Seasonal Flowers

We have been keeping a couple of dozen flowering cacti plants for a number of years now.  They spend October to May in the small greenhouse at the end of our living room.  In the Spring and Summer, we move them outside on the deck, and they soak up sun and rain during that time.  Then, my wife cleans them off and brings them inside.

Normally, they have been flowering a month or so after coming indoors, as the days get shorter.  Even though they are nominally “Christmas Cacti”, they’ve been blooming more like Halloween or Thanksgiving plants.  This year, however, they have exploded with color later than usual and will probably deserve their name.  Here’s what they look like now:

I show you these so that you will know that food and wine aren’t the only sensual delights I care about.  In fact these colors reminded me of a photo I took this Spring of flower boxes outside a restaurant in the city.  I decided to play with my Waterlogue app and produce this watercolor, inspired by the cactus flowers.  These will prepare us effectively for the gray days ahead of Fall and Winter in New England.

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Vegetable Dinner with Friends

Chris and Joan have been friends for many years, but we don’t often have the opportunity to get all four of us together for food and wine.  Two weeks ago, we had such an occasion, and the vegetarian dinner provided a delightful evening of food, wine, and fellowship.

We were too busy talking and laughing to take any photos.  However, I thought you might enjoy the menu and one of the recipes from that night.

Calabrian Melanzane sott’Olio

Given Chris’ Italian heritage and my predilection for the wines of Italy, one of the big surprises was that the wines I chose were all from California and Arizona.  At least many of the grapes were of French or Italian ancestry.  They were all delicious.

We always have fun together.  An example was the year before, when we had lunch and toured Boston harbor with them on their boat (where they also reside most of the year).



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Fall Visit in the Verde Valley, Arizona

Every November now we travel to the Verde Valley to visit Aaron and to taste his new wines.  This year we could not be at his wine release party for the 2016 wines, so we came out the following week and had a wonderful time with family and friends.  And the wines are terrific, as always.

We stayed this time at the Clarkdale Lodge, which was comfortable, spacious, and very close to Aaron’s house.  It’s across the street from Four Eight Wineworks Tasting Room, where Aaron and partner, David, were having an animated conversation.

One night we had a great dinner at Annie’s.  The second night was at Far Side Bistro, another favorite.  The spinach and cheese lavash and Aaron’s stupendous lamb chops were the highlights of that meal.

Far Side Bistro

Breakfast tacos at Crema Cafe in Old Town Cottonwood were a significant departure from my usual morning fruit smoothies, but with enough green chiles, they provided a welcome change.

Breakfast Tacos at Crema Cafe

One day we went up to Jerome for a late breakfast, and we went out to the winery at Camp Verde, where Aaron gave us a full tour and education, along with some barrel tasting of the unblended 2017 vintage.  The scenery also included one of my favorite Studebakers.

These trips usually feature hiking in some of the lovely countryside, in this case alongside the Verde River near Tuzigoot National Monument.

Waterlogue 1.3.1 (72)

Waterlogue 1.3.1 (72)

The last night Aaron cooked vegetable fajitas for us with some steak ones for Bree and him.  Another very memorable visit to sustain us until we see him next.

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Random City Scenes – Cambridge and Boston

In the window at Clear Flour – the best bakery

Lunch in Cambridge – Grilled Vegetable Panino on Foccacia at Amelia’s Trattoria

Cambridge Industrial Chic near MIT

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NYC Food – Waterlogue Edition

The previous post detailed my short visit to NY a few weeks ago.  This post allows me to show you the watercolor renditions of some of the food photos, thanks to the Waterlogue iPhone app.  Let me know if you enjoy these.

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NYC — 48-hour Food, Friends & Wine Excursion

A few weeks ago I made my semi-annual short trip to New York City.  As usual, my agenda was primarily sharing food and wine with friends.  Although most recent trips have been by bus on the LimoLiner, this time I decided to drive down in my new car.  This new Subaru Forester is very comfortable, gets very good mileage, and has a convenient sound system which lets me play hundreds of my favorite tunes while I drive.  Furthermore, there is plenty of space for carrying my re-supplies of food and wine back home.

I was able to stay again at one of my favorite Airbnb locations, near Gramercy Park.  It is 3-4 blocks from most places I wanted to go.  Still, I ended up walking 8.5 miles over the 48 hours, because I enjoy walking in the city so much, and it was a good way to walk off the calories consumed with such gusto.

One of my first stops was the Union Square Greenmarket, source of so many visual and gustatory delights.

The night before, Jeremy and I had dinner together at dell’anima in the West Village.  It was hip, somewhat noisy, but good food.  Here are the appetizer dishes we shared, before the pasta (for me) and roast chicken (for him).

After the Greenmarket I had a late lunch nearby at Casa Mono: grilled setas (oyster mushrooms) a la plancha, and grilled baby octopus.

Having satisfied my desire for shellfish, the next day I had a marvelous lunch at abcV, a new vegan/vegetarian restaurant by Jean-Georges.  The place was bright and clean, with creative, nicely designed and well-prepared dishes.  I enjoyed the pine nut and lemon purée, and the seared baby artichokes with Sicilian olive oil and green olives.

Since I was driving home that afternoon I decided to skip the wine and drink some Root Reboot; I enjoyed the fact that it looked like a glass of my favorite Chianti, but was totally healthy and would not make me drowsy.

Root Reboot. beets, carrot, lemon, ginger and orange

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Unconventional Thanksgiving

Most of us in this country have faced a dilemma at one time or another regarding Thanksgiving.  Typical challenges are “whose house should we go to?”, “which family or in-laws should we favor (or worse — offend)?”, “how do we survive the horrors of intercity travel during the holiday week?”, and “do we have to eat Turkey?”

With a son in Arizona and a daughter and family nearby in Massachusetts, the prospects of everyone together were non-existent.  So this year we chose to have a private dinner for the two of us, and I made a lobster pasta special dinner.  Barbara cooked a small turkey early in the week to share with a friend, so she could satisfy her own craving for turkey-stuffing-cranberry sauce sandwiches, so she was all ready for my creation.  Needless to say, none of this fit our normal vegetarian or vegan tendencies.

I reserved two lobsters with our friend, Chris, my fish supplier of 31 years.  The major effort was preparing the lobster sauce, which is made from further cooking the lobster shells after extracting the meat, along with vegetables, herbs, wine, and cognac.  It’s about a three-hour labor of love, but worth it.

Spaghetti with Lobster Sauce

The next day I ate the leftovers and sucked up the sauce with a marvelous 2010 Leon Barral wine from France.

It can be done.  Sometimes, small rebellion is fun.

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