lummi island wine tasting sept 22 ’17 fall equinox

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Bread this week

Whole Wheat CiabattaUses both Italian biga and poolish pre-ferments. Once mixed the dough is fermented overnight in the refrigerator. A long, slow, cool ferment adds a lot of flavor to the final bread. Made with regular bread flour and fresh milled whole wheat. A little olive oil for more flavor and a lot of water. With so much water this bread can’t really be shaped, just cut into pieces and baked. A great rustic bread – $5/loaf

Pain NormandBrings in the flavor of french Normandy region which is known for its apples. Made with fresh milled whole wheat and rye flours as well as bread flour then mixed with apple cider as well as dried apples. A delicious artisan bread – $5/loaf.

And for pastry this week…

Bear Claws! – Made with a danish pastry dough rich in cream, eggs, sugar and butter. The dough is rolled out and filled with a filing made with almond paste, powdered sugar, egg whites and just a bit of cinnamon to round out the flavor. Then, because bears love honey, topped with a honey glaze after baking.  – 2/$5

Another Fall Equinox

dscn0984Here is Sunset from our place on a past Autumnal Equinox. Equinoxes being what they are, corresponding Sunsets appear more or less in the same spot near the horizon every year. At the Moment of Equinox  someone at one particular place on the Equator can experience looking straight up at the Sun at Local Noon. That’s right…the Equinox happens in a Single Moment over a Single Spot on Equatot.

For those non-Navigators our there, “local noon” is the moment on any day when the Sun is directly South of you in the Northern Hemisphere, or directly North of you in the SH. One Very Cool thing about this “Local Apparent Noon” (LAN) is that at Sea you can always tell your Latitude by observing the angular elevation of the Sun over a period near noon. You can observe it increasing to a maximum and then start decreasing. The maximum elevation always occurs when the Sun is on the same North-South Meridian as you are and it is a relatively easy matter to compute your Latitude from this One Observation. That also explains how, by the way, Joshua Slocum (author of the Classic “Sailing Alone Around the World”) was able to navigate Around the World back in 1898 using a wind-up clock that had lost its minute hand…!


Tator Talk

Tator has been continuing her very slow Recovery. She is now able to stand up on her own from most positions, with soft cushions (otherwise Two Dewclaws Up!) and slippery floors (Never a Canine Favorite) being the most challenging. She can also make her way to the Flip-Flop Door to let herself out As Necessary, another Big Step Forward, although getting herself back in is still a Challenge.

She has developed a fondness for lots of milk and a bit of yogurt in her kibbles, while showing varying levels of Disinterest in Dog Food. A bit of the Fussy Princess we suspect, but it is a Comfort to see her eating with Intention and Enjoyment.

We are also beginning to see some positive signs that she is Rebuilding a bit of Muscle Mass (Yay!). We still have No Idea what caused all of this in the first place, so are Keeping an Eye to Weather on her progress. For now all the Signs continue to be Positive, and we are doing Our Best to let a Little Optimism in! You know, As One Does in these Situations…it’s a Long Road Back!




End of Another Drydock

Annual Drydock is hard to explain to people who do not live on an Island served by A Ferry. Let’s just say that for 49 or 50 weeks a year our trusty, 50+ years-old Whatcom Chief plies Hales Passage some 35 round trips a day ferrying passengers and vehicles between mainland and Lummi Island. About 100′ long, the Chief makes the one-mile crossing in about 6 minutes. Add another 4 minutes on average for loading and unloading, and under ideal circumstances, the Chief can move about 60 cars per hour from the busy side (AM –> mainland) to the less-busy side (AM –> Island).

Once a year this Old Boat undergoes Annual Maintenance. In the last fifteen years this has usually happened in September, beginning mid-week right after Labor Day, and extending for two or three weeks. While the Chief is in Drydock, a passenger-only boat transports people between Island and Mainland. The Good News is that it is Very Quiet on the Island for a few weeks, with Fewer People and many fewer cars. As a result it is Quiet, laid-back, and a great time for Walking!


Mar a Lago Update: Oh…THAT kind of Bull in the China Shop

Here we are Eight Months Into The Tweetster’s Alt Reality, and it is almost (OMD!) starting to Feel…I can’t believe I’m saying this…Normal. Most of the Destruction of Everything We Hold Dear is happening Quietly at the Cabinet Level; Chief of Staff Kelly seems to have Tightened Discipline a bit and had some success holding both Staff and Tweetster to a Few Minimal Standards of Professionalism.

Meanwhile, an Unprecedented Series of Hurricanes has successfully Diverted Attention from the so-called Administration’s Epic Incompetence. Well, for a few days, anyway. And Of Course their Unprecedented Magnitude has Nothing to Do with so-called “Global Warming.” As some Existential Road Signs in the Mountain West declare, High Winds May Exist.

Then, as we all know, the Tweetster did his UN Thing, which has the Entire World in various stages of forehead-slapping OMD’s, WTF’s , and Is This Really Happening? Meanwhile the Tweetster and the Mitchster are Digging In for a Siege and Sharpening their Nails for a Showdown at the Not-So-OK Corral. And All of That is Not to Mention…Rocket Man, as the Tweetster calls Kim Jong Un. Our view after listening to These Two is that the Best Thing That Could Happen is for These Two (Tweetster and Unster) to meet and Trade Haircuts! That would be Awesome! Everyone would Immediately Feel Better! Am I right? Am I right? Of course I’m right! Haircut Trade! Haircut Trade! Bumper Stickers Available Soon!


This week’s wine tasting

Bernier Chardonnay ’16 France $10
Lemon, herbs and lees on the nose. Full-on minerality, with a touch of lemon curd. Crisp, elegant, steely, mineral, and citrusy personality. Classic Old World style that will drink beautifully with light fish dishes, or served as an aperitif.

Chapoutier Belleruche Rosé ’16   France    $13
The Grenache in this food-friendly Provencal-style  rosé  adds bright red stone fruit flavors; the Cinsault brings its delicate strawberry aroma; and the Syrah adds body, making for a great pairing even with the intense flavors of seafood.

Ramirana Cab Reserva ’15    Chile    $12
Expressive notes of red and black berries, with notes of black pepper, chocolate, and tobacco. Nicely balanced body, acidity, and tannins, with a pleasing finish.

Zenato ‘Alanera’ Rosso Veronese      Italy        $15
Dark, inky color; rich and focused nose, with ripe berries, dusty oak and a precise note of waxy vanilla bean. On the palate delivers extracted flavors of cherries, strawberry, clay and even a hint of crushed mint. Soft tannins, rounded finish.

Chateau la Croisille ‘Silice’ Malbec ”15    France   $19
Plots located on the Luzech limestone plateau, more precisely on terroirs made of iron-rich siliceous red clays, aged one year in neutral oak, yielding a wine that is both rustic and polished.



Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting september 15 ’17

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Bread this week

Buckwheat Walnut & Honey – a nice flavorful artisan bread. Made with a poolish which takes some of the flour, water and yeast and ferments it overnight before mixing the final dough with fresh milled buckwheat and bread flour. A little honey to balance the earthiness of the buckwheat and some toasted walnuts for a nice crunch. This bread goes well with meats and cheeses – $5/loaf

Sweet Corn & Dried Cranberry – Made with polenta and bread flour, then enriched with milk, butter and honey before being loaded up with dried cranberries. Has great corn flavor but is not a traditional quick cornbread. A delicious bread that makes great toast – $5/loaf

And for pastry this week…

Brioche Tarts au Sucre – aka Brioche Sugar Tarts. A rich brioche dough full of eggs and butter is rolled into a round tart and topped with more eggs, cream, butter and sugar. – 2/$5.


Tator Talk

Today was a big milestone for Tator. Just within the last hour or two she managed to get herself up from the floor, from lying to standing, the first time she has been able to do that in almost a month! Mes amis, it would be hard to overstate what a Big Deal that is for us, especially since I made a special trip into town today to pick up a Rx for some pain meds for her. We are hoping this marks the Turning of a Corner on her Road to Recovery.

At this point we still have No Idea what is going on with her beyond her bout with  Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia ( IMHA).. Her ultra sound exam last week showed no likely candidates for causing her condition, so it is all a Puzzle. All the more Reason why these little steps Forward are So Encouraging. Which leads us to Wonder on behalf of our Four-Footed Friends…is Progress measured in One Step At a Time…? Or Two, Three, or Four…? All you need to know is that Yes, she Got an Extra Greenie for standing up on her Own Four Feet tonight! Yay!!


Getting Off-Of Track

It probably comes as a Surprise to Those Who Labeled Us that It Isn’t Easy being Coastal Elites, at least by current standards. That is, I always thought of Elites, Coastal or Otherwise, as being characterized mainly by their Wealth, not by their Liberal Views or penchants to sip Lattes. Of course No One likes a Snob, or to be thought of as a Snob. Which brings us Right to Today’s Point: is it Elitism to expect today’s Communications Professionals to use Proper Grammar? To wit, in the past week I have heard numerous Otherwise Reputable Reporters commit the Same Grammatical Error: using “Off of” (a double preposition) when the rules of English grammar dictate using simply “Off.” It’s pretty simple. As in “we’re getting Off Of track,” say…the “of” simply adds confusion.

I imagine that my High School classmates (oh yes, from a Very Long, Long Time Ago) would still agree that our English Teacher Miss Fraser (a weird part of the Old Days was that unmarried women of all ages were burdened with the Title “Miss,” which in retrospect conveyed a vague but ongoing Under-the-Breath and Eyebrows-Raised sense of Shame that a Normal Adult Woman could somehow remain Unmarried) was Very Particular about the Rules of English Grammar, and did her Best to Instill that concern in us as well. The Big Takeaway was that if Language is allowed to be Imprecise, Meaning Itself falls into Question…which is Really Scary! And Since we are now Living in a Time when Proven Facts are constantly weighed against Uninformed and Manipulated Public Opinion, Linguistic Precision looms as a Critical Bastion to be Defended.

So the Question arises: Who Are Today’s “Elite?” And how does One Become One of Them?


Mar a Lago Update: The Tweetster, Chuck, and Nancy

It is possible the term “Strange Bedfellows” was coined in reference to this Very Situation. Here we are, eight months At Sea, yet to Set a Course, Gale Force Winds, No One on the Bridge, and the Captain in Steerage watching Fox News to see Where the Ship is Going. And Lots of Rats are Abandoning the Ship Every Day…Republican Rats for the most part.

So it seems Natural and Inevitable in a way that the Tweetster would Hook Up with Chuck and Nancy. After all, Paul and Mitch have been Dissing him Something Awful, and he’s a Sensitive Guy, right? Right? Am I Right? Of course I’m Right.

It is possible that Stranger Things have happened, somewhere, sometime, when the Party’s Candidate had no Real Loyalty to Anyone but His Public, and was Therefore Always Available for a Better Offer. So it is in some Sense Refreshing that the Tweetster has found Common Ground with Chuck and Nancy. And in the Longer Term, unlikely as it may seem now, it is Conceivable that, in exchange for the Adulation he Craves, the Tweetster would Support things like Dreamer Protection, tax cuts for the Middle Class, and even Single-Payer Health Care. You know, like Only Nixon Could Go to China…!


This week’s wine tasting

Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino 201 Italy     $13
Pale golden-tinged straw color; Botanical herbs and white stone fruit on the nose and palate, with good length and freshness;, finishing clean and medium-long.

Barnard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese  ’16   Washington   
Mouthwatering raspberry, orange and pomegranate flavors are balanced by the perfect amount of juicy

acidity. Dry, tangy and vibrant! Just a touch of lime and mineral notes checks in on the long finish.

Quinta des Aves Noctua Syrah ’14   Spain
Bright cherry red with purple hints. Deep and long-lasting aroma of red fruits and crisp, spicy strawberry; soft and fruity, silky and long on the finish.

Orowines Bluegray Priorat ’14     Spain     $17
Named for the licorella slate of Priorat, which yields intense, terroir-specific wines from the harsh soils that challenge local varieties like Grenache and Mazuelo to the utmost, yielding tobacco and spice notes to the raspberry jam flavors. Rustic, earthy, spicy, and wildly aromatic.

Syncline Subduction Red ’15   Washington    $18
Syrah dominant Rhone blend; perfumed aromas of fresh blue and purple fruit, spice, and herbs lead to rich fruit flavors and a plush texture that persists effortlessly through the finish. Delightful!



Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting september 8 ’17

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Bread this week

Multi Grain Levain – Made with a sourdough culture and using a flavorful mix of bread flour and fresh milled whole wheat and rye. A nice mixture of flax, sesame sunflower and pumpkin seeds and some polenta add great flavor and crunch. And just a little honey for some sweetness. A great all around bread that is full of flavor – $5/loaf

Braided Challah – a delightful soft loaf made with bread flour, lots of eggs, sugar and vegetable oil, with no butter or milk. Makes great toast and even better french toast- $5/loaf

And for pastry this week…

Individual Cinnamon RollsMade with a rich sweet roll dough that is full of eggs, butter and sugar. The dough is rolled out, spread with pastry cream and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, rolled up and sliced into individual rolls for baking. And boy are they delicious!! – 2/$5.


Tator Talk

We spent much of the early part of the week waiting in the Post-Labor Day Weekend/ Pre-Ferry-Drydock Exit Extravaganza…several days of two-hour waiting lines getting on or off the Island. Tator went to our regular Vet two of those days, and yesterday went to the Ultrasound Vet for a very detailed internal exam. The Good News is that no major abnormalities or growths were discovered. The Less Good news is that, tests being what they are, there is still no definitive explanation for her condition.

Today delivered more Good News, though, because through the day today she has shown more energy and focus than for several weeks. One hopeful interpretation is that indeed her weakness and muscle wasting the last several weeks have been artifacts of the high doses of prednisone she started with. Now that we have tapered off the prednisone to small doses, while her red cell count has climbed into the “low normal” range, the changes we are seeing might be the “bouncing back” we have been looking for as her red cell count has been increasing.

We are keeping all our paws crossed. In the meantime, keep those Healing Vibes headed her way…!



Comparing Pleasures

Culture is Multidimensional. Many of us got a Good Taste of that in Ryan’s presentation series at the wine shop several years ago on The Art of Wine. The format was to pick a region, and then to explore the wines, the food, the art, and the literature. Each component of the exploration yielded a Dimension of the Region.

In this week’s tasting we offer two seductive red wines, one from Italy and one from Spain. The Tommasi Poggio Al Tufo Rompicollo is a Tuscan blend of sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon. Tuscany enjoys an archetypal Mediterranean climate, with rolling hills, seasonal rains, and hot, dry summers. The Maremma region of Tuscany extends toward the sea on the west, and allows both Italian and French Bordeaux varietals in regional wines. Look for a richness typical of the volcanic limestone soil and climate and a relaxing raisiny softness that wafts through your senses.

Contrast this with our comparably-priced offering from the Priorat region of Spain; the Esplugen blend of Garnacha, carinena, cab sauv represents a somewhat similar volcanic soil in a more austere micro-climate. In Priorat the vines must dig very deep (30 feet or more) into the dry layers of rocks and sand to find enough water to survive. This results, especially in the case of Old Vine Carinena (my One Wine Weakness…!), in Dark Wines of Depth and Subtlety. In comparison to the rich and seductive Super-Tuscan sangio-cab blends, the Priorat blends show the Austerity of their Roots as Deeper and Darker Shades of Red. Musically, if the Rompicollo is Rich and Opulent, the Priorat is Complex and Profound, Deep and Resonant. And Both are Delightful!


Mar a Lago Update: Hurricane Season

The Big News this week is (sort of) about Hurricanes. Last week Harvey smashed into the Texas Coast and liked it so much it stayed around for a few days to keep sucking up water from the Gulf and dropping it onto Houston and the Gulf Coast. This week Florida prepares for Hurricane Irma, with the Highest Winds Ever Recorded for an Atlantic Hurricane, on the order of Two Hundred Miles Per Hour. All you need to know is that the Force of Wind is proportional the the Square of the Velocity. That is, each time you double the wind velocity, you quadruple the destructive power of the wind. So a two-hundred mph wind has 100 times the destructive power of a 20-mph wind, not “just”10 times!

These Hurricanes seem to have made for Strange Bedfellows yesterday, when the Tweetster Made a Deal (OMD, he really Can Make Deals…?) with the Democratic Leadership that was pretty much of a Major Eff-Yu to McConnell and Ryan, judging from the Steam billowing from their ears.

Then today, the Tweetster sent a Special Tweet at the request of Speaker Pelosi (it’s almost Romantic!) and has been Delighted with the Great Publicity all this has gleaned for him. So he is Pleased. Let us hope All the Dems will be taking note: Public Approval is now The Coin of the Realm for Policy because he is Addicted to it! Watch out, Republicans…once the Tweetster Gets It that the Accolades of the Many are Much More Satisfying than the Condescending Tolerance of the Powerful Few, he might actually Get Liberal Religion. Remember…you heard it here First!


This week’s wine tasting

Cloudlift Updraft ’13    Washington    $18
Bordeaux-style blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon; aromas of apple blossom, mango, papaya, and lime; flavors of Bosc pear and juicy tropical fruit leading to a palate-cleansing rush of citrus acidity.

Bieler  Pere et Fils Rosé Cuvée ’16    France  $12
Pale brilliant orange. Bright, energetic and focused nose of fresh red berry, orange zest and honeysuckle. Juicy raspberry and cherry flavors with a core of tangy acidity; silky and perfumed on the refreshing finish.

Crios Malbec ’15    Argentina      $14
Bright, dark red. Redcurrant, black cherry, ripe strawberry and spices on the nose; sweet red fruit flavors are complicated by earth, licorice and menthol; creamy fruit is firmed by smooth tannins…a terrific value.

Esplugen Priorat ’14   Spain       $17
Garnacha, carinyena, cab sauv; Priorat’s famous slate soil and arid climate give this wine great intensity and structure, with deep and complex aromas of rich ripe fruit, toast, and a long pleasing finish .

Tommasi Poggio Al Tufo Rompicollo ’12      Italy  93pts   $17
pulent, with an Amarone-like raisiny nuance to the ripe, soft red cherry, sweet spice, and herb aromas and flavors. Velvety, opulent, well balanced and smooth, with long, lush, smooth tannins. Terrific buy!


Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting labor day weekend sept 1-3 ’17 artists studio tour

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Bread this week

Spelt Levain –Spelt is an ancient grain similar to wheat and has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor. It has gluten but it isn’t as strong as the gluten in traditional wheat. This bread is made with a levain, or sourdough, traditional bread flour and about 1/3 spelt flour and fresh milled whole spelt. Makes a great all around bread – $5/loaf

Buttermilk Currant – A really flavorful loaf made with bread flour and fresh milled whole wheat, and a little honey, lots of currants and just a little rosemary to round out the flavors. Makes great toast and even better french toast- $5/loaf

And for pastry this week, a Labor Day tradition…

Hamburger Buns – bread flour and freshly milled whole wheat, some milk and butter for a tender crumb and topped with a flavorful onion topping. Great with any kind of sandwich – not just hamburgers! – 4/$5



Doors of Lyon

Our Studio Tour artist this weekend is Mary Beth Watkins, our neighbor across the road and down a short path through the woods. This is a reprise of her show of the same title back in May of 2011. Since then we have also been in Lyon, famous for all kinds of things, but particularly the food and, in our small circle, the doors as well!

A brief search online for information about these beautifully made, richly carved and heavy front doors did not reveal a history or explanation. However, it did reveal a website with lots of photos of these doors. Curiously, the very first one is the same door we featured in this blog for Mary Beth’s first show of these photos six years ago!

We welcome comments and links to more information about the Lyonnaise penchant for putting such effort into their entrances. In the meantime, we hope you stop by and take a look at the whole collection this weekend.



Tristan Returns!

A couple of years ago we had a great run with our friend Tristan, for several years a wine rep from our favorite importer Small Vineyards who developed their portfolio of French and Spanish wines. Tristan came to the wine shop of several Studio Tour occasions to pour some of the wines he represented over the weekend. He has been scarce the past two years because he started his own wine importing/distributing company, Vinea Imports, specializing in Spanish and French wines.

Tristan will be here pouring wines from his portfolio on Saturday and possibly on Sunday. As with Small Vineyards, these are terrific wines at bargain prices, so we encourage you to come by and taste through some interesting wines!


Tator Talk 

 Earlier this year we chronicled the illness and loss of our younger dog Cooper. And how our grief led us to adopt a new puppy from the same breeder, Ulee. And even about the evolving relationship between Tator and Ulee.

Well, about a month ago our senior dog Tator (aka ‘Stole my Heart in the First Minute”) started slowing down and losing energy. And getting a lot less tolerant of Ulee. Seemed too fast a decline for chalking up to “Age,” so we took her in for some tests. A blood count revealed the strong likelihood she had a nasty autoimmune blood condition, Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia or IMHA: her immune system was destroying her own red blood cells.

The Protocol for this condition is to suppress the immune system with steroids, including prednisone. Within a week of starting heavy doses, she began losing the ability to stand up or walk. She has had a hearty appetite, drinks lots of water, relieves herself regularly (with a little support), and a chest x-ray today revealed no abnormalities in heart or lungs, definitely Good News! So…over the next few days we will be tapering her off the prednisone and monitoring her muscular function along with her red cell count. Best case scenario is that she regains her strength and muscular control (she has always been very athletic and graceful) and her red cell counts continue toward normal. All healing thoughts, prayers, and wishes are welcome. Stay tuned.


Mar a Lago Update

There’s a New Feeling in the Air. A Prelude to Fall, perhaps…? We feel it as a sort of Burden, a psychic Weight on the Shoulders, a tendency toward Despair on one level. But on another, it is a Glass Growing toward Overflowing with Insults to All we Hold Most Dear. We grow Weary of this Strange World in which wherever we go, whatever we do, Fifty or a Hundred or a Thousand times a day we are Bombarded with the Latest Outrage from the Tweetster. Like a Burlesque Magician pulling rabbits from a hat, or cards from his sleeve, or a coin from behind your ear, the Spotlight is Ever Fixed Upon Him.

And a lot of little voices are rising within us, telling us this is Not Entertainment, it isn’t Fun, and it isn’t Productive. The feeling is becoming a gut-level Need to see this Entire Circus torn down, and all the Freaks and Clowns and Fake-Reality Acrobats put back on the Carnival Train and sent back to The Twilight Zone where they belong.

The Tweetster is a Media Creation, a product we consume every day, and we have been willing geese force-fed for the eventual harvesting of our engorged livers. We are all Addicted. We need to start saying “No.”

This week’s wine tasting

Friday’s tasting list is undecided. Think of it as a Surprise. Saturday and Sunday we will pour the following wines from Vinea Imports:

Jane Ventura Blanc Seleccio ’15     Spain  
Aromas of white fruits, citrus, white flowers and aromatic herbs; intense, unctuous and very fresh and crisp. Long, persistent finish.

Chateau de Carguilhes Corbierres Rose
Nose of zesty fresh redcurrant and strawberry sherbet and mineral notes, echoed in a round, smooth and ripe mouth of raspberries and strawberries, and zingy gooseberries.

Bodegas Ayuso Estola Reserva ’15    Spain
Warm aroma of spices and ripe fruit; wide and round palate, great buy!

Chateau Les Croisille Cahors Malbec “Croizillon” ’15 France   
100% malbec organically farmed by hand; aromas and flavors of black cherry, saddle leather, blackberry, cocoa and spice.

Pardas Negre Franc ’14   Spain
Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and Sumoll aged for one year in oak; intense herbaceous nose with notes of bell pepper and raspberry leaf and aromas of wild berries; medium-bodied, with a fine texture, round tannins and moderate acidity.

Wine Tasting