There are days that not only seem perfect, but are perfect. Yesterday was one of them. Sun was out, air was cool(er), light angled just so, slicing through the air with a briskness that spoke quietly of ease. On those type of days all I require is to be near good people and good food and wine. Simple, and honest. Nourishment for soul and body.

You don’t know how good homemade tamales are? Never made any? Angela and I did yesterday. She did. I watched and observed. We joined in a tamalada at Sylvia’s. Sylvia Casares, AKA Enchilada Queen, shared her method with us, told us stories of her days spent working in a lab for the Mars corporation, how a stranger on a plane gave her the final push she needed to follow her dreams and how she opened her first restaurant and how it feels to now operate three and what she felt like when the bullet entered her abdomen and she knew she would not die in that way. Not that way.

A woman of taste and substance.

Sylvia Casares, a woman of taste and substance.


A pork butt and a guisado were cooking, their aromas filling the room. Masa was being mixed, husks were steaming. You know those scents? They have the ability to make one happy. The masa was delivered to our table and Angela and Jack and Sally set to making tamales. It was a tamalada, and Sylvia told us about her father and the recipes her grandmother passed down.

Angela makes a mean tamale.

Angela makes a mean tamale.


Masa is putty in their hands.

Masa is putty in their hands.

The day continued and Angela and I sat in the sun and drank some rosé and talked and watched people live their lives and go back and forth toward their happiness and desires.

Judy smiles at Brockhaus.

Judy smiles at Brockhaus.


Jack mesmerizes the Brockhaus table.

We had been invited to a dinner that evening by Russ and Judy, two people with whom Angela and I share a passion for food, wine, and travel. I was not aware that it was a 10-course meal with wine pairings, for 10, but I certainly did not mind when I discovered it was so. We had scallops and duck and foie gras mousse and some Catena and Hunt Cellars (a 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon that Russ had given Angela for her birthday). We spoke of empanadas and Brockhaus and heard a tale about a tasting of some 1945s. We toasted Russ and Judy and left the table happy and sated.


Duck sofrito …


A scallop is never a bad thing.

One final venue made the evening complete. Russ and Judy had never been to Camerata, so we took them there and shared a bottle of my favorite wine (favorite now and for about the past year). You can see a photo of the bottle at the beginning of the tale of a perfect day.