Thursday, October 29, 2009


This past weekend our cooking group of three couples got together at Arlene & Jim's house in Mendocino for another of our marvelous home-cooked meals.

On the way up, Jim and I made our usual pit stop in Healdsburg. We went back to our favorite the Flying Goat Coffee for pastries and coffee.

While I occasionally take home a pastry or bread from the Downtown Bakery & Creamery in Healdsburg, I've never before stopped here for coffee and pastries on my way to Mendocino, mainly because there was no indoor seating and only benches outside. Well, when we peeked in as we were walking to Flying Goat, we discovered that there are several long communal tables inside and that the menu has expanded to include prepared egg dishes and other breakfast items...maybe next time.

We got to Mendocino in time to have lunch with Arlene & Jim at the Café Beaujolais

where Arlene & I had their version of Eggs Benedict

and the Jims had the Cheeseburger and the Salade Niçoise.

Everything was perfection, including the Beaujolais's homemade breads (the seeded one was our favorite).

There was time for us to wander about Mendocino Village and do a bit of browsing and shopping for last minute ingredients for our dinner.

As always, it was a wonderful evening with friends.

Jim and Frank look a bit rigid here standing in front of the fire, despite having beverages in their was a bit cold and they were warming by the fire.

Then, Jim modeled some jewelry that Arlene & Jim brought back from their recent trip to Africa.

Our meal started with Colesie's mixed vegetable was as delicious as it was colorful. She served it with some puff pastry crisps.

Arlene & Jim's main course was a Southwest Pork Stew accompanied by Corn Bread.

And, I completed the meal with Fresh Figs surrounding a mound of Ricotta, flavored with almonds, pistacchios and other tasty ingredients.

We slept well after this satisfying dinner.

The next morning, Jim and I headed out for a walk in Fort Bragg along the beach on the path that starts at Glass Beach. We walked about three of its nine miles and then turned around, hungry for lunch. This path follows what was once a railroad right of way. The newest addition to the path is the trestle bridge by Glass Beach, where we started out.

Lunch was at Noyo Harbor, just south of Fort Bragg at Heron's.

Heron's has a new name and new owners but their fresh fish tasted just as delicious as ever. It was warm enough to sit outdoors on their wind-sheltered patio.

Jim had the Grilled Rockfish Sandwich

and I had Grilled Rockfish Tacos prepared Southwest style.

That evening, we dined with Arlene & Jim at the Little River Inn.

Arlene had one of the evening's specials, Meatballs.

Jim D had the Filet of Sole, caught fresh at Noyo Harbor.

And, Jim M and I both had the Barbequed Ribs.

Again, another lovely meal. The only thing missing was Colesie and Frank who had to head home that day.

The next day, after a swim at the new recreation center in Fort Bragg, it was time for us to head home.

Driving through the Anderson Valley, we made a stop at Greenwood Ridge Vineyards in Philo so I could take a picture of vineyards where there leaves on the vines were turning autumn colors.

Jim and I had been talking about his photography class and he thought these trees behind Greenwood Ridge's tasting room, growing on a diagonal, were the kind of subject that his teacher said created a visually interesting composition. I snapped several pictures.

By the time we got to Booneville, we were famished. Not having dined in Boonville in awhile, we decided to try the Boonville Café and Bakery, mainly because it seemed to be where everyone in town was having lunch.

We were not disappointed...freshly food, dishes made to order, big portions. We both enjoyed one of the day's specials, a Turkey Melt on Foccacia with a side of Sweet Potato Fries.

Our next dinner is scheduled for February. The friendship and regularly cooking together has kept the six of us together and in touch for more than 30 years. It is special.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I was in Boston for a week at the end of September. Since I lived most of the first half of my life in the Boston area, whenever I go back, I am torn between seeing friends and family and just being a tourist. This visit I managed to do a bit of both and even attended a high school reunion, my first-ever high school years after half a century (Yikes!)

This post focuses on the Friends & Family part of my trip.

I stayed in Brookline with Jonathan & JR. Their beautiful house is a block and a half from the T, which I used to get in and out of downtown Boston.

From their house, it was easy for me to drive to most of my other destinations. And, there are beautiful parks within walking distance.

Their neighborhood has some nice little restaurants and shops that I patronized, as well.

And, I had an entire suite to myself in their basement...I call it "the dungeon," but it is really the height of luxury. I am grateful to have cousins who are such gracious and welcoming hosts.

On my first night there, JR & Jonathan prepared a Brazilian Stew, Moqueca, which was delicious.

Other guests included their friends Annie, and José.

Bright and early the next day, I headed out for a day with Phyllis & Manny. We spent most of the day shopping at the very nice Wrenthan Village Premium of the best outlet malls that I have ever visited...lots of very nice shops and bargains...Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth, Williams Sonoma, Kate Spade, Banana Republic,and Swarovski, to name a few.

Phyllis even amused herself on one of the kiddie rides.

We took a break for lunch at the Cracker Barrel, a chain family restaurant with a country store. The food is hearty and service is quick...just what we wanted for a break while in the throws of shopping.

By mid afternoon, we were shopped out. Manny drove by the new Patriot's Stadium complex in Foxboro to show me how dramatically it has grown since I lived in the area. It now includes not just a football stadium, but also a hotel, shopping center and many upscale restaurants.

We took an afternoon break for coffee at a Dunkin' Donuts, which, according to Manny, has more outlets and is more popular than Starbucks in the Boston area. After hearing this "tidbit" of information, I began noticing Dunkin' Donuts shops just about everywhere I went and cups of Dunkin' Donuts coffee being carried everywhere around Boston. If my memory is correct, their donuts are very good and, according to Phyllis, they make a very tasty breakfast sandwich on a bagel.

Dunkin' Donuts was founded in Quincy, Massachusetts, just south of Boston, in 1950. Its web site states that it is the world's largest coffee and baked goods chain and, at the end of 2008, had 8,835 stores, worldwide.

After my day out with Phyllis & Manny, we had dinner at Jonathan & JR's with more family (Neal, David, Darlene) and Phyllis's former colleague and now family friend, Thandeka.

This evening we ordered Chinese takeout from Chef Chang's, another nearby restaurant.

On another night, I got together with Cheryl, with whom I used to work.

She lives in a suburb west of Boston and rather than both of us taking various transit into downtown Boston, we decided to dine near where I was staying. We enjoyed a leisurely and tasty Tapas meal, with lots of Spanish wine, at Taberna de Haro, which is walking distance from Jonathan & JR's house.

On my final day, before my high school reunion started, I had lunch with Phyllis and Manny at one of the many Legal Seafoods restaurants that are in the area. When I moved away from Boston, the only Legal Seafoods was a fish market with a small dining area in Inman Square in Cambridge. This is where chef Julia Child bought her fresh fish...and so did I. Today, there are about 30 Legal Seafoods scattered along the East Coast from Massachusetts to Florida.

We chose the Legal at Park Square where I ordered my favorite New England fish, Scrod.

A final note: Jonathan & JR own a lot of unique art pieces. It was this particular piece, a Swimmer in a Box, that captured my attention. It is kinetic art and the swimmer flip turns and swims around, all while being confined to her "box." I could not stop watching it and it certainly is a conversation item. The bought it from an artist in South Florida; the swimmer is his wife. Here are some shots of it: