Thursday, July 31, 2008

Oh You Hummingbird Baby Shower Sceptics

For those of you who thought I was making up the hummingbird birth and baby shower just to cop some personal gifts, here is pictorial proof along with commentary from the Mrs. de-I, our resident wild life photographer.

"I had to climb onto the kitchen counter to get these pictures. So they are taken through a window and a screen. I had to stay well back from the window because the mama bird refused to feed the baby if she saw me. I haven’t seen the mama hummingbird today. Sure hope its just because I keep missing her!" Mrs. de-I

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I really, really, really, really love pizza. I'm not sure why. I eat all kinds of food from all over the world. But there is something totally satisfying about pizza. I'm not crazy about 'gourmet' pizza. I love the basic, close to the original Italian pizza.

I will just about any kind of pizza in a crunch but to find a truly good pizza (like MotherRocker is capable of doing) is not easy. My Chicago partners Lakeview Coffee and Ricardo in answer to my pizza craving found Coal Fire Pizza. Totally awesome. I'm sorry I couldn't take pictures. Nice NY style pizza - thin crust, thin layer of very powerful flavored sauce, top notch mozzarella, very thin toppings with superb flavor, cooked in a very hot oven.

If in Chicago - stop here.

Working in Chicago

I'm working this week out of my Chicago office and for a change I'm staying the whole time with daughter MotherRocker, John the Armenian and Miss Dukes. This means a wonderful steak and potatoes both cooked over the fire with a nice Italian wine and Belgian Beer and running around in endless circles playing catch the Dukes.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hummingbird Birth - Baby Shower Ideas

It appears that Ms. Hummingbird's egg has hatched. She is now away from the nest for longer periods searching for food. We've seen her feeding the little one though we can only see the tip of the youngster's beak

Of course now Mrs. Hummingbird is even more obnoxious. If we try to eat out on the patio, she will hover near by buzzing around in obvious displeasure. Usually we give up because we feel guilty. One time we were in the kitchen standing by the screen door and she hovered outside just opposite to us wanting to know why the heck we were there!

Wife is getting annoyed with the whole thing. She says we're going to move the wind chime so we don't have to deal with this again next year. Nonetheless, I have convinced her that it is only appropriate that we have a baby shower to help mother and fledgling on their way. All baby shower gifts can be sent attention to us and we will pass them on to Mrs. Hummingbird. She has expressed a desire for a couple of things in particular.

Bottles of high quality 2005 French Burgundies or Bordeaux. Evidently these are good for feeding baby birds
A new Kitchen-Aid mixer - I told Mrs. Hummingbird that my client who makes the motors for these told me that the motor on the cheaper version is actually better than the motor for the ritzier version
A new zoom, telephoto lens for Wife's Nikon - Mrs. Bird wants wife to get good shots of baby while it's growing up.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Poor Pitiful Me - Not - Eating on Latest Trip Two

Vietnamese Culture Experience

I met Banker N at a networking event in So Cal almost a year ago. We were eating at a Thai restaurant that wasn't all that great with a person who dominated the conversation and who insisted that this was great Thai food. Banker N and I demurred. Banker N brought up the subject of balut eggs saying that I was way to white and round eyed to eat them. This brought up a challenge. Unfortunately N is way the heck down in Orange County where I rarely go. So it has taken all of this time before we could hook up for 'real' Vietnamese food in Fountain Valley, CA - a real little Viet Nam.

Actually N decided that balut eggs were too much but we did go to a place that was recommended to be authentic, Cloud Nine (sorry no web site). We started out with snails in coconut milk sauce and fresh oysters with a sauce of chiles, lime and fish sauce. Then we moved on to a lotus root salad with chicken and shrimp and grilled lamb ribs which were served on a sizzling platter.

Snails are snails and I've always found their flavor too subtle for even me. The coconut milk sauce was really addictive and I'm not that big a coconut milk fan. The sauce for the oysters was great - much better than cocktail sauce giving a zing but not overpowering the oysters. The lotus root salad was OK but similar to a lot of Southeast Asian salads I've had. The lamb ribs were great. So hot and not overpoweringly flavored with their marinade. You've got to like eating with your fingers for this one.

For drinks we had a yogurt sohju. Sohju is asian fire water - a clear distilled alcohol. It was mixed with some yogurt, served in a pitcher and poured out into sake cups. I could see one getting really blitzed on this. A little to sweet for my taste.

Then on to another place called Claws where we had steamed crayfish. Having spent a lot of time in Maryland and doing steamed crabs, this is very similar with paper on the table and a bag of crayfish, sausage, corn and potato. We downed a couple of pounds with some Newcastle Brown Ales.

We finished our evening at a bar with a scotch.

Plate of Snails, Pitcher of Yogurt Sohju
You can see we've already made a big dent in the Sohju and we just got our food!

de-I proves he's international by eating snails with chopsticks!

The Oysters

Lotus Root Salad

Lamb Ribs (mmmmmmm - my favorite)

Ebenezer Crayfish about to meet his doom at the hands of de-I
That's garlic all over it. A bit too much for my taste.

One of our guests showing crayfish in its best light

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Poor Pitiful Me - Not - Eating on Latest Trip One


I was really, really lucky to score a reservation at the exclusive L'Auberge Chez Os (loosely translates to The Inn of the Bones Family)

Sitting in the hills between Salinas and Monterey with a view of the Salinas Valley and the Foothill Range to die for, the Auberge Chez Os does not advertise. Reservations are by invitation only. They have a couple of bedrooms just like the Inn/restaurants in France. I managed to get a reservation for Saturday night that included Saturday lunch and dinner and breakfast on Sunday.

Mrs. Os is an incredible chef who truly embodies the French and Italian country principles of using the best ingredients, minimally prepared so that the food stands on its own. She also is a master at creating concentrated flavorings that seem almost invisible on the food so there are no goopy sauces. Finally the presentation is gorgeous.

For Lunch she served:

  • Proscutto and melon
  • A mushroom soup from portabello mushrooms
  • Spinach filled Manicotti with a side salad
  • Apricot Tart
All this sound simple but take the salad for example - you could not even see any dressing on the plate but the salad was intensely flavored. Lunch was served with a lovely local rose from the Marilyn Remark winery. The apricot tart was beyond good - it was ethereal made with apricots picked by Mrs. Os herself.

Le Patron Estaban Os enjoying the mushroom soup

Manicotti with salad

Run, do not walk if you ever get the chance to try Mrs. Os' apricot tart!
Dinner started with a lovely Roederer Champagne. Then we were served little tomato bruschetta and some giant prawns done Andalusian style. The main course was fire grilled lamb chops, broccoli and quinona (the later Mrs. Os confessed that she made from a Charlie Trotter recipe - gasp!). Patron Os broke out a bottle of 2005 Vosgne-Rominee, a great Burgundy to accompany the food - still a bit early but it really opened up during the meal. We finished with a very simple homemade cheese dessert with fresh raspberries and almond cookies. A little cognac and bourbon finished things of superbly. The only disappointment was that Mrs. Os did not serve her famous twice cooked souffle.

Bruschetta and Prawns

The Dining Room at L'Auberge Chez Os

The Main Course

And Dessert

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mmmmm Naps

This my first go-go trip on my own since the operation and I've found that toward the end of the day that I get really tired. So on those days when I've had dinner meetings, fortunately I've had breaks in my schedule and have taken naps. I was never able to nap pre being KO'd (Kidney Outted) but now the have become a valuable tool for allowing me to maintain my schedule.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pasadena CA Today

Salinas CA last Saturday
Thousand Oaks CA Yesterday
Woodland Hills CA Tomorrow
Santa Ana CA Wednesday
Albuquerque Thursday

Places my head has been or will be sleeping this week.
Next week on to Chicago.

I am pacing myself. I have scheduled less in my days. I've taken naps on some days.

I have some good culinary stuf to write about but it will have to wait until the weekend when I can download the pictures.

First three weeks of August - not travel

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hummingbird Update - 2

Still there tending nest - no hatchlings yet.

How long does this take anyway?

Pictures from the Last Week

I got very few pictures from the reunion

However, I did get a nice shot of fellow bloggers Styling with Renee Michelle and Living in the Sticks respectively

Don't believe the Granddaughter C touched the pig? Here is photo documentation

I was with Lakeview Coffee this week as well for business. He of course has been writing extensively about the work being done on his bathroom. However, when I came into the house, I find that he has put the 'throne' in the living room. Now Lakeview is capable of the occasional eccentricity but I really don't know about his!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Three Generations of Gastronomes

To see how our bloodline tracks true go to here.

Her Name Was Lola

Actually its name is Lola Bistro and since MR has requested that I do the write up on our lunch there, I will oblige.

Typically going to high end restaurants is not an activity that one would associate with Wife's clan. However, there is a significant sub-culture of gastronomes consisting of all of my brood plus Styling with RM and her betrothed. So John the Armenian had noted that Cleveland is the home of Iron Chef Michael Symon's restaurant, Lola Bistro a few months ago and said it would be a shame to be so close and not go. Who am I to stand in the way of such an opportunity?

John found they were open for lunch and we had made a reservation for six assuming that Wife and I would join John and MR with room for two more if any wanted to go. With most of the reunion leaving promptly Monday morning we had many takers. Both SwRM and Andrew were up for it as was Mrs. Living in the Sticks and her daughter-in-law, Stacey both of whom had read many of our culinary escapades on the blogs and wanted to see what it was like to take part in one.

The prices for lunch were quite reasonable. As the purpose was gastronomy, we sampled a number of appetizers first. There were:

  • Beef Cheek Pirogi
  • Toasted Haloumi Cheese with Red Pepper coated Watermelon
  • Beet Salad with Goat Cheese

The first was classic Symon focusing on the richness of the meat. The touch of red pepper powder on the melon was an awesome twist with the cheese. We all thought the beet salad very good as well.

Main dishes were:

  • Mac and Cheese with roasted chicken and goat cheese
  • Mushroom and asparagus salad
  • Chickpea salad with hanger steak and a chimichurri like sauce
  • Fried Bologna sandwich
  • House made Pastrami sandwich
  • Grilled cheese sandwich
On the whole we were not as high on these. The mac and cheese was just OK as was the mushroom and asparagus salad and grilled cheese sandwich. the pastrami was very good but not enough fat (hard to believe from a guy like Symon) and with the toasted rye it came out too salty. The chickpea salad and hanger steak (served separately from the salad) were very good and the Fried Bologna sandwich was over the top - like a very subtle, super top notch hot dog. I think we might have done better with more main dish types of plates. However for the price, it was as good or better than one finds day in and day out in most cities.

Four of us enjoyed a bottle of Gavi, a dry, light wine from the Northeast of Italy.

We had a great time sharing all the plates and discussing all the food.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

News Scoop - First Family Reunion Post

Wow, I think I'm the first one to get something on my blog. Well Motherrocker did make a small post...but I'm the first with some great content.

Actually it's going to be some real quick content because I'm going out of town tomorrow about mid-day for business in Chicago. These crazy trips happen when I plan something way in advance then something else comes up on short notice. It is just way to too expensive to reschedule a pre-existing trip that is on a non-refundable fare.

OK here are some fast impressions on the Wife's Family Reunion III

  • It was really nice to be at the local of Living in the Sticks. There is a lot of land. The kitchen has everything you need. And of course her DH has every tool, device, motor vehicle, etc. you can imagine.
  • Styling with RM looks radiant as her wedding (on $10 or less) approaches. I got to spend a lot of time with Hubby to be Andrew who is a wonderful guy in spite of the fact that he cannot do anything in a kitchen...having him help in the kitchen is like tying a hand behind your back...SRM should never ask this otherwise wonderful person to ever do any food prep
  • Fabulous to have most of my own brood around even if the Pulisha family was going nutzo from lack of sleep in their camping accommodations - Note to Stacey for three years hence - we's city folk, really, really city folk
  • Sharing two showers with 25 people brings out all kinds of bizarre strategies from everyone to ensure getting ones ablutions done and retaining sanity
  • MR looks great doing welding - hope to have a picture from Wife to provide proof
  • Everyone commented that Wife is really getting the photography thing down as the family pictures where done in record speed
  • Note about difference in family values - Two of Wife's sisters kids, who are very into the out of doors and camping etc. can't look at the raw or the cooked pig. All my kids and grandkids could barely keep themselves from looking. In fact C, Pu's oldest, comes over and says, "Can I touch the pig?" She does. "Can I touch its ears?" She does. "Can I touch its eyes?" She does. When it was cooked it was MR and I who launched in and dismembered it but with C there cutting the meat up into small pieces (and Andrew gnawing on the head - for real!)
  • I even played soccer for 15 minutes and didn't split my incisions or die of a heart attack.
  • Todd's camper that is bigger than some and nicer than many houses - awesome!
  • Taking Living in the Sticks, her daughter in law, Stacey, to Iron Chef Michael Symons restaurant with John the Armenian and MR and Wife for lunch after things finished off on Monday - Really cool. Hope MR writes about the food.
  • Miss Dukes and her cousin J squealing with laughter for over an hour each evening as their push slaves (John the Armenian and Tim de Buffalo respectively) pushed them non-stop on the swings.
  • Miss Dukes and J giving each other a big hug when they were leaving (awwwwww). Can't wait until they get together again at Xmas.
  • Getting home with no problems even though we had a two connection return flight.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


In just three days the majority of our little clique of blog writers will be gathered together in Homerville, Ohio for our first ever Mini-Blogger Clique Convention. Present will be bloggers Styling with Renee Michelle, Living In the Sticks, Motherrocker, Pu's Corner, as well as yours truly.

Coincidentally, this event happens to be coinciding with Wife's family reunion. I suspect Lakeview Coffee turned down his invitation to the Mini-Blogger Clique Convention when he found out about this 'funny coincidence'. And Alexis in Amsterdam bailed on us with some flimsy excuse about vacationing in India...pah India over Homerville, Ohio...who could believe such a thing.

Last time we were in Homerville for the practice pig roast, the wireless internet at Chateau dans les Sticks was not operational (or at least not available through my computer) so reports on these two events may have to wait until I return next week.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Visigothic Rituals Unveiled Here!

So Mrs. de-I purchased goods a plenty and headed up to the Gothic encampment in the hills. One of the requirements of the tribute bearing party is they must stay for the inevitable celebratory feast. In this case the feasting started at 10:30 in the morning and went on until 8 in the evening.

While chips and salsa were being doled out to assuage hunger we prepared some chicken wings and shrimp for grilling.

Only Visigothic Chieftains are allowed the privilege of manning the grill!
We flavored the shrimp with an Ethiopian spice rub I got from Saveur magazine. Everything else we made we got from the Barbecue Bible and all the recipes worked great.

Chomping Down on Wings and Shrimp
(Please note how even the young Visigoth warriors rip apart food with their hands)

Young Visigoth Warrior
For our next course we made a Korean grilled dish, Bul Kogi which we served with Spicy Daikon (sounds like a Bond girl don't you think?), lettuce leaves, and rice.

Recipe from the Barbecue Bible
(I needed strong drink to make through working with the Goths)

Spicing for the Bul Kogi

A Gothic technique for teaching you whose the boss is having you (de-I in this case) do hard work in the kitchen like cutting the meat in to very, very, thin slices

Goths love strong drink. They made large quantities of Caiparina's (rum and sugar muddled together mixed with rum)

Young Gothic Warrior and I muddling lots of limes and sugar

Visigoth Queen making the Spicy Daikon - Maybe her name is Spicy Daikon?
I really don't understand Gothic real well which is why we never have our scheduling right.

Finish Bul Kogi and Spicy Daikon

Gothic Tribe and Mrs. de-I scarfing down the next course

Young Gothic Warriors begin learning war cries at a very early age.

For the third and final course, we had Memphis style ribs, an Indian potato salad (dressed with spicy paprika and caramelized onions), and an Iranian salad (cukes, tomatoes, red onions dressed with lots of parsley, olive oil and lime juice). The flavoring on the ribs was awesome. Our Visigoth Chieftain out did himself on the grill. The salad was surprisingly good for so simple a recipe.

Visigoth Chief again on the grill


Indian Potato Salad

Gothic Clan in action at the table
(Body art is a big part of the Visigoth culture. I believe the chief's arm art consists of a variety of war cries. While my Gothic is poor I think the cry on the top of the right arm translates roughly to "I will hide your hat and then send a mocking text message to you with a picture of me making a fearsome face" or something like that)

Please note the bottles of wine. No informed emissary would dare come to the Visigoth camp without at least two bottles for consumption on the spot

Friday, July 4, 2008

Hummingbird Update

I haven't had this much fun since I worked for Nature on PBS (before they fired me for always wanting to cook up the things they were filming).

It appears that our bird is now in full motherhood mode. She spends lots of time on the nest and occasionally uses her beak to work some things under her that I assume (or hope) are eggs. This of course is a great distraction since both Wife and I whenever we are in the kitchen are stopping to look through the kitchen window and see how things are going.

Of course there is a downside to this. Mrs. Bird has made it very clear that we really are not welcome on the patio. It was lovely at midday and we decided to take our lunch out, something we do often as here in desert NM flying biting bugs are pretty much non-existent. The whole time we're eating, Mrs. Bird (I'm assuming she's a Mrs. - she could be that crack head unwed mother bird for all I know) is buzzing around, not landing on her nest and making it very well known that we are invading her space. Of all the nerve! Well we know when we're not wanted and ate quickly and went inside. Whereupon Mother Bird (as I will call her from now on) promptly was back on the nest.

While we're hoping the blessed event will take place before we take off for "the sticks" and the reunion so we can get pictures, I don't think Mother Bird should be expecting any baby shower items from us.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Paying Off the Visigoths

I know that most of you are not history crazed like I am but surely you are aware of the role of barbarians running roughshod over such civilizations as the Romans and the Chinese. And you might or might not know that one of the favorite strategies of these civilizations was to pay tribute to the barbarians - basically bribing them so they wouldn't come and pillage your territory.

Mrs. de-I and I think of ourselves as pretty civilized folk who live in a very civilized fashion. Perhaps this is why we have been targeted by a particularly persistent tribe of Visigoths that live in the foothills to the East of us. Regularly they will swarm down the slopes and conduct a pincer movement whereby both our front and back entrances are blocked off and will proceed to ravage foodstuffs and drink before running off usually with younger members of the tribe howling terrifying war cries as they leave.

Taking a page from the Romans and Chinese, Wife and I went to the Visigoth stronghold and began to negotiate a tribute. We were told that Mrs. Goth Queen would come with me tomorrow into our territory and we would visit various storehouses where she would choose the appropriate tributes to be presented. Then on top of that our presence will be required at some all day Gothic celebration on Saturday where they will be throwing many pieces of meat on a fire and drinking strong drink.

I hope to sneak my cellphone in so I can document the bacchanalia in pictures.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

World's Least Intelligent Hummingbird?

I clearly don't understand what makes hummingbirds tick. If you were a tiny bird looking for a quiet place to raise a family would you put your nest on a precarious perch that is designed to sway in the wind, make lots of noise. Put your nest next to the entrance way of a species that comes in and out and is hundred's of times your weight and whose own noisy grandchildren invade on a regular basis.

Well this one hummingbird has in fact made a nest and is nesting on top of the wind chime on our back patio. Yes the patio where we eat almost nightly during the summer and is directly off of our kitchen. Is this the equivalent of a teen aged, pregnant, crack head hummingbird? As I write this the wind is picking up (as it does most afternoons this time of year) and our bird is sitting on its nest (I presume their are eggs there) as the wind chime chimes away. Maybe she likes the chiming? It seems a bit weird to me.

Thanks Wife for the great pictures!