September 27, 2015 – Mojave Air and Space Port

 

On our way to St. George, Utah we do a fly-by (so to speak) of the Mojave Air and Space Port. It is Sunday so everything is pretty quiet. In fact there is only one other car around and they are taking pictures just like we are.

According to Wikipedia the Mojave Airport was built in 1935 to serve the gold and silver mining industry. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, it was taken over by the Marines. Until 1961 it passed among several different branches of the military and then Kern County obtained the title. Today, besides being a general-use airport, Mojave Air and Space Port has flight testing, space related industry and development, and aircraft maintenance and storage.

The entrance to the airport is flanked by a sign and a retired DC-8.

Welcome to Mojave Air and Space Port

Welcome to Mojave Air and Space Port

DC-8

DC-8

One of the companies operating at the airport is Orbital ATK which is in the space launch, propulsion, satellites and armaments business. They have an L-1011 based there.

Orbital ATK L-1011

Orbital ATK L-1011

Rotary Rocket Company, a former rocketry company, also has a building in Mojave. They developed a novel engine design and made test flights in 1999 but ran out of money in 2001.

Rotary Rocket Company building

Rotary Rocket Company building

The Rotary Rocket Roton ATV on display at Mojave Air and Space Port

The Rotary Rocket Roton ATV on display at Mojave Air and Space Port

The best known aerospace company operating at the airport is Scaled Composites, winner of the Ansari X Prize in 2004 for its experimental spacecraft, SpaceShipOne. The company was acquired by Northrop Grumman in 2007.

This way to space!

This way to space!

Mojave Air and Space Port also houses the International Flight Test Institute and the National Test Pilot School.

International Flight Test Institute

International Flight Test Institute

National Test Pilot School

National Test Pilot School

In addition to all this neat stuff, it also operates as a jet storage facility and graveyard. When we came through here shortly after 9-11, the desert area was packed with jets in storage. Now there are many fewer as the aeronautic industry has recovered.

Stored aircraft

Stored aircraft

There is also aircraft junk lying around like these old shells of fighter cockpits.

Fighter cockpits

Fighter cockpits

Finally after twelve years of driving through Mojave we take the time to stop and see what is going on here at the Mojave Air and Space Port. I am glad we did.

September 25, 2015 – Gardening

Sarah’s baskets of plants continuing to produce more vegetables…

Cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes

Two ichiban eggplants and blossom

Two ichiban eggplants and blossom

Super chiles ripening. So spicy!!

Super chiles ripening. So spicy!!

Basil

Basil

Indigo rose tomatoes

Indigo rose tomatoes

We've got thyme on our hands

We’ve got thyme on our hands

Casper the Third (white eggplant)

Casper the Third (white eggplant)

Will this orange ever ripen?

Will this orange ever ripen?

Sarah has planted four kabucha squashes out beyond our fence (not allowed!)

Sarah has planted four kabucha squashes out beyond our fence (not allowed!)

Yesterday's harvest or perhaps, slim pickins'

Yesterday’s harvest or perhaps, slim pickins’

September 14, 2015 – Dinner at La Toque, Napa

In celebration of John’s 66th birthday, we go up to Napa for dinner at La Toque. It is nice that the restaurant is connected to the Westin Verasa so that we can just ride the elevator down to the restaurant and back up to our room afterwards. We decide to have the chef’s tasting menu which is nine small plates. We also get the wine pairing. Most of the dinner is very good. There are a couple of dishes that we like less but we are on the whole quite pleased. The service is outstanding. Here is what the tasting menu consists of –

Since they know it is John's birthday, they pour a celebratory glass of Roederer champagne

Since they know it is John’s birthday, they pour a celebratory glass of Roederer champagne

Along with the champagne we have an amuse bouche consisting of (l. to r.) lobster with avocado, fig with ricotta and balsamic, potato with lardo, and crouton with chicken liver mousse. The chicken liver mousse bite is best and the potato with lardo is the least successful.

Along with the champagne we have an amuse bouche consisting of (l. to r.) lobster with avocado, fig with ricotta and balsamic, potato with lardo, and crouton with chicken liver mousse. The chicken liver mousse bite is best and the potato with lardo is the least successful.

First course - chilled veloute of lunga di Napoli (a type of winter squash) served with creme fraiche and Chinese kaluga caviar. This is really tasty. John says it tastes like salted butterscotch caramel. If I made it I might substitute Trapani sea salt for the caviar. The soup is paired with a Taittinger 2007 Le Reve, Domaine Carneros champagne.

First course – chilled veloute of lunga di Napoli (a type of winter squash) served with creme fraiche and Chinese kaluga caviar. This is really tasty. John says it tastes like salted butterscotch caramel. If I made it I might substitute Trapani sea salt for the caviar. The soup is paired with a Taittinger 2007 Le Reve, Domaine Carneros champagne.

Second course - Japanese shima-aji with melon, cucumber and Thai vinaigrette served with a La Toque sake bomb. The dish also has a tasty green powder made of mint, basil, and cilantro. The sake bomb is a mixture of Japanese white beer and Midnight moon sake. (I am not a sake fan.) The dish is very enjoyable.

Second course – Japanese shima-aji with melon, cucumber and Thai vinaigrette served with a La Toque sake bomb. The dish also has a tasty green powder made of mint, basil, and cilantro. The sake bomb is a mixture of Japanese white beer and Midnight moon sake. (I am not a sake fan.) The dish is very enjoyable.

Third course - Our favorite of the night! Mendocino red abalone with daikon root and Konbu salad. The abalone and grilled daikon radish are delicious and the micro-salad has a touch of sesame seeds which really makes the dish. This is paired with an off-dry 2011 Mosel Riesling.

Third course – Our favorite of the night! Mendocino red abalone with daikon root and Konbu salad. The abalone and grilled daikon radish are delicious and the micro-salad has a touch of sesame seeds which really makes the dish. This is paired with an off-dry 2011 Mosel Riesling.

Fourth course - This is a blurry picture of skate wings with red grapes and a crispy piece of cartilage. Very good! The grapes give it a nice sweetness and we add a little salt. The pairing is a 2012 Michel Chablis, premier cru.

Fourth course – This is a blurry picture of skate wings with red grapes and a crispy piece of cartilage. Very good! The grapes give it a nice sweetness and we add a little salt. The pairing is a 2012 Michel Chablis, premier cru.

Fifth course - Twice cooked dry aged squab with roasted delicata squash and red onion tatin paired with a 2010 Pinot Noir, DuMOL, Russian River Valley (Dutton Ranch). The vegetables and leg of squab are really tasty but the breast is less so. The broth is heavily soy and it really overwhelms the flavor of the breast.

Fifth course – Twice cooked dry aged squab with roasted delicata squash and red onion tatin paired with a 2010 Pinot Noir, DuMOL, Russian River Valley (Dutton Ranch). The vegetables and leg of squab are really tasty but the breast is less so. The broth is heavily soy and it really overwhelms the flavor of the breast.

Sixth course - Grilled lamb heart, fresh chickpea falafel with Medjool date and cumin scented carrot puree paired with Swanson 2009 Merlot. Who knew that Swanson of pot pie fame has a winery! We were really looking forward to this dish because it's a little out there what with the heart but instead of the heart having a nice chew but tender from braising, it is disturbingly squishy. I've only ever had chicken heart so I don't have a lot to compare this to. We would have liked more of the carrot puree and less cumin.

Sixth course – Grilled lamb heart, fresh chickpea falafel with Medjool date and cumin scented carrot puree paired with Swanson 2009 Merlot. Who knew that Swanson of pot pie fame has a winery! We were really looking forward to this dish because it’s a little out there what with the heart but instead of the heart having a nice chew but tender from braising, it is disturbingly squishy. I’ve only ever had duck heart so I don’t have a lot to compare this to. We would have liked more of the carrot puree and less cumin.

Seventh course - Epoisses with black garlic and fermented plum paired with a Broadbent Madiera verdelho. Love the epoisses and the black garlic but wish the fermented plum had been a little sweet not just bitter.

Seventh course – Epoisses with black garlic and fermented plum paired with a Broadbent Madiera verdelho. Love the epoisses and the black garlic but wish the fermented plum had been a little sweet not just bitter.

Eighth course - the palate cleanser a cantaloupe cucumber ice cream with a crumble. I don't like desserts but this is so yummy especially the crumble. This and the following dessert are served with a 2014 Moscato d'Asti.

Eighth course – the palate cleanser a cantaloupe cucumber ice cream with a crumble. I don’t like desserts but this is so yummy especially the crumble. This and the following dessert are served with a 2014 Moscato d’Asti.

Ninth course - This is the less successful dessert and I don't understand why you need so many desserts. I would have been happy to call it quits after the cucumber melon ice cream. Anyway this is roasted peaches with toasted corn ice cream and popcorn brittle. The toasted corn ice cream has limp pieces of popcorn in it - not a great texture.

Ninth course – This is the less successful dessert and I don’t understand why you need so many desserts. I would have been happy to call it quits after the cucumber melon ice cream. Anyway this is roasted peaches with toasted corn ice cream and popcorn brittle. The toasted corn ice cream has limp pieces of popcorn in it – not a great texture.

And of course we are sent away with a little baggy of cookies in case we wake up in the middle of the night hungry.

I know this sounds like a lot to eat. And it is but the portions are very small. There is about three full spoonsful of soup in the first course and tiny bites of fish etc. Although there is a lot of wine, these are also small pours and have been drunk over three hours. Nonetheless, I am really glad that all we have to do is find the elevator and go to bed.

John has now informed me that he is planning on eating healthy and getting more fit in his 67th year. Oh, joy.