Saturday, March 28, 2009


I know it must seem to you that I go to Chicago just to eat...NOT TRUE. In fact Mr. Ricardo had me going with marketing calls and client meetings from 7:30 AM through 5 PM each day.

HOWEVER to say that I don't take advantage of the eating opportunities in Chicago especially with co-conspirators Motherrocker and Ricardo to egg me on would be an outright lie.

Our last meal of this trip was at a new restaurant named Mado in Wicker Park. Motherrocker had gone there recently with her/our food blogging cousin/niece recently and recommended it to me as just my cup of tea.

Mado specializes in making its own Mediterranean style pork products - especially what would be called in France charcutrie. These are things like cured meats, pates, sausages and the like. An extra benefit is that it is BYOB which means you know you can get the wine you like for a lot less than you would pay at a normal restaurant.

Ricardo and I though the meal was great because the food tends to be focused on the preparation of the main element itself with the sauce in a minor supporting role. Lakeview on the other hand disagreed because he enjoys food where the sauces and flavors are more prominent.

High points for Ricardo and I were our three appetizers - a Tuscan Liver Pate (very smooth and rich), Rillettes (a kind of pork confit shredded and served as a spread), and something called Ciccoli (spelled wrong I think - another pork confit with the meat pieces kept large - the best of the three). We loved our main course as well which was porcetta - this is a big rolled roast of pork made with the loin and belly (the same parts that go into pancetta). These are lightly marinated and roasted. It was served with really nicely cooked al dente butter beans and some arugala and the pot juices from the roast.

Mado Menu in Unreadable Cell Phone Photo Form Would you believe that nortorious food critic Joe D was there!
She refused to allow me to take her picture.

Pictures of the liver pate and ciccole

Mr. Lakeview had a calamari and bread salad

Our Slab 'O' Porcetta
Much less heavy than one would think because of the lack of the cloying sauce

Friday, March 27, 2009

At La Sardine

No visit to a French restaurant is complete without the presence of a very professorial looking wine snob such as the one we caught in this picture.

Pictures of the Menu
Real standard French Bistro fare that is not often found even at restaurants that call themselves French

This was one of only a large number of 2005 Burgundies and Bourdeaux on the wine list.
2005 was one of the great years in both regions.
With it being half priced bottle night, you could get these for prices around $30 to $40 - very reasonable.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chicago Eats Redux

I've written recently about my love of traveling. One of the reasons I built my business to be in other cities was to have the opportunity to make travel a part of my everyday business life. I especially enjoy getting to know a place better and better. This has been the case with Chicago.

I am especially blessed because in Chicago I have one of my daughters and her family living there plus two great partners. Not only are these wonderful people with great values but all of them share a love of life and share an enjoyment of eating, drinking, and being together with friends. And what better city for this than Chicago (maybe New York or San Francisco). Chicago has so many wonderful independent places to eat that each trip is an experience.

We're only halfway thru this month's trip. Partner Ricardo has organized a full schedule which has included two great dinners. Monday night we went to a French place called La Sardine. It had pretty good classic French Bistro fare but the real attraction was half-price bottle night. Any bottle of wine was 50% off...and this place had a great menu of French wines. I like I am particularly partial to French wines and was like a kid in a candy shop. I settled for a 2005 Givrey from Burgundy. List price $60 - our price $30. The food was mixed with some dishes quite good and others missing an element. For example my steamed mussels were rather tasteless but the sauce was excellent and the cassoulet (a bean and cured meat dish) had great flavor with really excellent beans but the meats were only so-so.

On Tuesday we had dinner with lawyers at West Town Tavern. This place specializes in 'contemporary comfort food'. They have a philosophy of keeping prices in the range of reasonableness. Thus virtually all the wines listed were under $40 a bottle - which did not mean that they were junk or just mass production wines. Some of the food was spectacular. A couple of us had a salad of shaved fennel and radishes dressed with truffle oil and lemon juice. Somehow that doesn't strike me as being 'comfort' food but it was really good if you are a lover of simple dishes and truffles (ME!). There was also a skate wing (think fish like sting rays) special that was top notch. I had some smoked lamb which unfortunately was way over sauced for my taste with twice as much polenta underneath it as I thought necessary. Our waitress recommended an Australian Shiraz as a wine that would cross over between the lamb and the skate wing. However, it was like a lot of these wines, very, very fruit forward, and was not to my liking. We did, however, at the request of one of the lawyers get a white burgundy for the first course and that was really good.

More Chicago eats next post

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bad Blogger

Well, maybe not bad as in evil but as in negligent. And not with any really great excuse either. We've had a lot of things to do to be getting ready to finish off the construction project and I am on my monthly business trip to Chicago with an added extension to see O-I (Dear Old Dad or SOB as some call him - Sweet Old Bill). But basically, the old writing juices haven't been flowing. We're sitting here in the Chicago office and I'm taking shit from my partners on where to go to dinner just cause I want moules frites (steamed mussels with french fries). Ricardo owes me a bottle of very good Cabernet. He will pay up.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tried and True

Yes the tried and true methodology for blogging when you are either too busy to write something good or just don't have any good ideas is to fall back on pictures. Just what I'm going to do today.

Remodel Update

We are just about through!

They've been installing and staining the wood floors this week and will be staining the stairs next week. All kinds of finishing touches are being worked on. The outside is beginning to be cleaned. All our outside windows were done today.

Here are a couple of pictures of the new floor.

I will be in Chicago and Connecticut next week and when I get back we should be just about done. The appraiser is coming by on Monday so I had a real estate friend business associate of mine get all of the comps of things near us so I could analyze them and have information to give to the appraiser "to make his job easier".

Signs of Spring

Spring is in full force down hear with trees starting to put out leaves and temperatures in the 70's during the day. Here are some pictures from our yard.

Our peach tree blooming

Tulips hand imported by Elegant International Business Woman Daughter AinA in bloom

Fresh herb time again with parsley and chives starting up

Plus all kinds of other spring colors

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Liberation from Gothic Captivity

So the Visigoths (daughter Pulisha, son-in-law Tim de Buffalo and three grandchildren) having decided that the plunder and pickings will be better in St. Petersburg Florida officially vacated the Roman capital of Albuquerque at roughly 4:15 PM Mountain time. A couple of short raiding parties took place last night and today but to be honest, they just didn't seem to have the usual zeal for pillaging.

Having them here was not something either of us expected to have. One of the things about being people who believe in going to where your heart tells you and being part of families that have the same feelings is you're not going to have extended family around. We for the most part did not have family close by when raising our kids. And we knew that the chances of our kids living in Albuquerque were really remote.

It was nice to have them and to be honest we really wondered when they decided to come here whether it would be right for them. They are making a move that really makes sense for them and that I feel they will be much happier with.

So both Wife and I will have a bit of heavy heart tonight.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

All Those In Favor Say Aye

If you read the latest comment from Aimee the Huntress, you will know that with the demise of a mouse in the hands of the Suzuki of Death that she is up to a total count of 5.

In the meantime, my loyal reader and business partner, Lakeview Coffee, in spite of hating the French and being an avid softballer has wiped out a total of...of ...of...nothing with his evidently Buddhist, non-violent, Camary of passive coexistence. But then he has asked that we include his jihad against the rats (literally the rodent rat) of his neighborhood. He has written extensively on his blog (I'd put in links but it's late and I'm too tired to do it) of his jihad and the success with his own verison if the IED - the T-Rex Rat Trap.

Now my inclination is that "Road Kill" means the dispatch of non-human species with a vehicle. However, I am willing to be open minded about this and if you, my vast minions of readers so elect, I will include them. Please let your feelings be known.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Questions Answered

The current score for the 2008-09 Road Kill Challenge

Afraid Aimee the Huntress is still far in the lead with four kills. Nonna is second with two. Those vicious Chicagoans (Lakeview, Weaselmomma, Motherrocker, John the Armenian, and Ricardo) have come up with nada - zip - nothing. Unless you count their vehicles. MR and JtA could count three kills just in the last two months if I counted the number of times their car has died and they had to bring it in)

When will Mrs. de-I post pictures of the Amsterdam Barcelona trip?

My guess based on her project load is sometime in the fall.

How does someone live in a place that only gets 10 inches of rain a year?

Take showers one a month? No no no. We use to just plunder all the acquifers but we've finally started to wise up. Most of our water actually comes from the snow fall in the Rocky Mountains. This is true for most of the West. You should know that Southern California in fact doesn't get much more annual rainfall than we do. They pump all their water in from the Sierra Nevadas and the Rockies.

In reality, people here have started to become very concious of water usage. People who live in areas where water is more plentiful tend to be very wasteful about using it. Here local communities constantly make people aware of practices that use up unnecessary amounts of water.

The majority of yards have had their lawns ripped out and replaced by xeriscaping. Water usage is monitored. You don't do things like just let the water run when you wash dishes. The city subsidizes the switch to low water toilets. In Albuquerque we have actually reduced our per capita water use substantially over the last 10 years.

By the way, if you only have 10 inches of rain, you obviously don't have much snow :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

3/8ths Down - 9 & 5/8ths to Go

Yes 3/8ths of an inch was the sum total of rain we got on Monday. Since our average annual rainfall is 10 inches a year, we are well on our way. We may see some rain again tomorrow

Work has been super busy. We have been preparing a plan for reviving a company that is nearly dead (Sales have dropped from a $7 million a year rate to a $3.5 million a year rate in just three months). This is a Native American owned business and there is a long, long history of mismanagement. Short story is after a long couple of weeks of building out a plan of action with two choices (liquidate it completely or liquidate it partially and start a new business from the good pieces of the old), we gave the presentation to the tribal council yesterday. This involved primarily me present to the 21 person council and then field lots of questions. Took three hours but to our amazement they gave us approval for our restructuring plan.

In the meantime, the work on the house is pushing to the finish line. Carpeting when in upstairs and there are pictures below. For those asking Wife for when she will post her trip pictures, she has been overwhelmed dealing with the house and then was kidnapped by the Visigoths and left trapped in their mountain fastness to care for their young while the elders escaped to Cozumel.

Monday, March 9, 2009

What The @&!%!

It's raining.

I don't mean some overcast sky with a drizzle here or there.

I mean honest to goodness rain.

It's been raining for hours. It's 9:20 now and it had been raining since before 5:30 when I got up.

This is the first measurable precipitation we have had since the beginning of the year.

Maybe I should talk to the builders and see if there they have any excess wood so I can build an ark.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Lord Taketh and the Lord Giveth

We found out a few weeks ago that the Visigoths, daughter Pulisha and son-in-law Tim de Buffalo and the three grandchildren are going to be moving out of state. Pu and Tim were very unhappy after moving here. Neither's work situations was anything close to what they would have hoped for. Fortunately Pu was able to get a new job with substantially more money and responsibility in St. Petersburg, FL. They are scheduled to be moving out in mid-March. Sad for us but great for them.

Then we found out that our very, very good friends Gaius Derf and Agent W are moving back to Albuquerque from Salt Lake City. We knew they were not happy in SLC but until they showed up on our door step a couple of months ago 'house hunting' we had no clue that they were serious about making a move. They were able to sell their house up their in 38 days. Unbelievable. They already picked up a house here and are scheduled to be moving back almost the same day that Pu and Tim are moving out.

How wierd is that! We lose having the children and grandchildren but get back our best friends.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Latest Remodel Photos

While we were gone in Europe a lot of work was done. We're getting real close. They're estimating finishing by the end of March which would be about three weeks late - not to bad.

They finished the outside stuccoing and all the scaffolding is off

Electrical and plumbing fixtures in the upstairs bathroom

Painting was done and electrical is being finished

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

On Travel

Wife and I are back home and acclimated again to our time zone. Life is normal. I'm working. Mrs. de-I is hard at work getting control of the home remodel project (exciting pictures coming soon), and we're being called upon to help our middle daughter, son-in-law on their move to Florida (more on that in another post)

However, I did want to write something on travel since there are a number of you who commented on wishing you could travel and I know the make up of those who read but don't comment that there are some in that group as well.

Travel is something I think you have to decide is worth having in your lifestyle. What do I mean by this? What I mean is that you have to make some tangible choices related to:

  • Money
  • Time
  • Comfort Level
Money - Travel costs. You can do lots of things to save money, get more for less, etc. but it still requires money. So if you decide travel is going to be in your lifestyle then it has to be budgeted for or you have to decide it is more important than other things you might spend money on. In the case of Mrs. de- I and I, travel has been very important to us and we make lot's of choices that reflect that importance. We don't spend money on electronics (up until two years ago we still had a TV that you had to turn on manually!). We spend very little on cloths. We buy cars very occaisonally and usually used cars. I'm not saying anyone else should do this. I'm just saying that for us we'd rather spend our money traveling.

Time - We all have only so much time off. Where are we going to use it? If you want to travel, you may have to look at your time off patterns and make some changes.

Comfort Level - I think this is the biggest hurdle for most people since they don't like to go into situations that they are not comfortable in. Traveling to new places by definition puts you into areas where you are not familiar. Though the more you travel, the more you become comfortable doing things that are different. But people have all kinds of different levels of comfort. So it's a very personal thing.

Some Tips for Getting Started

If you've never traveled, I suggest starting small. How about a long weekend to a place in the U.S. you've never been to? Know why I live in New Mexico? We couldn't afford a trip to Europe and we wanted to go somewhere in the US that was "different". We ended up loving it so much we moved there.

How do you do it? You use your library, bookstore and the Internet. No matter where interesting you want to go, there is something written on what to see and do. Use the internet to figure where to stay and how to get there.

Want to dabble in foreign travel? What about Canada. It is a different county but they speak English and it's close.

Want to do Europe or something like that? Maybe a tour. I think cruises (river or ocean) are a good way to get acclimated because they will provide a turnkey solution and you only have to unpack once, unlike bus tours. How about Puerto Rico - It's a US territory.

Don't just go to a resort. Doing Cancun is not visiting a foreign country. It's just the US in another location.

Want to save money? Go on the off season. Want to save more money? Get a couple to go with you and share an apartment. Pick any city you want, plug "apartment vacation rental of xyz city" in your browser and see what you come up with.


I think travel really widens once world outlook and enriches ones life. I would urge any of you who think you might want to experience it to give it a try.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Euro Eats

Well you really didn't think that you were going get an entire trip to Europe blogs without a foodie post did you? Puh-lease.

By all that is holy in my family, that would never, never happen.

While the orientation for this trip was not gastronomic there were certainly plenty of gastronomic highlights.

Cockles – A bowl of cockles in Barcelona – steamed with nothing,- just the cockles themselves – incredibly sweet and done to perfection.

Oysters – twice, once Fine Claires from France and once Dutch (I don’t know the variety). Super fresh, nothing but mignonette with them. The Fines Claire more briny and the Dutch tasting more earthy (mud flatty???). Great.

Whole Grilled Sea Perch – That was it except for some herbs inside the cavity, no sauce, no melted butter, just fresh fish.

Catalan Home Cooking including:

Lentils – cooked with various sausages including blood sausage

Pork Cutlets – smothered in onions cooked in red wine
Grilled Rabbit

Grilled Lamb Chops
Cabbage and Chickpeas – cooked together with potatoes and carrots, served warm with oil and vinegar as a garnish – sounds weird but was very tasty.
Wonderful Canneloni

Cruising the market looking for cheese, jamon, fruit, veggies, bread

Inexpensive Spanish table wine – no pretentions – just a nice beverage

Really good French Wine that I could actually afford!

Cheese – Unpasteurized, live cheeses still not squelched by the EEU bureaucrats – heaven.

Frites (French Fries) made in Holland – always fresh out of the fryer, totally crisp and tasty. Must have had frites a half a dozen times – even once in the airport – and they were always good.

Chocolate – Get a big bar of dark chocolate with almonds or hazelnuts and it has twice as many nuts as a similar bar at home.

Most interesting eating experience? Going to a Catalan lunch place that catered to a the office lunch crowd. No hand out menu – just a menu on a blackboard and only in Catalan. I wish I could have gone there four or five times to figure out what was on the menu because I saw a bunch of neat stuff coming out that I couldn’t figure out how to order.