Another Turn of the Page: Fall Into Books

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
Lauren DeStefano, Wither

 stack-of-books

I have to quick put this post together before another Book Group meeting happens and then I will be two behind. I won’t be able to attend the next meeting as I will be traveling to Berlin, Germany but the group is keeping a list and will expect a posting once I return. September was packed we had some “vintage” authors ( Joseph Heller and Patrick McManus) some tried and true writers (Shreve, Flagg and Grisham) and some interesting non-fiction ( David Grann, Robert Fieseler). Yes, the usual eclectic mix. The next few months will be full of new reading before we lose a bunch of members to the siren song of warmer climates. But the reading never stops. So when I return…if I do…(frankly I wonder if a week will be enough to clear my head of the craziness we call our government)…I will have food stories and a new pile of books.

Sept2018

1.The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve (1997) 256 pages. A newspaper photographer, Jean, researches the lurid and sensational ax murder of two women in 1873 as an editorial tie-in with a brutal modern double murder.

2. The Gray Ghost by Clive Cussler & Robin Burcell , Fargo Adventures #10, (2018) 400 pages. In 1906, a groundbreaking Rolls-Royce prototype known as the Gray Ghost vanishes from the streets of Manchester, England, and it is only the lucky intervention of an American detective named Isaac Bell that prevents it from being lost forever.

3. Something Happened by Joseph Heller (1974) 569 pages. This is Joseph Heller’s first book after CATCH-22, it explores one man’s view of what has happened to the American dream.

4. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline (2017) 309 pages. A novel about Christina Olson who later becomes the inspiration for Andrew Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World”.

5. Visionary Women: How Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall and Alice Waters Change Our World by Andrea Barnet (2018) 528 pages. This is the story of four visionaries who profoundly shaped the world we live in today.

6. Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship and Hope in an American Classroom by Helen Thorpe (2017) 416 pages. This book follows the lives of twenty-two immigrant teenagers throughout the course of the 2015-2016 school year at South High School in Denver, Colorado,

7. Sycamore Row by John Grisham (2013) 447 pages. Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten will in which he leaves his entire fortune to his Black maid.

8. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (2017) 338 pages. About corruption in Oklahoma and the start of the FBI, focusing on their first really big case involving the serial killings of Osage Indians in the 1920s. A true story of greed and murder.

9. All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg (2013) 347 pages. Wisconsin, 1941. With all the men off to war, Fritzi and her sisters must learn to run a gas station, from fixing flats to driving the tow truck. They add their own touches, too: neat little caps, short skirts and roller skates, and the All-Girl Filling Station is born. But soon skilled women are needed to fly planes for the war effort.

10. Ten Years Gone by Jonathon Dunsky (2017) 310 pages. Set in Israel, Adam Lapid, a Private Investigator, is drawn into a story which revolves around finding a missing child that was “given away” by his mother during the Holocaust, in order to spare his life. Now, ten years later, the biological mother has hired Lapid to find her son.

11. The President is Missing by Bill Clinton, James Patterson (2018) 513 pages. James Patterson has entered into his most interesting collaboration yet, taking second chair to former American president Bill Clinton in a story that is highly political and action packed from the opening paragraph through to the epilogue’s lingering final sentence. -Goodreads

12. Rubber Legs and White Tale-Hairs by Patrick F. McManus (1987) 198 pages. McManus  is the author of novels, plays, and more than a dozen collections of his humor columns from Outdoor Life and other magazines. This is one of those collections featuring some interesting characters and situations.

13. Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna (2018) 304 pages. When two young sisters disappear from a strip mall parking lot in a small Pennsylvania town, their devastated mother hires  Alice Vega, a tough bounty hunter whose specialty is finding missing children. She teams up with former cop turned private detective, Max Caplan.

14. Tinderbox: The Untold Story of Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation by Robert W. Fieseler (2018) 384 pages. The author chronicles the tragic event that claimed the lives of thirty-one men and one woman on June 24, 1973, at a New Orleans bar, the largest mass murder of gays until 2016.

 

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Not Untouchable

Here in 2018 if I want to buy a book it is pretty much a no-brainer. I just go to Amazon. I look for my book, The Untouchables by Eliot Ness with Oscar Fraley published in 1957. The original hardcover isn’t available but there are paperbacks, 21 used copies starting at $12.99, 5 new copies from $59.94 and 1 collectible at $148.99. All I have to do is click on my choice and in about 2-5 days it is sitting on my doorstep.

But in 1972 it was very different. First of all the internet did not exist. If you wanted a book you tried your local used bookstore, if you had one. If they didn’t have your book, they could give you the name of other used bookstores that you could call. Or you probably could check the telephone directory for used bookstores. So you placed some calls and when you found a store that had your book you placed the order and then you waited.

The latter is what my mother had to do 46 years ago to get the book, The Untouchables. Here is the card the bookseller wrote out with her order. Note this was a first edition, hardcover for $4.50 including shipping. Ah, those were the days.

I don’t know how long my mother waited for her book but one day this card arrived. And here is the back of that card.I love that she has kept this card after all these years and I got a good laugh that The Untouchables was certainly touched and lifted. We can only guess the bookseller had assured her he had it before checking his shelves. After finding this card my mother still expressed an interest in reading it so I told her to interloan it through her library (not a common practice back in the 70’s).

As an aside, I checked to see if the Edgewater Book Store was still there. Nope. That address is now the home of Glamour Nails: Complete Nails Done by Professional Manicurist.

Vintage Wisconsin Dining – The Supper Club

Lately I have read a few recent articles on Supper Clubs. They are an institution in the Midwest. But this got me thinking that it might be a fun and interesting evening to go to dinner at one of the many supper clubs in the area. More on that later.

First, for the uninitiated, what the heck is a Supper Club? Well, if you don’t live in the Midwest, you might just think it is just a restaurant, which it is, but it has some peculiarities that make it different.  Basically in the U.S., a supper club is a dining establishment generally found in the Upper Midwestern states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Iowa. It’s not a club and there are no dues. The odd fact is the first supper club opened in Beverly Hills, CA but by a Milwaukee, Wisconsin native so it maintains its Midwestern roots. Since I am in Wisconsin, what little I know will refer to my state. These establishments typically are located on the edge of town in rural areas. They are only open for dinner and they are independently owned so you won’t find Schwarz’s Supper Club in 6 cities in the state, you’ll only find it in St. Anna, WI, an unincorporated community near New Holstein, WI. The menu in supper clubs is fairly limited to steak, chicken and fish, with variations on all three. There is always a bar and the drink of choice is the brandy old-fashioned.*

We recently talked to some friends who really like supper clubs and since Curt and I may have gone to one a long time ago, we were ready to go again, especially since we had seen those recent articles. Our friends suggested the above mentioned Schwarz’s and they told us to meet at their house by 4:30pm. It was about a 45 minute drive and we had to get there early or we wouldn’t be eating till very late. When we arrived the place was already humming.

 

The front door practically opened right at the bar which had lots of people around it already. Tom said this was a pretty light night so far for a Friday, usually by now it would be three deep by the bar. We all decided what we wanted to drink and the guys jostled their way forward and ordered. After a few minutes of standing with our drinks we lucked out and one of the “waiting” tables near the bar opened up. We sat and talked for awhile until we were able to snag a waitress who dropped off the menus. Before she escaped we put in an order for St. Anna’s Onion Rings. Getting these also took longer than I expected; the place was really filling up and getting crowded. But we had a seat and some drinks and had fun people watching. Somewhere in all of this the onions arrived.

Onion Rings

By now we had decided what we were going to eat so we stood one of our menus up on the table ( a supper club signal that we were ready to order.)  A waitress noticed and took our order, a name and off she went. I’m not a great judge of time but by the time we finished off the onions and had another round of drinks our name was called (40 minutes?) So off we went to the hostess station at the other end of the bar. We were assigned Table 9. Upon arriving the table was completely set. Our salads were there, the 3 bowl salad dressing server, rolls and the relish tray ( with little ears of corn!) The relish tray is another sign that you are in a supper club. I read that some SC’s are eliminating these because too many don’t get eaten and are wasted ( they are being replaced by salad bars) but we had one! Some “relish trays” also include a liver pate, cheese spread and crackers.

Salad with lots of goodies

Ranch, French and Blue Cheese dressings and THE Relish Tray

From here on it is all about the food and the conversation. Once our salads were done, the main dishes we ordered appeared. Curt went with walleye and I had the prime rib, petite cut. So glad I ordered just the petite because it was huge. It was also delicious.Our friends had duck and ribeye steak. The duck was on special because supper clubs are basically steak, chicken and fish. Three of us had broasted potatoes, I had baked but I noticed that Tom also got wild rice with his duck. Carbohydrates anyone? No side vegetable because you had your salad, what more do you need?

Half Roast Duck and Ribeye Steak

Needless to say we had no room for dessert. And except for Curt we all took food home that night. Bottomline, Supper Clubs are community gatherings even if the people come from all over the area. They are loud, they are crowded, they are a slice of Americana and they are great fun. Yes, everyone probably drinks more than they would normally, but the best part is you can forget the crazy world and crazy Washington and just enjoy yourself and have an evening with friends.

Table 9

*The brandy Old Fashioned is a solid Wisconsin drink. It has its origins from the Prohibition era, when people really couldn’t be too picky about their liquor choices. Some of the stuff being made wasn’t the best, so they started sugaring and adding soda and fruit to their cocktails. So that is kinda how the modern-day brandy Old Fashioned came to be. It’s got the sugar. It’s got the bitters. It’s got a cherry and an orange in it and the brandy and the soda.” –Holly De Ruyter, Old Fashioned: The Story of the Wisconsin Supper Club (documentary)

Another Turn of the Page: Books and now, Coffee

“I like my coffee with cream and my literature with optimism.”
Abigail Reynolds, Pemberley by the Sea

It has been a year since we moved our Whadda Ya Readin’? Book Group from The Attic Books and Coffee Shop. After a brief hiccup getting settled at the library, we have found a room with comfy seats that is quiet enough that we can hear everyone, even the people with soft voices. Our only regret at the time was, no readily available coffee. But a wonderful thing happened last month, a coffee shop opened its doors in the newly remodeled third floor of the library. This was an area that used to be offices but now has areas called Think Tanks that you can reserve AND it has The CURA Coffeehouse. So I think we may be complete now. Just before we meet, our members can zip up there, get their coffee or tea or hot chocolate, and be ready to join the group. Sweet. So go grab a cup and catch up on what we read this month.1. Fifty Fifty by James Patterson & Candice Fox (2017) 377 pages. #2 in the Detective Harriet Blue series. Sam Blue stands accused of the brutal murders of three young students, their bodies dumped near the Georges River. Only one person believes he is innocent: his sister, Detective Harriet Blue.

2. Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases and Finding Redemption by Shon Hopwood (2012) 320 pages. This is an improbable-but-true-memoir — the story of a young bank robber who became the greatest jailhouse lawyer in American history.

3. How to Make a Life: A Tibetan Refugee Family and the Midwestern Woman They Adopted by Madeline Uraneck (2018) 208 pages. A wonderful blend of personal stories of both the author and the Tibetan refugee members she writes about. Mixed in is background on the early conditions in Tibet that forced their migration across the Himalayas, their experiences in refugee camps, and their final arrival in America and Madison, Wisconsin.

4. We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (2017) 416 pages. This novel is based on the true story of a Polish Jewish family under Nazi occupation.

5. Love and Ruin by Paula McLain (2018) 389 pages. This novel chronicles the relationship between Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, a fiercely independent, ambitious young woman who would become one of the greatest war correspondents of the twentieth century.

6. The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton (2018) 272 pages. When he was 29, Anthony Ray Hinton was convicted of a murder he did not commit and was sentenced to Death Row in Alabama. It took thirty years before he was able to convince the US Supreme Court that his first trial was unfair and hadn’t allowed him to present clearly exculpatory evidence.

7. Miss Subways by David Duchovny (2018) 309 pages. Miss Subways is inspired by the Irish mythology of Cuchulain, a warrior who has the love of all women, but none of them is good enough for him, intellectually. Until, Emer. A darkly, funny novel that our reviewer loved. Don’t be put off that it is written by David Duchovny, he is a surprisingly good writer.

8. Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan (2017) 513 pages. This novel is based on a real life Italian teenager, who, in 1943 began guiding Jews over the mountain passes to Switzerland.

9. Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna (2018) 311 pages. When two young sisters disappear from a strip mall parking lot in a small Pennsylvania town, their devastated mother hires  Alice Vega, a tough bounty hunter whose specialty is finding missing children. She teams up with former cop turned private detective, Max Caplan. A really good thriller. I hope we see more of Alice and Max.

10. Intrepid’s Last Case: The Super Spy who Helped Take Down the Nazis by William Stevenson (2002) 352 pages. This book chronicles the post-World War II activities of Sir William Stephenson, whose role in helping to defeat the Nazis was the subject of the worldwide best-seller A Man Called Intrepid.

11. Robin by Dave Itzkoff (2018) 544 pages. You will have to decide if it is still too early to read about Robin William’s life but when you are ready this bittersweet biography portrays  him, not as a tormented soul who ends his own life, but more as a tender man desperate for talent validation.

12.  Never Go Back by Lee Child (2013) 400 pages. Jack Reacher #18.  While traveling through South Dakota in the last book ,61 Hours ( #17), ex-military cop Jack Reacher had occasion to call in to his old office in Washington, D.C, the headquarters of the 110th MP. Reacher once commanded the unit but it now belongs to Major Susan Turner and he is determined to meet her.

13. A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchey ( 2012) 464 pages. In this, her last novel before her death, Maeve takes her readers to the west coast of Ireland to the village of Stoneybridge where hometown girl Chicky Starr has returned home to open a holiday hotel.

14. Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Anderson (2015) 287 pages. An intimate account of the service staff of the White House, from the Kennedys to the Obamas.

15. The Island by Elin Hilderbrand (2010) 416 pages. The Island referred to in this novel, Tuckernuck, is a real honest to goodness island about 1/2 mile from Nantucket. It is there that 4 women, 2 sets of sisters go to relax, regenerate and resolve their own personal problems and those of their family.

 

Roll Out the Mattress

We have needed a new mattress for some time. The date on ours says it is 28 years old. I have priced mattresses and a decent queen size mattress will require a bank loan. Now the good thing is I won’t need a spring since we bought a platform bed frame about 7 years ago, but still.

Anyway last April I bought my son a “Bed in a Bag”, sometimes called “Bed in a Box”. He was still sleeping on a 30 year old futon which I think may have turned to dust. He didn’t open the bag right away because he was in the process of moving but once he got to his new place he unpacked it and in a matter of minutes it was filling out and becoming a twin size mattress. He though it quite comfortable and firm. Would this be an option for us?

After considerable discussion and debate we decided to take a chance. We went with Nectar because they offered a 365 day trial, $125.00 off and two free pillows. And it was the same mattress we had purchased for our son. Five days later the FedEx guy brought this big blue bag to our door.

Bed in a Bag (Queen Size)

Before doing anything we had to get it up to the bedroom on the 2nd floor. No pictures available because while I sat on my butt and pulled, Curt on the other end, pushed. Once in the room we took it out of the bag, well, bags.At this point we laid it on the floor and because once it is out of its tight bags, it starts to unroll.

mattressroll

At this point it slowed down a little because there were also two pillows smooshed in there so we gave it a nudge and it completely unrolled. Curt then opened the third bag it was in and it really started to inflate. *Please report to me if these videos do not play.

IMG_2306

Inflated to 11 inches

Here it is completely inflated. This is the underside, above. We propped it up while we removed the old mattress. This is the top of the new mattress, below.

One final goodbye to the old mattress. Since this new one came in at eleven inches I was curious what the depth of the old one was and I was really surprised that it was only four inches deep. Granted it was almost 30 years old so maybe it compressed over the years?

Montgomery Ward, circa 1990

So? How do I like my new mattress? Well initially I was worried. It seemed softer than I expected but a lot of that was due to the top layer which is similar to a pillow top and it does form to your body. So it took me about a week to ten days to really accommodate my body to the mattress. Now, I pretty much sleep like a rock. My husband got used to it sooner than I and seems to snooze away just fine. Are these for everyone? Probably not, but the price was right and so far it fits into our lifestyle.

PS:  Part of the reason I delayed so long was the problem of disposing of the old mattress. We don’t own a pickup truck and our bedroom is on the 2nd floor with a sharp right turn to the stairs.That old mattress weighed a ton and I was a lot younger when we dragged it up there. The charge for disposal at the recycle facility was $20 but you had to get it there. So on to the internet with a “mattress removal, Green Bay, Wisconsin” search. Wa-La!!! Mattress Disposal Plus! For $80.00 plus $20.recycle fee, a guy came, hauled it down the stairs, out to the truck and took it away. Worth every penny.

Soar on the Shore

A friend of mine writes a blog called Life as a Field Trip. She explains it quite beautifully on her page, but for brevity sake it is as the title says, “living life as a field trip”, “find the adventure in every experience” and finally the point I used today,”Be ready. Field trips are everywhere!.”

This morning I opened the paper and found an article on an event in nearby Algoma, Wisconsin called Soar on the Shore. Algoma is right on Lake Michigan and this was a kite flying party. It said kites would be flown unless there was rain or no breeze. Well it was in the 70’s, the sky was blue and it looked like  a small breeze was kicking up. For sure it would be breezier by the water. My husband was game so after lunch off we went. Algoma is only 25 minutes from here so it is an easy ride. The event started at 11:00am and we didn’t arrive till about 1:30pm but there were still many kites in the air and they looked so fun against the clear blue sky over the beach and the water.The closer we got the more interesting things got. There were kites big and small.

Seahorse

Penguin

Dragon

Some of the smaller kites, but no less fun.

Big fish, Little fish and a Diver

There were even Land Kites.Thanks to Terra, my field trip friend, for putting the idea of, Just Do It!, into my head. It was fun and reminded me that there are good people and good times in my own “back yard.”

Another Turn of the Page: Never Too Hot to Read

“It was one of those sweltering summer days in which the air itself seems to decline as a haze suffocates the outside world. It is painfully bright whether you are looking up at that ball of burning hydrogen or down at its vivid reflection
on sheer pavement.”

Moonshine Noire

As I write this the humidity is building again and the forecast for tomorrow says we are going to reach 90 degrees. No I am not sitting in Florida, California or Arizona. I am in NE Wisconsin. I quick did some outdoor activities around the house this morning but then the house got shut down, the air got put on and once again we will stay in the cool rather than work in the yard or take a walk. The humidity really takes a toll. When I was young I could nap in the 2nd floor bedroom of my house in the heat of the day. (We had fans only). Not anymore. So, what to do? Well aren’t those hot days just made for reading. If you aren’t a heat lover I hope you have a good pile of books. Here are  few you might consider.

1. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (2012) 404 pages. This story is inspired by the Russian folktale in which a childless elderly couple make a snowchild that comes to life as a young girl. The author uses the folktale to tell us a story of a childless couple who move to Alaska in 1920 to begin a life only to face struggle and hardship until a girl appears in the woods.

2. The Ghost Writer by Alessandra Torre (2017) 307 pages. I used a Goodreads summary because this book is difficult to describe. “Helena lives alone, though this was not always the case. She is a well-known romance writer, and she has just had some terrible news. She has also had a horrible event in her life, with both things combined, she decides she needs to make her story known. Not sure she is capable of writing her story, doing it justice, she asks her agent to get her a ghostwriter. ” This book is a thriller with a stunning ending.

3. Orders to Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murder by Amy Knight (2017)
384 pages. In this book, Amy Knight, a KGB scholar, ties dozens of victims together to expose a campaign of political murder during Putin’s reign. A well researched book but not a riveting read.

4. 61 Hours by Lee Child (2010) 383 pages. In the fourteenth book of the Jack Reacher series, our loner finds himself on a bus filled with senior citizens that has just slid into a ditch in snowy South Dakota. It will be a few days before a replacement bus will be able to continue their journey, so everyone on the bus is taken into the homes of the inhabitants of Bolton, SD. As you might expect, Reacher immediately gets involved with the local police department to solve a murder.

5. Mapmaker’s Daughter by Katherine Nouri Hughes (2017) 300 pages. Set in the 16th century world of the Ottoman Empire, the story is told through the memories of a woman who is dying and recalling the circumstances that brought her to where she is now. Her extraordinary life included being kidnapped by pirates, educated with a prince and joining the royal family of Suleiman “the Magnificent.”

6. Never, Never (Detective Harriet Blue #1) by James Patterson (2016) 342 pages. When Sydney police department sex crimes detective Harriet Blue is called into her boss’s office, she never imagined it would be to tell her that her brother is the prime suspect in the brutal murders of three women.

7. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert (2003) 400 pages. In 1891, Rachel Kalama shows the first signs of leprosy as a seven-year-old. She is quarantined by the Inspector of Health and banished to the Hawaiian island of Moloka’i. This is the story of her life, historical fiction based upon the actual settlement of lepers at Kalaupapa.

8. Force of Nature by Jane Harper (2018) 326 pages. Five colleagues set out on a required corporate retreat. The organizers head to the rendezvous point after the 4 days but the women are late. Then 4 of the 5 emerge from the Australian bush. They are injured and in terrible shape.No one knows what happened to Alice, the 5th. Aaron Falk is one of the investigators and this is the 2nd book he appears in. The first was The Dry, both are good mysteries.

9. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (2013) 531 pages. “Ursula Todd is born in a snowstorm in England in 1910 but dies before she can take her first breath. During that same snowstorm she was born again and lives to tell the tale; again and again. Life after Life tells the story of Ursula’s lives, as with each new life she makes small changes that send her on a completely different path.-Goodreads

10. Florida by Lauren Groff (2018) 279 pages. (Short Story Collection.) The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida—its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind—becomes the focal point of each one.

 

We Reach for a Star

In my post, A First, I regaled you with our first time eating at a Michelin starred restaurant. Only one, but I was impressed. Anyway while we were eating and site-seeing in Copenhagen and Stockholm, a friend of ours was keeping an eye on our house, watering the plants, hauling water to the garden for our meager tomato plants and beating back the chipmunks who kept digging up the flowerpots. We were going to bring her back something from our trip but she had just recently traveled to the same location, and added Norway, Finland and the Baltic States, and probably had plenty of Scandinavian souvenirs. So we thought to thank her we would invite her to dinner where we would try to simulate our meal at Vaekst.

We don’t have any stars, or moons or planets and mostly you probably will look like the Michelin Man if you eat here too often. But we gave it a try even though it wasn’t Vaekst menu, I think we did pretty well. ( Please feel free to jump to the original post to see how we compared)

The appetizer was a cream cheese dip flavored with lemon and a little Worcestershire sauce. Our vegetables consisted of little carrots, green beans, zucchini, and broccoli. The Farmer’s Market was just a day earlier so we had crisp fresh veggies. Sprinkled over this was our “dirt” ( toasted bread crumbs). We served this with a glass of Prosecco.

Appetizer dip and veggies

In the original menu I had a tomato salad and a small soup and a biscuit. Curt had a fish (Hake) “soup”. These became our salad and soup course with a little twist.

I think we got the Tomato Salad pretty close. Our change-ups included adding red and yellow sweet cherries with the multicolored tomato halves.

Three color tomato salad with cherries, toasted almonds and sprouted greens

Our soup was not a fish soup but rather a mushroom creation. In our restaurant post I was not able to take two pictures but the fish came to the table first and then the waitress poured the creamy broth over it. Our soup used five kinds of mushrooms (Lobster, Chicken-of-the-woods, King oyster, Beech and Hedgehog) with a buttermilk/fish stock broth, radish and basil micro-greens and edible violet flowers.  Here is the before and after. We served a Sauvignon Blanc with this course.

Mushroom Soup

On to the main course.  Because our original mains at Vaekst were so different we opted for something in the spirit of Curt’s original.  Bison Tri-tip Roast with a rhubarb gastrique, mashed potatoes and sauteed cabbage.  The bison was roasted with a mustard and herb coating.  This was paired with a nice Syrah.  The plating in the picture below looks kind of pale but the flavor was robust.

Roast Bison with rhubarb gastrique, mashed potatoes and sauteed cabbage.

We went with the dark chocolate sorbet for the dessert. This is served on a rhubarb, strawberry, blueberry compote. Two pieces of Swedish milk chocolate grace the top of the sorbet.

Chocolate sorbet atop a Rhubarb compote

I have to say that our presentation was not as beautiful as Vaekst and we didn’t have as many courses but what we did prepare tasted very good; good enough to give us at least a high five from the Michelin Man.

 

Under Your Feet

When we travel, especially to cities, we are always looking up. Up at the buildings with their glorious windows and doors, the sculptures in the parks, the stores with all their goods behind the clear plate glass, the pictures on the walls of the museums. Then there is people watching which can be fascinating. Just sit on a bench or at an outdoor cafe and watch the faces, the outfits, the interactions. Or gaze all the way up and view the trees and the sky and the clouds. But for something interesting or arty or fascinating do we ever look down at what is underfoot? On our trip to Copenhagen and Stockholm, we looked down. Here’s what we saw.

A First!

We have just returned from a ten day trip to Copenhagen and Stockholm. We had never been to Scandinavia and so when this popped up on Road Scholar, we thought, let’s do it. Well that was over a year ago and everyone must of had the same idea because by the time I tried to book the trip all of the dates had waiting lists. So when the 2018 trips were announced we quickly made reservations. Most RS trips are all inclusive, that is, accommodations, travel and meals are all included in the price. And they have you scheduled for tours and activities most of the day.

This trip however, was a Flex trip, lots of free time and many meals on us. Our guides still were available with suggestions and one afternoon before our first dinner “on our own” we asked Hanna her for ideas. Luckily Noma was closed as they planned their move to new digs (not that we had a reservation [needed at least a year in advance] or could have afforded it anyway). But she had a couple of alternatives in mind.

We settles on Vaekst (pronounced “Vixst” as best we can remember). When we arrived the hostess asked if we had reservations…oops…well no. She asked us to wait a moment and disappeared. After a few minutes she returned and told us we would be seated if we could be done by 7:45pm. It was only 6pm so we readily agreed. We were taken to the lower level, literally walking through a greenhouse of hanging plants. Our table for two was surrounded by large tables (6-8) of young professionals. This was a Wednesday evening in Copenhagen, Denmark and the place was humming.

Before we even had a chance to look at the menu a waiter arrived and poured us each a glass of champagne and announced they were celebrating tonight because they had achieved full sustainability. This was a good beginning.The menu arrived and it was very simple. There was a meat choice or a green (vegetarian) choice. The meat menu offered pork breast with the option of two items for substitution, beef tenderloin or brill. The rest of the menu was wine pairings. Curt went with the pork breast and I went Green. However,  as you will soon see, it only looked simple on paper.Before our first course arrived a beautiful bowl of a cream cheese dip with baby carrots and zucchini, broccoli florets and French radishes was put on the table. The dark bits were malt crumble and the cream cheese wasn’t plain but had a bit of lemon and herbs I could not identify. It tasted fresh and summery. Then came the rolls and just fabulous butter. The Danes know how to do butter.

Vegetables w/cream cheese dip, Whole grain bisquits and butter

By now we were done with our champagne and ordered wine. There was also water on the table. And when you ask for water you always are given the choice of still or carbonated.

Next came our first course. On the menu mine said Tomatoes with Roasted Almonds, Ramson & Sesame sauce. I asked what the ransom was and as far as we could make out it was either ramps or green onions. What arrived was a bowl of red, yellow and green tomatoes in an oil and vinegar dressing with a sprinkling of, what I can only guess were, ransom shoots and almond pieces. The little cake was made with chickpeas and the “sesame sauce” was a delicate sesame soup.

Chickpea cake, Sesame soup and a Tomato Salad w/ Ransom shoots

Curt’s first course was the baked hake, which is a mild fish in the cod family.  It came in a bowl along with chive blossoms, mixed herbs and micro-greens and a golden caviar.  Once presented, the server poured a rich buttermilk broth into the bowl.  Yum.

Baked Hake under a buttermilk sauce

This was truly a fun beginning. The presentations were beautiful and the food well-prepared. With great anticipation we awaited our main course but before it arrived another dish came to the table. I believe the waitress called them pancakes but I would say they were little crepes filled with fennel, micro-greens and a lemon creme.

Vegetable crepes

After this tasty snack, the main courses came to the table. Curt’s was Fried Pork Breast with Cabbage, Lemon and Yogurt. A salad arrived with the pork, which we think had the lemon and yogurt as a dressing.

Fried Pork Breast

Mine from the Green Menu was Grilled White Asparagus with Truffle & Porcini Mushroom Sauce.There were also artichoke hearts tucked under the asparagus. Another extra dish of small potatoes in a creamy sauce was put on the table.

White Asparagus, artichoke hearts, porcini mushroom sauce

Curt’s greens & radish salad, a bowl of new potatoes to share

By now we were getting pretty full because even if the portions were small, there were many of them. But we had come this far on our culinary adventure and would not be passing on dessert. Also by now our time was getting short and 7:45pm had come and gone, but no one mentioned it or tried to hustle us along. So Curt ordered an espresso with his dessert. His Strawberry Sorbet had White Chocolate Chips on top, and it was surrounded by a buttermilk and vanilla cream sauce. Mine was a Dark Chocolate Sorbet on top of a Rhubarb compote with a Caramel Chip. Okay, this was heaven.It was a wonderful evening but the final surprise came after we left. As I was taking pictures of the front of the restaurant, because of course I was going to write about it, we saw a little framed card on the outside wall of the building. We had just eaten at our first Michelin starred Restaurant. Wow!  We walked back to our hotel smiling all the way.