Category Archives: Newsletter

Blood-Orange Rosemary Fizz

Blood-Orange Rosemary Fizz

 

Some of Alberto’s Produce at the Pedregal Organic Market

We are so fortunate to have the organic market half a block away from us on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On Wednesday, Manuel had the most beautiful blood-oranges, so I decided to try a new cocktail that evening. I saw a recipe that inspired the drink on the Food & Wine website – it used both blood-orange and rosemary, of which we have two large bushes of.

For each drink (I used red wine glasses to serve), here are the portions:

2 ounces fresh blood-orange (or pink grapefruit juice can be substituted)

1/2 ounce Campari

1/2 ounce rosemary simple syrup*

2 ounces Prosecco

1 blood-orange slice, for garnish

1 rosemary sprig, for garnish

Put desired amount of crushed ice in each wine glass. Add the blood-orange juice, Campari and rosemary simple syrup. Mix and top with the Prosecco and garnish with the blood-orange slice and rosemary sprig.

img_9951

Blood-Orange Rosemary Fizz

*To make the rosemary simple syrup, stir together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water and 2 fresh rosemary sprigs in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil for 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved, Remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes or until cool. Pour liquid through a wire-mesh strainer into an airtight bottle, discarding rosemary sprigs. Cover and chill. Syrup may be stored for up to a month in the fridge.

 

A Special Spoon

A Special Spoon

I started the two day process to make chicken soup tonight. I use a combination of recipes: from Julia Moskin of the New York Times and Ron’s 97 (soon to be 98) year-old Mom, Mother Mary as I love to call her. There is nothing that brings more comfort than a bowl of homemade chicken soup.

img_9941

When we were recently in Santa Clara, California, Ron was fighting a bad cough and chest congestion. Moms never stop being mothers and Mother Mary immediately set to work to cook Ron a pot of her very special and delicious chicken soup to make him well again. She keeps two packages of organic (and she will only use organic, bless her!) chicken legs in the freezer in case of sickness and to prepare a pot of her famous and delicious “cure”.

The broth is so thick and filled with goodness that it completely congeals in the fridge. Heat it up and the kitchen is filled with that amazing aroma of pure, beautiful and healing food. Mother Mary learned how to make chicken soup from Aunt Mae, a generous woman who adopted Ron’s family and loved each and every one of the family members as her own, even though there was no blood connection.

Mother Mary told me years ago about a special wooden spoon that she uses that was gifted to her when Aunt Mae passed away. The spoon is well over one hundred years old and holds the energy of the two amazing women who cooked wholesome and nutritious food for their families, friends and loved ones over the years. I never had the privilege of meeting Aunt Mae, but I know that preparing incredible food was and is the most powerful expression of love from Mother Mary (as I’m sure it was from Aunt Mae as well).

Mother Mary Making Gravy for Thanksgiving Dinner at Claire and Jerry's

Mother Mary Making Gravy for Thanksgiving Dinner at Claire and Jerry’s

Mother Mary gifted me with this spoon on our last trip. It is the only material thing I ever want from her and she generously passed this special spoon, this legacy, on to me. Every time I hold this spoon, I feel the incredible love and energy of both women. I will cherish it always and think of them every time I use it to make special food for my family, friends and loved ones, just as they have done for over a century.

img_9937

 

Touring The Washington State Wine Region – Day Two

Touring The Washington State Wine Region – Day Two

We headed to downtown Walla Walla mid-day, parked the car and started to wander and explore more of the town. As we had read that K Vintners of the Walla Walla Valley had produced, according to Wine Spectator, the #31 wine in 2015, their 2012 wine called “The Creator”, we were curious and wanted to do a tasting at Charles Smith Wines/K Vintners. Ron and I shared a tasting of six red wines, starting from lighter to more complex. A couple of the wines were fine, but none of the six impressed either of us enough to make a purchase.

A few of the more than 15 plus mass-produced wines from K Vintners/Charles Smith Wines

A few of the more than 15 plus mass-produced wines from K Vintners/Charles Smith Wines

After our tasting, we went looking for a hot bowl of soup on a very cold afternoon.  Our new friend, Terry, recommended the Walla Walla Bread Company right across the street from him at the Fort Walla Walla Cellars Tasting Room. We sat up at the bar to warm up as it was directly in front of their very impressive wood-fired oven. We ordered one of each of their soups of the day: Smoked Turkey Lentil and Broccoli Cheddar. Both soups were delicious but the Smoked Turkey Lentil soup was the winner – full of flavor and goodness.

Some of the artistanal breads made at the Walla Walla Bread Company (photo courtesy of http://www.w2breadco.com/#home)

Some of the artistanal breads made at the Walla Walla Bread Company (photo courtesy of http://www.w2breadco.com/#home)

We ordered a glass of Balboa Cabernet Sauvignon as well as the Amavi Cabernet Sauvignon which our server, Ashlee, highly recommended. We then shared a Pork Torta (pork shoulder, purple pickled cabbage, salsa verde, feta and avocado, served in a delicious torta) that was served with two sides: JoJo’s (wood-fire oven roasted potatoes with garlic, paprika and thyme) and Panzanella (Italian bread salad).

Our meal was excellent as was the wine and Ashlee’s service. One of the other servers was just finished work and generously offered her recommendations on our choices as well. We especially enjoyed watching Raymond prepare the food to be cooked in the wood-fired oven and then plating the lunch dishes as they were ready to be served. The breads in this restaurant/bakery looked AMAZING and we will definitely be back when we’re next in the area.

Taking a short break!

Taking a short break!

It was Halloween and it is a BIG event in Walla Walla. Main Street is closed off to all vehicular traffic for almost 3 hours and the store owners and businesses pass out candy to a never-ending parade of trick-or-treaters, both young and old.

The never-ending line of trick-or-treaters

The never-ending line of trick-or-treaters

We had learned about this special Halloween tradition from our new friends, Terry, Pat and Shelley at the Fort Walla Walla Cellars Tasting Room the day before, and they invited us by to check it out.

The Cookie Monster!

What a great idea to keep the kids off the streets and safe and a wonderful opportunity for the store and business owners to do something really nice for the children and the community.

Pat dishing out candy to the masses!

Pat dishing out candy to the masses!

Fort Walla Walla Cellars went through thousands of pieces of candy. Pat’s arm was getting tired, so I jumped in to help him for a short while until Shelley and her granddaughter arrived to take over. It was such a lot of fun!

The cutest baby elephant!

The cutest baby elephant!

Terry and Pat then generously invited Ron and I to join them for the Industry Night at the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel. Monday nights are Industry Nights at this beautiful hotel and it is a tradition for people in the wine industry to bring a bottle or two to taste and share with others. Terry brought three fabulous bottles for us to taste (from Fort Walla Walla Cellars and Watermill Winery) and, what was left over, he left for the staff to taste and enjoy.

The historic Marcus Whitman Hotel in the background on the right

The historic Marcus Whitman Hotel on the right in the background

The four of us shared Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms and Calamari with our wine tasting – both appetizers were delicious but the wine was absolutely amazing. We felt so honored to be included in the evening and to sample these beautiful wines. We all ordered a Burger and the four of us finished by sharing an Apple Cobbler.

Our last night in Walla Walla was so special and we look forward to coming back to this area one day. The wines and food in the area are truly fabulous, but we are most grateful for the new friendships we’ve formed and the memories we’ve made on this trip. We’ve learned in our travels that it’s not so much about where you go and what you do, but rather the people you meet on the journey.

Some great and creativec costumes!

Some great and creative costumes – a Halloween to remember!

 

 

 

 

Touring The Washington State Wine Region – Day One

Touring The Washington State Wine Region – Day One

Endless prairie under a cushion of soft cloud.

Endless prairie under a cushion of soft cloud.

We drove from Missoula, Montana yesterday under a blanket of cloudy sky and arrived in Walla Walla, Washington late afternoon in a deluge of rain. We checked in to our hotel and immediately made our way to the downtown area to see what was happening and to get a “lay of the land”.

Downtown Walla Walla, Washington

Downtown Walla Walla, Washington

It was incredibly cold walking downtown in the wind and the rain and we found refuge at the Fort Walla Walla Cellars Tasting Room. Our host, Terry, poured us a sample of their 2010 Merlot, followed by a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.  Both were complex and delicious. Terry and his friend, Pat, then treated us to a glass of the 2007 Merlot. Merlot is not our favourite varietal, but we really enjoyed both vintages poured for us. It was a delight to speak with Terry, Pat and Shelley about the area, wines, restaurants, etc. Ron teased Terry about working for the Walla Walla Chamber of Commerce as he said that, with the exception of perhaps one winery, each of the approximately 150 local wineries are making GREAT wine. Similarly, when we pressed him to recommend the town’s best restaurants, Terry told us that there are many wonderful chefs and places to eat in the area. We left with a bottle of each of the two varietals we tasted and a great feeling of having met and spent time with three new friends.

The Fort Walla Walla Tasting Room on Main Street

The Fort Walla Walla Cellars Tasting Room on Main Street

Fort Walla Walla Cellars is a boutique winery that produces about 2,000 cases of ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Bordeaux blend wines from grapes produced exclusively from vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley.

unknown

We’ve wanted to tour the wine producing areas of Washington and Oregon for several years and we’re excited to finally be here. Pacific Northwest wines dominated the top of Wine Spectator magazine’s annual top 100 list in 2015, a compilation of the best wines in the world, according to the world’s largest and most influential wine publication. In 2015, wines from Washington and Oregon finished an astonishing 20 percent of the top 50, with five wines from each state. Very impressive.

Whitehouse-Crawford Dining Area (photo courtesy of http://www.whitehousecrawford.com)

Whitehouse-Crawford Dining Area (photo courtesy of http://www.whitehousecrawford.com)

We did take Terry’s recommendation for one of his favorite restaurants, Whitehouse-Crawford. Dating back to 1880, the site of this restaurant was originally a planing mill and furniture company. Destroyed by fire in late 1903, it was rebuilt in brick and continued as a planing mill and furniture factory until it was sold to the City of Walla Walla in 1988. The current owner, Salvation! LLC, saved the site from being razed to build a motel and carefully restored it as a quality restaurant that celebrates food, wine and the history of the Walla Walla Valley.

Harvest Apple Salad

Harvest Apple Salad

Our evening started with an order of Empanadas, perhaps the best either of us have ever had – light pastry and delicious filling. We then shared a Harvest Apple Salad, followed by the Pork Shoulder.

Pork Shoulder

Pork Shoulder

Robertson, our waiter, recommended the 2010 aMaurice Cellars Syrah, “Fred”, from the Walla Walla Valley and a 2012 Gramercy Cellars blend from the Columbia Valley, “The Third Man”. The Gramercy Cellars wine was spectacular and this vineyard produced the 2012 “Deuce Syrah” which was named #22 wine in the world by Wine Spectator in 2015.

img_8578

Regional Cheeses

We finished our evening’s meal with a selection of Regional Cheeses (served with candied pecans, rhubarb chutney, and house made crackers) and a glass of Graham’s 20-Year Tawny Port. The service, the quality of the food, presentation and value were all excellent.

img_8597

Our first night in Walla Walla was so positive that we decided to stay and play one more day. Let’s see what tomorrow brings!

 

An Exceptional Evening at Jamison Farm

An Exceptional Evening at Jamison Farm

Ron and I have spoken of viewing some of the properties designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for several years. In late July of this year, Ron read an article in the New York Times that set the wheels in motion, literally, for us to do that and put a plan in place.

In 1991, Frank Lloyd Wright was recognized by the American Institute of Architects as “the greatest American architect of all time.” He believed in “designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture.”

As we always take a different route back to Cabo San Lucas, we decided to make a trip through Frank Lloyd Wright country and visit some of the places we read about in the article. Ron and I both love lamb and looked on the internet to find out more about Jamison Farm, located near Latrobe, Pennsylvania (home of the late, great Arnold Palmer), that the article spoke very highly of. It turned out that a Harvest Dinner was planned for October 22nd, was limited to 18 people, and promised lessons, recipes, stories and dinner. We immediately booked our seats at the table.

John and Sukey Jamison's Farmhouse

John and Sukey Jamison’s Farmhouse

We took our fine bottle of Duoro (the event was BYOW) and made our way from Latrobe to Jamison Farm (thank goodness for GPS!). We were among the first guests to arrive and we were delighted to meet an eclectic group of diners, most of whom were from the area or at least from somewhere in the state of Pennsylvania.

The 210-acre Jamison Farm is owned by John and Sukey Jamison, who have lived here since the 1960’s, and have been raising free range lamb and developing their reputation for purveying America’s best since that time. Their lamb is purely grass fed and free of hormones, antibiotics, herbicides and pesticides. The local geography, selection of natural grasses, rotational grazing, and annual rainfall (approximately 50 inches) provide meat that tastes like the pastures the lambs graze on.

The Black Sheep in the Jamison's Flock

The Black Sheep in the Jamison’s Flock

It had been a particularly cold and rainy day, so walking into the Jamison farm house with fires burning in various rooms made us all feel warm and welcome. John is the story teller and Sukey is the chef – a great partnership that reflected both personalities and complementary talents.

The Jamison’s sitting room is filled with signed cookbooks from some of the world’s most wellknown chefs and of other famous people who have either visited the Farm or dined on their delicious lamb. John and Sukey used to trade lamb for signed cookbooks with Julia Child (John played a voice mail message Julia left on their phone years ago) and have supplied lamb and developed friendships with many of the most prominent and important chefs in America: Palladin, Boulud, Pépin, Ripert (Ron plays tennis with Eric’s wife, Sandra, in the Hamptons – she’s vivacious and lovely!), Keller, and so many more.

Assortment of Appetizers

Assortment of Appetizers

Our evening began with a lovely selection of appetizers: assorted cheeses, lamb sausage (with spinach and feta cheese) and lamb paté. We joined John in the sitting room and listened to their Farm’s history and of some of their colorful stories collected over time. The farm manager demonstrated how to prepare cuts from the hind leg of a lamb, resulting in less than 30% waste, including the thigh bone.

Demonstration of carving cuts from an upper leg of lamb

Demonstration of carving cuts from an upper leg of lamb

We were called to dinner and our group was split between two tables in the dining room. We began with an outstanding Lamb Barley Soup – a perfect start to the evening’s meal. The soup was rich with tomatoes, vegetables and the secret ingredient which was lamb stock. On such a cold evening, it was comfort food at its finest.

Lamb Barley Soup

Lamb Barley Soup

Our next course was a Mixed Greens Salad (with homemade Merguez Sausage and tossed with a Mustard Vinaigrette).

Mixed Greens with Merguez Sausage

Mixed Greens with Merguez Sausage

Our main course followed and we were served Braised Lamb Shoulder, Lamb Shank, Roasted Lamb Chop, Herb Cherry Tomatoes over Balsamic Onions, and Smashed Herb Potatoes.

Our Main Course - Lamb Three Ways

Our Main Course – Lamb Three Ways

During and between courses, we enjoyed more stories from John and conversation with our dinner companions and new friends.

Dessert, although we were almost too full by this point to enjoy it, was a light and delicious Mixed Apple Crisp with Chantilly Crème and served with a piece of their Specialty Brownie.

Our Dessert

Our Dessert

Although we didn’t partake of a cooking class (which we thought we were taking, but got a carving demonstration instead), we enjoyed a stellar evening of brilliantly cooked lamb dishes, prepared simply to fully appreciate the flavor of the meat itself. Sukey is a very talented cook who hand-prepared every dish in their charming farm kitchen. Everything we were served was absolutely delicious! We loved listening to John’s stories and hope that he finishes the book he has started writing (both John and Sukey were English majors) and record the podcasts (a new concept that we introduced to John as he is such a great storyteller) of the many tales they have to tell.

The road less traveled is always the best for us and we’re so glad that we planned our drive through the rolling foothills of Pennsylvania and experience the extraordinary flavor of the lambs that are cared for and graze on Jamison Farm.

img_8022