Heart and Soul

Less expensive and far less hassle than flying, take a bus or subway to Manhattan’s West 116th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard for a taste of West Africa.  Visit the Malcolm Shabazz African market, a semi-enclosed area where vendors from African countries including Nigeria, Senegal, Gambia, Ghana, Mali and Kenya gather to sell their wares. The market, in business since 1994, is a riot of color, on tables and clothing racks; in tiny ‘shops’, and on the fabulous-looking, incredibly charming, vendors.

Look for bolts of African cloth, clothing for all sizes including kids, jewelry, baskets, African Black soap (reputedly great for the skin), shea butter, musical instruments and all kinds of decorative objects. I resisted the tempting clothes but succumbed to an irresistible bowl.

The market was founded by the Malcolm Shabazz Mosque after the street vendors were ‘removed’ from 125th Street.  Shabazz himself is a sad story: the grandson of civil rights activists Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, he was murdered in Mexico in 2013, aged twenty- eight. Prior to that he was arrested for many crimes, one of which was starting the fire that killed his grandmother, Betty.

You could also drop into the family-owned Urban Garden Center, 1640 Park Avenue, open every day, or take a peek at the Masjid Malcolm Shabazz, a Sunni Muslim mosque, at 102 West 116th.

If viewing and browsing and/or shopping leaves you in need of refreshment, drop into Amy Ruth’s, at 113 West 116th. Known for its outstanding chicken and waffles, (a combination I’ve never understood but maybe my Shreveport, LA-born grandfather might have), the restaurant features classic American soul food.

Amy Ruth Moore Bass was born in Alabama, had ten children and was a devout Christian and great cook who passed her secrets down. Her grandson opened Amy Ruth’s on Mother’s Day 1999 and it’s been going strong since.

A friend and I split the Barak Obama, (aka a quarter of a crisply fried chicken), selecting cole slaw and cheesy grits as our sides from a large list.  (The daily entrees all carry names: the Nate Robinson is BBQ ribs; the Ludacris is chicken wings and there are all manner of sides, salads, sandwiches and more.) When seated, a basket of excellent corn bread appears to keep hunger at bay. Amy Ruth’s has bare floors, lively drawings of famous people on the walls and a very helpful, friendly staff.

Margaret Pruden, the housekeeper who worked for us when my daughters were little, made fabulous fried chicken but her recipe went to the grave with her. Here is a dish that goes well with fried chicken or almost anything else.

Mango Salsa from Peggy T.

 1 mango, not too ripe

1 medium red onion

1 red pepper

1 fresh jalapeño

1 bunch scallions

4-5 fresh squeezed limes

(3 garlic cloves) (not for me)

Kosher salt

Peel mango and slice parallel to remove the seed. Cut mango, onion, pepper, jalepeno and scallions into small dice and combine. Squeeze lime juice over all, sprinkle with 1 tsp. Salt and taste. Correct if necessary. Swoon.

Amy Ruth’s serves lemonade, coffee, tea, water, wine and beer. Iced tea, often served sweetened in the south, is a standard accompaniment to soul food. Pick your poison.

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Personages of Note

Not only am I poor at spotting celebrities, I’m also rotten at recognizing people I know. My excuse used to be poor vision but, in truth, think I’m simply face- blind.

Years ago I was with my mother in a fancy store, carrying a large box. Getting off the elevator, box at the forefront, I would have rammed into another woman if my mother hadn’t yanked me back in time.

Years ago I was with my mother in a fancy store, carrying a large box. Getting off the elevator, box at the forefront, I would have rammed into another woman if my mother hadn’t yanked me back in time.

“That’s Jackie Kennedy,” she hissed. “You missed her by inches.”

“Once I nodded to a man on the street thinking we had met at a dinner party. Later I realized the man was Elliot Gould, not a new acquaintance. (Five told stars for being polite minus  five deleted  due to lack of common sense.)

Then there was the time I tussled for a taxi with a woman who finally shrugged and let me take the cab. The driver informed me I had been wrestling with Sigourney Weaver.

My inability to recognize faces was made even worse when COVID was rampant and faces were masked.  At least that was a bit of an excuse!

 

 

 

On the subject of celebrities, the following is said to have been what Jennifer Aniston ate for lunch every day

during her ten years on the set of Friends. I was introduced to this recipe by a recent houseguest who makes a large amount early in the week to use as a base for other meals. You could add chicken, tuna, croutons, turkey (or regular ) bacon broccoli, chopped peppers, other cooked veg or potato hunks—as you can see, the permutations are endless.

 

Salad Jennifer Aniston

Salad Jennifer Aniston

 

1 cup quinoa, uncooked (or use bulgur wheat)

2 cups water (or chicken broth)

1 cup cucumber, chopped (I omitted)

1/2 cup parsley, chopped (use mini-chop if you have one)

1/2 cup mint, chopped (also omitted as I don’t like mint in my salad)

1/3 cup red onion, chopped

1/2 cup roasted and salted pistachios, chopped (buy them already shelled)

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, (aka garbanzos), drained and rinsed

About 5-6 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt, to taste

Ground pepper, to taste

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

(Purists combine the lemon juice with olive oil making more of a dressing. I found lemon juice alone fine)

Cook the quinoa or bulgur according to package directions. Let it sit about fifteen minutes; fluff with a fork.

Put all the other ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. When the fifteen minutes are up combine the two. Voila.

To keep the celeb theme going you could accompany the salad with a drink like an Arnold Palmer, (half iced tea; half lemonade); a Shirley Temple, (ginger ale with splash of grenadine and a maraschino cherry if you have these old-timey items) or a Bloody Mary (vodka and tomato juice laced with Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, black pepper, celery salt and lemon juice, the whole garnished with a celery stick. Or stick to H20, bubbly or not. I may not recognize faces but acknowledge all these beverages.

While you eat enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame.

 

 

 

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¡Hola Oaxaca!

 

Oaxaca is both a state that encompasses several beach areas and the city that is the state’s capital. I spent the last two weeks of February in the city of Oaxaca, (technically Oaxaca de Juárez, population just over 300,000.) The place is filled with color and music, wonderful food, museums and art galleries. Although I’ve been to this delightful city several times before, this was my first time going to Xochimilco (“Sosheemilco”) and Jalatlaco (“Halalatco”), two of the oldest neighborhoods or barrios. Both are pretty easy walks from the central area.

Xochimilto is marked by the arches of the San Felipe Aqueduct, built during the mid eighteenth century when it began bringing water to the city.

Remains of aqueduct

This ended in 1940; today tankers marked Aqua Purificado (clean water) are periodically hooked up to cisterns in homes, hotels and restaurants to provide water that’s safe to drink.   (In two weeks of eating, we enjoyed all kinds of food including salads and neither of us got sick. However, no one—even a local– drinks water from the tap.)

With Rodolpho, a Guru Guide, (read free walking tour guide, tip generously at the end), we explored the barrio, i.e., a neighborhood. This barrio has old-world cobbled streets and many textile workshops including one where we watched a man weaving a bedspread on a big loom. It takes great strength as the loom is heavy.

The aqueduct arches are more than just historic; entrances to homes are built under them; per Rodolpho, some of the living spaces are pretty grand.

Wall mural in Jatlalaco

Jatlalaco, originally a Zapotec village, also has cobbled streets, many with walls bursting with street art. Between the wall murals and the paper cutouts hung overhead the whole area is wildly colorful. There are many coffee shops, cafes, and small boutiques selling art, clothing and other goodies including ice cream. Oaxacans, (and other Mexicans), take their ice cream seriously whether it’s helados, much like American ice cream, or nieves which means snow and is something like our sorbet but icier.

Tuna  nieves has nothing to do with the fish –it has a fruity taste

We ate esquitos from a street vendor –it can be served as a sort of Mexican corn salad — and is a snap to make using corn cut off the cob or defrosted corn kernels (of which the Oaxacans would not approve.)

Elotes as Salad for six or so

 

 

2 Tbls neutral oil (veg or safflower or canola)

6 cups fresh corn kernels (from 6 to 7 ears fresh corn)

Kosher salt and black pepper

6 tablespoons mayonnaise

6 tablespoons sour cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish (I don’t like cilantro so I omit this)

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving

1 cup Cotija cheese (I use feta which is pretty similar)

Ancho chile powder (or chipotle or cayenne), for sprinkling

In a large heavy skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add corn, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is nicely charred and softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for 2 minutes. (This helps the corn pick up more char and smoky flavor.)

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, crema, cilantro and lime juice; season with salt and pepper. Reserve ¼ cup sauce in a small bowl for drizzling.

Add seared corn to the large bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Transfer to a large serving platter, spreading corn mixture in an even layer. Drizzle with the reserved sauce, and sprinkle generously with cheese and chile powder.

Wear something colorful. Serve with margaritas or beer. Laugh at this photo of me eating elotes walking along the street. Ole!

 

 

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These Boots Aren’t Made for Walkin’

To wind up 2022, a friend and I went to Shoes: Anatomy, Identity, Magic at the Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) (it closed December 31.)  Contrary to how many women feel, I hate shoes as most are supremely uncomfortable. I’d rather shop for bathing suits than shoes. But, I’m digressing…

The exhibit featured over 300 pairs of shoes, boots, sandals, and sneakers, many pretty terrific if you look at shoes as objects of style rather than comfort or utility. Take this delightful pair: no need for open carry, just strut.

Or these by Tod Oldham which aren’t quite as painful as they look as the ‘barbed wire’ running up the leg is made of leather, not metal

Several pairs of black high boots were described as ‘dominatrix’—a great cross-marketing opportunity with masks, corsets, whips and chains. Shoes for little feet, (as in kids and from earlier eras when feet trended small), are included as well as footwear for men.

Which little piggy stays home?

In the 1940s, shoe stores routinely fluoroscope kids’ feet exposing them to radiation, a health hazard not only for the X-rayed children but even more so for the salespeople who used the machines. The process began to be banned in the 50s.

High heels were first worn by Persian men in the 10th century as a way for calvary riders keep their shoes in their stirrups.  Today many women happily risk chronic knee and back pain, hip problems and hammertoes to wear stilettos as—per various studies– it makes them feel sexier and empowered. (Or wear armor/ carry a blowtorch.)

The show had plenty of platform shoes as well as sneakers such as Nike ‘Air Jordans’ from 1985. As Cinderella is supposed to have said, “One pair of shoes can change your life.”

And now we have: Shoestring Potatoes (recipe courtesy of Ina Garten)

Peanut or canola oil

2 large Idaho potatoes, peeled

Sea or Kosher salt

How To:

Preheat the oven to 350. Pour at least 1-inch of oil into a deep pot and heat it to 350

Slice potatoes into thin matchsticks with a vegetable slicer or mandoline, (be careful to not cut yourself). Drop potatoes into a bowl of cold water as you cut. Drain potatoes and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Drop potatoes in batches into the hot oil and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the pot with a wire basket skimmer or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest of the potatoes.

Need something to drink with your potatoes? Pour your beverage (ideally champagne) into a shoe. Besides being the essence of a silly romantic gesture, over the years this has been done as a hazing punishment or to bring good luck.

Drinking from a shoe is popular in Australia where it’s called doing a shoey.  Ah, those madcap Aussies!

 

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Favorite Haunts of Glasgow’s Favorite Son: Charles Rennie Macintosh

Just published in GoNomad:

 

Favorite Haunts of Glasgow’s Design Genius Mackintosh

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Old Lace–No Arsenic

The exhibit, Threads of Power at the Bard Graduate Center on NYC’s upper West Side, closes January 1, 2023 so if you have any interest in lace, get there ASAP. Even if you don’t know a bobbin from a pall, you’ll likely find it interesting. The show occupies four floors of the building and includes over 150 examples of lace from Switzerland’s Textilmuseum St. Gallen, a town in the country’s northeast.

Lacemaking developed in Europe during the sixteenth century. First made by aristocratic women for themselves, making lace then became a cottage industry produced by poorly paid women, many of whom damaged their eyesight in service to their trade.

The show includes lace for ladies and gentlemen like this collar which required hours of starching and pressing; paintings, clothing (secular and for the church) and videos of techniques, one of which  made my eyes twitch. Handmade lace is either needle or bobbin lace – needle is made with a single thread while bobbin is produced by manipulating multiple threads wound on bobbins. (None of it is easy to do especially for those of us whose sewing is confined to reattaching a button.)

By the 19th century, St. Gallen was leading the way in machine-made lace, aka “chemical lace,” or guipure.  Machines embroidered lace motifs onto a woven ground which was then dissolved using an acidic treatment. The exhibit offers many haute couture examples of contemporary clothing made of guipure including the Isabel Toledo-designed coat and dress worn by Michelle Obama at the 2009 presidential inauguration. There are also photos of well-dressed, well-heeled modern women in outfits featuring lace.

Even better is a large portrait of by a portrait of Marie Rinteau, great-grandmother of writer George Sand, seated at her dressing table, painted by François Hubert Drouais in 1761. The painting is gorgeous as is her display of magnificent lace.

Marie Rinteau, called Mademoiselle de Verrières. Portrait is in Metropolitan Museum of Art

Several years ago I visited Burrano, an island near Venice known for lace making.   Besides a museum devoted to lace, there were a great many shops selling lace, some with resident lacemakers who were happy to show off their skills while encouraging shopping. (Full disclosure: I caved and bought a small piece with the rationale that it would highly packable.)

Easier to make than actual lace, here are Lace Cookies:

6 tbsp unsalted butter

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and milk. Cook over low heat, stirring regularly, until butter and sugar have melted.

Once butter and sugar are melted, turn heat up to medium and cook mixture just until it begins to boil.

Remove from heat and add vanilla extract, both flours and salt, stirring until completely combined.

Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then drop by half a tablespoon onto prepared cookie sheet. Space cookies about 2-3 inches apart as cookies spread while baking.

Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the cookies are golden in color. Keep an eye on them towards the end of baking because they can burn quickly.

Cool cookies 3-4 minutes or until firm enough to move, then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Stored in an airtight container they will keep for about a week if you don’t eat them all. Santa might love a few.

 

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Depot, yes. Not very homey.

My husband could fix anything—dishwashers, radios, bicycles. To do this he accumulated a lot of tools including plenty of nuts, bolts and screws which he stored in round, lidded, plastic film containers (probably collector’s items today.)

After he died I gave most of his stash to people I thought would use them but kept some items including picture hangers and the necessary nails.

 

Recently I framed a photograph of my paternal grandmother with my father, about age three, and his brother, four years his senior.

My grandmother with my father, center, and his brother

When I went to hang it, I discovered I was out of nails forcing me to venture to the hardware giant. (Yes, a few other hardware stores are still around but I had other reasons to be in the HD ‘hood.)

Small digression: Joel adored Home Depot and we spent many anniversaries in the Bennington, Vermont store so he could search for an item he absolutely had to acquire. I wasn’t a great sport about this but when I could stand it no longer escaped outside to admire the mountains.

My recent solo trip was to the HD on Manhattan’s East Side. What seemed peculiar was the dearth of nails. Entire aisles were devoted to screws of every size and shape but nails were in short supply. I asked many salespeople but no one had a clue as to where the nails hung out. Finally I located the meager offerings and bought what I needed but it wasn’t easy or quick. Maybe New York City builders and DIYers don’t use nails?

This recipe is for a Rusty Nail, a cocktail no one drinks anymore. Assuming you have Scotch and Drambuie it would be the perfect thing to bring (cleverly concealed) to Home Depot and sip as you meander the endless aisles. The drink is said to have originated at the 21 Club and been popular in the late sixties and into the seventies.

Rusty Nail Cocktail

Pour 1 ½ ounces Scotch and ¾ ounce of Drambuie into what is quaintly called a “mixing glass” along with ice (thereby diluting the drink which seems pointless.) Strain, (with a cocktail strainer, something else you likely do not own), into a tall glass and add – no kidding—one large ice cube.
Bottoms up- Drambuie down!

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Art in the ‘Hood

 

Saturday, October 22nd, was one of those days of perfect New York fall weather—sunny and warm but not hot.  Gorgeous weather was good for the Madison Avenue Fall Gallery Walk, an event in which many art galleries, (typically open on Saturdays anyway), go the extra mile offering talks and sometimes light refreshment a la cookies or other small treats. Outside the participating galleries were displays of dark pink and blue balloons.

Participating galleries were between 57th and 83rd streets, mostly not on Madison Avenue but on the side streets. I went to several close to home starting with Les Enluminures, 23 East 7 3rd Street, a gallery that began in Paris and has branches in NYC and Chicago. This gallery specializes in medieval manuscripts and jewelry with a case of rings from the first through the twentieth century. If you have a lot of spare change you might like this ring with a rare ‘black’ diamond.   Or, maybe your taste runs more to a Book of Hours like this one from Rouen, France, c. 1450–1460.

 

 

 

 

 

Lois Wagner Fine Arts, 15 East 71st , showed work of Timothy J. Clark whose paintings I had recently seen at The Hispanic Society (along with Mr. Clark in person who was giving a tour there.) Clark paints in watercolor which interests me as I dabble in the same medium (and there the resemblance ends.) He paints interiors, urban landscapes and portraits; I especially like his bicycles.

 

Next onto Hauser & Wirth at 32 East 69th Street to see paintings by Lorna Simpson, known for making large works that blend photographs and text. In addition to photography, Simpson makes sculpture, drawings, collage, felt and films. Born in Brooklyn and famous since the 1980s, “Simpson uses the figure to examine the ways in which gender and culture shape the interactions, relationships and experiences of our lives in contemporary America. “ (Note: not my language—it’s art-speak from her website: https://lsimpsonstudio.com)

I dashed into the Craig F. Starr Gallery, 5 East 73rd Street, which wasn’t an official part of the Gallery Walk as they were busy  hanging an upcoming show, mostly because I had briefly met Craig Starr through a friend’s introduction. This gallery shows work by a host of luminaries including Richard Sera, Robert Rauschenberg, Barnett Newman, Myron Stout, Jasper Johns and others. The new show here  opens early November.

Two Wagner Works at gallery

My final stop was to see works by Merrill Wagner at David Zwimer, 34 East 69th Street. Wagner works with “a variety of conventional and unconventional supports—ranging from canvas and paper to slate, stone, steel, and Plexiglas” with many examples on view. Her work is incredibly varied, colorful and often fun.

Needing a little sustenance I went home for lunch.

From art to artichoke (one of my favorite foods but not part of my meal). This is an easy thing to serve with drinks:

Artichoke Dip (courtesy Allrecipes)

1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix artichoke hearts, mayonnaise, and Parmesan cheese in a bowl until well combined. Spread mixture in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven until bubbly and golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Serve with crackers, pita chips or what you will.

If you know it, sing Never, Never Be an Artist from the musical Can-Can by Cole Porter (another fave.) If you never heard of the song, try this:

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=Never+Never+Be+an+Artist+by+Cole+Porter#fpstate=ive&vld=cid:53f81383,vid:eVv0nAF9RuM

 

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George Washington Slept (Near) Here

by Emnuel Leutze who depicted the flag incorrectly

George Washington and his troops went from Bucks County, PA across the Delaware River en route to take Trenton, NJ—the battle that turned the tide in the War of Independence.

My stay in Bucks County was less historic and a lot more fun. For the last two weeks of August through Labor Day weekend I rented one of the most enchanting houses anywhere, literally in the treetops overlooking the (very dry) Delaware Canal.  The incredibly well-equipped house is laden with adorable features: the head of a rake repurposed as a wine glass holder; a frieze of frog tiles in the upstairs bathroom; a vintage oven (and contemporary microwave); every game every heard of; numerous outdoor spaces for reading, eating, grilling or whatever else appeals and abundant charm in every room.

First I had single guests. Then both daughters– one with partner, the other with husband– came for the last weekend (one set stayed elsewhere nearby) during which we trooped around delightful Frenchtown, hiked Goat Hill for a spectacular Delaware River view, ate, drank and had a wonderful time.

The house, which I found on VRBO, (AirBnB’s cousin), also comes with fabulous hosts who kindly answered my many questions when settling in. House info here: https://abnb.me/DQARSo2W6sb and also https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p4463590?uni_id=5051062

Full disclosure: the house has an, um, challenging driveway which I managed to master two days before I departed. However, if your inner Mario Andretti is otherwise engaged you can park partway up the driveway or snuggle into the road below.

There are many good restaurants in the area.  I especially liked the Frenchtown Café and Caleb’s American Kitchen, a terrific BYOB in nearby Lahaska, coincidentally owned by a friend’s son.

With friends or solo I toured Pearl Buck’s house;

Ms. Buck’s typewriter; note photo of her and Eleanor Roosevelt on right

visited Doylestown, land of old buildings and antique dealers, went to a polo match and checked out New Hope (hot, crowded and a tad tacky although we had a lovely lunch overlooking the river.) I’d love to return to the house and go tubing or kayaking especially if the Delaware has more water. It was an altogether wonderful stay.

This recipe was produced by one of my guests who is vegetarian. It was delicious, entirely flexible and very helpful when trying to use up stuff in fridge.

Bucks County Veggie Stir Fry (recipe courtesy Bob Scherzer)

Swiss chard- small bunch

2 ½ small zucchini and yellow squash (mostly zuc)

½ onion

‘Handful’ of string beans

3 peppers (one was banana i.e., hot but any kind will work. Ours were home grown so smallish.)

2 smallish carrots

Can water chestnuts drained

Handful fresh parsley chopped

Handful fresh oregano chopped

Olive oil

Sesame oil- dash

Soy sauce (reduced sodium if you have)

Use what you have on hand. We cooked in a a large sauté pan.

Chop veg into pieces. Heat roughly 2 Tbls. olive oil in pan (amount depends on amount of veg—you can always add a little more.) Add dash of sesame oil—again, start small, add.

Cook over medium heat stirring as needed until veg are fairly tender with some snap. When not stirring cover with pan lid. Add water as needed to keep veg from burning.  Add soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste.

When cooked to your liking, serve over rice or pasta; we used fettuccini. Pass extra soy sauce for those who want to amp it up.

We drank white wine, iced tea and water from the local spring which is wonderful.

Background music for dinner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_muFwwTSMs

 

 

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The Heather on the Hill

The middle week of my Scottish caper was spent in the Inner Hebrides, the area where a great deal of Scottish Gaelic literature and music began. At each of our four stops my travel companion and I usually had at least a two-night stay with ample time to explore. The Inner Hebrides is a lovely area in many ways and probably truly terrific for campers, hikers, bird watchers and other nature buffs.

Once off the Jacobite Steam Train from Glasgow, we were driven to Spean Bridge to our guest house, Old Pines, where we had an excellent multi-course dinner. The house was very comfortable with books to browse, good beds and a terrific view of Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain

Ben Nevis (which I did not climb)

The next day we went to Portree, capital of Skye, for a full day tour with Donald,  a guide with a heavy—to me, almost unintelligible– brogue. That day was one of few when it rained almost the entire time. Donald drove us and four others to various landmarks including the large rock formations known as the Old Man of Storr, (which supposedly looks like a giant lying down), and the Stallion’s Head. Both reminded me of when I cruised China’s Yangtze River with guides pointing out “sights” on the cliffs alongside the boat that they described as “Lions’ Mane” or “Three Galloping Horses.” Both Chinese and Scottish sights require a fair amount of imagination. Later we clambered around the Fairy Pools and Fairy Glen—more rocks some with cliffs—and saw Loch Dunvegan and Dunvegan Castle.

After that came Inverness where the server at a lovely restaurant told us they “only serve lamb in the winter months.” Peculiar, we thought as Scotland is sheep city. Later we heard that many eating places throughout the area serve lamb year ‘round. Inverness is home to Leaky’s, a wonderful second-hand bookshop with a trecherous flight of circular stairs

Leakey’s Bookshop up top

worth climbing to see the stained glass windows up top. At a dinner here I encountered samphire, aka sea beans, which are a pretty, greenish vegetable with very little taste.

At Pitlochry, a cute albeit somewhat touristy town, we stayed at a particularly terrific guest house run by a very welcoming couple.  Going to dinner that night we walked in pouring rain, (again a rarity as most of our trip was in warm, sunny weather, unusual in Scotland), past the famed salmon ladder to a restaurant in a stone building dating from 1650. The building is wonderful; the dining badly hampered by a lack of staff as Scotland has been hit by the same labor shortage as every other place.

The following day we visited Blair Atholl Castle where anything that could be made of deer antlers, i.e., a chair, light fixture, wall décor —is. Victoria and Prince Albert once stayed here for several weeks and afterwards allowed the then-current Lord to form a personal army.

After touring the castle we explored the fabulous gardens, one with gigantic fir trees almost as massive as California redwoods. In one of the castle’s huge fields we counted hundreds of Boy and Girl Scout tents housing kids on a weekend bivouac.  I did not envy them or their leaders. We hit a warm spell; typically, these Scouts would be thigh-deep in mud.

                                                 Scottish Smoked Salmon

OK folks: a recipe anyone can pull off.  Buy some good smoked salmon which should be cut thin. Invest in good dark bread and a lemon. Oh, and some capers if you like them. Chopped onion if that’s your thing. Lay salmon, bread, lemon wedges, capers and onion if using on a big plate, hand around napkins and watch your treat be lapped up.

I serve this with drinks of any kind- ginger beer to Prosecco, as it’s a never fail. If you know Speed Bonnie Boat sing it. If not, here’s the link. In Scotland Bonnie Prince Charlie is referenced repeatedly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHz_ypPDnrU\

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