This one's going to be huge, because a) I've been writing it over the course of several days, b) it's been a while since part II, and c) I don't want to extend this theme to part IV. Here goes:
... roasted potatoes with Sunny Paris seasoning, sauteed zucchini with oregano and, for dessert, Grilled Strawberry-Basil Kebabs with a balsamic glaze.
When Tony made the kebabs a couple of months ago, I posted a photo on Facebook, and my friends went wild. It's an unusual combo, but it's a great one. And the vanilla in the glaze plays a pivotal role.
The wine in the first photo was a wonderful aged Spanish red that Tony and I bought a couple bottles of at Astor Wines & Spirits after Tracey, Tony, and I took a wine class there at the end of April. I'd suggested the class as a birthday gift for Tracey, and she was very enthused about it. And I thought Tony would enjoy it, so I told him he should go too.
The focus was on learning the language to speak like a sommelier, which Tony has suggested to Tracey as her next career, after the 'phews are in college.
The 2001 Viña Tondonia Reserva was the seventh and final wine we tasted. It's on the far right in the barely visible row of glasses in the top of the photo; below the wine glasses are liquids we tasted to explore sensations of sour (lemon juice), tannins (dark tea), sweetness (sugar water), heaviness (whole milk), and lightness (skim milk). My whole milk was missing. Tony let me drink his, the dear one.
The VTR was our example of a mature wine. The color had turned from rudy red to brickred. (I learned that the color of red wines gets less intense as they age; white wines get more colorful.) There was no trace of fresh fruit on the palate, only dried fruit. Tannins were present but not strong. The flavor was complex and lingered in the mouth. It was one of the most enjoyable wines I'd ever encountered. And Tony liked it just as much.
VT stores its wines until it believes they're ready to be drunk. Only then does it offer them for sale. In addition to this 2001 Reserva, VT has released its 1994 Gran Reserva. I bought a bottle for Tony for his birthday, which is on Friday. And I had planned to give Dad a bunch of wines on Father's Day, including the Reserva, at my sister's, but we stayed home because I had a bad cold and didn't feel up to traveling. And I didn't want to give my cold to Dad, Granny, or the Gerbers.
On Friday night for dinner, I made rice pasta topped with sauteed fresh shell peas, spring garlic, and spring onion. It was quite good. I managed to eyeball the right amount of pasta to go with the volume of peas and alliums. It's hard to tell because rice pasta swells up quite a bit as it cooks.
To have on the side, I made a salad of mixed lettuces, including Australian Yellow from our garden. We haven't had much luck with lettuce so far this year. A lot of the first seeds I sowed must have gotten drowned in a heavy rain; only the AY had pretty good germination. I did a second sowing that also got hit with a downpour, though it's coming up better than the first one.
I made a simple lemon-lime dressing because I wanted us to be able to appreciate the daylily petals I sliced up and sprinkled on top of the greens. It turns out, they don't actually have a lot of flavor to them. They're more for color.
On a related floral note, toward the end of April, I bought a bunch of dog's tooth violets from Windfall Farms at the Union Square Greenmarket to try in a salad. I didn't appreciate the glossy look and slick feel of the leaves. Nor their somewhat algal flavor. I'm glad I gave them a whirl, though.
The same day, I bought some magnolia branches. I was skeptical they would hold up in water, but I couldn't resist them for $5. They survived a few days, long enough to get plenty of enjoyment out of them.
Friday was a vegetarian day for me. For lunch, I had a couple of pieces of m'smen from the Hot Bread Kitchen stand at the USGM and some red grape tomatoes. And a cup of Cream of Cauliflower Soup they were handing out with a roll on the main floor at work before I left to go to the USGM. And a brownie from the Body & Soul stand. So, yeah, it was quite a bit of food overall, but no meat! :-)
I needed to go vegetarian after two consecutive nights of having breaded veal cutlets for dinner. On Wednesday night, I made them with dilled potatoes and shell peas that I'd cooked in a little water with only a little salt and a pinch of sugar. The peas were so fresh and tasty, they didn't need any embellishment. To drink, we had the 2011 Meinklang Grüner Veltliner, which I'd gotten earlier that day at Astor, when I'd picked up the VTs and some other wines for Dad and us. We both liked the Meinklang GV enough to drink it again. It was certainly worth the $10.76 I paid after the mixed-case discount.
The next night, I served up the last two, big pieces of breaded and fried veal with lighter sides: another simple salad of mixed lettuces with a shallot dressing and beets simmered with dashes of nutmeg and cloves. I threw the spices in the pot on a whim. They neither ruined nor added much to the beets. And to drink, we had the 2010 Meinklang Blaufränkisch, which was also worthwhile, at 90 cents more than the white after the discount.
In the coating for the cutlets, I used Penzeys Bavarian Seasoning that Rich had picked up for us at the Penzeys store in Summit, New Jersey. When Tony brought it home from the office the other day, I playfully but sincerely appreciably hugged it to my chest. :-) I love that stuff, which is funny because I'm not a huge fan of mustard.
On Wednesday morning, which was a day off for me, Tony and I picked some serviceberries as we drank our morning coffee. It was a wonderful moment. We love our little oasis up here and appreciate so much that we have it.
We lost a lot of the berries to birds, mostly starlings, this year. The birds seem to like them when they're still deep red, when they taste more like cranberries. I like them better when they're fully blue and taste more like blueberries. If you wait too long after they turn blue, the berries get shrunken and gummy. This one is just about the perfect specimen:
The day before, I saw a solitary cicada on one of our serviceberry trees.
I hadn't expected to see any here in Manhattan even though a friend from college, Linda, is dealing with loads of them in Staten Island. She commented on Facebook that she's "agreed to peacefully coexist with them as long as they don't fly in my hair." :-)
Our small alliums are dying back, in beautiful fashion. You can also see the crisscrossed stems of the larger alliums, which are even farther gone:
The colors reminded me just now of the gorgeous small trees I saw in a yard on 10th Street between 3rd and 2nd avenues in the East Village on Wednesday. I'd never seen leaves this pink on a tree (or large shrub, whatever it is) before.
I took a circuitous route to Astor Wines that took me to every place Tony and I visited in the EV in this post except for Ciao for Now. I once again found nothing at Gea's I had to have. I was looking specifically for lithopses, which Tony had been intrigued by at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
I bought the latest issue of Sweet Paul magazine at Pink Olive because it was on sale, for $18. I may order a subscription, though, after having read through it, I realize that, as with Uppercase, the editing could use some work. One particularly bad example in SP was botulism spelled as botchalism. Ouch. And Paul's recipe for his Bloody Mary–like Bloody Mathilda lists 1/3 cup lemon juice in the ingredients but doesn't mention it in the directions.
And I had to stop in at Jennifer's Way to get my sweetie something sweet that isn't named Paul. I bought four chocolate chip cookies, for $9.50, that tasted pretty strongly of molasses, which wasn't a bad thing.
The second play we saw recently was The Big Knife, which was the last show in our Roundabout Theatre subscription package. It wasn't very good, mostly because the play itself was pretty weak. We didn't care about any of the characters, even though the acting was by no means bad. The climactic action involving the titular knife happened offstage, which was a total letdown. (And, as Tony pointed out, it was reminiscent of a scene—dramatically shown onstage—in another recent Roundabout production.) Far before the show got to that point, we found ourselves asking, "Why did they bother producing this very dated feeling play?" As with all Roundabout productions, you could see the money on the stage, in the beautiful set, but, again, it wasn't worth the effort to put this particular show on that stage.
Tony was away on business for parts of Sunday and Monday. To welcome him back, I made chicken roasted with spring garlic and our own oregano. And rice pasta with red bell pepper sauce. I sauteed chopped pepper with shallot in rice bran oil and then pureed them in our blender with a little added water. The sauce ended up with a very creamy texture without any dairy. Woot!
That day on my lunch break, at Crush Wine & Spirits, I got a bottle of a different reserva rioja to try. This one was the 2001 from Señorío de P. Peciña. We liked it about as well as the VT. The SPP was a buck cheaper than the VT at Crush. And the VT at Crush was 7 bucks cheaper than it was at Astor, so I know where I'll be buying that one from now on. (I'm apparently all about pointing out the prices of things in this post.)
On May 24, Tony, Jack, and I went to City Winery to catch John Wesley Harding's Cabinet of Wonders. Tony and I had never heard the NPR show, but it sounded like it would be interesting. I didn't know a single one of the guest performers and wasn't familiar with JWH's music or novels, which he writes under his given name, Wesley Stace. But despite that lack of familiarity, as we suspected we would, we had a ball. JWH was a charming host (and quite handsome), and comedian Eugene Mirman, who appears regularly on the show, was very funny. He said that he tries to embarrass his girlfriend by saying ridiculous things within earshot of other customers at the Key Food store in Park Slope. Things like: I disagree. I don't think toilet paper is a waste of money. Hee hee.
I fell hard for the band Lake Street Dive (which is incorrectly listed as Lake Street Drive in the link at "guest performers" above). They're a foursome from Boston: lead singer Rachael Price, who's really got some pipes; Mike Olson, who plays trumpet and guitar and does the majority of the songwriting; Bridget Kearney, who plays the standup bass and sings backup; and drummer Michael Calabrese, who also sings backup. I bought their EP Fun Machine and full-length, self-titled CD after the show.
My favorite of LSD's original songs, "Clear a Space," appears on the otherwise-all-covers EP. It was written by Rachael Price and Tom Price (her husband? brother?). When RP introduced "Don't Make Me Hold Your Hand," another of my favorites, she said Olson's inspiration was sexual tension—between Mulder and Scully in The X-Files. I think their best cover is of Paul McCartney & WIngs' "Let Me Roll It." I'm really not digging their way-slowed-down version of The Jackson 5's "I Want You Back."
On Saturday, I finished making Coffee Ice Cream to take for Father's Day. We'd still hoped to go see Dad and everyone else until yesterday morning, when I realized it was better to stay the hell home and not cough on everybody. I'll have to make it for him next time he comes up this way. There's almost no chance this batch will still be around then. :-)
Even though I knew it would get me coughing, I had to try some after lunch yesterday. Dad would have wanted me to. :-)
On another ice cream–related note, when I made the Mango Ice Cream for Game Master Mark, I thought about making Lucuma Ice Cream because I saw some freeze-dried lucuma powder at our local health food store and I'd read about how lucuma was a huge ice cream flavor in South America. But I decided not to because the pale powder didn't look very orange and I figured it would be better to make something that people had actually heard of.
And on still another ice cream–related note, my friend and coworker Joyce has requested I make chocolate-and-cherry ice cream for her birthday, which is on the 28th, a week after my boy's. My plan is to make the Roasted Cherries recipe from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream at Home and plunk them in, well, chocolate ice cream, natch.
Joyce was one of our guests on Memorial Day, when we had a good group of friends and Gerbers over for a barbecue and ice cream/sorbet. I made turkey burgers from fresh and dried herbs and ground white and dark turkey meat from DiPaola Turkey Farm. Tony prepped Italian-spiced chicken and Moroccan-spiced beef for kebabs and did all of the grilling. He also made a delicious Tomato and Avocado Salad and two kinds of potato salad, one of which was mayo-less and vegan and my personal favorite. We also had Amy's brand veggie burgers for those who wanted to eat meatless. For dessert, we had two of my ice creams (again with the Coffee and the Mint Chocolate Chip, which, if I recall correctly, was made with all black peppermint) and Strawberry Sorbet for the vegan (Stacy) and the celiac (Tony). And people who just wanted sorbet. :-)
I made a green salad that had radishes, cucumber, and honey locust flowers on it. The flowers had a gentle sweetness to them.
Here's a photo of Joyce and her fellow coworker/friend of mine Missy, getting to know our Missy:
And here's a shot of Mike, me, and Matt taken by my friend Frank:
The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, we caught Pandora Boxx's Lick This Boxx show at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. Pandora is one of my all-time favorites from RuPaul's Drag Race—right up there with Shangela, Manila Luzon, Jujubee, Latrice Royale, and the winner of the latest season, Jinkx Monsoon.
Pandora was a lot of fun. One highlight was an interpretive dance she performed to sum up her feelings about her catastrophic, short appearance on RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race, during which she was saddled with perennially underperforming contestant Mimi Imfurst as a teammate. Mostly, she told funny stories about her career and how she got into drag.
The theatre is located in the downstairs of the West Bank Cafe. It felt strange walking past a bunch of diners to get to the show.
After the show, Tony was in the men's room when a worker who appeared to be a cook, judging by the way he was dressed, headed for the door without washing his hands. Another guy in the men's room said to that guy, "Aren't you going to wash your hands?" That guy replied, "I've been here so long, I don't care." Tony then told the other guy, "I'm glad we just got wine."
Here I am—with our bottle of wine—before the show started:
When I corrected for red eye, only one of the red spots disappeared. *sigh* I figured it was better to look balanced. :-)
Rudy and Missy have been munching on our sunflower plants when they think we're not watching. Actually, Missy is good about not getting caught, but she's acted very guilty whenever I've confronted her after I've noticed her coming from the direction of the newly chewed-on sunflowers.
Yesterday, after catching Rudy in the act, I decided to see what they would do when presented with lettuce. Rudy gave the lettuce a sniff and a quick lick and then seemed to be asking me where the vinaigrette was.
Missy took a piece in her mouth but dropped it without chewing on it.
At the end of last month, I bought a couple of bright-lemon-yellow-and-white-striped calibrachoas to interplant with the pale-yellow-flowered cabbages I had chilling in a pot from last year. I think they went great together.
When we saw Jack at City Winery, he gave us a gift certificate for The Marrow. So we went to eat there two Tuesdays ago. Thanks, Jack!
And once again, as I was drinking wine there:
My sister was drinking wine elsewhere:
Tracey was at Valley Stables in Oakland with David, Mike, and Matt. It was Community Night for Indian Hills High School. "Did you strap on a feedbag?" I asked her.
All right, let's skip to the most important part of this meal: OMG, the feckin' donuts! For dessert, I got the Berliners: jelly donuts with milk chocolate for dipping. They were still warm—and so incredibly good I could have plotzed. The word Berliners naturally makes me think of the JFK line, and I learned just now from that Wikipedia entry that he wasn't really calling himself a donut when he said ein before Berliner, because he was speaking figuratively and so he was correct in using the article.
I texted Tracey the donuts photo and wrote: "Tony asked me whether I could eat all three. It's like he doesn't know me! :-)"
We did eat other things. Tony got the mortadella to start. He was initially told he could have the crispy duck appetizer, but our waiter returned to say that dairy was used in the preparation. And he'd already told Tony that the Jägerwurst that he got last time contains dairy. Either the recipe has changed or it had such a trace amount in it that Tony suffered no ill effects before. At any rate, he didn't take a chance with it this time. And we appreciated the waiter and chef's attentiveness.
I had the Braised Rainbow Swiss Chard as my starter. It was cooked with lamb bacon, shallots, and mustard seed. I asked them to hold the gouda. It was delightful.
Here are those appetizers:
For our mains, Tony and I both got dishes that are no longer on the menu that's posted online, so because I didn't take detailed-enough notes on my iPhone, I can't list the stuff that came with. The Tonester got red snapper, and I got the short rib. My beef was so good, I can still conjure up a taste memory of it now, 13 days later. In this photo, Tony looks like he's just barely tolerating my need to take a picture of everything. :-)
For our wine, we got a different Spätburgunder (aka pinot noir) than we got last time: the 2010 Königschaffhausen-Kiechlinsbergen Steingrüble Selection. Gott im Himmel! Those Germans love to combine nouns into bigger nouns. The wine was ausgezeichnet, which is one of far too few words I can recall from my high school and college German classes.