Category: The Dining Room

Drunken Goat… a gateway cheese

     There have been many occasions where friends have asked Nancy and I to recommend a cheese to make their next cheese board a conversation piece. I believe this is because Nancy and I have been known to be nearly as passionate about a delicious variety of cheese as we’ve been passionate about one another!  Well, maybe not quite THAT passionate but we still get quite aroused over a delicious variety of queso.  She and I have made good cheese a common interest since the very beginning of our everlasting love for one another.  After all, my first utterance to Nancy was “Cheese eh?”

Beautiful Drunken Goat Cheese

     That being said we thought we would share our cheese “wisdom” with our readers.  The first cheese we decided to feature is a delicious cheese that will not only wow your guests when placed on your next cheese board but is a great conversation piece as well.  “Drunken Goat” or  Cabra al Vino which literally means ”goat with wine” is a semi firm, pasteurized goat cheese from Spain’s Mediterranean coast which is cured for 48-72 hours in Doble Pasta red wine. After a month and a half of aging the body remains nearly pure white and the rind absorbs a lovely violet hue.  The interior is sweet and smooth, delicately grapey, with a gentle pliable texture and mild fruity flavor.

     Some might say that cheese made from goats milk is an acquired taste.  Especially since many a goat cheese, such as chevre, tend to be earthy and somewhat tart.  Not the case with Drunken Goat.  It has such a delightful flavor that you’ll be hooked the first time you taste it.  That’s why we call this cheese a “gateway” cheese.  It’s a great cheese for a “novice” cheese lover to try out so they can gain the experience of a cheese just a bit more exotic. 

       We love, love Drunken Goat cheese and give it the coveted LFLAL “5 Mmm’s” rating.  Drunken Goat goes especially well with some Marcona almonds on the side.  Where to find this lovely cheese?  Well, Nancy and I walked on down to our local Whole Foods and picked some up for this post.  But if you don’t live near a Whole Foods or you simply can’t find Drunken Goat in your neck of the woods I discovered you can actually get some from, you guessed it, Amazon.  Here is a link to this delightful creation… Buy delicious Drunken Goat cheese here.

Happy cheesing!  M & N

The “Big Apple”…Manhattan

     A few weeks back, if you recall, we paid a visit to Spiritopia just outside of Corvallis, Oregon.  While we were there we picked up some Bourbon Style Apple Brandy and have been tinkering with different ways to enjoy this wonderful liqueur.  Now, on occasion Nancy and I like to enjoy the classic cocktail known as a Manhattan.  A friend of ours introduced us to the Manhattan a couple of years ago at our Christmas get together.  We were quite smitten with the drinks complex flavors and the warm afterglow it provided after sipping through it.  We use Bourbon in our Manhattans so I thought–hey with the flavor of the Bourbon Style Apple Brandy–they just might go well together.  Well I’m happy to report they did!  We tweeked our standard Manhattan recipe and came up with a cocktail that we called a winner, the “Big Apple” Manhattan.  Here is what you will need to make your own “Big Apple” Manhattan…

–One ounce Buffalo Trace BourbonBig Apples and flowers

–One ounce of Spiritopia’s Boubon Style Apple Brandy

–One ounce of Dry French Vermouth

–A couple of dashes of Angostura bitters

–One Italian Toschi Sour Black Cherry (this is a must have as Maraschinos just don’t compare or cut it)

–And a twist of lemon

     To construct your “Big Apple” Manhattan you’ll need one of those liquor measuring things otherwise known as a jigger, a cocktail shaker to mix things up in, and a long mixing spoon. Start off by placing two or three nice sized ice cubes in the shaker. Next, measure out and pour in the Bourbon, Apple Brandy, and Vermouth.  Then add in a few dashes of bitters.  But not too much as they will overpower the final result!! Four maybe five shakes is all it takes.  Now give it all a nice vigorous STIR. Hee hee, he said vigorous stir.  We have been told by a very qualified expert (whom we will name in a later post) that a Manhattan should be stirred and not shaken.  Given the uber high quality results of this persons cocktail craftsmanship we hold that stirring is a truth in this arena.  Finally pour your “Big Apple” Manhattan into your favorite cocktail glass and enjoy! Cheers!!


Cheese Glorious Cheese!

     Cheese!! Glorious cheese!!  That wonderful food that comes in so many varieties to choose from that one barely knows where to begin when describing its splendor.  Robust? Earthy? Sharp? Mushroomy?  Or perhaps just good and stinky. 

     Any way you slice it cheese has played a celebrated role in the relationship between Nancy and I from the moment I typed those fateful words on my laptop “cheese eh?” back when we found each other.  Our love affair with all things cheesy started with our very first date where we shared a, romantic, oooey, gooey, cheese fondue experience.  Our romance with cheese grew throughout our dating days as we explored more places where good cheese could be found and discover more types of cheese to enjoy.  As Nancy and I continued onCheese Glorious Cheese! our journey of love together we expanded our cheese horizons right up to and including our wedding day.  Since that happiest of days we have made cheese part of many celebrations both as a couple and with the entire family.  Its little wonder we still love and savor having a good stinky cheese together. 

     As a matter of fact,  for our first Valentine’s Day together I chose as her gift a book of CHEESE… Laura Werlin’s “Cheese Essentials”  a beautifully put together book on cheese education and information with cheeses from around the world.  It still resides prominently in our kitchen to this day. Buy it here

       Clearly we are cheese-aholics! In this section of our blog we will be sharing the cheesy adventures we’ve had as well as any cheesy goodness that we continue to find and all the wonderful stuff that we have discovered along the way.  Just some of of those discoveries include local establishments that specialize in cheese and wine that have become some of our favorite places to frequent. We’ll share great places we have found where you can buy specialty cheeses that you have seen and perhaps want to try out.  And for those who might be a bit hesitant to try a cheese that is unfamiliar to you we will occasionally do a “cheese review” in order to point out some of our cheese faves.  Add to that to guidance on how to create an ultimate cheese plate for entertaining and you’ve got enough stinky, cheesy, goodness to keep the cheese lover in your life slap happy for a very long time indeed.  Also, feel free to chime in with your favorite cheese stories as well, we’d love to hear them!



     When I recall the memories of my youth, those that stand out above all others are the memories of some special event or family get together centered around a meal. How can I ever forget coming home after a long day at school to find out that my mom was making her Tuna Casserole (my favorite!) and how something seemingly so simple would totallySmokey's Hot Oven Pizza make my day. Then there were those Saturday night movie rental nights when we would always get a hot and delicious pizza via take out from our favorite local pizza joint. Ahh, I can still taste that Smokey’s Hot Oven Pizza…  On special occasions there were those family get-togethers during the holidays where aunts, uncles, cousins and maybe even a family friend or two would all gather together for a feast that would leave you full for at least a couple of days.  Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and GRAVY, you know, ALL that good stuff.

     Fast forward to today and the at times hectic world we live in and sometimes it seems families forget the seemingly simple act of sitting down to a dinner together where they enjoy a tasty meal, enjoy each others company, and actually talk to one another.  In our family, like I’m sure others experience, the fact that we are a blended family makes the “traditional” meal time all that more difficult to pull off.  However,  even with our logistically challenged kiddo schedule Nancy and I feel that it is very important to maintain that sense of family connection that happens with all of the family around the dining table.  We both believe that the familiarity and consistency provided by those times is so very valuable to our kids as they grow older and look back at the best times of their youth.

     Because of our philosophy of the importance of having family dinners whenever possible as well as getting together for all sorts of special occasions with extended family whenever we can, we have formed some “traditions” of our own over the past few years.  In this section of our blog we will share a few of those traditions and we hope you share some of your traditions as well.  We will also try to demonstrate that even if you think you don’t have time you can still make some traditions of your own. After all when one of the first things your kiddo says when picking him up from school is… “can we have Tuna Casserole for dinner tonight, dad?“, we must be doing something right huh?


Eating in…

Quiche Love...     Now I am probably a tad biased when it comes to the posts that will appear in this category but I have never in all my days had so many wonderful things come out of a kitchen that I’ve lived under the roof of in all my life.  In short, Nancy is a Jedi Master when it comes to making wonderful meals and treats appear as if like magic from the same room in our house where the best performance I manage is making kick ass  cup of coffee in!

     I think where her greatest strength lies is in being able to take an existing recipe and make some little change to it that makes what would be a good result turn out great.  It baffles and yet delights me every time!  I’m not the only one so impressed either.  Our son has remarked on numerous occasions while devouring his dinner or a tasty desert  “we should open a (fill in the blank) restaurant”!  Those suggestions have included a Taco Salad restaurant, a Pancake restaurant, as well as a Beef Stroganoff restaurant among many others.

     So in this section we will attempt to share some of those dishes that are sure fire winners from our kitchen.  It should be fun.  And, oh yeah, my old family recipe for Tuna Noodle Casserole simply can’t be beat either!


Eating Out…

     As I have mentioned elsewhere in the blog Nancy and I have the good fortune to live in Portland, Oregon a haven for all things “foodie” related.  In fact, there are many a local haunt that have been featured on one of those networks that feature food (notice how I did not say Food Network).  Sometimes the fact that there are so many great places to choose from can lead to one visiting the same great places over and over again when in fact there is so much to discover. 

     One of the things that keeps Nancy and I a happy couple is the thrill of finding a restaurant, hole in the wall, food cart, bakery, cocktailery etc, etc in our area that has one of the best cheese plates, burgers, happy hours, Manhattans etc, etc.    Naturally we have our favorites around town and in this section we will share them in all their splendor!

Biscuit Joy       In addition to local fare, occasionally we will feature a yummy venue from “out of town” a rare treat indeed!  So get ready for our picks on where to find the most scrumptious stuff in the City of Roses as well as points beyond and see which ones merit our very special LFLAL five “Mmm” rating.  Also, feel free to chime in with a favorite from where ever you are reading this from.  We’d love to hear about it!

     Pop quiz time!  Does anyone have a guess at where that pic of those lovely biscuits was taken??  They are really damn good especially when paired with the “Kentucky Mules” pictured in the background!