Monthly Archives: April 2012

Master of Wine Monday at Aqua by El Gaucho

On Monday evening, the new Aqua by El Gaucho restaurant hosted a fantastic ZINO Society Master of Wine Monday.  Nineteen ZINO Society members and guests were welcomed into the spectacular, triangular North Bay private room, which is right at the apex of the Pier 70 dock and has a sweeping view of Elliott Bay, the Space Needle and the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park.  The bay was sparkling and the sun was shining!

Aqua by El Gaucho Tristan Chalker and Robbie Berger

Aqua by El Gaucho Private Dining and Event Director, Robbie Berger, Service Staff Extraordinaire Randall Nakamura and Nick Zink, Wine Captain, Lee Spires, and Sous Chef, Tristan Chalker along with their team of servers and cooks produced beautiful food which was presented with stellar service.  Following light appetizers served when we arrived along with a lovely French sparkling pale pink Bordeaux, we were served six small courses of exquisite food and each individual course was served simultaneously with a brace of waiters placing that course on the table in front of each guest at the same time.  Please see the menu included at the end of this blog post.

Lee Spires shares wine knowledge

Though every course was outstanding, my personal favorites were the Dungeness Crab and Avocado Salad with an delicious yet light dressing reminiscent of the flavor of old-fashioned Green Goddess dressing and the Seared Sea Scallops with sweet potato hash and corn truffle sauce.  Yum!

Andrew Will was the featured vintner and we were pleased to have the Assistant Winemaker, David Oldham there to share some insights about the pairings of the selected wines with the food courses.  He shared a story about the 2009 Pinot Noir that we tasted and how they had struggled to actually produce a very limited quantity of what turned out to be a fantastic wine.  Because of some of the challenges they faced with temperature and weather, they had to add a strain of yeast in order to ferment the wine which he called a “Frankenstein” yeast since it was such a monster. 

Sole Roulade

ZINO Society members attending the event included Debra Doran, Bill Chao, Mary Marsh, Darlin Gray, Randy Squires, Joel Aard, Byron McCann, Kate Holmes, Brian Gawthrop and Andrew MitchellZINO Society Chief Marketing Officer, Mary Holmes, got a few of us to share embarrassing stories about ourselves including her story of when she inadvertently wore her new dress backwards at a very chic cocktail party in The Highlands.  We may have all laughed the most though at ZINO Society Director of Events, Christine Gilbert’s story about her cell phone alarm clock with Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” inappropriately going off (twice!) during her Classical Music finals.

Darlin Gray, Andrew Will‘s David Oldham, Terry Thompson

It was truly a very special and delightful event!  Here is the full menu:

Dungeness Crab and Avocado Salad
butter lettuce, scallion yogurt dressing
Buty Semillion/Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Plancha Seared Sea Scallops
corn truffle sauce, sweet potato hash
Andrew Will Pinot Noir 2009
Sole Roulade
shrimp fontina, piquillo peppers,
bloomsdale spinach, almond creme
Andrew Will Sangiovese 2009
Grilled King Salmon
wild mushroom salad, mountain herb vin blanc
Andrew Will Two Blondes 2007
Roast Tenderloin of Certified Angus Beef
beef bone marrow, truffle butter sauce, demi glace
Andrew Will Mays Discovery Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Chocolate Fondant
candied pecans, bourbon caramel, madagascar
vanilla bean ice cream


ArtsFund Woman of the Hour, Arlene Wright

Woman of the Hour, Arlene Wright with Jan Rogers

Yesterday, a group of friends got together for lunch to celebrate our dear friend, Arlene Wright’s upcoming ArtsFund Lifetime Dedication to the Arts award.  She is being recognized for her leadership and financial support of the arts in our region.  Arlene has served on the Advisory Board for Pacific Northwest Ballet, on the Seattle Symphony Orchestra Board of Trustees, on the ArtsFund Board and on the Seniors Making Art Board of Trustees.

Our hostess, Joyce McCallum
with Cathi Hatch

Joyce McCallum hosted a lovely luncheon at the Rainier Club where we had a chance to congratulate and toast Arlene prior to the big ArtsFund luncheon which is scheduled for the week after next.  It was also fun to hear Arlene tell us about the childrens’ books that she and her husband brought to the United States many years ago now as they built their company and about how she originally found the books.  The name of the series is The Story Box and several of us hope to find copies of the books as childrens’ gifts for the future.

Nancy Strom, Diane Kuenster,
Trudi Syferd

Toni Hoffman, Sue Raschella,
Penny Thackery
Jan Rogers, Carol Anderson,
Susan Taylor

The luncheon was lovely with a flavorful spring pea soup followed by a roasted chicken breast entree and the most amazing medley of desserts I have ever seen on one plate.  The pastry chef came to explain each of the offerings on our dessert plate and each item was impressively dusted with this rare ingredient or drizzled with that special sauce.  See photo below.  I got a nice email from Chef Bill Curtis following the luncheon with the complete list of the many sweet morsels that were included on each dessert plate:

  • Chocolate-espresso chiffon cake with giandjua(caramelized hazelnut chocolate) mousse, vanilla langue du chat cookie, espresso sauce
  • Pomegranate jelly (Madeline shaped gel)
  • Vanilla eclair
  • Meyer Lemon pudding cake with balsamic macerated strawberries, peach-yuzu sorbet, pistachios
  • Honey chocolate ganache dome, caramel sauce
  • Matcha green tea macaron sandwich with passionfruit mousse, rhubarb and strawberry-rhubarb sorbet
  • “PB & J”…muscovado gelee, peanut butter mousse, praline dust

Arlene’s admirers and celebrants included her daughter, Chrissie, and friends Diane Kuenster, Susan Taylor, Nancy Strom, Trudi Syferd, Penny Thackery, Toni Hoffman, Sue Raschella, Kathie Price, Carol Anderson and Jan Rogers.

Green Eggs & Ham

John Rindlaub, Ken & Cathi Hatch, Sarah Rindlaub

This morning, our friends, Sarah & John Rindlaub, along with our children, Katie & Kevin Laramore and their sons, Cutter and Boden, joined Ken and me for Easter brunch at our home.  It was fun to drag out and set up all the Easter decorations that I have used over the years including the Easter tree with the dozens of miniature bunny and egg decorations.

It was especially fun for me to hear Katie reminisce about past Easter celebrations and activities we shared when she was growing up.  Luckily, the Easter bunny did find our house once again this year and eggs were hidden around the pool area for Cutter to find.

Fresh berries with chocolate chip cream
Boden and Cutter Laramore

Katie Laramore with Boden and Easter Bunny
Cutter searches for Easter eggs

Katie and I decided that we wanted to try out a recipe that we had tasted at Chef Michael Chiarello’s Bottega restaurant in Napa Valley a couple of years ago called Green Eggs & Ham.  This recipe is well beyond anything that Dr. Seuss could ever have dreamt up! 

To give you an idea, it involves many steps including soft cooking eggs in their shell for 4-5 minutes followed by an ice bath and refrigeration for at least half an hour.  The egg shells are then carefully removed and the eggs are dredged in flour, then buttermilk and finally Panko bread crumbs and then deep fried for only 60-90 seconds to brown the coating.  Once the crust is brown and crispy, each egg was served atop an English muffin and sauteed pencil-thin asparagus with a drizzling of Cambazola and thyme sauce  with a sprinkling of crispy-fried prosciutto sprinkled over.  We garnished with a sprig of thyme.  Of course, when the egg was cut into by each guest, the yolk was still soft and ran over the asparagus and English muffin.  It was delicious and maybe even worth all the effort!

To round out the menu, we also served Fresh Mixed Berries with Chocolate Chip Cream, Roasted Potato Medley with Shallots, Garlic & Parsley, Baked Ham and warm Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls.  And of course there were chocolate eggs, jelly beans, and M&Ms for dessert!

Logan home at Estancia

On Sunday evening, following a windy game of golf at Estancia Club, (which I loved since I did get three pars!), Joan Cremin and I attended a beautiful party at the striking home of Vicki & Kent Logan located in Estancia.  The Logans own extensive art collections and it was a treat to see their Scottsdale collection.

As we walked into the party, we were able to see several of their outdoor sculptures including a whimsical Margarita Cabrera, John Deere Model #790 and Terracotta Warrior by Yue Min Jun.

Joan Cremin and Cathi Hatch

The home was really designed as a gallery to showcase their art and the art was fascinating and stunning including Gun by Andy Warhol, beautiful we love ya Leeds . . . by Damien Hirst. and several gorgeous-eyed portraits of teen-age boys by Rebecca Campbell including Unwritten: Willie, Unwritten: C.J. and Unwritten: Dylan.  A couple of the most memorable were two giant metallic-appearing larger than life-size figures by Thomas Schutte entitled Grosse Geister (Figure 11 and Figure 12). 

It was fun to see a few friends from Seattle including Rick & Joanie Fox and Pat and Donn Roberts, and meet some new people including Carole & Alvin Pearl, and Ellen & Howard Katz.

Margarita Cabrera John Deere Model #790

Nathan Mabry Amulet Let Sleeping Dogs
Thomas Houseago Rattlesnake Figure

Yue Min Jun Terracotta Warrior

Party at Frank Lloyd Wright’s U-Haul House

Lucia Renshaw, Bruce Colville, Joan Cremin

Tonight Joan Cremin, who is on the board, and I went to a party hosted by the Phoenix Art Museum at a home built in 1955 designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  It is currently owned by the U-Haul company; hence the name.  We followed directional signs to the valet parking for the “U-Haul House” which seemed a somewhat pedestrian name in relationship to the chic party that awaited us.

Honoree Ellen Katz with Joan Cremin

The party was to honor Ellen and Howard Katz for their generous support of the Phoenix Art Museum.  It was a perfect evening and much of the party was outside on the astro-turf lawn with a fantastic view of the desert.  We were able to tour the inside of the house which was decorated in the original decor including turquoise shag carpet, turquoise built-in divans in the living room accented with avocado green throw pillows.  The house is very long and linear with the feeling of being on a train or a small ship of some kind with bedroom after bedroom lined up along a long narrow hallway.

There were large concrete columns surrounding the home’s centerpiece, which is a 1,000 square foot indoor atrium open to the sky and desert with a striking fountain in the center.  According to the  welcome program which we received at the party, the home “is a prime example of Wright’s manipulation of heavy industrial materials to a light and appealing effect.”

Joan Cremin and Cathi Hatch

I had the opportunity to meet many of Joan’s friends and supporters of the Phoenix Art Museum including Lucia Renshaw & Bruce Colville, Sue & Bud Selig, Jim Ballinger, Ron Miller, Mary & Bill Way, Lila Harnett, Jean & Meryl Haber and a score of others.