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Catching Up

January 30, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Has over a week really gone by since my last post? Well, I can explain. Not that I need to. Basically, it’s been a busy week on the work front, starting with a dinner meeting last Sunday evening that was the initial event of an intensive 48-hour review process I was chairing. I’ll confess, that dinner was at Luc, which I wrote about last June, so I hardly have anything to complain about. Then again, I wasn’t complaining, was I?

Luc is the more casual younger brother to neighboring Rover’s, the fine French restaurant I have written about several times, both owned by famed local chef Thierry Rautureau. It opened just last May and we’ve had dinner there three times, breakfast just once. For my business last week, we had two work dinners to plan for, with a list of recommended restaurants provided to us, most of which were near the university and some pricing guidelines. I was studying the list when I suddenly realized that Luc would be perfect. And so it was. Simple food beautifully prepared.

For the record, I started with the evening’s special salad, frisée with dried cherries, and followed with the grilled pork chop, prepared with a sage mustard rub and plated atop some greens and a few small roasted potato chunks. We passed on dessert, what with everyone being quite full and with one of us having flown in from a locale in the eastern time zone and being more than ready to go back to her hotel and go to sleep.

Dinner the next night was at Ivar’s Salmon House. I was hesitant to select it, even though it is the ultimate place near the university (if not the city) to take out-of-towners to, or maybe because of that. Indeed, on my first visit to Seattle, in 1975, I ate dinner there. And it’s where I took my family on the eve of our wedding. So what can go wrong? Nothing. And nothing did. I had the foraged green salad and the alder grilled wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, maple glazed over a butternut squash hash with pancetta, onion, and spinach. Yum.

I didn’t intend this post to focus on food, but as long as that’s where it is heading, I would be remiss if I failed to mention how well we’ve been eating at home this month. I wish I could remember all the great meals Gail and Joel have prepared. Joel has been taking an active role in the kitchen, assisting Gail or preparing dishes of his own design. I’m not much of a cheesecake eater, but I loved the cheesecake he made Wednesday to accompany Gail’s prime rib. It had a macaroon crust made from scratch and a filling made with mascarpone and Meyer lemons. The prime rib was pretty good too, as were the black bean burgers Gail made the night before.

Thursday dinner wasn’t so fancy, but was still pretty special. Joel made good on a promised holiday gift of a month ago, ordering Vienna Beef hot dogs from Chicago for overnight delivery (on dry ice). They arrived Thursday. He selected the Vienna Beef Mini Pretzeldog & Mini Bageldog Combo, described at the Vienna Beef website as follows:

A snack lover’s dream! The Vienna Beef Mini Pretzeldog and Mini Bageldog Combo gives you the best of both worlds. There is no need to choose! The 2 pounds Combo gives you 1 pound of each and the 4 pound combo gives you 2 pounds of each! Perfect for your next party or family gathering.

For a limited time: get 1 bottle of mustard with 2 lbs order of minies, and 2 bottles of mustard with 4 lbs of minies

I’m not sure about that pluralization of mini. And we really didn’t need two more bottles of Plochman’s yellow mustard. But we needed those pretzeldogs and minidogs. For sure.

So, should I finish up the week? Okay. As some of you know, Friday night is Northlake night in our household. Northlake Tavern & Pizza House. Especially if Russ is around. Gail went there decades ago, before I knew her, when she lived with Jessica and a roommate not far from the university. When I first knew Gail, I couldn’t believe she liked to go there. For one thing, it’s a bar, and there was all the cigarette smoke. For another, its pizza wasn’t my idea of pizza. Over the years, Gail came around to my idea of what good pizza is, thanks in part to our year in Princeton and joint discovery of the greatest pizza place in the country, Red Moon Pizza on Route 1 between Princeton and Trenton. On many a Friday, we got into the car and drove to the otherwise character-less strip mall that was home to Red Moon, becoming regulars. I suppose we stood out, what with Gail’s accent and a small girl and baby boy in tow. After pizza, we’d walk down to Crazy Eddie to check out the electronics. That was always fun. And we knew how to have fun.

But back to Northlake. Oddly enough, in recent years I have come to appreciate that their pizza is pretty darn good too, especially if you don’t compare it to real pizzas, those of the thin-crust family, thinking of it instead as its own food group. Plus, there’s good beer. And most of all, there’s Russ, their most important customer, whose coattails we get to ride on. As Friends of Russ, we’re special customers too, even on days when he’s missing. Fortunately, Friday was not such a day. Russ was there, in part because he called me late in the afternoon to confirm that we were planning to go, which we were — Gail, me, and Joel too. Great evening.

Yesterday was leftover day, with all that good prime rib waiting to be put into sandwiches, which we ate before watching the first movie we rented in many months: The Kids Are All Right. I hadn’t paid attention to the Oscar nominations earlier in the week, so I didn’t even know it had been nominated for best picture, best actress (Annette Bening), and best supporting actor (Mark Ruffalo). I loved it. Gail didn’t. I can’t figure out why. For one, she was upset with the plight of one of the characters. I couldn’t convince her that her anger was a strength of the movie. One highlight: part way through the movie, the son is wearing a t-shirt with a map of something on it. A familiar map. Nantucket! I stopped the movie and kept going back and forth frame by frame to see the shirt better, until we could read the wording above the map — Nantucket Island. Boy I miss it.

I might have gotten an earlier start on blogging today if I didn’t spend half the day at work, writing a draft report as a follow up to my meetings earlier last week. And there’s another reason for my blogging absence over the last week, the fact that when I finally had free time in mid week, I picked up a book I had started last year and got re-engaged, finishing it after midnight Friday night/Saturday morning. Of course, when I say I picked up a book, I am being metaphorical. What I really did is pick up my Kindle and click on the book to see where I had left off. More on that in a post tomorrow, the post I thought I was going to write tonight. And I have still another post to write about my new Kindle, and my new MacBook Air, and the failure of my two-month-old iMac. Another day.

Categories: Food, Life, Restaurants
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