09-13-18 Morro Bay, Marina Street Inn B&B and some Wine Tasting

Having shared nuptials and celebrated the wedding over the weekend, we gathered our belongings and headed to Morro Bay to stay a few days and enjoy the cool weather of the area. Over the last 30 years or so we have stayed at a B&B in Morro Bay – Marina Street Inn.

The front of the Marina Street Inn – stop in and visit with Claudia.

Over the years we have gotten to know the Owners and they became friends not just owners of the B&B.

Proof that we were here in February 2008 and that we are skinier!!!

If you have been following our Blog for a while you will remember that Claudia joined us in Paris for Christmas and New Years last year.

Having been here as many times as we have we do have a preference for the first floor and that’s where we are – the Dockside Room.

The Dockside Room – this is where we usually stay.

However, over the years we have stayed in all four rooms of the Inn.

The Rambling Rose room is one of the 2 rooms on the first floor.
The Garden Room is on the second floor with a small patio between it and the Bordeaux Room
The Bordeaux room on the second floor.

We hadn’t been here very long before we got into Claudia’s car and headed out to dinner at the Galley. This is a great fish place right along the water in Morro Bay and a spot we have been to virtually every time we have been here. Great food, nice people and they don’t seem to mind if I bring my own wine (which is always a plus!).

The next day, after a lovely breakfast,

The dining table will seat 8 without a problem. There have been some lively discussions at this table for sure.

we piled into our car and headed out for a picnic at Justin winery. Justin has been around since 1981 with the mission of making world-class Bordeaux style blends. Since then they have expanded both their knowledge of viniculture in the unique region as well as the acreage.

Justin’s Tasting Room – lots of space to move around.
Krystal the Tasting Room Supervisor at Justin was fun to talk to about their wines.
Janeen and Claudia sample some wine and enjoy our picnic lunch

After a new owner came in about 10 years ago a new tasting room and facilities were built to expand the customer experience. Located a good 10 miles off Hwy 46, the main route along the wine areas of Paso Robles, it’s a destination for sure and not something you just stumble across. We planned a picnic lunch on their patio along with a wonderful bottle of Rose and had a fantastic time.

Here we are at Justin after or picnic. Claudia is between Janeen and David (duh).

Not being finished with wine tasting the next day we packed up and went out again – this time to Niner Winery. Niners consist of about 223 acres and are best know for estate grown cabernet sauvignon, Pinot noir and Chardonnay.

Niner’s tasting room – two big fire places would make this place a delight in the winter.

The entire place started about 2001 and has been doing OK. They have a restaurant with a limited menu and a very nice tasting room. We arrived for our lunch reservation a little early so or course had to sample a few things in the tasting room. We settled on a bottle of Chardonnay to go with our lunch.

The Heart shaped area with trees is a lovely feature of the Niner vineyards

Sitting out on the patio overlooking some olive trees, the “heart” shaped grove of trees and the lavender plantings was a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

Niner’s plantings of lavender were just outside the tasting room

Back to the Marina Street Inn for the evening ending this wonderful day we just hung out in the living room, read some books and enjoyed the end of the day together.

A comfortable living room open to all guests is a great gathering place before breakfast or anytime during the day.

If you are ever in the area drop in and say hello to Claudia and if you need a place to stay be sure to mention us and I’m sure she will give you a discount!

09-08-18 Birthday and a Wedding

Several months ago, our friend John Carnesale from Las Vegas called and invited us to his wedding to be held in Santa Barbara on September 8th. While it was at least 6 months ago when the call came in we have been working our way here ever since. I did mention to him that he was getting married on my birthday so I would remember the date.

We arrived in Santa Barbara the day before and settled into a nice room close to downtown and not far from the wedding site – Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church

and the reception site at the Four Seasons – Biltmore

The Four Seasons Biltmore Santa Barbara

both in Montecito just a wee bit south of town.  We started the day with a late breakfast at the Four Seasons including a lovely adult beverage overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Enjoying my Bloody Mary for breakfast.

Popularly known as “the Little Church of the Fathers,” this 160-year old parish is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Montecito.

Since the parish was unable to come up with the funds to build a new church, three sisters who moved to Montecito from the Mid-west, funded the construction of what is the current Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.

While not officially a part of the California Mission system, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church does have a connection to it. The humble beginnings of the church can be traced to the earliest rural settlers in Montecito, the soldiers of the Santa Barbara Presidio and their descendants. In lieu of a salary or pension payments, Presidio guards who watched over the Mission in Santa Barbara were given small tracts of land in Montecito and other nearby areas. Having grown tired of traveling to Sunday church services in Santa Barbara, these landholders eventually decided they wanted a church of their own. On July 16th, 1856, a priest traveled from the Mission to Montecito to celebrate Mass in a meadow and to announce that a chapel would be erected around the location of that first Mass.

Father Cox, who led the construction of the new church, passed away in 1939, leaving a legacy of generosity to those in need during the Great Depression. It is said that no one was turned away from his door.

The simple rectangular adobe church with a wooden porch was completed in 1859, the same year that the land on which it stood was officially deeded to the Church.

Over the years, a parish school was added along with a new chapel that expanded the capacity of the church from 300 to 600 parishioners.
Stacy and John have joined together! Lovely wedding.

We parked at the Four Seasons and took a Lyft ride to the Church where we joined a throng of people getting ready for the ceremony.

After the wedding there was a couple of hours before the start of the reception and we took that as a sign for an adult beverage in the bar.

A beverage in the bar – nice way to spend a part of my birthday!

The wedding included a fantastic band that played great tunes throughout the night and a sit down dinner with open bar!

A lovely afternoon for a reception by the ocean!

The band – great tunes throughout the reception and dinner

All in all a great way to celebrate my birthday, in a beautiful spot where we met a bunch of new friends and celebrated the joining of John and Stacy.

09-07-18 Moving Day, Wine stuff and great friends

The 29th of August was a big day for us. We moved everything we owned out of our home in Alhambra and into storage for the next 8 to 9 months. Thus culminates a two week long packing adventure where we tried to put everything into protective boxes and made decisions on what to keep and what toss. Having lived in the house for 40 years, we had accumulated a lot of treasures. Fortunately, before we started this adventure, we had a major “estate sale” to reduce the amount of stuff but even still there was a lot to go through. Originally we had thought about getting a couple of the “Pods” and filling them up but the more I thought about it the more discouraged I got with that idea and just called Nationwide Moving for a quote to pick everything up and move it. Turns out the quote, based on the “volume” we would have had with two pods was less expensive! This also meant we were released from the heavy lifting of loading the damn things and making sure it all fit!

The round mosaic table was made by my mother 40 plus years ago. Where will end up? Who knows but it’s going with us.
Lots of shrink wrap, cardboard, packing blankets and tape being used.
I never would have packed this stuff as carefully as they did that’s for sure.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your perspective, the quote for the “volume was for 500 Cubic feet. After all was said and done, and loaded on the truck, the volume of all our worldly positions was closer to 800 Cubic feet – and 2 pods wouldn’t have been enough.

800 cubic feet of stuff.

Sure, maybe we saved to much stuff but there are some treasures we just couldn’t part with. We have sent additional 7 or 8 boxes of things to our son’s home in Virginia (thank you very much Terri and Jason for allow us to share your place when we are on the east coast). Now all of our stuff is stored waiting for us to find a “landing pad” sometime next year.

The following day, VietnamVets came and carted away a lot of things we were not going to keep and might be helpful to others. When it comes down to it, the emotional tie you have to things can be broken if you just try. YEARS ago I took a million pictures, had a darkroom to develop and print my own pictures and some really nice camera equipment (Nikon with 3 or 4 lens). This camera equipment has been in a carry case for the last 15 years and not opened. I put it on the AmVets truck and away it went. Yes, the stuff in the case had cost a pretty penny but had little value to me now and was certainly not digital so of little interest to todays camera totting folks.

With our house on the market, and thus no home to sleep in, we continued to stay with friends in Alhambra while they were on their road trip. When they returned we moved to other friends (Phil and Jessie)

Phil and Jessie – our hosts for the last several nights. Wonderful people we have been fortunate to have met one NYE 6 or 7 years ago.

in Pasadena until leaving (today) for Santa Barbara.

Taking a night off from all our efforts, we got to see John Pizzarelli at Catalina’s Jazz Club in Hollywood one evening. I figure we have seen this guy 15 or more times over the years.

Since the movers took everything away we have had a couple of offers on the house and one that looked like it might actually result in its sale. Unfortunately they got cold feet and backed out so the realtor is out drumming up more interest in the house with the hope we can get in and out of Escrow before we have to leave for Northern California at the end of September (not likely but we can hope).

As many of you know, we have a bunch of wine (thus the loverofwine.com website) and I was able to sell of 28 cases of the juice during the last 2 weeks. That still leaves another 80 cases to worry about still in storage!

Stored wine – lots and lots of stored wine
Some very special bottles in storage for sure. Two in particular on the right side – a 1995 Bollinger RD and a 2006 Cristal. Lovely Champagnes for sure.
OK, we have a lot of wine…I know…

All of it is safely protected in a LOCKED (don’t get any ideas) locker in a temperature-controlled building. Along with the wine are several boxes of photos, photo books and other things that will be much safer in the wine locker then in a hot storage facility.

During the years we have spent in the Area, we have gotten to know a number of really interesting people – particularly in the wine and food business. I can specifically point at Tom Anderson who was the GM at the Parkway Grill in Pasadena as the person who got me started in collecting wine (damn you Tom! [just kidding]) and to Hugo Molino as the first chef who introduced me to the joys of gracious dining and interesting meals. During our last few weeks we have been able to have dinner with Tom and his wife Nikki

Tom and Nikki with a wonderful dinner and wines.

and to catch up with Hugo!

Hugo now owns a small place in Alhambra on Main Street called Genovese’s. Stop in and enjoy!

Great joy in reconnecting with these people – hopefully not loosing them as we move away but visiting with them when we are in the area.

We are now in Santa Barbara for a couple of days to attend a friends wedding (tomorrow on my birthday) and then off to Morro Bay to visit with our friend Claudia (you will remember her as she came to Paris last December and stayed for Christmas and New Years with us….) before returning to Alhambra for a round of medical appointments and other happenings before heading to the Bay Area (Northern California for those not in the know) to celebrate our friends 50th Wedding Anniversary. Until later, as Rick Steve’s always says, Keep on Traveling.

One last note, before I go, we have learned that our darling Little Miss (our granddaughter) will become an “Big Sister” in April! One more reason to be on the east coast for sure.

I’m the Big Sister T-Shirt

8-25-18 Highland Park and Hippo Restaurant

Within the City of Los Angeles, there are any number of smaller cities and communities. For example, where we have lived for the last 40 years – Alhambra – is a City with it’s own governance but is within the County of Los Angeles so very much influenced by what happens “downtown”. This past Saturday, our friends, Phil and Jessie, took us to a new ‘hip’ restaurant called Hippo. Located in the old Highland Park Post Office Building, thus HIPPO, along with a neat little pizza place and a small wine shop it is one of a growing trend in this area of new restaurants.

Highland Park

Highland Park is a hilly neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles, located in the San Rafael Hills and along the Arroyo Seco. It is situated within what was once Rancho San Rafael of the Spanish/Mexican era.

The area was originally discovered thousands of years ago by ancestors of the Chumash people (the local Indian tribe), and would later be settled by the Tongva Indian tribe most associated with early settlements in Los Angeles and the Channel Islands off the coast.  After the founding of Los Angeles in 1784, the Corporal of the Guard at the San Gabriel mission, Jose Maria Verdugo, was granted the 36,403 acre Rancho San Rafael which included the present day Highland Park. Drought in the late 1800s resulted in economic hardship for the Verdugo family, and Rancho San Rafael was eventually auctioned off in 1869 for $3,500 over an unpaid loan. The San Rafael tract was purchased by Andrew Glassell and Albert J. Chapman, who leased it out to sheepherders. Highland Park was annexed to Los Angeles in 1895.

Historic Masonic Lodge Building

In the early 20th century, Highland Park and neighboring Pasadena became havens for artists and intellectuals who led the Arts and Crafts movement

Starting in the early 2000s, a diverse mix of people began arriving to Highland Park to seek out, buy, and revitalize Craftsman homes, some which had suffered neglect over the decades. Many of Highland Park’s oldest homes were razed during the 1950s and 1960s. One architecturally significant home made its way to Heritage Square Museum, thanks to the efforts of local activists dedicated to saving Victorian homes scheduled for demolition. Like Echo Park and Eagle Rock, Highland Park has steadily seen some gentrification. People from across the region have been attracted to the historic Craftsman homes that escaped demolition. Its relatively low rents have made it increasingly popular among young people who value the pedestrian urban lifestyle afforded by the older style of neighborhood.

Once again, Highland Park is building a reputation as a mecca for artists, with trendy shops, galleries, bars and restaurants opening throughout the neighborhood. Hippo, which opened just a little over a month ago, is just one example of this change in the City.

Saturday evening is “date night” and this place was no exception. We arrived for our 5PM reservation (the only time we could get) and joined the crowd getting settled in for the evening.

The front door!

From start to finish it was a very pleasant evening.

The restaurant was FULL up including the bar by 5:45!

The menu has a number of lovely items: Cool summer wax beans with fresh Serrano chiles, toasted almonds& frenchie vinaigrette; Griddle’d cauliflower, cauliflower “tahini,” walnut raisin caper relish; Royal Hamachi with Meyer lemon oregano relish; New Zealand tai snapper “ceviche”, cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro; Sweet corn cappellacci, funghi misti, thyme; Cedar smoked ocean trout, sweet corn succotash, green goddess just to name a few of the delights on menu.

We started off with cocktails – Janeen had a “Consider your shoes” Aperol, Prosecco, Amaro Angeleno, vermouth, olive & orange.

Consider your shoes

I had “Hippo old fashioned” bourbon, amaro sfumato, tart cherry, bitters

Hippo old fashioned

and Phil had “Paris is burning” – bourbon, italicus, lemon, blackberry, aquafaba, earl grey tea.

Paris is burning

The cocktails included a lovely bufala mozzarella with cured 14 month prosciutto di san daniclle.

Prosciutto and mozzarella

Jessie had a pour from the bottle of wine Barbera D’Alba.

Barbera d’ Alba lovely wine from the Piedmonte region of Italy

Between the four of us at the table, we ended up with several different starters and three different mains! For starters we had summer tomatoes, cucumbers, olives & feta,

Summer tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, red onion, basil, oregano vinaigrette and french feta.

and the yellowfin tuna carpaccio. Our mains consisted of the Oxtail tagliatelle ragu,

Oxtail ragu with fresh tagliatelle pasta

the fresh ricotta tortellini

Fresh ricotta tortellini, bufalo mozzarella, tomato and petit basil.

and the cedar smoked ocean trout.

Cedar smoked ocean trout

Portion size was wonderful – not so much you had left overs but not so small you felt cheated. We looked at the dessert menu but passed. One of the interesting things I noticed on the menu, and on the final bill, is they add a 3% charge to the bill to assist in offering health care coverage for the staff. Never seen anything like that before – I wonder if this is a trend for the future.

08-21-18 More Route 66 and Packing Up and Moving away!

Man does time fly! It seems like just yesterday we were having BBQ in Amarillo and now we are already in Southern California. A lot has happened in the last 10 or so days and it’s time for a minor update.

This was our road track from Macomb to Alahmbra

Driving along Route 66 (well really Interstate 40) is a treat. There are certainly a lot of interesting sites to see – although the old Route 66 structures are really not in the best of shape.

Not sure what you would call this – but it’s one of the sites along Route 66.
The Classic TP Motel along the route
We didn’t stop here but lots of people did.

After staying the night in Gallup New Mexico, we turned south away from Route 66 and headed towards Phoenix – well actually Chandler, Arizona where we were connecting with friends. However, before getting to their place, we stopped in Pleasant Valley.

In the late 1980’s I was active in a SCUBA club called the California Wreck Divers and every year we had a major speaker for our banquet. One year, one of our members was able to arrange for a shipwreck hunter and national author to be our speaker – Clive Custer

Clive Cussler

and I was the person who took care of him during his visit. Over the years Clive had found a number of historically significant shipwrecks around the US, last count more than 60 shipwreck sites – some of them have been recovered and put on display. He was able to do all of this because he writes adventure novels and people bought them – making him a bunch of money. Clive has been on the New York Times fiction best-seller list more than 20 times and written more than 70 books. Well, it turns out that Clive Cussler grew up in Alhambra – where we were living and he stayed at our home for a night and we showed him around the area. All of this ‘getting to know’ Clive was in the late ‘80’s but for some reason I have had his home address in Pleasant Valley Arizona ever since. It seemed like a good idea to drop in so I did.

After a brief visit with Clive we continued on to our friends Robin and Eric and their children Aria and Dorian (our adopted grand children). It was a wonderful visit including a lot of time to catch up on events. Of course it did include an evening out with adult beverages, always a good thing.

Janeen, Robin and Dorian
David, Aria and Eric.

 

The following morning, Sunday, we learned that Janeen’s dad had passed during the night. While it is always sad to loose a loved one, Harold was 101 and in failing health. We had spent a week with him prior to heading to SoCal and we knew his time was short. The passing of the meteor shower overhead about the time he released his spirit comforted Janeen.

Janeen having a brew at the Back Abbey – we stopped for lunch prior to getting to Alhambra.
David having a brew at the Back Abbey

We arrived in Alhambra later that day to stay with our friends Sally and Jim, well actually to house sit while they do a 3-week motor tour along Route 66. We were able to settle in and reflect on all that had happened and the full live lived by Harold.

Now it’s time to move forward – and that includes the sale of our home of 40 years. The house was listed on August 2nd and on Sunday the 12th, the day we arrived; there was an open house. As of today, August 21st, we have accepted an offer with a 30-day escrow. Between now and the 29th, when movers show up, we have to finish packing everything we intend to keep.

Stuff ready for the movers!
Work in progress – but very close to completion
Odds and ends yet to resolve

This “stuff” will be put into storage until we figure out where our next “Landing Pad” will be. That means lots of packing to be done and decisions to be made about what to keep and what needs to find a new home.

During our down time from packing the house, we will be visiting friends, going to the Huntington Library and Gardens (Janeen will go several times while we are here) and generally trying to enjoy our time in CA. Once the movers take everything away there will still be stuff that needs to find a new home – Am Vets will make a visit, as will others to haul the debris away.

We are in Southern Cal for the next several weeks packing, visiting friends and generally trying to deal with all that is happening in our lives. After escrow closes, which should be mid to late September, we head to the Bay Area to celebrate with friends their 50th wedding anniversary and on or about October 1st we drive back to Macomb to hold a memorial service for Harold check on Trust business there.

So, while our Blog hasn’t got the usual tid-bits of historical interest, I wanted to keep you up to date with what’s going on.

 

 

 

8-9-18 Hamilton, Macomb and Route 66

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted – so here’s a little update on what’s been happening.

After we got to Springfield, we had two things scheduled – tickets to see Hamilton at the Kennedy Center and an appointment for a long-term visa at the French consulate. Hamilton first opened on Broadway in February 2015. Since that time, it has continued on Broadway and also gone on the road. Broadway tickets are still VERY EXPENSIVE and the Bus and Truck crew also costs a pretty penny. Well, I figured I wasn’t going to see it if I didn’t just dip into the wallet and get tickets. Prior to doing our Northern Loop (Canada, etc.…) I had gotten a couple of tickets for the Sunday performance on July 22nd.   During our Northern Loop we had listened to the sound track a couple of times to be at least familiar with the music; that was a really good thing.

Hamilton – the Musical

The songs and dialogue really go quickly and having some idea of what is being said was a real benefit. The play is well over 2 ½ hours and has lots of action and historical references (we have also been reading the biography of Hamilton written by Ron Chernow which is what inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the play and a good deal of the dialogue comes from the book. We were NOT disappointed and would love to see the play another time.

The second major thing to get done was a visit to the French Consulate to see about getting a long-term visa. Due to an existing treaty, US Citizens can stay in Europe for 90 days in a 180-day period without a visa. Most times this isn’t a problem. However with Ryan and Chris living in Paris, two different April river cruises booked and a desire to tour more parts of the European part of the world,getting a long term resident visa would make it a lot easier to just wander around without having to worry about the time limit. The appointment required a whole lot of documentation to be put together and all of that was ready to go. When we finally got to the “desk” it seemed as if everything was going to be OK until we realized you cannot formally apply for the extended visa more than 3 months prior to going. So, as we were just a little over 4 months prior to our initial departure date ,we gathered everything and left with the understanding we would need to make another appointment sometime late October. The good thing about going when we did it confirmed we had all the information together and also gave us some pointers on what additional materials we might need to make sure we were successful next time.

OK, with all of that out of the way, we packed up to start our trip across country. First stop was Macomb,Illinois to visit with Harold (Janeen’s dad) and make sure he was getting all the care necessary to be comfortable. He is now under hospice care in the long-term care facility, Wesley Village, and doing as well as can be expected for someone who is 101 years old. We stayed a little over a week visiting daily and talking with his caregivers and others. One of the goals was to make sure all of those visiting him understand his condition and that, while it will be a sad day when it happens, he is slipping away to the other side. We were able to make sure he understands we were leaving for California as we have a time -frame to resolve some issues for the sale of our home and a wedding we have committed to attending in September plus a 50th wedding anniversary for friends in the Bay Area.

Now we are on the road. The first day was long – about 500 plus miles to get to Tulsa OK.

Roadside rest stop with a tornado shelter.
A lovely day to drive through the state f Oklahoma.

Next day (today) we drove to Amarillo,Texas. Most of today has been spent driving along Route 66! After getting checked into our Hotel, it seemed like it was time for BBQ.

So, first thing I did was check at the front desk to see if they had any recommendations – nothing really jumped out. Next was to check on Trip Advisor and see what was around. Not surprising there area bunch of places, but the one that caught our eye was a small place called Tyler’s Barbecue.

Tylers Barbeque – opened in 2010 and doing a fantastic job.

All of the reviews were 5-star (at least the dozen or so posted) and it was a small place serving ribs, brisket, pulled pork, sausage and all the other stuff you think about when thinking BBQ.

Here’s our brisket being cut!
We beat the crowd that’s for sure.

This place did not disappoint. We ordered the three-meat dinner with three ribs, some sliced brisket and a mound of pulled pork.

Ribs, brisket, pork and other goodies.

Along with this were potato salad and a peach cobbler for dessert. The place doesn’t serve “adult beverages” which helped to reduce the cost impact for sure and wasn’t missed actually.

Ribs – more ribs please.
Janeen getting her BBQ on.
Need a boot?

Tomorrow we head further west stopping in Gallop NM and then to Chandler, Arizona to visit with some friends and then to Alhambra where we will work on getting all the remaining stuff out of the house and selling it. More updates as something interesting happens.

07-21-18 Catching up – Portland, Boston, Mystic Seaport

After a delightful stay in Saint John we headed back to the US of A stopping in Freeport Maine to visit LL Bean.

Some big boots to fill outside the entrance

We visited here many years ago and to say the place has changed would be a mild understatement. LL Bean takes up a LOT of space with different sections for various kinds of merchandise.

You can get lost in this place!

Fortunately there really wasn’t anything we needed so packed up and headed to Portland Maine for lunch at Eventide Oyster Company.

Looking over the menu at Eventide

A great selection of Oysters (duh)

A dozen oysters – could have done this selection all over again.

along with some other treats

Maine Lobster Stew – clearly didn’t skimp on the good stuff
Peekytoe Crab Bun – Piled high!

made lunch very nice. After a quick tour of the City we headed back on the road towards Boxford and our friends Joel and Wendy.

Joel – we have know this clown for over 40 years!
Joel and Wendy

Boxford is just north of Boston and their home is hidden amongst the trees. Beautiful spot right now but gosh all the snow that comes makes it a challenge to get to I’m sure. During our visit we didn’t do very much – ok, one trip into Cambridge for lunch at Bartley’s Burger Cottage.

Onion Rings and Meat – hard to beat at Bartley’s Burger Cottage

They have great burgers and wonderful onion rings!

After a short stop to visit with friends Susanne and Peter in Milton

Peter and Suzanne – we would walk our dogs together when we all loved in Cambridge in the early 70’s.

we found our way to Mystic Seaport. Having not been here before it was a lovely day to explore the seaport and tour the area where they are restoring a wooden ship, get on board the last remaining wooden wailing ship and enjoy the day by the water.

Charles W. Morgan – the last remaining wooden wailing ship
Colorful view along the walkways
Here we are next to the Charles W. Morgan.
The cooper at Mystic Seaport
One of a number of pictures with Janeen and life rings. I think this makes maybe 50 or so different ones.

Afterwards, we went back to Bethlehem and stayed in our friends Jim and Carol’s place while they were at their lake house.   We did discover a wonderful ice cream store -Bethlehem Dairy Store – that existed when we lived there but we didn’t know about.

Sunday with a Cherry on top
Sunday with chocolate

Several days to get all the laundry done, relax a bit and off we went to Springfield Virginia and our home base with our son Jason and his family.

Along the entire trip – both when we did our swing to Savannah Georgia and this last time when we got all the way up to Prince Edward Island we have been scouting out places where we might rent a place for a landing pad. As yet nothing has really jumped out at us but we are still looking.

Now we are getting ready for the trip to California via Macomb Illinois (Janeen’s dad) to do a final clearing of the house in Alhambra (to sell it) and to visit with friends. If you have been following along, and are anywhere between Illinois and California, reach out and we will see if we can stop by!

 

 

07-06-18 Saint John, New Brunswick

After checking into our B&B, The Mahogany Manor,

Mahogany Manor Bed & Breakfast

we decided to take our selves for a walk into the city center. Well, not really what we normally think of as a City Center, but certainly the historical center of Saint John. From the beginnings of the American Revolution in 1774, through 1783 some 40,000 British subjects fled north to escape persecution. Many of these “Loyalists” as they were called arrived in Saint John and created a new home.

Trinity Church
The old Post Office
Typical row houses we walked along during our “tour”
Saint John is known for its pub and restaurant scene throughout uptown. Statistics Canada found the city has the third most pubs per capita in Canada.

The town has a number of historic places including the County Courthouse in King’s Square (1825), City Market (1876)

City Market – The building has been in continuous use since 1876. The interior roof supports are reminiscent of a ships hull.

and a number of other structures that have been around for a while. It was an interesting walk with much to see.

We saw this ‘tug’ and couldn’t resist taking a picture
I couldn’t really believe that this was a cruise ship port of call!

Along the way we passed a number of restaurants – Taco Pica, Taste of Egypt, Rocky’s Sport’s Bar, Churchill’s Bar & Bub, Thandi – but the one that caught our eye was Italian By Night. Who knew we would find a great Italian Restaurant in Saint John New Brunswick Canada..

We arrived early for our 5PM reservation, but we were greeted by Dorothy at the Bar with a wide smile and a hug like we were old friends!

Dorothy – The “greeter” and bar tender. She made an excellent Aperol Spritz

It is always nice to be warmly greeted and certainly starts the evening off on a good setting. We were really the first to arrive for the evening – tables still being set by the staff, kitchen staff preparing for the evening –

The inside of the restaurant – very open.

so we took a seat at the bar and had a glass of wine. While we were there we were able to meet one of the business owners, Gord Hewitt.

Gord – one of the co-owners of the restaurant

He was sampling a new Italian wine they might add to the menu and when I said we had previously had the bottle (which we had not too long ago) he shared a glass with us. Very nice.

 

Once we got to our table, Abby, our waitress, took charge and guided us through the menu and offered her recommendations.

Abby, our waitress, did a great job keeping me in wine!

Along the way, Elizabeth Rowe stopped by the table

Elizabeth – another of the co-owners of the restaurant

– she is one of the owners along with Gord and Michele Hooton (we didn’t get to meet her, she is traveling in Italy at the moment). From Elizabeth we learned about the history of the restaurant (formally a family owned furniture store for over 100 years) and how they developed the menu. They had started with a deli about a block or so away and started doing Italian during the evening – thus the name Italian by NIght. Once the realized there was an actual customer base that would support a restaurant they took the big step and moved from a very small space (1700 SF) to a much larger space of over 4,000 SF (the former furniture store). After personally doing the remodel and getting the menu set they opened about 5 or 6 years ago and never looked back.

The menu has a number of traditional presentations and a few with an interesting twist. To start we had the Panzanella – a Tuscan salad of tomatoes, string beans, red peppers, cucumbers, red onion, capers, arugula, and house-made croutons with a house vinaigrette dressing.

Panzanella

Wonderful. Janeen said, after finishing the dish, “I need to get this into my menu plans.” Janeen followed this with Tagliatelle Alla Vongole – House-made pasta, baby clams, grape tomatoes, pancetta, garlic, white wine, parsley, and fresh focaccia

Tagliatelle Alla Vogole

. I had the Lasagna Grande – Fresh pasta, Bolognese sauce, mozzarella with Parmesan cheese. Janeen’s dish was piled high with clams! While I have had lasagna

Lasagne Grande – Fresh pasta, meat sauce, balsamella, parmesan, mozzarella

any number of places this presentation was one of the best. When sou chef Steven stopped by at our request,

Chef Steven – Originally from England

we made sure he knew how pleased we were with our choices. He was soon away to the UK to visit family, but loves St. John and hopes to stay on in New Brunswick.

Throughout the meal, Abby made sure we had wine to drink and all was well with the world. While I don’t have a clue if I will get back to Saint John I can safely say that if I do it will include a stop at Italian By Night.

There aren’t words…

07-05-18 Prince Edward Island

We had started out on this northern loop with Prince Edward Island (PEI) as our goal. This came about as our friends, who live in Bethlehem PA, Rita and Jim, often talked about his (Jim’s) roots that come from the PEI area. As a result we had it in our heads to at least take a gander at this place in the far east of Canada. PEI is a one of the three Maritime Provinces of Canada and is the smallest province in both land area and population. It is truly an island connected to the mainland by both a ferry and the 8-mile Confederation Bridge. We arrived on July 4th – a Wednesday in Canada (thus no fireworks or other events…) and stayed at a lovely B&B in Miscouche called Prince Country Inn.

Our home for a couple of days on PEI

Our hosts

Our host, Herb at the B&B

Herb and Roger have been operating the B&B for a number of years – however, they are snowbirds heading to Florida for 6-months of the year. It was a nice place to base our couple of days on the Island.

The backbone of the economy is farming; it produces 25% of Canada’s potatoes and you see the fields everywhere you go.

New potatoes starting out

Additionally there are of course the obligatory potato products, pictures and places to visit in most of the little towns.  Fishing also plays a part of the economy as evidence by the various stands, boats and lobster pots we saw stacked around.

Fisheries form one of the major industries of Prince Edward Island.

Without a real agenda, we spent the first day just wandering around the area and having a nice late lunch at Open Eats in Summerside. The following day we headed out to the

The Cavendish Boardwalk – a collection of shops on the eastern side of the island

Cavendish Boardwalk – a collection of various local shops towards the Atlantic side of the Island – and had a wonderful Moo ice cream cone. Since spring came late, peonies are in bloom.

Peonies – getting ready to burst forth with flowers.

From there we just sort of drove around on the eastern side of the island enjoying the warm day,

Here’s a colorful fishing villages, this in French River on the Island
There were light houses all around the Island

the beautiful roadside flowers and the views of the ocean. Along the roadside there were lots of lupine in various colors – red, pink, white and purple.

Lupines were all over the place in a variety of colors.

They grow wild along the roadside and added lovely color to our day. For lunch we headed back to Summerside and grabbed a table at the Deckhouse Pub with a view of the water.

We had a delighful lunch on the upper porch where the green and black umbrella’s are located.
Us – after lunch

We finished our visit to the Island and got ready for our trek the following day (which turned into a blowing rainstorm) to Saint Johns, New Brunswick.

07-02-2018 Dinner at Laurie Raphael – Quebec city

From time to time we like to jump into the deep end for a dining experience. Exploring Quebec City was no exception. When we first came into town I checked several of the websites I’ve used in the past to figure out where we might go. After looking at the options, I discovered Laurie Raphael.   This is a family operation having been started by Chef Daniel some 27 years ago and now managed by his son, Raphael. There are two locations; the original in Quebec City and a second restaurant is now in Montreal. The venue has limited seating and a set menu, either a 3 courses or 5-course selection option. We arrived early, as is our custom and were introduced to chef Pierre and staff before being seated in the bar prior to moving to the dining room. Seems they like to start the experience in the bar with a glass of wine or a cocktail along with a amuse bouche or two. I had a nice Sancerre and Janeen a French Rose to go with our two different presentations.

At this point, Hugo, our food guide for the evening, explained the menu options – of which there are two. A 3-course meal with a “sea” and “land” on each course or a five-course meal again with 2 options on each course. Hugo indicated that the overall portion size would be the same whether we had the 3 or 5 so naturally I chose the 5-course option.

Having decided to do the full tasting menu, we were seated in the dining room, which is relatively small and relaxed. The décor featured laser cut metal panels along the window side and muted colors for the seating, walls and floor. In the middle of the room was a brass “tree” about 8 feet tall with a serving table around it for the wait staff to stage items prior to placement on the table. It is clear they are striving for feeling of being in nature. Bunches of fresh vegetables were displayed near the kitchen.

Hugo, our waiter, explained the menu and presented our wines throughout the evening. Janeen had mostly local Niagara peninsula, wines while David had some French, California and Italian selections. We shared sips on all courses to see how they matched the dish presented. Dinner lasted about 3 ½ hours – just about right for a tasting menu.

Always a good time for bubbles – sparking cider for Janeen and a Champagne for David
Halibut ceviche, rhubarb water, celery and salicornia
Magdelen Island’s scallops, blood orange and pomelo, cilantro oil, fresh shiso and candied lemon zest
More wine please!
Coal grilled green asparagus and foie gras, buckwheat sprouts and green shallot puree
Orleans Island smoked mini lettuce, grilled pork confit and egg salad, papilotte puree and bacon dressing
Wines to go with lobster
Lobster claws, cauliflower and broad bean stew, St-Laurence River seaweed
Lobster tail, kale, spinach and lovage from “ferme des Ruisseaux”, hollandaise sauce
Wines for the second land course
Seared veal, thyme and lemon meat juice, market vegetables
Roasted quail, fir meat juice, forest vegetables
At the end, with desserts, we had both a Canadian and a French dessert wine.
The first dessert – Pied-de-Vent cheese Paris-Brest, Quebec strawberries
The second dessert – Rhubarb and basil sorbet, dried meringue, rhubarb and gin jelly
The final dessert – Sweets

The experience was wonderful, the small bites and presentations done very well and the unique flavors of each seemed to come out in unique ways. Janeen was most impressed with the first course “sashimi” halibut and scallops enlivened with citrus and rhubarb flavors. David enjoyed the quail, prepared two ways, with lovely morel mushrooms.