Dinner with Chef Paul Millist

When I started researching Chef Paul Millist, I was tickled that one of the first results was this article from hipsterchef.com. The article describes Millist’s diverse background and culinary training in such locations as the Seychelles, the Maldives, and Thailand.

How excited, therefore, was I, that our friends Ross and Daradee invited us to an 8-course tasting dinner prepared and served in their home by this innovative and creative “hipster”? Throw in some great wine pairings chosen by JWMarriott’s own David Friedberg, and you have yourself an unforgettable evening, in support of Ross and Daradee’s charity LoveIAM.

Here’s how it went. Eight guests gathered in the Murray home. Each guest provided a bottle of wine to pair with the 8-course dinner. Here’s what it looked like:

“pass me by” with Graham Beck Brut Rose: An hors d’ouvres course consisting of smoked salmon and caviar and duck pate on brioche (also a spring roll with lemongrass but I didn’t get a picture).

“boxed up” with Albrecht Gewurztraminer: A thai noodle dish with lobster, mushrooms, and pork dust

“silk” with Domanine Fontanyl Rose de Provence: Silken tofu with mushrooms.

“pectinidae” with Javillier Bourgogne des Forgets: Scallop with truffle and sweet potato puree.

“sea/pig/forest/earth” with Belle Gros Pinot Noir Meiomi: Halibut with bacon, asparagus, mushrooms, and potato.

“w.o.k.” with Bodegas Breca Red: Wagyu beef, fried oyster, and bok choy.

“no smoking” with Chiarlo Nivole Moscato: Marshmallow cigarette.

“painter’s palette” with Belle Glos Pinot Noir: White chocolate cake with chocolate, raspberry, and passionfruit paint.

Thanks SO MUCH to Ross & Daradee for inviting us, and to Paul and David for making the night so special.

 


6 Week Vegan Cleanse

So I’m on day 21 of a 42 day Vegan Cleanse. The purpose of the cleanse is to feel better, lose weight, and get in great shape for our Kilimanjaro hike in June. I have a lot of friends who are Vegan, one who is battling prostate cancer, and so I’ve had a lot of support from my peer group. John’s being very sweet and is cooking his own food separately. He even took me for “dates” at  great nearby restaurants: Pita Jungle (many Vegan offerings) and Pomegranate Cafe & Green (everything is Vegan!).

Beyond that, I’ve been reading a lot of books on plant diets. In January & February I taught a Food Writing class and assigned Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. My friend Kaylee loaned me Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live. I’ve also watched several food documentaries including King of Corn; Food Matters; Ingredients; Forks Over Knives; Deconstructing Supper; and Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. So I guess you can say I drank the organic, animal-free, plant-based Kool-Aid.

I also, just for fun, decided to give up all caffeine, alcohol, salt and sugar. For 6 weeks. I bet you’re thinking, Trish must be pretty damn grumpy.

But the truth is, I feel great. I eat 4 meals a day about 4 hours apart: at 7 am, 11 am, 3 pm and 7 pm. Out of 84 meals so far I have only had 4 cheats. I ate sugar at a Vegan party: an oatmeal raspberry bar that I have to admit was heavenly. I drank 2 glasses of wine and ate shrimp & cheese at the Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony. I drank 2 cups of coffee one morning after a terrible night’s sleep. And I drank some wine with John on a date night after a long hike. The other 80 meals have been clean and plant-based and simply delicious. I’m enjoying it so much, I might just stay Vegan after the cleanse is over.

Here’s how beautiful and easy a plant-based diet can be. This day’s meals equaled about 1300 calories and I had a hard time eating it all.

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Tofu Scramble with Mushrooms, Onions, Zucchini, Tomato, Avocado and Salsa on Corn Tortilla.

 

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Hummus Pita with Cucumber, White Beans and Red Onion. Spinach, Kale & Arugula Salad with Beets, Peas, Black Beans, Peppers, and Avocado.

 

Apple, Pear, Orange, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Blackberries, Strawberries

 

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Swiss Chard Burrito stuffed with Couscous, Chickpeas, Onions, Zucchini, Mushrooms, Peppers

 


Vegan Dinner

John had a great idea. He said “Let’s throw a dinner party.” Great! We like to do that. Then he added a twist. “Let’s throw a vegan dinner party.” Now there’s a thought! I have been threatening to go vegan for a month, so it sounded like a great way to test it out. We invited some veggie loving friends, and picked our recipes from Eating Local, a gorgeous cookbook that we’ve been using for about a year. We had a lovely dinner.

Jeff & Autumn brought the appetizer. A yummy crostini.
Golden Beet and Blood Orange Salad.
Kale with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins.
Whole-Wheat Linguine with Broccoli Rabe and Read Chili Pepper Oil.
Grilled Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce
My Plate.

 

Happy Guests.
Rooster giving kisses.
Brian & Kaylee brought dessert. An amazing tart.

 

 

 


Day 6 Les Arques

Yesterday’s trip to Marqueyssac was a real highlight of the trip. We ended up walking for miles through the beautiful manicured grounds of this ancient estate. The gardens and house were perched on the top of a long ridge, affording views of the castles and small towns all around. The estate dates to the 17th century, but it was fully restored in 1997, designed for walking with panoramic views of the Dordogne River and the chalky cliffs of the valley. When we returned home we cooked our duck sausages and served them with lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, and goat cheese. We watched the first half of Ratatouille and fell to sleep.

Trish and Justin in Marqueyssac

It was my job to set the alarm, and I flubbed it, so instead of getting up at 7:30 to run, John and I slept until 9. I guess we needed that. So John walked down to get a croissant to share, and we ate it with strawberries, peaches, goat cheese, and coffee for breakfast. Then we walked down to the river to reserve our canoe trip for tomorrow. That will be a fun float with lots of pretty views. I’m really looking forward to it, and it will be a nice way to spend our last day in the Dordogne Valley.

After we returned, it was time for a very special journey. Within an hour’s drive of Beynac is one of the most celebrated restaurants in rural France: La Recreation. Featured in Michael S. Sanders’ book From Here, You Can’t See Paris, the chef owners from Toulouse have renovated an old school house and from there they serve gourmet 5 course meals made from local ingredients. John and I read the book to understand the flavors of the region, and to whet our appetites for one of our most exciting meals in France.

John in Les Arques

So we hopped into the Golf and told Samantha “Les Arques.” She began ordering us left and right on the tiniest of country roads. “In 200 meters, turn left on D570” and etcetera. I tried switching her to a different voice, a British one, but the new gal was so polite that we didn’t feel as compelled to move quickly. So we went back to Samantha, who loves ordering us around. One road bisected the narrow streets of the small town of Daglan, where we could nearly touch the houses on each side as we zipped between the town’s 40 or so buildings. 

Soon we arrived in Les Arques and we wandered around to see the work of the visiting artists—the town doubles as an artists’ colony. We also viewed the church where there are several sculptures by the Russian sculptor Zadkine, whose work is sprinkled around the town. We saw a kitty and a Brittney Spaniel. We’re making a long list of dog breed spottings. John and I went to claim our 12:30 table at La Recre. We had a beautiful spot under the tiled roof. We waited for the Hinckleys to arrive (their GPS routed them a different way). Soon we were all together and we ordered lunch.

Tomato Soup

First course was a cold tomato soup, very delicious. Next, I had red mullet filets with artichokes and John had lobster ravioli. For the main course, I had salmon with a beautiful cream sauce and John had lamb baked in eggplant. The entrees came with a scallop-stuffed squash blossom, and a stuffed tomato. Next we had a cheese course—fresh local goat’s cheese with a splash of honey. And for dessert I had an apricot tart with the most flavorful apricot sauce, and John had walnut ice cream with chocolate sauce. We were stuffed and happy. We had lovely conversation with Noelle, the owner and star of the book, and with the waitress who had on a beautiful dress from a store in Barcelona that I will be visiting, at the recommendation of my French tutor Isabelle. I recognized the designer as soon as I saw the dress.

Best Salmon of My Life

Something special happened at lunch too. Justin lost his tooth! It had been bothering him a lot, and he finally wiggled it free from his mouth. Sadly, it fell between the cracks of the floor and could not be recovered, but he wrote a letter to the tooth mouse (a French tradition) so we hope the mouse will bring him a Euro or two anyway.

We drove home and promptly took a nap. John went for a run, but I skipped it. My feet hurt! Now we are on the first terrace enjoying a beautiful view, and trying to work up the courage to ever eat again.


Day 4 Beynac et Cezanac

John and I started the day with what was supposed to be a little jog, but I saw a sign that said “Eglise du Cevenac” and I said “let’s go there.” The sign said 3 km, so that should be easy enough, right? Well, it turned out to be 3 miles (there really are too many English living here) and the last mile of it was straight uphill. But the setting could not have been more beautiful. It seemed like the Ohio back roads of my youth—dense forest, beautiful green fields, lily-pad ponds. We saw only 2 cars while we ran. It was cloudy and crisp. So up the hill we went. At a crossroads we saw two little farm houses, one with masses of potted plants, one with a cat on the windowsill.

Just about 400 yards up the hill, we saw an old paint horse in a pasture. He had a mop of blond hair over his eyes. I said hello, and John took our picture. He was, ahem, well fed, and I quite wished he could come with us if only for the exercise. But he was behind a fence, so John and I continued on our way up to the church. What a view! We could see for miles around—beautiful farms, country homes, and even a few chateaux. We toured around the little church, then headed back down hill. As we passed the horse he ran with me for a while on the other side of the fence. His workout for the day!

Old Paint

When we got back to the house, I did some Yoga on the lower terrace. What a wonderful view of the river, with fragrant roses and lavender surrounding me. When I came back inside John had prepared our breakfast—some croissants, strawberries, and local melon. We took it down to the upper terrace and had breakfast with le chat, who sat at the table like a person waiting to be fed.

When the Hinckleys rose, we headed to St. Cyprien to go to the market. It was huge! We bought wonderful olives, duck breast, more strawberries, zucchini, onion, potatoes, and a bottle of Irish beer from an Irish expat whose French accent made me laugh hard. The Hinckleys went home for lunch (Justin has food allergies so it’s easier for him to eat at home), and John and I stayed in town and ate at a café: a gorgeous salad with local walnuts, and a pizza with peppers, onions, and mushrooms.

When we returned home, we watched the Tour, then walked up to the castle. It’s a steep walk up cobbled footpaths, and it’s a major destination, so there are plenty of folks making the trek–some more able than others. But at the top is a beautiful castle and church. We toured around, and Emma and Justin showed off their own running skills, as we timed how long it took them to run from the entryway up to the church. John told them they had to run it 10 times and we would take the average. He takes the same approach to children that he does to our pups: Exercise them to fatigue!

Village

We came home and made a lovely dinner and ate it in front of the window. This window makes us understand why so many French artists painted landscapes—you could imagine the view out the window being a large painting of a landscape hung on the wall of a home with no view. But this is a proper view, and I have to keep looking at it to believe that something so beautiful actually exists.

After dinner, the kids watched The Incredibles and the adults had some lovely conversation over the wine we bought out of the basement. Such a great day. Thanks again Hinckleys for inviting us to France.


Day 3 Toulouse-Beynac

We set the alarm for 7 am since we needed to run, then have breakfast, then drive 3 hours to Beynac. It felt like the alarm went off too soon! I think that 9 hour time difference might be catching up to us. We headed out for a run towards le vieux pont, the old bridge, and we started running along the river. It was chilly, and it had rained overnight, but the little streets were so pretty we had plenty to keep our minds occupied. Then we went back to the hotel and showered, and went to the dining room where John had his first ever proper French breakfast. It was delicious! Apple Juice, coffee, yogurt, ham, cheese, pastries, jams, and butter. It was yum.  The hotel had 2 big dogs and a cat, and we enjoyed watching them as we ate. Why is it that the pets here are so overweight, but the people are so fit? How does that happen? The old brown lab was so chubby he looked like two of my little Penny. But he was so pretty there on the steps. I had to give him an ear scritch.

Les Chiens

We drove about an hour into Toulouse, where we walked around the old city and went to the market. It was so very beautiful. We enjoyed looking at all of the shops on the meandering streets between parks. I had expected Toulouse to be more modern, and I was glad when Samantha led us right into the middle of the old city, where we wandered the streets imaging what life would have been like 200 years ago.

Le Marche

Then we drove towards Beynac, but had a little adventure first. We saw a sign that said “Vin” and felt we needed to follow it. So we drove down many narrow country roads, following each sign, until we came to a little farm house and parked. We got out of the car and walked around, but were about to leave since we did not see anyone. Just then a woman came out and said “Bonjour!” She took us into her basement and let us taste some wine. We bought a few bottles then got back on the road, where Samantha begrudgingly “Recalculated” our route back to town.

Vin

The town we were heading for was Sarlat—a larger town about 7 km from Beynac. They were having their market, and we were surprised that we kept walking, and the market kept going! We walked and walked, checking out all the items for sale. Soon we left and went to Beynac, our home for 5 nights with Kirk, Corinne, Justin and Emma. We arrived into town, which was swarming with gaping tourists. You can understand why—the whole town, about 100 houses and a large castle, are perched on the side of a severe cliff overlooking the river. It doesn’t even seem possible that these houses can be here.

Le Petit Village

We walked up two steep footpaths to the entrance of our place, Mont Joie, and started to settle in. The property has a total of 4 flights of stairs. The first floor is the main living area, then the master suite, then the downstairs ensuite bedroom, then terrace 1, then terrace 2. So there is plenty of room to spread out. We unpacked, caught up, then went to dinner at the Restaurant Hotel du Chateux, where John and I shared a Prix Fixe menu of duck salad, venison, and cheeses.

What a lovely home, and what lovely friends to share it with. It’s going to be such a nice stay.


Day 1 Mataro, Spain

Wow. That was a long day of travel. There’s nothing like getting your period right before your 22 hour transatlantic journey (sorry boys, I know that’s TMI). But the day of travel was worth it since the tickets were free. We flew from Phoenix to LA to Philly to Frankfurt to Barcelona. It’s pretty amazing that the only delay was on the last leg. Thank heavens! And it was only 20 minutes late. We didn’t have a layover longer than an hour. We did a lot of running from gate to gate. We got to the Barcelona airport and it was really nice—brand new. Went straight to Avis and picked up our VW Golf. It’s a cutie! It will serve us well for 18 days.

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We started driving, relying on our Garmin Nuvi 275T to get us to the hotel in Mataro. When booking our hotel, we chose the town on the water right off the freeway but outside of Barcelona because we knew we would be exhausted and in no mood for crowds. All went well, even thought the Garmin thought we were in Madrid for about 10 minutes. We got to our hotel in only 20 minutes of driving. We went for a walk, exploring all the back streets and shops, then we ate some Tapas and had a bottle of Rose for $15 total. Then we went back to the hotel for a 2 hour nap. Well needed!

We have kind of a promise to run every day, not only because we plan to eat, but also because it is such a great way to explore. So after our nap we went for a 3 mile jog (really! it was slow!) by the beach. It was so beautiful, with lots of people strolling with their dogs and lots of others running and biking or eating at seaside restaurants. We circled up around the harbor, then back through the city center to our hotel.

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After a shower, we walked to a Jamon restaurant where we ate tapas—manchego, and some ham John really wanted to taste. They feed the pigs nothing but acorns, and I’m not sure of the science, but it tastes really good! Tomorrow morning I think we’ll run a the beach again since the breeze is so nice, then head up to Carcasssonne. I posted more pictures on another blog site I’m trying out at pcmasuedu.shutterfly.com I’ll take a vote and see which one you like best.


Dinner Tonight

I’m so happy to make dinner tonight that I wanted to share it with you. This dinner makes me so happy in all kinds of ways–happy to have fresh, nutritious food, happy to be with a man I love, happy to have a comfortable kitchen, happy to have puppies to shoo away from that comfortable kitchen. I’m also happy that we have this wonderful summer routine and partnership. Here’s how we do it.

John grills. We buy whatever protein is fresh–fish, chicken, beef. Tonight  it is our favorite locally raised chicken from RedBird. John wraps it in saran wrap and pounds it out so it is plenty tender and thin enough to cook evenly on the grill. He seasons it with salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder, then he disappears outside.

While he braves the heat, I make the sides. My salad always has a fruit, a cheese, and a nut. Tonight it is blueberries, Roquefort, and pecans. I mix it with a little White Balsamic vinegar and it’s ready to go. The cheese and nuts are rich enough that any other oil or fat would be overkill.

Then I chop some tomatoes (from the garden if we have them) and add some basil (from the garden–we always have some), some Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss and enjoy.

Then we always add an additional veg. Tonight I sauteed some baby portobellas in a pat of butter. Real butter–not the fake stuff. When used sparingly it won’t kill the diet, and it adds a flavor that cannot be replicated.

I hope you all had a good meal tonight too. I wish we could have shared it together.


The Driving and The Lodging

I have been very slow at starting this blog, which makes me sad because my mom would have loved reading it. Four days before she died she sent me an email asking about our trip and I didn’t have many answers because I was still struggling to find time to put details together. Now I have the driving and the lodging figured out, but I still need to choose lots of activities and restaurants. That is the more fun part, I think, since it involves fewer calculations and fewer hard decisions. To see all the details so far, including the hotels and houses, click here.

Planning this trip makes me really appreciate my mother because when she took me to Europe when I was 16 she had to do all of this work through phone and mail. I can’t imagine trying to plan this without the internet and email. Mom worked really hard to make that trip special and it obviously had a big impact on me because I still have the travel bug. Thank you Mommy!

John and I go to a new country every year, and though I lived in France during college I never did get to Spain. That’s lucky for us because when our friends Kirk and Corinne called and said “We rented a house in France, come join us,” our answer was a big yes! Kirk and Corinne are the same friends who called us in 2000 and said, “We’re going to China, want to come?”  That was another big yes! So the four of us went to China, and Kirk and Corinne fell in love and 9 years later we’ll be vacationing in France with them and their two children Justin and Emma.

Here's the house Kirk and Corinne rented.
Here's the house Kirk and Corinne rented.

I’m really looking forward to this trip. It will be wonderful to spend time with friends, show John some of my favorite places in France (Carcassone and Sete), see the second to last stage of the Tour de France, and explore brand new territory in Spain. Our lodging is a mix of 5 hotels, 2 house rentals, and a 4 night package we purchased from Luxury Link. We are spending 10 nights in France and 7 nights in Spain.

I’m very sad that because of the trip I will be missing my Aunt Lynn’s 80th birthday party on July 17. But as a lifetime lover of travel herself, she promises me she forgives me. Plus I’ll be going to see her in Minnesota on her actual 80th birthday August 21, and I’ll bring plenty of pictures so she can see my adventures. I’ll be thinking of you Auntie Lynn!

Now. I still have a lot to do today. Boy it’s hard to balance a busy life. We got the dogs walked, the chores done (oops–there’s laundry to fold still) and soon John will start grilling his amazing Tequila-Lime shrimp. I still need to write a poem for my online Poetry Group (that’s due tomorrow at noon) and I need to write a piece for my Graduate course in Creative Nonfiction (that’s due Tuesday at 6pm). I need to answer a few student emails too. I better log off before the whole day passes me by.

John’s Tequila Lime Shrimp

1 lb Big Shrimp
1 lime
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tequila
3 garlic cloves
salt
pepper
cayenne pepper

Zest the lime, then squeeze it. Place the lime zest and juice, plus all the other ingredients in a ziplock bag in the fridge for about 2 hours. Grill in a grill-basket just until pink. Don’t overcook ‘dem Shrimps or they’ll be tough.


AM Hike

Egg Pie and FruitI’ve been a sloth for a while now–since my mother died on June 2. John went to the grocery store and came home with all my favorites: cherries, raspberries, strawberries. Later I found that he had also brought home a gallon of butter pecan ice cream, and somehow that’s where my attention went. I have had about a half cup of it each day, and when I eat it I think “I am doing something good for myself because I’m letting go a little.” But when the ice cream is gone, I’ll go back to fruits and veggies, which will feel good too.

Our friends Autumn and Jeff are coming over for a hike today. When folks found out mom had passed they all asked what they could do. “I want to see you!” I told them. Now more than ever I want to spend time with my friends. So Jeff and Autumn are coming and we’re going to hike up to the top of South Mountain, and it will be so nice to see them and get a big fat hug. I’m going to make my egg pie. It’s really simple and here’s the recipe:

1 potato
1 red pepper
1 container pre-sliced mushrooms
1 bunch asparagus
1 onion
18 eggs
1/2 cup asiago cheese

Slice the potato into thin rounds (I use my Cuisinart). Layer them in a lasagna pan to form the crust. Pre-bake the potatoes at 350 while you chop veg. Mix the 18 eggs well (I use the Cuisinart to mix eggs since it makes em fluffy) and put them in a big bowl with the cheese and chopped veg. There will be a lot of veg (it’s good for you). Salt and pepper the mixture, pour over the potatoes, and bake until firm.