Tag Archives: Artichoke

Pike Place Market – Seattle – Washington


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………and so the journey began…off to the Emerald City

It had been years since the Tin Man had ventured to one of his favorite cities, The Emerald City : Seattle

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 We found a most interesting hotel……The Arctic Club…

The site of the Arctic building was originally owned by Joseph R. Lewis, the Chief Justice of Washington Territory and a direct descendant of George Washington‘s sister Betty.

The home he built on the site in 1875 was considered one of the finest in Seattle at the time. The house was replaced in 1892 by the three-story, brick Seattle Theatre, designed by the firm of Saunders and Lawton.

The newly formed Rainier Club occupied the office portion of the building until it and the theater were replaced by the Arctic Club Building in 1916.

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The Arctic Club was formed in 1908 by successful veterans of the Klondike Gold Rush.

The existing Alaska Club was merged that year into the Arctic Club. In Seattle, it was a fraternal men’s club for businessmen with Gold Rush or Alaska connections.

Upon arrival we were greeted by a lovely welcoming Cheese and Fruit Tray….perfect after a long day of travel…

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The Accommodations were very masculine and warm…the hotel had an old world charm.

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Canada 015The Northern Lights Room is over 100 years old and features a domed, stained glass ceiling that uses natural light to showcase the beautiful stained glass …

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A nice walk along the waterfront to Pike Place Market..

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YAY…….arrived at Pike Place Market…….

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It has been a while since Tin Man visited and he was quite disappointed to see that the market and his favorite surrounding fooderies have become so commercialized….the hometown feel is gone…..but it was nice remembering the good ole days….

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An old time favorite….used to be called the Russian Bakery now……Piroshky, Piroshky…

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A long line with que out in the street……this once unknown now a tourist destination…the fare much smaller and not as delightful…

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Oh well……….it was still fun……..and then the Turkish Delight Shoppe……oh…closed today….oh well…

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Even the Emerald City has changed…….time to sit for some Gelato….

Canada 066Cantaloupe, Pleeeeaaasssseeeee….

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Back to The Arctic Club to Club Juno for a nice dinner and some chardonnay…. 

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All though things have changed and Tin Man missed the simpler times, it was a lovely visit

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Arns Winery – Napa, California


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On the Eastern Hillside of the historical city of St. Helena, tucked away in a marvelous forest lies

an absolute gem……….no I am not talking about the rusted up Tin Man!

Everything is covered with moss…….the trees….

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The Ground covered with Ferns….

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even the stone walls are green with tender moss….

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Then we come upon it……….the Vineyard…

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Don’t think you will drive up to a big chateau surrounded by tourist trappings……no

Arns Vineyard is by appointment only and it is hidden with no signs pointing the way…..

….. this is not a commercial, hyped up tourist trap….this is a vineyard

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John Arns is most delightful and his passion for winemaking is very evident…

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He lives in the middle of this paradise in a modest home…

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He took us into his winemaking building….and the fragrances were delightful…

French Oak and Fermenting Grapes…..

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John poured some of the magical potion into glasses for us….

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The Absolute Delight of visiting this Artist was an experience that goes beyond words…

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John has a bell in the front yard with parsley growing in the container and lovely artichokes and all sorts of vegetables and flowers surrounding the house

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This was an experience the Tin Man shall never forget…

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John Arns is one of those amazing people you meet, who are dedicated to their art and to the planet. 

This visit made us remember who we are and how we should be living.

Although, I will be honest, The Tin Man was a bit nervous in the forest as I remembered the time I was with Dorothy and those beastly apple trees!

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Look what made it back to the Tin Man’s Cellar……now the strength not to open it tonight!

If you are planning a trip to Napa, stop and see John….oh, you must make an appointment…

click here to do that…..CLICK

…..and be careful in that forest….I was sure I saw some of the trees looking at me!

Dinner at Ardigna – Salemi, Sicily


During a recent trip to Sicily, my hosts decided to take me off to an adventure for dinner.  We drove for a couple of hours up these winding, tiny roads………….full of pot holes and parts of the road unpaved.  I was wondering what sort of culinary temple would be nestled up in this dense Sicilian forest and who in their right mind would EVER take the time, not to mention the risk of traveling to this outpost!  It was late at night, around 10 P.M…………remember the Italians love to dine late.   When the headlights shone off the edge of the road and there was nothing but darkness below,

I was reminded of my ride to the rainforest to visit my Aztec friends and wondered why I was alway being put at the edge of the abyss in my life!

After what seemed to be an all night excursion we rounded a corner and entered a parking lot FULL of vehicles!!!  There were others out there who would take this venture……..feeling more confident now!

We found ourselves at an ancient hunting lodge, in the middle of the Sicilian forest on a mountain top! 

The Ardigna was not always open to the public and for years was the private lodge for those who would hunt in these forests.

The interior was so very warm and inviting, the rustic charm so well blended with most incredible smells coming from the kitchen and the smiles of the staff……..

the meal began with a simple knotted bread, with the taste of pretzels and beautiful olive oil……

…oh a light dinner……..I thought…..

…………..and then it began……the virtual tsunami of antipasto………the first a tray of such incredible delights..quail eggs, some obscure meat on a skewer, grilled eggplant, prosciutto, delightful fresh tomatoes, fried mozzarella, olives and several items that were not of my known culinary universe……however they were delightful….

a stew of fresh lamb………..served in ancient copper pots…

………fava beans……….minus the hockey mask……..

…beautiful fresh cheese…

and we are so very, very lucky to have arrived during artichoke season and are rewarded with the most succulent, delightful artichokes……..

then……….oh might I swoon………..gnocci with saffron and pistachio……

followed by more pasta with fresh lamb………

and just when you think you cannot eat another mosel……….comes the platter full of meats that were hunted that day……
venison…….donkey……quail…….goat…..wild boar…..and more………

a most enchanting evening………oh did I mention the wine…….I consumed liters of it……most fantastic!!!

da Meo Patacca – Piazza dei Meranti – Rome, Italy


To celebrate the 2,763rd Birthday of Rome, we decided to have dinner at a typical Roman Restaurant. 

Pinelli, Meo Patacca. Table 52: Nuccia accetta...

Pinelli, Meo Patacca. Table 52: Nuccia accetta Meo Patacca come sposo (“Nuccia accepts Meo Pattacca as her husband”) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Everyone pointed the way to da Meo Patacca!

Remington Olmstead created this 19th century tavern in the Trastevere Quarter.

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Trastevere 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fountain at Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, ...

Fountain at Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Located in the charming and romantic Piazza dei Meranti the charm and warmth is so very inviting…

There is ample seating outside; however, we were dining very late and wanted to experience the full ambience of the interior…..

once inside we became enchanted with the magic of the kitchen……the chefs all working in harmony……a beautiful ballet of sights, smells and culinary creation…….

we passed tables of wonderful food and I began to imagine what delights the evening might provide……

I was all settled in watching the dance of the chefs and so entranced with their creation…………….

…….. when at once it began with a bluster (click it if you don’t belive me!!!)…….

….the musicians…..raucous..melodic….and so very, very entertaining…………oh what fun was the night promising!!!…..

…….and then it began….the wine, flowing like an eternal river…….the food…course after course after course…….and the music continued until we were swept into the wild and gypsy past of this magical city…….

I only managed to photograph a few of the dishes…………the fault belonging to ………well you know……..

I must say that it was a magical evening and I look forward to returning to the past in da Meo Patacca……..

The Demoniac Vegetable — Artichokes


“Remind me to tell you about the time I looked into the heart of an artichoke.”

Bette Davis in All About Eve

I have so loved artichokes, even since I was a young boy. I find their rather uninviting, yet intriguing exterior to be a wonder…..much like the lobster…who was the first person brave enough to decide that this was something to eat?!!? And then there is the eating process itself: pulling off leaves and sliding them between your upper and lower teeth to remove flesh, having to avoid the choke…because if you don’t …. you will….choke, that is!  Finding the tender heart and snatching it out to slowly devour it, dripping with hot butter. Wow — sounds a bit ritualistic and frightening.

Rather than go into the bloody detail of it all, if your are interested in step-by-step directions, go to: http://www.wikihow.com/Eat-an-Artichoke

The more I think and write on this subject the more I wonder why I even began! So in my just-past-middle-aged wisdom, I decided to grow my own artichokes…… what else should an aging Tin Man do to entertain himself (?), my rusty knees  can’t get in and out of an inappropriate sports car and it is too hard to keep a toupee on top of this funnel head! In my first attempt, I order plants [at a whim] and put them in the garden ….. during the drought, when temperatures remained over 100 degrees — did I mention that artichokes like cooler temperatures……so I nursed my plants through the searing heat, as they turned their burnt faces up to me every day and wondered why I was holding them hostage in this horrific hades of a place. As the temperatures cooled and they began to look as though survival was possible, a young lad offered to till the garden…………yes, you guessed it  …..goodbye artichokes!

So as the Fall approached, with promises of a mild Winter, I began my quest once again….and found an amazing person who sends the most wonderful plants in the world: http://www.sweetheartartichokes.com/buy.htm  Should you ever decide that you too want to wander down this path, I strongly suggest acquiring plants from her.

So the plants arrived and were so most lovely…………………… into the ground they went far from the garden, in a place the tiller could not go! Guess what……Spring is here and we have ARTICHOKES!!!

You, of course, know by now that I could have purchased approximately 300 artichokes for what I have endured; however, what satisfaction would lie in taking that route!  I do know that if I am ever in possession of 300 artichokes at once, I shall give them to the flying monkeys to hail down on the head of the Wicked Witch of the West who lives at the bottom of the hill, in retribution for NEVER removing her garbage can from the curb!  Click here for more information about that.

Moving on…………see how beautiful the plants have become……so lush and green, bursting with life!

…………..and now the fruit is bursting forth!!!                                                                                                                              Somehow, I am expecting a catastrophic event to put an end to this.

Did you know that the artichoke even has its own legend!??! It seems that according to an Aegean legend and in a song by the poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the first artichoke was a lovely young girl [Cynara] who lived on the island of Zinari. Zeus was visiting (as he often did) his brother Poseidon one day when, as he emerged from the sea, he spied a beautiful young mortal woman. She was not frightened by the presence of a god, and therefore; Zeus seduced her.

 He was so pleased with Cynara the he decided to make her a goddess, so that she could be nearer to his home on Olympia [can’t you hear the church lady proclaiming: “isn’t that special!”] Cynara agreed to the promotion and Zeus anticipated all sorts of trysts with her when his wife, Hera as away…..oh the lives of gods and goddesses! But as luck would have it, Cynara missed her mother and was homesick, so she snuck back to the land of mortals for a visit. Zeus found this behavior appalling and hurled her back to earth and transformed her into the plant we now know as the artichoke.

In his journal of June 19, 1576, Pierre de L’Estoile writes:

“The Queen Mother ate so much she thought she would die, and was very ill with diarrhoea. They said it was from eating too many artichoke bottoms and the combs and kidney of cockerels, of which she was very fond.”

Eating an artichoke is like getting to know someone really well.”

Willi Hastings

“These things are just plain annoying. After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual “food” out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps. Have the shrimp cocktail instead.” 

 Miss Piggy

…………lovely thoughts………just had to share them, now go eat an artichoke!

Spring Forward……….at my age?!!?


Spring Forward…………daylight savings time…….more sunlight in the evenings to drink wine on the deck, that’s what I say! Those poor souls in Arizona don’t know what they are missing! Even though it is always an adjustmentnt for me to let this one hour lapse from my life and try to change my circadian rhythm to mirror an artificially imposed rule, I do enjoy more sunlight, especially since I work in a place with no windows (who thought that was a good idea anyways??!!!?). Daylight savings time is not a new notion and was first discussed by Benjamin Franklin and first proposed by George Vernon Hudson in 1895. To me it means that Spring is exerting her power to once again posses us.  I must say, the Tin Man does feel the need for some oil on the joints after the dark, damp winter! 

Something is squeeking as I walk up the hills!

I have wandered about the yard (10 acres of it) today and tried to capture some of the beauty that I now get to enjoy with my extra hour of sunlight. While enjoying the photos (at least I hope you do!), please reflect on these wonderful quotes:

“I enjoy spring more than autumn now. One does, I think, as one gets older”

Virginia Woolf. Jacob’s Room

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

Margaret Atwood

“A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.”

H.L. Mencken

and to follow that…………

“At my age flowers scare me.”

George Burns


Marigolds…………the Natural Pesticide
Beautiful Four Nerve Daisies
Red Bud Tree at a Distance
Peach Tree promises a Big Harvest…unless the squirrels get them again!
Mountain Laurel …….. Love the Grape Cluster Flowers
Lone Survivor from Last Year’s Drought
…..just love this color combination
Orchids Abound
The ever beautiful Larkspur
Iris in Full Bloom……original rhizomes from my Great-Great Grandmother
Pear Tree is FULL of Baby Pears
Borage for the Bees
Agave Plant………Let’s Make Some Tequila

Napping in the Sun

Bountiful Harvest – The Garden in February



We garden year round and have had the most severe drought last Summer with over a month of temperatures over 100 degrees and absolutely no rain.  The National Weather Service considered our area in a CRITICAL drought!  Our poor garden was frying.  The vegetables actually cooked right on the bushes.  Elmer watches over the garden and worked and worked to keep it alive, along with his helpers! 


 Well his efforts paid off we are still eating the wonderful squash, onions and sweet potatoes from last year’s harvest!









Now we are enjoying fresh brocoli, cauliflower, fennel, kale, asparagus and lots of wonderful German lettuce!









The flowers are all a bloom! Even the Redbud trees are budding…….a sure sign of Spring…….in February! I fear a big freeze will come and slap all these optimistic plants upside the head.











The Chili Pequin continues to bear fruit all through this winter! He is determined to out live any frost, drought or wimpy gringo!

……and of course, the Lady Rosemary continues to flourish under any circumstance….

The Borage is full of bees. We always keep this wonderful, watermelon flavored herb all over the garden for the pleasure of our wonderful bees, who keep our earth alive.