When Your Mom Eats As Much Sushi As You…

The directions we received were simple: “If you beat us to the restaurant, ask for Nakamura-san”

We were following the instructions of new friends that we are really enjoying. And what is more fabulous than new friends who know more about the Asian cuisines that you love, but have actually spent time in these countries? A bunch of time? You get great advice and pointers and promises all-around to hit more restaurants, too… oh yeah!

Last night we got to find out which restaurant is really close to little bit of Japan in our own city. This restaurant served sushi so lovely that my own 75 year old mother not only tried sea urchin with me, but wasn’t grossed out, and didn’t stop there.

We’ll be back. Oh yes.

Quail Eggs on some spectacular creation that The Husband got to eat.
Quail Eggs on some spectacular creation that The Husband got to eat.

Classic Cocktails: The Sazerac

I like my wines. I know wine, have enjoyed wine in France and local wine from every area of the country that we have inhabited. Red or white, call me a… what’s the word for a wine-lover? An oenophile. Yep, that’s me.

I thought I didn’t like beer, until I realized that it is the hops that I don’t care for… lucky me, hop-happy San Diego will help me avoid swilling too many beer calories, or so I thought until I discovered Ballast Point Oatmeal Stout on nitrogen. Mamacita, is that a fabulous quaff!

Croce's Park West on 5th Ave San Diego
Croce’s Park West on 5th Ave San Diego

IMG_6292Now I want to try classic mixed drinks. Last Friday I tried a Gimlet, and loved it. This Friday I tried a drink that I had never even heard of- the Sazerac. And wouldn’t you know it, the couple sitting in the booth next to us knew all about this drink and its origins. The Sazerac company has a pretty good summary, too, click to read if you are so inclined. It’s birthday celebration time for me, so, off we went to what we have decided is our favorite restaurant and bar- Croce’s Park West.

Croce's bar menu...
Croce’s bar menu…

A classic modern Sazerac has rye whiskey, bitters and absinthe. The drink was SMOOOOOOTH! “The Guthrie,” Croce’s version of a Sazerac, was so nice that I went from complete ignorance to complete fan after one serving.

photo from SeriousEats.com
photo from SeriousEats.com (click to link)

Here’s a great post on SeriousEats.com- “25 Cocktails Everyone Should Know”

This is going to be the list from which I will be choosing new drinks to try!

I don’t know what is worse: I haven’t even heard of half of them, or I have only tried about 7 of the 25.

Time to get drinking.

Cheese, Please, and Throw in a Casserole, While You’re at It…

Tried a couple of new things tonight.

IMG_6284
Front…
IMG_6285
Back…

The Colman’s seasoning packet seems devoid of artificial colors and crap… I like that in foods that we can get from the UK. Less crap.

I gave it the Mom Test- meaning, Would My Mom Eat This? I think she would. She’s tougher than The Boy, no lie. I’ll make her try some for lunch tomorrow (you know you will try this, mom, because you are so intrigued by a packaged product that I’d try… that’s probably going to be the first thing you do when you get here tomorrow).

Chicken, vegetables, seasoning and water in the pot...
Chicken, vegetables, seasoning and water in the pot…

The chicken cooked 90 minutes at 350 with a quartered onion, three carrots (’cause, that’s all I had), 1 1/2 cups water whisked with the seasoning packet, poured over the quartered chicken and veggies in the lidded casserole. Everyone pretty much liked it, served with a baked potato and salad. No complaints, but no socks knocked off.

Aged Mahón Cheese
Aged Mahón Cheese

The great find today is this Mahón cheese from Trader Joes. It is only here for this month, but undoubtedly in any of the better-stocked cheese departments here in So. Cal. This is really delicious stuff, folks. It has a bit of the grainy texture of an aged cheddar and while creamier than a mild cheddar, tastes like a cross between an aged gouda and a milder cheddar. Make my Swedish friend happy- say “how-dah,” not “goo-duh.” She gives me a hard time when I say “goo-duh.” So, of coarse, I look right at her and say “goo-duh” whenever this subject comes up. That’s how I roll.

Mahón is a delicious Spanish cheese. The Swede would agree with me on that, her husband is Spanish and she wouldn’t dis a Spanish product. She’s nice like that. She also would  have liked the Pinot Gris that I enjoyed with my cheese and crackers while the casserole cooked and I watched Captain America. I bet she’d like Captain America- there we go, Annika, let’s look at your vacation photos, then watch Marvel Comics movies with the kids really soon!! I have the cheese and will buy more wine for us!

There’s a First Time for Everything…

I’ve never really met a wine that I didn’t like. I mean, REALLY didn’t like. Now, I don’t care for the infamous Two Buck Chuck, but I might cook with it if I had some on hand, which I don’t. Ever.  And I think Merlots are just watered down Cabernets, which are my favorite (I’m sure there are some good Merlots, I just like to annoy Merlot enthusiasts with that blanket statement).

Tonight, I was going to try a new wine with my bread and cheese for dinner, and I had a fabulously disappointing bottle of Médoc. A Château Langlade 2012 Médoc, to be exact.

Surprise! This was terrible! I strongly suspect that something actually was wrong with its cork… blech.

This bottle was so disappointing that it will be going back to the store where it was purchased. I don’t think I’ve ever returned a bottle of wine.

But, as I mentioned, there’s a first time for everything. Maybe I’ll pick up a Merlot while I’m at the same shop…

Just kidding. It will be a Cab, for sure!

Rx for Grief: Family and Friends

One of the PHENOMENAL views from Mary's home
One of the PHENOMENAL views from Mary’s home

Sometimes, extended family comes along at just the right time, in ways that you never would have expected. Take advantage of these people when you really need it- in times of stress, grief, loss.

My grandmother passed away on my daughter’s 18th birthday. I learned of her passing within the hour, as we were getting ready to attend our church’s Easter service. Even though we knew her hour was near, it was still devastating. In an interesting way, just the week before, we had received an invitation to come for Easter dinner to my sister-in-law’s friend’s mother’s house (did you follow that?)… not just my immediate family, but my parents and brother, too. It turns out, this was an enormous relief. We spent time with extended family and friends and were able to focus on happier times, past and present.

My parents watching all the kids participate in Mary's Amazing and Lucrative Egg Hunt
My parents watching all the kids participate in Mary’s Amazing and Lucrative Egg Hunt

I am very thankful for the ever generous Mary and her Easter dinner and festivities. Very thankful! We are social creatures, we humans. We must allow our friends and family to help redirect our sad thoughts when the time is right. We need each other!

Today, I created an account on BloomNation.com, a flower service that hooks you up with local florists who create some pretty gorgeous arrangements. They will be sending Mary a nice bouquet form all of us, and hopefully our thank you note will arrive at close to the same time.

The Girl and her Grandma
The Girl and her Grandma

The only thing I wish I could include in this post is a few photos of my sis-in-law, her husband and kids, her friend, husband and kids, her sister, and of course, Mary! I wasn’t in the picture taking frame of mind that Easter Sunday and am kicking myself now…

“A friend in need is a friend indeed.”