Monthly Archives: July 2015

Good Eats on MV: Part 1

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I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of Martha’s Vineyard with its abundant beaches, gorgeous gardens and artsy vibe, yet in all my years—and we’re talking a LOT of them—I had never been there. Well now I can say I have. For my birthday this past July, Russ treated me to eight days on MV, an island located south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, known for being an affluent summer colony with award-winning restaurants.

Since our cottage rental was from Sunday-to-Sunday, our original plan was to drive up to the Worcester, Mass area on Saturday and visit overnight with Russ’ son Dan. But as luck would have it, we found out about a month prior that Dan was going to be on his vacation in the Philly area at that same exact time. Plan B—find a hotel for one night near Woods Hole, where you catch the ferry to MV. As feared, every place within 150 miles of Woods Hole was booked! So with reluctance, we took the last room at the Falmouth Inn (rated two stars on TripAdvisor) in Falmouth, itself a great little coastal town just a few short miles from Woods Hole.

I won’t go into details about the facility, but let’s just say it was clean, and we figured we could handle it for one night. But what to do about dinner? Having no reservations, we went online on our trusty iPad and googled nearby restaurants. One popular establishment within walking distance was the Añejo Mexican Bistro and Tequila Bar. Seems everyone else in Falmouth had the same idea! By the time we got in line, there was at least a two-hour wait and they weren’t even taking anymore names on the list for at least 15 minutes. No way José!!

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We next stumbled upon La Cucina Sul Mare, which means the Kitchen by the Sea; and with a much smaller wait list, we added our names, ordered two glasses of red and went out back to sip some wine. Directly situated near our bench was a pastel yellow Vespa for which patrons could buy chances to win the Italian motorbike. Couldn’t help but take a pic of Russie near the Vespa (but couldn’t coax him to straddle it.)
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It wasn’t long before they called us to a corner table by a picture window overlooking the hungry queue on Main Street. Admiring the warmly decorated interior with richly painted murals and tin ceilings, and without too much trouble, we skipped appetizers and selected entrees. My order: Almond Encrusted Salmon ~Pan seared served over sautéed spinach, topped with baby shrimp, finished with a lemon and white wine caper sauce, and I had to eat it all because there was no accommodations for an overnight doggie bag — OK, force me…
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Russ chose the Braised Short Rib Cacciatore ~ 16oz Beef short rib with onions, peppers and mushrooms over risotto Milanese. Yes, he ate all of his too! So if you ever find yourself in Falmouth, this restaurant is a good bet.
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Fast forward to the following morning. Our ferry didn’t leave until noon, so we had breakfast at Friendly’s across the street (when was the last time you were in a Friendly’s??), checked out of the no-frills motel and drove to Wood’s Hole. After a bit of confusion on where to park the car, we had about an hour to kill, so we ambled over to the ever-popular Pie in the Sky restaurant for some coffee and tea, just a one-minute walk from the Martha’s Vineyard ferry terminal. Boy what a gold mine that place is! Located in historic Woods Hole, at the end of the Shining Sea Bike Path, it serves breakfast and lunch all day. It took some doing for Russ to finally jostle his way through the crowds and get our beverages.

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Awaiting to drive our vehicle into the ferry.
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At the Steamship Authority, when directed we drove our car into the bowel of the Martha Vineyard vessel, which would be about a 45-minute ferry ride to Oak Bluffs. The day was partly cloudy and very misty so we didn’t see much on the way over. Authority workers very efficiently pack the vehicles in with just inches to spare, and just as efficiently order the disembarkation process, impressive! We heard the ferry “chowdah” is excellent, but still full from breakfast, we abstained.

Oak Bluffs was hopping as we drove out of the terminal and onto the streets. But we were on a mission to visit the Stop and Shop for groceries before getting to our cottage just outside of Edgartown. Once laden with vittles and beverages, with the help of directions from the rental owner, Rita, and our trusty Acura GPS “Betty,” we arrived at our destination an hour early. No problemo! We unpacked and hightailed it to South Beach, a mere 2 miles away. Remember I said it was misty on the ferry ride over? Well it was just as misty at the beach and our hair became wet with saltwater mist, not necessarily a good look on either of us…

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With time to kill at the No-tell Motel the night before, we took the opportunity to make reservations at some restaurants for the first few nights on the island. Sunday night: Lucky Hanks Restaurant & Cafe a cute little house festooned in white lights, which opened in Fall 2012. Lucky us, we were seated in the back screened-in porch area with a view of their organic gardens and Trader Joe’s grocery bags containing geraniums at the top and tomato vines projecting from the bottom that hung from the eaves! As far as the name, Lucky Hank himself doesn’t actually exist, at least not in the real world. We overheard a waitress tell the folks dining next to us that the restaurant was named after the owner’s dog, when in fact the name belongs to a character in the Richard Russo novel Straight Man

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Trader Joe’s grocery bags filled with geraniums and tomato vines coming out of the bottom.

Russ couldn’t wait to chow down on some New England Clam Chowder with fresh herbs, and was not disappointed! The Seared Sea Scallops with lobster puree and warm root vegetable salad was calling my name and I’m glad it did because not only was the plate visually stunning, the food was fabulous as well. Russ opted for the Atlantic Salmon with lentil salad, fresh arugula, lemon caper vinaigrette, and was just as delicious.

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Because saltwater mist does not-my-hair-like, thus the hat.

Monday dawned beautiful and sunny, so after a 4-mile walk and quick breakfast at the homestead, we hit the beach for a few hours. Dinner that evening was scheduled at The Grill on Main, an upscale, year-round restaurant that offers outstanding New England-American Cuisine. Born and raised in the industry and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, chef Antonio Saccoccia has years of experience working in Rhode Island and New York restaurants.

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Because it was such a lovely evening, we asked to be seated on their outdoor patio and started with a bottle of Italian red wine.IMG_1803

We split appetizers of Lobster Turnover with a Shrimp and Lemon Cream Sauce and Atlantic Crab and Sweet Corn Cakes with a Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise, and oh-so-good!

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Wanting a different spin from my usual takes on seafood, I chose the Baked Codfish with a Citrus Beurre Blanc; while Russ got a special of the night Veal Chop with Caramelized Shallots nestled in a potato gratin and a vegetable medley.

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Not to think all we did was lay on the beach and eat, we actually fast-walked for 60-90 minutes each morning before we had breakfast and came across some amazing sights. For example, one trip, less than a mile and a half from our cottage was the 2015 HGTV Dream Home. Another walk took us directly into the Katama Organic Farm Institute where (later) we bought some organic grass-fed beef, just-picked potatoes and green onions. And the 2-mile stroll to South Beach took us by the Katama Air Park with grass field landings, bi-plane rides and the infamous Right Fork Diner (which we never did get to.)

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Now, the reason we came to the island—my 60th birthday. As a change of venue, we drove to Vineyard Havens to enjoy breakfast at the renowned Art Cliff Diner, highly recommended by cottage owner Rita.

No trip to the Vineyard is complete without a visit to this cute, perennial Vineyard Haven diner where the adventurous breakfast and lunch menu makes use of fresh island ingredients; yes, its popularity may result in “eternal waits” unless you get there at the crack of dawn, but it’s all quite a lot of fun!

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Every review warned of a long wait and that parking would be difficult at best. But it seemed like the gods were smiling upon us because Russ got a parking spot right out front, and even though there were numerous parties on the porch waiting to be seated, I walked in to put our name on the list and was shown to a table for two immediately! Yes, it was going to be a good day… or so we thought.

It took some time to determine our order from the extensive menu, but we asked for coffee and green tea right away—then again ten minutes later, and again, and again before one of the many ditzy waitstaff finally followed through. After some agonizing, I settled on the Farmers Market Frittatta – 3 eggs scrambled with herbs, tomato, spinach, mushroom, Chervil cheese over layered yukon gold potatoes and whole grain toast, of which I could barely finish half. All morning Russ had been dreaming about their famous Corn Beef Hash, so despite many other tempting selections, that’s what he ordered. And then we waited, and waited, and waited. Mine finally arrived, so I let Russ eat some toast before his overdone hash finally presented itself. Fearing that if he returned it for a properly cooked order, I’d be long done before he ever got the replacement. Apparently the gods quit smiling after we sat down 😦

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The Farmers Market Frittata

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The overcooked Corn Beef Hash 

After breakfast we spent a couple of hours shopping in the quaint stores that dotted Main Street, then drove back down the island to our cottage and finally the beach… yes I know, Life’s a Beach sometimes…

The one reservation we made months in advance was for my birthday celebration dinner on the outdoor patio at The Terrace at The Charlotte Inn which highlights classic American cuisine with French and Italian accents, spotlighting the best ingredients, exquisitely prepared. Located in the heart of Edgartown village, The Terrace restaurant offers exceptional fine dining in an elegant, old-world atmosphere. Seated in a small courtyard with a lovely fountain and fragrant blossoms, Russ ordered a bottle of Viña Alberdi Rioja Reserva while we perused the menu.

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The evening was lovely, and the atmosphere romantic so we were in no hurry to rush through our meal. After listening to specials, our appetizer selections were The Terrace Spinach Salad, with sliced apples, crispy house-cured pancetta, bleu cheese, candied walnuts, dried cranberries and warm vinaigrette for me; while Russ ordered an absolutely exquisite Lobster & Avocado Salad on grilled brioche with fresh basil. OMG, we thought we died and went to heaven! We have got to get that recipe (the photo does not do it justice at all.)

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The out-of-this-world Lobster and Avocado Salad.

Two wonderful entrees came next. For me: Grilled NE Family Farms Lamb Chops (perfectly cooked to a medium-rare), twice baked potato, crispy kale and homemade mint jelly. With some chops left over, I was able to save them as an hors d’oeuvre later in the week. Russ also chose a meat entree ordering the Pepper-Crusted NE Family Farms Filet Mignon, with au gratin potatoes, baby carrots, and a veal demi-glace… no leftovers for him! In fact, he selected a dessert of Lemon Pot de Crème consisting of homemade red wine granita and fresh berries.

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One final touch—our waitress delivered two small plates of homemade chocolate confections as a birthday treat.

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Just writing this blog has me reminiscing about all of the wonderful meals and interesting places that we enjoyed while vacationing on MV. Next time, we hope to stay two weeks… Part II blog to come soon…

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Blueberry Crostada with Lemon Ice Cream

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If you’ve been with me the last few weeks, you may recall that we visited with Dave and Diane for a pasta-making event at their house in Radnor Township. Russ and I were tasked with making dessert and our contribution was a Blueberry Crostada with Homemade Lemon Ice Cream. I did not include the recipe with that blog, but promised to do so in the near future. So in keeping with that promise, here it is…

For the crostata

  • 3 cups (15 oz.) fresh blueberries
  • 6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) plus 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. yellow cornmeal
  • 4-1/2 oz. (9 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 Tbs. ice water; more as needed
  • 1 large egg white beaten with 2 Tbs. water until foamy
  • 1 Tbs. turbinado or other “raw” sugar

Step-by-Step Visual tutorial:
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Instructions

  1. Mix the blueberries, 3 Tbs. of the flour, and the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
  3. Combine the remaining 1-1/2 cups flour, granulated sugar, and cornmeal in a food processor and process until the consistency of fine sand. Add the butter and pulse until there are no visible pieces of butter. Add the egg yolk and water and pulse to form a soft dough, adding more water 1 tsp. at a time as necessary. Gather the dough into a ball and divide into 2 even pieces.
  4. On a well-floured work surface, roll each piece of dough into an 11-inch circle and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Divide the blueberry filling between the circles, mounding the berries and leaving a 1-1/2-inch edge around each circle. Sprinkle any remaining sugar-flour mixture around the berry mounds. Try to get an even amount of blueberries and dry ingredients in each crostata. Fold the edges up over the filling, pleating as you go, to partially cover the filling. Brush the exposed dough with the egg white wash and sprinkle with the raw sugar.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes. Rotate the sheets top to bottom and back to front. (If there is any white flour mixture showing, carefully spoon a little of the blueberry juices over to cover.) Continue baking until the crusts have browned and the filling is bubbling, about 25 minutes more. Cool on the baking sheets on a rack for at least 15 minutes or to room temperature.
  6. Slice each crostada into quarters and serve with scoops of the ice cream o top.

Make Ahead Tips

The crostatas can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored on their baking sheets at room temperature, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel. Just before serving, warm the crostatas on their baking sheets in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.

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Serving Suggestions

In order for the ice cream to readily melt and mingle with the crostata, either the crostata should be a bit warm from the oven or the ice cream should be slightly soft. If you’ve made both elements ahead and the ice cream is very hard, let it sit briefly at room temperature.

Both recipes by Bruce Weinstein, Mark Scarbrough from Fine Cooking

This simple Lemon Ice Cream recipe is a pure expression of lemon, perfect for pairing with Blueberry Crostata

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1/8 tsp. table salt
  • 1-3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk

In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 2 inches of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer. In a stainless-steel bowl that fits over the saucepan without touching the water, combine the sugar, lemon juice, eggs, egg yolk, butter, lemon extract, and salt. Whisk vigorously until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding, 7 to 8 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the saucepan and whisk in the cream and milk. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 1 day, covering with plastic wrap once cool.

Stir the lemon mixture and churn it in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions until it’s the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. Serve or pack into a container, seal, and store in the freezer for up to 1 week.

**********In the same vein (and taken from the same article) our plan for an upcoming dinner party is to make the Honey-Roasted Peanut Blondies with Fudge Ripple Caramel Ice Cream… stay tuned….

Blue Moose

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Another new, quirky BYO gets added to our list, yeah!

Ex-neighbors from our old ‘hood in Yardley, Fran and Grant McNinch now reside on Jericho Mountain just outside of New Hope in Bucks County, PA. We had the opportunity recently to visit them and dine at the Blue Moose Restaurant and Café, a BYO on Mechanic Street in New Hope. Apparently Fran has dined here on several occasions, likes the food and the atmosphere, and suggested we go one Sunday night. Always motivated by new places to feast, we eagerly signed onto the game plan… Read more under the Reconnecting With Friends tab…

Utilizing our Italian Culinary Skills

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Dave and Russ, smartly dressed in their chef’s aprons, select music on the iPad.

This past April Russ enjoyed a weeknight dinner on the Main Line with Diane and Dave. Russ has known Diane for many years from their jobs working at Jefferson Health System, but this was his first acquaintance with Dave. (I had some conflict or another and couldn’t attend.) Once he got home after their fabulous dinner, Russ declared “You’re not going to believe this, but Diane and Dave stayed at Il Poggio in Tuscany Italy just a few months after we did!”

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Diane and Dave posing in front of one of their back gardens.

Because of this coincidence and our mutual affinity for cooking and entertaining, we received an invitation to their house to make homemade pasta (Dave took the cooking class with Massimo at Il Poggio, same as us—“Cooking Lesson with Italian Chef Massimo” . After some back-and-forth, we synchronized our calendars for a mutually available Saturday in July at their house in Bryn Mawr. Now mind you, I’d never met either one of them before, but Russ was convinced I’d like them right away.

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Dave’s homemade bolognese sauce simmered all day.
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Dave’s infamous Caesar salad.

The plan was, Russ and Dave would make a homemade pasta from scratch, Dave would make his famous Bolognese Sauce and trademark Caesar Salad; while we took on the task of providing dessert. Just so happens, about a week before the gathering, we received the Aug/Sept issue of Fine Cooking which featured Amazing Desserts A La Mode. Perfect! Russ zeroed in on the Blueberry Crostada with Lemon Ice Cream.

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Fast forward to the day of… Dave greeted us at the door and from the moment we stepped inside, we felt at home. They are the most gracious and easy-going hosts—and what a lovely home! I’d have to describe their style as old-world-eclectic-meets-modern. They bought it about 5 1/2 years ago and pretty much gutted the entire structure and rebuilt to incorporate a more open floor plan. Everywhere you looked there were interesting vignettes or artwork from their travels, often accompanied by a compelling story. One example, the beautiful birdhouse painting which was an exact replica of the structure in their garden, framed by an old window taken from the house of the artist (an aunt I believe.)

Another story centered on a glass skull container filled with Crystal Head Vodka and signed by Dan Aykroyd. The vodka is quadruple-distilled and seven times filtered, with the final 3 filtrations through Herkimer diamond crystals—WOWSER!

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Side table laden with antipasto offerings.

After greetings were exchanged, and with cocktails in hand, we were treated to an amazing antipasto table—not just a platter—that Diane crafted. I honestly thought there must be more company coming given the amount of food! Subsequent to some animated chit-chat indoors, we relocated to their nicely appointed patio out back to enjoy their gardens and some more of the tasty antipasto. While outside, Diane pointed out an old ladder attached to two trees and strung with battery operated mini-lights with a hanging flower basket centered over a bistro table and chairs—an idea I’m stealing for our backyard.

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Old ladder strung with lights and hanging basket.

It didn’t escape my notice that many of their numerous pots—and a log—were filled with a variety of healthy succulents. Come to find out, they leave them out all winter—and we’ve had a couple of doozies lately—without any harm to the plants. I was floored! That’s my new plan for our strawberry pot of succulents this Fall—just leave ’em alone, that’ll work for me! (fast-forward to a nasty Winter, my succulents all died 😦 )

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The descriptive wine “bracelets.”

Time to gear up for the main course. Russ and Dave made the dough from scratch, then wrapped it in plastic to rest for about 20 minutes, while Diane uncorked a bottle of red. For quick identification we were allowed to choose a wine glass “bracelet” from a selection of various colors and descriptive words. Of course I was immediately drawn to the purple (shocker I know) with the word “RICH” imprinted on it—now that’s inspiration! Russ chose the “COMPLEX”, Diane had the “RIPE” and Dave was “EARTHY.” Whilst sipping wine, we marveled at the myriad of similarities between each couple, with one commonality the fact that we all met via social media dating sites—them on E.Harmony and us on Match.com.

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Starting to make the pasta dough.

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Notice Dave’s “third” hand??

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Dave muddling the anchovies for the Caesar salad.

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Lynn and Diane.

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The tablescape before dinner…

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A closeup of the pasta bolognese.

One topic of conversation over the course of the evening centered on their upcoming move to an adult community on a 70,000-acre lake in South Carolina in August. Dave retires as a Forensic Psychiatrist on July 31; while Diane, a COO in hospital administration, leaves August 31. I asked if they’ll miss their house, and while they answered yes there are aspects of it that they’ll miss, their new digs offer property abutting a golf course (both are avid golfers), upkeep costs and taxes are far less, and the winters are much milder. Then there’s the Italian Farmer’s Market in Philly… seems Dave has a penchant for frequenting this establishment. I guess that’ll give him a reason to come back periodically and visit…

Having arrived just after 4 in the afternoon, and with the clock nearing 11 p.m., it was time to make our departure before we overstayed our welcome. We left them with the additional lemon ice cream, and I got to take home my leftover pasta bolognese—which of course made a perfect brunch item on Sunday 😉

Stay tuned… Recipes for the Blueberry Crostada and Lemon Ice Cream will be posted in an upcoming blog.

A 4th-coming BBQ

I love 4th of July house parties, so this year we hosted un pequeño partido at Casa H. Mother Nature had been serving up uncooperative weather all day with on-and-off rain, so setting up all of the outdoor lights, candles, and table settings had been a tenuous process. (Not to let a little rain dampen our parade, we had a Plan B in place… just in case.) Getting the party started, and making an appearance in order of their arrival were, Rosanne and Gary Zarrilli, Barb Walsh and Brad Collins, and Jeremy Parry.

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Setting up after—and before—the rains came…

The Zarrilli’s presented me with a surprise early birthday gift knowing we wouldn’t be seeing each over for at least a month due to respective vacation plans. Wrapped in bright aqua tissue paper—exactly matching the hue of Gary’s shirt I might add—and tied in a lovely wine-bedecked ribbon, was a gorgeous glass “wave” plate. I immediately started imaging what I could put on that plate at a future party—but I digress to the one at hand…

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My early birthday gift from the Zarrilli’s—thanks!

Like myself, Jeremy is an avid gardner. And as testimony to her many garden club awards, she is also a talented arrangement artist. So it was no surprise that the generous patriotic flower display she gave us was a perfect accompaniment to the festivities—many thanks for the thoughtful gift dear friend! Plus she told me that the seed pods would produce beautiful purple flowers if dried out over winter and replanted… you just know I’ll be doing that!

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Jeremy’s gorgeous patriotic flower arrangement—most of which came from her own garden.

For starters the house cocktail of the night was a newly concocted “Patriotic Pleasure” made with the stunning turquoise color of Hypnotiq–a liqueur made with premium French Vodka, exotic fruit juices and a touch of cognac. It was finished with regular vodka, a splash of fresh lime juice and a frozen strawberry—very patriotic-looking indeed—and strong! Unfortunately due to a recent dentist appointment that had Jeremy taking antibiotics, she couldn’t imbibe for the evening, although curious, she wanted just a taste of the Hypnotiq, upon which she gave her full approval.

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The “Patriotic Pleasure” house cocktail.

Speaking of dentists, Jeremy absolutely detests going, in fact she’d rather “pet spiders” which launched into a crazy conversation on who likes going to the dentist the least—it wasn’t me, I actually prefer going to the dentist over getting my hair cut—go figure! This weird verbal exchange took place while enjoying appetizers on the patio. Barb made a tasty homemade tomato topping for a Bruschetta, while the house supplied a Cheese Platter: Fontina, Dubliner Cheddar, Gruyere, and an Asiago with rosemary crostini and sliced soprasetta.

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Enjoying the appetizers while conversation flowed.

The meal’s main attraction was Russ’s Baby Back Ribs. They are a bit time consuming up front, but with an easy finish—perfect for an outdoor BBQ. The evening before the party Russ rubs his special spice mix all over the racks. Since Gary has a more “delicate” palate and doesn’t like a lot of spice, we rubbed his rack with Adobo Secco. The ribs then get covered and place in the refrigerator to get happy over night. The morning of the party, we cook the meat on baking trays with 2 cups of water in a 250-300 degree oven for 2 1/2 hours. Afterward they cool down and the drippings are placed is a separator to remove any fat, with the remaining liquid cooked in a pot until heavily reduced. Stubbs Original BBQ Sauce is added to the sauce reduction.

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Raw, spice-rubbed baby back ribs awaiting the oven.
Raw, spice-rubbed baby back ribs awaiting the oven.
Platter of grilled baby back ribs.
Platter of grilled baby back ribs.

Our sides consisted of just-picked fresh Butter and Sugar corn on the cob with a homemade aioli, and if so desired topped with minced fresh chives and a sprinkle of Tajín—a “seasoning” powder (called salsa en polvo in Spanish) consisting of chile peppers, salt, and dehydrated lime juice—a perfect finisher! Another side was a Jeremy trademark, her Asian Coleslaw made with Ramen noodles and prepackaged broccoli slaw. It has a good crunch and nice, complex flavors. Supposed to be topped with slivered almonds, Jeremy was proud that she toasted them without burning, but then totally forgot to bring them to the party!

Along with some asparagus drizzled with balsamic, Rosanne crafted a lovely Tomato and Watermelon Salad (recipe follows below) found on Epicurious.com. Knowing she needed to add fresh herbs, I told her to wait until she got to our house and we’d snip fresh whatever was needed from our herb garden—which ended up being a medley of tarragon, basil and mint. My bad, I neglected to take a photo of this beauty 😦

With a warning from Russ that the ribs would be ready shortly, Gary grabbed a wand lighter and began the process of lighting all of the candles–and there were a LOT! But before we sat down to eat, Jeremy ran out to her car and brought in an assortment of July 4 head gear. Like a group of happy children, we all chose one to compliment our outfits—or not. I wanted to get pictures of the group, and wouldn’t you know, just as the ribs are ready it friggin’ starts raining again! Without time to mess with the camera and set up a timer photo, we took a couple of quickies and sat under the umbrella to feast. Luckily it wasn’t raining hard and we persevered, although Russ and Brad braved the elements in the only two seats not covered by the umbrella. My hat (or more precisely, visor) off to you gentlemen!

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As the rain started coming down—again—we posed for a few group shots with our festive head gear. Notice the rain drops on the patio…

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Gary and Brad sporting their hat choices…

For dessert, Russ wanted to serve his Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream with a chocolate pound cake. While stopping at Shady Brook Farm to pick up the corn, we only found angelfood and other cake varieties that wouldn’t necessarily work in concert with his vision. So he whipped out his cell phone and googled Chocolate Pound Cake to see what ingredients were needed and what time guests would be arriving to calculate if he’d have time to bake it. Our final stop was at Target where we also scored some dark chocolate sauce to drizzle over the dessert.

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Homemade chocolate pound cake and strawberry ice cream with dark chocolate drizzle.

With another fun party coming to an end, we said our goodbyes and the guests packed up any personal belongings… although Jeremy, you forgot your denim shirt! I guess we’ll have to reconnect soon so I can return your property…

Tomato and Watermelon Salad
Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 small to medium heirloom tomatoes, in assorted colors, cored and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1 small English or regular cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 cup 3/4-inch-cubed yellow or red seedless watermelon flesh
  • 1 Hass avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mixed fresh herbs, in any combination: basil, tarragon, chives, and cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, watermelon, avocado, and herbs. In a spice grinder, grind the coriander seeds to a fine powder. Add the ground coriander to the tomato mixture and toss gently.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the tomato mixture and toss to coat evenly. Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.