Monday, June 27, 2011


An opulent  birthday orchid from my generous friend, John Baker.  

The world's longest cold, wet, unlovely spring I think has passed here.  We've managed to string a few dry days together.  It looked like it wasn't going to happen last week.  Wednesday and Thursday were just gray, overcast but rainless.  Then the brightness of a summer sun that I associate with Portland burned me awake on Friday.  It wasn't a hot day, but the sky was a brilliant blue all day long. There was a breeze and it felt fabulous.  For the first time, I slept with my bedroom balcony door open.  What a luxury it is to sleep comfortably with a gentle breeze to keep you under a blanket. The windows have been open for several weeks and all that bird chirping won't let me sleep much past 7:30 AM.  It will soon become warm and I'll add the ceiling fan to keep me comfortable, but that balcony door will pretty much remain open through September.

Bit & Beau "snoring" the Cherry Duet from Puccini's MADAMA BUTTERFLY, an interesting 
and vocally provocative interpretation.  

I hung a clothesline between the pillar supports of the balcony, and it's a favorite place to hang sheets to dry when the weather is nice.  I remember line-dried sheets as a kid and the smell is just fantastic.

Yesterday (Sunday) I spent my 61st birthday in my garden.  I had begun the day with a visit with my buddy, Trish, to the newly opened Woodstock Farmer's Market.  Woodstock is the community just southwest of my neighborhood, which is called Reed (after Reed College).  Local farmers bring their fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants, local fish, meat, charcuterie, baked goods, etc. The place was lively for it's opening day with free pony rides for the kids, and lots of food stands to feed the hungry.  I bought beautiful beets with tops so fresh I can't wait to cook them tonight.  One of Trish's favorite farmers from the Hollywood farmer's market has gorgeous produce.  I also bought nearly two pounds of rhubarb, which I plan to turn into syrup for drinks and/or breakfast pancakes.  Found the recipe in this gorgeous new cookbook called HEARTLAND: The Cookbook by Judith Fertig (Andrews McMeel).  This is a book that gathers some of the best recipes from between the coasts that comprise the center of our country.  The book is gorgeous with many beautiful photographs and recipes that are contemporary and appealing.  The rhubarb cost $1.75 a pound.  I can't find it in a supermarket for under $4 a pound--a real bargain. Then I snatched up a generous bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley for 50 cents! Trish bought a flat of the most fragrant strawberries.

Coleus that has been growing in a window in my mud room is being rooted for the balcony 
planters just outside my bedroom door. 

Back at the house, I mowed the back lawn, pulled a million weeds, and potted a geranium that looked grateful for the attention. Today I'll do some more planting, such as moving an unhappy bay leaf bush, and will find a home for two stunning pots of Calla lilies (one orange, the other purple).  Two hours later, I had to run into the shower to prepare for dinner out.

I found this appealingly rustic summer peach cake on Amanda Hesser's Food 52 blog.  
I had nectarine.  The cake featured both almond and vanilla extracts, buttermilk, almond flour
and nutmeg.  Served it for dessert on Saturday and ate it for breakfast on Sunday and this morning. 
It was a snap to make. Let me know if you want the recipe. 

John Baker arrived for a quick glass of wine, and we were off to Wildwood for dinner.  Wildwood, along with the late and lamented Zefiro's and perhaps Paley's Place, were in the early 90s a strong notice to the food world that Seattle wasn't the only restaurant destination in the Pacific Northwest.  Wildwood, located in the city's north west section, has an eclectic, low-key Pacific Northwest ambiance about it. You enter a small reception stand and are immediately plunged into a generous-sized bar area. Cocktails are a serious business here with lots of exotic and familiar alcoholic concoctions created daily.  The main dining room features lots of medium wood panelling and gray banquettes with lights dropped from the ceiling above tables. The wait-staff here is polite and welcoming (but sometimes a tad condescending--fortunately that was not the cast last night).

Though I have gone to Wildwood for lunch on more than several occasions, this was my first time there for dinner.  The food has always been really interesting.  They take local ingredients very seriously.  there are lots of very appealing items for starters and the main course, but I found myself almost immediately making a decision.  I wasn't disappointed.

I chose an amazing lamb shoulder which has been slowly roasted until the meat was falling off the bone.It was then pressed and wrapped into a large and thick round, and sauteed to give it some caramelize its surface. It was finished with a small puddle of bernaise sauce.  It came with bacon wrapped artichokes, wild mushroom farro risotto, and sauteed pea vines.  An amazing dish.  The lamb was unbelievably tender, and didn't taste much of lamb at all (I love the sometimes gamey taste of lamb), but this was just , rich, incredibly tender meat of deep flavor and complexity. Awesome.  Arugula salad with sliced baby summer squash, grana padana whipped cream, strawberries, and a thin layer of chocolate on top.  

They had about eight rose wines on their summer wine list and we found an amazing French rose for $19!

In all a low-key birthday--just the way I like 'em these days. 

Bit looking sleepy and thoroughly comfortable on the back of my couch (you can see Beau's sleeping 
form just above him--see the ears?).

1 comment:

  1. Two days late for me. But happy birthday again. 61. . . I don't believe it. I love lamb!!!