IPNC Winemaker’s Dinner at Domaine Serene

July 31, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Thursday evening  we attended a pre-IPNC winemaker’s dinner at Domaine Serene Winery. Many of these dinners were available at various wineries and selecting which one to attend was difficult.  We so much enjoyed a visit and VIP Tasting at  Domaine Serene last year that we decided this would be our choice. Domaine Serene is owned by Ken and Grace Evenstad who came to the Northern Willamette Valley Oregon in 1989.

One of the highlights of the evening besides the wonderful food and wine was meeting and chatting for a while with Head Sommelier Dennis Kelly of The French Laundry in Napa.  Yes, that’s right, I’m name dropping.  🙂 

…well…”for a while” might be stretching the truth abit and actually “chatting” is a gross exaggeration.  Ok, ok, I’m going to come clean here, I briefly fawned,  and shamelessly called him a Rock Star and then begged for a photo with him.   But yes, I did meet him. 

On the road approaching the winery

On the road approaching the winery

 
  
It was HOT.  Guests find a sliver of shade for reception on the patio.

It was HOT. Guests find a sliver of shade at the reception on the patio.

The evening began with a reception on the patio overlooking the beautiful scenery of the vineyard.  Upon arrival we were greeted with 2007

Rockblock “Del RioVineyard” Voignier.  Appetizers included:
  • Summer Vegetable Terrine on Thyme Crostini
  • Tartlet of Bay Shrimp and Grapefruit Salad
  • Boudin Blanc, Brioche Bun, Onion Marmalade

Sorry, no pictures, I think at that point I was just trying to “blend”,  but take my word; presentation was wonderful and flavors to match.

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Inside for dinner, our first course, we were served a 2006 “Cote Sud Vineyard”  Chardonnay to pair with:

  • Lobster Flan
  • Summer Black Truffles (they are on top of the flan)
  • Zucchini Blossoms
  • Tomato Vinaigrette

I must say the flavor combination on this plate was exceptional.   I really thought the squash blossom was the star. 

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Moving on to the next course, we were served 2006 “Evenstad Reserve” Pinot Noir.  Our food pairing:

  • Slow cooked, house cured and smoked Pork Belly
  • Borlotti Bean Cream
  • Shallot Confit
  • Roasted Fig

Ok, I’ve never had pork belly before and I’m glad my first experience was this elegant.  I have preconceived notions of a deep fat-fried grease all over your hands and running down your arms situation.   Not the case at all, this was WONDERFUL.   Fabulous flavor with creamy melt in your mouth texture.  At the end of the evening questions from the audience to the chef shed no light on the secrets of this dish, with no more of a clue than “It’s a Louisiana secret”.  Drat!   🙂

Amber

Amber

Next we were served a 2006 “Grace Vineyard” Pinot Noir. 

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Midway through the dinner, Owner Grace Evenstad welcomes the group

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Our next course, served with the above mentioned Pinot:

  • Grilled Filet of New York Steak
  • Sweet Corn, Chanterelles and chive “Tater Tots”

Steak and taters it was not.

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The desert finale a 2005 Rockblock “Seven Hills Vineyard” Syrah served with:

  • Selection of Artisanal Cheeses with Grape Must and Pumpkin Jam

My first experience with cheese and Syrah as a dessert course was at a Penner-Ash winemaker’s dinner last year.  I love the idea and was thrilled to see this on the menu.  Delicious.  I’d like to see a show of hands of those who have eaten, prepared, or even know what “grape must” is.  I’d be lying through my Pinot stained teeth if I said yes to any of the above.   I’ll even take it a step further, I’m not sure I can even point it out on the plate.

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Our Chef for the evening was Kenny Giambalvo from BlueHour Restaurant in Portland.  He and his staff were invited to address the audience at the end of the evening.   He spent quite abit of time talking about and describing each course.  Loved this and hung on every word.  See the tall  smug skinny kid behind and to the right of Chef Kenny…he’s the one we need to hog-tie for that Pork Belly recipe.

More pictures below:

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Where's Waldo?

Where's Waldo?

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Me and my new BFF Dennis Kelly of French Laundry…

well…maybe not BFF’s… 🙂

Crescent Cafe, Afternoon Trip to Wineries and R. Stuart Wine Bar

July 30, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

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Before I dive into writing about the food, wine and events of the INPC, I wanted to post a quick note about our travels on Thursday, starting with the Crescent Cafe.  The waitress at Nick’s Italian Cafe recommended this cafe as “The ONLY place to eat breakfast in McMinnville”.   The quaint, upscale cafe right across the street from Nick’s looked right up our alley.  Nothing extraordinarily unique or fancy-schmancy about the food, just fresh and flavorful with a lovely atmosphere, and great service.

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 Yum, fresh Marionberry Jam

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 Have  you ever seen a more perfect looking omelet?  Farm fresh eggs with bacon, swiss cheese, mushrooms and chives neatly tucked inside.  Served with scrumptious O’brien style potatoes and fresh baked cornmeal molasses toast.

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 We decided to hit a couple of close wineries and our first stop led us to Anne Amie.   Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris – elegant wines that clearly express the unique characteristics of Oregon.  Complimenting the pinot family is old-vine estate Riesling and Müller Thurgau. Their vineyards are located in the rolling hills of the Yamhill-Carlton District and on the steep hillsides of the Chehalem Mountains, both nestled in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Present and tasting while we were there, was the “Prince of Pinot”, a blogger.  So?  You say?  Well, they were pouring this guy all kinds of special Reserve wines and since the bottles were open, we unwittingly reaped the rewards of additional tastings.  In other words, we got extras at no additional charge.   And good ones they were.  We really enjoyed our visit here and have threatened to join their wine club.

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Take a look at the breathtaking views of vineyards  from the tasting room.

022We were thrilled to learn that Lemelson was now open to the public for tastings and located near to Anne Amie.  This was our next stop.  

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I didn’t take many pictures here because we were tasting in a back room due to preparations for their Winemaker’s dinner that evening.  I like Lemelson wines and had actually discovered them here in Denver.

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029Heading back into McMinnville, we had time to kill, so headed downtown to take in some of the shops along 3rd Street.  I was thrilled to see the Farmer’s Market in full swing, so bought some berries to keep in the refrigerator at the apartment. 

After some shopping, we stopped in at R. Stuart Wine Bar which is right next door to Crescent Cafe.  As you can see above, we shared a flight and ordered a small plate off the menu.  We selected Smoked Idaho Trout and Horseradish Cream on Petite Dill Scones.   This was a very tasty combination of flavors, so hometown guinea pigs beware, I will attempt this at home.

Thursday Evening was our winemaker’s dinner at Domaine Serene Vineyards.  There will be a separate post for that event.

Nick’s Italian Cafe, McMinnville, Oregon

July 29, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Nick’s Italian Cafe just may be our favorite restaurant.  Heading to the International Pinot Noir Celebration, we planned an arrival one day early just so we could dine at Nick’s.  We visited Nick’s last year on an Oregon wine tasting trip and the memories of good food, atmosphere and fun were still firmly etched in our memories.   I don’t know what it is about Nick’s, but when you’re there, everyone is having such a good time, lots of laughter and lots of smiles.

We arrived 30 minutes early so that we could enjoy Nick’s Backroom experience.

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 A framed article that appeared in Saveur Magazine proudly displayed on the wall.

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I ordered an Methven Pinot and Bob ordered a frosty and fresh Prosecco.  As we sipped our wine, we watched a group of folks at the next table enjoying Nick’s pizza.  Looked wonderful!!!!  A smaller less formal menu is available in the back room.

023Moving to the front of the restaurant for dinner, we decided on a bottle of 2006 Eyrie Pinot in honor of David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards .  Last summer when we dined at Nick’s, David Lett and family were at the table next to ours celebrating his birthday.  Lett, one of the pioneers of Oregon Pinot, sadly passed away this past year.

After a toast to celebrate the beginning of this year’s Oregon trip, we began the arduous task of studying the menu and making difficult decisions on what to order.  Here’s what we decided on.

First Course:  Antipasti

034Pea Tip Sformato with Pecorino Romano and Fried Mint.  Very adventurous, fabulous flavors and textures.  I found this dish very “high brow”. 

035Pickled Beets with Goat Cheese and Sea Salt.  Delicious and fresh, but not over the top.

Zuppa:

Minestrone with Pesto.  Hands down the best minestrone I’ve ever had.  I guess I didn’t take a picture.  Looking back I assume that I slipped into some sort of slurping coma and forgot.

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Spicy Ceci Bean with Squid and Fresh Herbs.  DEElicious and bursting with flavors.

Pasta:

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Tagliolini with Sea Urchin.  We’ve never eaten Sea Urchin, a unique, one of a kind flavor and we especially liked it.041

Dungeness Crab and Pine Nut Lasagna.  My favorite thing  on the table.

047Insalate:

Mixed Greens with Garlic Rice Wine Vinaigrette

Baby Butter Lettuce with Prosecco Vinaigrette and Herbs

Secondi:

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Steamed Halibut with Cauliflower Puree, Green Beans and Brown Butter

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Lamb Three Ways with Fennel, Arugula, and Castelventrano Olives.   Castelventrano olives are my new favorites.  I didn’t know about them until our local Whole Foods started carrying them a couple of months ago.  Delicious, plus it’s awfully fun to drop them into a conversations when talking about food…I love saying the word and it makes me sound “smart”.  Gosh, sure hope I’m pronouncing it right.  🙂

Everything was interesting, delicious, and adventurous.  I’d have to say we voted our favorites as the Dungeness Crab and Pine Nut Lasagna and the Lamb Three Ways.  Mmmwaaaa – big kiss to Nick’s, we love, love, love this restaurant.

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 Just a couple more pictures of the back room.  This is the cozy little corner table we selected.   I didn’t take any of  the main part of the restaurant.  Didn’t seem appropriate.

There’s An 800 Pound Gorilla In The Room

July 19, 2009 at 10:38 pm | Posted in Beef | 6 Comments
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See it??? 

 Up there on the top shelf??? 

That 55 gallon drum of Pepperoncini.  Why do I do that?  I get to Costco and fall into that  “this giant jar is only 50 cents more than a small jar is going to cost me at Safeway” mentality.  So, there it sits, a menacing nuisance for two years taking up all that space in my refrigerator.

With the exception of flank steak, I don’t usually dress up a thicker cut of steak other than some mild seasonings and the grill.  I found this recipe and it sounded so interesting I decided to give it a try.  Anything with capers grabs my attention   The flavors here are bold and delicious.

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Beef Sirloin with Pepperoncini and Caper Relish

  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak (1 1/4 inches thick)
  • 1/4 C. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon drained capers
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 4 Pepperoncini peppers, seeded and chopped  (gosh, hope I have enough on hand)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a small bowl, combine paprika, sugar salt and pepper.  Pat over steak on both sides. 

In a small skillet, heat olive oil.  Add garlic, onion and sautee until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and keep warm to steep the flavors while you grill the steak.  Cook steak about 7 minutes, turning once.  Meat thermeter should read around 130 for medium rare.  Let steak rest for 5 minutes.  Slice and top with relish.

012For a great summer meal, I usually don’t serve anything more than a fresh green salad with a grilled steak,  however, I did serve this with a tangy and sweet corn relish that I needed to use up, which leads me to another “cute bowl alert”  See below.  We served with a Barossa Valley Glaetzer Shiraz Granache.  Most certainly a big enough wine to stand up to that plate bursting with flavors.

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My cousin Karen found these bowls at T.J. Maxx.  Upon making such a fuss over them at her house, sure enough a birthday present arrived on my doorstep, a box with several of these small servers.  A Polish brand of stoneware, they’re not cheap-cheap, but fairly reasonable.  You just have to keep checking the store to see what new pieces they bring in.

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Grilled Chicken

July 18, 2009 at 9:46 pm | Posted in Chicken, From the Grill | 3 Comments
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I’ll never forget inviting the in-laws over for dinner and my Mother-in-law exclaiming,  “This chicken is pretty good for being burnt”.  Thus started my quest for a recipe that would produce perfectly grilled chicken, EVERY time. 

Don’t you just get flat out grumpy when you’ve slaved over the hot grill, turning,  moving, babying each piece of chicken and just when you think everything is perfect take it to the table and bite into a thigh to find that pinkish, not quite done, weird texture thing going on.  SHUDDER.  And the darn thing looks cooked on the outside. 

Before I go any further, I want to share a simple Montana Vic grilled chicken secret.  Simply baste with Italian Dressing while grilling.  Very good.    Now back to getting each and every piece to come off that grill perfectly cooked without watching it like a hawk. 

Thank you Cathy in Oregon.  I found this recipe on her Noble Pig blog, tried it, and it’s wonderful and I mean “eat like a starved animal” good.  I unwittingly happened upon The Noble Pig blog when I first started my blog and was poking around food blogs to see what other bloggers were doing.    She and her husband have recently moved to Oregon Wine Country and will be starting up their own winery.  I’m loving following her information, a great find for me.  Take a look at www.noblepig.com.  Here”s her recipe and the only thing different is she featured a different bbq sauce:

The Best Grilled Chicken….  Ever!

For the Dry Rub:

1 Tablespoon seasoning salt, any brand
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chile powder
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

003For the Basting Sauce:

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Juice of one lemon
One drop liquid smoke, optional (no more than a drop, it’s concentrated)


007One 4 lb. split-fryer chicken (or one whole chicken cut in half)
Your favorite grilling sauce

My favorite sauce happens to be Bone Suckin Sauce.  You can find it at Whole Foods.  Or go on line:  www.bonesuckin.com

Bone-Suckin-Sauce-Banner-509

First, I always buy a split fryer, a whole chicken that has been cut in half.  I never grill different sized, individual pieces, it’s too difficult to vary the cooking times and the pieces dry out too easily.  Forget them.  A split fryer is the answer to your grilling prayers or buy a whole chicken and cut it in half yourself.

Next, make a dry rub.  You do not want a dry rub with sugar in the list of ingredients.  It will burn.  The dry rub should be spread on the chicken, under and on top of the skin and in every nook and cranny.  Do this three hours prior to grilling.

Also, bring the chicken to room temperature.

Preheat the grill to very high heat, about 500 degrees.  I then turn the middle burner completely off and place the chicken in there while lowering the other two burners, bringing the temperature to 350 degrees.

Next, baste the chicken and close the grill.  Set a timer for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes turn the chicken over and baste again.  Repeat this step every 15 minutes for a total of one hour.  At the last basting, let the chicken cook for only five minutes more.

Using your favorite grilling sauce, baste both sides of the chicken.

After basting with the sauce close the grill and cook for only five minutes.  Not longer, this is when the chicken will burn.  Make sure you have washed your baster or are using a new one to prevent any contamination from residual raw chicken.

Let the chicken rest for at least five minutes before cutting into it.

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HEY, wait a minute – how did those olives get in here?    Oh that’s right, I purchase them everytime I’m at Whole Foods.  Plus I wanted to show off that cute little bowl my friend Cauleen gave me.   This is also a test to see if she’s reading my blog.   🙂

Via Baci Restaurant, Lone Tree (Denver)

July 15, 2009 at 3:21 am | Posted in Denver Area Restaurants | 5 Comments
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A year ago, if you would have told me that my favorite neighborhood restaurant would be stuck in the far east end of the Super Target parking lot in the strip mall at Yosemite and Lincoln, I would have laughed.

I’m not sure I ever would have known about Via Baci  if it wasn’t for our friends Dan and Teri.  Let me tell you a little more about the food.  I couldn’t agree more with the verbiage on their website:  “Via Baci has a passion for fresh, light Italian foods with bold unique flavors”.

I absolutely adore a great salad and Via Baci has one of my favorites.  I love a great pizza, I have never had any quite as good as this.  Looking for a great Angel Hair Pasta or Butternut Squash Ravioli, you’ll find it at Via Baci.    On its own, each dish is perfectly crafted.  

I love their unique pizza.  An authentic Neopolitan pizza with hand pressed thin crust, imported flour directly from the Vesuvius Valley in Italy.  They also make their own mozzarella in house, every day.

A couple of the pizza’s we’ve tried are:

Chicken Bianco:  Oven roasted rosemary chicken, goat cheese, house-made mozzarella, marinated black olives, sun dried tomatoes, scallions and fresh grape tomatoes.

Diavolo:  Spicy hot with San Marzano tomatoes, house-made mozzarella, sopressata salami, pepperoni, pepperoncini, spicy red pepper,  fresh basil.

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This picture is the Chicken Bianco.  The mixture of flavors are superb, and look at that crust!!

One of my favorite salads and usually what I order is:  Wood Roasted Salmon, over mixed baby greens with roasted asparagus spears, marinated tomatoes and sweet balsamic syrup.

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This last visit I ordered the Angus Sirloin Salad:  40 day aged sirloin for premium tenderness and flavor, wood roasted and sliced, over mixed greens with diced egg, capers, scallions, tomatoes and house Dijon ranch dressing.    The capers with the dressing combined with the rest of the flavors are fantastic. 

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The atmosphere is social, lively and family friendly.  The decor is modern and comfortable, and the service is always wonderful.  An all Italian white and red wine list, featuring around 20 – 25 selections, good quality with affordable prices, I think it’s a fabulous little wine list. 

Via Baci has become our choice for many a family and friends meet up destination, whether it be to plan a wine tasting trip to Oregon, celebrate our son’s art gallery opening, or just for no reason at all “let’s meet for dinner”. 

I also need to mention prices are very reasonable, a great value.  Take a look at their website for location and full menu:  www.viabaci.com

Via Baci on Urbanspoon

Let Us Rap About Lettuce Wraps

July 12, 2009 at 7:18 pm | Posted in Chicken | 5 Comments
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Let me thank coo Montana Vic
For a cookbook sent where I found that pic
Hos’ cuke and radish was a staring at me
The chutney in my face yellin’….. stir me in “B”

Ok, so here’s the deal:  I’m not going to run out and go through the lengthy process of copy writing those lyrics, so Eminem, feel free to run with it.  🙂

I love love love this recipe. Montana Vickie sent me a cookbook last winter from the NPR Radio Show, The Spendid Table. So far everything I’ve tried in the book  is really good, but this one! Man oh man. 

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 Almond Chutney Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chicken Salad:

  • 1 purchased 3 pound  roasted chicken
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
  • 9 ounce jar Major Grey Mango Chutney
  • 1/2 C. Mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 large celery stalks, diced
  • 1 cup salted almonds, coarse chopped

First of all, let me say that most roasted chickens that you purchase at a grocery store are not three pounds.  I usually half this recipe for the amount of chicken.  Since weights vary, it might be a good idea to add just enough of the flavor mixture to make the right consistency.  Hope that makes sense. 

Lettuce Cups and Herbs:

  • 1 head Bibb Lettuce leaves separated,, washed and dried
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 bunch Cilantro, washed and dried
  • 8 radishes, thin sliced
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  1. Pull the meat from the chicken, discarding skin and bones.  Cut into small bite sized pieces.
  2. In a large bowl combine the onions, lemon zest and juice,  jalapenos, chutney, mayonnaise and salt and pepper.  Fold in the chicken.  Taste the mix for flavor and adjust to your taste.  Let stand for 20 minutes to blend the flavors, or better yet,  cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. To serve, blend the celery and nuts into chicken mixture.  Mound the salad on one side of the platter, pile up the lettuce leaves on the other, and cluster remaining ingredients in the center.  Tuck the radishes and cucumbers next to the herbs.
  4. Place a few herb leaves in the bottom of a lettuce cup, top with a spoonful of the salad.  Add a slice each of the cucumber and radish.   Roll up and eat.

What a way to eat during the heat of the summer, you didn’t even turn on the oven. 

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Takin’ Care of Business, NoNo’s Cafe Revisited

July 11, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Denver Area Restaurants | 2 Comments
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Thank you Randy Tickle, Colorado State Bank and Trust,  for sending me business, thanks to NoNo’s for being in business so I can take care of business and thank Randy for his business.

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A client appreciation lunch ended up at NoNo’s Cafe in Highlands Ranch. Randy read my blog post about NoNo’s and being the good ol Southern boy that he is, choose NoNo’s for lunch.  Not that he’s new to NoNo’s, he’s been going there for years.

As always, good service greeted us at the door as we were quickly seated near a window.  It’s a bit of a shame that NoNo’s is losing their mountain views due to hotel construction directly to the west.  But if you look carefully you can still glimpse the mountains to the southwest.

017I felt adventurous, so ordered something different.  As soon as I did, I was 2nd guessing my decision and wondering if I should have stuck with my favorite NoNo’s house salad drizzled with NoNo’s delicious homemade Blue Cheese Dressing along with a cup of Shrimp Bisque????  Too late.  I ordered Chicken NoNo.

The dish was bite-sized chunks of chicken swimming in a sweet and spicey tomato sauce served over a bed of angel hair pasta with a side bowl of Maque Choix.  I’d have to say the flavors of the tomato sauce were delicate with just the right kick of spice to make it interesting. 

Randy ordered the Crawfish Pie.  Not much left on his plate, so I’m assuming he enjoyed the selection.  I didn’t take a photo of this since I already have a photo on a previous post.  It’s a house favorite and popular selection.

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As always, NoNo’s brings an offering of bread with that dipping sauce.  What is that stuff?????  I know it’s a spicy oil, but don’t know what the sauce part is.  It is soooooooo good.

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I didn’t  put  this sauce on any of my food, but spotting the bottle on the table decided to take a picture just to add to the Loisiana ambiance of this blog post.  When I looked at the bottle,  the words “Don’t try this at home” came to mind, I also had visions of Sookie and Vampire Bill  sauntering up to the table to ask if I wanted a vile to go.   🙂

NoNo’s was pretty much packed for a mid week lunch.  I’m glad to see them doing so well.  It is a good place to take a client for a casual lunch, as the noise level is perfect for conversation.   As always, don’t leave for home without purchasing a jar of the homemade Blue Cheese Dressing.  Delicious.

 

Cook Up Some Brats for Oscar Mayer

July 9, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Posted in From the Grill, pork | 1 Comment
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Oscar Mayer died at the age of 95.   So in honor, let’s all cook up some sort of wieners, or make a bologna sandwich or something – well, I’m thinkin brats, since I already had them purchased and planned for dinner:

007Simple. Open up your favorite bottle of beer and pour it into your favorite fry pan, heat the beer and poke a few holes in your favorite brand of brats and let them steep in heated beer for about ten minutes.002

004Throw em on the grill and brown them until crispy on the outside. Make sure to watch them so they don’t burn.  Serve them on your favorite bun and with your favorite summer salad. In this case I made a simple broccoli salad, you know the kind, with a sweet/sour mayonnaise based sauce a combination of broccoli florets, sunflower seeds, raisins,  celery, onion etc.  Just toss in what sounds good.  If anyone wants an exact recipe, I can measure ingredients next time I make it.  It’s just vinegar, sugar, mayo, salt and pepper.  I will note here that I like to use seasoned Rice Vinegar, or plain old cider vinegar.

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defaultEnjoy a blast from the past with this Oscar Mayer Television Commercial:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmPRHJd3uHI

Black Vultures and Snickerdoodle Ice Cream

July 6, 2009 at 2:01 am | Posted in Ice Cream | 2 Comments
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Huh?  That’s our story and we’re stickin to it!The bird we didn't see - A Black Vulture

Two days ago, a Black Vulture was sighted at Castlewood Canyon State Park

July 4, 2009.  This is a very rare bird for Colorado with only a handful of records over the years.  We got the phone call yesterday around noon, so we dropped everything and drove over with binoculars and dreams of adding a new bird for our Colorado State list.  Believe me, we’ve seen plenty of Black Vultures in Florida and Texas, but none here.  After a couple hours of scanning the sky and searching through soaring Turkey Vultures, we left the canyon Black Vultureless so decided to be at the park again this morning.  

We wanted to arrive before the temperatures heated up so we could be present for the big lift off.  You see, vultures wait for the warming thermals before taking to the air.  Castlewood Canyon hosts a large number of roosting Turkey Vultures, it seems our guest Black Vulture has fallen in with a bad crowd. 

There were about 16 of us at the Homestead parking lot.  After about an hour we decided to move South to the next parking lot for a better vantage point.  We enjoyed a singing Red-Eyed Vireo, many Bluebirds, lots of calling Spotted Towhees….no Black Vulture.  We stayed at the park from 8:30 – 11:00 scanning the sky, again sifting through Turkey Vulture after Turkey Vulture.  No Black Vulture.  At 11:30 as we were almost home, we got a phone call on my cell alerting us that the bird had been seen.  “We watched it for a good ten minutes”, said Steve.  Another message on our home phone from Larry, who had also given up and headed home said “I don’t know where you guys are, but I’m turning around and heading back”. 

We didn’t turn around and head back, instead I made Snickerdoodle Ice Cream.  I mean com’on Black Vulture – I’ve got a National Holiday to celebrate.

015Snickerdoodle Ice Cream

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Warm the milk in a small pan.  Whisk the eggs with the sugar in a separate bowl.  Slowly add warm milk to sugar mixture continuing to whisk.  Pour mixture back in the pan and heat slowly until thickened, stirring constantly.  It should look like very liquid pudding.  Do not boil!  Let cool to room temperature add cream, vanilla and cinnamon.  Chill overnight.  Follow directions on ice cream maker for churning.

 

 

Here are some pictures from the missed Black Vulture Event:

Waiting and Watching

Waiting and Watching

 

A view from the parking lot

A view from the parking lot

Our little dog Chili - eyes to the sky from his chair

Our little dog Chili - eyes to the sky from his chair

 

We’ll try again tomorrow morning for the Black Vulture.

July 5, 2009.  We arrived at Homestead Parking lot in Castlewood Canyon at about 9:00.  Our location was to watch for from the parking lot, Loch was stationed on the North end of the park, and Larry had climbed to the top of the ridge, we’re all armed with cell phones.  So the wait began.  Several of us present chatted about recent birding adventures, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak was seen, A Gray Catbird sang for us and finally the cell phone rang with news of the bird on the Southern horizon.  Sure enough, we found the bird and watched it for a good ten minutes.   Third times a charm!

 

Snickerdoodles on Foodista

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