"Ahhhhhh...." What was that? Personally, I think it was Sean Spicer exhaling. Because whatever your personal political leanings, I think we can all agree that serving as Donald Trump's White House Press Secretary pretty much defines the word 'challenging'. Trump is changeable, mercurial, and hard to track-on a good day. How on earth did a nice boy from Rhode Island-a Portsmouth Abbey grad!-end up between the White House press corps and Trump? Left: rock. Right: hard place.
Notes From All Over
Ebeneezer Scrooge "carried his own low temperature always about him...he iced his office in the dog days."
-Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
While the local weather has featured chill and rain, I just returned from the Dakotas, where one evening the local bank sign flashed, in quick succession: 7PM, 95 degrees. In the Dakotas, the Dog Days have arrived.
Laurie Colwin, author of two beloved food literature/ cookbook tomes, plus several novels and collections of short stories, is-hands-down- one of my all-time favorite writers. Her food writing makes me voraciously hungry, and inspires me to try nearly every recipe immediately. Her short stories (my favorite collection: Passion and Affect) are like little jewels; her novels are impossible to put down and have been the impetus for more than a few sleepless nights. She has a rare command of the English language, and her writing touches something in my soul.
"We're still having fun, and you're still the one."
While doing some-ahem-research* for this month's Wine Club (theme: Beach Reads) I found a book, Helen Simonson's The Summer Before the War, that plunged me deep into the bucolic English countryside immediately pre-WWI. This delightful book offers up a glimpse of a very different civilization, one where ladies wore hats and gloves, gentlemen were gentlemen, and nearly everyone had servants to handle disagreeable tasks like cleaning and cooking. Ah, for the good old days!
Recently, I attended an absolutely killer wine tasting: near Boston Harbor, on a blue-sky day when the views seemed infinite and the sun warmed limbs and temperaments chilled by an extended 'spring'. Attendance was light; there were no hordes of young sommeliers seeking the hottest new trend. It was mostly a few old friends who have been in the wine business for decades. The wines, from a small California winery, were delicious, but since that was a previously acknowledged fact, nobody was making much of an effort to 'sell' them.
It was the best of wines; it was the worst of times. The Brunello was amazing; the deliveries were always late. The Syrah was stunning; it never came with an actual physical invoice. The Riesling was transcendent; I ordered two cases, but received one case, 5 bottles....plus six more bottles of a completely different vintage.
A June visit to CVS is rife with 'Happy Father's Day'. Cards, sure, but also mugs, plaques, T-shirts, keychains. Signs everywhere. It's become a cottage industry. But really-what's the perfect present for all the Dads we know and love? What would make Dad 'Happy', on Father's Day or any other day?
If you think Gin was born in London or thereabouts, you're wrong. Gin, then called Genever, was invented in Holland in the early part of the 17th century. (Full disclosure: Williams is my married name; I was born a Van Vugt.) In this early form, it was distilled from whatever was near at hand-mostly cereal grains-and flavored with botanicals to mask its defects.
This spring's consistent cold, grey drizzle has often driven me to the couch, accompanied by a warm blanket, the dogs, and a good book or seven. Luckily, between birthday/Christmas and Mother's Day gifts, and a few visits to my favorite (local, independent, natch) bookstores, I was well supplied. And the recipe works: what rain? I was tooling through sunny Provence.
Once upon a time, wine was considered snooty. Elite, even. The common man drank beer, or bourbon. Or a Manhattan, Martini, etc. Definitely not wine, which was a formal beverage, served formally. From a bottle. Which definitely had a cork, requiring a corkscrew.