April 28, 2017 Dinner- Broiled Lobster tails with baked potato and salad

Today was hectic as I was on deadline to file a motion and Reply in my water case appeal.  I started working early and had my favorite new drink to activate my body and mind, a couple of oz. of heated milk, a packet of Carnation Swiss Miss cocoa, a large coffee from the coffee maker and a little hot water to fill the mug and emulsify the cocoa.

The drink kept me going until around 3:15 when I finished the edit and sent the final draft to my client for approval.

I called Suzette and asked wha she wanted for dinner.  No thought, so I suggested lobster and champagne.  She agreed immediately to that, so I took the four Lobster tails out of the freezer to thaw.

I then started looking for something to eat.  I quickly decided on the last lamb chop and tzatziki from last Monday’s dinner.

I got the motion and reply filed at 4:50, went to the bank and deposited a couple of checks, and drove home by 5:30.  I checked the wine fridge and found a chilled 2012 Gruet G25 Blanc de Blanc that I put in the freezer to chill further.

I then poked some holes into four russet potatoes and baked them at 375 degrees for an hour.

It was a cold wet day and we had a fair amount of steak and bones left from the two rib steaks we grilled this week and I had bought onions at El Super (3 lb. for $.99) to make onion soup, so I diced five cups of onions while I watched the news and put the onions into the large pit, that I had cleaned after using it to make the spaghetti sauce.  I followed Julia Child’s recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking and simmered the five cups of onion covered in the large pot with 6 T. of butter and 2 T. of olive oil for about 30 minutes.

When Suzette arrived at around 6:00, we had a cocktail and watched the news until 6:45.  I told her that one of my fondest memories of New York was going to Mr. lobster that was a cafeteria that served a lobster dinner of salad, baked potato, and a boiled lobster for $4.95 in the 50’s.

So she decided to make a lobster salad.

It was drizzling, so Suzette said she wanted to broil the lobster tails inside in the oven.  I said, “that is the way mother used to cook lobster, so we agreed on broiling.  Then Suzette said, “I want to baste the lobster with tarragon butter.”

So I picked a basket of lettuce and five sprigs of fresh tarragon from the garden and chopped the tarragon.  Suzette melted some butter and added the tarragon and basted and broiled the lobster tails.  She then cleaned the lettuce and arranged it on pasta bowls,, split two baked potatoes and put on each on the pasta bowl.

Suzette then said she wanted some avocado on the potato, so we cut open two old avocados and found just enough meat that was not ruined to make a respectable slice of avocado for each potato.

Suzette then said, “I want a Russian dressing for the salad.”

I went to the fridge and fetched the small container of dill and lemon mayonnaise yogurt sauce that I had made for the last batch of artichokes and a bottle of catsup and handed them to Suzette, who mixed some of each in a shallow bowl to make a Russian dressing.

Suzette then used two baked potatoes to hold the four lobster tails in position on a cookie sheet and basted them with tarragon butter and broiled them in the oven for about ten minutes, basting them occasionally.  When they were cooked but not dried out, she removed the tails from the oven and put a piece of foil over them to allow them to conserve their juices as they cooled.  We then shelled the tails and lay them on the salad and drizzled Russian dressing over the salad.

I then poured the bottle of G25 Gruet Blanc de Blanc and we had a fabulous dinner.  The wine had a slightly tinny taste as if some of the Chardonnay fruit had begun to decay but it had great bubbles and a very pleasant taste overall.  Not your average bottle of champagne.  It may be that what I was Tasting was the absence of Pinot noir grapes in the wine.  Blanc de Blanc is usually all Chardonnay, so there are no notes of Pinot Noir.

After dinner we decided to add the lobster shells to the beef broth that was simmering on the stove to enrich it and add some lobster flavor.  After an hour of cooking the broth we decided to finish the Onion Soup.  I added 3 T. of flour to the onions and cooked them for three minutes to cook the flour.  Then we added ½ cup of dry vermouth and the 2 quarts of beef and lobster broth and stirred the soup to eliminate lumps.

I turned off the heat and in a few minutes took the pot of soup to the garage.

Bon Appetit

Saturday, April 29, 2017

April 27, 2017. Penne Pasta with my mushroom meat sauce

April 27, 2017.  Penne Pasta with my mushroom meat sauce

Today I was very busy filing a motion and order to continue a hearing set for Friday, so I could get a motion filed upon Friday in an appeal.

Did have time to boil a pound of penne, which I watched carefully and got just right, not too al dente, not too mushy. It boiled vigorously on the large double burner for twenty minutes.

I also heated the Mushroom meat sauce I had made Tuesday evening and added a small handful of chopped fresh oregano and five or six basil leaves plus three diced Roma tomatoes bought at El Super on Wednesday.  I let the sauce cook most of the morning on a low simmer. At 1:00 I turned off the heat, loaded a bag with a bottle of Nero d’ Avola red wine from Sicily and the penne, put the bag and pot of sauce into the car, picked up Charlie at 1:20 and drove to Ron’s house for the Book Club meeting.  When we arrived Ron helped me heat the sauce and I microwaved the penne and everyone served themselves a bowl of pasta and sauce.  In fact the book club ate most of the sauce.  Everyone seemed to like it.

We had a good discussion about The Shape of Water, an Italian murder mystery set in Southern Sicily, so the wine and tomato mushroom meat sauce fit the story line perfectly.

Suzette arrived around 6:00.  I was still working and had not done anything about dinner.  Suzette looked into the pot and said she thought we could make a dinner with what sauce was left.  She threw a couple of handfuls of penne into the pot with the sauce and about 1/3 cup of requeson cottage cheese and heated it.

It filled two pasta bowls and I must admit that the dish tasted better with the addition of the cheese.

We opened a bottle of Chianti and had a great impromptu dinner.

Bon Appetit

Thursday, April 27, 2017

April 26, 2017. Lunch – Amerasia,  Dinner – Mapo Dofu

The two big food events today were lunch at Amerasia with Ioana and shopping at El Super.

Ioana has enjoyed Ming Dynasty, so I thought she would like Amerasia.  She loved it.  She kept saying, Amerasia is the best!”

We ordered steamed buns filled with BBQ pork and sweet bean paste, fabulous, pork steamed dumplings with water chestnuts, a very interesting beef and ginger open dumpling with an intricate assembly, and my favorite tofu stuffed with wood ear and reconstituted shiitake mushrooms.  When we were finished the owner offered us a complimentary plate of “crispier”, which are twisted fried noodle dough hot from the fryer and dusted heavily with powdered sugar.  I thought the crispies were really delicious but Ioana went wild again and told me a great story about when she was growing up in Romania when she and her sister were at their aunt’s house for the summer her aunt would make something called mickelbeese… that was exactly like the Crispies if they took their nap properly in the afternoon that they would eat as a warm snack with tea.  I love those indelible food memories.  I mentioned the hardened food critic in “Ratatouille” that had a flashback to his childhood at the taste of the mouse’s ratatouille and before I could finish saying ratatouille, Ioana was saying, “Yes, Yes, Yes!”  Needless to say it was a great lunch.  Foods heaven.

After meditation I did a 1 ½ hour shopping tour of El Super’s big Wednesday specials on Mexican produce, fruits, cheeses, and meats.  I bought a pineapple, a papaya, green onions, ginger, white onions, the largest chayote I have ever seen, tomatillos, Pasilla chilis, potatoes, flour tortillas, requeson cheese, flat pieces of Oaxaca cheese, morcilla sausage, four smoked pork chops, Roma tomatoes and limes.

When I arrived home a little after 8:30 I heated a bowl of rice and Mapo Dofu in the microwave.  It tasted better the second time it was heated.

I drank a beer with it and felt like I was ready to tackle some new creative Mexican cooking, having been inspired by the food we ate in Mexico.

Bon Appetit

April 25, 2017 Lunch – East Ocean, Dinner – Grilled steak with Creamed Chard and onion and couscous with tomato.

April 25, 2017 Lunch – East Ocean,  Dinner – Grilled steak with Creamed Chard and onion and couscous with tomato.

In the morning ewe thawed the 1.8 lb. package of ground beef I had bought at Sprouts last Wednesday and two rib steaks.

I had to go to the podiatrist today at 2:00 so I started at noon by going to the bank,  then I drove to UPS and dropped off the return package of filters.  Then I drove to East Ocean and ordered my favorite dish, scallops in shrimp sauce with sweet and sour chicken.  The scallop dish was fabulous today; lots of fresh green opinion slices and small pieces of pork that melted into the egg and chicken broth sauce.

I the drove north past Paseo to Gruet and picked up my order of wine.  Kevin was helpful in substituting a still rose and a Brut Rose for the still Pinot noir and Demi-sec champagne.  Then I drove to the Podiatry clinic and arrived five minutes before my appointed time of 2:00.

I was finished by 2:30, so I went to Trader Joe's to replenish the every day wine.  I bought 2 Crayon Rose’s, 2 La Granja Viura/vermejo white blends, a chablis, a La Granja Tempranillo/Grenache blend, an Aquino Chianti, a Nero d’Avola Sicilian red, a new bottle of La Ferme Julien Rose’, 2 bottles of Cherry Blossom Pinot noir, a Barbera d’ Asti, a bottle of Valreas Cotes Du Rhonda, a Tuella Portuguese red, and a new 2010  El Principe Delaguardia red Crianza from Navarra.

I arrived home around 3:30 and watched Cramer at 4:00 because it was such a huge day in the market.

When Suzette arrive around 5:00 I began making a mushroom meat pasta sauce.  I diced 1 Vidalia onion and about 8 cloves of partially frozen garlic. I went to the garden and picked a handful of oregano and destemmed the leaves and minced it.   I then sautéed the ground beef in a large skillet   Then Suzette took over and sautéed the onion and garlic in a large pot with a couple of T. of olive oil.  When the onions softened we added two 15 oz. cans of tomatoes and 1 can of tomato sauce and the oregano and the drained cooked meat.

As that cooked I slices about ½ lb. of white mushrooms. I went back to the garden and picked about eight sprigs of thyme and de-stemmed the leaves and flowers.  Then I sautéed the mushrooms in 1 ½ T. of butter and 1 T. of olive oil and added the thyme to the mushrooms.  In a couple of minutes I saw that there was not enough fat to cook the mushrooms properly so I added some sweet Marsala, rather than more butter, which is what I usually do.

I then added the mushrooms to the sauce mixture and Suzette moved the pot to the lowest temperature burner on the lowest setting to cook the sauce slowly a little before 7:00.

We discussed dinner. We decided to make creamed chard to go with the grilled steaks.  Suzette texted Willy and told him we would have dinner ready around 7:30.  At around 7:00 I went to the garden and picked a large basket of chard, which I was still de-stemming when Willy arrived.  I then diced ½ of a Vidalia onion and began sautéing the onion in a large skillet.

Suzette then put the the two rib steaks on the grill.  She then added the chard to the skillet and  covered it and steamed the chard.  Willy and I decided to eat the PPI tomato couscous with dinner so we heated the container in the microwave.

Suzette then added half and half to the chard and I grated some nutmeg and added some salt and pepper onto the chard and we let that cook a bit longer to thicken the half and half into a sauce.

I poured glasses of a bottle of 2012 Columbia Crest’s Les Chevaux red blend produced in the  Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Southeastern Washington, which was given to us by the Palmers and garners a 90 rating by Wine Spectator.  The wine was a smooth
Blend: 59% Merlot, 36% Syrah, 4% Viognier, 1% Cabernet Franc
Alcohol: 14.5%
pH: 3.75
TA: 0.54 g/100 mL

When Suzette brought in the steaks, we covered them with foil to keep them warm and hold their juices until the chard was ready.  Then I sliced the steaks and we served ourselves the creamed chard, the Couscous and steak.  I put out a container of Bernaise  Sauce to dab on the steak.

The wine went perfectly with the beef.

Bon Appetit

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 24, 2017 Lunch – Miso Noodle Soup with Corned Beef and cabbage, Dinner – Sautéed shrimp with green beans, tomato, onion, and chard.

April 24, 2017 Lunch – Miso Noodle Soup with Corned Beef and cabbage,  Dinner – Sautéed shrimp with green beans, tomato, onion, and chard.

For lunch I wanted to use the PPI corned beef and cabbage stew.  I made my usual noodle soup, except I added the stew for part of the liquid and did not add any Pho seasoning.  I used large 30 cm. Squares of rice noodle and wheat noodles, but no bean thread noodles also.  I went to the garden and picked a large basket of chard, cleaned and destemmed it and added a large handful of chard to the soup.

In the afternoon I thawed out a package of medium heads on shrimp for dinner.

When Suzette came home we discussed dinner and decided to sautéed the shrimp in their shells so they would retain all their flavor and tenderness.  We also decided to use ½ onion, the approximately 1 cup of green beans, two zucchini, and juice of ½ lemon and 2 tsp. of capers and sprinkle parsley on top.

I went to the garden and picked about seven stalks of parsley and chopped it.

Suzette then started cooking.  She heated butter and olive oil in a large skillet and sautéed the onion, then added the green beans, the diced tomato, the shrimp, and finally approximately 1 cup of chard left from my lunch harvest plus ½ cup of wine and about ¾ cup of water to develop a sauce during the 20 minute cooking period.

We heated about 1 1/2 cup of PPI rice and served the shrimp over rice, sort of etouffe style.

I opened a bottle of Crayon Rose (Trader Joe’s $5.99).  The light fruity rose went well with the tangy slightly citrusy flavor of the shrimp.

Bon Appetit

April 23, 2017 New Recipe – Pecan Chocolate Crunch, Brunch – Salmon Smear Omelet, Lunch – Salad with Peter, Dinner – Mapo Dofu with rice

April 23, 2017 New Recipe – Pecan Chocolate Crunch,  Brunch – Salmon Smear Omelet,  Lunch – Salad with Peter,  Dinner – Mapo Dofu with rice

Pecan Chocolate Crunch

Suzette was in a cooking mood today.  She started cooking shortly after we awakened around 7:30 by creating a new confection she calls Pecan Chocolate Crunch.  She chopped about 2 cup of pecans, added several eggs and the PPI caramel and brown sugar mixture left from the Pecan Dreams Suzette made last Sunday which she spread on a piece of parchment paper and baked for 18 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven.   The result was a gooey soft toffee-like crunchy mass of Pecans and caramel.  Suzette then melted tempered chocolate drops and mixed the melted chocolate with a bit of half and half to make a chocolate glaze that she drizzled over the baked sheet of Pecan Crunch.  See the photo below.

The result was fabulous, a gooey, sweet confection.

Then Suzette mixed cream cheese with the smoke salmon terrine made by Chef Kelly at the Greenhouse Bistro to make a salmon smear.  She made an omelet with whisked eggs, chopped fresh dill and lovage and the salmon smear. I ate my half of omelet with cHai tea and toast spread with blackberry preserves made by Shirlee Linder at Londer Winery years ago.  Suzette her usual Bloody Mary.

I finished watching the Sunday morning news show and Peter Eller called to say he was coming by to pick up some Baumans and Klosses left on approval at noon.

At 11:30 I started preparing lunch by doing a tomato, 1/3 onion and 1/3 cucumber.  Peter arrived punctually at noon and I finished the salad by adding lettuce and Spanish anchovies.  We decided to make open faced cheese sandwiches of Cypress Grove aged goat cheese from Costco on Jewish rye bread baked by Pastian’s.  We ate outside in the garden.  For dessert we ate a few pieces of Suzette’s Pecan  Chocolate Crunch.

I bought a print of an Adobe Brick Maker by Kenneth Adams from Peter and said goodbye to Peter around 2:00 .

I rested from 2:30 to 3:30 and then rode to Rio Bravo and back.

Suzette was home  when I returned.

I rested for a few minutes and then drove to Lowe’s to buy a poblano Chili, vanilla ice cream, a 12 pack of Rolling Rock beer, and tonic water.  I began cooking at 5:30.

Mapo Dofu

I made 1 ½ cups of rice and then diced the poblano chili, 1/3 onion, two zucchinis, 1 medium eggplant, and three boneless pork steaks.  I also diced 2T. of fresh ginger and Suzette diced 2 T. of fresh garlic.  I also soaked five dried shiitake mushrooms and 1 ½ T. of black wood ear slices in hot water.

I started by stir frying the pork, garlic, and ginger in a large wok with 2 T. of peanut oil.  I the removed the pork and most of the ginger and garlic and stir fried the vegetables for about 20 minutes until the vegetables softened.  I added 1 T. of Chinese cooking wine and 1 T. of mushroom soy sauce and 1 tsp. of sesame oil while the vegetables were cooking and made about three cups of chicken broth and diced 11 oz. of medium tofu.

Then I added the pork back to wok and added the tofu and chicken stock.  I added the wood ear and removed the hard stems from the mushrooms and sliced them and added them and stirred the mixture and cooked it another fifteen or twenty minutes.

I added 1 T. of mushroom soy, 2 T. of Chinese Cooking Wine, ½ tsp. of sesame oil,  and 2 T. of cornstarch to the 2 cups of liquid I had soaked the wood ear and mushrooms in to make a thickening sauce.  I also added 1 T. of Oyster Sauce to the mixture in the wok.

About five minutes before we were ready to eat, I stirred the thickening sauce into the mixture.  I occasionally stirred the mixture to see if it was thickening.  At this point you can adjust the thickness.  If if the sauce is coagulating, you can add water or some other liquid to loosen the sauce.  The easiest way to thicken the sauce is to keep cooking the mixture which is what I did tonight.

Another five minutes of cooking produced a consistent, well integrated sauce.

We each scooped rice into pasta bowls and piled scoops of the mixture on top of it.  We drank a beer with dinner.

Willy had arrived and queued up about five episodes of the Silicon Valley series on HBO Go.

We enjoyed the evening watching TV with Willy.

Bon Appetit

Sunday, April 23, 2017

April 22, 2017 Lunch – Costco Polish Dog, Diner – Grilled Halibut, New Recipe – grilled Eggplant stuffed with Brie and Rolled in a Chard Leaf, and Tomato Couscous

April 22, 2017 Lunch – Costco Polish Dog,  Diner – Grilled Halibut, New Recipe – grilled Eggplant stuffed with Brie and Rolled in a Chard Leaf, and Tomato Couscous

We drove to Costco at noon.  We were hungry, so we each ate Polish Dogs and then shopped.  Suzette bought cleaning supplies and we visited the Seafood Fiesta booth.  They had fresh halibut again for $11.99/lb. since the last piece we bought was the second or third best halibut ever, we bought a 1 ½ lb. piece today.

When we arrived home Willy called and said he would join us for dinner.  Suzette cut slits into the fish in which she stuffed slices of lemon and butter.  Suzette also wanted to use the six PPI Grilled Eggplant slices to make a new recipe.  She sliced long strips of Brie cheese and rolled the slice of Eggplant around it and then wrapped the eggplant roll with a large leaf of chard and then ran two toothpicks through the roll to hold it together.

When Suzette put the eggplant rolls and halibut on the grill to cook she suggested that I make couscous because it is relatively quick.  I sautéed 3 T. of butter, ½ tsp. of herb flavored salt, and 2 T. of finely diced yellow onion in a sauce pan for about five minutes.  Then I added 1 cup of couscous and 1 ½ cups water and heated the mixture to a boil and then covered the sauce pan and turned the heat to low and let it cook for four minutes.  Then I tossed the couscous with a fork, turned of the heat and let the Couscous stand covered until we were ready to eat.

We ate in the garden and drank the PPI Alsatian Riesling.

It was the third or fourth best halibut I have ever had because it was so incredibly fresh. The couscous was delicious.  Cooking it with sautéed onion and tomato is an excellent way to cook couscous.

Bon Appetit

Bon Appetit

April 21, 2017 Lunch – Mary and Tito’s,  Dinner – Oriental Chicken Salad at Debbie and Jeff’s house

Another interesting food day.

I fried two pieces of bacon cut into halves and then added scrambled eggs in the same pan with the fried bacon.  They joined together for an interesting impromptu four sided bacon and egg omelet.

Aaron and I had a meeting at 1:15 so we triangulated at Mary and Tito’s at 12:15.  Mary and Tito’s one of my favorite Mexican restaurants.  It appears unchanged from when it opened in 1963.  The reason why I chose its red. Hili sauce is because it is cooked with ground beef for a more complex meaty flavor.  Today I ordered Chile Rellenos and discovered that the green chili also is cooked with ground beef.

Aaron ordered a very interesting deep fried stuffed sopapilla.  I explained to Aaron the importance of and national recognition that comes with a James Beard award.  After lunch I showed Aaron the restaurant’s 2010 James Beard Award for traditional cuisine.  Mary and Tito’s merits the award, because it has produced consistent,  impeccable New Mexico Cuisine for over fifty years.

My chili Rellenos were of my favored type with a wheat flour and egg batter.

I will go back.

At 6:00 we drove up to Debbie and Jeff’s house at the top of Glenwood Hills with its panoramic view of the city.

We took a bottle of Gruet Chardonnay, a roasted  chicken and a salmon and cream cheese, and caper dip as an appetizer.  Jeff served drinks and then shredded the chicken breasts and Debbie tossed them with the rest of the Oriental salad ingredients, lettuce and slivered almonds.  We drank Kendall Jackson Sauvignon Blanc with the meal.  After dinner Debbie served strawberry short cake with whipped cream for a light heart healthy dinner.

The girls looked cute in their tie dyed dresses.  We enjoyed a back to the 70’s moment after watching the sun set over Mount Taylor and the valley.

We said good night at 10:00, a pretty late night due to the pleasant conversation.

Bon Appetit

Saturday, April 22, 2017

April 20, 2017 Lunch – East Ocean. Dinner – PPI Corned Beef and Cabbage with Zucchini

April 20, 2017  Lunch – East Ocean. Dinner – PPI Corned Beef and Cabbage with Zucchini

Today I started with a hot cup of Mexican coffee and Carnation hot chocolate to which I add a little heated milk.  A lovely way to start the day.

I called Peter Eller for lunch and picked him up and drove to East Ocean at 3601 Carlisle NE.  I ordered Moo Goo Gai Pan and Peter ordered Kung Pao Scallops.  Both were delicious.  There are seven or eight types of vegetables in Moo Goo Gai Pan, so it is my favorite dish when I am longing for vegetables (baby corn, water chestnuts, bok choy, bamboo shoots, snow peas, onion, one or two other vegetables).

It is always fun the go to lunch with Peter because of the far ranging conversations.  Today it centered on the migrations during the period preceding and after Charlemagne, particularly in and around Germany.

The new fact that I learned today was that there were Eastern Goths (oestergoths) and Western Goths (visagoths) and after the Western Goths sacked  Rome in 410,  the Eastern Goths, settled in Austria, “Oesterrich”.

We both knew the Western Goths continued their western migration and took control of the areas in Spain formerly ruled by Rome, until they were conquered by the Moors in the 700’s.
Dinner was serendipity.  When I arrived home I opened the freezer in the garage to see what was in it and a 32 oz. container of PPI Corned Beef and Cabbage fell out.  I took this as a sign that we needed to eat it for dinner so I took it into the house to thaw.

When Suzette arrived she completed the process by heating the cCorned beef in a pot.  Suzette asked me to dice up a zucchini squash to add some fresh vegetable flavor and texture to the stew.

I went to the garage and fetched the last two bottles of Shiner Bock beer, which we drank with dinner.  I also toasted a piece of rye bread and buttered it to eat with dinner.

We ate some vanilla ice cream after dinner.

Bon Appetit


April 19, 2017 Lunch – Salad. Dinner – grilled Pork Steaks, corn and asparagus

April 19, 2017 Lunch – Salad. Dinner – grilled Pork Steaks, corn and asparagus

Today I picked a lot of lettuce and made a large salad, with a tomato, PPI red onion, chives from the garden and made open faced cheese sandwiches on rye bread and aged goat milk cheese from Cypress Cove ( Costco).

After lunch I went to Sprouts for the big Wednesday double discount specials when two weeks’ specials overlap.  I did not see any meat specials, but the best value was on Sprout’s olive oil in one liter bottles for $5.99.  It is the best olive oil value in town even at its usual price of $7.99, because it is fresh Spanish extra virgin olive oil.

I also bought string beans for $.99/lb., asparagus for $1.98/lb., fresh white corn for three ears for $.99, 7 grain granola for $2.99/lb. and an eggplant for $.69.

When I got home from meditating at 7:00 Suzette decided to make a grilled dinner of pork steak, corn, and asparagus. We love rose’ with pork, so I chilled a bottle of H to H Cotes Du Rhone (Homage to Heritage, probably one of Total Wine’s private label wines, but a lovely drinkable rose’ for the $8.99 per bottle from a monopol of Rhone grapes).

The acidity of the wine cut through the charbroiled flavors of the foods nicely.  It even helped make the slightly overcooked pork more palatable.

Kemp’s Vanilla bean ice cream from Lowe’s with Hershey’s chocolate syrup for dessert made this summery dinner complete.

Bon Appetit

Kemp’s Vanilla bean ice cream from Lowe’s with Hershey’s chocolate syrup for dessert made this summery dinner complete.

Bon Appetit

April 18, 2017 Lunch – Taj Mahal. Dinner – Poached Salmon in Cream Sauce and Salad

April 18, 2017 Lunch – Taj Mahal. Dinner – Poached Salmon in Cream Sauce and Salad

I worked with Aaron and Ioana on the wine project before lunch.  At 12:30 when we finished Aaron said, “I have not eaten breakfast.  Do you want to get some lunch?”  We discussed where to go and decided upon a mutual favorite, Taj Mahal.

We said hello to Shamiz as we walked in and took a table near the buffet line.  Everything was perfect.  I ate rice, saag paneer, tandoori chicken, beef meatballs, chicken curry, and riata with slices of onion.  There was rice pudding for dessert so I ate a bowl of it, also.

We have decided to use things we have frozen?  Yesterday, besides the five lamb chops and five pork steaks, Suzette had thawed a piece of salmon from the freezer.  Today we picked lettuce, fresh dill, and some baby turnips from the garden. Suzette poached the salmon in a court bouillon of white wine, water, and butter.  She also sliced the turnips into round slices and sautéed them in salt and pepper and butter and olive oil.  Them she made a cream sauce using the poaching medium, while I added lemon juice and olive oiled fresh tarragon to the salad dressing and sliced a tomato and made the salad.

I opened one of the last Concannon Sauvignon Blanc from deep in the cellar.   After five or six years, it was still good, amazing.

We ate under the gazebo and watched the sunset.  The roses are blooming. Lovely.

Bon Appetit

Friday, April 21, 2017

April 17, 2017 Lunch - The Range, Dinner - Grilled Lamb Chops and Eggplant, Catalan Chard and Tzatziki Sauce

April 17, 2017 Lunch – The Range,  Dinner – Grilled Lamb Chops and Eggplant, Catalan
 Chard and Tzatziki Sauce

Yesterday we went to Amy and Vahl’s for a lovely Easter potluck buffet with about a dozen in attendance.  Amy cooked our traditional favorites, baked ham and garlic grits.  Vahl made a wonderful kale salad with shredded Parmesan cheese. In the morning I cracked about two to three cups of the pecans Sami Singh gave me from his pecan grove and Suzette made a caramel sauce and a dough combining cream cheese and flour to make her Pecan Delights.  I chopped about 1 ½ cups of nuts and she filled several small cup cake sheets with a pastry crust of dough and filled the tart shells with chopped nuts and caramel sauce and then I garnished the top of each tart with a pecan half and Suzette baked the tarts in a 350 degree oven for twenty minutes.  We took a bottle of French apple cider (Sprouts $4.99/bottle) and a bottle of Gruet Sauvage Rose’ champagne.

For Sunday dinner Willy made pot stickers for us and I made a sauce of garlic chili sauce, soy and minced chives.

Today I called Mike and we decided to meet for lunch at the new Range restaurant at Rio Grande and I-40.  Mike ordered Huevos Rancheros and I ordered my new favorite. Country fried steak with mashed potatoes sautéed vegetables, white gravy for the steak and mushroom brown gravy for the mashed potatoes. The steak is round steak that has been tenderized by pounding it. The dish was served with sautéed vegetables.  Range make’s the most authentic Chicken Fried Steak I have found in Albuquerque, because their white and brown gravies are well made and delicious.  Chicken Fried steak is fried, so it is not good for you.  I eat it rarely, but my first day back at work from being out of the country for two weeks made me want to reconnect with my Texas roots.

I was uncomfortable for most of the afternoon, but it was worth it.

We invited Willy for dinner.  I thawed out the five lamb chops in the freezer.  Suzette came home early, so at 4:30 we drove to El Super and bought lots of produce for the May Mexican menu at Suzette’s Greenhouse Bistro.  We also bought an eggplant, limes, mangoes, mushrooms, queso fresco, Oaxacan String cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, and beef shanks.

When we returned home, I made tzatziki with fresh dill and oregano from the garden, plus a cup of Kirkland Greek yogurt, a chopped clove of Garlic, 1T. of Olive oil, ¼ cup of lemon juice,  one of the cucumbers diced, added a Greenhouse ripened diced tomato to make the tzatziki more salad-like.

Suzette went to the garden and picked a basket full of chard and de stemmed it while I cored and diced a gala apple for the Catalan Chard dish.

The eggplant I found at El Super was large and very fresh, so at $1.29 a real treat. All fruits and vegetables are now being sourced out of California according to the assistant head of produce, which still does not fully answer the question of where it was raised.

I sliced the lovely large eggplant into thick ¾ inch thick slices and brushed the slices with olive oil.  Suzette salted and peppered the lamb chops and eggplant slices.

When Willy came Suzette began grilling the lamb chops and eggplant slices and prepared the Catalan Chard.

Catalan Chard

This a simple and delicious way to eat Chard or spinach.  The dish falls within the category of dishes that I consider to the Iberian Jewish cuisine because of several sweet ingredients, such as the sautéed apples and raisins.

We began by sautéing the diced apples with ¼ cup of piñon nuts until they browned a bit.  Then we added ¼ cup of rehydrated raisins, or in this case dried raisins with 2 T. of Amontillado sherry of dry vermouth to rehydrate the raisins.  Then we added the chard and covered the large skillet with our wok cover to let the ingredients braze/sweat together.  After about ten minutes with some stirring to turn the chard to mix it into the liquid the dish was ready.

This seemed like it would be a good meal to celebrate a successful trip and return home, so I decided to open a good bottle of wine.  I opened a bottle of 2008 Castillo Clavijo Gran Reserva Cosecha.  This is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 10 % Grenache, 10% Graciano, and 10% Mazuelo grapes.

Gran Reserva is the highest standard for aging, as determined by law.
Spanish labeling laws. The following summary is from Wikipedia.

“Spanish wines are often labeled according to the amount of aging the wine has received. When the label says vino joven ("young wine") or sin crianza, the wines will have undergone very little, if any, wood aging. Depending on the producer, some of these wines will be meant to be consumed very young - often within a year of their release. Others will benefit from some time aging in the bottle. For the vintage year (vendimia or cosecha) to appear on the label, a minimum of 85% of the grapes must be from that year's harvest. The three most common aging designations on Spanish wine labels are Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.[5]

Crianza red wines are aged for 2 years with at least 6 months in oak. Crianza whites and rosés must be aged for at least 1 year with at least 6 months in oak.[5]
Reserva red wines are aged for at least 3 years with at least 1 year in oak. Reserva whites and rosés must be aged for at least 2 years with at least 6 months in oak.[5]
Gran Reserva wines typically appear in above average vintages with the red wines requiring at least 5 years aging, 18 months of which in oak and a minimum of 36 months in the bottle. Gran Reserva whites and rosés must be aged for at least 4 years with at least 6 months in oak.[5]”

Needless to say the best grapes and greatest care in production and aging go into a Gran Reserva.  The 2008 Castillo Clavijo was excellent, smooth as silk, but with a noticeable bit of acidity that gave the wine character.

Willy said that he loved the Catalan Chard and that, “It is my favorite way to eat chard and I love chard.”  We all agreed that it was a great meal.

Suzette cooked the lamb chops a little longer to please Willy and my palette.  We prefer our neat cooked to something between medium rare and medium.  The chops were still red in the Center, so probably closer to medium rare, which is probably closer to medium on Suzette’s scale of doneness than my scale of doneness.

The little extras of a great wine, an incredibly fresh eggplant, and the addition of a ripe tomato and fresh dill and oregano to the tzatziki elevated this meal from ordinarily wonderful to memorable.

This meal made me feel that we returned to Albuquerque just in time to experience the transition from Spring to Summer because it reminded me of the bountiful fresh food ingredients bestowed upon us by Mother Nature.

Bon Appetit

Thursday, April 20, 2017

April 12, 2017 Brunch – Pelicans. Dinner. - La Lanterna

April 12, 2017 Brunch – Pelicans. Dinner. -  La Lanterna

We slept in until 9:30 this morning , got dressed and walked back to the end of Pizaleta  beach development and ordered Machaca with eggs and a large juice at El Pelicano.  We like El Pelicanso for several reasons, the lack of development has left intact a grove of coconut palms next to the restaurant and since there are no disco type restaurants next door , there is no loud pulsing techno music of the style so popular along much of the beach.  The double benefit is you can eat in quite with the only sound being the wind rustle the palm fronds.

The Machaca was a pleasant surprise.  The real deal.  Dried beef jerky that had been softened, diced, and then fried into scrambled eggs, served with blistering hot red sauce and a basket  of lovely soft flour tortillas for 45 pesos each.

Another nice surprise at Pelicano was their commitment to healthy juices.  They had a heavy duty juicer and produced beautifully fresh fruit juices served in 48 oz. mugs for 50 pesos.  Suzette got orange juice and I ordered a carrot and orange juice.  To give you an idea of relative cost liter bottles which are 16 oz. usually cost 25 pesos at a restaurant.

We noticed beach chairs in front of the restaurant, so went and sat in them until about noon when the heat made us sweat and we returned to our hotel for a cooling dip in the swimming pool and a bit of reading in lounge chairs.  About 2:00 in the afternoon we began hearing shouting from the two sports bars that are on the street across from the beach and remembered seeing a sign for Bayern v. Real Madrid.  I waited a few more minutes and then suggested to Suzette that I wanted to watch the game. So we got dressed and walked the ½ block to the beach and found a seat next to a fellow at a table in the corner of the restaurant with two empty chairs.  It turned out that he was from Berlin and was on a month’s holiday from Germany.  He was very knowledgeable, so it was fun having his comments in English during the game. It was a sad game for Bayern with a missed penalty kick that would have tied the score and a red card that left Bayern short a man for the last thirty minutes.  Renoldo was the star, scoring both of Real Madrid’s goals.

After the game we walked another block down the beach to La Lanterna restaurant where've had eaten breakfast several times.  Suzette wanted a hamburger and Lanterna advertised hamburgers.  We ordered a hamburger with fries and a tuna carpaccio.  The restaurant advertises its commitment toGenovese style Italian cuisine.  The tuna carpaccio was excellent. Slabs of thinly sliced raw albacore tuna served with an olive oil dressing with squeezed fresh garlic and minced parsley and rosemary.  The platter of carpaccio was served with six toasted slices of Italian bread covered with chopped tomatoes and herbs, bruschetta.  We lay the tuna on the bruschetta and sipped glasses of Montepolliciano d Abruzzo red wine.  Then our hamburger was served and we split it  also.  The fried potatoes were terrible, soggy, saturated with oil, so  we pushed them away.  We had asked for substitution of spaghetti but the kitchen refused our request.

We enjoyed the delicious tuna carpaccio and the hamburger was delicious with a scoop of seasoned guacamole laid on the burger inside the bun.

I was reminded of the summer of 1969, when I clerked for a law firm in L.A. and enjoyed going to a restaurant near Sunset named Hamburger Haven, where I would order an Acapulco burger with guacamole laid on the burger inside the bun.  How odd that 48 years later I would be eating a similar hamburger 200 miles from Acapulco in Mexico.

After dinner we went back to the hotel and rested until 7:30 when we went to the tour office near our hotel.  After much waiting and what appeared to be disorganization, we were driven about twenty miles to the Manialtepec Lagoon and then taken in a ponga to an area far out in the lagoon to experience the bioluminescent water created by plankton of an algae that becomes luminescent when disturbed as a defensive mechanism.  The algae comes up the river into the lagoon.  The effect is fantastic.  As you move your hand or body through the water the water lights up.  I chose to not get in but several folks did swim which lighted the water they disrupted.

We returned to the hotel at 10:00 and went to sleep.

Bon Appetit

April 11, 2017 An Inexplicable day of food and friendship. Lunch and Dinner at Kabbalah Restaurant

April 11, 2017  An Inexplicable day of food and friendship.  Lunch and Dinner at Kabbalah Restaurant

We slept in until 9:30.  Then we got dressed and ate breakfast at La Lanterna again.  Suzette was not feeling well and ordered yogurt, fruit and granola, but only ate ½ of it.  I ate pancakes, fruit and orange juice again.  We then took a taxi to Santander Bank to report the failure of their money machine to deliver pesos to Suzette and the curious apparent success I had with the same machine.  The bank employee could not help and did not even have internet at had bank to view the transaction.  Dismayed and unsatisfied we left the bank.  As we stood, waiting for a taxi, a lady came up to us and offered us a ride.  She had lived in Dallas and a Fort Worth for twelve years.  We asked her for a ride to the beach and she graciously took us to the parking lot for Carrizallado beach.  We thanked her and offered her money but she refused payment.  We were touched by such a display of caring friendship without any motive, especially after the uncaring treatment at the bank.

We walked down the 165 steps to the small cove where the beach was located.  It was already crowded with people by 11:30 when we arrived.  When confronted with a request to pay 300 pesos for two beach loungers, we decided to sit in two Adirondack chairs located between the beach front row of loungers and tables and the main restaurant seating area and order a beer.  We each ordered Victoria beers, because we had not tasted one yet.  They were very hoppy and tasted like an IPA.  We watched the folks learning to surf in the small bay, which had pretty fair roll and lacked the killer beach swell and undertow at Zicatela.  After we finished our beer we decided that it was getting too crowded, so we decided to return to our part of Zicatela beach.

We walked back up the 165 steps and to the road where we soon found a taxi that took us back to Zicatela Beach.  Suzette was getting hungry and we decided to find some fish tacos.  We wandered down the beach until we were intrigued by handsome layout and appointment at A beach front restaurant named Kabbalah, so we decided to try their fish tacos for 85 pesos.  We ordered Negra Modelas and the fish taco.  The fish tacos were beautifully prepared and presented.  There were three of them one each on a green tortilla, a red tortilla and a white tortilla like colors of the Mexican flag.  The lightly battered and fried fish was garnished with lightly pickled red cabbage and carrots and drizzled with a lovely green avocado crema that was not picante.  We asked for and were given a small shot glass of regular crema.  We were in heaven. These were among the best fish tacos I have ever eaten.

We started looking at the menu and talking to our waiter.  We noticed a tuna salad and asked if the restaurant had tuna.  The waiter went to the kitchen window and asked if there was fresh tuna and reported that the restaurant had fresh tuna and also reported that there was also fresh marlin.  At that moment we told the waiter, ‘”We will return for dinner.”

After the late lunch we returned to Hotelito Suizo Oasis and swam in its pool and rested on its lounge chairs until 3:30 when Suzette got ready for her massage and I took an afternoon nap.

We woke up and got going again around 6:30.

We started by reserving an excursion to the lagoon near town to swim in the phosphorescence after dark tomorrow evening.

Then we walked to the end of the beach to see if a restaurant Cynthia and Ricardo discovered 8 years ago was still there but it was not.

So we walked back to the Kabbalah restaurant for dinner and here it becomes unexplainable.  Suzette ordered the tuna salad and I ordered marlin a la plancha.  Suzette showed the waitress the tuna salad on both the English and a Spanish menu and the waitress appeared to write it down.  We asked about the marlin and asked our waitress to get someone who spoke English.  Soon a young man came to the table and he and the waitress explained that the fish of the day was not marlin, but was Dorado.  So I ordered the dorado a la plancha.

Soon our waitress brought us two plates of dorado a la plancha.  When Suzette explained that she had ordered the tuna salad, the waitress took back the second dorado a la plancha.  Soon she returned with a plate with some lettuce on which was the same piece of grilled dorado and none of the pickled radish slices that the menu described .  At this point Suzette finally got mad and after a few minutes when we had verified to our satisfaction  that this was the same or yet  another piece of grilled dorado a la plancha and not the tuna that she had ordered Suzette told the waitress, No pagamos por esto.

This I guess this is what could be called a Mexican stand off.  Apparently the waitress did not know what to do, so she finally fetched the food and beverage director after bringing a basket of the best tasting warm dinner rolls I have had on our trip.

Augustin, the food and beverage director introduced himself and could not have been nicer.  We explained how we had checked at lunch on the fresh fish and how we told the waitress exactly what we wanted.  Augustin explained that he was from San Diego and had attended SDSC and had an advanced degree in counseling.  We asked him why the waitress served us the wrong fish and apparently the kitchen had lied about the availability of fresh tuna.  Augustin said that he wanted to make up for the mistake and was there anything he could offer us.  Suzette asked, “Do you have fresh tuna?”

Augustin said, “Yes, the tuna is fresh.”  I asked, “Is the tuna Carpaccio nice?  Augustin, answered, “It is a good dish.”  Suzette we will take a Tuna Carpaccio and another glass of white wine.”  I asked, Do you have butter?

Augustin answered, “yes.”

I asked him to please bring more warm rolls and butter with the Carpaccio.

This is where it gets unexplainable.  Soon Augustin and the waitress returned with a beautiful plate of thinly sliced fresh tuna dotted with toasted chopped almonds and large capers and dressed with a wonderful honey mustard dressing and a basket of four warm dinner rolls and a bowl filled with a  whipped garlic and parsley compound butter.  Clearly the best and most creative dish I have eaten in Escondido, an 11 on the scale of 10.

After a few bites my question to Augustin, “How is this possible?”

He really did not have an answer, other to say that he hoped by comping us the Carpaccio we were satisfied with the restaurant.

I told him we loved the Carpaccio but could not understand how a restaurant that could create and execute such a wonderful dish as the Carpaccio and the fish tacos at lunch could do what it had done with the dinner we tried to order.

The question I keep asking myself and can not satisfactorily answer is “Why when you can produce some of the best, most creative food in Escondido would you serve twice an unwanted dish when you had the ingredients and creativity in the kitchen to serve the superbly creative food that is ordered?

I feel sorry for Augustin.  He has the kitchen staff and a  beautiful restaurant capable of serving creative wonderful food all the time but it is not happening.

Kabbalah remains in my mind a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sort of restaurant experience.  What food will show up?

If Augustin or the owners can straighten out the food service, Kabbalah should rank among the best restaurants in Escondido, rather than just another one of the beach front rip off joints that throw whatever they want at their customers without care or explanation.

Bon Appetit

April 13, 2017 Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca Lunch – Restaurant Catedral. Dinner- Pastries from Carmelita's pastry Shop

April 13, 2017 Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca Lunch –  Restaurant Catedral. Dinner- Pastries from Carmelita's pastry Shop

We woke at 6:00 to make the flight at 8:00 to Oaxaca in the small ten seat Aero Tucan airplane.  It was quite trilling to ascend over the coastal mountain range and land in the Central Valley.  We arrived around 8:30 and found a couple to share a taxi with that delivered us to our respective hotels for 160 pesos instead of 320 pesos.  We rested for a while to catch up on our lost sleep and at 11:30 went to Restaurant  catedral, which is the fanciest restaurant we have eaten at on the trip.

We soon discovered that we had arrived an hour early for lunch which began service at 1:00, so we made a reservation for 1:30 and walked the long block to the museum shop at the Museum of Oaxaca to look at the color collages on rice paper made by Eduardo Lugo we had admired previously. After looking at more than a dozen we selected three and asked if the museum had shipping tubes.  They did not but directed us to a store three blocks down the street named Provender that sold all things related to art and architecture.  We soon were directed the architectural area and were shown a plastic tube for carrying architectural drawings for 113 pesos.  We bought it because it was long enough to hold the rice paper pictures safely and even had a shoulder strap that allowed the tube to be carried hands free.

We returned to the museum and bought four paper collages for 320 pesos and rolled and taped them into the tube.

It was after 1:00 when we returned to Restaurant Catedral.  We were shown to a table in the patio and ordered water.  Soon we were brought two types of bread, a toasted roll stuffed with a bit of cream cheese and a plain roll.  We ordered mezcal coctels with guayaba juice. Soon we were served an appetizer of chicken stewed in the restaurant’s famous black mole sauce on a toasted flour tortilla topped with freshly pickled red onion.

  In the research she did on the restaurant, Suzette had selected two dishes she wanted to try, a salad of toasted Oaxaca cheese served with grilled nopales and fresh verde lago leaves and blanched fava beans dressed with a cilantro sauce.  Her salad was fabulous and very reproducible except perhaps for the silky smooth pusillanimous chili sauce served with the salad.  The theme of this trip is to collect regional Mexican recipes.  As you will soon see we captured three good recipes today.   Decided to try a yellow mole with beef dish and a green soup of herba Santa with requeson, and toasted strips of blue corn tlayuda.  Tlayuda is just an oversized flour or corn tortilla.  When the waiter served Suzette’s salad my soup was served.  In the fancy restaurants like Catedral the soup is brought to the table in a clay pitcher and the ingredients, in this case a rib of a Chile, the two tlayuda strips and a ball of requeson were in the soup bowl.  The soup bowl is placed in front of you and the soup poured by the waiter into your soup bowl.  It is a more decorative and elegant way to serve soup in my opinion and avoids inevitable spills and smudges on the soup bowl.

The soup was a dark green and tasted fabulous.  We discussed replicating the soup.  It was an easy base of chicken stock mixed with masa to which puréed herba Santa was added.  One could easily substitute spinach or purslane or boiled chayote.  I loved the soup.

For entrees Suzette ordered the ravioli stuffed with pork cochinillo and I ordered beef in yellow mole.  I was thrilled to finally find a legitimate restaurant that made an authentic yellow mole.  When the entire arrived I was a little surprised to find that my yellow mole was closer to a light brown.  The beef was a piece of brisket that had been stewed in the sauce.  In the bowl were several blanched green beans, two halves of a boiled and buttered new potato and two halves of a boiled and peeled chayote.  I have never seen chayote served this way and loved it.  I cut the vegetables into pieces and ate them with bits of meat and sauce.  Flour tortillas were served with the meal and I enjoyed dipping a tortilla into the mole sauce also.  There was also a side dish of pickled white onion and chili.  I tried the onion and it had a good crisp crunch and a bit of chili bite to it.  Soon I found myself unable to eat any more due to the richness of the sauce and the complexity of ingredients.

Suzette’s dish was an entirely different story it was recognizable and completely within our realm of food experience. It was fresh raviolis stuffed with deliciously tender shredded pork over which was spread a fresh tomato sauce made from oven roasted tomatoes and onions.  The dish reminded me of our meal at Christian Ettienne in Avignon nineteen years ago, which was the first time I tasted oven roasted tomatoes.  The sauce reminded me that the Mexicans had been roasting tomatoes long before the French ever knew what a tomato was.  The sauce was excellent and very reproducible, so we had captured three new recipes.

The meal was expensive but well worth it, we agreed.  We would probably never will find hoja santa soup anywhere else, since it is indigenous to Oaxaca.

I asked the waiter to box the remaining mole dish, so we can enjoy it for breakfast with eggs.  We returned to the hotel to rest.

We awoke and dressed at 7:30 and discussed dinner.  Neither of us could imagine eating dinner, but I was keen to try some pastries.  There were two pastry shops we had walked past about five or six blocks from the hotel so we walked first to Camelita’s Pastellria and then to Queman’s a block further across the street from Provender at the corner of Independencia and Morales.  At Camelita’s we bought a cream caramel and Opera torte from the pastry showcase and several baked cookies, a meringue, an orange cookie, and two French looped pastries.

We then walked to Queman’s, which sold mostly large pastry cakes, and bought two small chocolate coated rats for 15 pesos each.

We took all of our pastries back to the hotel and put the rats in the freezer and the baked goods into the fridge and ate the cream caramel and opera torte with herbal tea infused with rum for a lovely late night dessert.

We then went to bed.

Bon Appetit

April 14, 2017 Walking Oaxaca and Dinner – El Destilado nine course tasting menu

April 14, 2017 Walking Oaxaca and Dinner – El Destilado nine course tasting menu

We woke up at 8:30 and ate Some else’s dinner of cochinillo and potato salad cooked into scrambled eggs for breakfast.

After breakfast Suzette wanted to walk through a craft market she had seen up the hill.  We looked at the map and decided we could walk along the hillside in upper Oaxaca to a recommended coffee shop named Voldeter and then up the hill to an overlook of Oaxaca on an stair steps named Frontin.  We took the bus the five or six blocks to the park and walked through and then began traversing the hillside.  We soon came to a lovely park named Corresti or something like it.  Here was a lovely small hotel where we asked directions to the coffee shop.  In another two or three blocks we arrived at the coffee shop.  Suzette ordered a cup of coffee, which was flavorful, so we bought a 1.1 lb. bag of the coffee that was grown near Veracruz and roasted in Voldeter. I ordered a cup of hot chocolate. We then walked to the stair steps and walked up them, although I had to rest four or fives times for a few minutes each time we made it to the top of a hillside overlooking Oaxaca, where a stadium stood.  The view was wonderful but not spectacular, no ocean or lake, just a town.  The great view was from Monte Alban with the whole Central Valley laid out below.  The thrill in this case was making the walk up the hill.  I felt like I was finally getting into shape.  We walked down and took a taxi back to the hotel.

I rested for a while and Suzette swam.  At 6:00 we dressed and walked up the hill to await the silent procession in honor of the crucifixion of Christ.  We took a seat in front of the restaurant we had eaten at with the French girls on Alcala beside the small plaza on the south side of St. Carmen de Dolores.  Finally at 7:15 the procession got into full swing.  Here are some pictures.

At around 7:45 we made our way toward El Destilado,  but on the way found a regional crafts fair on the next street lined with booths from many different villages displaying the best crafts of their villages.  In about fifteen minutes of intense shopping Suzette found some small brightly painted wooden animals that she had been looking for and bought 8.

At 8:00 we arrived at El Destilado at 409 5th of Mayo for the Chef’s Tasting Menu dinner, which was our designated reservation time.  The Destilado restaurant is tiny and the staff apologized that it was not quite ready for us.  It appeared that they were trying to settle another couple in for dinner, which in a restaurant with six or seven tables, the level of personal service lavished on each customer, and a serving staff of three or four to handle both the small bar and tables is a bit of a problemo.  The staff explained that it would be a few minutes while they addressed the needs of the couple that arrived just ahead of us and we were graciously offered a drink on the house.  We chose the cocktail we had had previously, the chicalana?, a mixture of ginger beer, mezcal, rum, a little soda water, garnished with a few small flakes of dried ginger root; a very refreshing drink.

In a couple of minutes we were moved six feet from the table in the small bar to a two top table next to the bar in the restaurant.

We had had drinks and an appetizer of grilled octopus and ceviche one evening during happy hour and eaten a late dinner of three dishes last week, which are described in earlier entries in this blog.  Tonight we had made reservations for Chef Julio Arguilerra’s Tasting Menu for 900 pesos with the additional beverage pairing menu for an additional 550 pesos.

I shall summarize each course and its accompanying drink of this amazing dinner and the plating of the dishes, which is as interesting as the dishes themselves in many cases.

1. One small triangular quesadilla wrapped in a black tortilla from the Isthmus, served in a wooden spoon resting in a ceramic bowl.  I think the filling was fresh Oaxaca cheese, if anything at Destilado is that simple.  The dish was paired with a lovely slightly bitter cocktail of Campari, vermouth, and mezcal.

2. About ten minutes later Chef Julio appeared with egg cup holding an egg sawed open at the top and filled with a raw fresh egg yolk and  a bit of tiny black bean compote garnished with a guacamole sauce and a dab of Crema on which rested a nasturtium leaf.  There were nasturtium leaves and flowers in several of the dishes we were served over the course of our three visits to El Destilado.  The Chef said, “They were growing on the roof when I came to the restaurant.”  Voila!
The fresh egg yolk was served with a small elliptical stone bowl about 1 inch deep filled with a small shot of Pierre Almas, a Mexican corn whiskey made in Oaxaca from 3 types of native corn, very clear clean tasting and slightly sweet, like an unsweetened sour mash whiskey. Both the rich egg yolk and the whiskey were very interesting and made us feel like we had made the correct choice to choose the tasting menu.  I call dishes like this “foodie heaven” because it stretches one’s palate in a very exciting way.

3. Robalo (Sargent fish or common snook) Tartare, mixed with finely minced black lime (Chef Julio described his preparation of black lime as a fermentation process that includes boiling the lime in salt water and then dehydrating the lime in the dark for 1 month).
The Robalo Tartare was served on a toasted flour tortilla chip and garnished with slices of cucumber, a light habanero and lime flavored Crema, and finally verde Lagos leaves. The tortilla chips were  served  on a black Oaxaca bowl filled with sea salt crystals on which were laid sprigs of verde Lagos (purslane).

This and the next dish were paired with a glass of 2016 Monte Xanic Bodega’s Vina Kristal (a Sauvignon Blanc that had a good body with a fair amount of acidity and lots of character).

4. A bowl with about 1/3 cup of a broth made from an onion, served with a onion compote and garnished with a couple of leaves of fire grilled fresh kale.  Grated onto the fried kale was a Mexican cheese similar to aged Parmesan.  I asked why the onion compote tasted slightly sweet and the Chef told me he reduces the onion in butter and vermouth and balsamic vinegar for a day until the onion caramelizes.  Another wonderfully interesting dish.
5. A dish with a lightly cooked squid black ink angel hair pasta tossed in a cream sauce made with cow’s milk and flavored with huitlacoche (corn smut, a fungus that grows on corn).  The small pile of pasta was garnished with queso Fresca and a dollop of double cream and dusted with the condiment that combines ground dried shrimp, chili, and salt that you occasionally see rimming a coctel glass or a glass of michelada.
The pasta was served with a glass of Mala Vida beer, a Belgium style double blonde pale ale, brewed by Cerveza Fauna in Mexico.

We loved the pasta.  The opposite of toothy al dente.  This was soft fresh, melt in your mouth pasta, made more creamy by the addition of the battleship grey huitlacoche cream sauce.

Comment on beverage

6. Grilled Robalo Filet served with Broccolini with a soy sauce, honey, sake, ginger and onion sauce wth the fish and a mayonnaise sauce made with basil infused olive oil sauce served with the broccolini.  The soy sauce reduction appears to be Chef Julio’s take on a teriyaki sauce reduction, with the use of honey  instead of sugar and the addition of onion to give the sauce greater richness and ginger to give it the zip that approximates the addition of ginger to sashimi.  Chef Julio is from the Bay Area, so appears to be familiar with Japanese Cuisine.
The dish was garnished with fresh nasturtium flowers.

Besides the Sauvignon Blanc, we drank the Campari cocktail with this dish also.

7. Pallete cleanser – a citrus curd on the bottom and then several scoops of grapefruit and pineapple sorbet garnished with fresh mint leaves and a dash of Tajin chili condiment on top.
This was not a throw away dish but an interesting dish with lots of fresh citrus flavor to cool and clean the palette.

8. A slice of chicken breast on a pile of risotto garnished with Granola and flowers of broccolini, served with house made brown mole sauce and a slather of house made mole sauce combined with crème fraiche. The mole sauce was wonderful, but the aspect of this dish that really caught my attention was the thick slice of chicken breast that was so tender it melted in my mouth.  I asked the Chef how he prepared the chicken breast and he said, “I salt brined it in a 5% solution of salt water for one day.  Then I dried it and grilled it.”
We thought the Granola was an very interesting although we had eaten it on a previous dessert of tres leches cake at Destilado, but the Chef informed me that that was a different Granola.  “This Granola for the risotto included sesame seeds, almonds, and walnuts”, the Chef said.

The dish was served with Cinco Sentidos (five senses) Pechugo de mole poblano mezcal made from agave in the State of Puebla.  Here are pictures of the front and back labels.

The waiters are very knowledgeable about both the preparation of the food and the fine details relating to the beverages and we had a lively running conversation about both during the meal, which enhanced our appreciation and enjoyment of the meal.
For example, the waiter told us that the five senses mezcal will activate five senses.  I did not ask which senses and I did not find that it affected me differently than any other good mezcal, but perhaps I need a more in depth study of mezcal that will require another trip to Mexico.  The conversation we did have after I studied the bottle regarded the name, mezcal.  The Five Senses Mezcal appeared to me to have been made exactly the same way that tequila is made, from the same agave plant.  The waiter told me the reason why it is not named tequila is because it is not produced in an area designated by Mexican law as a Tequila growing region.  Check Wikipedia for more information.
I categorize tequila, mezcal, and sake among the alcoholic beverages I shall probably never fully appreciate because I do not wish to drink enough of them to gain an appreciation of the nuances of terroir and variations in production techniques.  So I am unable to describe how wonderful Five Senses mezcal tasted and how it affected my senses.

We loved the Granola with the chicken, the risotto, and the mole.  Suzette enjoyed combining the straight brown mole with the crème fraiche flavored mole.  Both of us enjoyed taking bites of the mole with Granola, risotto and chicken.  The addition of a home made granola to the dish added an element of fun and crunchy texture to the other softer ingredients of the dish.  The garnish of broccolini flowers also added a bit of textural crunch to the dish.

9. Desserts. There were three dessert courses.
The first was a piece of Japanese cheese cake, which I have never had before.  It is a light fluffy cake.  It was accompanied by a scoop of black sesame ice cream and garnished with slices of strawberry that had been grilled, dehydrated, and then rehydrated in simple syrup that gave them a unique chewy flavor.  The top of the cake was garnished with a baby mint leaf.

This dessert was served with a small shot glass of Oax Sky, a liquor containing 94% distilled black corn and the remaining 6% consisting of essence of caramelized barley and sugar.

The next dessert was a scoop of mamay ice cream served with chunks of mamay fruit that appeared to have been prepared in the same manner as the strawberries in the previous dish; grilled, dehydrated and rehydrated in simple syrup, plus sliced almonds and bee’s honey.  This dessert was served with an Old Fashion made with Mezcal, bourbon and bitters.  I need to mention that the scoop of ice cream was serves in the elliptical  shape usually found in fancy French restaurants, giving this dish a decidedly French feel to it.

The third and final dessert was presented in the same manner as the first course, two wooden spoons leaned into a ceramic bowl, each holding a small square of tres leches cake.  But these tres leches cakes were like I had ever tasted.  One was saturated with the usual thick liquid combining evaporated milk, condensed milk, and cream, with the addition of grapefruit flavor for the citrus flavor that the chef had cooked the sauce into a citrus caramel.

The other spoon contained a square of the chocolate tres leches cake we had eaten during our prior meal.  It was no less delicious, with its chocolate cake saturated with a chocolate caramel sauce made with Oaxaca cacao and drizzled with a crunchy peanut and walnut granola.

At 11:00 we finished our two and one-half hour meal and happily paid. $75.00 each with tip for all the food and drinks.  Expensive by Mexico standards, but not by American standards.  That is the secret of fine dining in Mexico. You can eat some of the most exciting food in the world inexpensively at sophisticated restaurants like El Destilado.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

April 10, 2017' Snorkeling and lunch at Manzanilla Beach, Dinner at Benditos

April 10, 2017 Snorkeling and lunch at Manzanilla Beach,  Dinner at Benditos, Puerto Escondido

This morning we went to a small Italian themed restaurant near our hotel that featured breakfasts for 59 and 69 pesos.  I ordered a 59 peso breakfast with two pancakes with a lovely piles of fresh pineapple and cantaloupe on the plate with the pancakes and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.  Suzette was more adventurous and ordered Chiliquiles with coffee.  She got a large plate filled with  tortilla pieces fried with egg, chili sauce and cheese.  I tasted it and the chili was mild in comparison to others sauces, so the cuisine must use milder hi like sauce for breakfasts.

We then took a taxi to Manzanilla Beach, which is on the other side of town.   It is joined by a rock outcropping to Angel Beach with high headlands surrounding both.  I remember someone telling me once that there was a beach with two small bays at Puerto Escondido that Disney used as the bay of Neverland in Peter Pan.  This surely was a candidate for that image; two small bays shaped like eye sockets  joined by a heavy brow of dark rocks open to the sea where a chin would normally be.

We were very low on pesos, so we had to bargain with the restaurant where we decided to sit and eat for the use of dollars.  We arrived at an exchange rate of 16 pesos to the dollar. Later in the day we exchanged at a Money Exchange for 16.90 pesos per $1.00, so okay.  We snorkeled twice.  The second time at noon was best because it was near high tide and the wave action was less violent and the water was higher.

We then ate lunch. I ordered octopus in garlic sauce and Suzette ordered crabs in garlic sauce.  Each was served on a platter with rice, fried potatoes, and salad.  I ate my salad and Suzette did not.  I may yet regret that decision.

Suzette's dish was a pile of fried whole small blue tipped crabs, so it was challenging eating.  My dish was chunks of octopus sautéed in a garlic butter sauce that was very tasty.  I liked my dish immensely.  It seemed to have a little flour as a binder for the sauce.

After lunch we walked up the hill and found a taxi back to town.

We rested until 6:00 again, when the sun starts setting and the air cools a bit.  We started walking toward downtown but I got tired at the end of our Zicatela Beach and we stopped at a restaurant offering two for one Happy Hour cocktails for 80 pesos.  We sat and watched the waves pound the beach throwing spray high in the air.  The power of the waves hitting the open beach is so great that one can only stand in awe.  No one would dared go farther out than ankle deep here.  There is an interesting phenomena in the wave action at this beach.  The rip tide of the receding wave creates a line of spray that shoots up through the next incoming wave, because there is a slight pipeline effect.  There are several surfing shops along this beach because this is the surfing beach but the proprietor told us yesterday that the sets of waves are too close together at this time of year to ride.  So the owner of the surf shop does what we were doing.  He sits and watches the waves breaking at the shore line.  No one has gone out on a surf board since we arrived two days ago.

We walked along the beach to the marine beach which is protected by a headland that juts out enough to create a protected bay.  This where most people recreate and the fishing fleet is located.  As we walked along at 7:00 we saw a boat of fisherman departing in an twenty foot long open boat with nets and lines of big hooks ready for deployment.

Next to the apex of the bay and the headland is the main commercial part of town.  There is a commercial street that starts at the road along the headland and runs for a mile or so along the high ground beside the marine bay toward the south to the National highway.  This street is closed in the evening and becomes a walking street filled with street vendors of all sorts as well as permanent business such as, money exchanges, grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, and hotels.  We shopped for a while.  Suzette found crocheted hand bags made in a mountain village near Oaxaca that she bought to sell in the shop at the Center that were quite lovely.

Our hotel manager, Mirabella, had recommended Benditos for dinner.  It is located at the end of the walking street and specializes in Italian Cuisine.  Suzette was especially hungry after her minuscule amount of crab meat at lunch, so we took a seat under a fan so I could dry out the sweat that I was covered with.  I ordered a bottle of water and was brought a liter of Bonafant purified water.  Suzette ordered a sangria and spinach and ricotta filled ravioli in a porcini Mushroom Sauce.

I was tired of seafood so decided to order a filet mignon in a wild mushroom sauce 200 pesos, about $13.00.  I asked for spaghetti instead of the usual rice and salad.  Both of our dishes were beautifully presented.  I received two small entrecôte  sauced with a dark porcini  and oyster Mushroom Sauce flavored with fresh rosemary.  Suzette’s ravioli were just as fresh and delicate as the ones we ate at Destilado several days ago, but with a thick porcini cream sauce that was different than my mushroom sauce.

My spaghetti was good also lightly sauced with a fresh pomodoro sauce.

I drank a glass of red wine with my steak.  The proprietress brought the open bottle of house wine which was Marques del Valle from Baja California that was very smooth and fruity, probably a Cabernet Sauvignon.
We enjoyed dinner very much, so when we were offered a dessert of chocolate mousse I accepted.  This trip has been as much an exploration of all things chocolate for me.  Suzette found the almost  solid part of the mousse a bit gritty.  I did not mind the intensely dense chocolate torte like texture. About 1/3 of the mousse was soft and creamy where the whipped cream and egg whites had become more integrated.  We found a fine dining meal a pleasant change from beach restaurants.

After dinner we walked out to a waiting taxi and it drove us to our hotel where we watched several segments of SNL and went to bed.

I awakened at around 1:30 as the music from the beach front bars was still blaring.  Just for fun I stayed up writing this blog segment until 3:30 when the last of the music finally stopped.

What a life some folks must lead, dancing and drinking until 3:00 in the morning on a Monday night.

Although this week is Spring Break and Easter week vacation for Mexicans.

Bon Appetit

Sunday, April 9, 2017

April 9, 2017 Oaxaca toPuerto Escondido Lunch – Restaurant Vista Mar. Dinner – Costenitos

April 9, 2017 Oaxaca toPuerto Escondido Lunch – Restaurant Vista Mar.  Dinner – Costenitos

We ate yogurt and fruit for breakfast ad took a taxi at 7:45 to the airport and waited until 10:00 for the Aero Tucan flight to Puerto Escondido which lasted thirty minutes.  We took ground transportation to our hotel and changed into bathing suits and walked the beach toward town.  When we passed the bid rocks at toe opening to the commercial bay we saw that the bay was filled with mostly Mexican holiday tourists, so we decided to turn back toward the hotel.  I was tired from walking so we sat at the first restaurant we came to called Vista Mar and ordered beers and an octopus Coctel which is chopped octopus, onion, tomatoes, catsup, Cocktail sauce and cilantro.

After lunch and a rest we continued back to the hotel.  I rested and Suzette swam.  It is really hot in the afternoon, so we did not go out until after 6:00 p.m.  We walked south on the beach front street to the end of construction .  We stopped at an Italian restaurant that was making fresh pasta and offered two drinks for 60 pesos.  We took mojitos to go and continued walking.  We stopped at a nice restaurant on the beach and ordered two more mojitos and stretched out on lounge chairs and watched the sun set until 7:30.

We then walked back up the beach to Costenitos and ordered dinner of grilled Grouper.  We were served Red Snapper two times and finally ate the red snapper.  We were also charged for an additional salad and French fries because we ate the first salad and French fries while waiting for the second fish to be prepared.  I thought the 400 pesos for a grilled fresh fish was too much and to be charged for extra fries and salad because of their mistake that they did not correct was insane.    We will not go back.

I guess we are spoiled by Oaxaca where the prices are so low and the quality is so high.

Bon Appetit

April 8, 2017 Monte Alban. Lunch – Mayordomo. Dinner – Destilados

April 8, 2017 Monte Alban. Lunch – Mayordomo. Dinner – Destilados

Today we had a fascinating day.  We went to Monte Alban at 10:30 the trip is only about 8 km. but most of the trip is in Oaxaca and it's suburbs the road keeps climbing and Monte Alan sits at the summit of a mountain overlooking the Central Valley where Oaxaca is located and two other valleys.  It is an extensive site that sits at the top of what was the religious world before the Conquest.  I do not know all the statistics but it must be one of the largest archeological zones in Mesoamerica.

We finally figured out the bus system and avoided the tourist games.  We took a city bus for 14 pesos to the hotel where the bus service originates.  I ran to an ATM one block away and withdrew 2000 pesos from my account (about $125.00).  Then I returned an we bordered the bus and were driven twenty  to twenty-five minutes to the archeological zone.  The cost of the ticket for the transportation round trip was 60 pesos and entrance to the ruins was 70 pesos.  We walked the northern ¼ the site and saw everything we wanted to see in 1 ½ hour.  The main avenue must be at least a mile long wth courtyards and pyramids on all sides.  The site seemed to be much more restored than I recall twenty years ago.
Tres leches chocolGrilled octopus 

    The bad tamale

The good mole tamale cooked in
Banana leaf

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We saw the museum, which appeared to be relatively new and drank a coke so I could replenish my energy and the walked back to the parking lot and found a driver from the transportation service, who drove us down the hill to Oaxaca.  We arrived at around 1:00.  We initially thought to go eat at the Mercado, but I suggested we go back to Mayordomo.  That turned out to be a mistake because we ordered different things that were not as interesting as the tlayuda smothered in red mole we ate the other day.  I ordered a mole tamale and a raja tamale.  The mole tamale was wrapped in a plantain leaf, but was just red mole wrapped with masa.  The Rajas tamale was even worse.  It was strips (rajas) of shredded chicken and chiles wrapped a thick layer of masa.  There was no sauce or cheese the moisten and flavor the tamale.  We did not eat it. Suzette ordered the fish filet cooked with hoja santa.  It was served in crimped aluminum foil just the way we prepare it, chopped tomato, onion, shrimp, and several  hoja santa leaves,  very ordinary. I did get the Chocomio and enjoyed the cool milkshake with cream of mezcal and coffee tremendously (25 pesos).

After lunch we took the bus north to Marguia and walked back to the hotel.  I napped and then we swam until 6:00 when we got dressed to go out.

We walked to the government building that has been renovated where the Oaxacan choral program was scheduled.  The chairs were hard and we gave up listening after the first of three segments of Handel’s Messiah that was principally soloists.

We then walked toward the Zocalo on Independencia.  At the end of the street we came to the opera house.  There was a musical event, so we went in and sat in the refurbished seats.  Unfortunately the music ended almost as soon as we sat down and a long boring Q and A session began, so we walked on the Alcala Where a parade of musicians a whirling globes was forming.  We walked up Alcala, the walking street, with the parade following us until we reached a small plaza two blocks below the big plaza at Santo Domingo Church.  Suzette wanted a cocktail and I was interested in food so we walked to  5th of May and up the two blocks to Destilado.  We ordered cocktails and began looking at the menu.  Suzette ordered a Mezcal de la Rosa with mezcal, pomegranate juice, egg white , and a touch of grenadine.  I ordered my usual, chilebana with mezcal, rum, ginger beer, and dried ginger flakes.

We decided to order a octopus salad and Huihchotlate raviolis.  The octopus dish was amazing, a long skinny pile of chopped carrots, potatoes, and celery in a light mayonnaise sauce garnished with grilled pieces of octopus covered with a sauce that combines elements of Vietnamese chopped peanut sauce and black mole.  There were also some of the curved slices of radish we had been served previously at Destilado on Wednesday and baby nasturtium leaves .  The octopus dish was very spicy to me, which is just a little spicy by Oaxacan standards.  Suzette loved it.

The huihcholote filled ravioli were revelatory. The first thing I noticed was that the ravioli dough was fresh and the ravioli were almost undercooked, but cooked enough to be edible and still fresh tasting.  There was a huihchlote sauce over the ravioli and the ravioli were dusted with queso Fresca and chopped parsley, they were very traditional from both an Italian cuisine viewpoint, but used a very traditional Mexican ingredient.

The next dish we ordered was grilled Broccolini, which turned out to be a less successful dish. Fresh broccoli was grilled and drizzled with a chipotle hollandaise and queso Fresca.  There were three problems with this dish.  The broccolini was cooked at the tips but hard at the lower stalks, the chipotle hollandaise was way too picante for me, and the grilling left an unpleasant residual smokiness.  I was able to adjust for the last two problems by asking for a small amount of olive oil.  We poured olive over the broccolini which masked the overtly smoky favor and softened the piquantness of the chipotle hollandaise.

We had wanted to try a dessert this evening. When both the bartender and our waiter recommended the chocolate tres leeches cake, we ordered it.  Again I was struck at the cross cultural design of the dish.  In this case French, American, and Mexican.  The form of the dessert was a sponge cake of the kind made for Mexican tres leches cake, but instead of soaking the cake with evaporated milk, condensed milk and half and half and  topping it with whipped cream, this cake was saturated with a rich chocolate sauce and instead of whipped cream it was topped with a scoop of homemade peanut butter and ginger ice cream, a scoop of chocolate ice cream, and a granola made with amaranth seeds and bits of candied walnut and pecan; a very tasty Oaxacan, French, and American blend of techniques and ingredients on a traditional Mexican tres leches cake.  My comment on the glazed nuts, granola and chocolate sauce was, “nutty buddy”, which made Suzette laugh and then say, “ I think they put ginger with the nuts in nutty buddys.”

After a fun evening of drinking and eating some exciting food and soaking up local culture, we went back to the room.

Bob Appetit