Sunday, April 29, 2007

Dinner for B the attny and M of Berkley

Hors d'oeuvre
  • Canapes of herbed goat cheese, prosciutto or ham
  • Salad of corn w/green & red bell peppers dressed w/fresh oregano & Meyer lemon juice
  • Cornichons
  • Pickled hot/sweet peppers
  • 18 hour bread (thanks Motherrocker)
First Course
  • Lady D's cream of asparagus soup
Second Course
  • Halibut marinated in olive oil and sage - pan roasted with pancetta fish sauce
  • Potatoes with herbs (another Lady D recipe)
Third Course
  • Cheese
  • Rhubarb, raspberry and orange granita
Wines white
  • 2003 white Chateauneuf de Pape
  • 2005 Lange Oregeon Pinot Gris
Wines red
  • 1999 Coppala Russo (a blend of Cab, Syrah, Pinot Noir)
  • 1998 Guigal Chateauneuf de Pape
The corn salad was based on corn we froze over the summer and herbs from Mrs. de-I's garden
The bread was phenomenal - the entire loaf was just about consumed
The soup came out as good as we had at Lady D's and was even better the next day as a cold soup.
My sauce was my major creative endeavor. Sauteed panecetta with olive oil. Added flour and made a brown roux. Added onions, carrots and celery. Cooked adding water occasionally until vegs were soft. Added fish bodies, clams and shrimp and just enough water to not quite cover. Cooked 20 minutes and strained. Finished the sauce by deglazing fish pan with sherry and the sauce, and a bit of beef stock base. Butter off the heat to bind.
Cheese - B loves stinky cheese and I obliged by finding a really ripe French Muenster.
Dessert - The granita was explosive in flavor and coolness; the perfect end to a big meal
Wines - Both reds were kick butt and I'm afraid we drank just about all of the wine.

Weekend Round-up

My computer died. it happened on Friday. Not just the hard drive the major innards. (Insert scream here).
On Saturday, I cooked and entertained. I've decided that since cooking is my main non-work hobby, that I need to be doing some kind of entertaining on at least a monthly basis. This time we had our friends B the attny and M of Berkley. B and M are mega remodelers. They've had a house in Albuquerque that they were (are) working on for something like 15 to 20 years. They love Mexico and bought a place in a city call San Miquel Allende. B has been sending up dates for almost 6 months on the renovations they've been doing. Almost sounded like the money pit; especially the waterfall that came down from the 3rd story while they were working on the roof and their adventures with Mexican bureaucracy.
In additon to the Mexican adventure stories, M got her nickname from me because she matriculated in Berkely during the famous (if you're a boomer) 60's free speech and protest days. On top of all that she was one of the first employees and a place foodies will recognize, Chez Panisse. So she was regailing us with all kinds of stories of Alice Waters (who she knew personally) and Jeremy Towers. Any time I get praise for our cooking from M, I feel I'm getting high praise indeed. (Details on dinner in 'foodie' post). Much wine was drunk since B the lawyer has a good cellar and doesn't have much chance to drink it since he's in Mexico so much.
On Sunday I had a real good hike on the South Crest Trail, one of my favorite hikes. Tomorrow we buy the new computer and go through the hell of getting things transferred over. Already I know I have a problem because my Outlook back-up files are all empty folders.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Inspired by the soup that I gave you the recipie for, I concocted this for some leftover winter squash.

One onion chopped fine
1 TB butter
One large clove garlic chopped fine
3 cups of cooked winter squash (I used a combo of acorn and butternut)
32 oz of broth
3 oz shredded american cheese
White pepper

Sweat the onions in the butter until soft. Add the squash. Add broth and garlic (important so garlic has more of a kick). Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer medium for 10 minutes. Blend until smooth. Add cheese. Do not let boil again. Correct seasoning and serve.

Really yummy and filling. And I might add is under 400 calories per person (serves 2) with two bowls each. DON'T BITCH SLAP ME AinA!

Political Comment

I saw on the Daily Show an interview with Senator John McCain a couple of days ago. Normally these interviews are amusing but I always admire when any conservative gets on the show because you know that they're going in front of an unfriendly audience. In this case John Stewart and McCain really went at it and in what I thought was a very intelligent fashion. McCain certainly didn't hurt himself. And at the end it seemed that both left with their mutual respect intact (McCain has been on the show numerous times). Would that our political dialog always be like this - intense, intelligent, and respectful

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Blogging Help

Fellow bloggators - How do I get the print and overall size of my page smaller. I've looked all over the site and can't figure out how to do it.


Our friend Diana from Salinas whom I wrote about during the weekend extravaganza is a superb cook, entertainer and hostess. Not only is her food yummy, but her tables are works of art, and I have seen her pull off meals for multiple people (like 10-14) for business purposes that I would never have attempted. Oh did I mention she makes it all look easy?
One of her fortes is making wonderfully flavorful dishes that are essentially simple. Maybe it is her Italian heritage. So in her honor, I would like to share a recipie that she gave me and that we enjoyed while we were there.
Cream of Asparagus Soup
3 cups sliced (1/2") asparagus (about 1 pound)
2 cups broth
1 bay leaf
3/4 tsp fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 garlic cloved, crushed
1 Tb flour
2 cups 1% milk (you can use something richer but it doesn't need it)
Dash of ground nutmeg
2 tsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp grated lemon zest

Combine asparagus, broh, 1/2 tsp of the thyme, bay leaf and garlic in large saugcepan over medium high heat; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Puree mixture in blender and return to pot. Combine flour and milk and wisk into a puree and add to soup. Add nutmeg. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in remainder of the thyme butter, salt & lemon zest.

Serve and enjoy

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Typical Travel Post

Got up at 4 AM to catch flight to LA at 6 AM
Long, long meeting with client that actually went well
Had sushi for dinner at Steve's
Catching 6:45 AM flight back to ABQ tomorrow meaning leaving at 5 AM
Did I mention I was just in San Francisco on Monday morning?

Monday, April 23, 2007


The last part of my trip for Mrs. De-I we went down to Salinas (which is just in-land from Monterey) and visited our very dear friends Steve and Diana. They have one a wonderful house that overlooks the Salinas valley. Wife has often remarked that their house has incredible peacefulness and is like going to a vacation home. They had prepared an al fresco lunch on their patio. Steve and I enjoy wine. He has all kinds from local growers around the area and was serving a local Chardonnay (nice an full without being an oak bomb) and a Pinot Noir along with some saussison, ham, turkey, three kinds of cheese, breads, olives and veggies along with a fabulous cream of asparagus soup (recipe will be in another post). We hung around their house the rest of the day catching up on all the things friends do when they haven’t seen each other for a long time except for taking a quick trip to another winery very near the house that I buy from because I wanted to place an order. Dinner was lamb and beef grilled along with salad and potatoes (another Diana special recipe that I will post). Steve made some of his excellent martinis upfront and dusted off a bottle of Opus One for dinner that he’d received as a gift. It was the first time I’d tried it and it was really different. I’m not sure that it’s my type of wine.
Sunday was traditional French Sunday lunch at a restaurant we’ve been to before, Casanova. They have a special room that I swear looks like it was brought from a French country place and the chef cooks up a fixed menu meal when you reserve it. This was not small portion, balanced eating. This was a meal more appropriate for the 19th century. Everything was served country style and in great portions. On the other hand the food like at Quince definitely focused on the ingredient rather than on the elaborate preparation.
On the table to begin with were olives and a saussison, Rosette de Lyon. Then came a variety of hors d’oeuvres. There was duck pâté (very mild and tasty), baked mushrooms with garlic butter and braised leeks with an incredibly mild vinaigrette. A dry bubbly rosé was served with the first course but I didn’t get its name.
The main courses were a Navarin of Canard Montmorency (duck braised with cherries and apples) and a Watterzooi du Pêcheur (steamed sea bass, salmon, mussels and scallops Belgian style in creamy broth). Personally I thought the duck was too sweet for my taste, but the Watterzooi was over the top. The broth was so mild and fresh tasting and the cream just added richness without the hint of goopy overpowering thickness. There was also a gratin of cauliflower. Everything is served in these large serving vessels that looked like they came right out of the oven. I ordered with the help of our sommelier a 97 Échezeaux Grand Cru (red burgundy) with the meal which was subtle enough to work with both dishes
There was an interlude dessert of fresh berries in vino santo (a sweet Italian wine). That was followed by a blackberry tarte (the whole thing) and a big bowl of chocolate mousse. I ordered a half bottle of Sauternes with dessert.
We walked around Carmel after lunch and then spent the rest of the day hanging around again. In spite of us all agreeing that we really couldn’t eat much of anything for dinner (a little soup and salad) we also agreed that we could drink more. Steve suggested some Champagne to settle our stomachs. We had a bottle of local Rhone type blend with Syrah, Mouvedre, and Viognier that was really interesting. They we had an aged rum night cap.Wife has now made it back to ABQ and we are recuperating well in de-tox.

The Photo Shoot

I have arranged for Mrs. de-I to spend an entire day doing nothing but being ferried around by a person knowledgeable of both the city and photography. I need to thank John the Armenian who had me contact his Dad A and who enlisted his friend D to handle this for me. Both A and D took part in this and were the most wonderful of guides.
At 10:30 in the morning we were down in the lobby of the hotel. A shows up with a chauffeur’s hat and a sign with Mrs. De-I’s name on it. She has been dying to find out who it was that I had lined up to do this tour and had never imagined it would be A. A and D have the entire day planned out. D spent a career managing utility maintenance in the city of San Francisco. So he knows the city and how to get around it. Plus which he had studied photography earlier in life. He and A have put together an entire list of places to visit. We (A, D & I) have been worried all week because the prediction has been for rain today. But by some miracle the day is sunny and clear all day.
The itinerary was:
Civic Center-City Hall to see the Rotunda and monumental architecture
Mission Delores – One of the original buildings in SF that has survived the many earthquakes
Twin Peaks – The highest location in San Francisco with wonderful views when its sunny
Chinatown – D has a great time showing wife all the historic architecture.
Break for lunch at a real ‘local dive’ Chinese Restaurant. To get in entered a small door along the road, walked practically into the kitchen then up a flight of stairs to dining rooms on either the second or third floor. The food was basic but good.
The Cliff House – A historic restaurant on the Pacific Coast with excellent views.
Lincoln Park – Another park along the coast with an excellent views looking north to the Golden Gate Bridge
The Presidio – A park to the southeast of the Golden Gate Bridge looking at it from the opposite direction as before
Palace of Fine Arts – A leftover from an international exhibition at the end of the 19th century
We met up with D & A’s wives back at the Cliff House for dinner, a very nice affair with us talking for hours. Then D wanted to take Wife to one more sight (it’s about 10 PM now), so we head to Telegraph Hill and the Coit Tower for night views of the city.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Wow. What else can I say? I’ve been having a wonderful year gastronomically speaking but I think I will need to rank the experience of Quince as something in a class by itself. I had selected Quince based on an article I read about San Francisco restaurants. Of all that I read about, I was intrigued by this one because its chef was from the Alice Waters/Chez Panisse lineage and allegedly focus his cooking on the quality of his ingredients – a particular passion of mine.
The restaurant itself is small room probably about 1000 square feet with a quadruple line of tables, two of which went around the exterior of the room. As in a lot of large city environments where real estate is expensive, they were eking out every inch of usable space so the tables were quite close together. This meant a rather intimate experience with our neighbors to either side which was ok because both seemed to be there specifically for the purposed of really getting into the food experience.
The service was wonderful. We received personalized menus that said “Happy Birthday Mrs de-I” on them. The wait staff was attentive and knowledgeable without being cloying. No one told us there name (a reference to my pet peeve of current wait staff training – “Hi my name is Mervin. I’ll be your server today and please don’t ask me to do anything other than my automaton performance because I really don’t care).
On to the food – the menu is designed for a three to four course a la carte dinner. Prior to the first official course there were two successive amuse-bouches. The first was a salmon tartar. This was just raw salmon, very lightly cured in salt, chopped roughly and mixed with some olive oil. Then there was a porcini mushroom sformato. This was a custard made with the mushrooms. In both these dishes the salmon and mushroom flavor and aroma just exploded. The “wow” factor was already taking hold.
Quince has a really nice wine selection with some reasonable priced options and an extensive half-bottle list. I went with a half bottle of a 2005 Austrian Helligenstien Gruner Veltiner as I’d read quite a bit about this wine recently. It was a very crisp wine with what tasted to me like very tart apples.
First course – Wife, a burrata cheese cake and de-I an asparagus dish. The former is a type of very fresh mozzarella cheese in two patties with a layer of peas in between, the lightest of crusts on the two outsides but not the sides, fried until the cheese was soft but not completely melted. The later was white and green asparagus, some pancetta and Parmesan for saltiness, and an egg yolk which had been deep fried so it had a very light crust but was soft in the middle and a brown butter sauce. Both were these monuments to simplicity and flavor. Mine had the contrast between the kind of bitter green asparagus contrasted against the sweet white with the creaminess of the egg yolk and the saltiness of the pancetta and the prosciutto.
Second Course was pasta. Mrs. De-I had gnocchi with crab and I had agnolotti dal pin, a traditional Piedmontese filled pasta with a veal, rabbit and pork filling. Both had very light butter sauces. If there were two dishes that screamed “ingredient” it was these two. So many pasta dishes are overwhelmed by the pasta or the sauce. In each of these the protein component dominated the flavor even though from a mass standpoint it did not. So the balance mass wise between the gnocchi and the crab favored the pasta but the flavor of the crab was what dominated. In mine each filled pasta was quite small. Our waiter suggested that I switch to our red wine, a bottle of 2004 Ogier Cote Rotie (a Rhone wine). He was right because the meat flavor literally exploded on the tongue. The Cote Rotie had an extremely powerful aroma, very spicy but was very dry and light in body so it didn’t over power the food flavors at all.
Third Course was pork for Mrs. De-I and rabbit for me. Once again the primary ingredient took the center stage with minimal saucing or side dishes. There was couple of thin pork rib slices from what must have been a whole roast cooked so it was even from edge to center (quite a trick) plus some house made sausage and couple of thin boneless pieces (not sure where they came from). Mine was a boneless loin roasted and covered in this thinnest of egg wrappers.
Wine had a warm chocolate cake for dessert with a glass of port while I just had coffee with a Madeira. It was wonderful.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mrs. de-I Surprise Trip - Day 1

Success! Or Mrs. de-I is a great liar. We went to the airport today and she discovered where we were going. I gave her the option of my telling her a day at a time what was going to happen or getting the whole itinerary at once. She's opted for the former.

We arrive in San Francisco this morning arriving at around 10 AM. We are staying at the Parc 55 Hotel which is just a little south of Union Square just off of Market Street. Much to my surprise the hotel had a room available for us to check into even though it was morning. This was welcome since we would have had to schelp around the computer and camera bags otherwise. We grabbed some lunch at a historic restaurant by the name of Sears. We had eaten there for breakfast the last time we went to S.F. which was many, many years ago. It has changed hands since then but the food was pretty good. Wife had fish and chips. I had a clam chowder that was very light with lots of fennel in it - a surprisingly good combination. I also had a Pan Bagnat sandwich which had spanish canned tuna (considered the thing by many foodies), onions, lettuce, radishes, olives and hard boiled egg. Except for the bread which was non-descript, the innards were great.

I have arranged for Wife to have an afternoon at a spa where she will get a massage, a facial, a pedicure and a manicure. Mrs. de-I was wondering if the manacurist was going to be able to do anything with her nails since she has been laboring so much in the girl chic?

This evening we have a reservation for a restaurant by the name of Quince. If this is anything close to what I've read, this should be a great meal. I had picked it out from an article on San Francisco eateries in the Wine Spectator but never thought too much about getting a reservation. Then 3 weeks ago, I'm reading the Wall Street Journal and there's this article on how to get reservations at the impossible places...and right on the list is Quince. I'm screwed. But I called anyway and sure enough they had a late reservation which fit my schedule fine.

So foodie-ites, I will try to do my best to remember the details of the dishes and report back. I've got another neat day set for Wife tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Why Oslo or Recognizing You are an Anachronism

I got two comments on a recent post of why selected Oslo as the place where the historic Battle of the Bulge negotiations took place. Norway was the country that brokered the historic talks between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the early 1990's that led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. At the time it was considered a harbinger of a new era of peace in the Middle East. Obviously an incorrect assumption. The talks were notable not only for having brought two intractable foes together but also because they were done in absolute secrecy until the accord was reached.

Highly representative of our own Battle of the Bulge negotiations.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Suprise Trip - Surprise Success

I've been working for months planning a surprise trip for Mrs. de-I for her birthday. It's not a special birthday or anything, it's just something I've always wanted to do. I tried back in 2000 but the company she worked for then was totally uncooperative and basically scuttled the whole thing (a reason she is now retired).

Anyway, I have been successful. I popped the fact we are leaving this Thursday to her (I actually told her on Sunday) and the surprise was complete. Either that or she knew and is an unbelievable actress and not letting me knew she knew so I wouldn't be disappointed. I think I'll stick with my having successfully surprised her.

She doesn't know where we're going yet and won't until we get to the plane on Thursday. Nor does she know what we're doing (heh, heh, heh, heh). Since she may actually read this, I will be unveiling all as it takes place.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Quicke Foodie Addition

MotherRocker gave me the link to Rulman so credit her research. If you like many of us think the Food Network has lost its soul, read the review written by Tony Bourdain.

Unabashedly Foodie Posting

Anyone who follows the blogs (links conveniently found to your right and below) of my various offspring, knows that we are foodie people who love to cook, eat and talk about cooking and eating. Between the Battle of the Bulge (see truce annoucement below) and my fanatical attempts to grow my business, there hasn't been a lot of opportunity to cook recently. But I really needed a break and cooking is very theraputic and creative. I had the excuse because I'd invited injured hiking buddy, Wild Bill, and wife J over for dinner.

I had nuts and veggies with dip (yes, it was homemade - the sour cream, ginger, garlic one I posted earlier) to start with. Then a first course of deviled eggs (had to try them again after the debacle in LA) flavored with pancetta, shallots, pimenton and saffron along with a salad of roasted peppers flavored with lemon juice and zest, olive oil, and fresh oregano from the garden (thanks Mrs. de-I).

The main course was a pasta sauced with a home-made pork ragu (non-foodies may stop here because I'm going into detail)

I had decided I wanted to test out some of the flavor enhancing techniques I've gotten from watching various cooking shows, especially Iron Chef. So here was the process used.

Marinated pieces of pork over night in red wine, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, rosemary, orange zest, and many bay leaves.

Drained meat, saved marinade and flavorings. Browned meat well. Sauteed more onions and garlic. Added meat, marinade with flavorings, beef broth, more rosemary, more bay leaves, more orange zest, and a dozen oil cured olives. Simmered this for about three hours until the meat was coming easily off the bone and shredding easily.

Took meat out. Took out the olives and took olive meat off of pits and added to meat. Drained the cooking fluids squeezing out all juices. Shredded the meat. Heated more olive oil in pot and sauteed the meat and olives again slightly. Added the drained cooking fluid. Added about two cups of home-made tomato confit (thanks MotherRocker). Cooked for another hour.

Cooked up fettucine until almost done and finished the pasta in ragu.

Twas Mmmmmmmmmm.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Battle of the Bulge Truce

Associated Press - Oslo, Norway

A historic compromise was announced today when the forces of fanatical self-discipline and the forces of hedonistic enjoyment declared a truce in their 9 month old battle over the waistline of de-I. The historic compromise was brokered through the offices of the Norwegian government.

The compromise will allow both parties to co-exist with a power sharing arrangement. But neither party will have complete control over the Ministry of Diet.

Both parties regretted that they have waited this long to announce the compromise (as details were being worked out) as an agreement had actually been reached three weeks ago. However, the preemptive "bitch slap" attack on the part of Dutch forces on de-I last week convinced both parties to go public.

The only comment from Amsterdam was "This whole dieting thing is taking over and we had to take action for our own self-interest".

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Got back from the LA trip dragging. Fortuantely Friday wasn't too bad of a day. I finished the afternoon visiting with my ex-partner and friend AK who is doing so well that he might be thinking of coming back into the deal/consulting business which would be great for me.

Then I saw another ex-client/sometime sub-contractor/friend PH who has a neat gig working with a non-profit that promote sustainable land management practices in all parts of the world. He was telling me stories of his visits to ranches in South Africa and Zimbabwe. If you every want to be thankful for living in the US, you should spend an hour with this guy listen to his stories of just how frightful things are for some many of the world's population.

We had lots of rain and snow (in the higher elevations) yesterday. As warmth is moving in today, I've decided to put off my hike until tomorrow. Tonight we're going to balloonist/ex-wine maker KA's for dinner which will be grilled meat...Mmmmmm. As PH told me yesterday, we're members of PETA - People who Eat Tasty Animals.

Sunday, I'm having my injured hiking buddy, Wild Bill, over for dinner and I'm planning to get into some cooking myself.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

LA Musings

Interesting day yesterday. We started out meeting with a client at her home which happens to be in Malibu. The guy who is working with us told us that she (the client lived in a trailer home. Trailer home in Malibu? This trailer living of a whole different class. The place is on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific. Most of these ‘trailer homes’ have been worked on and added to so they are essentially full houses. Our client’s was beautiful. In addition to being a business woman, she is also an artist. And her house was decorated in a very attractive fashion. In the bathroom she used this very different jade colored marble. Mrs de-I I think would have been knocked out by it. From her front porch You can see the Pacific and if you look to the North you can see Barbara Streisand’s place. Trailer home next to the Stars. Only in LA. Oh one other thing. Nobody owns the land their on in this place, they have long term land rent agreements. These ‘trailer homes’ without land are being sold for $1-2 million each.

In the evening we had our second Westlake Wine and History Symposium. Two of our compatriots had to beg out. One had just gotten back from a three week trip to Egypt and said he had work to catch up on and thought being with his wife would be politically correct. No guts. The other had to go to his Mother-in-Laws 40th anniversary or something and he didn’t want to go 50 miles out of his way to stop in and have a drink. Talk about your priorities. Jeepers.

Any way we were in a wine bar in Camarillo (Camarillo is heading north from the LA are towards Oxnard and Santa Barbara) called Shirley’s which believe it or not doesn’t have a web site. We tried two wines a Syrah from Paso Robles and a Shiraz from Australia but I forgot to check out the region. These are essentially the same grape so we were trying to see the difference. Everyone thought the Paso Robles wine was superior. We had a couple of appetizers – cheese with olives and a carpaccio (thin sliced raw beef) with arugula, shaved Parmesan and just a touch of vinaigrette. The arugula/raw meat combo worked really well. I think we talked about history for 7.33 minutes.

My partner and I were heading home and I was still hungry. We passed an In-n-Out Burger getting back on the highway and I suddenly had this incredible urge for a hamburger. Last time I ate a burger was last summer at a cookout at said partner’s house. Burgers have not on the diet. In-n-Out Burger is also something of a cult fast food place in California (think Lotaburger with fast service AinA). So I asked partner and he agreed that the natural follow-on to wine and carpaccio would be an In-n-Out burger. In-n-Out Burger literally only serves three types of burgers (regular, cheese, and double versions of both), fries and drinks. That’s it – the whole menu. We picked some for partner’s wife as well.

In their home we scarfed them down. I told partner and wife that after all the careful calorie counting I’d been doing, I felt like I was having an illicit affair.

This morning I woke up, rolled over and saw the receipt of what I’d been with last night and was filled with remorse.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Just Working

Another one of those long LA days. It's 7:30 and I just got through all the email and had a chance to visit all my fellow Bloggistadors. This trip has been good so far. We had a meeting with a prospect and have sent out a proposal and we have a bankruptcy attorney thinking about referring us to someone. We meet with a client tomorrow and give them their analysis. Other than that, it's pretty quiet.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Devil in Deviled Eggs

So I was in beautiful LA for Easter visiting the Pulisha clan. Details of this family event can be read in her Blog, Pu's Corner. Pu is ripeing up rather signficantly being in her 8th month of pregancy. For you non reproducers, months 8 and 9 are not the times that mom-to-be is bubbly and effervescent. Husband (Mr T de Buffalo in this case) tends to have the look of a soldier whose been ducking too many hand grenades.

Pu had asked before I arrived if I knew how to make deviled eggs. Deviled eggs? A no brainer. Can make-em with one hand tied behind my back.

I got there, got unpacked and after relaxing a bit got on to the task. First boil the eggs. Easy. Put the water in the pot with the eggs put them on the burner and off we go. Talked to Pu and T. We eat a little snack. I suddenly get this feeling that a lot of time has gone by and the water still isn't boiling. Make inquiry to Pu. "On it just takes a while in that pan Dad." Wait longer. Still not boiling. "How long has it been?" "Oh not that long, Dad." Wait more. I'm paying attention to the time now and it's been d*mn 30 minutes and the water still isn't boiling! I look on the stove and see a label by the burner, "Precision Simmer". Hmmmm, simmer isn't high heat. Make comment to daughter. "Oh sorry Dad, I didn't see what burner you had it on." Great so I have no idea if these eggs are cooked or their little rocks. I take them off the stove and start cooling them. On to the next phase.

I wanted to make a flavoring of onion, garlic, paprika and thyme. I decided to blend it into a paste then cook it so no oniony pieces would be in the eggs to put off young mouths. Cooking away, I taste the puree and it is the most bitter thing I've ever tasted. It was horrible. Arrrghh. Need revise. So I tossed the whole thing and started over. Diced more onions and garlic and sauteed them with the flavorings. Cook, cook, cook. Taste the onions. They're still hard! Cook, cook, cook. They're still hard but finally starting to taste a little like cooked onions. I put some chicken stock in and cook the whole thing down until the stock is just about gone. Onions are softer but not soft. Do the reduction thing again and finally everyting is soft enough.

Meanwhile, I'm peeling the eggs. But these are the eggs from Hell. Not a single one was easy and most were a b*tch with the shells clinging for dear life to every single friggin' egg. So half the eggs are missing significant parts of their whites. Then I start cutting the eggs in half. Are the yolks nicely in the center? No they're off to one side, so the opening to be filled is often missing a side.

Finally I got the whole thing done and assembled. Fortunately the result was tastee and was enjoyed by everyone but Pu who doesn't like eggs.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Macho Man or Not The Sharpest Knife in the Drawer

My friend Fred of SLC said this post should be classified under the macho man category. You decide.

I was determined to go hiking today. In spite of traveling this week, I managed to work out on the treadmill twice and a good hike was going to keep the progression moving on my conditioning. I had planned a hike that would be quite a bit longer than last weeks.

Unfortunately, when I got up it was 40 degrees and the mountain was shrouded in clouds. I’m pretty much a wimp. I don’t like the idea of my hypothermia-ed dead body feeding the local coyotes, bears, and mountain lions. So I opted for a lower but still demanding trail, The Three Gun Spring Trail. This trail is about 2.5 miles long and has a vertical rise of around 1700 feet which is pretty friggin’ steep. But it can be done in an hour up and an hour back so it makes for a nice compact workout.

(For picture of mountain to south from trail go here - haven't figured out how to put an image in)

When I got in the car and started driving, I looked at the car thermometer and saw it was 31 degrees! I have a general rule, no hiking in less than 40 degree weather. Then I got to the intersection where Interstate 40 and Tramway intersect and you head east to get to the trail head and I saw flags and trees parallel to the ground. Hmmmm, not a good sign. However, if I have one trait it is stubbornness. And I wanted to hike.

I got the trail head and it was windy and cold. I had brought my Chicago stocking cap, the only warm one I have (thank you John! I think of you every time I use it). But my face and hands were still really cold even though I was starting to climb. But after 20 minutes, the trail and the valley were cut off by the large mountain side to the south and the wind died off. The rest of the hike up was not a problem and actually enjoyable.

At the top, I found two others (the only ones I’d see today). One turns out to be Mike Coultrin who is the author of the authoritative guide the Sandia Mountain hiking trails. He and his cohort showed me their nifty GPS things. Got to have one! It was looking pretty clear back down and I was chilling off fast so I started back down. I hadn’t gone more than 15 minutes when it starts to snow and it snowed the whole way down. The wind picked up right where I had left it. It was mostly a big flurry with virtually no accumulation. Nothing a Chicagoan would even notice.

The warm shower at home was particularly welcome.

Friday, April 6, 2007

My Newest Salad Dressing

Mrs. de-I has a hankering for artichokes tonight. Problem - what kind of dressing to make? Butter or vinaigrette? Too many calories. Solution - experiment with sour cream. Cream you say? Doesn't that have lots of calories? Actually about 73% less than fat (27 vs 100 for a tablespoon).

Today's creation - Sour cream vinaigrette with garlic and Ginger


Mash a large clove of garlic with salt in a mortar and pestle. Add a broken down piece of ginger and mash more. Add some cumin and cayenne pepper (stop asking me how much - I just eyeball these things. I'm a grandparent. I can get away with it). Mash until a paste.

In a separate bowl put three tablespoons of sour cream and one tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Add the garlic/ginger paste and about a tablespoon (or to taste) of white wine vinegar (or whatever vinegar you like. Cider vinegar would probably be good). Mix well with a whisk adding water to smooth it out to the consistency you like. Let sit for about 30 minutes to let the flavors blend.

Bon apetit

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Back From Chicago

I'm back home after a busy 3 days in Chicago. We had successful conclusion with one client that gives us a solid set of references. More conversations with Lakeview's friend Ricardo on possibly linking up with The PG. Good progress on with other clients as well.

As part of the wooing of Ricardo, I took he and his wife to dinner (yeah I had to take Lakeview too. He was driving and I didn't trust him to just drop me off and come back and get me). We went back to Scylla. It was every bit as good as last time.

Lakeview had this lobster soup that was to die for to start with. Ricardo had some fish with pork belly combo. I had gnocchi with clams in a broth. And Mrs. Ricardo had ...I can't remember. Main courses were equally good with LV going for this really neat risotto with this pesto pea stuff that we were all trying to analyze. Mrs R headed for the trout (yes AinA I avoided the "trout story"). While R and I went for the meat options. We had two wines from Italy, neither of which I remember except they were good. When we were done, R asks if any one is going to have dessert. I said no but they had a 25 year old cognac on the menu for about a half of what I see at most places. When I mentioned it R's eyes started to light up. So we ended up splitting one. Anyone who likes good cognac needs to be a part of The PG.

I know Lakeview doesn't want others to find this little gem and spoil it, but I want the young lady chef/owner to succeed. (We actually got to meet her). So you Chicagoites - make sure you visit.

Yesterday night I was with Motherrocker, J the Armenian and the Dukes. Dukes was especially cute and cuddly for the ole Grandpa. We were all tired so we just ordered pizza in which was a treat for de-I since I haven't had any in quite some months. Made up for it with alcohol. I had bought MR a bottle of 2000 Bordeaux from Saint Julian when we were at Just Grapes on Monday and I stopped for some Belgian Ales for J on the way to. Managed to hit a favorite of his which was nice. Even restocked my supply of cognac at their house (no not 25 year old). Then we all stayed up and watched the Daily Show and Colbert Report with lots of loud laughing. Very therapeutic.

On the plane home today, I had one of these jerks who thinks that the arm rest between two people is just for him.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

New Chicago Food Find

Attention non-foodies - switch blogs now.

Lakeview Coffee and I were in his neighborhood, East Lakeview, Chicago and were looking for lunch when we went buy a new place that he had not tried, Adesso, at Broadway and Buckingham. Unassuming it serves brunch, lunch and dinner. A very interesting menu with some neat stuff. I had a croquette which was a small bit of pork ragu and peas surronded by risotto with very thin breading of some kind and deep fried. Really yummy. Lakeview had a version of french onion soup that looked great and which he devoured (which I'm sure was my fault). The menu looked so interesting that we ordered way more than we could eat for just lunch. Lakeview had a panini with chicken parmesan and I had a poached chicken salad that was mostly chicken meat with lots of capers and some red onion and other stuff - very light and yummy.

We'll need to check it for dinner some time.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Meditation or Masochism?

This weekend’s hike was the Embudo Trail. The Sandia Mountains are my local backyard mountains. For me having thousands of acres of mountainy wilderness literally next door to go hiking in is one of the great attractions of ABQ. So as I said this weekend was the Embudo.

The trail starts at the mouth of the Embudo Canyon and is about 2.5 miles long with an altitude gain of around 1,700 feet. It starts on the West side of the mountains and goes East into the heart. The entrance to the canyon is broad and you hike up the center which is relatively easy. Then there is choice to continue in until you hit a short but steep climb through some falls or to jog South, do a steep climb up the slope of the canyon and go around the falls which is also a fairly challenging hike. This is always my choice because there are fewer people and you avoid the slippery, wet rocks of falls. About this point the legs are aching and the lungs are going full force.

As you come around the side of the canyon it narrows where the falls are. Just beyond the falls you rejoin the main trail and the canyon reopens onto a wide, tear shaped valley with the broad part of the tear across the valley to the East. This is always a beautiful site as the whole valley opens before you. The colors and shades constantly vary depending on the time of day and the weather. Late afternoons are particularly spectacular. At this point you’re about 1/3rd of the way done. The trail through the valley is a relatively gentle incline. If you’re in reasonably good shape, you’re in good spirits. Then you hit the base of the tear.

This is the 2/3rd mark. The base of the tear is in fact a toe of the mountain extending South and separates two major valleys. For the hiker this means a very steep climb with three places where you have to clamber over rock outcroppings. This is hard work and if you’re a spaz like me, those outcroppings take close attention. Pain is really starting to kick in.

But, when you get to the top, it opens up over a wide expanse that gives spectacular views to the South and West and a close up view of the craggy sides of the South Peak of the Sandias. There are numerous places to sit and relax. At this point the pain washes away and I get this wonderful meditative feeling. It’s not unusual for me to meditate while I’m there. Unfortunately it was 45 degrees with wind around 30 miles an hour so it was freakin’ cold. So I huddled behind a rock to break the wind and eat some nuts and raisins for the trip down.

Coming down offers great views of the city and the far off peak of Mount Taylor (about 70 miles west). When you start down there is this initial euphoria because you’re no longer enduring the cardio-vascular strain of going up hill. This lasts for about 20 minutes. Then the muscles and joints really start complaining. This lasts for the rest of the trip down generally getting worse because you no longer have the adrenaline push of reaching the goal.

The culminating moment is the wonderful finish after you get home, pop 4 ibuprofen and take a wonderful hot shower.