Venice Envy

People may complain that it stinks, others that it is sinking, and still more that it is too expensive. Those who are there in the winter lament the floods that render every street and alleyway a canal. But nothing anyone will ever say can sour my love for the most romantic city of them all — Venice.

Your host on Piazza San Marco with Venetian carnival mask, a foggy morning in March, circa 199?

So it was with some degree of green that I accepted the news that our neighbors and friends, Chris and Glennis, had rented an apartment in Venice this summer. Chris added insult to injury by sending me the website for the place they were staying, complete with perfectly framed view onto the Grand Canal. In response, I did what any affronted friend would — I invited them over for a “bon voyage” Venetian dinner. More

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Crustaceans in Oz

I do a lot of shopping. I go to farmers markets, Japanese markets, Persian markets, Vietnamese supermarkets, Indian spice stores, Mexican carnicerias, Chinese poultry shops… And on the way home, I usually stop at the regular old grocery store. It’s where I get staples — sugar, cheese for the kids, bananas, hamburger buns, etc. Our local one has reasonably good produce, an excellent wine department and a nice view of the Pacific Ocean across the street.

Butter-poached Australian lobster with saffron risotto and lobster sauce

On Valentine’s Day afternoon, I dropped by the local overpriced seafood market to see if anything caught my eye to serve with the bottle of Perrier Jouet I had chilling in the fridge. And everything was, well, overpriced. More

The Autumn of Our Content

I woke this morning to the first day of autumn. Not the official first day — technically, it’s been fall for a month now. But the first real first day of autumn, where I could feel it in my bones and soul. It’s one of my favorite feelings.

Silvery Autumn morning through the oaks

We in Southern California are less fortunate than our friends in other parts of the country who enjoy spectacular displays of changing foliage. Our poison oak turns kinda pink, which I guess is nice. And typically, when October arrives and those same friends are raking leaves and building fires, we’re out on the deck in shorts and t-shirts, grilling ribs and drinking beer. They envy us, we envy them.

But not today. Today was different. I awakened to a chill, reluctant to emerge from under my pile of covers. Out the window wisps of gossamer fog weaved through the muscular arms of the scrub oaks, softening them. Our silky rooster crowed plaintively, and I could smell coffee that was not yet even brewing. My favorite season had come. More

King Seamus

My friend Paul lovingly calls me “Seamus.” But I know a real Seamus — how many people outside of Ireland can say that? (Do you know a Seamus??)


Our friend Seamus is a man with a lust for life. Once at a party at our home, I had grilled a Herculean pork shoulder. I was busy tending to guests, wine and so forth, and when I came out to the large table on our deck, Seamus was standing at the head in his flowing white cotton shirt, his long flowing dark hair and thick English accent — holding court, quaffing wine and gesturing grandly as he carved the pork shoulder, a scene that might’ve been pulled from the pages of Shakespeare. More

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