September 30, 2007

Boeuf a la Mode and the dog

On Sundays, we usually cook. It is not a hard and fast tradition (sometimes we see friends, sometimes we go out) but it is pretty common for us to do so. Today, we cooked French Style Pot Roast from the latest Cooks Magazine (usually called Boeuf a la mode). (The recipe is at the end of the posting).

IT is a fairly straightforward braising recipe – brown the meat in fat, sauté aromatics, add an acidic liquid, cook in the oven for several hours. Here are the photos of the meal:

We had a very nice 2005 Domaine de la Charbonnière Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Mourre des Perdrix with the meal. It was really a simple meal, and one of the things we value about cooking like this is the leftovers. We have ever purchased a food saver to give us more time to consume these meals.

Another Sunday evening pastime we usually partake in is watching old TV shows on Doreen’s computer. This evening we watched some of season three of Gilmore Girls and season three (1992!) of Law and Order. (Hey, I don’t get to choose all the things we watch!)

At one point I went back to the kitchen to get a tad more wine. One of the cats was on the counter, about to help himself to some of the pot roast. But it was too late! This is all that was left:

This is what we started with:

Our sweet dog had eaten almost four pounds worth of meat!

So much for leftovers…

September 28, 2007

September 26, 2007

Trains and planes and boats and busses


Evoke a common attitude of Blue

Unless you have a suitcase

a ticket and a passport

and the cargo that their carrying is you.

---Tom Waits

September 23, 2007

San Antonio

I drove to San Antonio today. My company is exhibiting at the Society for Exploration Geophysicists annual convention. This is a pretty big deal for us – it is our biggest convention of the year. We get clients and prospects from all over the world coming by to see what we have new.

Conventions are not fun. I have to go there this evening and have a few drinks we people I see only occasionally, and almost always in a business setting. I have to be nice, because nice sells. I am by nature pretty nice, but this is small talk for cash. It is work.

The drive over here was pretty nice. It is almost exactly 200 miles door step to door step. I did it is about 3 hours (legally. The speed limit is 70) There was not much traffic so it was clear sailing most of the way. This was the longest trip I had made in the new car since I got it. Now I am contemplating a cross country road trip.

I listened to some “books on tape” (actually short stories on DVD, but who’s counting) and enjoyed them quite a bit. It is sort of like getting bedtime stories read to you. The narrators even did voices.

Back to work!

September 19, 2007


Your word of the day.

See it here.

I am going to start having aperçus daily.

Lawsuit against Google

Techdirt: Handwritten Lawsuit Accuses Google Having A Name Similar To Accuser's Social Security Number

Amazing. This person is suing Google because if you turn their Social Security number upside down, and scramble it, it spells Google.

He is asking for $5 Billion.

September 18, 2007

Tony's for Dinner

For our anniversary dinner, we decided to go someplace we have never been before. It is sort of hard, for while we don’t go out every week, we do not hesitate to go out when we feel like it. So we thought about all the old favorites, and then decided on Tony’s – one of the old line fancy places to eat in Houston.

Now, Tony’s is one of the places where the movers and shakers eat. That means that the tables are pretty far apart (so that you can have a private conversation) but the place is relatively well lit (so you can see who walks by. This is a place for your business, not your mistress). The décor is quite nice (be sure to check out the link above) and we even saw a mover and a shaker while there. David Dewhurst, the Texas Lt Governor, came in while we were there for supper.

I had called the place earlier in the day (Doreen made the reservations) to find out about a dress code. They said “No athletic shoes, no shorts, coats preferred, ties optional”. I went with my chinos and a blue blazer. Doreen, as always, looked much better than I did in her Pucci skirt, scoop necked blouse, and little pink sweater. (it was chilly)

In spite of my sartorial banality, we were greeted with much pomp by the valet. Doreen’s door was opened and she was “handed out”. My door was opened, as was my rear door. The valet grabbed my sport coat (too hot to drive with it on here in Texas) and helped me on with the coat. Nice. He then stepped in front of us both so that he could get the automatic door started and then pulled the interior door open. The Maître‘d was ready and waiting for us. As it was a week night, we were eating rather early (7:00 PM) and the place was not too crowded.

They led us to a nice table with a view of the room. Doreen also had a view into the kitchen, which was visible through a large glass window. It is always nice to watch a kitchen work. The waiter came by asking about a drink, and we each ordered a coup of the Nicolas Feuillatte, Brut Rosè from Epernay. We both love champagne, and pink champagne is always a delight.

But much to our chagrin, about five minutes later, the waiter came to tell us they had sold out of the Feuillatte last weekend. We had to “settle” for some Taittinger. It did its job nicely.

After a while the menus were brought by and we started looking at what was available. There were some special appetizers and entrées, and we thought about each of them.

We had preordered the Whole Salt Crusted Gulf Coast Snapper, which I had read about as being their signature dish. I had no real idea what it was, but it sounded good. But we still had to decide on appetizers.

Doreen chose one of the specials – which was Burrata Cheese with Prosciutto and Figs. I ordered the Beef Carpaccio. At the same time, the waiter wanted to know if we were going to have a soufflé for dessert. You need to order these well in advance as well. We decided “What the heck!” and Doreen ordered the Pralines Soufflé, and I ordered the Bananas Foster Soufflé.

We also had to order a wine for the meal. I am a big fan of white Burgundies, so we chose a 2004 Meursault, “Les Clous” from Domaine Bouchard. A nice, deep minerally chardonnay.

The wine came and was poured. Very nice. The appetizers followed. My Carpaccio was outstanding, but Doreen’s Burrata was unbelievable. The cheese, a mozzarella type cheese was rich and flavorful. Almost nutty. It peeled off in strips that you would then wrap with the prosciutto and stab a fresh fig. The play of salt, fat, sweet, and savory exploded in your mouth. An outstanding treat.

We cleaned our plates and chatted some more, watching the room like a couple of tourists. Oddly enough, Doreen is certainly a mover and a shaker in the park world of Houston, so she knows many of the politicos in town.

As we were talking, the waiter came by our table and set up a serving tray. On the tray he placed a mallet and a chisel. Ha! I though. Tough salt.

About five minutes later, Doreen almost gasped, and then broke out laughing. From the kitchen, a waiter held a platter that was about 3’ long. On that platter was a brown fish shaped mound about 18” high. It was in flames. He walked slowly around the entire room, while everyone “ooed” and “ahhed” at it. It was then placed next to us as the table directly behind us broke into applause.

The fun began as the Maître‘d came by to crack the salt with the chisel and hammer. It was quite a spectacle, and the whole place watched. Underneath was a beautifully cooked red snapper that was quite large. He skinned it and extracted the choice bits for our plates. (the plates were full of fish). He then spooned some Barolo red wine reduction on the fish. There were four asparagus spears on the plate, and for side ordered we had French Whipped Potatoes and Sautéed Roman Artichokes.

The Maître‘d then made a small plate of the fish for the table behind us. One of the fellows there said that they had wanted to order the fish, but were deterred by the hour it would take to prepare. So they got a taste anyway. (I fussed jovially at the table and the waiter for stealing our fish)

The Potatoes were good, but they were no Joel Robuchon. That is a hard standard to live up to.

Finally the Soufflés came. They were both great, the Bananas Foster a bit better. They had sparklers on top to honor our anniversary, along with a complimentary Berry Tree. They table behind us clapped.

We were stuffed full as we waited for the evening to wind down. The table behind us ordered a big Chocolate Soufflé to share, and had the waiter carve us off a bit. Chocolate is a great way to end a meal.

We waddled out the car and drove slowly home. It was a fun evening.

September 17, 2007

Six Years

Today is our sixth anniversary.

We got married one week after the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington DC. That was not the original plan (I had hoped for a 2/2/02 wedding. You would never forget that date! 9/17/01 on the other hand is not notable numerically)

But one forgets the emotions involved during and immediately after the attacks. We decided that it would be better to be married rather than not married.

Additionally, since we have the option to be married, an option that many of our friends do not have, we felt it would be the right thing to do.

Being married is a good thing. I am a very lucky man

September 12, 2007

Oslo again

I am in Oslo just winding up a quick business trip. This wasn’t too bad, but I got almost no sleep last night. Oh, and the internet connection in my room doesn’t work. That is a pain in the butt.

I remember when you didn’t always have a phone with an RJ11c connector in your room. That made it very difficult to plug in your modem. Heck, I remember traveling to countries where they only had rotary dial phones! I had to carry a little “tone machine” that I bought at a Radio Shack so that I could check my voicemail.

Those were the days…

September 6, 2007

Moray Eel

A Moray Eel has two sets of jaws.

Below is a quicktime movie (also referenced above) showing them in action.

Creepy! (video/quicktime Object)

September 4, 2007


We cooked some Lasagna last night.

See the photos here.

It was a Cook's Illustrated recipe. It had little meatballs instead of meat sauce. And it had six, SIX, layers of noodles. That's a lot of noodles. And a lot of working making all those tiny meatballs.

It was quite tasty.