Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thanksgiving morning

We reposed to our garden seats and enjoyed leftover boozy prune tart with coffee and a lather of cream and were nourished by a giving autumnal sun.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's my birthday and I'll drink if I want to

When your birthday comes around, friends think about what you really love in life, and then proceed to find gifts that reflect your passions and interests.
Mine was last week and these gifts were thus bestowed upon me by a small collection of astute close ones.
In the left corner, from Spain— standing sedately is a short but confident bottle of Pedro Ximenez sherry. This one could be stowed safely in your sock, attached to your leg with a little duct tape and taken on a brisk winter walk down by the tracks.
Next up, a muscular California Zinfandel which would fit nicely in the glove compartment of my pickup, as a precautionary measure in case of a breakdown, either nervous or God forbid, mechanical. It would pair well, according to my sources, with a plate of cold Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Center stage sits proudly a soon to be sampled Pommard from Burgundy, equally at home with a good book by an open fire or a freshly strangled goose from the Platte river.
Tucked between the elegant Burgundian and the brash American lies the Italian job— with the ribbon around its neck— filled with innocence, excitement and the vigor of youth; just off the boat from Piedmont and waiting for its fruit to be ravished with a fleshy lasagna tonight.
And on the far right an unusually rustique Mendicino County Carignane. This one is ready to be passed around and enjoyed straight out of the bottle or for formality's sake, a glass, I suppose, would be acceptable.
In the foreground, a book that you would think was written by paranoid mormons bent on hoarding and preserving for survival in the Obama age. So far I have found no religious agenda in its pages. It's all about hanging hams and stringing up salamis for months at a time in the privacy of your basement.
Harmless craftsman/womanship.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The last of the Savoys

It's mid November and this one's still in the ground. He was raised humanly. No hormones or stimulants. A most hardy chap. Italian variety. Who would of thought? This one just made it through a mighty mid fall snow storm. He lay there buried night and day in what appeared to be a foot of snow.
He's sat through three frosts. He's fed aphids, given comfort to lady bugs and allowed worms to ramble around below. A generous spirit indeed.
We shall take him Friday. I'll steal out after work with a flash light, a pair of boots and a knife. Take him quick by the roots in the dark. He'll never know what hit him. Put him in the ragout. Let him settle in there and we'll open up a bottle or two.

Monday, November 9, 2009


When I was a kid, Halloween was a time for us to do our own thing. Parents were exempted from the celebration and were relegated to staying at home for the evening. We had this night to ourselves.
As darkness fell in the late afternoon, we would travel to the outer, unknown neighborhoods, and rove in our small costumed gang of five or maybe six, knocking on doors, looking menacing and threatening as possible.
We would dress like the stinking dead: a hangman with a blood soaked noose around his neck, an executioner with a hurley stick for an axe, a murdered school teacher with a ruler stuck in his back, stumbling and dripping in ketchup.
We intended to shock and to scare and to extract our toll or they would face the horrible consequences of the night: ketchup smeared over the front door, a stink bomb down the letter box, a shower of pebbles hurled at the windows, or if we were really riled up, a slew of illegal fireworks thrown at the door.
We would race away and hide; filled with glee and excitement and feeling powerful for that one night of the year. If some unfortunate mother had neglected to stock up on candy, we would demand money. What choice did she have? Helpless among us, she would fumble in her purse and empty all her change, and sometimes, if we were luckly, even a stray pound note into our insistent hands. We were the owners of the night.
Nowadays, in America of course, things have changed. Parents are afraid to let their kids out of the house unless it's for a soccer game or some other organized activity with adult supervision.
They cite the dangers: Child molesters. Rapists. Kidnappers. Food poisoners. Perverts and the like. The streets, are no longer safe, they say.
I say the dark streets of Dublin were just as dangerous back then, but we knew how to take care of ourselves and our parents knew it too. Why, if a child molester or kidnapper dared approach any one of us, we could assault him with ketchup in the eyes, break a stink bomb in his hair, stuff pebbles in his mouth, let a firework off down his trousers and beat him to a pulp with the hurley stick. We never felt afraid. They, the perverts and the kidnappers were more afraid of us.
I guess it's a different world now.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fall has broken

Summer is dying and there is nothing can be done.
The leaves on the vine turn dry and crinkle.
Days shrink an inch and tighten with the light.
Nights are longer, and at the blackest hour, they grip like a fist and call in the ghostly chill and its factor.
Sunflowers dull and droop with no fight left.
Holyhocks wither and keel like once revered statues of the grand.
Tomatoes, lush and erect in scarlet lose their fleeting voluptuousness and lie damp and limp in the blink of one night's chill.
And there you have it.

But there is cabbage still firm in the ground and kale from Tuscany, we're told, waiting to spit in the face of frost, and there's Stilton with pear on Saturday and roast duck with grapes on Sunday,
and lost leaves get blown away.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Liver and Onions

I haven't checked out twitter much but I gather it's a place where you make quick and somewhat trivial comments about your day and so forth that the whole earth can see and respond back if they so desire. So, I had liver and onions last night. Does anyone really care? Does it matter?
It was a young lamb's liver. I bought the whole lamb. I asked for the livers and I got six packs of them. Not one six pack but six individual packs. And I wonder why. Is this twitter worthy? It seems like nobody cares about liver these days.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Trout Fishing in Colorado

Last Sunday, I took a final stab at slowly passing time and other things paddling the upper Colorado River. I wanted to camp out of my canoe one more time in the company of the wizened sage. The forecast was an irritation I chose to ignore: wind, rain, and possible snow in the high country all day.
I arrived at nine in the morning under cloudy skies at the little outpost of Rancho del Rio; a place where seemingly, anything goes. There's an outdoor bar where middle aged guys hang out in chest waders— they exchange trout stories, while being entertained by a bartender with a wilting flower in her graying red hair.
Over in the camping area, a tribe of dreadlocked kayakers chow down on roots reggae, burritos and fragrant herb. Reggae has traveled far from its roots in the shanty towns of Kingstown to the headwaters of the Colorado river.
I packed my boat, put into the river and set off. I enjoyed an hour of paddling in peace and prosperity before the wind whipped up.
Without warning, it burrowed and barreled its way upriver. It was an effort to keep the canoe pointed downstream. If it broadsided, I could be blown over and spilt into the drink.
The heavens blackened, but the threatened downpour turned out to be nothing more than old fashioned saber rattling and knashing of teeth. It reminded me of the old shock and awe routine of Secretary Rumsfeld when we went into Iraq. Only that happened. This didn't. Funny, the things you think about on the river. And, as I rounded a curve, I was thankful to catch a glimpse of blue skies again.
The rain tapered, but the wind persisted tirelessly for two more hours.
It breaks you slowly: It makes your choices sloppy. It depresses your brain. It wrinkles your thoughts. Decisions become like twisted squalls that scitter across the water without logic.
It stopped abruptly as it began; without warning or notice. Suddenly, there was silence, shortly followed by bird song, and a light shivering of cottonwoods. I had a feeling of being somehow, forgiven. Let off the hook.
It's not easy to fish with a fly rod from a canoe on this section of the river. It twists and turns and narrows and bends and there are lively riffles and rapids along the way. Your fly can get caught in the willows: you have to back paddle upstream and nuzzle your way into the bank in order to release it from the offending willow. You have to constantly watch for rocks sitting like ducks on the river's surface.
I threw hoppers and stimulators at the banks. I tried blue winged olives. I tied on a big bushy caddis fly. No response to neither. I finally struck gold with a tan San Juan worm and a little bead head prince nymph.
I saw a great blue heron without a care in the world lazily crossing the river. I saw a young deer shyly stooping its head to drink at the bank. I saw sly checkered magpies and bending backwards swallow. I saw dancing damson flies dainty on the water and swift hawk plotting bad thoughts from high above.
In my camp for the night, I ate salami and cheese. I made a paella with canned mussels, saffron and Spanish rice. I drank a bottle of Belguim beer, a half bottle of Greek wine and a dreamy nightcap of Grappa, distilled just a little down river, in Palisades.
In fine fettle now, I listened to the wind: a reckless rustle shifting through the western trees. I watched moving clouds. Dark chocolate melted in my mouth. I washed my pot and plate in the river. I licked my fork clean.
I listened to the rain as it drummed and rolled down on my tent through the night. I felt it was washing me to sleep. My feet cracked. My shoulder pained. My bones ached. I slept like a cottonwood log. I awoke in the night to Coyotes screaming.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

CIty life

All too often I feel a compulsion; I think it's an atavistic instinct, that borders upon panic, to leave the boxed in constraints of the city— to burst out— to see something wild; a river, a wind, a rain, an earth. And I go out to the garden to hang my underware and I see something truly prehistoric.

DInes on the Barbie

It's almost amusingly but surely eerily ironic to think that in Denver today you can settle down to a plate of freshly grilled sardines from Greece, cooked on Mexican Mesquite wood, and enjoy a bottle of Rose de Provence under the Chinese wisteria vine. How could the Ute have imagined?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Carrot Salad

I came home to an empty house. I had some shrimp in my pocket, a carrot in the fridge, garlic in the basket, a lime on the floor, fish sauce on the shelf, a pepper, cilantro and mint in the garden. I felt compelled to arrive at this salad.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lake Dorothy

We found the Arapahoe Pass trail and cut over to the Caribou trail taking us to Lake Dorothy at 12'100 feet. Didn't see any Caribou. Maybe they were here during the late Pleistocene, but were moved out or hunted out like the Arapahoe to make room for us white folk to enjoy these pristine trails without fear of terrorist activity.
All the way up with racing heart I could only think about my sandwich: Smoky, buttery Speck with mustard and Arzua Ulloa, a soft cow's milk cheese from Galicia. The bread, a German Rye style baked in Colorado Springs was given to us by the chimney Doctor, George who usually drops by the shop drowned in soot and trades the bread for Camembert. I imagine his soot blackened face absorbing creamy clean white Camembert.

Diamond Lake. Indian Peaks WIlderness. 10,920 feet.

Well, we weren't even trying to get here. We missed our turn off to the Arapahoe pass trail. Our intent had been to walk along the top of the Continental divide just to see which side we're really on. Usually, when I hike upwards, my head tends to incline downwards, concentrating only on the next step. I stare at the ground below and ignore what's up ahead and therefore frequently get lost. I do this in my daily life too. It's something I should watch. But, too much vigilence can all often take the surprise out of life and so it came to pass that we happenened upon Diamond Lake. Something to keep forever in your mind.

Gibson Lake

From our camp in the Pike National Forest, it was a ten mile hike to the lake and back. We came to spend a couple of nights developing our mussels which we did rightly. Two pots: one for each arm. We thank our friend Terry for having the strength, after sweating all week in her kitchen to supply such an ample mussel pack.
The lake at 11,500 feet, sports an enthusiastic community of small brained Brook trout.

Lake Neva. Roosevelt National Forest.

Two years ago Jack and I tried to get up here. It was late summer and we had to turn back because of torrential rain. We set up camp at the Rainbow lakes campground. There was nobody there. We dined in. We ate our familiar feast of salami, cheese, dried figs, bread, almonds and a bottle of wine. Background music was provided by the rains. They pelted their rhythms on the tent all night long. It was a little bit like listening to a Phillip Glass record but not as dry.
This time we were determined to make it to the lake. I had a pack with enough supplies to spend the night if necessary: A light tarp with pegs and rope, a whistle, a small first aid kit. Extra food and water. Whiskey. Rain gear, topo map and compass. It turned out I didn't need any of it because I had Jack. He's a master of these mountains. Knows them like the back of his heel.
Our journey began at the fourth of July campground on the Arapahoe pass trail. At eight in the morning on a Sunday in August, it is laden with cheery Boulderites donning BPA free Nalgene bottles and color coordinated REI clothing.
After crossing Boulder Creek we left the main trail and its congested highway of hikers. We followed the creek upstream.
We took a faint fisherman's trail, which narrowed into a scat of a deer trail. It turned into a scrabble of a sheep's trail, and many a winding rabbit run— sometimes taking us in circles as if we were chasing our tails. We came across some flattened grass where an animal had recently lain. We didn't know who or what but thoughts of bear and big cats were pawing quietly at our minds.
We stumbled across streams. We meandered in meadows of wild flowers. We bushwhacked through soggy brush.
When in the mountains without a trail I always find a firm hold in Edward Abby's dictum, "When in doubt, go higher." This was a constant comfort as we looked up and saw nothing but obstacle after obstacle of rock, boulder, talus, tree and thick brush.
We never saw a soul until we got to the lake. A solitary gentleman with his dog casting his fly into the wind at 11,800 feet.

Crater Lakes

Sunday, Ionah and I hiked to the Crater Lakes area up by Rollins Pass. I brought my fly rod but at 11,ooo feet it was too windy for trout. We lay in the lee of a rock and consoled ourselves with cold grilled chicken, Spanish cheese, dried sausage and a half bottle of Beaujolais. We watched as dark clouds gathered. There is something rewarding about finally reaching your lake.

If you tire of chains and the polished cleanliness of links

One of the boons of Denver city life apart from the muffled sound of nocturnal emmissions from downtown trains and the proximity to the Rocky Mountains is, The Tattered Cover Book Shop. By its name one would imagine it would literallly stock a plentiful supply of second hand, tattered covers. But this is not so; it's a classy place.
Like the golden dome resting on the state capital building, the Tattered Cover is a Denver icon. The carpet itself, spotless as it rolls its way down the regal staircase, could have come from any one of the Queen's lessor palaces. But for my taste, it's a little too prissy, a little too clean. It's like the room in my mother's home that was reserved just for guests—somewhat relaxed in a polite, formal way but not a room where one could comfortably pass gas in.
Personally, I prefer the chipped paint work, the creaky staircase and the handmade shelves of Powell's books in Portland, or the casual anarchy of Foyles in London, both of which offer an impressive array of used, tattered covers.
Long gone from Denver are the edgy used book stores that used to congregate on shady street corners or hide out in the middle of obscure blocks and provide refuge in coffee and books to the social unrests in our community.
But there are some holdouts yet. My own neighborhood, the Highlands, which is not its true name, as it was appropriated from the original Scottish Highlands down the hill on 32nd and Zuni with its twisty little lanes and its Argyle Place and its Fife Court. Apparently, the Scottish Presbyterians, having grown tired of the debauchery and oysters of downtown, got all martyred up one night, doused themselves with puritanism, settled the place upon the hill and created an alcohol free zone which they dutifully named, Highland Park. They stocked it with chickens and churches and prode themselves on clean living and lack of passion. So much for their Highland whiskey roots.
But, back to my neighborhood—the false Highlands. The true holdout here is West Side Books. Featuring both new and used covers and sometimes live jazz. Not a place to go if you know what you want. It's better that you don't. It's a place where time stands still and wisdom beckons. And it has remnants. Remnants of what this town once was. Long before the arrival of Narnes and Boble. Before Starfucks, before the Coors Lite and the obese Diet Pepsi stadiums. It's a place to go, a third place, a western place, where there is yet dishevelment, still a little rough and tumble, a place to graze in this once cow town become sports town with its new found facination for cleanliness and cute customer service.


Having had some time to reflect on my mother's death, I am consoled by the wisdom and lyrics of the late great American blues man, John Lee Hooker.
Based on conversations I had with her during the many hours we spent together at the Blackrock Hospice in Dublin, I think she would have been happy if Mr Hooker's words from his song "Burning Hell" had been her final epitaph. It goes something like this...

"Everybody talk'n 'bout that burn'n hell
ain't no heaven
ain't no burn'n hell
where I die
where I go
can't nobody tell
can't nobody tell..."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wisteria Sinenis

Back in May we almost swore off our Chinese wisteria vine. Shredded and emaciated from the late spring snow, it had become a dull, leafless thing: Depressed and downtrodden. Our spring Colorado weather wrecks havoc on the more sensitive souls in the garden. But, don't be fooled by its prettiness. This wisteria has proved yet again that it can. It has come through with understated beauty for yet another glorious season with vigor and gusto and honor and pride and virility and a plodding stubbornness to just get on with it. It displays at the risk of being incorrect politically, dare I say it— an Asian work ethic?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Animal Ruminations

Come dinner time in my neck of the woods, most folks can be found pecking at plastic packages in the endless aisles of their local supermarket. Raised in cages or corralled knee high in shit filled lots, these produced for profit "packages" had little to live or to die for. They were hormoned to the hilt, fattened on genetically modified grain and thoroughly juiced on antibiotics. We change their name from cow to beef and from pig to pork. The further we are from the act and the knowledge of killing an animal, the easier it seems, it is to eat.
Another perhaps closer to the bone, but more honest way to eat your meat is to catch it and kill it yourself. As humans we have always taken life to maintain life be it animal or vegetable. We decide which animals and plants are pests and then dutifully destroy them by poison or by traps. We decide which ones to keep and cuddle as family and which ones to have for supper.
I am reminded of an obscure poem that I recently wrote:

Some won't eat a horse
and some will a cat
some won't eat a hog
and some will a bat
some will eat a dog
and a bitch
will eat a rat—

I don't know about you but if I were a four legged creature, I would rather live my life free and wild and fall by the hunter's hand than to spend my days in captivity and die by a processing tool called a cattle prod, and end up as a plastic package on a supermarket shelf.
One meat I cannot eat though is bunny. Rabbit, however is clearly a different matter. The following images show how to skin and gut a freshly killed rabbit. Thanks to Joel, from Easky, Ireland for providing the samples.
As a cautionary note: these images contain graphic content and should be shown to all teenagers.

Little furry animals

All in a days work

Shapely Legs

Spill the guts

Looks like rat to my eyes

Here she comes

Nicely does it

I'm so hungry—I could eat a horse

Prepare to package

Tastes like chicken

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A visit from the man in black

The color black being thoroughly modern never goes out of style—especially in urban habitats where the Anglo Saxon dwells, as in the coffee shops of Dublin or Denver. Every few years the global fashion pundits, in a declaration of co-dependence approve black to be accentuated with grey.

The Monsignor thus entered the room fashionably attired in black slacks and grey collarless shirt. He could have been just another soul tapping away on his laptop in any urban coffee shop. Oblivious to his fashion cool, he strode into the room bearing his gifts of charm and mirth. After some light chatting he offered a blessing to my mother. A spontaneous rambling of sorts, delivered in the relaxed manner of a seasoned professional. None of the old school catholic dogma— a prayer for every occasion— suitably dull and dour. This was an upbeat offering; sincere and contemporary. He conferred his blessing for peace, love and understanding upon her. Forgiveness and its inherent allusion to sin wasn't mentioned. The Monsignor, judging by not only his fashion sense is clearly a modern guy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A patriotic put in

The author and his wife went on a little river trip on the Colorado river last week-end.
The photo reveals the US flag's salient dominance over the Indian canoe. A gentle reminder lest we forget where or who we are.


Two nights and two days worth of trash tucked into a used ice bag. It looks like mostly empty beer cans. But we did eat rather copiously. A cold roast chicken with a dandelion leaf salad one night. Steaming bowls of green chile with lamb, pinto beans, telame cheese and tortillas the next.
We also carry a "groover" or portable toilet but I neglected to take its picture. It's just a small black box to hold waste. Picture coming later.


We washed the chicken and the lamb down with a couple of bottles of $11.00 Tempranillo. The Bota is a perfect wine container for a canoe trip. You can plonk it in the river to chill and it makes cheap wine taste like affordable wine. This one's a traditional goat skin with a pine resin lining.

The Author's stove

A good stove is like a good woman— rounded, firm and supportive; yet, a delicate item all the same. For if not balanced upon level ground, it can flare up at any time becoming a tempest of flame and spark.
Oh it'll keep you warm at night and make your tea in the morning, but you can never put it away hot. Let her jets cool down slow and only then should you attempt to dismantle her.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All quiet on the western front

The river west of Grand Junction, Ruby and Horse-thief Canyons, is one of my favorite spots in the state. On weekdays you can count on it to be pretty quiet. The week-end rafters have rafted on. There's not much traffic apart from a family of river otters swimming along the bank. You'll see an occasional Bald Eagle perched high in the cottonwoods. Swallows dart to and fro from their little mud made huts. Ducks and chicks skate along the river surface escaping our presence. Hawk rises in late afternoon and soars above the canyon wall, scouring the river below for prey.

In camp a slithering bull snake crosses our path. The morning brings fresh cat tracks on the damp sand. Bob Cat? Lynx? Mountain Lion? Raccoon tracks too. Blackbirds flutter in the tamarisk trees. Flies and tiny biting bugs are everywhere. The sun pierces to the pore. Shade is a coveted commodity—it creeps from tree to tree. We trade from one tamarisk to the next. Darting lizards leave their tiny twisting tracks in the sand. Speaking of, on our morning stroll we surprised a young couple in the throes of carnal ecstasy. I wanted to take a picture but I felt embarrassed for them stuck together like sinners on the burning sand. Discreetly, we walked around and resumed our stroll.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Trainspotting in Colorado

Ionah toasts a train as it passes our camp on the river.
A couple years ago on this river we watched a circus travel by. I guess the show had just ended. All the players were still in costume. They were sitting, clowns and all, legs dangling over the edge of the cars and drinking. We exchanged wild waves and toasts.
A train or two usually comes through during the night. The only sound you hear for hours is the gentle desert breeze and the river lapping quietly on the bank. And then, suddenly, out of the silence you hear it. It's just a faint hum at first, seemingly coming from nowhere. Then it becomes a rumbling with a discernable threatening rhythm as it gets closer. Then it grows louder and louder until it shudders and roars as it passes like a thousand buffalo stampeding to their death. You lie there on your back in your tent listening as it screams and shrieks and then just as fast as it came, it fades back into the silence of the night. A terrible beauty is the Iron Horse.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Christian Muslim Medley

Listening to global savior and United States President Barak Obama spread his message of hope, peace and justice for all in Cairo, Egypt the other day, I was inspired to go on a mini crusade and create a new dish.
And so, armed with only a Chinese scissors, I marched to the garden and chopped the ornamental heads off of a cluster of unsuspecting Egyptian onions, and converted them into a working dish that I call my, "Christian Muslim medley"— Fusion Pasta For All.

If you've read up on the knights of Malta you may know about the ancient Muslim Christian clash in the southern mediterranean, and the exchanges that took place throughout the centuries not only of slaves and women but also of culture and spice. But, I wonder, is it common knowledge that this is also the place where the hideous food craze called "Fusion Cuisine" can trace its unsavory beginnings?

For a thousand years, ingredients and combinations of such, slowly trickled down through the soups and sauces of the day, or were whisked and beaten into the common Christian kitchens of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and Malta by their Muslim conquerors. Hence, here, in these places, you will find dishes boasting such exotica as pastes of fragrant cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel and garlic. Or tiny Grattini pasta looking eerily like Moroccan Cous Cous, tossed with the Sultan's raisins and infused with Saffron from Christian Spain.

So, on a congratulationary note, for his wonderful speech, the other day, I would like to offer my creation of this, my only fusion dish of sorts to President Barack Obama. May he and his family enjoy it for a thousand years.

As a foot note— the other name that I came up with for a title was, "The Sultan's Slippery Rings" which obviously is not a reference to his footwear which clearly would be a grave insult, but in fact refers to the squid rings required for the effective execution of the dish. After eight years have passed, I will change it to this.

Plenty for two with leftovers for lunch.

For the sauce:
Good olive oil to coat a stout enameled cast iron pot.
3 Large Egyptian onions chopped into fine rings, or 1 medium yellow onion finely minced.
1 Tbsp rinsed salted capers roughly chopped.
3 Oil packed anchovies finely minced.
1/2 Tsp smoked hot paprika.

Briefly toast the following in a pan and then combine in a mortar and mash to a coarse powder with a pestle;
5 whole cloves,
1 Tsp coriander seeds,
1/2 Tsp cumin seeds,
1/2 Tsp fennel seeds,
3 large garlic cloves.

1 14 oz Jar of whole roma tomatoes,
Pinch of Spanish saffron,
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper,

For the squid:
A juniper and pinon wood fire cooked down to hot coals.
1 Pound squid tubes and tentacles.
Marinade for squid: Make a paste in a mortar and pestle of a small handful of fresh oregano, 3 cloves of garlic, organic lemon zest from one whole lemon, sea salt and black pepper to taste. Toss the squid with the marinade.
1 pound of Stringozzi pasta.
Have a large pot of lightly salted boiling water at the ready.

Heat the oil in the pot to medium and add the onions, allow to soften at a gentle pace, then add the capers and the anchovies, toss them around a little, then add the smoked paprika. Now add the ground spice powder and stir around for a bit. Now, add the jar of tomatoes and the saffron. Break the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper. Turn heat to a gentle simmer and go outside and chop wood for the fire. Fire starter is unnecessary: Slice the wood into tiny kindling with your ax and place in the fire pit in a pyramid shape and using only one match light your fire. Build it up and let it die down to hot coals. Now add the marinated squid to the fire and grill briefly. Transfer to a bowl and slice the tubes into Sultan's rings. Then add the squid to the sauce and continue to simmer.
Now cook the pasta, drain it, toss with butter and fold it into the sauce. Adjust seasonings to taste prior to enjoying!

Interesting caveat: In all honesty, I haven't actually tried this recipe. That is not to say that I haven't eaten the dish. I have. We have. Just the other day. I simply reconstructed it from memory. So the seasonings and amounts may not be exact— feel your way through. Nothing is written on paper here. Change as desired.

Back in Colorado

The author and his son Jack photograph themselves for something to do because they didn't catch trout on the Big Thomson river.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The stinger and the spritely ale


The only good thing about the British air flight from Denver to London, apart from the free socks, toothpaste and booze, is that it gets in at lunch time. I find the best thing to do is to go directly from Heathrow on the tube to Farringdon station and take the short stroll over to restaurant St. John, get a table and order a plate of roasted bones and a bowl of nettle soup. Afterwards when you're nicely marrowed you can traipse over to the Jerrusalem Tavern on Britton street and have a spritely pint of St Peter's best bitter. If there is a better way to deplane I have yet to alight on it.