November 27th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG delights in BSK’s quick and simple pasta dishes. Tonight, HG roasted some tomatoes. Mixed them with onions, garlic, parley and anchovies. Added some pasta water and cooked it down to a flavorful sauce. With a dusting of parmesan and red pepper flakes and glasses of Georges Duboeuf’s 2019 Beaujolais Nouveau, you’ve got a feast. BSK also makes a perfect dish of linguine aglio e olio (oil and garlic). The garlic is browned and never burnt. Parsley is chopped adroitly. (Sometimes BSK adds anchovies, the little fish that makes everything taste better). HG is fond of BSK’s bowl of Garafolo orzo mixed with mushrooms, garlic, onions and a bit of chicken stock. (Parmesan on top, of course). Must mention that tomatoes are not in season now, so roasting them is the way to go. When beefsteak tomatoes are ripe (the best are from New Jersey), BSK cuts them into chunks and covers pasta with the raw, juicy goodness (Often adds fresh mozzarella). Top flight extra virgin olive oil. Sea salt. Ground black pepper. Quick, simple and a glimpse into heaven.


November 25th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG sees no benefit in drinking high priced vodka. The taste difference between the posh stuff and lower-priced brands is very slight, says HG. So, HG is perfectly content to drink Smirnoff, Skyy, Svedka, etc. They are the base for HG’s pre-dinner, after exercise cocktail. Lots of ice. Lots of lime (or lemon) juice. A dash of Campari. Generous pour of vodka. Happy drink. Sometimes HG has a Negroni (inexpensive Jim Beam bourbon, sweet vermouth, dash of dry vermouth, Campari). After dinner, HG sips modestly priced Presidente Brandy from Mexico (HG adds some New Orleans Peychaud’s Bitters). None of this means that HG doesn’t relish gifts of pricey spirits. With characteristic generosity, Viki Freeman (wife of nephew Paul Freeman), gave HG a memorable 90th birthday gift: Suntory Hibiki Japanese Harmony Whisky. Liquid gold in a beautiful bottle. It is HG’s once a week special treat. As for wine, BSK is the expert. The Wonder Woman manages to put splendid bottles on the dinner table. Modest prices and lush, mouth filling tastes.

Great Food At A Holiday Inn? Yes!

November 24th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is not kidding. HG/BSK stayed at Holiday Inn Suites & Express at Denver International Airport (going to Vancouver and coming back from Van). HG/BSK are fond of Holiday Inns for their comfy mattresses, toilets and showers that do their jobs expertly. But, food? Usually ranges between bad, flavorless and execrable. So, imagine HG/BSK’s surprise when the duo dined at the Inn’s Tower Tap Restaurant and Grill. Some sixteen beers on tap (all good). Here are some the dinner dishes HG/BSK ate with delight. Grilled asparagus. Mac and Cheese (lush and al dente). Colorado Green Chili Pork Stew (as tasty as the best New Mexico product). Very innovative “Maria’s Street Tacos”. These tacos are stuffed with carnitas, sliced radish, chopped onions, cotija. Garnished with cilantro and flavorful salsa. Taco heaven. Dessert was Chocolate Pot de Creme with whipped cream. Before leaving, HG/BSK had ample breakfasts. For BSK, a cheesy breakfast burrito. For HG, a big stack of pancakes. Both dishes were excellent and so large that HG/BSK didn’t have to stop for food during the six hour drive back to HG/BSK’s New Mexico home. Only one complaint. BSK insisted on a bottle of Argentine Alamos Malbec with dinner. Cost: $35. Total Wine in Santa Fe sells the same wine for $6.97. Super, super mark up.

Back to the Land of Enchantment

November 21st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Flight from Vancouver to Denver and subsequent drive to HG/BSK’s New Mexico home was smooth and efficient. Home was neat and clean (thanks, house sitter/pal Vicki B.). After feasting in Rain City, HG didn’t find home cooking a letdown. Wonder Woman BSK put tasty dishes on the dinner table. Linguine with a puttanesca sauce. Roast spatchcocked chicken. Pho with shredded chicken breast (no, not as good as Anh and Chi, but lush, nourishing and a taste treat). Big rare lamb chops (from Atkins Ranch in New Zealand) accompanied by quinoa cooked with sweet peas and HG’s yogurt sauce. With El Parasol Restaurant (and its magical green chile menudo) a few minutes drive from home, HG is a happy New Mexico gourmand.

Anh & Chi: The Best!

November 19th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Anh and Chi Vietnamese Restaurant may be the best restaurant in North America. Anh and Chi means brother and sister, and that’s who own and run it. Located on Main Street in the trendy Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, it has an interior of cutting edge modernism and a waitstaff that is amiable and deft. And, it’s got an inspiring history. The Phuong brother and sister had a grandmother that owned a Saigon restaurant that was a favorite of artists, musicians and intellectuals. Their mother and father were refugees (the so-called boat people) who left Vietnam in 1983. They opened a small noodle shop in Vancouver, B.C. It later expanded into Pho Huang Vietnamese Restaurant, a bustling down-home place. They ran it for 33 years before turning it over to their children. Total renovation. New menu featuring an innovative, creative, contemporary Vietnamese cuisine. There are no reservations. Lines can stretch around the block during popular lunch and dinner times (HG/BSK ate there at 3PM and the wait was minimal). Obviously, a spectacular success. Okay, let’s talk about the dazzling food HG/BSK relished: Grilled skewers of prawns, eggplant, tofu, okra, pork, chicken, baby squid, beef. Crisp spring rolls (Cha Gio Chay) vertically sliced to easily absorb condiments before being wrapped in lettuce leaves. Mind-blowing chicken wings in chili fish sauce. (Forget Buffalo wings. These are the best HG/BSK ever tasted). Banh Mi pork sandwiches on fresh baguettes. (tasty melange of meat and fresh and pickled vegetables). “Tossed Noodles,” a rice noodle dish with pork, prawns, bean sprouts and other veggies enriched with a zesty sauce. Pho, of course. Ultimate broth. Al dente noodles. Rare slices of beef. Super fresh vegetables and leafy garnishes. Pho that dreams are made of. Sadly, this Pho will make all other restaurant versions seem insipid. Excellent wine and beer list. A new and inventive dessert every day. Anh and Chi was the dining climax of HG/BSK’s one week stay in Vancouver (BSK’s gift to HG on his 90th birthday). HG advice: Get on a plane to Vancouver and eat soley at Anh and Chi for a week.

Vancouver Bliss

November 18th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK’s 90th birthday gift to HG has been a week in HG/BSK’s favorite city. Beautiful, politically progressive Vancouver, B.C.. Diverse and Asian, Vancouver is filled with fit and handsome people (folks who can afford the astronomical housing prices). And, a paradise for aficionados of Chinese, Japanese and other Asian food (seems to have more sushi shops per capita than Tokyo). Adroit BSK found a splendid apartment with sea and mountain views. And, on the second floor of the building is a heated indoor pool plus a hot tub with powerful massage jets. The pool/hot tub has been HG’s private spa domain since no one but HG seems to use the facility. So, after a yogurt and coffee breakfast, HG is alone in the sun-kissed pool, paddling with joy, for 30 minutes or more. Then, into the hot tub for ten minutes of relaxation. Weather has been good so there have been visits to scenic Stanley Park and walks along English Bay. The shopping streets in Vancouver have not been turned over to the chains. Many Mom and Pop operations plus fashion shops of all kinds. Browser heaven. Such activity makes HG want traditional Chinese food. The go-to spots have been Peaceful Restaurant in the Kitsilano neighborhood and Congee Noodle House In the now fashionable Mt. Pleasant nabe. Congee Noodle House was HG/BSK’s takeout standby when the duo lived a block away. It remains lusty, down to earth and inexpensive. Bright and cherry, Peaceful has a number of branches throughout Van but the Kitsilano venue seems to be the winner. Here are some of the dishes HG/BSK enjoyed: Cumin lamb with noodles (noodles come in two sizes, round and flat). Wontons in chili oil. Pan fried pork dumplings. Szechuan string beans. Braised garlic eggplant with pork. Chive pockets (stuffed with chives, vermicelli, and shrimp). Food is wonderful, noodles are heavenly and the portions are huge. At Congee Noodle, HG/BSK ate braised fish with vegetables; wontons in broth; dumplings in spicy sauce. Steamed chicken. Barbecue pork. And, of course, congee. One version with chopped oysters and ground pork and another with Chinese mushroom and sliced scallops. Congee is the empress of the food comfort world.

Vancouver Thai

November 17th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Too often Thai food in the USA consists of dishes that either numb your mouth, leaving a dizzy head or sweet, mushy noodles in a gloppy sauce. ( Pad Thai is often the culprit. When done well, it is a master class in contrasting textures and flavors; unfortunately in our faltering democracy the dish is often just cloying) So, imagine the surprises HG/BSK faced at Maenam, a beautifully designed, very innovative Thai restaurant on Fourth Avenue in the Kitsilano neighborhood of Vancouver. Dinner was a reunion with HG/BSK’s pal of some 20 years, Jamie S.. He’s a Van native and a splendid foodie companion. Haven’t seen Jamie for a few years so there was catching up. Some good news and some grim. Jamie did the ordering. Crispy corn salad. Roasted chicken salad with toasted rice powder and fried shallots. Grilled Thai sausage with crispy rice. Eight spice fish caramelized with tamarind and palm sugar. BSK drank chilled rose. Jamie and HG drank Bamboo Hustles, potent gin-based cocktails. Dessert maintained delicious creativity. Coconut cream over sliced coconut and coconut ice cream. Fitting climax to a dinner of unusually spiced, light, tantalizing dishes. HG/BSK never tasted Thai food like this. A revelation.

Granville Island Public Market

November 16th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

This is the best public market HG has ever visited. Number two is the one in Barcelona. Tokyo (and Kyoto) have great markets but HG finds them too overwhelming. The Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver, B.C., has Oyama, the extraordinary French Canadian sausage, charcuterie, and cheese store (there are three more cheese places in the market, all splendid). There are butchers, fishmongers, bakers, candy makers; spice, coffee and tea specialists; fruit and produce vendors and more. Much, much more. HG/BSK visited to purchase the makings for dinner at home. (details to follow later in this post). HG/BSK’s Vancouver day started with exercise, swimming, and hot tub relaxation. Then, off to Vancouver Art Gallery for a Cindy Sherman retrospective. The show displayed the art museum’s expertise in lighting and mounting a show. The work of this innovative, original woman captivated HG/BSK. Highlight for HG/BSK was the group of photos entitled “Elderly Women.” Somehow, using her own face and body as the model — alongside makeup, costumes, sometimes prosthetics — Ms. Sherman manages to capture the societal pressures (and the deep neurosis as a result) placed upon aging women to pursue “looking young.” Before the gallery visit, HG/BSK had a brunch at Peaceful Restaurant, a very good Chinese restaurant on Fourth Avenue in the Kitsilano neighborhood. Braised eggplant. Szechuan string beans. Cumin lamb with noodles. Wontons in chili oil. Great food served deftly in a pretty room. The Market dinner at night consisted of duck rillettes, pheasant terrine, country pate, Italian and French ham, Greek salad, cornichons, English mustard. Italian truffle cheese, brie de meaux, Winnipeg cream cheese, fresh figs. HG started the festive dinner with Dutch herring and icy vodka. French baguette from Terra Bakery. Lots of the fabulous pinot noir BSK discovered at Vij’s. Another joyous Vancouver day.

Vancouver Day 2

November 14th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Misty day in Vancouver (not a surprise) so a hearty brunch at Congee Noodle House seemed in order. Chinese mushroom and sliced scallop congee, a dish consumed by HG on an almost daily basis when HG/BSK resided at Cornerstone, a loft building less than 100 yards away. A steaming bowl of comfort to share. BSK ordered steamed chicken with a ginger/garlic/parsley condiment. For HG there was a bowl of broth with eight plump and juicy shrimp dumplings floating in it. Food at Congee Noodle is high quality. Prices are very low. How do they manage? Dinner was at Kishimoto, a lively, inventive Japanese restaurant on Commercial Drive. Lush uni sushi. Tuna belly roll. Rare duck breast with soba noodles and broth. Broiled unagi on rice in a hot earthenware pot. A comfort food supreme: Homemade silken tofu in a warm broth with mushrooms and vegetables. Obeying the cliche, “You only live once”, HG drank a bottle of chilled premium sake with a chaser of Sapporo beer. Since HG had a lusty vodka cocktail before dinner, HG left Kishimoto with spirits high and legs wobbly.

Vancouver Delights

November 13th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Knowing HG’s love for Asian food, BSK marked HG’s 90th birthday by arranging a one week stay in North America’s capital of ethnic dining, Vancouver, B.C.. Nov. 9th birthday dinner was at Vij’s, the trailblazing Indian fusion restaurant. Spicy eggplant appetizer. Then shared savory black cod in broth followed by the restaurant’s specialty: “lamb popsicles”. These are delicate chops from a rack of lamb nestled in a delectable cream sauce made lively with a host of Indian spices. Sommelier BSK ordered a bottle of Tantalus Pinot Noir 2017 from British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. HG fell in love with this wine. HG sipped and sipped with eyes closed. Fabulous. The Royal Highness of Pinots. Thanks, BSK, for displaying one more of your prodigious talents.

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