February 21, 2011 Dinner with Jon in Las Vegas

We are in St. George for a few weeks for the updating of our kitchen. So far things are going smoothly although we don’t think that the remodel will be done before our flight awaits us on March 5. I am going to make a separate entry on the remodel when it’s done.

One of the exciting things that has happened while we are here is that it snowed! We often see snow in the higher elevations around us but not down here on the ground in St. George. Here’s what the backyard looked like on February 20, 2011.

Snow in St. George

Snow is pretty nice when it falls, makes everything picturesque, and then melts away all in the same day.

We also make the drive down to Las Vegas to meet Jonathan for dinner. He is attending the Pink Elephant Convention which is meeting at the Bellagio. Since I figure it will be easier to stay and have dinner at the Bellagio as well, I make reservations for dinner at Michael Mina’s. Jonathan would like to have the tasting menu. Sounds good to me!

First we have drinks at the Baccarat Bar and then head over to the restaurant. We order the tasting menu and wine pairing and look forward to our amuse bouche. What? No amuse bouche? We are not amused. But the first (extra $$) course arrives and it is a caviar parfait. The caviar sits atop creme fraiche, smoked salmon and a potato pancake. There are garnishes of red onion and hard-boiled egg. It is really good especially the potato pancake. The caviar is pretty mild. We enjoy the champagne that is paired with it.

Caviar parfait

Then we are served an ahi tuna tartare with ancho chili, mint, pine nut, and sesame oil. Our glasses are filled with a quite sweet Reisling. The seasoning on the tartare is neither salty nor spicy although we are told that there are scotch bonnet chiles in it. The predominant flavors are sesame oil and mint. The pairing is not a success. It is good but not cosmic. I expect all of the courses to be cosmic.

Tuna tartare

Ah, I see that I forgot to mention there is also a quail egg atop of it and that it is served with toast points. The servers moosh it all up together before it is served.

Next is the real star of the evening – lobster pot pie with winter vegetables in a brandied lobster cream. This comes with a glass of chablis. The brandy-lobster cream is fabulous. The vegetables are really good and so is the lobster. And, yum, the pastry. Please serve me a big bowl of the cream with pastry points! Both this and the tuna tartare are bigger portions then one would expect from a tasting menu.

Lobster pot pie

Finally, on the savory side, is an American Kobe rib eye that is porcini-butter poached and served with pommes fondant and a spinach salad. There is a wonderful mushroom sauce. It is all good but I am getting beyond stuffed. We have this with a Volker Eisele cabernet sauvignon from Napa valley.

American Kobe rib eye

Now it is time for way too much dessert. Way too much even if you like dessert (which I don’t.) So crowding the table are 1) hot mulled apple cider with a shortbread cookie (this is really good); 2) glazed chocolate brownie with ice cream and pecans (extremely chocolaty); 3) root beer float and cookies (why?); 4) brown sugar wafer with cream inside (wafer was gingery); and 5) white chocolate shell with orange blossom goo inside on a lollipop stick. As I said, way too much.

Some of the desserts (but not all!)

So as far as tasting menus go, this is really good but not spectacular. I would have liked much smaller tastes of more things. Tuna tartare is a little passe. Not all the wine pairings are exceptional. But I have a delicious meal and my companions are handsome and fun to be with so I am not complaining at all!

Jonathan and John

February 12, 2011 Visit with Nathan and Sam

On Saturday, we visit Nathan and Sam. This is our last chance to see them before we head back to St. George to start our kitchen remodel. Nathan and I spend most of the time playing “Inspector,” our hit made-up game featuring Nathan as a variety of trucks and machines and me as the Inspector. John and Sam have various adventures. First is a lengthy stretch at the sink pouring water from one vessel to another, then John is the Zayde horse and finally we are treated to play food ala Chef Sam. We have an enjoyable time and the kids are super cute as the pictures show.

February 6, 2011 Entertaining in P-town

There’s no doubt about it, we are guilty of neglecting our friends here at home. We are probably home less than 6 months a year and that 6 months is divided up into 2 to 3 week segments. A lot of that time is taken up with priority number one, family. But in these twelve days that we are home, I will try to make up for lost time.

John and I plan a dinner party for our group of friends that we go to the park with in the summer. In the off-season, these gatherings are called Concerts Not in the Park or Not Concerts in the Park or something. Our plan is to have our friends bring hors d’oeuvres and we will provide everything else. Our dinner is a winter salad of greens, pears, spiced pecans and Point Reyes blue cheese as a starter, stuffed turkey thighs, death by broccoli and chipotle sweet potato gratin for the entree and snickerdoodle cookies with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Plus wine (actually seven bottles of wine!) The salad was really good and the turkey thighs with sausage stuffing and gravy were great, the broccoli less so and the chipotle sweet potato gratin was delicious but the chipotle cream broke upon reheating (rats!) The dessert was especially for Steve who enjoys white food. As I mentioned in my previous post, the cookies came out well.

From the picture, it looks like everyone enjoyed themselves.

Concert Not in the Park

February 5, 2011 Visit with Nathan and Sam

I have been so bad about updating my blog. It’s not that we haven’t done stuff, it’s just that once I get behind the inertia sets in. The behinder I get, the behinder I get. That’s really an axiom for most things you need to get done. Dusting a room is doable, cleaning the whole house is impossible. Making a phone call can be accomplished, but a whole slew of phone calls? Not so much. Writing one blog entry, of course! Writing three or four, maybe not. But I digress. Here’s what we’ve been doing thus far in February, 2011.

First we go to St. George for a couple of weeks in January to sort things out for our kitchen remodel. We return to P-town the beginning of February but need to return on the 13th. So there is not much time to cram all the California events in. The first thing to do? Visit Nathan and Sam.

Sam wakes up

Sam was just waking up as we arrived. It takes him a little time to adjust from sleeping world to waking world. His thumb helps this transition. The first thing he wants to do is put his hat on. Nathan had a thing about wearing hats when he was little too. Sam is so cute.

Nathan and the snickerdoodle

And what surprise has Beeba brought? Snickerdoodle cookies. In my first usage of the stand mixer that we bought two years ago, I make snickerdoodle cookies. This is a big deal. I am notorious for bad cookies. Really, bad desserts to be honest. Since I have no interest in sweet things, I have not become accomplished at making them. But this is Sarah’s recipe and the cookies come out tasting good. I am having them for a dinner party the same weekend so I pick out the best looking ones for showtime and bring the rest (equally tasty) over for Sam and Nathan. Yay! They are a big hit.

January 16, 2011 Pilat Eve

We have this tradition in our family where we all gather in close proximity to Christmas, eat a bunch of hors d’ ouevres and maybe open some presents. If it happens at actual Christmas we sing Christmas carols and play Rock Band. But this year since we were away at Christmas, Pilat Eve happened on January 16th. We had the usual array of yummy snacks, pigs in blankets, chicken liver mousse, horseradish pub cheese and pumperknickel pretzels, fried tortellini, chips and dip plus fresh vegetables. We exchanged gifts and hugs. We tried to take group photos. (How can it be that a camera sitting by itself can produce a blurry picture?) Great fun was had by all.

Happy Pilat Eve!