finally some excitement!

the last few days have been VERY exciting...to me at least. sunday, tony took me to brunch and it was just spectacular. the century restaurant at the ritz is done in lovely hues of caramel and bronze. the table was set with silver and crystal and fresh flowers. the buffet was great:
  • a cheese board, with about a dozen choices, garnished with fruit, crackers and rosemary focaccia
  • eight kinds of sushi
  • stone crab claws, iced shrimp, oysters on the half shell, a large assortment of smoked fish including salmon, scallops, baby shrimps, mussels, trout and sturgeon; accompanied by cocktail and mignonette sauces as well as capers, onion and hardcooked egg whites and yolks
  • an antipasto spread, with various salame, olives, cipolline ala grecque, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, roasted tomatoes, caprese salad, field greens and caesar salad, served with baguettes
  • omelettes made to order, with about 14 different fillings
  • housemade croissants and danishes, muffins and pain au chocolat
  • hot entrees in silver chafers, including chicken, sea bass, portobello raviolis, sausage and bacon, eggs benedict made with virginia ham, and garlic cheese mashed potatoes
  • a carving station with glazed ham and herb crusted sirloin
  • french toast and belgian waffles with warm fruit sauce, maple syrup and whipped cream
  • a massive dessert setup with probably 20 different individual miniatures. some of the best were a zombie glass filled with creme brulee and topped with an orange reduction; an intense chocolate raspberry layer cake; opera cake; chocolate cheesecake; panna cotta with brandied cherries, a dark chocolate mousse dome; cheesecake; banana meringue tart; traditional creme brulee; tiramisu; poundcake; banana walnut bread; chocolate chip coffeecake; gugelhopf; a bowl of fresh berries; warm apple pecan crisp with whipped cream and warm bread pudding with caramel sauce

of course there was coffee and juice on the table. we made at least a half dozen trips to the buffet! and if all this were not enough, as you were leaving there was a samovar full of coffee with paper "ritz-carlton cleveland" cups (in that lovely 'ritz blue') and a big basket full of cookies to tuck in your pocket for the ride home. it was easily the best meal i have had since moving here. i would certainly go back.

then back at his house, tony gave me my birthday present...a new cuisinart! it is way cool in the brushed chrome finish, so it matches my fridge. my old one (circa 1985) has been making some odd noises...this will be a great replacement! this is another item i talked about months ago that he was thoughtful enough to remember.

then we went on to a barbecue for his spirit clan at church. this group is a sort of chosen, extended family and i like them all alot. they are very protective of tony. the last time i met them, several of them grilled me on my job, past and what my intentions were with him in the future. this week, tony and i both had our rings on for the first time with them. two of the women took him aside and wanted to know if he and i had done our cermony without including them. they would not have been pleased about this. the word has gotten out that we are planning something for the late winter/spring and they have made it quite clear that, invited or not, they all plan on attending. i think it's just wonderful that all these folks care so much about him, and by extension, about me.

the day was also made nice by the many phone calls i got from friends across the country. it was good to get caught up with some folks and hear the happy birthday song sung to me on more than one occasion.

the other excitement this week was getting to see john edwards speak. (the vice presidential candidate, not the psychic) he was the guest at a breakfast sponsored by the city club of cleveland, held at the inter-continental hotel. i was my sister's guest at a table purchased by the patriots for change, a grassroots political group she's involved with. our table was quite close to the stage, so he was very close to us. afterwards, we waited in line and were lucky enough to shake his hand. it's the closest i've ever been to a candidate for such a high office and it was thrilling!

how's that for some action? we're going to see "sky captain and the world of tomorrow" tonight, so i'll let you know what i think of that. at work, we did, in fact, have our biggest week and our biggest single day ever. we broke the 400k mark in sales for the week, which was a sort of psychological barrier. things went relatively smoothly for most of it, so we all seem confident about the holidays coming up. and i guess that's all the news that's fit to print, so i'll see ya next time...



fall has come

the weather turned cold yesterday. after several days of rain, heat and humidity, the skies cleared, the wind switched to come from the north and the temps dropped into the 50's. you can definitely feel that snap of fall in the air. it's a relief to me to know that the worst of the heat is passed, even though it was a mild summer. the trees are starting to turn and the days are shorter. i love this time of year!

i went with my sister last week out to patterson's orchards. it was a gorgeous day. we bought apples and pears (after many samples) and some incredible gourds. we also got delicious apple fritters and sat under a tree enjoying them. the next morning i got up and made pear/applesauce with lots of spices. my kitchen smelled so good! i feel my palate has made the switch to the fall produce. i also roasted off my first acorn squash of the season. now i want to make a pork roast...and maybe chicken with apples and cream. i am ready for these autumn tastes.

my growth at work has continued to be awesome. i keep stretching and learning and pushing myself into new areas. it's been especially exciting this week as we seem to be on track to break our own weekly sales record yet again. the people i work with are happy with my work and the customers still appear thrilled with what we are doing. and as for the corporate office, well they had their annual leaders' meeting last week and voted us BEST NEW STORE OF THE YEAR! i guess they're happy with us, too, eh?

tony and i have been getting to know some of the guys from our couples group a little better, and i really like them alot. they are easygoing, intelligent and funny. they live not far from here, too, so it makes it easy (for me at least). one of them does reiki work, although i suppose "work" is a misnomer. in any case, i am interested in learning more about this and possibly getting treatments from him.

tony continues to amaze me. he remembered my birthday wish from months ago and he's taking me out to brunch today at the ritz. he also got me a wonderful card with the most beautiful passage on it. more than anything else, the thoughts he expressed through that message are the best present i have ever gotten, for this or any other birthday. i'm the luckiest guy in the world today.


these are a few of my favorite things

Rather than a traditional post, today i want to share a (partial) list of some of the best things i have eaten over the course of my life. i have included links where practical. now i'm hungry, so i'm going to make some lunch. enjoy!

A mouthful of tart cherries; eaten whilst climbing up IN the tree in my grandfather’s garden in Germany

Cornish hens with champagne sauce; cooked over a spit in the woods while camping

Braised kale with blood sausage(Gruenkohl mit Pinkeln); eaten after a snowy walk in the forest in Germany

A cup of thick hot chocolate with whipped cream; at a cafe in Barcelona

Potato pancakes with applesauce (Reibekuchen mit Apfelmus); at the Christmas market in Bonn, Germany

A slice of cheesecake in the German style with golden raisins and a pastry crust; in the Walnut Room at Marshall Fields State St. store

Pink grapefruit granita in Greenwich Village

Grilled sweetbreads atop an arugula salad, followed by a slice of la Marjolaine; at
Spago in Hollywood

Two perfect quenelles of chocolate mousse; at Lutece, NYC

A rack of lamb; at Windows on the World in the World Trade Center, Christmas Eve 1986, with NYC at my feet

Grilled seafood sausage with an exquisite beurre blanc; at Chanterelle, NYC

Miniature lemon tarts still warm from the oven; eaten while walking through a snowy Sunday evening in Paris

A salad of frisee, bacon and croutons, topped with a poached egg; at a bistro in Paris

Warm chocolate cake with brandied cherry ice cream; at Gotham, NYC

Just-picked, sunwarmed tomatoes, wrapped in basil leaves; eaten while standing in a friend’s garden in Michigan

Indian peach ice cream with butter cookies; at Chez Panisse in Berkeley

Cassoulet with goose confit, duck sausages and lamb shoulder; made at home with the help of friends (one of several prepared over the years, on a biennial basis)

My Aunt Rosalie's Sauerbraten und Spaetzle; served at her farmhouse for Easter dinner

A breakfast of rolls with butter and jam, yogurt, juice and coffee; eaten on a train while racing through the Alps at 300 kph on my way from Bern to Milan

A tiny sardine, sandwiched between two paper thin slices of potato and deep-fried; at Danube in NYC
An explosive mouthful of elderflower sorbet; later in that same meal

Sticky toffee pudding with custard sauce; at The Ivy in London

Gazpacho topped with a warm langoustine and a scoop of fresh chevre; at Christophe in Amsterdam

A strawberry sable with clotted cream; at Chez Bruce, outside London

Our millennium weekend party that included (over the course of 36 hours)…beluga caviar, 24 ounce lobster tails on the grill, foie gras with seckel pears, loin of venison Wellington, Veuve Clicquot sorbet, homemade brioche and croissants

Lemon tarragon pudding cake; at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago

Grilled bratwurst with stadium mustard; at the Westside Market in Cleveland

Banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich); eaten on the street in Chinatown, Toronto



the week that was..

...was, once again, not very exciting. things are humming along at work. one of the nice things about my promotion is that i have a consistent schedule from week to week. this makes it easier to plan for my days off. which is not to say that i am planning big things. it just makes it easier to think about the future.

speaking of which, tony and i spoke about our ceremony again this week. his extended family at church has gotten wind that we are planning a service in the sanctuary and invited themselves to it. i think that's great, as they people really support him. it means, however, that tony has had to re-think the idea that we would only have about 10 people present that day. it appears now that i may be able to coax him into a slightly higher number. we'll see what happens as the time approaches (later this winter).

otherwise, it's been mostly about the food. i have spent the last 48 hours cooking. i made a small leg of lamb with carrots, onions and a red wine sauce. i made a sausage lasagne. the market had gorgeous basil, so i made a batch of pesto. i made a batch of sweet corn and potato stew. an inventory of my cupboard revealed that i had only 3 jars of bread-and-butter pickles left. given that those are tony's fave, i had him help me with another batch of those last night (17 jars!). i am in the midst of a GIGANTIC batch of mustard pickle, which will include: cauliflower, carrots, red, green and yellow peppers, green beans, pearl onions, cucumbers and green tomatoes. i intend this to be the last of the canning for the season, but you never know. a windfall of something else delicious may lead me back to the stove. my larder and my freezer are chock full, so i feel positively RICH these days. i should be able to coast for a couple of weeks without cooking.

tony and i had dinner night before last at Pepper's italian restaurant in lakewood. it is thoroughly old school, with red-checked tablecloths, straw chianti bottles covered with drippings from years of candles, louis prima on the stereo and lotsa spaghetti with red gravy. i had chicken piccata, which i found to be excellent. i would go again, although tony was less thrilled with his fettucine alfredo. afterwards, we went to rosati's for frozen custard (chocolate peanut butter cup...yum!) and then we both had to lay down from over-eating. ugh!

my parents are coming next week for a few days to check on the progress on their house. it will be good to see them. my sister is having allof us over for a cookout on labor day, including tony. it'll be the first time he's been invited to her house, so i'm pleased and excited.

lastly, i would like to direct your attention to cunegonde's post of 29 august. i envy him this day, and wish that i lived in a setting where such a thing were possible. perhaps in my next life....
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