Category Archives: Travel Blog

Opting Out

I have long struggled with using Facebook for personal purposes and have posted very little while I have been signed up on it. The few times that I’ve gone on it to see what’s happening in people’s lives have amazed me with the amount of time that can be and is wasted by people NOT living their own lives. I feel the same way about television: I’d rather LIVE my life in prime time than WATCH it, so I spend very little time in front of it (and I’m very selective about what I do watch). I’ve experienced where people post things without thinking, forgetting that employers, customs officers, police and others in power, check social media and what has been posted earlier and thoughtlessly in their lives, can come back to impact them later. I’ve experienced people using Facebook as a surveilance tool and compromised personal relationships because of their response to something happening in other’s lives.

I believe that Facebook was tampered with during the American election in late 2016 and that it continues to be responsible for promoting and spreading hatred and ignorance to people who do not have the capacity or intelligence to think more critically and check sources.

I have been using Facebook for professional purposes, but I’m rethinking that now. In my opinion, Facebook is for personal use, although it can and is used by many for professional purposes as well (Mexico, for example, uses Facebook extensively for everything, both personal and professional uses).

There are better tools for professional use, like LinkedIn. We can keep the standards high by reporting anyone who is abusing it or using it for inapproporate social contact. It is purely a professional network and needs to be kept as such. 

I refuse to ever use Twitter. I refused long before watching a moronic President send out his impulsive and reprehensible “tweets”. He sends out unfiltered garbage that is so far from behavior I expect from ANYONE, and especially from a “world leader”. He is clearly NOT that.

The good news is that we get to vote with our participation and subscription to social media. I, for one, have decided to extricate and opt out of Facebook and Twitter. I hope others decide to do the same.

Unexpected Kindness

Unexpected Kindness

Earlier this week, we were walking from Harlem to the Upper East Side to visit our friends, Damon and Kendra, and to share dinner with them and their delightful daughters, Evelyn and Nina.

The View from and in Damon and Kendra’s Apartment

I have a tendency to walk very quickly and, not paying attention to the ground but rather to all the sights and sounds that New York City offers, I missed seeing an irregularity in the sidewalk. I tripped and it felt like everything immediately changed to slow motion as I tried to regain my balance and avert an inevitable fall. But fall I did, but I managed to take some air and land so that the brunt of the fall was on my wrists and the top (not the front, which would have been normal) of my knees. Had I not done that, I would have hit my head, for sure. Ron, of course, had tried to stop the fall, but it was impossible. He rushed to see if I was okay, but he was not alone. A young woman walking behind us ran up to check and to give us the silver bracelet that broke on impact. A very kind gentleman rushed up from the corner ahead of us to check on my condition and to lend whatever assistance was required. He pulled a salve out of his pocket for me to apply to my scraped knee and was so kind in his concern and manner. All I wanted to do was dust myself off and get out of there as quickly as possible as I was thoroughly embarrassed.

When we got to Damon and Kendra’s, we doctored my wounds and Kendra shared that, although New York is a city where people tend to be very impersonal, they will rush to help in situations like mine. The unexpected kindness was very surprising to us, but affirmed that people are really good at heart, wherever they live.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!