Braised Pork with Cider and Tomatillos – Recipe


Fun Fact: I can guzzle a lightly chilled bottle of apple juice in one sitting.

Despite my love for apple juice, I never explored the world of ciders. It wasn’t until dating Leann that I started sipping the alcohol version of apple juice. With my limited exposure to the boozy fruit juice, I didn’t know about distinctions between styles of distillation or variations in the amount of sugar.

Leann and I escaped to Michigan for a quick trip before I started my new job. The area surrounding Holland, Michigan, offers the perfect amount of activities for a weekend. After a few Google searches for “Things to do in Holland” we compiled our own list. I’ll post our guide as soon as I can decide which pictures to share.

High on our list was visiting Virtue Cider in Fennville. They have a treasure trove of info on their site showing how cider is made. But I’ve never been one for reading. I’m more of a visual and experiential learner. Plus, it’s a real farm with pigs! So, Leann and I reached out to setup a tour (I highly suggest you do the same). It was a roaster of a day when we visited the farm. Thankfully, Virtue had plenty of beverages to curb the heat.
I’ll write more about the tour experience later, but while there, we chatted with the staff to learn about different ways to cook with cider. Did I mention they have pigs? And apples. Nearly a month later, Leann and I opened the mini growler of Percheron cider to braise pork loin. Continue reading Braised Pork with Cider and Tomatillos – Recipe

Tastes of Barcelona at Home


In Barcelona, they eat dinner late. That’s what all the guide books advised. Fearing that we wouldn’t be able to eat when our stomachs expected food, we shifted our lunch to later in the day during our exploration of Barcelona-by-foot last December.

One of my supreme joys when traveling is experiencing new food and flavors, the museums and cultural attractions are an added bonus. That joy is a stark contrast to my frugality and indecisiveness. Unlike some travelers, I don’t travel for the food, willing to spend whatever it costs to have the finest meal in each city. Instead, I wander the streets looking for restaurants that have the perfect balance of star ratings and dollar signs.

The Barcelona nightlife in December may not have been the zenith of the summer club scene, but the streets were still full of people enjoying food, drink and temperate weather. We stuck out as tourists largely for our sporting short sleeve shirts while locals donned winter coats and scarves to brave the frigid evening winter temps in the low 60s.

Early this summer I received a bottle of Beronia wine from the Rioja region. The Rioja region is a major wine producing region in Spain and worth exploring. The bottle sat on my shelf as I debated what to pair it with. After a few weekends of uninspired dinner creations, it was time to revisit the tastes of Barcelona and uncork the Crianza. That varietal was not one I knew. Continue reading Tastes of Barcelona at Home

It’s the Good Life at Ravinia

The Good Life with Astoria Prosecco |


This may come as a shock to some of my readers, but I had never been to Ravinia prior to last weekend. There are a few reasons why the outdoor musical oasis had eluded my patronage. Firstly, I had no idea of where it was or how close/far Highland Park was. Yes, I’m aware there are maps and these maps help show distance. The music I like hasn’t always aligned with the musical sensibilities (or lack thereof) of my friends. I am a mosquito magnet. I can procrastinate when it comes to concert tickets. All of these issues were wiped away when Leann surprised me with tickets to see a legend, Tony Bennett.

Backstory: In high school I hosted a jazz radio show. Mine was the only show that played jazz. Perhaps you can imagine the high esteem that this put me with my peers. The show had listenership upwards of 4-5 relatives depending on the day. One of the handful of calls I received from listeners in my three years hosting was from an older woman who wanted to give me her record collection. I gave her the station’s address and awaited the grandmother-load. Her records never came, which made me wonder if she died en route to my high school or just liked toying with young men who fancied syncopation.

Tony Bennett was on heavy rotation when I was a DJ. I grew up listening to Tony and purchased a few of his CDs once I had cash from working. He is beyond compare as one of the best. His only Chicago concert dates for the past several years have been Ravinia. The most recent dates were with Lady Gaga and I never pounced on tickets. Continue reading It’s the Good Life at Ravinia

Summer Garden Update 8/2

The tomatoes are cruising along and we have another zucchini on the vines. I’m looking forward to the tomatoes growing along the side of the house since the early girl tomatoes were diseased.

Harvesting Tomatoes – Garden Update

Harvesting tomatoes was the main reason behind starting a garden. After one plant was stricken with some sort of bacteria, getting to the final stage with one of the tomato plants was a huge personal victory. When harvesting tomatoes, you want to make sure the orb is red/not green. The cherry tomatoes turned more of a purple-ish hue. To pluck them off all you do is lightly twist the sphere and it should pop off without much effort.

Enjoy this week’s video!