The Powerful, Pounding Pacific & My Year of Gratitude

I know you are wondering, where is the food image?  I get it, that has been the mainstay of this blog.  And although food takes the front seat, the real driver is LOVE.  From an appetizer, to table setting, from floral design to a restaurant review, from traveling and inhaling life, it's about living fully and stirring it all with love.  And so I share a moment of exactly that in celebration of the BIRTHday of this blog.  

A little over a year ago JC and I made our first trip to Chile.  We were so grateful for this opportunity as it was a relatively unplanned vacation that was spurred on by a generous invite from our friends. We felt even more blessed upon learning that this was not only the first time they were receiving guests in their Chilean country home, but actually the first time THEY were staying in their own home after renovations.  What an enormous honor and treat. 

The breathtaking view from our guest room of their home.

The breathtaking view from our guest room of their home.

The home is perched atop the cliffside with the pounding Pacific below. Pounding being the understatement, as the ever constant rush of waves beats against the shore every minute, every second of the day and night.  To some this persistent commotion might be vexing but to me it was a soothing calm. I am a Pisces and a water lover. I love hearing it, seeing it, being near it, and most definitely being IN it.  I am in awe of water, and even more so of the Pacific.  She is relentless.

Her mighty force roars; crashing, smashing into the rocks, into beaches, into whatever it pleases. Raging with a haunting 'grito' (translation: yell)  "I, more powerful than you".  A roar of hisses, a roar of crashes, a whisper of foam.  

She screams out "Surrender to me, feel my might. I will wear you down."  But the rocks simply stand, and stand taller and stronger.  Not blinking or twitching or with the slightest concern.  They make no sound against the rushing rage. Stand strong. Stand your ground. Rock solid, now and forever.

I share this beauty of nature and my profound sense of appreciation for a year of adventure for the things I love and of being grateful.  Grateful for all of life's opportunities. Grateful to have loyal readers. Grateful for that moment in Chile,  listening to the mighty water as I sat and wrote and wrote and wrote, anticipating the launch of my blog.  Breathing in strength and belief in myself. So today in honor of the exact one year anniversary posting of this blog, a birthday on many levels, I say;  
May each of us stand tall in whatever force charges our way. With calming love and in full celebration, I wish for you to be as forceful as water and as solid as rock in all your life's journeys.

Germany in Chile - A Super (bowl) Pork Sandwich

Although this is a review post, it is rightly timed for the Super Bowl, as parties are being planned nationwide. Now, I'm not a big fan of watching sports but I do like throwing parties featuring good grub.   So the sandwich, El Lomito, featured in this post could be the starting quarterback to your fiesta bowl.

Just about this time last January, Juan Carlos and I traveled to Chile.  You might remember my post, Sunday in the Chilean Countryside about the amazing meal we were treated to by our friend's mother. 

After that glorious meal, we were in constant search of good food for the remainder of our trip.  We had some hits and some misses.  One of those hits was at Fuente Alemania, a cafe joint that we learned about while watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations about Chile.  I highly recommend watching the linked episode, as well as the series.  His POV of a city is transmitted through its people, food, cultural as he provides a well balanced, insight of the places he visits.

The famed locale has a German style feel.

The famed locale has a German style feel.

Anyway, back to how we happened upon this sandwich.  Anthony visited Fuente Alemania in Santiago and had such love for what appeared to be the most intense pork sandwich ever that we put it on our list of places to visit. Since I don't eat meat or bread, this spot went to the bottom of the list.

However, opportunity struck, and what was once on the bottom rose to the top.  After walking for several hours through city center, we were struggling to find a place for lunch. JC wanted to try a few other places but we just couldn't find them.  (This was an ongoing issue with maps of Chile streets and then those streets not quite existing in the three dimensional world.) Literally after traversing through alleyways and main thoroughfares, we couldn't find a single one.  Desperate for food, and just wanting to land ourselves in any spot that served edibles, I suggested Fuente Alemania.  That's right the pescatarian, non wheat/yeast eater suggested a pork sandwich place. This was the desperation/exasperation dew point.  But I knew JC would love it and when in Rome...or Chile.

The busy action of these steadfast mavens of the pork sandwich.

The busy action of these steadfast mavens of the pork sandwich.

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Upon swinging open the doors to this joint we are met with a full house.  Packed with locals ordering sandwiches to their liking using the handful of main ingredients... Pork, sauerkraut, avocado, string beans, mayo, cheese and some red relish that I couldn't quite make out.  Although there were plenty of items on the menu, it seemed like most people came for that big, honking pork sandwich.  The man next to us had steak tartare on toast topped with cornichon, which I must admit reminded me of an old boyfriend.

We got ours without the mayo, for several reasons, but mostly because they add the amount that one would normally consume in a year, and it looked quite sticky. A serious amount of very gooey cholesterol clogging condiment. 

I wasn't kidding about the amount or the sticky nature of this "mayo".

I wasn't kidding about the amount or the sticky nature of this "mayo".

More evidence of its strange consistency. Sorry, I just had to share another shot as I have never seen anything like it.

More evidence of its strange consistency. Sorry, I just had to share another shot as I have never seen anything like it.

Buns a-grilling.

Buns a-grilling.

Alright, it ain't pretty or elegant. But then again, I never promised it would be. However, I must admit that this was one of the best sandwiches I have eaten.  That's right, I gave in and tasted this monster hog heaven. It was delicious.  I thought my taste buds might have been over-reacting since I haven't tasted anything like this in quite some time, but JC concurred. It was damn good.  It is a bizarre combination of ingredients that somehow worked.  I can't imagine what the calorie count was on this creation but then again, it was a once in a lifetime consumption.  Which was why I tried it. Several hours later my stomach was gurgling. Not because the food was bad but simply due to my system not being used to meat or bread for so long.  
 

 

 

 

If you are ever in Santiago, Chile I would highly recommend checking this popular locale out.  If not for the food then to watch the woman who navigate a center station, cranking out sandwich after sandwich at an incredible pace yet they never seem to be rushed or panicked.  The sheer joy with which they pump out orders was a blast to witness. They were the backbone here, sharing an abundance of food with an abundance of love.

 

 

 

 

 

Our sandwich without the mayo.

Our sandwich without the mayo.

Check out the smile on this woman's face. And it wasn't because she knew she was being photographed. I shot this with a zoom lens.

Check out the smile on this woman's face. And it wasn't because she knew she was being photographed. I shot this with a zoom lens.

Like good choreography it seems simple and well played. The men serve the drinks and NEVER enter the inner sanctum. 

Check out the men in the background. Even the regulars are mesmerized.

Check out the men in the background. Even the regulars are mesmerized.

It was an exciting afternoon local experience. And as they say in Chile, "If you have eaten El Lomito, you are one of ours,"  In the end, we were indeed one of theirs and thrilled we got lost and didn't find the other places. Making it possible for us to find our way into a little bit of Germany in the center of Chile.  I realize that many of you might not have Chile in your travel plans, but I believe this could be a great game time offering.  It's hearty and meaty to stand up to any helmet clashing fan. Jaime Oliver has this pork recipe that I think those ballet-ed German ladies would approve for the sandwich.  Then you can just grilled some buns and add all your toppings; tomato, cheese, mayo, smashed avocado, onion. Whatever you like.  It will be the Super Bowl of Pork Sandwich. Germany in America, too!

Copper 29 - Bar Bites & More

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As is our tradition for our anniversary, we head to Miami at the end of October each year to celebrate. This past October was no different. In years past, we have hosted little gatherings at our apartment there, but with so many dear friends to visit, it’s sometimes easier to gather at a bar or restaurant to catch up.  With the proliferation of so many cool, happening hangouts cropping up all over Miami the question was where do we go.

For this night out we wanted to keep it centrally located for all parties by staying in Coral Gables.  The Gables is an old historic area of Miami known for its Mediterranean Revival style architecture with streets lined by the famous banyan trees. It's home to such landmarks as the Venetian Pool and the Biltmore Hotel, along with the popular and most noted street; Miracle Mile. And that was exactly where we were headed to try out Copper 29 Bar recommended my our friend, Stephanie.  This Coral Gables bar is reviving the idea of the perfect cocktail. Using the art of mixology paired with bar bites to create a relaxed atmosphere of food and drink, which was what we were looking for.

Stephanie ready to eat, drink and be merry.

Stephanie ready to eat, drink and be merry.

Especially, given that we hadn’t seen each other in awhile, and our goal was to chat and catch up with each other’s lives. However, that was not quite what we got. Well, at least not on a Friday night.  Don't get me wrong, it's not because the place wasn't cool.  It was cool with an interesting mix of decor including an entire wall of plant life.

But when we opened the door, the music was pumping and the place was jamming and we thought we might not hear each other breathe.  

Silly of us to think that a relatively new hangout on a Friday night would be a quiet place to chill. We were told that the owner recently decided to make Friday nights a Happy Hour with DJ music pumping.  That said, the music mix was a fantastic groove, prefect for dancing and keeping it interesting for a proper happy hour.  If we hadn’t wanted to talk this would have been an ideal spot. And on any other night there, we could have done that.  However, Friday’s are made for letting go after a long week of work.  So we stuck it out because the vibe was happening, the atmosphere interesting and the menu looked promising. (Spoiler Alert:  We were all glad we did!)

Some of us started off with Moscow Mules served in cool copper mugs which keep the drinks nice and chilled. If you enjoy a spicy drink, this one delivers. The ginger beer brings that bite while the mint is refreshing and surprisingly light.  

The rest of our group ordered Martinis and Old Fashioned and they were like a good ole fashion should be…good.

From there, we began ordering a dish at a time, each as good as the last.

Martini, dry, shaken with olives

Martini, dry, shaken with olives

Good Old Fashioned... good

Good Old Fashioned... good

Jalapeño Corn & Cheese Biscuits

These are decadent balls for yum.  Crispy exterior, doughy middle with whole pieces of corn throughout served with a Bourbon Honey Syrup that has even your biscuit begging you to dip for more.  I loved watching everyone's expression as they popped these in their mouths.  

Eyes wide and then the expressive smile that gleamed; 'what did I just eat and is there enough for everyone else?'.   Only wish there was a bit more jalapeño in these biscuits.  The Bourbon Honey Syrup provided enough sweet that they could have used a bit more heat…  at least for my, and everyone at the table’s taste.  Even with that slight spice suggestion, we would order this again in a heartbeat.

Glistening with honey wonder.

Glistening with honey wonder.

Tuna Tartare

Classical and good balance.  Slight hint of heat that was a nice play off the creaminess of the avocado.  Served with chips for scooping and enjoying each bite.  Well done.

Kale Salad

We’ve all eaten tons of kale salad.  The key is the cut of the kale. The chop on this one rendered the kale tender, and manageable to eat.  The Caesar dressing was creamy but not overbearing and softened the salad just the right amount.  The Parmesan cheese in nice big shards added the salty sharpness we all want. Then there was the addition of radicchio and sunflower seeds that were subtle while still imparting an effective crunch and earthiness. And last but seriously not least; the croutons, which were more like lightly grilled garlic toasts.  Much better than the average crouton who would be ashamed to show up in a salad against this king of crouton. Would you guess that everyone thoroughly enjoyed this salad?  Good guess.

Mac n Cheese

Creamy with lovely Fontina and a deep truffle flavor that perfumed the entire dish.  Sprinkled with bread crumbs and pancetta, this is a dish worth the calories on a Friday night.  And with the music playing,  there is no need for guilt since you can get up and dance some of those calories away.

Looking dark and sultry, this mac n cheese was just that.

Looking dark and sultry, this mac n cheese was just that.

Short Rib Sliders

Oh the juxtaposition of these pretty, almost dainty little sandwiches that deliver a fun rollercoaster ride of flavor.  The short ribs were tender and juicy, layered on top of the surprising and interesting addition of polenta.   Caramelized onions sweetened the pot while the alioli had a horseradish note that provided the right kick. Needless to say, these were devoured by our group.

Key Lime Pie in a Jar

Tart and Tangy and Luscious.  Topped with grapefruit that was a surprising, refreshing touch, this dessert was right on point.  Team vote:  Approved. Team goal:  Polish this off.  Goal: Accomplished.

Oreo Cookie pie in a jar

This dessert was decidedly too sweet for my palette and everyone in our group but for those with a true sweet tooth it might just hit the mark.

Music getting our table moving in our seats.

Music getting our table moving in our seats.

A very cool vibe, as if you were hanging out in your own cozy, stylish lounge.

A very cool vibe, as if you were hanging out in your own cozy, stylish lounge.

Overall, the joint was jamming.  A great spot for a Friday night Happy Hour if you want to move to the groove of hip swaying music, enjoy good drinks and upscale bar eats.  If you want to chat and have a quieter evening, I would highly recommend coming on a weeknight to work your way through the menu and have the mixologist blend you up some cocktails.

The food, good service and overall vibe are definitely worth the trip.  So with winter still brewing here in the Northeast, this might just be the right time to head south for more reasons than just the sun. 

Cooper29 is located at 206 Miracle Mile, Miami FL / 786.580.4689

Giving Thanks

Thinking of all my fortunes perched on a rock overlooking the Pacific in Chile.

Thinking of all my fortunes perched on a rock overlooking the Pacific in Chile.

This holiday all started by being thankful for a good harvest.  Although today Thanksgiving sometimes is more associated with mountains of food it still honors a good harvest, with the fruits of labor being a bit different.  We can reap the harvest in everything we encounter throughout our days, weeks, months and entire lives. Therefore, I am grateful for ALL that I harvest.  Love, Good Health, a breeze across my cheek, a kind word from someone, the love of family and friends and so much more.  Gathering up all these 'crops' is something I am thankful for each day.  I know that we celebrate and give more weight to being thankful on this fourth Thursday of November but I hope that we can wake each morning and celebrate any day as Thanksgiving no matter whether it is the first Tuesday of the month or the last Sunday. Gratitude is a state of mind and one that can be harvested at any time.  I wish you abundant harvests in all areas of your life, today and every day. And the biggest Thank You to you ALL, from the bottom of my heart for your support and encouragement in this, my latest labor of... 2stirwithlove.  

Ingredients

An Open Heart
Outstretching Hands
Big Lungs to Breathe in
Arms to Hug

Instructions

Love and be grateful for ALL that we have, even the elements that don't seem quite pleasant as everything we receive serves to further and enrich us.

If you are hosting, I hope you are all ready and set to go, but just in case you are still in need of some dishes to make for tomorrow, here are a few suggestions.

Appetizers:

Winter Fresh Endive  Boats

Salads: 

Baby Lettuces

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Happy Thanksgiving stirred with oddles of LOVE

dana

A Creative Spirit - Ron Miller Pottery

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Woodstock, seems to be the ground zero for creative spirits.  And so it was for Ron Miller, who in 1996 took a little pottery class in the famous town.   From that first introduction, he was bitten by the pottery bug.  So inspired by the art form and the work of local potter Nancee Meeker that he asked her to teach him.  At first, the answer was no, but somehow her potter’s wheel did a 360 and she agreed to mentor him.  Fortunately for all of us, because Ron has started his own pottery business, Miller Pottery HVNY.

Ron has always had a spirit full of creativity but like most of us needed to find a way to pay the bills with a ‘regular gig’.  That gig for 25 successful years was the high stakes NYC restaurant industry as a GM, Maitre d’ and Wine Director/Sommelier.  Alas, the creative itch keep scratching and it was time for Ron to spin back to the love that inspired him so many years ago.

I first met Ron over a decade ago during his restauranteur career.  He has always been a consummate professional in all he takes on.  His attention to detail, deep knowledge and commitment to any craft all funnel into a man who always brings his best.  After years of seeing pottery all over his home, it came as little surprise that this would become his creative outlet and new business venture.

Ron’s style follows a few different paths. As an admirer of Matisse’s cut outs, some of Ron’s work incorporate interesting overlays which pay homage to the that style.

Another route is simplicity.  As Ron mentioned to me, he tries to adopt his friend, Alex’s mantra of “Dare to be simple.”  Which seems simple, when in fact, restraint is not always the easiest path to follow.  Ron seems to have gotten the knack.

Creating streamlined and clean shapes with simple swirls of color. Simplicity at is best.

Creating streamlined and clean shapes with simple swirls of color. Simplicity at is best.

Lastly, allow the clay to guide him, letting it take the form and shape it wants to become.

Earthy and organic shapes

Earthy and organic shapes

He uses a low fire earthenware clay for his carved and sawdust, smoked pieces while stoneware clay is employed for his ‘fun and functional’ work.

 

 

Like any artisan workmanship, it takes time and effort and in this case, a true spinning with love.   The process of ‘throwing a shape’, then trimming the clay, then carving and applying a Terra Sigilata.   Adding stains, firing it in the kiln, glaze then re-fire.  Well, you get the picture.  Passion, care and love is required.

 
 

It is a process that is quite literally grown from the earth and is a reflection of the artist himself.  Deeply committed, pure and simple, fun and functional.

 
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You may all remember seeing some of Ron’s pottery in my Clams, Clams, and more Clams post.  I use a set of his small bowls for my prep work known as mise en place (French for everything in its place).  Whenever I’m cooking I cut up, prep all my ingredients and place them in small bowls.  The ones that Ron created are perfect as the sizes are varied which is ideal for various different amounts needed in any recipe.

Juan Carlos and I also have several on Ron’s bigger and more decorative pieces in our home.  Some have been gifted to us and others we have purchased with great glee.  I am a huge fan of giving gifts that are unique and Ron’s pottery lands squarely in that category.  Please check out his pieces on the site.  They make ideal gifts for the holiday season. Ron is continually adding pieces to his website, so If you don't immediately see some of the pieces featured in this post and are interested, please contact him directly via the rwm210@gmail.com.