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If you have ever tiled an area, you are familiar with spacers.  They hold the tiles in place until the cement sets.  Spacers ensure your tiles stay evenly separated from the others, so your rows don’t go off kilter.

We had the pleasure of sharing a great dinner last night with good friends, but these friends should come with a warning label:

WARNING:  Spacers are highly recommended when dining with this couple!

The food and the conversation are always superior.  Last night we started with some fantastic fall appetizers:  apricots with basil goat cheese and almonds (yum!), and date-mint chutney with Maytag blue cheese on crostini (wow!).  Both apps provided sweetness mixed with earthy flavors.  What a way to start a meal!

Of course to accompany the food, we had some – WAIT, WHAT?  We started with a wildly expensive high-end Belgian beer, Duchesse de Bourgogne.  This was a nice change of pace for our usual wine-loving crowd.  For me, beer is perfect on a summer day, after a round of golf (hopefully a good round, under 100…), just like chicken wings are perfect with football games on tv.  The Duchesse changes all that – she fit right in with the wines that followed, Castello Monaci’s 2011 Acante Fiano Salento, and Re Manfredi’s 2010 Bianco Basilicata.  How about a glass of seltzer now?

Dinner moved us into reds READ THE WARNING LABEL, CLAIRE, and a great meal:  lamb chops, skirt steak marinated in key lime juice and brown sugar, sautéed new potatoes with onions, and yellow, orange and red baby peppers stuffed with shrimp and tomatillo sauce.  Cilantro leaves and sriracha sauce dotted the top of the peppers.  Conversation was exuberant by this point.  A Solena Pinot Noir, a Summers Cabernet that is always perfect, and was that a Chianti thrown in there?

Insert spacers here, dear!

Someone obviously not in their right mind dragged out the limoncello.  There has to be some sweetness at the end of the meal, and as usual, I had forgotten to consider that factor.

No spacers?  Off kilter.

We sure did laugh a lot, though.

Disclaimers: we had a big crowd for dinner, and we had designated drivers who were responsible. All in all a good night, but the next time, I will insert spacers on a more regular basis.


About Claire Ziamandanis

Claire Ziamandanis is Professor of Spanish at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Over her 20 years at the college, she has been a champion for study abroad, establishing the first affiliation for Spanish students, and then working with the Study Abroad office to open the doors to students from other majors. Claire loves travel, food, wine and Spanish but not necessarily in that order!


  1. Thanks so much for featuring our recipe 🙂

  2. I love this! I’m always encouraging my mother to have a “spacer” (or two) in-between her glasses of wine. They make all the difference the next day.

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