The starter course needed to be a salad – perfect for a balmy summer evening. Baby greens, with sweet grape tomatoes, crumbled blue cheese with candied pecans, dressed with a white balsalmic. I was content as my plate arrived seeing something familiar to me. Years ago I attempted to create my first-ever ‘cucumber ribbon’ salad, with lovely artistic wide ribbons of cucumber. They look so lovely and creative. My salad arrived with a thicker ribbon actually wrapping itself around my bed of greens – as if it were a present. It was delightful to see the creative chef create something that was to be opened with care and enjoyment. The frisee and baby red lettuces couldn’t help but peek out. It made me smile to see validation on a plate that, such an attempt with a ribbon was presented with the exact effort and creative passion I felt as I enjoyed it.
The pairing offering with the half-rack of lamb was, to my pleasure a pinot noir. While I enjoy all wines, and have most recently crossed over into the organic wine fan base, I was interested in trying this La Crema Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir wines are the highest maintenance of wines to produce, they take longer, more focus and care to create. The grapes themselves are antioxidant rich black grapes and the buzz today is that this is the healthiest of wines to imbibe, for its cholesterol-reduction benefits and cancer prevention. So of course, logic and pure passion enable my lips to say ‘yes, please…I shall indulge.’ When it arrived, the bouquet was lovely, berry notes and yet when sipped, velvety and smooth… surprisingly rich and not overpowering, the acidity was relatively low and while it had an earthy elegance to it, it wasn’t heavy. Perfection in a glass. And I am no connoisseur, nor am I educated by any sophisticated sommelier, I just know what I like. And this was it. I couldn’t be more pleased sipping on this as I awaited the arrival of my lamb.
I hadn’t even received my entrée yet, but I was content. And not just for the choice I made in taking myself on a culinary adventure, revisiting my intense love for fine food – but with the new epiphany that had just floated across the table. I realized that while one is going through hell of reinvention, rediscovery and trying to find life’s navigation bar of where to go next and how to find the path of smiles once again after enduring a rut of stale detours… it became evident this occasional splurge is well worth its own indulgence. Why? You get back in touch with senses and simple pleasures lost in the rat race of everyday life.
We don’t often get an opportunity to stop in our tracks and enjoy things. We don’t notice things like details, mannerisms, artistry, special care taken to do things a certain way for the pleasure of others or even for ourselves. It gets missed driving through drive-thrus, brown bagging it or cramming something from the cafeteria line down the hatch to fill the hole. What we miss is the real deal --- of something WHOLE, COMPLETE, AUTHENTIC. Why? Because we’re too darn busy doing and going through the process of what we think is important in life. In the end we need to realize that life is here and meant to be enjoyed. Every part of it. This is not to say we must do something decadent or extravagant to get the same message. My epiphany could have been from a New York hot dog vendor on the corner, who took the time to make sure relish didn’t saturate the hot dog bun. But the message, regardless, of where you get it is clear.
So onward and here comes the rack of lamb. The waiter apologetically said that he hadn’t forgotten about me. Truthfully, I hadn’t noticed. I was too busy having epiphanies, sipping my La Crema Pinot Noir and contemplating life and life choices for happiness and what the heck that truly means.
The lamb was lovely, cooked to perfection…the sexy medium rare pink tender bits were juicy looking and beautiful, savory crust, velvety centers, divine. I appreciated that the bones of the chops were not dressed with the fancy white paper frilled décor. The dish appeared simplistic and elegant, and yet uniquely Californian sitting atop a bed of peppery arugula. The triangle of soft goat cheese in the center was almost reminiscent of fresh brie in texture, which made a lovely compliment as I created my own bread, tomato, arugula, goat cheese bruschetta of sorts with what ingredients presented themselves on my plate and at the table. Lovely, not heavy. Perfect dinner.
A nice hiatus post-meal, gave me time for life reflection and dessert contemplation.
Isn’t it horrible to have to choose between a buttery lemon tart; a red velvet pie and a long list of other desserts to die for?
I ended up choosing a Tahitian vanilla crème brulee topped with fresh berries, but as I took my first bite the beauty comes from what I thought my instinct told me was an umami taste. I asked the waiter and he became wide-eyed at the question of ‘what it could be.’ And like a little kid raising his hand in class anxious to answer he said “ooh, ooh, I know, I know …” But before he could tell me what that umami was, he first praised my palate and said I would be the first person to ever question and that I should take note in the fact I have great culinary senses. He then told me the berries were soaked in Grand Marnier…….ah yes!
The crème brulee was smooth, creamy, comforting and the torched crusted sugar top was caramelized bliss with just the right amount of crunch and brittleness to the bite The berries were a lovely sweet-tart compliment and the dessert as a whole wasn’t heavy, but rather refreshing and palate cleansing to the perfect meal.
As I took a sip of my black Torrefazione Italia coffee, I rejoiced in what was a lovely evening. It was a moment to sit back and enjoy the pleasures of what life offers we don’t usually allow ourselves to indulge in.
What did I learn about myself during this meal? I learned that when you are comfortable in your own skin, no matter where you are, you can take the time to stop the clock and take part in something amazing. You can allow your creativity to be enhanced and ignited by the very things that make you happy and feel excited about life. And above all, your own sense of being, sense of living and sense of grace can be brought forth to your own attention as you say grace and are thankful for the daily blessings of life and what it has to offer.
Give us this day, our daily bread…. Just be sure to make sure you’re enjoying every bite along the way.
© 2011 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Once they have inventory, while it may seem like hoarding, they are not hoarding really. I watched a squirrel befriend another and share the supply. I also became mesmerized when I saw that this same squirrel observed the boredom of another and ‘played catch’ with a nut in its shell, rolling it back and forth between himself and the other squirrel. Shortly thereafter, he was back out there gathering once again.
What this demonstrated was how the ‘workaholic’ squirrel still managed to keep his feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars…. Er…nuts. He took a time out to connect with his peers on a genuine level of generosity, giving of himself, before going back out there to pound the rocks/pavement of life. What he managed to do was strike a balance between work and social. And he didn’t rely up on social networking to do it. There was no Facebook. No Twitter. It was real connection.
I believe that while technology is great, that sometimes we forget the lost art of the social fundamental tools without technology of staying rock solid and in touch. Educators will tell you that kids today are lacking social skills of real conversation in real time in person and that they do not know how to communicate their needs face-to-face.
And in a world where we can go a whole day without in-person connection, this worries me about future generations and their ability to get along in the world unplugged.
There are people who live in places with severe weather conditions who go for days without power. There are people who live in places where the culture is about sitting on the porch and connecting with other human beings about life. There are people who live in places where they cannot afford the luxuries of online connection or even have the time to be on the Internet 24/7. My only hope is that these people are the ones who re-educate our society that you can actually have a conversation with your own family at the dinner table by opening your mouth and talking after you’ve kept it closed chewing your food, rather than Facebooking and Tweeting the fact you won your soccer game today.
It’s been awhile since I last blogged. But I have been practicing what I just preached. I unplugged. I think sometimes that’s how the world should be.
Stay rock solid. Keep your feet on the ground. Don't forget where you came from. Stay in touch while you gather your stash of nuts. Try unplugging and getting a little squirrely... it can be liberating.
© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Think about this for a minute. We, as people often reflect upon how we were raised. And we utilize this as a point of reference. Our parents reflect upon how they were raised and carry over behaviors, ideas, thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions which in part, somehow mold and shape who we are.
We then tend to discard what we don’t want or can’t use. We do shape ourselves through our experiences. This is not to disregard the past. This is not to disregard family history, tradition or culture. But it’s more about the independent spirit, which helps us stand more firmly as we discover and constantly rediscover the shape of who we are and what we are to become. It is here we develop our strengths. It is here we embrace growth.
And sometimes we have certain life experiences which take us to different levels.
During my childhood, I would spend a few days from my holiday breaks and summers with a family friend. Her name was Lisa. She happened to be adopted. And she was told this when she was really young, not just because her adoptive parents wanted her to know, but it was obvious she was not theirs as she came from an interracial relationship. What was inspiring and amazing to me is that even though she never knew her biological parents (nor did she care to), she did know the strengths of her multi-cultural background. She accepted that her German stock would give her a certain build. She accepted that her Japanese side would give her certain features and mannerisms, instinctively. She was a beautiful girl, full of confidence, life, vigor and silliness.
I give credit to her parents, for giving her the foundation she needed to adjust to being adopted and being of mixed ethnic backgrounds, while not looking anything like her parents and blatantly so. She didn’t care what people thought. She hated bullies. She had sass and strength. She had the posture, energy and endurance of what I call, The Firm. She was firmly planted, grounded, confident and nothing made her waiver. Nothing would or could make her question who she was. There were no insecurities or questions. She had a stronghold on her foundation, her base, her roots and the center of her being. And this came from the fact that she was never verbally abused. She was never judged or criticized, demeaned or disrespected. In school from classmates, yes. But from her parents, no way. They didn’t blow smoke up her a** either. They would lovingly tease her about some of her idiosyncrasies and behaviors. And then they would just laugh together. There was acceptance and love – no matter what. It was unconditional love at its finest.
This seems like some sort of fantasy-like household. Like the kind you see on television. Sadly, the reality is that today, there are more verbally abusive households than ever before. People enable their ego to take firm possession of their words and their actions, without regard to those they love, their feelings and how they may hurt them. They lose sight of how those words will eventually shape them with a console of dangerous buttons which get pushed down the road called life.
In the end there is something called ‘healing.’ And healing is a process anyone with baggage, even the Lisas of the world must go through at some point. All this is based on whatever life experiences people have had which have been downloaded into the personal memory bank of reactive behaviors.
Some people cannot find their happy place enough to heal. While others discoverer what it’s like to be alive again, once they let go. Contrary to old cliché’s…Yes, words can hurt. And yes, sticks and stones can break your bones. But words themselves are only as powerful as we enable them to be. If we take apart any word and not spot light it negatively, we don’t give it the strength to become woven within us. Lisa chose not to let ridiculing at school to destroy her, but rather embraced the fortifying loving words of her parents who loved her to strengthen her. She took stock in this, which helped her roots to form and take hold, to make her stronger.
If we take our cue from trees, we can drop a few leaves, let a few branches get blown off in this thing called life. And even when we get old, and bent-over and we may not be able to stand as tall as we used to – if we take stock on our own life’s foundation, stay firmly rooted and hold our ground, we can endure. And we will become… The Firm.
© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.