Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Rainbow Over Chicago – 10/7/17

Chicago rainbow 10-7-17

This is what I saw after my early dinner in Chicago last weekend. I guess my pot o’ gold was the wild mushroom and roasted garlic pizza I had at Bar Siena that evening!

May all your days be golden…



The Gastronomique Tour: Week 2 – Switzerland

The second and final week of my tour lands me in Switzerland to sample some of its delicacies (food and drink), and more importantly, visit w/ my cousins, some of whom I haven’t seen since 2004. My home base was Delemont, the town where my mom grew up and where most of my cousins still live. It’s close to the Alsace region of France so we visited a couple of beautiful towns just across the border – Kaysersberg and Colmar. Other stops were Lucerne (famous for its covered bridge), Vercorin and Grimentz (two alpine villages in the Valais region). Grimentz is one of the best preserved Swiss alpine villages in that region. 

One of my cousins introduced me to Damassine, a delicious eau de vie made from damson plums. It quickly became one of my favorite after dinner drinks, having a great aroma and flavor in addition to aiding in the digestion of wonderful meals. One evening we sautéed 2 types of local fresh trout purchased at the Delemont farmers market and of course we finished the meal w/ a bit of cheese and Damassine!

While in Vercorin, my cousin prepared a tradition meal called Assiette Valaisanne, which typically is a platter loaded w/ local cured meats, local cheeses, butter, thin slices of a dense rye bread called seigle, sliced fruit, nuts, cornichons and tomato wedges. This is served w/ wines produced regionally. It makes a delicious meal. Click here for an example.

It was hunting season while I was in Switzerland, so most restaurants offered seasonal dishes made w/ fresh game meat. I was fortunate to sample some venison and chamois prepare a couple of different ways during some of our meals out. One chef slowly braised chamois for 18 hours and served it w/ local mushrooms, spaetzle, seasonal vegetables and fruit. Another preparation was a roulade of venison breast stuffed w/ ground venison and served w/ red cabbage and spaetzle. Both were delicious!

When in Switzerland, I always hope to eat Raclette (a Swiss specialty). It’s one of my favorite ways to eat cheese. A picture is worth a thousand words as you will see in the photos of the Raclette lunch we ate at a cousin’s home one day.

I hope you enjoy these choice photos as much as I enjoyed my short time in Switzerland!

P1010958 Kaysersberg


P1010985 Vineyards in Alsace

P1010986 Colmar (aka – “Little Venice”)


P1020031 Very slow braised chamois at L’Etoile in Moutier

P1020038 After dinner at L’Etoile

P1020051 Lucerne


P1020095 Delemont (my mom grew up in the building on the right – her dad’s bakery was on the bottom level)

P1020101 One of the many colorful fountains in Delemont

P1020148 Delemont farmers market

P1020130 Our trouts for the evening are the filets on the right

P1020143 Mushrooms galore

P1020209 Downtown Delemont

P1020213 Waiting for the Raclette


P1020214 Yum!

P1020281 Vercorin



P1020250 Grimentz



P1020269 Our lunch spot in Grimentz

P1020276 On the menu…

P1020271 Veggie lasagna

P1020272 Braised venison

P1020273 Venison roulade

Au revior et a bientot j’espere!


The Gastronomique Tour: Part 2, Week 1 – Armagnac

The second installment of my European adventure takes place in the town of Eauze, France, where we were fortunate enough to visit the Armagnac producer, Marquis de Montesquiou. They normally don’t give tours but my brother told them I was coming all the way from St. Louis and was a fan of their Armagnac, so they made an exception. Our guide was the maître de chais (cellar master), Eric Durand. He was kind enough to take 1 1/2 hours out of his busy day to show us around and explain the Armagnac production process.

Armagnac is an eau de vie, like Cognac, but different in that it is distilled only once using a continuous distillation process. This process captures more of the esters from the fermented grapes and results in a more flavorful end product. Eric also noted that the oak barrels in which Armagnac is aged has a looser grain than the barrels used for aging Cognac, allowing the Armagnac to absorb more flavors from the barrels than Cognac.

Our tour culminated w/ a tasting of the house reserve Armagnac that dates back to 1900. If I remember correctly, Eric explained that with every vintage there is some excess Armagnac that won’t fit into the barrels used for that year’s production. This excess was placed in select barrels and is a blend of all vintages dating back to when Marquis de Montesquiou was founded. How fortunate we were to taste something that rare! My friend said he had never seen as big a smile on my face as when that golden nectar touched my taste buds! My brother commented to Eric that I’m now spoiled for life because no other Armagnac will taste as good as this house reserve. So true… so true!!

Here are a few photos from our visit:


P1010792 “La Cathedrale” (the cathedral) where the barrels are housed

P1010797 Inside “La Cathedrale”


P1010801 The large blending barrels (w/ a normal sized barrel in the foreground for perspective)

P1010812 The large blending barrels and the lab

P1010808 A label on one of the blending barrels

P1010802 A label on one of the normal sized barrels (noting the vintage, grape type, farm of origin, etc…)

P1010815 Markings on one of the normal sized barrels

P1010804 Maitre de Chais, Eric Durand, explaining the distillation process

P1010816 Inside the lab


Bob's Agen photos4 The moment of glory!


Thank you Eric for such a memorable experience!

A votre sante’…


The Gastronomique Tour: Part 1, Week 1- Southwestern France

How do I edit a fantastic 2 week vacation during which I snapped 670 photos?… Not easily!

To sum it up, seeing family I hadn’t visited since 2004 was so enjoyable I wish I had more time to be w/ them. I definitely won’t let so much time pass before my next visit.

My first stop was Southwestern France. I landed in Bordeaux and spent the first week exploring the region surrounding Agen, the city where my brother and his wife live. This region is filled w/ great food and beautiful countryside which encompasses many well preserved medieval villages.

This post and the ones to follow will provide a visual taste of my experiences…

P1010639 Agen’s organic farmers market




P1010661 Gavaudun

P1010683 Biron


P1010712 Monpazier

P1010732 Bonaguil

P1010739 Rocamadour


P1010839 Foie gras museum



P1010873 Josephine Baker’s old house (Chateau des Milandes)

P1010881 Beynac




P1010919 Our picnic spot (Roque – Gageac)

P1010920 Decadent picnic food


A bientot!



December/January Travel Photos

Meteor Crater, Arizona


Extinct Volcanos near Toluca, Mexico


Mono Lake, California


St. Louis, Missouri


Happy Travels…


Aerial View of Half Dome

Photo snapped at 2:30 pm Pacific time at an altitude of 30,000 feet while we were descending towards San Jose, California on October 25th. The lighting was just right to create good shadows to accentuate Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

Happy Hiking (or climbing)!


Aerial Views of Mount Shasta, Lake Tahoe and Truckee, California

Here are a few photos I snapped while working during the week of 7/2 – 7/8/13. The western U.S. has some beautiful landmarks! (click on photos to enlarge)

 Mount Shasta 7/2/13:


Lake Tahoe 7/7/13:


Truckee 7/8/13:



Long, tiring week… great to be home!!


12/29/12 – Moonset and Sunrise in Rifle, Colorado: Minus 4 Degrees F… Brrrrr!

Workin’ the early bird shift this week, but even the birds weren’t up this early!!

Happy New Year!


Anguilla – The Cuisinart Resort

The weekend before Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Anguilla while our plane had some fixes done. We stayed at the Cuisinart Resort – yes the same Cuisinart that makes the kitchen products. This property is very unique in that it has a huge hydroponic farm (18,000 square feet) on site to supply most of the vegetables and herbs for the resort’s restaurants. This place was a food lover’s dream! We sampled some of the good eats at the restaurants and I got to take a peek at the hydroponic farm courtesy of the farm’s creator and manager, Howard Resh, Ph. D. . For more information on hydroponic farming click the following link to visit Dr. Resh’s website:

Here are a few photos of this beautiful and food-centric resort and the hydroponic farm: (click images to enlarge)

 Tuna four ways: sashimi, grilled, tempura and tartare

 Steak tartare

 Chocolate souffle

 From my room


 The farm

 Lettuce pond

 Under the lettuce


 Dr. Resh

 Cherry tomatoes

 Red bell pepper

 Yellow bell pepper

Orange bell pepper

 English cucumbers



 Under the microgreens

 Baby lettuce

 Planting a crop

 More herbs

 Bok choy



 Cherry tomatoes


 Beefsteak tomatoes

I wish I had a garden like this in my backyard… maybe next year!



Foraging on Maui, Hawaii

I was very fortunate to have spent a few days working on Maui during the week before Thanksgiving. Here are a some of the many photos I snapped on this beautiful island.


Welcome to Maui!


View from my hotel room.


Fruit stand and smoothie truck on the way from Kahului airport to Kaanapali beach.


They sold passion fruit, guavas, papayas, mangoes, bananas, sugar cane, pineapples, star fruit, lemons, limes and coconuts among other things.





The old banyan tree in Lahaina.


Wood fired pizza from a street vendor – we selected the spinach special and lilikoi pork pizzas.


Our pies baking in the oven.


Time to eat!



Next stop the Maui Grown Company Store to sample some locally grown coffee. Sampled five types of beans and decided I enjoyed the Lahaina Beach the best so I bought a pound to bring home.


We then drove to the Kaanapali Coffee Farms to see where the beans are grown.




The next morning we drove to Hana on the windward side of the island. Sugar cane fields in the foreground w/ the sun rising over Haleakala volcano.


Along the Hana highway.



Surf’s up in Hana!


Breakfast at Uncle Bill’s in Hana. A quirky stationary food truck w/ an eccentric proprietor named Phyllis.


The funky decor at Uncle Bill’s.

Across from the ball fields in Hana is a great food stand called Thai Food by Pranee where I purchased the special of the day, Panang Mahi Mahi, to have for lunch before our hike in Haleakala National Park. No photo, just delicious memories and a link for more information : click here 


Baby pig crossing, but none were crossing as we drove by…


Entering Haleakala National Park.


Map of the park.


A banyan tree along the trail up to Waimoku Falls.


One of the many waterfalls along the trail to Waimoku Falls.


The bamboo forest.



Spectacular Waimoku Falls which drops 400 feet!


The base of Waimoku Falls.


Charles Lindbergh’s final resting place.


Continuing along the Hana highway there are many beautiful vistas.



The changing scenery as we get closer to the base of Haleakala volcano which you can see in the background.



One of the many hairpin turns along the highway. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road!!

That’s all folks! Hope you enjoyed the tour…