Thursday, August 29, 2013

Linden Vineyards

I haven't been feeling well of late—a herniated disk in my back impinging on my sciatic nerve has been causing major grief—and so Sunday was a designated rest day. But somehow the damned dogs decided that 7am was a great time for hijinks and our day was rolling then, rest be damned, like it or not. It's hard to hate the little bastards when they are all wiggly and oh-so-happy to see you all the time. But it is hard to love them at 7am on my one day off a week.

Nonetheless, we're all coffeed up and have accomplished a prodigious amount of yard work by 10am. The weather was so damned nice, it just enticed us into the back yard, and from there, well, let's just say that a lot of weeds needed pulling. Fall weather this spectacular—clear, cool, and imperceptibly humid—comes never at the tail end of August when by all rights, it should be blazingly hot and chokingly humid.

As we were winding down weeding the garden (euphemism for Ann yanking out all the rogue fennel that she finds detracting and I find charming; she needs to impose her will on the garden; it just cannot be to do what it will), I felt the need to get out and away from the house and just experience this beautiful day. It dawned on me that we haven't been to Linden Vineyards since the library tasting in January. I feel drawn to that place especially on a gorgeous day, because it is one of the most beautiful places in this part of the world. Spectacular weather deserves a spectacular locale. And a spectacular bottle of wine.

Spectacular View; Spectacular Wine

For the spectacular bottle of wine, I chose the 2009 Hardscrabble Red, which we had with a slab of Grayson cheese from Meadow Creek Dairy and some local whipped (but pretty flavorless) goat cheese. This particular Grayson, a Taleggio/Livarot-style washed rind cheese, was pretty young and not quite as funky as we like it. Still, some Grayson is better than no Grayson.

This One Never Has Any Fun!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sunday Grazing

Last Sunday, Ann and I indulged in our annual ritual of attending the Greek Festival at the local Greek church. Compared with years past, it was a rainy and somber affair. We usually have a big crew with us and while we have a blast and many bottles of cheap Greek wine are consumed, it is the after-party at our house that has caused many a person to regret having to go to work the following morning! But this year, things didn't turn out that way and I am really OK with it. I have a herniated disk in my back that is putting a damper things and a quiet Sunday is a good Sunday. We ended up meeting my daughters there and having gyros, baklava, and galaktoboureko under the big tent in the pouring rain and catching up with them until they had to go.

Knowing that it would be just the two of us afterwards back at home (the 14-year old is not speaking to us now and is certainly not socializing with us), Ann and I had discussed earlier in the week making a batch of fresh mozzarella and having that with tomatoes.

Olives, Tomatoes, Salame, Goat Cheese, Oh My!
Well, as you can see, it didn't turn out that way because Saturday at the market, Suzanne from Shepherd's Whey Creamery delivered one of her Valençay-style cheeses to me, one that she had been keeping and aging for me. And it was perfectly soft and ready to eat, so we scrapped the mozzarella idea in favor of the goat cheese. While I was resting my back on the sofa, Ann put together this delicious board of olives, tomatoes (yellow, green, and black), salame, and the goat cheese. What you don't see here is her wonderful loaf of sage bread to go with. It was awesome!

This Goat Cheese is Nasty! Yum!
And so we settled in with a movie and grazed our way through a rainy Sunday afternoon. Life is good!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

BLT Reprise

This isn't the first post I've made about BLTs here: last summer saw Ann's indoctrination into the BLT sandwich club. And it is that time of year again, almost down to the day. Last night for dinner, I toasted great bread while Ann fried bacon. Et voilà!


The King of Sandwiches

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Vegan Feast

Some weeks ago, shortly after announcing that she had gone vegan, Yael invited us to dinner. Although I cook my share of creative vegan meals at the restaurant, I don't really get the whole vegan thing. I enjoy hard cheeses and pork way too much for that, though otherwise I could be very comfortably a vegetarian. Still, I have no problem eating vegan especially when the food is made by such a gifted cook as Yael! After you look these pictures, you will see the vast effort that she underwent to put on this dinner (and the resulting food for an army)!

Very soon after we arrived at their place out in the county just northwest of Winchester, we were ushered into the dining room with the table set thus:

Add caption
I did have to give Yael a little grief about the beautifully set table. If the meal is vegan, why is the table set with steak knives? ;)

Oregano, Zinnias, Thyme, and Sage Decorated the Table

Hummus and Salad with Sesame-Sunflower Seed Pita

Spaghetti with Carrot and Zucchini Ribbons

Asparagus Tips Wrapped in Grated Parsnips Rolled in Beet Slices

Dolmades!

Eggplant

Spinach in Pastry

Mushroom Cigarettes
I loved everything! My favorite dish of the day would have been the eggplant, though with its filling of ground cashew nuts, it was too rich for me to eat much of it. And the beet dish has my chef brain working overtime.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bucatini with Shrimp, Mussels, and Chorizo

This was the weekend from hell. I came down with horrendous flu-like symptoms Saturday night, thankfully just after dinner service ended, that left me violently shivering in bed despite wearing as many clothes as I could find and that left me on the edge of nausea for hours. TMI, I know, so bottom line: our paella party that I had been looking forward to for weeks and scheduled for Sunday afternoon went up in flames. [You don't want to know about my Monday morning when Ann schlepped me to the ER with sacroiliac joint issues to the point where I couldn't walk.] Suffice it to say that we were sitting on a load of perishable shrimp and mussels on Monday night and needed to find a way to use them.

I was barely up to cooking and so I let Ann decide what to do for dinner. She wanted red sauce with shrimp and mussels over pasta. Easy enough because I already had onions, tomato pulp, and a parsley-garlic slurry all ready for the paella that was not to be. I made the sauce (at which point Ann decided she wanted chorizo in it, so I put some of the paella chorizo in) and once it was nearly cooked, threw in the shrimp and mussels, covered the pan, and let the seafood steam on top of the reducing sauce.

Shrimp and Mussels

Annie Serving up Bucatini

It was really terrible. You might imagine that this would be a huge quantity for two people and you'd be right. I forgot to mention that we also had two 14-year old boys to help, and that this quantity is really but a pittance for them.