did I say snails….

I meant escargot – tender, served up with butter, garlic, parsley and bread. You secure the shell with the “tool” that looks like a spoon with a hole in it and use the little fork to extract the morsel in garlicky, buttery glory.

Escargot - the perfect light lunch

Escargot – the perfect light lunch

Driving through Beaune, we picked up two bottles of wine. One for dinner, one for a few years hence. About 814, the Emperor Charlemagne ordered the village of Aloxe-Corton to be planted for grapes. That’s a history of wine making.

The first cru, are the vines of the best quality. Sometimes high up on steep hillsides and hard to reach

The first cru, are the vines of the best quality. Sometimes high up on steep hillsides and hard to reach

There are great wines exported to other countries, but one of the fun things in life is to visit a place and find wines that are not exported, are of small volume or consumed locally. Some times that’s finding modern treasure.

celebrate – food

before Easter, we celebrated the birthday of our favorite oldest daughter

a bubbly to start and a red for dinner

a bubbly to start and a red for dinner

We picked up the Chateau La Nerthe visiting France a year ago, it did not disappoint us. The champagne we picked up locally, it was wonderful.

Have a blessed Easter.

a good day to celebrate something – food

Favorite oldest daughter, never to be confused with favorite youngest daughter, stopped by. Read the rest of this entry »

cooper’s hawk winery and restaurant

One of the benefits of my job is lunch with vendors. Read the rest of this entry »

an inpromptu celebration

When they declare you cancer free you don’t really celebrate.  The weight lifted from your weary shoulders lets you stand a bit taller, but the specter of the next scan remains  always in the room, like the echo of war drums just beyond the horizon.    I am glad, but it is a cautiously optimistic glad. At one week, I was still in shock.

So when I returned home to Cleveland after work in Chicago my wife setup a small dinner with my sister Nancy and our friend Nate.  My wife loves to cook, and tries to use local suppliers whenever possible.

We opened a chardonnay from Maple Ridge Winery in Thompson, Ohio, one of our favorite vintners for whites.    We sipped our wine as we enjoyed  goat cheese from Mackenzie Creamery, sesame wasabi or aged chevre on whole wheat crackers with organic carrot slices and kalamata olives.  A bite of goat cheese where the roasted sesame flavor rolls over your tongue, and then the wasabi kicks in.  Follow that with a sip of clean crisp chardonnay, then an olive and carrot to cleanse the palate and repeat.

Too soon the chardonnay is gone, and we move to the table for pasta served with a nice Quinta Do Castro.  This rich velvety Portuguese blend has become our special occasion wine and this doesn’t disappoint.  The 2003 has aged past the tannins  and has a complex bouquet and a rich flavor.  Jan my wife earlier at the Shaker Square Market has stopped by the Ohio City Pasta vendor and brought back fresh handmade pasta from them.  Now prepared with fresh parsley, asparagus, garlic, lemon and bread crumbs instead of  cheese, it comes to the table in a big bowl ready to be served family style.

Our special occasion house wine

I drain the last of the 2003 into Janet’s glass and head back downstairs and return with a 2006.  Let’s compare and share thoughts between years.  The 2006 is early, and although it opens up as I pour it through our aerator, it is not the match of the 2003.  It is still a fine wine, and I am encouraged for my remaining bottles silently waiting for their chance to stand and deliver.  We sit around the table, plates empty thoughts flowing, and I think how fine it is to be free of cancer’s burden.

The world’s woes are destined to fall before us as elbows on the table we laugh and plan.  Out comes dessert ( that wonderful desert with the extra “s” ), fresh strawberries on an Oreo crust and double dark chocolate.  We finish the Quinta, and surprisingly it stands up to the sweet very well.  This will be a wine to be reckoned with I think and it too is gone.

The plates are cleared, and we gravitate back to the table, and Nate produces a small bottle of Woodford Reserve, a fine Kentucky Bourbon.  We bring out the snifters, and the toasts come out.   “Here’s to life and love”,  “Good Friends”… fine meaningful toasts, with a few silly ones poured in, “Ridgeback puppies”, and “Rescue Pittbulls”  and slowly but surely the bourbon yields to our good spirits.

Janet has gone off to bed, and still we sip and pour.  Then Nate is off to sleep it off on the couch and Nancy and I laugh, we drank the youngster under the table.

Only a few more remain, and now Nancy pours and we sit and share, hope fear, how did we ever get this old?  How can I still be that young man, trapped in this shell?  But mostly we share that only siblings know, honest truth between us.

It’s four-thirty and the bottle is empty.  Nancy has left, into the kitchen I carefully tread, and there attack the dishes as a surprise for my wife in the morning.  Humming softly, that old Cat Stephens song “Peace Train”, I remove all the dirt and stains,  so like forgiveness all shiny and clean.   Then it is off to bed for a few hours sleep, and 9:00 I drive for Chicago again.   As I move into bed, I put my hand on my sleeping wife, and think to myself it is  time to live again.

Links to local providers of high quality in the Cleveland area





Links to Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies




an unexpected find

We rise in the morning, and try to quietly leave the hotel, but as our two ridgebacks saunter down the hall we hear, yaps and yips as little dogs detect their freedom and protest, and then bigger dogs catch on, and soon the whole hotel floor is awash in barks.

The drive to the show is short, and the indoor arena is a nicely converted warehouse with show rings, and sandpits for the dogs. Megan and I go off in search of coffee and rolls, and discover a vendor with fresh chocolate croissants. Since I am not a coffee fan, I always choose a cappuccino, caffeine in the smallest amount of coffee. Sitting, savoring the pastry with the dark chocolate center, watching the myriad of different dogs in Spain, life is full of surprises.

Taking a moment before the show to prepare

Bruno takes Scion out before the show, although he has already won his titles, he still likes to go into the ring. Soon the show is over, Lilly has won her points and we are rolling back through the mountains into France with the dogs stretched out in the back of the defender. About lunch time Bruno pulls off the highway and we cruise into a little village. We slowly spin through the little down town while Bruno peers intently into the storefront windows. That’s the one he declares. OK, I think, the one for what. We will eat there he declares.

unassuming, we cruised about and peered in the windows to see where the locals took their Sunday repast

Inside the restaurant is paneled with dark natural paneling, the kind that went out of style in the US in the 1970’s, and it makes the place appear run down, but there are few free seats as the local families are here. Some with little children, some with their white haired grand parents, and some families must cover three or four generations, all enjoying their Sunday meal. Different regions of France claim different specialties and this area has exceptional pork, duck and foie gras. Megan and Bruno decide on the duck and foie gras while I try the foie gras and pigs foot. The meal includes a glass of the house wine, which we graciously accept, not expecting much. It arrives in a small water glass and when I taste it, my mouth curves into a big smile. This is a fine wine, rich and full with a lovely bouquet. Water glass or no, I am looking forward to the rest of the meal.

Foi Gras with an earthy mushroom sauce, delicious pigs foot

We are not disappointed, the foie gras has a mushroom sauce with a rich earthy flavor, the pigs foot is tender, tasting slightly of pickling, and melts on the tongue. Served with potato, I finish the foie gras first, it is so fine it cannot be interrupted, then alternate meat, a bite of bread, and then potato. Intersperse sips of wine, delightful! The others liked the duck, but I do not favor it so I cannot report on it here.

After we finished, cream puffs for desert, tiny pastries filled with fresh whipped cream and topped with powdered sugar.

Three people, about 100 Euros in a little out of the way restaurant that serves as fine a meal as you can hope for.