Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Happy Birthday to my hubby

This man is amazing.  He takes care of me,  He loves me unconditionally, even when I'm not very lovable.  He married a woman with four children between the ages of 6 and 16, and took on the role of stepdad amazingly well.  I knew he was a keeper when he told me, "I can love your kids if they'll let me, and we can adopt more if we decide we want more.  I just want to be part of a family."

I read a quote once that said "It takes a strong man to step up the the dinner table and finish the plate another man left behind."  That is my Paskie.  My rock, my best friend and partner in crazy adventures.  We have had a lot more down times than up.... and we are still here standing, loving each other even more than we did when we met... Life gets better with every passing day, and we are seeing things improve to the point where we are starting to enjoy life again and not just exist.  I hope we both live to be 100, healthy, with all our marbles,  So we can continue on this beautiful adventure of life. Here's to another 49 beautiful years!

I am so thankful for all of the detours I took to get to the place I was at the exact moment when the timing was right for me to meet this man.  I wouldn't be who I am without the crazy roads I took along the way.  Like our favorite song by Rascal Flatts says:

Every long lost dream, led me to where you are
others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
pointing me on my way, into your loving arms
this much I know is true
that God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.

Happy birthday to my wonderful man!  I love you babe.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Napa Palisades Saloon

We stopped in here for a drink and appetizer.  It's a casual place that serves pub food.  I had the mac and cheese with bacon, the hubby had hot wings.  The wings were crispy outside but tender and juicy, not dried out and over cooked. They had just the right amount of spice and the blue cheese dip was really nice.  The Mac and cheese was a gooey, cheezy, baconey, delight.  I haven't really eaten it since I was a kid, and it was so good I've been craving it ever since.  It's located next to the ice cream shop on the corner of second and main streets in downtown Napa.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Secreto Iberico

 Photo credit here

I was checking out a new blog the other day  Chica Andaluza  She is an Englishwoman who resides in Southern England and Andalucia in Southern Spain.  Her blog is full of lovely posts with recipes and daily life in Spain and England.  It's very inspiring and funny.  Please check her out.  While browsing through her recipes, I came across a post called Secreto Iberico (Iberian Secret) and was intrigued.  I instantly asked my resident Spaniard "Hey honey, what is this secret, and how come we never had it when we were in Spain?"  This is when I got a lesson in meat butchery in different parts of the world.  Since he is so familiar with animal anatomy, and having done business with several different countries in the food and feed industry, my Spaniard knows a lot.  So here is the lowdown...

It is a cut of meat that does not exist here in the States because of the way the animal is broke down at the slaughterhouse.  Most butcher shops get their meat already broken down into large pieces that they butcher up into chops and steaks etc.  It is difficult to find a butcher shop that breaks down the whole animal.  Well, optomistic little Pollyanna that I am, I was CONVINCED we could find it here in Napa Valley if we found it anywhere.  There are so many fine restaurants and I figured someone would know about it around here...  ummm... NOPE.   Armed with a diagram and my husbands useful Spanish language skills, we beat the streets, trying every butcher shop in town to find someone who knew about Spanish butchery.  No luck... The best we were able to ascertain in our search was that it is a flap of meat in what would be the brisket area of a cow.  It's at the front end of the ribs, boneless and tastes like rib meat, marbled with fat and traditionally grilled with salt and pepper and a little lemon.
Photo credit here

I was disappointed that we couldn't find this mystery meat.  As we were looking at all of the wild game meats, my Spaniard spied a stack of meat labeled meat for sweet and sour BBQ.  No cut specified.  "This is it!"  he says, presenting it to me with a flourish.  It was boneless spare rib meat basically.  We should have taken it to the butcher counter and asked him what that cut of meat was for future reference.  But we were so happy to find it and so hungry at this point we ran home right away and threw it on the grill!    It was delish.  We paired it with some colored carrots, asparagus spears and squash grilled in oilve oil and garlic.  Together with some bread, Spanish cheese Idiazabel (my personal favorite) and some membrillo, we had a lovely Spanish lunch at Casa Machinga.

photo credit here

So try this cut of meat.  Check out Chica Andulaza's blog in the comments section of her Secreto Iberico post.  There are some links to diagrams of pigs and how they are butchered in Spain.  That helped, showing the photo.  I guess you can just ask for the boneless spare rib meat, but it may not be the same stuff.  Please post a comment here if you know where it can be found locally and if you know what the cut is actually called in the States.

All photos were found via google search.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Oxbow Market

Downtown Napa has a really cool place called the Oxbow market.  It is an indoor market that has produce, meats, a bakery. Oyster bar. Cupcake shop, groceries and other specialty restaurants.  We went Friday night for dinner but all of the market stalls were closed.  We ate at this restaurant.  We shared a mixed green salad with balsamic vinigarette and an artichoke pizza.  I had a glass of Chardonnay and the hubs had water.  Total bill was $42 with tip.  Kinda pricey since everything is al la carte.  The food was very good, but not anything we couldn't make at home.  We make an excellent Italian style thin crust pizza for pennies that is better than anything we've been able to find in a restaurant.  You can get the recipe here.  In spite of the fact that we had to sit in the walkway, it was a pretty private dining experience, and a nice date night.  During the day when things are bustling, it would probably feel crowded.  They do have outdoor patio seating with heaters.  It was closed for a private event Friday night, but is usually open on weekends.  

 We spent Sunday afternoon leisurely strolling through the stalls.  I bought some spices from the herb seller.  We tried locally produced olive oils, vinegar, bath products and salami.  You can get pizza, craft beers or a glass of wine.  The cheese shop has an extensive selection of imported cheeses and we were perusing the Spanish options.  Much more than just Manchego, for sure!  They have tables inside and out.  It's pretty crowded on the weekends, but totally worth it.  

We walked down to the river walk.  They have completely redone this area since the last big flood.  It's a lovely place to walk on a sunny day.  We really enjoyed our Lazy Sunday exploration.  We walked from Oxbow down First street to Main Street to the visitors center by Morimoto Restaurant (yeah the Iron Chef guy) and back.  It took us a couple of hours because we stopped and took photos and poked around in shops.  It's really only about a mile round trip, if that.  

A haunting memorial sculpture in veterans park with names of local soldiers killed in action.  

So next time you are in the Valley, check out downtown Napa!  It has a lot to offer.