Tracey, Mike, and Matt visited us a week ago Sunday for miniature golf and lunch, and on Saturday, Tracey and I went to Taste of France. We bought tickets for the wine tasting, where we got to experience the mind-blowingly delicious 2011 Chateau d'Yquem Ygrec. And the 'phews will be visiting us this coming weekend. (Spoiler alert: That will be Part II.)
We've been meaning to go mini golfing at Pier 25 since August 2012. I had fun, but the course was disappointing to me. The holes were all very similar, with rough patches of carpeting and a barrier here and there, until you got to a superridiculous one that required you to shoot the ball across this narrow bridge or send it sinking down into water deeper than my forearm. After we all inevitably landed in the water, we pushed our balls into a log that had a slatted platform inside, but the balls got stuck there too. I may have to fire off another angry e-mail to the USPMGA. ;-)
One other ridiculous thing was the posted list of course rules that included the following edict: "Anyone found swimming, playing, and/or bathing in the fountain features will be ejected from the course without a refund." *puts pants and shirt back on instead of swim trunks while muttering angrily under his breath*
There actually were a couple of shirtless guys on the adjacent beach volleyball courts. Even though it was too chilly that day to be wearing so little clothing, I applaud their commitment to what should be the sport's dress code.
Tracey had the lowest score by several points. Matt and I tied. And Mike was one point behind us. I made some really good putts early on, but I lost my mojo about three-quarters of the way through and never got it back consistently. Tracey has played (real) golf several times this summer, so she had a distinct advantage.
Back at our apartment, we had salads with a lemon-lime dressing and pasta with veal ragù, which, like last time, I seasoned with herbs from the garden. Everyone enjoyed it very much. For whatever reason, I didn't think the ragù was quite as good as the first time I'd made it, but it still satisfied.
Here's the inevitable group shot from my end of the table:
For dessert, we polished off the last of the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Ice Cream and Chocolate-Blackberry Sorbet in the freezer. M&M liked the ice cream better, but they thought the sorbet was great too.
Mike cracked himself and Matt up recounting a video a friend had shown him of Honey Boo Boo and her sister wrapping themselves in garbage bags and plastic wrap, covering themselves and the floor in butter and oil, and sliding all around:
I texted a photo of the ice cream to David. He loves anything with chocolate and peanut butter together.
On Monday night, Tony and I had the leftover ragù with pasta, roasted romanesco with loads of garlic, and a salad with red and yellow pepper and a dressing made with just a pinch of Penzeys Berbere Seasoning. To drink, we had the 2008 Azelia Barolo, which Tracey had given me for my birthday. (She's really gotten into Italian reds made from nebbiolo or sangiovese grapes lately: barolos, barbarescos, and brunellos.) Everything was splendid, including the flowers that I'd bought on Saturday: marigolds and coreopsises.
Here's a daytime shot of the flowers that got many likes on Facebook:
On Tuesday night, Tony and I watched the last episode of season 3 of Downton Abbey. If you haven't watched the series yet and want to someday, skip on to the next part of this post because there are OH SO MANY SPOILERS here.
Back when the season 3 finale aired on PBS, one of my Facebook friends posted something to the effect of "No, not Mary." So I thought she was going to die at the end of the show. But that would have been a dumb move considering that Sybil, one of my favorite characters, had died in childbirth only a few episodes earlier. And I love Mary, so I was sort of relieved when Matthew bought it instead, even though I liked him too, and I really enjoyed seeing the two of them together as a couple. Joyce filled me in on the background that the actress who played Sybil and the actor who played Matthew both wanted to end their run with the show after their three-season contract was up.
I couldn't stand Edith for most of the first two seasons, but she really grew on me during the third and I'm rooting for her now.
Like anyone with a soul, I was taken in by the courtship of Bates and Anna. I thought it was so cute how she called him what sounded like "Mr. Bets." But good lord (Grantham) was I sick and tired of all the bullshit they went through, with the first Mrs. Bates, the trial, and the prison stay. If I were her, I'd have started thinking nerdy Mr. Molesley would have been the better choice.
I love love love the Dowager Countess. And Mrs. Patmore. And Mrs. Hughes.
The pacing of the show sucks. For weeks, we were bored by Daisy having the same scene in which she tells someone (usually Mrs. Patmore) that she's unworthy of getting William's pension because she never really loved him. But Cora got pregnant—making it appear Matthew's inheritance of Downton was in jeopardy—and miscarried, thanks to O'Brien's soapy, completely unwarranted revenge, all in one episode.
I sympathize somewhat with Thomas because he's gay, but, like O'Brien, he's a huge troublemaker. It kills me how he manages to stay on—and even get promoted—no matter how obvious it is that he's a dick.
Tony had a lot of fun making fun of ludicrously tragic Lavinia, who got buried on a property where she'd really only been an infrequent visitor. And we both got a lot of comedic mileage out of Shrimpy. Dialogue that should have happened: Edith: "Why do they call him Shrimpy, Pa Pa?" Robert: "Ask Ma Ma. She was there once when his kilt blew up in a strong wind."
Hawleyblog has been getting lit up with spam comments of late. It's slowed down a bit this past week, but a couple weeks ago, I was getting a stupid number of them every day. I would sigh whenever I checked my e-mail because I'm sent a message every time I get a comment. And by the way, I've noticed that YOU haven't commented in a while. *directed at everyone but Mark P.*
I wasn't able to muster the energy necessary to make my usual big pot o' Chicken Corn Chowder at any point these past few weeks. But I wanted to enjoy that tasty combo before the fresh corn and maters went away, so I made a deconstructed version on Wednesday.
I roasted chicken breasts with lemon basil, Genovese basil, and tarragon. And I cooked up cherry tomatoes and shoepeg corn off the cob—both from the farmers market—in a pan. And then combined everything on one plate. It was tasty as hell. I'm not sure what you'll think of this photo. The puddles of liquid on the plate make the dish look unappealing, but the individual parts look OK.
Taste of France was a letdown in one respect. There was supposed to be a pétanque court. But there wasn't one. At least not on Saturday. (It was a two-day event.) That mattered to me because, believe it or not, pétanque is a meme in the Hawley-Pizur household. Tony likes to say the word. And because he's an economist, he's been thinking of ways to monetize our terrace, and one of his in-jest ideas was to create a pétanque court and charge people to play. I had wanted Tracey to take a photo of me playing pétanque. But it wasn't to be.
We enjoyed the food, though. We got crepes not long after we arrived at Bryant Park because we were very hungry, and we saw a stand offering crepes on the 40th Street side of the park. The crepemakers were from Jeanne & Gaston, a restaurant that's not far my apartment, on 14th Street. A while ago, I had mentioned J&G to Tony as a potential go-to local place for us, to replace our dear-departed Bistro de la Gare, but he wasn't convinced it would be a good place for him dietary-needs-wise. And it's not as reasonably priced as BDLG. The crepes were fine. The pancake part of the crepe had been pre-made and was reheated on a circular griddle with the raspberry jam—in my case—or Nutella—in Tracey's case—folded up inside.
For our serious lunch, we hit one of the stands that featured cuisines from various regions of France. Tracey got beef and a potato gratin, and I got chicken and a potato gratin.
Because I'm a growing boy—and the portions were modest—I went to a different stand featuring southeastern cuisine and got Provençal-style beef and polenta too.
There were many French bulldogs wandering around. This very patient one was wearing a triceratops hat:
The highlight of the event was Le Grand Wine Tasting that was worth every penny of the ticket because we got to try Château d'Yquem's dry white wine, which has a big Y on the label. Tracey and I tasted it before knowing the producer; we just tried the only white at the Bordeaux table, without paying attention to the label, and were stunned at how wonderful it was—far better than any other wine, white or red, that I've encountered. (And I'm partial to reds.) Then we looked in our book to see that we had just tried the Ch. d'Yquem. Well, it wasn't THE Ch. d'Yquem, the sweet Sauternes that sells for about $400 a bottle. This wine, which CDY makes most every year, sells for about $160 a bottle. My nose and palate focused on the wine's floral qualities. To me, the dominant note was elderflower. It had such a wonderful perfume. I could have drunk the whole bottle. We had to get another taste. And I did drink this wine; I couldn't bring myself to spit it out, like I did almost every other wine I tasted that day.
Tracey didn't spit out any of the wines she tasted. She drank. And she was feeling no pain by the time we were done. Here's a selfie I took as we were leaving:
We also enjoyed a few reds from Bordeaux: the 2010 Ch. Lynch Bages, which retails for about $175; the 2005 Domaine de Chevalier, which goes for about $75; and a vintage I didn't note (and it doesn't say in the booklet) of Blason d'Issan, the second wine of Ch. d'Issan, which is in Margaux, Tony's favorite Bordeaux appellation. The Blason retails for about $25. If we'd have hit the Bordeaux table earlier, we should have been able to try the Château d'Issan, which retails for about $90 and is the one listed in the tasting booklet.
We spent a lot of time at the Loire and Provence tables too. My Loire favorite was the all–Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Domaine Mardon Quincy Très Vieilles Vignes, which sells for a very reasonable $20. And my Provence favorite was one of only two rosés we tasted: the 2012 Domaine Saint André de Figuière Première de Figuière.