Wednesday, January 30, 2013

CHILL OUT

James Bason * Over The Frozen River * www.jamesbason.com





Why the chilly reception?
Somewhere along the way it has become chic to "dis" winter.
Could it be that the snowbirds in Naples have poisoned our minds?
It seems very apparent that this chilly season has gotten a bad name.
I wonder why?  Especially given there are so many reasons to love winter!

Snow 
What could be
a more amazing
weather phenomena?

And what else
can instantly
transform
our world into
a truly
magical place?

Finally,
think of how dull
life would be if
we didn't have
- Snow Angels
- Sledding
- Snow Balls
- Skiing
- Igloos

Layers
During the winter we get to wear a lot more clothes. And if you love fashion, what could be better? Not only does layering add panache, it also hides a multitude of sins.
And let's be honest, when was the last time any of us felt fabulous in a tight tank top and short shorts?



Fireside Chats
Remember evenings spent before of a roaring fire?  Now most flip the switch of their hermetically sealed fired displays. No smell, no ashes, no romance.
Piping Hot! 
Honestly, who doesn't crave a
home cooked meal straight out
of the oven?  Sure we all adore
sushi. And yes, I even like a
slice of cold pizza. But when it's
chilly outside nothing warms
a cold heart like
- Pot Roast
- Chicken Fricassee
- Beef Stew
- Lasagna
- Yorkshire Pudding

Fresh Air
Go ahead, step outside and take a deep breath!
How refreshing is a blast of crisp, clean, cold oxygen?
Of course if you prefer smog alerts and pollen counts...

Just stay in L.A.
and leave winter to us!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Ultimate Comfort Food


On today's menu are a few 
of our favorites. Over the 
years Frank and I have 
been served by some 
truly amazing people.
They made our lives better, and we will
never forget them.

************************************************************
THE CLARMONT



While living in Columbus,
this joint was one of the few things I liked. Great steaks and an ice cream roll to die for! The atmosphere was a smoky mix
of Rat Pack and Miami Vice. Food and decor aside, great service kept us coming back.

"Vi" our waitress was a cocktail clairvoyant!
Our eyes met, she winked, and presto - 
A Knob Creek Manhattan on the rocks!

Last year, after serving memories for over 65 years, The Clarmont closed. Just another reason to never return to Columbus again!
************************************************************
LE MEDITERANEE

The first time we dined at this cafe' on Second and 50th, we were seated in a cozy booth. On the wall hung a picture of the owner in a place that looked oddly familiar. When we queried Ernesto about where it was taken he said -
"That is my most favorite place 
 in the world... Mont-taanaa".
And at that moment we had made a
new friend in Manhattan! Turns out
that every fall Ernesto goes to nearby
Geyser to hunt grouse. Small world!

Le Mediteranee became one of our favorites. Ernesto's warm welcome was the perfect appetizer.  The gentleman playing standards, always a piquant side dish. But the soft shell crabs provencal (in season) were the ultimate entree'! Lightly floured, perfectly sauteed, they could make you cry!

************************************************************
EVERGREEN

One day Frank dragged me to concrete monolith located at the far (and isolated) end of Chicago's Wentworth Avenue.

Thank God he made me go in.
Because it was there that we met a waiter named "Ken". A savvy server who immediately sensed that we were foodies willing to eat anything.

Thereafter, Ken did all the ordering. And in doing so, taught us to love Chinese cuisine. No "American", instead options only served to Chinese patrons

Addictive bitter melon
Crispy shrimp with head/shell
Tender beef tendon.
Pea pod tips (Leaves)
Delicate, fragrant lily bulbs
Giant oysters with black beans
Luscious chicken feet
Ken truly changed 
our lives forever.

************************************************************
THE MANSION AT TURTLE CREEK



In 1980 I took my first trip to Dallas and dined at the newly opened Mansion.
Who knew that 30 years later it would become one of my favorite haunts?
Yes, it's posh. Absolutely, totally, and completely posh.
But it's also just about the most friendly place I've frequented.
Our last night in Dallas we dined on the veranda.



Ryan, the director of the restaurant as always was there to welcome us.
Not only is he an elegant and cordial host, he truly cares and connects.
Kindly remembering our names and tiny details about our lives.

Stephanie, our adored waitress (and friend) tearfully cared for us. What can I say beyond "FABULOUS"? Intuitively she knew I preferred brandied cherries in my Manhattan. That Frank adored the Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Caviar! And... that we would both opt for the fresh Dover Sole Meuniere.

************************************************************
These are but a few 
of the many who have made our lives better.

You can get great food, drink, and atmosphere many places. 
Even Lewistown, Montana!
Mary, Brad, and Maria always make dining at The Mint a pleasure.
Quality people, who really care, are the reason we come back.


Monday, January 28, 2013

WHERE ARE WE?!

After traveling 1,544 miles, I've come to a sad conclusion.
All of America seems to look exactly the same.

Which means that our country has become one, endless strip mall.
We drove across six states, and sadly all that we passed was
chain after chain after chain after chain after chain!



TEXAS... Y'all, I think I saw a "lone star" on the horizon. 


OKLAHOMA... We decided the "sooner" we left, the better.



KANSAS... Is pasta the "wheat" in the "sunflower" state?
.
COLORADO... The "centennial" state seemed off target.

WYOMING... Monotony must be how they define "equality".

MONTANA... Look! The "Big Sky" is above that awning.





Mediocrity has become America's comfort zone.

On the road, you do experience varied weather and terrain. Funny how it seems that if you drive north it gets colder, and sometimes it even snows! We cruised open prairie, passed through majestic mountain ranges, crossed rushing rivers.

The diversity of the American landscape is amazing.

But if you drive on any highway and exit as the signs instruct, you discover that our towns and cities are all built according to a formula. National chains, set on acres of flat land, adjacent to the freeway.

Therefore, most American cities are simply boring.

Don't get me wrong, zoning is important. But sometime in the fifties something went very wrong. Community leaders decided that the way to reduce downtown traffic was "enterprise zones" leading into town from the highways. Subsequently over the following decades...

Almost every downtown in America slowly withered away.

And... where did all the people go?



Sunday, January 27, 2013

7th Day Surprise - What the buck?

There are just so many things I could say about this image.
And yet... I think I'll just let you ponder it on your own.
Happy hunting!




Saturday, January 26, 2013

Time to get moving...


Packing up your memories can be hard.
For the past two days we've watched as the contents of our Dallas home were loaded onto a truck bound for Lewistown. While leaving the Big D wasn't hard, closing another chapter in our lives was.

My apologies...  
This was a stealth departure
and therefore we purposefully
did not see anybody. I just
couldn't face a plethora of
hugs, tears, cocktails and
goodbyes. It seemed better
to move on quietly and leave
the past behind.

Ready, set, escape!
This morning we hit the road
for Lewistown. Should be an
easy trip as the forecast says
the weather will be great!
In this case global warming
seems to have it's benefits!

No place like home.
We're both counting the moments until we're home again. Next week our stuff arrives and will sit in storage until the house renovations are complete. Yes, the picture at left is the money pit.  And yes, it is the ugliest house in Lewistown for now...

Thanks for your love and friendship Dallas!  Wish us luck!


Friday, January 25, 2013

What did you have for lunch?



Mother had a repertoire of favorite haunts.
As a young boy, there was nothing I enjoyed more than joining her for lunch.

We always dressed in our newest and most chic ensembles.
Made certain that we were seated at a suitable "see and be seen" table.
Ordered off menus filled with unique, not everyday fare.
Reveled in the hushed banter, tinkling music, and clinking glassware.
And if well-behaved, returned home with a secret prize from the treasure chest!

Sadly, all of Ethel's preferred venues are long gone.
But my memories of their mid day delights live on!



Rumpelmayer
This society stalwart had locations in Paris, London, Baden Baden, the Riviera, and the Hotel St. Moritz on Central Park South. Inside this elegant cafe one could engorge on ice cream and an egg salad and anchovy sandwich. Proof that there's nothing better than salty and sweet. Well... except for the stuffed animal I cajoled Mother into buying on the way out.


B Altman & Co.
Charleston Gardens was a restaurant situated on the eighth floor of this department store. There one lunched on pastel tea sandwiches in southern splendor. All beneath blue sky, Tara-esque columns, and blossoming magnolias.

Schrafft's
Never Mom's milieu, this was a tea room for genteel working gals. Ethel did adore their Nut Bread smothered in butter. She snagged their secret recipe and never told a soul. Sadly, her favorite loaf died with her.

Chock Full of Nuts
Before the days of McDonald's, this was where one grabbed a quick bite and a cup of java. Rarely did Mother sit at this counter.  But when rushed, nothing was as good as a date nut and cream cheese special. Sweet, savory, and cheap!



I know what 
you're thinking... 
However, at this time of my life
I had no sense of my future personal proclivities. Rather I was simply a boy of eight who adored Audrey Hepburn, Dior, Mantovani, and Fascination.
It wasn't until many years later that the reality of what all that meant finally hit me. But now I must admit that I do wonder...

What was Ethel really  thinking during those lunches?