Cava / Jamon and Peas Fared Well in Debut

If you know me you know how I live. My life is nestled very comfortably on the receiving end of a beautiful relationship with my best friend. Not unlike Secretariat in his ’73 Belmont Stakes, she, too, moves like a tremendous machine. However her track isn’t The Big Sandy, it’s our kitchen.

Her name is Stacy and she has more cookbooks than anyone I know. Constantly trying new things, new dinners, appetizers, drinks, whatever strikes her fancy, if she comes across something new that causes her to raise an eyebrow, it’s usually on our book shelf within a week.

Her latest? Wine Food by Dana Frank and Andrea Slonecker (Lorena Jones Books).

It is a wine course in a cookbook for those of us with an interest in learning more about wine the best way there is: by drinking it. Their hook? Recipes that are not typically partnered with wines but deserve to be.

Frank is a sommelier and Slonecker a “wine loving recipe writer” who combined their expertise to give us nearly 70 wine and food combinations worth trying. Categories range from brunches, salads, picnics, cozy nights in and so much more.

Our first venture was from the “Prefunk” category. The wine, a Spanish sparkling white called Cava.

Made mostly in the NW region of Catalonia, it’s generally composed of the grapes macebeo, parellada and xarel-lo. Bubbly like Champagne but not as expensive. Both however are made the same way. The second fermentation – the one that makes the wine sparkling – occurs in the bottle itself.

Cava goes beautifully with Spanish ham. The Spanish jamon and Cava are, as the authors put it, “old friends.”

The ham is a bit gamey, but also salty and fatty and the authors believe it is the perfect compliment to Cava.

They weren’t wrong. They paired beautifully.

The Cava impressed Stacy more than it did me. She smelled baklava but didn’t feel the wine was sweet.

Me? The citrus and baked apples were all I smelled. Perhaps to those with a better nose they would have smelled the pastries (Stace did) and the honey. Stace caught a whiff of that also. But not me.

Along with the ciabatta bread (with a dash of olive oil), the jamon, prosciutto, Parmesan and machego cheeses was a spread put together with sweet peas, mint, lemon zest, salt, pepper, a bit of mancehgo cheese and lemon juice. Very refreshing and light.

Not to my particular liking as the mint played a more prominent role than I would have liked, although the refreshing aspect of the spread paired really well with the Cava; no doubt. Not the case with Stacy, however. She was really pleased with the sweet pea spread, putting it on toasted ciabatta and also water crackers.

Overall, a fun debut into our Wine Food adventures, with so many more to try. We are excited to try them all and although we have not yet decided what is on next week’s menu, we do have three bottles of wine suggested by the book to choose from.

Can’t wait to try something new again and to share it all here with you.

A 52-Year Old Bug Boy

It was unexpected, really. Getting bit by the horse racing bug again. In June I went to Kentucky to spend a three day weekend with two wonderful friends. One of those days were spent at Churchill downs. 

Two of my favorite humans, and me

I met both of these friends of mine at race tracks in Portland Oregon 17 years ago so there was already a horse racing connection here. When I got home at the end of that weekend not only was I invigorated and re-charged from time with amazing human beings, I found myself missing the grandeur and the thrill of horse racing.

Fast forward a couple of weeks to a weekend in July when my fiancé Stacy and I joined our neighbors Mike and Trish for a day at Monmouth Park. I spent some time working at Monmouth Park in the late 90s stood in front of the wire when Serena’s Song won the Haskell. That evening I had drinks with Bob and Beverly Lewis. I loved it then, and over time, slowly lost interest. I became disenchanted.

After spending time leaning on the fence of the walking ring, watching riders getting their instructions, the leg up, the walk around the ring and then out to the track. Well, it felt special again.

I got the bug again.


In one of those post parades we looked up and saw a female rider that we were not familiar with. Stacy went and plunked a couple of galleons on her and she rode  this 12-1 horse to victory like it was 9/5.  After she took a winner circle picture and weighed back in, we called to her and asked if she would take a picture. Kind and gracious, she immediately said yes. 

With no pretense and a smile as big and beautiful as the game we love, Ferrin Peterson smiled for the camera. On our way home we wanted to find out more about this rider we had never heard of. What we learned left us in shock.

Ferrin Peterson the jockey is also Dr. Ferrin  Peterson the equine veterinarian. 

I have been around horse racing for a long time. I cannot tell you a single solitary person that I’ve heard of who works for a living as a jockey and had an advanced degree. I certainly cannot name a single rider that is ever been referred to as Dr. before. 

Dr. Peterson and Stacy

I immediately have become fascinated by this person’s education, career path and the trajectory she is setting for herself. 

What a day.  It gave me goosebumps again. I cannot tell you the last time I got goosebumps at the racetrack racetrack but as my buddy says “If it gives you chills, it should be in your life.”

That’s some good advice right there. 

When I got home after the races I turned on the TV and watched the replays on YouTube. 

I went online and found the Saratoga Special newspaper from, downloaded their most recent additions and familiarized myself with some names I’ve known in this game for a long time. It was so much fun.

From childhood through into my early 30s I love thoroughbred horse racing with a passion. Then, for a myriad of reasons, I didn’t. That daily passion left me, leaving an interest only in the big days.

Well, after a couple of trips experiencing live racing again, that passion seems to be coming back slowly and surely.

I got the bug again.