Friday, June 20, 2008

U Pick without the pain!

Yesterday I discovered that you can do U Pick and not by physically uncomfortable! The (wonderful, atypical) cool weather we are having meant I took Ian, Fiona, their friend Nick and my mom (aka Granny Jan) out to Rowe's Produce Farm to pick a peck of peas and some strawberries and I didn't sweat buckets! And the kids didn't start complaining after 5 minutes that they were hot and wanted to go home! I've dragged these kids on many a U Pick adventure, but we've never worn long pants and never left the fields still feeling sane (though I always leave feeling a little full...)

Because my kids are strange, they were much more enthusiastic about picking peas than strawberries. Peas are the only green vegetable they eat. Ian ate one and said "Yummy!" which I think I have waited about 6 years to hear (since he decided at age 2 to become a conservative eater). We only got him to try peas again last summer and he realized that despite being green, they are not evil.
Besides, you can also pretend to have a long green nose with a pea...who knew they provided such entertainment value!

Then we headed over to the strawberry field and I helped my mom pick a load of strawberries for her to make jam (I'm too lazy to make my own and she's a nice mom and gives me some).
I brought home about a quart of berries just for snacking, but I didn't need too many because as I mentioned, my kids are strange and don't eat strawberries (they will eat strawberry jam.) But their friend Nick loves strawberries almost as much as he loves arugula (yup, a 5 year old who eats plain arugula like my kids eat potato chips). So while Fiona and Ian played in the dirt, Nick kept me and Granny Jan company and I got the gratifying view of a boy with strawberry juice dripping down his chin:
Once I told Nick that anything he ate in the field was free (the foolish farm owners didn't weigh him on the way in and on the way out!) he went a little crazy. I hope he didn't have a tummy ache later.

For dinner I made a pasta dish that just screams "Spring!":
It's whole wheat spaghetti, ricotta, lots of snipped basil, thyme and oregano, some garlic sauteed in olive oil (I wish I'd had some of my green garlic, but couldn't make the trip over to the garden to pick some), a lot of ground black pepper, and those glorious peas. I wanted to preserve the perfection of the peas so I didn't really cook them: I just put the shelled peas in the bottom of the colander and when the spaghetti was done, I drained it over the peas. It was even briefer than blanching. I ate two heaping bowls of this and plan to eat the same thing all weekend, at least until my pea supply runs out!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bonne Anniversaire a moi!

So yesterday I turned 39 and celebrated by (finally) getting myself this:
a computer that, god willing, won't crash two times a day.

In the evening, Brian and I walked down to Eve and had a lovely dinner. Brian started with a bowl of curried mussels and I ate a lot of the fantastic sauce (no mussels for me since my body now violently sends shellfish back up the pipe...). We both had salads and split their beef tenderloin entree (which is way too big for me to eat on my own) and drank a nice bottle of Australian Shiraz from their Excursions selection (wines under $30 a bottle.) I really appreciate this part of their wine list--it is actually what made me decide on Eve over Pacific Rim when I was musing over where to go for dinner. I think there is something so decent about having a reasonably priced selection of wines on the menu.

When desert rolled around, I knew I wanted their triple chocolate pots de creme with the accompanying quantity of whipped cream, but I couldn't decide what to drink with it. I couldn't stomach the sweetness of desert wines which I usually only like when paired with a cheese plate, so I asked the waitress if they had any Eau de Vie and unfortunately they didn't. I love a good Eau de Vie that burns as you breathe in and when you exhale you get a blast of fruit essence. So Brian and I went a different route and each got a Guinness to go with the pot de creme and it turned out to be a really nice combination.
The only thing that would have made it better was if it had been draft Guinness with a creamier head. But the bitter nutty darkness of the beer really went well with the richness of the dessert.

My favorite thing about the restaurant came at the end when I went to the bathroom -- I guess I've never used the bathroom at Eve because otherwise I would have remembered the mirror:
All over the face of the mirror are lovely French phrases complementing the person being reflected which meant that instead of looking at myself while washing my hands, I read "Oh, que tu es jolie. Que tu es belle..." etc. I have no idea what I actually looked like when I went back to our table (I suspect a little flushed from wine and stout) but I know I had a big grin on my face after reading that I was "la quintessance de la beaute." (Brian tells me that in the Men's room is a similar mirror but with all the phrases printed in English which I think is too bad; the French definitely adds romance.)

I would LOVE to have a mirror like this in my bathroom--talk about a daily reminder that beauty isn't really about how you look but how you feel.