Saturday, August 26, 2006

Wine Country Bliss . . .

When Ander is not busy in the garden, this is what he does best.

"Road Through Autumn Vineyard" . . . ©ander. All rights reserved.

We are off to a weekend wedding event that is taking place at a family estate vineyard in the Northern Sacramento Valley. Rob Kirkpatrick is a long time friend of Ander's. They were neighbors when their families lived in Los Altos Hills. The David Packard family estate was just up the road from their homes. When Ander and I were married, Rob flew his plane into San Diego to join us at our wedding celebration. We wish Rob and Kim the best of wedded happiness.

This is our wedding gift for the lovely newlyweds.

"The Wedding Gift" . . . ©ander. All rights reserved.

Have a great weekend!

Life if a banquet, my friends.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Heirloom Tomato Fest . . .

"First Tomato Harvest of 2006" . . .

"Tomato Garden" . . .

Today was the first day of a real tomato harvest. Not just one tomato here, another over there, but full on picking from more than one plant. We have over 64 heirloom tomato plants total! According to Ander, this bounty will be "just enough" for the family and some selected friends. LOL! He loves that fact that we have such an abundance. Since most of plants are heirlooms, they are best eaten fresh and don't really withstand preserving. Most are a high-moisture, low-acid content. But for our season's purpose, we put up a handful of jars. We still contact local tomato farmers to order several bushels for the "true" canning project.

"Insalata Caprese" . . . The upper left tomato slices are of "Black Krim" and the slices nestled between mozarrella are "New Ladies". Caprese was dressed with a drizzle of cold first pressed extra virgin olive oil, fleur de sel and fresh cracked black pepper. Basil leaves garnished the dish and added the essential herbal backnote.

In honor of my sister,LJ, who loves to walk through the garden and snack on the vittles, I made a Caprese salad to compliment our al fresco dining last night. Nothing fancy, just simple. Sliced tomatoes, basil, fresh mozarrella cheese and a fine quality cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. I noticed fresh "burrata" was going for $14.99 for a mini-diameter sphere at our local market. I think I'm gonna make my own. Fodder for a future post...hmmmm.

"Cherokee Purple" . . . Ander's proud and joy!

"New Ladies" . . .

"Green Zebra" . . . How do you know when the "Green Zebra" is ready? We pick them when there's just a kiss of sunshine yellow on their shoulders.

"Russian Black" . . .

"A basket to fill . . ."

"New Filly wants to join the Fest". . . She's only a few weeks old and has grown beside the tomato garden. She keeps hoping for a hand-out, but it's a No, No .

Life is a banquet, my friends.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Block Party #13 . . . Wave the Heatwave Bye-Bye

Lucky Number 13! No cooking allowed!

Good Ol' Stephanie over at "Dispensing Happiness" suggested this theme to accommodate and grant us some mercy from the recent heat spell across the nation. You won't get any rants from me about "global warming". Our "Once-upon-a-time Next President-to-be" Al Gore has done an excellent job of edifying and enlightening us to this "FOR REAL" phenomenon. If you haven't seen the Film and Documentary "An Inconvenient Truth", run, don't walk, to go see it. Don't have a ticket? Send me an email, I'll send you the ticket.

Steph wants our appetizers and cocktails to be made without the use of the stove, or oven - with some loose acceptions.

She wants fresh, simple, un-cooked ingredients to be used.

So off to the deli and farmers market I go. A tisket, a tasket, I'm gonna fill my basket...

How about some smoked turkey and chipotle aioli wraps? Way too easy with a capital - thumbs up. No brainer on this one. Take one flat, flavored, flour torilla. Spread the chipotle aioli on the flat tortilla. Lay a couple of slices of smoked turkey flat on tortilla. Lay a slice of cheese ( your choice or preference). Spread more chipotle aioli on cheese. Place a flew leaves of oak leaf lettuce or spring mix on cheese. Take one end of tortilla and begin to roll like a big cigar. Slice on the bias and plate.

"Turkey Wraps . . .all in a row"

And for a cocktail. . . Since we are awaiting, with bated breath, the ripening, red, sweet and juicy tomatoes from the garden, I thought I'd honor this affair with a "Beany Mary"! These are good! I use the "Pickled Dilly Beans" I "put up" from last season.

"Beany Mary Cocktail"


1 1/2 ounces (1 jigger) vodka
1/2 cup V8 Spicy Tomato Juice
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pickle juice (from jar of pickled beans)
Worcestershire sauce to taste
Tabasco to taste
1 pickled bean, for garnish
1 lemon wedge for garnish


Combine the vodka, the tomato juice, the lemon juice, the pickle juice, the Worcestershire sauce, the Tabasco, 1 cup ice cubes, and salt and pepper to taste, shake the mixture well, and strain it into a tall glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish the Beany Mary with the pickled bean and the lemon wedge.

Another fun party . . .I look forward to seeing what other's are bringing...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bon Anniversaire . . . Julia Child

"On the shelf . . ."

I had the honored privilege to partake in the black-tie affair celebrating Julia’s 90th birthday at COPIA, the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts, in Napa, CA, a few years ago. Working in the Food Industry does have its perks. That evening-of-a-lifetime, I mingled and rubbed elbows with renowned chefs, celebrated gastronomes and notoriousepicureanss. I won’t drop names. I’m just not that kind of gal.

Lisa, at Champaign Taste invited the food blogging community to join in celebrating Julia’s birthday with a dish made from one of Julia’s cookbooks and then post about it.

"Volume One" . . .

I missed the deadline for the round-up, but I thought I’d go ahead and include this post anyway. It appears “crêpes” are all the rage with some of us Julia devotees. Great minds think alike!

"Crêpe Recipe" . . .

And so, instead of posting yet another “crêpe” recipe here, I’ll share one of my favorite and personal Julia anecdotes I hold dear to my heart.

I had just won a wager with one of my co-workers. He claimed I would not be able to identify the number of "dimensions" a particular wine we were tasting possessed. He did not work with me very long and thought this to challenge my level of expertise in enology. Obviously, he did not know I mentored under an award-winning vintner. In order to redeem himself, and extend a gesture of humility, he agreed to take me, along with our wine co-horts, to any place I desired for dessert.

There was no question in my mind. In a heart beat and effortless manner, I simply stated, "To the Sonoma Mission Inn, please." Those who know me well, know my favorite dessert. One that I could never pass up; the superb, first-rate and incredible Crème Brulee. This venue was the place to find it. We were all seated at our table and waiting for our desserts. We were a lively bunch, laughing and enjoying the repartee between ourselves. We were sipping away on our ports and sauternes and more port and sauterne. As we continued to enjoy each others' company, we were served our long-awaited desserts. Someone, I don't recall who, began to broadcast, "Bon Appetite"! Suddenly a chorus of "BOHN APAHTEET" - "BAAAAAHN AHHHPEHTEEEEE" - "BOOOOOOHN EEEEEEHPEHTEEEEEEEE" - began blaring around the table. Of course, it was in the "Soprano" voice, as if it were the Aria straight from Puccini's Madame Butterfly, getting louder and higher-pitched each time! Oh, we were having a roar of a time!

Until . . . our server, very gingerly approached our table and quietly asked us to tone it down a bit as to not offend a particular dinner guest around the corner from our table.

We were half way through finishing our desserts when "the Grande Dame" herself approached our table with her dinner companion. I just about choked on the mouthful of sweet, smooth, custard when I looked up at the six-foot-plus personality standing before us. She kindly asked "How is your dessert?" She then took notice of my partially devoured crème brulee and commented, "That's my favorite, here. They know how to make the custard just right." We both smiled at each other and as our eyes met, we simultaneously nodded to acknowledge each other's taste pertaining to this comestible.

As she turned to leave our table, she waved and extended, in her true Julia spirit, "Bon Appetit"!

And in more ways than one . . .


"Mis en place, Future Crème Brulee" . . .

"Crème Brulee . . . Julia's Guilty Pleasure"

Grandpa with relish . . .

That's Miss Julia for you.

It warms my heart knowing that Julia and I share the ultimate guilty pleasure.

Life is a banquet, my friends.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Blogger Postcards of the World - Premier Episode 2

Titled: "Peace Activists"

My Postcard Pal, turns out to be the ”pleasant Payal of ”Bella Rossa”.

With a little cajoling from ”Blogger Postcards of the World” or BPW, founder and hostess, Meeta, Payal created her own blog for all the blogosphere to take pleasure in.

The word “Kismet” is derived from the Arabic or Turkish word meaning “fate or destiny.” I am a firm believer that there are no accidents in this world.

By accepting what is, as"IS", it helps in taking life's ups and downs, twists and turns, ins and outs, or unexpected happenchances on an easier course. Accept, move forward. Simple.

As mentioned in my previous post, I could not choose the postcard I wanted to send to my BPW buddy. Hence, I sent two. One was of the image of Sonoma/Napa Wine Country to fulfill the blogging event. The other was actually a card to reach out to fellow bloggers to evoke ”World Peace”. Several comments came in with earnest guesses of Berlin or Rome.

Wouldn’t you know it? The one person who recognized and identified the mysterious location in question was Payal, the recipient, herself.

"Budapest, Hungary"

Now, I ask you. Is that ”Kismet or what?”

Since Payal and I live only a county distance away from each other, we plan to meet and get together, perhaps for a pleasant picnic in one of the vineyards that surround us in the heart of wine country to share our thoughts, ideas and naturally, a summer banquet.

Life is a banquet, my friends. Peace be with you.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Happy Anniversary, My Darling, Ander . . .

We met through a dating service. We are complete opposites. He is tall, blonde and blue-eyed. I am . . . ahem . . . "vertically challenged", full dark hair and dark eyes. He prefers beer. I am a wine connoisseur. He wears Birkenstock. I wear Via Spiga. I am more left brained - logical and rational. He is more right brained - artistic and flexible. I lived on the Westside, in one of the beach towns. He lived on the other side of the hill, in the Valley. You get the picture. Ideal match.

We talked on the phone for nearly six weeks before actually meeting in person. There was a terrible tragedy that occurred and it was then when we decided we were to take the relationship to the next level. It was August 31, 1986, Labor Day Weekend. It was one week later he proposed marriage and I accepted, on the condition, of course, my family approved. LOL!

And so, after a two-year engagement, we were married August 13, 1988. 18 years ago, today, we professed our love, our commitment and affirmed our vows before family and friends. It was a 3-hour ceremony as we included a full Catholic Mass to link with the traditional Filipino wedding rituals involved. Those of you who have attended Filipino weddings will understand.

Our reception was spectacular. We had the Samahan Filipino Dance Troupe perform traditional folk dances to entertain our guests.

"Filipino Folk Dance . . ."

It was a sit down, table service with 4 courses and the champagne toast. We had dancing throughout the evening. Our cake was a 5-tier architectural work of art that included fresh orchids and fragrant gardenias. It was an exquisite graduating stratum of the “signature” cake only available from the European Cake Gallery in Point Loma. Our family has claimed it as “THE” cake and we celebrate almost every significant event in our lives with “the cake”. During "the cake cutting", Ander had the pleasure of getting a handful of cake smashed into his face, while I only had a mere smudge on my nose. It was all good fun.

It was so much fun, that we did it all over again on our 1st Wedding Anniversary. That’s a post I’ll save for another time.

Happy Anniversary, My Darling, Ander.

Life is a banquet and you help make it an incredible adventure!

Thank you, Honey Bunny! I look forward to the next 20 years!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Beat the Heat - TLC for the Youngin in You . . .

"Root Beer Float" . . .

It seems several food blog events over the recent weeks have similar themes. One that is apropos is Meeta’s ”Beat the Heat”, July’s “Monthly Mingle” event. I’m glad the deadline has been extended a few days. I am now able to participate in the second food blog event hosted by Meeta this month.

I entered the ”Halo Halo Mix Mix” for ”SHF #21” theme of "Ice, Ice, Baby", hosted by “Savvy Sarah” at “the delicious life”. The round-up of food bloggers and recipes can be scrutinized ”here”.

For my inclusion in “Meeta's Monthly Mingle”, I thought about the young ones in my life, "my little darlings". To know me, is to know how much I love children. Ander and I have no children of our own, but we are the most fortunate and privileged to being "Auntie and Uncle" to all the children in our lives. Most of my nieces and nephews live in Southern California. I have a little tyke of a niece, KLA, who just turned one-year old a few weeks ago. Another niece and God-daughter, SYD, just returned from summer vacation traveling New Zealand and Australia. I’ve mentioned “my little darlings” before in previous posts. But to respect their privacy and secure their identity, I make it brief and use their initials. This is a common practice that my sisters have taught me within emails, calendar schedules, etc.

I adore these young spirits. When I spend time with them, they make me youthful and energetic. My time with them is never enough and I always have a sinking feeling when I have to part from them. But my loving sisters always, ALWAYS, make it easy by emailing on an almost daily basis, or we SKYPE (what a wonderful discovery!) each other to keep closely connected. Even with only 500 miles away in distance, it seems like the other side of the world. Thank goodness for “getaway” specials. I’ll hop on a commuter flight and I’m at their port within a few minutes shy of a couple of hours.

My niece, KAL recently had her tonsils removed. She is recovering well, as expected for an active 8 year old. Although her doctor has precluded her from swimming or ballet lessons for several days, she is doing fantastically. She has spent time during her recuperation watching the FOOD NETWORK and has many cravings. My sister is monitoring her food intake as KAL is still on her post-surgery medication. KAL is “all girl”, but she can keep up with her two older brothers, KAL1 and PAL. She is the peacekeeper and makes sure all is well. She is extremely doting of her little sister, GAL. She is enormously generous and is totally devoted to what she loves. She’s into horses and American Girl Doll. She is also a ballerina and has performed in several programs with the California Ballet Company. KAL is fearless and when she smiles, she flashes the two most striking, deepest dimples you ever saw! She has stunning long hair and last year donated over 12 inches to “Locks of Love”, a loving charity that provides hair prosthetics for children with long-term medical hair loss due to cancer, or other illness.

BTW, when I mentioned KAL is “all girl”, it’s cuz, SHE LOVES CHOCOLATE!!!

In honor of KAL, this month’s mingle is dedicated to her. Something "Ooey-Gooey and Yummy for the Tummy" with a nice cold drink to wash it down and soothe a parched throat. How do we “Beat the Heat”?

A Notre Maison, “Root Beer Floats and Chocolate Fudge Brownie Sundaes”!

When the youngin in you needs a little TLC and you need to "Beat the Heat", this is what you reach for.

"Chocolate Fudge Brownie Sundae". . .(Stock photo)

Life is a banquet, my friends!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Fire Me Up - Grilled Chicken and Hott Bread Salad

"Fire Me Up Chicken and Hott Bread Salad . . ."

On the first Tuesday of every month, general admission to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Palace of Legion of Honors and the de Young Museum is FREE.

"San Francisco bound . . ."

Early Tuesday morning, we set out for a fine day to engross ourselves in the arts, culture and enlightenment that the City had to offer. The morning traffic of Highway 101 South ran swift and smooth until we got to the Marin County border. At that point, it was bumper to bumper as we proceeded to the Golden Gate Bridge. Once we crossed the bridge, paid our $5.00 toll fee and merged into the 19th Avenue byway, we were home free. Upon arriving at the top of the hill, we were challenged with parking spaces or lack thereof. After making several dead-end turns, we opted to park in the neighborhood area just off of Clement Street. I had a bit of workout walking up the incline towards the Legion of Honors. My quads and calves are still aching from the trek.

"Monet in Normandy Exhibit . . ."

Once we arrived at the museum, we faced another challenge. Lines of people waiting to get the FREE entrance to the ”Monet in Normandy” exhibit. As many of you know by now, Ander is a talented artist. He is a “landscape impressionist” and actually makes a decent living at it. I learned years ago from another seasoned artist’s wife, that the world of art, as a career, is “Feast or Famine”. During our 20-year relationship, we’ve endured the famine, for only a few minor periods. That’s the life of an artist. Most of our married life we’ve been able to live out a considerably fair amount of feasts. We’re very privileged to have the fortitude and courage to live out our dreams.

"Garden in Giverny " ©ander.all rights reserved. Client Private Collection.

After waitng in line for a mere 1 and ½ hours, we were famished. We decided to have lunch at the Legion of Honor Café and Garden Terrace. There, we were met with yet another line to wait in. As we stood in line, we had the opportunity to peruse the menu. It had an array of selections. We decided we would share a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. But this was not any ordinary sandwich. It was described to consist of ”Korbuto Ham and Gruyere Cheese with Fig Onion Marmalade.” You know how am about Figs. I couldn’t resist. Never heard of “Korbuto” ham before, but I was willing. Anyone out there, familiar with this type of ham? Give me a shout out. I’m curious. I want to know.

Upon reaching the entrance of the café, I noticed a gorgeous, golden, mouthwatering roasted chicken being served. This was only a half chicken portion, but it was larger than the size of the head of its recipient! Poor woman, she was aghast at the sight of what was just presented in front of her. The ever-so-charming server murmured the obligatory, “Enjoy”, and walked away. Because of the location of her table, the first one facing the entrance, she was confronted with exclamations of “Oh, my God, are you gonna eat all that?”, “What is that? Looks gooooooood.” and “My word, how big was it before they cooked it?”. Poor woman, she could barely eat her meal with such interruptions. She would politely acknowledge and answer with a smile. She ended up walking away with scarcely a dent in the dish.

"Rocky Jr. Chicken . . ."

Well, as you can imagine, I was so intrigued, I had to order the “Rocky Jr. Chicken”, which was described as ”Herb Garlic Marinated Chicken, Warm Bread Salad with Caramelized Onion Broth”. When the dish was placed before me, I knew instantly what I was to expect. I recognized the meal portrayed in front of me. I articulated and said out loud, simultaneously, (Is this feat even possible?) ”OMG! This is a knock off of the Zuni Café’s Roasted Chicken and Bread Salad. It’s their signature dish!” I immediately asked our server for a second plate to divide the meal as Ander and I usually “split” the order when it becomes obvious that the portions are extensively more than we can consume individually. Suffice it to say, we were bursting with great satisfaction.

Last night’s dinner, I attempted to revisit the dish and make my own knock off. However, there were some twists and turns that I had not anticipated. First, I did not roast the chicken, but rather barbecued 4 Rocky Jr. chicken thighs. I did not use the oven, but rather fired up the unwavering, reliable Weber. There were no fat drippings to enhance the flavors of the salad, so I relied on our spice rack to make do. Ander, the self-proclaimed, ”Fire God” fueled the grill with wood-burning coals and headed out to harvest some arugula greens for our ”Hott (yes, double “T’s”, please) Salad”.

In the coolness of the kitchen, I prepared the garlic-herb marinated chicken, the vinaigrette dressing and toasted bread chunks. I tossed the bread chunks with some of the dressing, wrapped them in foil. With accoutrements in hand, I proceeded to venture out to the world of “Open Fire” cooking.

"Open Fire Cooking . . ."

"Mise en place (MEEZ-ahn-plahs) . . ."

"Hot Vinaigrette Dressing . . ."

"Hot Croutons . . ."

"Fresh Arugula . . ."

"Hott Arugula Salad . . ."

Well, it was an adventure, indeed! Ander and I thoroughly enjoyed the experiment. The meal turned out acceptable, not too bad. One thing I learned about "Open Fire" cooking, you have to have the “feel” of the fire to have the temperature control you need in cooking a decent meal. All I can say is, “Viva, al carbon!”

"Grilled Chicken and Hott Arugula . . ."

Since it was a Friday night, which we’ve traditionally designated as “Date Night”, dessert was reserved for a piece of “sweet something” and a cuppa at A’roma Roasters Coffee House where they have live performances on Friday nights.

”POST NOTE”: Although my attempt at last night’s dinner was to “revisit” the meal at the museum café, it was in NO WAY even a slight replication, nor would I even qualify it as a “Knock Off” of the Zuni Café’s well known signature dish. It was simply a “variation on the theme”.

I will, with good intentions, in some future date, make the effort of preparing the “Zuni Cafés Roasted Chicken and Bread Salad” dish, following Judy Rodgers' recipe from her own words and culinary expertise. That is, when the oven is ready to get “fired up” again.

Life is banquet, my friends.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Garden Picnic . . .Cantaloupe Melon Mint Salad

"Bowl o' Bings and Queens (Rainier)" . . .

Last night’s perfect summer evening drew us out to have yet another meal at our garden picnic table. Ander went to visit his artist friend, Bill Rivas, the other day, and in usual form, he was inspired to reorganize the garden. Ander cleared out my potting table of dried oak leaves and remnants of broken shards of terra cotta pots. The rubble around the potting table was painstakingly removed. The old, rotting wine barrel that was once used as a table was removed. The old, bamboo table used to hold my geranium plants was dismantled and placed in the recycling bin. Wild blackberry brambles were cut away.

Ander is a very hard worker and once he has his mind set, there’s no stopping him. Bill has been renovating his property over the summer, so I know where Ander got his motivation. One year, for my birthday, we discovered one of Bill’s garden sculptures on our front porch. I had admired the same art piece just days before while visiting him at his studio, a reconditioned barn built in the early 20’s. Bill gave Ander some wood from the property to build the chicken coop several years ago. He helped set the foundation and framing for “CHEZ POULET”. Bill is good folk amongst our circle of friends. He is very down to earth, no pretentiousness and can turn “trash” into the most incredible “treasure”. Bill is also a hard worker and I’m very pleased when Ander spends time with him. He’s a good influence. He’s a good artist. He’s a good friend.

"Triple Cream Delights" . . .

Our ”garden picnic” was simple and light. I made another batch of the ”Fig and Provençal Olive Tapenade”. I made crostini of the sliced Village Bakery’s French baguette and pulled out the last of the ”Cowgirl Creamery” cheese. I learned how to make cheese at their "factory".

I made an antipasti platter, which included, thin slices of cured ham, pickled beets, pickled green beans, Italian Giardiniera and marinated roasted red peppers. The pickled beets and pickled green beans were from last season’s garden harvest. The sweet, sour and savory combinations were incredible! Our salad for the evening was a cool, refreshing and unique blend of thinly sliced (out came the mandoline, again) cantaloupe, lime juice and mint. Dessert was a bowl of “Bing and Rainier cherries”. We paired this repast with a chilled bottle of ”Hop Kiln Winery’s 2005 Thousand Flowers”. It is a balanced blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer and Muscat Canelli.

"Yellow Pear Boccancini" . . .

We picked another set of cherry tomatoes that provided a handful of “boccancini”. It’s so nice to be able to walk around the garden, pick a tomato here and a sprig of basil there and pop in your mouth for a ”slight snack”.

"Melon Mint Salad" . . .

”Cantaloupe Melon Mint Salad”


1 large (4-5 Lb.) cantaloupe, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Key limes or ½ Persian lime
¼ cup fresh mint, chiffonade


Place cantaloupe slices in a bowl, squeeze lime juice and sprinkle mint over melon. Toss gently, until well incorporated. Serve immediately or slightly chilled.

Variation: Can substitute with Honeydew melon, Sharlyn melon, Crane melon, any melon of your choice. OR a MIX!

Yield: 6-8 servings

"Garden Candy - Sungold Cherry Tomato" . . .

Life is a banquet, my friends.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

SHAKEN and STIRRED . . . Earth Moving Garden Pasta

"Garden Meal . . ."

Wednesday, August 2, 2006, 8:08 PM. The temblor registered 4.4 on the Richter scale. The focal point was measured 3 miles west of Glen Ellen; 6 miles east of Rohnert Park; and 9 miles southeast of Santa Rosa. It appears the rockin’ and rollin’ was around Sonoma Mountain and Bennett Valley area. There was no news of any major damage.

Not too far from the epicenter, we were just finishing our meal when the earthquake occurred. We were sitting under the lone oak tree in the backyard toasting to a perfect summer evening. We had just picked the first tomato of the season. We were savoring the satisfying flavors of a simple and savory “Garden Pasta”. It included sweet basil, arugula and cherry tomatoes that we handpicked shortly before being seated. Dessert was an unfussy selection of stone fruit; peaches, white nectarines, plums, etc. We paired the “Garden Pasta” with a bottle of 2004 Pepperwood Grove Viognier. Typically, I'd pair this pasta dish with a tame red, such as, 2004 Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel or a cheery 2004 Porter Creek Carignane. Since the pasta was light and I wanted the flavors of the herbs and Dry Jack to be in the forefront, I decided on the chilled Viognier. Ander did not like the plastic cork of this selection. He prefers the ease of "real cork", which of course, we all know by now, is too expensive, hard to come by and risks the TCA (trichloroanisole) fungus-produced compound that grows in cork fiber and causes “cork taint". There is still a growing debate of "Cork vs. Synthetic vs. Twist Cap". It's all marketing and bottom-line. Quality has long been compromised, in my opinion.

"First tomato of the season . . ."

"Viognier (Vee-ohn-yay) and Vella Dry Jack . . ."

What a way to top off the evening, with an earth moving moment, to say the least.

"Garden Pasta . . ."

"Garden Pasta"


1 Lb. dried pasta (Your choice. Our pantry is always stocked with a variety of Barilla Pasta brand.)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 1/2 cup sweet basil, chiffonade
1 1/2 cup arugula, chiffonade
1 clove garlic, finely minced
8 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive oil (First Press)
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Hard cheese, such as, Vella Dry Jack, Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano


In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Drain. While pasta is cooking, place remaining ingredients in a large bowl mix together. Pour hot pasta over ingredients and toss together well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grate cheese over hot pasta just before serving.

Yield: 4-6 Servings

Life is a banquet, my friends.