A few days have passed but HG is still happy to be back home in New Mexico. Arrived the night before Thanksgiving and glad to be out of the auto and sipping vodka before the flames in the fireplace. While motoring through New Mexico on the last leg of the journey from Vancouver, HG/BSK stopped at Bode’s General Store in Abiquiu (very close to the Georgia O’Keeffe home). Picked up Italian parsley, milk, orange juice, yogurt, etc.. Bode’s is a unique county store with meandering shelves that contain everything from De Cecco pasta to hunting knives, ammo, tools and other essentials for the rugged life. In contrast, the freezer has a surprising variety of gourmet gelatos. BSK made a very comforting homecoming dinner of spaghetti in a savory sauce of tomatoes, tuna,capers, garlic, olive oil, anchovies and chopped parsley. Toby, The Wonder Dog, was glad to reunite with HG/BSK but slightly bemused about all the changes inn his doggy life.
For the first time in 53 years of marriage, HG/BSK were alone for the traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner. No children, grandchildren, relatives or friends. Just HG and BSK in New Mexico. No cooking for BSK. Thoughtful house sitter left an entire traditional feast in the refrigerator: Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes with walnuts, squash, gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. All very good. HG/BSK had leisurely swims in their heated lap pool. Pre-dinner drinks before the fireplace. Flickering candles on the table. A very good bottle of 10-year-old Spanish Tempranillo. Music. Intimate and romantic dinner as HG/BSK reflected on their good fortune in having a wonderful family that is a source of continual joy. (Plus, of course, the companionship of Toby, The Wonder Dog).
The high rise glass and steel tower, which is HG/BSK’s temporary residence. in Vancouver has a 350-foot pool and a whirlpool hot tub. A big fitness center with scores of varied exercise machines. So, this morning, HG swam one mile and BSK ran, cycled, stretched, etc.. Yes, it is imperative to exercise in Vancouver because the lure of great food is omnipresent. Here are some of the food experiences HG/BSK have enjoyed: Picked up a slab of pheasant pate plus some unctuous duck liver and truffle pate; jambon de Paris and cornichons at Oyama in the Granville Island Public Market. A baguette and grape bread (for breakfast) from Terra Bread and lush Winnipeg cream cheese from the Market’s cheese counter. Oyama is owned and run by French-Canadians and their pates, rillettes, terrines, sausages, hams, etc. beat anything offered in Paris. Vancouver, of course, is a very Asian city so HG/BSK tried a new Vietnamese restaurant, Mr. Red Cafe, in the Kitsilano neighborhood. This is North Vietnamese cooking with many different menu items than the usual cuisine offered in Vietnamese restaurants in the United States. HG/BSK enjoyed crisp-skinned “Turmeric Fish” and mango salad. Went back to Peaceful Restaurantfor a lunch of spicy Dan Dan Noodles and lamb dumplings. These dumplings are very much like traditional soup dumplings. The diner takes a little nibble and drinks the broth before eating the cumin scented lamb. Returned to Congee Noodle House on a rainy day for comforting mushroom and scallop congee. Congee Noodle Hose still makes great congee but the other offerings have gone downhill. Sad. However, the predominantly Asian customers seemed to be relishing various noodle dishes. So, if you get there, confine yourself to congee and noodles. Wide noodles with prawns looked good.
BSK’s show of her hand crafted, one-of-a-kind ceramic vessels, sculptures, expressions and masks was attended by enthusiastic friends, collectors and dealers. Show was at Karen C.’s beautiful Vancouver town house. Much good food. And, generous Jamie S., the co-host, was lavish in pouring a lovely rose, a flavorful white and a robust red. HG/BSK met old friends from HG/BSK’s days in Vancouver when HG/BSK owned a series of lofts and a modernist town house. Conversed with new acquaintances and were pleased to welcome Adam and Meredith C.. Adam is the son of two of HG/BSK/s favorite people, Antony and Claudia C.. Young Adam looks like and sounds like his distinguished Dad. Meredith is a clever sparkler. BSK made some sales, evoked interest from dealers and was questioned about doing custom pieces. A wonderful day that began at 11AM. HG/BSK reluctantly left at 10:30 PM. Jamie was still pouring. Karen was still full of energy and the joyous group was still laughing as tired HG/BSK left. Among the pleasures of the day, besides the joie de vivre of Canadians, was the presence of Kaiser, Jamie’s delightful frisky (but well behaved) Havanese. Made up for the absence of Toby, The Wonder Dog, HG/BSK’s New Mexico companion.
Vij’s is one of the ornaments of Vancouver. It is an Indian fusion restaurant and as close to being perfect as any eatery can be. It was located on 14th Avenue just east of Cambie. When HG/BSK were part time Vancouver residents for some ten years, HG/BSK ate there at least once a week. No reservations. HG/BSK would join a line waiting for the 5:30 PM opening. Only way to get seated without a long wait. Vij’s has moved some blocks south on Cambie into a much larger, luxurious space with perfect lighting and acoustics. As always, there is lovely blend of warm, attentive service and restaurant professionalism. Founder/owner Vikram Vij has always promoted wine as the right accompaniment for his food. This is reflected in a new, vast wine list. Many affordable bottles and rare vintages for high flying oligarchs. HG/BSK drank Beaujolais Villages and dined on grilled vegetables in a mung bean curry; ling cod in a tomato based sauce; Vij’s signature dish of pink lamb “popsicles” in a cream curry. Warm naan slicked with a variety of spices and basmati rice. Palate cleansing kulfi and a creative Indian version of carrot cake were the desserts. Opulent meal. Memorable.
Tojo’s, located on Broadway in Vancouver’s Fairview neighborhood, has long been acknowledged as one of the best Japanese restaurants in North America. Perfect place to celebrate HG’s 87th birthday. Yes, the political situation in the United States is dismal. However, HG/BSK have much to be thankful for. HG remains reasonably healthy, active. Appetite is robust. Love for BSK is sustaining. HG is grateful to have a brilliant, humane, talented family. So, political woes were left behind as HG/BSK feasted at Tojo’s. Tuna tataki on a bed of shaved daikon. Baked oysters (indescribably delicious). Age tofu (perfectly fried cubes of lush, creamy tofu). Unagi on fluffy rice. Baked Pacific sablefish (black cod) with “Tojo’s special marinade”. Unusual Japanese version of creme brûlée for dessert. Drank a pleasant French sauvignon blanc. Lovely evening.
Oh, joy. HG/BSK are in Vancouver, the beautiful, cosmopolitan city in the land of liberty–Canada. Living in a high floor of a glass and steel tower adjacent to the city’s hockey stadium, home of the Vancouver Canucks. Wonderful views of skyscrapers and city lights plus a little terrace facing the mountains and English Bay. Good workout area (BSK’s domain) plus a 350-foot long pool and whirlpool (HG’s hangout). Exercise is necessary since Vancouver is food city of renown. The Asian food is the best on the continent. On arrival, HG/BSK dined at Congee Noodle House. Bowls of steaming congee with sliced scallops and mushrooms. Small plates of “Chef’s Special Chicken”, barbecued duck and, for HG, pork and shrimp wontons. Next day went shopping on Fourth Avenue in the Kitsilano neighborhood. (The most beautiful women in Vancouver shop on this lively avenue)). Lunched at Peaceful Restaurant. Szechuan Ma Po Tofu and string beans with shredded pork. Very tasty with restrained notes of heat and oil. Beautiful, well designed place. Election gloom is beginning to lift from HG/BSK.
Yes, Trumpland is a very strange land. HG/BSK have just completed a three day road trip to Vancouver, B.C.. Glad to be in HG/BSK’s favorite Canadian city (HG/BSK were part time residents for more than 10 years). HG/BSK’s drive took HG/BSK through some of the most exciting landscapes in North America (Utah’s Canyonlands; Washington’s Yakima Valley; the rivers and hills of Oregon; the mountains, waters and low hanging clouds of the Seattle area). Sadness. The land is beautiful but, unlike Canada, liberty has screeched to a halt. Der Trumperer has been quite nasty about Mexicans. However, when it comes to their tummies, his mindless hordes are lovers of Mexican cooking. At every gas station exit on the major highways, there is a taco chain restaurant. Indeed, the taco seems to be running neck and neck with the hamburger as traveling America’s favorite food. Pizza is a distant third (according to HG’s highway observations). HG/BSK stopped for chicken enchiladas with tomatillo sauce at Chavalos in Mancos, Colorado. Good stuff. Sweet service. BSK steered into the Mexican part of town in Yakima, Washington. The brilliant woman (who has developed a talent for spotting down home road food) parked at Taco El Grande. Real Mexican food. No concessions to the gringos. BSK had a fabulous cheese and pork quesadilla with tomatillo sauce. HG had carne adovado and lengue (tongue) tacos. Home made corn tortillas. Drank ice cold Mexican pineapple soda. Perfect. Thanks, BSK.
HG/BSK’s dear friend, the late Michael Small (very much missed) introduced us to Delsomma Restaurant on New York’s W. 47th Street (long closed and also missed). Michael was a talented composer and pianist and had wide ranging erudition (plus he was very amusing). You’ve heard Michael’s music since he composed the scores of numerous movies and television shows. HG/BSK dined with Michael and his wife, Lynn, after the premiere of “Marathon Man” (Michael composed the score for the movie which starred Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier). And, it was at that dinner that HG/BSK first tasted penne with broccoli sauce. Since then it has become one of BSK’s signature dishes. It’s a “go to” dinner when HG/BSK need comfort. Best of all, BSK makes enough for dinner two nights in a row. BSK cooks the penne very al dente for first night. Reheats beautifully (penne softens) in the microwave for second night. One of BSK’s original riffs is to shower the bowls at table with cubes of mozzarella and fresh tomato. HG gilds the bowl with Sicilian olive oil. BSK opts for grated parmigiano. At each of the meals, HG/BSK raise their glasses of pinot noir and drink a toast to the memory of Michael Small.
The insane election race is done and HG rests in a nest of anxiety and gloom. Thus, it is a joy to find a new, life enhancing restaurant. And, that is what Bodega Prime is all about. Located on San Felipe Road (off Cerrillos) in Santa Fe, Bodega Prime (breakfast and lunch only) is a restaurant, deli and caterer. The space is light and open with views of the kitchen staff preparing the edibles. On the walls are carefully curated kitchen accessories: Cutting boards, knives, salad bowls, napkins, dish towels, etc. (HG/BSK picked up a few things for Christmas presents.)
The food is organic, locavore and creative. Joined for lunch by neighbor Karen K. (The Dessert Queen), all had the pulled pork sandwich, tall glasses of an exceptional fruit drink. Shortbread cookies for dessert. The sandwiches were abundant, underlined by an unusual chutney and made fiery with house made kimchi. HG eyed a couple having appetizing tuna melts. Yes, tuna melts. Not ordinary. Bodega Prime makes a confit of fresh tuna in a flavorful olive oil and spice mix. Must get back to Bodega Prime for breakfast. HG hears the waffles are a special treat.