I THOUGHT THERE WAS SOME LEFT

TODAY’S WORRY

Have you ever been really looking forward to a tasty morsel that you know is in your refrigerator only to open the door and find out it is gone? And no one even asked you if it was okay to eat it? This is a matter of food property rights. When I was growing up we never ate the last little bit of anything because my father might have wanted it. Our refrigerator was crammed full of a dollop of this, a splash of that. Many of the containers were candidates for school experiments on mold. At least at the moldy point you could finally throw them out. But in my experience as an adult with a husband and kids, there is no such deference. Yum, a little ice cream, eat it up! A bit of hummus, have it with the last cracker. I have to admit there is something a little sick about feeling cheated out of the last bite. Food should never be that important.

Seize the Size

I think I’ve mentioned this before, never (unless you are really an in-control person) make more than the correct serving sizes for a meal. There are two results – one, you don’t overeat and two, you don’t run into the trauma of someone else eating your stowed away last bite.

DECORATION DAY

TODAY’S NOSTALGIA

When I was a kid, Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, as we used to call it, was the kickoff to summer. You could wear white shoes and summer dresses. Even though school was still in session, you’d listen closely to the radio for the early morning temperature. I always thought that if it was 70 in the morning, it was going to be a great beach day. I grew up on the Jersey shore, really the beach. Only New Yorkers and North Jerseyites called it the shore. On Decoration Day weekend, we would go to the beach for the first time in the season. From then on we’d go as much as possible. Sometimes we’d go with our mom or someone else’s mom or on special days with our grandmother. We’d check the big chalkboard for the ocean temperature and the tides. Ooh, 68 degrees, really quite swimmable when you are young. It was the season for strawberry twizzlers, yoohoos and hotdogs. And waiting an hour after lunch before you could go in the water again. It was bliss.

Later as a teenager and through college years, it was a place to get tan (or sunburned in my case), listen to your very modern portable radio and try to attract boys. The beach after dark was particularly exciting. Spreading a blanket in the dark with your boyfriend was pretty risqué. Sometimes we’d go down to Asbury Park and ride the circuit calling out to the kids in other cars. Then maybe we’d stop for some of the best pizza in the world in Long Branch. What a great place to grow up.

I know that Memorial Day is a time to remember other young men and women who gave their lives for our country. They made idyllic days like the ones I remember possible.

THE BRIDGE OF THIGHS – PART TWO

TODAY’S WORRY

Continuing on with my thoughts of May 11, I heard on the radio today that travelers can expect congestion and delays at the airports this Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer. Although travel problems are always a bane to one’s existence, it is good to see that the American air travel psyche has recovered from the scary days after 9/11. I remember going to pick up John’s dad at SFO a week after the attack and it was echo-y in the terminal and very eerie. We flew on Southwest yesterday and I have to say, “Souhwest! Couldn’t you possibly find a way to give out seat assignments?!” Not only do you have to line up way in advance in hopes of not getting a middle seat, but since you can now print your boarding pass online after midnight on the day you are flying in hopes that you will be in the “A’ group, you are sleep deprived while standing in line. (This is made worse when you are living in Mountain Time and flying in Pacific Time so you have to stay up ‘til 1 AM.) I figured that not that many people would be flying on a Thursday at 3:30 in the afternoon, but I was wrong. The flight was completely full, even overbooked. Thank goodness, this was only an hour flight. So get ready for a summer full of getting to know your seatmates thighs unless you are fortunate enough to fly business or first class.

Bellini

These entries are all connected as you’ll see when you read the “travels” section.

Bellini – This drink was created in 1943 at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy in honor of the painter Geovani Bellini. The original recipe was made with fresh pureed white peaches with a bit of raspberry or cherry juice to give the drink a pink glow.

Original Version
2/3 cup white peach puree (use yellow peaches if white not available)
1 teaspoon raspberry puree
1 bottle chilled Italian sparkling wine such as Prosecco or Asti Spumante Brut

Place 1 1/2 tablespoons puree In the bottom of each flute and add 2 – 3 drops of the raspberry puree. Add sparkling wine and serve. (gourmetsleuth.com)

The Bridge of Sighs

And now we have come full circle from the title of today’s blog. The Bridge of Sighs is an enclosed, elevated bridge in Venice erected in the year 1600 to connect the Doge’s prisons with the inquisitor’s rooms in the main palace. The name “Bridge of Sighs” was invented in the 19th Century, when Lord Byron helped to popularize the belief that the bridge’s name was inspired by the sighs of condemned prisoners as they were led through it to the executioner.

And while you’re in Venice, one of the items on the list of top 50 things every foodie should do, brought to my attention by the Braisinhussy, is to have a Bellini cocktail at Harry’s Bar in Venice. Although I haven’t had a Bellini there, I have been to Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari where Bellini painted the Virgin and Child with Saints Nicholas, Peter, Benedict and Mark in the sacristy. This stunning altarpiece has Mary wearing her usual blue cloak and Bellini’s signature rosy pink dress underneath. The Bellini drink was so named because of the similar intense hue. If you have time when you are in Venice, have the drink and see the altarpiece. If you only have time for one of these, see the altarpiece.

FRENCH OPEN

TODAY’S THOUGHT

I was watching the French Open today. It made me think about the differences between individual and team sports. A professional football team has around 40 members. Many of them are very highly paid. This is true in baseball as well. If the team loses a game, they still get paid. They also are supplied with coaches, equipment, and medical staff. Now compare this with a golfer or tennis player. If these men or women lose, they don’t make much of a paycheck. They have to pay for their own coaches and staff. Unless they are top tier players and have lots of endorsements, they pay for their own living arrangements at events and their travel. Andy Roddick, the best American tennis player has earnings of $531,000 so far this year and Roger Federer, the best player in the world, has made slightly over $2 million. Compare that with the best basketball, football or baseball players. I realize that these tennis players also get endorsements and commercials but so do the team players.

I wonder if one group is underpaid or one is overpaid?

No wonder there are few world class American tennis players .

Language Pollution

Why is it that English, particularily American English, so readily accepts foreign words with no fuss, while the French have laws against it. They don’t want their language polluted with lots of Americanisms. But guess what, it’s an uphill fight. Things like “le weekend” or “radio” are in practical use.

Here are words from French we use all the time: malaise, chauffeur, milieu, parvenu, paramour, bon mot, montage, laissez faire and many others.

Burgundy

Since we are talking all things French today, I thought I’d open a new category called “travels.” Last summer we spent some time in the Burgundy area of France. We headquartered ourselves in Beaune at the Hotel de la Poste. Beaune is a lovely town with an easily accessible “old town.” A must see is the the Hôtel-Dieu of the Hospices de Beaune, a hospital from the Middle Ages, built in 1443 to care for sick residents of the town. The building itself is beautifully preserved with an incredible multicolored tile roof. We had a fantastic meal at Bernard Morillon where foie gras was served in a gingerbread crust.

Probably the most fun thing we did was a spur of the moment picnic. We spent part of the morning going from one little shop to the next buying cheese, sausage, bread and wine. Off we went to the countryside, found a roadside table in Puligny-Montrachet and ate our picnic. Then we went to area wineries for tasting. At Chateau Mersault we took a very expensive tour and tasting. A better tasting was in Volnay where we just happened upon a small cellar and had the owner show us around herself.

On a more practical note, we found a laundromat and had the fun of figuring out how to do French laundry (not the restaurant!) Also, at a bike shop, there was a laptop where you could access the internet. Most everyone was helpful and nice and a stay of at least two days in this area is a good investment of vacation time.

LAW AND JUSTICES

TODAY’S WORRY

Maybe I’m just naïve but aren’t judges supposed to be followers of the law? Putting aside whether the minority party should use the filibuster to block Senate votes for judicial nominees or whether the majority should change the rules concerning filibusters, I think that people proposed for the bench, conservative or liberal, should follow the laws of the United States. Not pick and choose which ones they like best. If a judge indicates that he thinks certain people should be discriminated against, then he shouldn’t be a judge because that’s not what the law says. If he thinks that the Clean Air Act is a bunch of crap and that industry should have a free hand polluting the air, he needs to find a new job. Or if a judge feels that illegal immigrants should have the right to just cross the border and set up shop, find a new career. I just don’t get it. There are laws in the United States that I don’t agree with but I follow them because it’s the law and I respect our history and institutions. Judges shouldn’t be different in that respect from ordinary citizens.

Filibuster

There’s a lot of talk in the news about the Senate using the “nuclear option” and changing the Senate rules about filibustering judicial nominees.

Filibuster – The use of obstructionist tactics, especially prolonged speechmaking, for the purpose of delaying legislative action.

Burger Bar, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, NV

There’s lots of hype surrounding Burger Bar, the Las Vegas creation of Hubert Keller known for his San Francisco restaurant, Fleur de Lys. I ate lunch there last week with John and our friends, Karen and George. There is an extensive burger menu and you can spend anywhere from $8 to $60 for a burger. There are all sorts of toppings for the burgers and lots of sides. We all ordered the Ridgefield beef burger, Karen opting for cheese as well. There were also two orders of onion rings and one of french fries. The burgers were perfectly cooked – the medium, medium-rare, and rare all cooked as requested. John felt his needed a little salt but I thought they were perfectly seasoned. Our son, Jonathan, ate here last year and his opinion is that the burgers are bland, but they were great last week. I felt the accompanying onions rings were too breaded for my taste but the others found them fine. The french fries were also very good. For a taste of what a hamburger on a bun should be, check out the Burger Bar the next time you are in Las Vegas.

Remembering that this is not haute cuisine –
Table consensus – A

GUESS THE RIGHT ANSWER

TODAY’S WORRY

It is alleged by my family that I do something that drives them nuts. I admit I am guilty as charged. My sin is that I play a head game with them called “Guess the Right Answer.” Here’s the way it works. For instance, I ask someone what they want to do or a give a choice of things we could do. My position is that I do not have a preference. Secretly though, I do have a preference but I want to give them the chance to make me happy by guessing the right answer. One time I said, “let’s go up to Napa and go wine tasting and we can either stop over night if we feel like it or drive back home the same day. Either way is fine with me.” So there was a fifty-fifty chance that John would choose let’s stay over and that would have made me very happy. Unfortunately, he chose the wrong answer and I was disappointed. See what a fun game this is? I am trying very hard to stop doing this because I play this game way too much; from what do you want to have for dinner to where do you want to take a vacation. I realize now that everyone is much happier if I just say what I want to do. And that includes me.

Equivocate

There is a statue of William Lloyd Garrison, the famous abolitionist, on the Commonwealth Mall in Boston. Inscribed on the statue are his words – “I am in earnest – I will not equivocate – I will not excuse – I will not retreat a single inch – AND I WILL BE HEARD.” Here’s a man who really said what he meant and stood by it.

In relation to my worry of the day, I tend to be an equivocator. It’s something I am trying to overcome.

equivocate – To be deliberately ambiguous or unclear in order to mislead or to avoid committing oneself to anything definite.

YOU GO, GIRL

TODAY’S WORRY

There was a piece on National Public Radio this week about the widening gap between male and female college graduates. The latest figures show that there were 200,000 more female graduates than male. Why should this be? There could be a number of reasons. The female population is slightly greater than the male but that’s probably not it. Maybe it is because girls are more conscientious in high school and less party-ers in college. So perhaps they start out closer in numbers but more girls graduate. Perhaps young women today see the tragedy of the older woman left divorced and skill-less. It’s certainly not enough to count on being a wife and mother anymore. Unfortunately, women are still under-represented in upper management and still make less in comparison to men. But maybe this will change as more and more women graduate from college widening the gap. Unless, of course, affirmative action for men is started.

Cafe Diablo, Torrey, Utah

From the sublime (Mesa Grill) to the ridiculous. I went with John and our friends to Café Diablo, a highly rated restaurant near Capitol Reef National Park. I was psyched. I had been eating under Utah rules for a long time. Perhaps I should have waited. Here’s what we ordered and what we thought.
Rattlesnake cakes – These cakes were either overpowered by the black beans and cilantro, rattlesnake is really subtle or there was no snake.
Firecrackers – These were deep fried items, some spicy, some not; all heavily breaded.
Empinadas – These were filled with Cotija cheese and sweet potatoes and were quite good.
Crown rack of glazed ribs – Three of us had this. They were supposed to be slow roasted in chipotle, molasses and rum glaze over a bed of sweet potatoes. In the center of the crown was a large fried potato stick served at room temperature. This made it greasy and inedible. The sweet potatoes were grainy and awful. The crown rack was neither gooey and sweet nor tart or anything other than a bunch of steamed ribs.
Pumpkin seed trout – A little overcooked with a great mélange of vegetables which didn’t really go with the trout. Oddly, instead of the wild rice pancake underneath, there was the non-rattlesnake cake.

Add to this, the undrinkable house red wine and the low level of ambiance, you come up with a restaurant that you hoped so much for and delivered so little.

Oh Utah, Utah, you are so beautiful and friendly. And I know you are overwhelmingly LDS. But there are those of us who want to retire here who crave fine restaurants and a wine list. Couldn’t you compromise a bit and try to make things a little more congenial for us? We would both prosper.

Table consensus – D

SENSORY OVERLOAD!

THIS WEEKEND’S INDULGENCE

Well, maybe not overload but almost! In the last five days, I have seen the intimate wonders of Snow Canyon State Park, the majesty of Zion National Park, the beauty of the often overlooked Capitol Reef National Park and the utter bizarreness of Bryce Canyon National Park. I’ve also stayed at the rustic Lodge at Red River Ranch and, for contrast, at the Aladdin hotel in Las Vegas. I’ve drunk a river of fine wines at home and away. I’ve seen the spectacle of Cirque du Soleil. I’ve eaten at the touted Cafe Diablo in Torrez, UT, at Emeril’s in Las Vegas, at Sullivan’s Cafe in Cedar City, at the Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay, LV, had take out from Scaldoni’s in St. George and eaten a really great meal at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill at Caesar’s Palace in LV. There’s enough grist here for a lot of blogs. It was a wonderful long weekend made even better by sharing it with good friends.

Foodies

Since I’ve probably been all these things this weekend, here’s a definition of who’s who and why.

Gourmand – a person who is devoted to eating and drinking to excess

Glutton – a person who eats or consumes immoderate amounts of food and drink

Epicurean – a devotee to sensuous and luxurious living

Gourmet – a connoisseur of fine food and drink