For my birthday, which was two weeks ago today, Tony took me to Thai Tida for dinner. I had a delightful coconut milk soup with lots of veggies for my appetizer:
Tony took a photo of me as I was eating my main: Red Curry With Chicken:
At home, we drank a bottle of juicy and grapey-in-a-good-way1 Italian white that we both thought was terrific: the 2013 De Forville Langhe Arnais:
I've since bought two more bottles of this wine from the Fine Wine & Good Spirits store in Logan Square outside New Hope and bought a different Langhe Arneis from Central Wine Merchants in Flemington that was good but not as enjoyable. Arneis is the name of the grape, and Langhe is the location.
The Langhe area of Piedmont is most famous winewise for its Barolos and Barbarescos, which are made from the Nebbiolo grape. Tony bought a reduced-price Barolo—the 2012 Parusso—at Central that was, unsurprisingly, wonderful; as I've noted before, the thing we really love about Central is that its below-regular-retail-price wines are almost always outstanding and not plonk the store is trying to unload. I bought another bottle of that wine the other day, for $24.98, and another reduced-priced Barolo—the 2011 Giovanni Rocca, for $29.98—that we also liked but not as much as the Parusso.
I read in the current (October) issue of Food & Wine a recommendation to look for wines that say Langhe Nebbiolo on the bottle. Executive Wine Editor Ray Isle, in response to a reader question, wrote that Langhe Nebbiolos are less-spendy (often $20 to $35) alternatives to Barolos (often $70 or more) that probably won't be quite as pleasurable but offer good value2. And when they come "from top producers like Cavallotto, Paolo Scavino and G.D. Vajra, they can easily be mistaken for Barolo itself," he wrote. I spotted only one LN at Central last week—the 2013 Renato Ratti— ...
... that was, as expected, quite good and well worth the $19.99 pretax price but not as amazing as the Barolos. We drank it with a salad topped with shaved gold and red beets and dressed with a vinaigrette that featured fresh grated nutmeg and freshly cracked black pepper and spaghetti in a sauce I threw together from some dark-red cherry tomatoes I got from Hand Picked Farm; a couple of small, red, mildly hot fish peppers from our deck garden; a yellow-orange sweet pepper from Sandbrook Meadow Farm; garlic; opal basil from our garden; and a little of the reserved water I cooked the pasta in:
Since the end of August, when my friend Carl identified it for me on Facebook from this photo, ...
... I've been trying to rip out as much stiltgrass—an invasive annual weed from Asia—on our property as possible. It's formed big mounds in open areas under trees ...
... and taken over a good deal of our lawn. At this point, much of the stiltgrass in spots where I can't mow has already gone to seed, but I still want to take up as much as I can. I'll probably apply corn gluten in the spring to try to prevent germination of new plants.
The same day I took the photo of that stilt grass patch, Aug. 31, I found two pieces of a snake skin in the yard:
Actually, Grady found the second piece. He was sniffing intently at it and seemed mere milliseconds away from chewing on it. A couple days before that, I had fished pieces of a cicada exoskeleton out of his mouth.
I posted the snake skin photos on Facebook and wrote the following: "I remember my Granny finding a snake skin near her mailbox back when I was a little kid, maybe in kindergarten or first grade. She put it in a bag so I'd be able to take it into school to show my teacher and classmates. But she kept it hidden from my Pop Pop. His mother had been terribly afraid of snakes, and he picked up that fear from her."
On Sept. 3, I got a new type of white pie from Market Pizza, with corn, cherry tomatoes, jalapeños, and limes for squeezing:
It had more corn and less cheese, plus basil–garlic scape pesto, scallions, and micro greens. Fired Up is at my farmers' market just about every Sunday, but I've never eaten their food while I'm there, mostly because I don't want to take the time to eat a whole pie while I'm trying to make sales.
Tony and I stayed for only the first two acts at the jazz festival. It was starting to get chilly, and Tony thought the final two acts would be freeform in style, which isn't his thing.
The jack-in-the-pulpits I wrote about back in May have produced their red berries:
I got several terrific cards for my birthday, including one from Tony (with the monkey on it) that has noninvasive-wildflower seeds embedded in it:
1I didn't think that was possible, but it is. Tony said this wine tasted like Concord grapes without their skins. That was an accurate description of its deliciousness.
2While I'm dispensing recently gained wine knowledge, I'll add something I learned in an email from Astor Wines & Spirits today: The Primitivo grape, which is grown in the Puglia region of Italy, much farther south than the Piedmont, is the same grape as Zinfandel, a name it acquired after Italian immigrants brought it to California. And before it was Primitivo, it was a Croatian grape called Tribidrag or Crlenak Kastelanski.