Another January in Grand Cayman – The Cookout, Golf, and Diving

Grand Cayman 2014

Here we went again, back to the Cayman Cookout in January for 4 days of culinary ridiculousness followed by a week of recovery, golfing and diving. As before, the headline chefs were the troika of Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, and José Andrés. New this year was Lidia Bastianich, Rick Bayless, Daniel Boulud, Martin Picard, and Jacques Torres. View the photo album by clicking here or on the photo to the left.

March Anniversary Weekend in NYC

NYC March 2013

This ridiculously cold winter weather reminded me of our anniversary weekend trip into NYC last March with Max’s best friend Maureen Beurskens and Marke Baker. I had the photos lying around, but never got around to publishing them. Marke and Maureen live in Charlotte and flew up for the main event, which were orchestra (well… back of the orchestra) seats for Book of Mormon that we had snagged many many months in advance. Friday evening we drove into the city, checked into the Casablanca Hotel and had an incredible dinner at Rosanjin in Tribeca. I think we were the only non-Japanese in this tiny restaurant with perhaps 10 tables. They serve Kaiseki cuisine which comes from the Kyoto area. I am not sure what we ate, since everything had to be translated for us and nothing was recognizable, but what incredible flavors, textures, and presentation. I do remember one dish came out in little individual rice paper lantern houses that you had to deconstruct and unfold to get at the food! Saturday morning we hit MOMA, then dinner was at The Palm steakhouse, followed by Book of Mormon. The show had to be the funniest thing Max and I had ever seen, bar none. We couldn’t stop laughing from the beginning and were hurting by the time the show was over. Sunday morning we met Max’s brother in-law for brunch near Lincoln Center before we headed home. I did not take too many photos during the weekend, but you can see the few that I did by clicking on the group shot to the left or here.

Thom and Lisa Sayers host Evie Ladin and Keith Terry

Having never heard of Evie Ladin or Keith Terry before, Maxine and I RSVP’d to Thom and Lisa Sayers who were hosting a house concert by the duo. Not knowing what to expect, we arrived early on a cold November Saturday night to participate in the pre-concert potluck. Yes, I had failed to do my requisite google and youtube’ing before the show. So inquiring minds wanted to know, but even Lisa and Thom had no real clue as to what was in store for us. Apparently, Evie and Keith, who are from Oakland, were touring New England and reached out through mutual friends to find a house concert venue before they were to head back home for the holidays. What followed was a complete delight and wonder to everyone that attended! Evie has a wonderful voice, writes some amazing songs, and is extremely talented on the clawhammer banjo, while Keith plays bass and is a master of “body music” percussion. Their crossover mashups between old-time and more new-age street music was a revelation. I wish I had shot video instead of taken photos, but you can go online and search them out. In the meantime, see the album and the delighted new fans by clicking here or on the photo.

Sophie Grows Up (a bit)


Sophie
Fall 2013

Sophie and Bentley – Sibling Play Date

In mid-September, Sophie graduated from kindergarten, or rather “puppy behaviorial enrichment” as it’s called now. She even performed the requisite graduation “trick”, in her case a “roll over” with daddy. We also had a nice visit with Myra and Reivan, which gave the grandparents a chance to dote a bit on the new member of the family. I also posted a cute video of Sophie doing her nightly face-wash of Maxine, right before bedtime.

Caryl Crouse the breeder visited on a nice mid-November Saturday, along with Sophie’s brother Bentley (nee Dogwood) and his human mommy, Marybeth. It was pretty amazing to see how similar Sophie is to her sibling, even to the point that Maxine picked up Bentley at one point thinking it was Sophie! Siblings play rough and it was quite the exhausting play-date for both puppies and humans. The secondary goal was for Caryl to start to working with the dogs, getting them used to walking and stacking for the judges, allowing their paws and teeth to be handled, etc. Within the week, Caryl will start driving in from Attleborough to work with both dogs regularly in local breed handling classes. The current plan is for Sophie and Bentley to probably debut in February at the Governor’s Footguard show in Hartford.

Click on the photos to see the albums.

Sophie at 4 Months

Sophie

At 4 months old, we only have one more puppy kindergarten class with Sophie. Graduation requires us to teach her a “trick”. Yeah RIGHT!! She’s starting to lose some of her baby teeth and being a little better behaved, so she’s earned some additional freedoms. Such as being allowed out in the bedroom while we are there. The Hoover carpet cleaning machine is getting less use, but not ready yet to pack it completely away in the basement. Oh well, we still love her.

The photo album is here or click on Sophie’s photo.

 

Party Boat Cruise on the CT River

Dan Nocera, an instructor in the New Media Center at Middlesex Community College, offered up a 3 hour cruise on the CT River with him and his boat-buddy Jeff Cohen as an item for the college’s silent auction fundraiser. Max bid furiously and won, and their pontoon party boat had room for 3 couples, so… On a beautiful Fall day with perfect weather we set sail with our friends Jon Swift, Anne Cassady, Billy Laughlin, and Becky Laughlin…. Well, not “sail” exactly, but more like cruised and partied out of Portland for a great afternoon on the water. Jeff is a reporter and broadcaster on CT public radio, and also quite a serious winemaker. He brought along a couple of bottles of his award winning homemade petite sirah that was better than some we’ve tasted from commercial wineries. Dan’s wife provided a cooler stocked with appetizers. Despite the gorgeous afternoon, being post-Labor Day the river was practically empty of any other boat traffic- we had long stretches to ourselves. All in all, a terrific time!

See the photos of the fun here or click on the photo to the left.

Josie R.I.P. March 28, 2004 – May 23, 2013

Josie-201304-005 Josie was the light of our lives, an ever-present companion and kind soul. There is a reason that Tibetan Terriers are called “the little people” and Josie certainly was one. Sadly, we had to put her down on May 23rd while we were on vacation in Hawaii. Josie was born on March 28, 2004 and she was just over 9 years old. She developed extremely aggressive and rapid lymphoma that we did not detect until it had already reached her bone marrow. We went through several rounds of chemo with mixed results. In the end, her poor body could not fight any longer although she was not in any pain. We miss her deeply……

2013 Vacations

Grand Cayman 2013

Finally getting around to posting about our two major vacations this year! First off, to celebrate our 20th anniversary we were able to kickoff the year by going to Grand Cayman a week later in January than we had previously. This allowed us to attend the Cayman Cookout, an unbelievable four-day culinary debauch hosted by renowned chef Eric Ripert. As always, his cohort in culinary crime was Tony Bourdain who we ran into in the elevator going to our room upon arrival at the Ritz! Other celebrity chefs were Jose Andres who flew onto the beach in a jetpack to begin his paella demonstration, Daniel Humm from Eleven Madison Park, Spike Mendelsohn, Sherry Yard the pastry chef from Spago, and more. With only a couple of hundred attending, it was a series of very personal and close-up events with the chefs, unlike some of the more massive extravaganzas that Food & Wine organizes. One of the many highlights was the Saturday morning “Burgers in Paradise” which started with a catamaran trip by Red Sail out to Stingray City. Honestly, we enjoyed Stingray City much more in 2012 when it was just the two of us and we hired a small boat captain privately. Having several cats arrive at the same time and dump 25 people each into the water stirred things up and did not create a very intimate encounter. After Stingray City the catamarans continued on to Rum Point for the beachside barbecue. Each celebrity chef had their own stand with their own “burger” creation. In the case of Sherry Yard, she created all sorts of wild pastries in the shape of little mini-burgers!

After four days of wild over-indulgence, I had an opportunity to get some diving in with Chris and Kate Alpers of Indigo Divers while Max was able to golf. In retrospect, we were glad that we did the all-inclusive package for our first time at the Cayman Cookout. We are definitely planning a return next year, but I think we will be a bit more choosy on the events we attend and buy our tickets a la carte.

Kauai 2013

Then in May, we returned to Kauai for our usual two weeks at our Hanalei Bay Resort timeshare. We own 4 weeks which are floating and can be used for any unit at any time, but our work schedules only allow us to travel for two weeks in the Spring. This means that we book two units for two weeks and bring friends or relatives along. This year, we invited Maxine’s sister Rhona and her husband Howie for the first week. After Kauai, they continued on to the Big Island for several days. For the second week, we invited friends Courtney Silk and Bill Walter currently living in Tucson. The weather generally cooperated and we did end up repeating some activities (Na Pali coast tour, Mediterranean Gourmet luau, etc.) because they were both Kauai (and Hawaii) newbies. On the other hand, despite the many years we have been returning to Kauai there were still new things to try- pies from The Right Slice, awesome fish tacos at Monico’s Taqueria, touring the Grove Farm Sugar Plantation Museum, and more. All in all, a great time!

Family Get-together at Lake George

Maxine and I drove up to Lake George with Florence Klein for our usual early-August getaway for a couple of days. Unbeknownst to Florence, her granddaughter, Jessie, had arranged for the family to converge at Robbie and Janie Strasser’s lakeside house for a Friday night surprise. Flo was under the impression that we were going to visit for a simple 5-person dinner. The presence of the whole family was overwhelming at first and got Flo a bit teary-eyed. By the end of the evening it was just the pick-me-up that everyone needed. See the album here or click on the photo to the left.

Table Tennis for Flo Kling’s 75th

My aunt, Flo Kling, celebrated her 75th birthday this year in fine form thanks to her kids / my cousins Glenn, Michael, and Leslie. They rented out space at the Westchester Table Tennis Center where everyone could schmooze and battle with the paddles. See the album here or click on the photo to the left.