Archive | January, 2012

Day 14 and 15 New Orleans, Louisiana – Food

26 Jan

We tired out a new sushi place yesterday.  The sushi was delicious, and then I got sick.  Is it bad that I actually want to go back and try it one more time?  Anywho, I didn’t post yesterday about the food we had in New Orleans because food was the last thing I wanted to see.

Today is a different day though, as I have already stuffed my face with a plate of red sauce pasta, sun dried tomatoes, and capers. Bring on the food! And some drinks too.

I had a list of restaurants that I wanted to try out.  Luis had no input, he was just along for the food ride. Even though we went during the slow season, many of the places were booked or overbooked, like Bayona. Still upset that we didn’t get to try as many places as I had hoped for.

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We tired our best to experience authentic cajun cuisine and stayed away from the burger, french fry, and nacho places.

Our first stop Royal House Oyster Bar on Royal Street.

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We had crab claws sautéed in a lemon garlic butter sauce, along with crab bisque and french onion soup (soups not pictured).  Luis still talks about this dish.  I guess I will have to learn to make it.   It was a good dish to kick off our first meal on our first visit to New Orleans.

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This place had all sorts of oyster plates, and for a good price, which made me really wish I liked oysters.  I have tired them many times, all different kinds of ways, and I can’t.  It’s one of the only things I do not like to eat, but I keep trying.

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 I really love how most of the restaurants had huge doorways throughout the building so you can sit outside, but your really inside, and either people watch or just enjoy the weather.

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Our plan was to have small plates and move onto the next place, but then the strangest thing happened. As we walked around the blocks to the next stop, we realized we were full.  Instead we found a spot to sit, have a drink, and listened to music from way before we were born.

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Of course, I had to pick up a box of pralines for dessert when we got back to our hotel.

The next day, we started off our French Quarter wanderlust with a spicy Bloody Mary, garnished with pickled green beans.  New Orleans had some of the best Bloody Mary’s I have ever had.

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Soon after we came across Café Du Monde for beignets and iced coffee as an afternoon snack.  I dare you to come out of there without having powered sugar on your shirt or pants!

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A lady behind us was complaining about the price, but for about $6.00 (what we spent) I thought it was great.

Later in the day we went over to the Garden District to try out a restaurant called Cochon (which means pig in French) that locals were raving about on a blog that I found.

The first thing I must say is… I would take another 5 hour drive just to eat at this place again.  Not only are the servers very enthusiastic to explain what  the Chefs have prepared, which is refreshing by the way, but everything is fresh and local, and you could tell that the Chefs and cooks take their time and put lots of love and care into their creations.

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I love hand crafted drinks with mixes that I have never thought would go together.  Luis had a drink called The Swinekiller, made with gin, rhubarb bitters, and limeade.  I had The Trotter Jennings, with vodka, Prosecco, St. Germain, lemon juice, mint, and plum bitters.

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Fried alligator with chili garlic aioli.

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The waiter sold us on this dish, and I am happy that he did.  It is braised pork cheeks (pork cheeks are my favorite by the way) with sauerkraut potato cakes, applesauce and goat feta. Amazing.

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Fried boudin with pickled peppers.  I really enjoyed Cochon’s version of boudin.  Not as spicy as other boudin, and really clean and full of flavor.

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As we were leaving New Orleans, we stopped into Don’s Specialty Meats in Lafayette for one last plate of boudin and cracklin.  We have a famous bar and grill up the street from where we live that was featured on that TV show; Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri that has awesome boudin and armadillo eggs.  I will have to post about it later.  This boudin had a kick and was really good.

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Good thing we bought some bourbon and praline coated pecans at Evan’s Creole Candy Factory before we left to help cool down our mouth from the boudin.

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This weekend Luis and I are taking it easy and staying in, or maybe we will go fishing.  Something relaxing, no driving!

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Day 15 Slidell, Louisiana – Honey Island Swamp

24 Jan

While we were staying in Slidell, we decided to take a ride on a boat through the swamp.  This was my whole reason for coming back to Louisiana.  I wanted to see the difference between the swamps in Florida and Louisiana, and Luis’ front yard, the Everglades.

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We picked Cajun Encounters, which was only 15 minutes from our hotel. Our guide was named Bishop. He was extremely qualified with a college degree in biology, born and raised in Louisiana, his family owned shrimping boats as well as a pet store, and he had the best jokes!  Okay, well, that last one is a lie.  His jokes were corny, but they made me laugh. My favorite story of his was the best pet he ever owned, a rat!  Because a rat won’t break out of his cage and fly from curtain to curtain in the house at 3 o’clock in the morning like his flying squirrel did.  As he said; “you just gotta get over the fact that it is a rat”.  I have a cousin who would agree with him.

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This time of the year only small alligators are out, and we saw lots of them.  I didn’t take any pictures of them, because I am from Miami.  With Luis and where he lives, we saw them everyday.  Luis even had to catch a few and sometimes their babies too, and relocate them.  I wanted to keep the babies, but darn it, they grow.  I wanted to see the Cypress tress with the moss hanging down to the water, and that is what I got!

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Amazing.

I love the reflections on the water.

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My favorite though, the Cypress knees.

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Bishop also took us through Indian Village.  Homes that are only accessible by boat.  It was there that I was shocked to see boats that had been relocated by Katrina.  We were told FEMA had done an amazing job cleaning up the area, but some things could not be moved since someone owned them.

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Speaking of swamps.  I love the drive from Texas to New Orleans.  It’s about five hours, but I really enjoyed driving over those long bridges I talked about before.   This time around I was able to stop and snap a few pictures.

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Luis checking in between the swamp weeds.  Little frogs were jumping everywhere.

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And this view is of Irish Bayou, a bridge heading towards the French Quarter in New Orleans.

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Until tomorrow, the last and final post of New Orleans, and it’s about the food!  Of course.

Day 14 and 15 New Orleans, Louisiana – Architecture

23 Jan

I am feeling the love.

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They say Paris is the city for love, but this past weekend New Orleans was all I needed.

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I am not sure if it’s because he has given me the life I have always wanted as a child.  A life of traveling and living in multiple places, experiencing different cultures, exploring cities and towns, or the fact that I have walked aimlessly through this city, stopping every two feet to take a dozen pictures, and he didn’t get upset (that was the longest sentence ever).  Instead he smiled.

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I love him more and more everyday, and sometimes I wonder if that will stop.  Until then, I will continue to respect, encourage, and love him.

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We listened to a band that played music from the 40’s while eating jambalaya at the Musical Legends Park on Bourbon Street.

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Beautiful wrought iron.

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Jackson Square artists.

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The Crescent City Connection twin bridges over the Mississippi River.

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Listened to funny mountain music while sitting on the steps of a courthouse until a wedding procession started to drown them out.

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Our first steps into the French Quarter, Luis wasn’t sure if New Orleans was his kind of place.  It smells, it’s dirty, and it is full of crazies.   After finding a nice place to sit and watch the people passing by, he began to see the beauty of the city.  Either that or it was his drink kicking in.

To me, it felt like a dirtier, crazier version of Key West.   Outside of the wild Bourbon street, all the others streets are tame.  You can look around and see all the details the city has.  I loved it all.

I gotta convince my buddies back home to take a drive to New Orleans and meet Luis and I there for a weekend of fun.  Hey guys, it’s the same driving time as Atlanta (hint, hint)!!

Until tomorrow, swamps!

This Week in Yummies

19 Jan

We have been eating out on the weekends as a little break for me since I have been making our dinners during the weekday.  I also make Luis his lunch for work after dinner during the weekdays.  He has loved it, and has told me how excited he gets to see what I have packed for him.  So adorable.

I have learned that I am a home body, and don’t mind staying home all day.  Every now and then I stop and think about the fact that we have to leave here in April, and it gets me sad.

Enjoy photos of some of the yummy meals I have made lately.

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Baked chickpea cakes on a caesar salad. These would be perfect for a picnic or as a snack on a road trip.

One night we checked out a local gourmet cupcake place that is located about two blocks away from our place, called Delesandri’s Gourmet Cupcakes.

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Caramel delight was our favorite.

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Vanilla bean was good, but not a favorite.

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Lastly, a mocha latte expresso cupcake.  These were some of the best cupcakes I have ever eaten.  Better than any gourmet cupcake place I have tired in Miami.  Sorry Miami, but this place rocks!

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The picture doesn’t do it justice.  This is one of my favorite pasta meals.  Cheese tortellini with sun dried tomatoes, capers, and chicken with a balsamic glaze.   The salad next to it is another favorite of mine; green salad with apples, oranges, and ginger dressing.  Pears and cherries are also good with it, but really any fruit is good.

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My version of my favorite India dish, tikka masala.  I use to make this a lot when I was a vegan a few years back.  My vegan diet only lasted three months, but I alway think about revisiting the diet again.

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Love all the flavor and spice this dish has, and it’s very comforting.

After our workout session one night, Luis and I were craving sweets.  I made Nutella turnovers, or empanadas as Luis calls them.

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I added my grandmothers homemade strawberry jam to some of the Nutella turnovers.  To know which ones were plain and which ones I added jam to, I cut little slits on the top.

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Of course I had to make a heart filled one for Luis.  This was his first time trying Nutella, and I think he is in love.

Day 10 in Houston, Texas

16 Jan

We took a trip to Houston today and walked around Hermann Park and decided to wander through the Houston Zoo, which is on my things to do while in texas list.  The Zoo is part of the Hermann Park area along with the Museum District, Miller Outdoor Theatre, and Japanese Garden.

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A root beer float being sold at a Zoo? Yes, please!

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We thought the Zoo was small, but once we were inside it was a pretty decent size.  They had a huge variety of everything.  My favorite area was the monkeys.  They had so many different types of monkeys and all of  the exhibits were near each other, which was neat to just walk through endless monkey exhibits.  Let’s face it, monkeys are the most entertaining to watch besides the otters.

After the zoo we continued to walk around the Hermann Park and discovered the Japanese Garden.

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We definitely will be going back to the Hermann Park area to explore the Garden Center and the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Afterwards we accidently found a really cool, and probably our new favorite area in Houston called Rice Village, also known as The Village.  The area is just two blocks from Rice University and has boatloads of unique shops, bouquets, and restaurants.   We really wanted to have India, but they weren’t open until later so we decided to have Thai at Thai Village, which was right next door to the India restaurant.

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Spicy clear noodle salad with beef.

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I had the tofu claypot with ginger sauce.  I loved every bite.

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Luis had that plate above, which was so spicy he actually couldn’t finish eating it.  Did you read that correctly?  Yes, Luis, who loves spicy, burn your mouth dishes, the guy who usually asks the waiter to make his dish extra spicy could not eat his dish because it was too spicy.  You could tell from the picture that it is spicy just from looking at the color of the sauce.  It’s almost a dark brown color instead of a bright red that chili sauce is supposed to be.  The dish had a good sweet flavor, but I couldn’t even finish what I had on my spoon.  Good thing I really liked my ginger dish.

After dinner we headed to Croissant Brioche, a french bakery that we saw when we first entered the Rice Village area for a dessert.  The bakery was to close at 5:00 p.m., but luckily it was still open at 5:45 so we could run in and grab a piece of cake before they officially closed.  We choose the orange chocolate mousse, which of course was amazing.  I would like to return soon for breakfast.

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Even with the clouds and the 45° temperature, it was another great day.   I am sad that Luis has to go to work tomorrow, but looking forward to his three day weekend coming up.

Day 9 in Texas – Parks, Food, and Stars

15 Jan

With barely any clouds in the sky, Luis and I set out to the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge to enjoy the day outside.  The refuge is located in Brazoria, Texas and about 45 miles from Kemah, Texas.  Luis found the park by searching the surrounding areas from where we live on Google Maps.

This is what we saw all the way to the refuge.

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Nothing but wide open spaces. Lots of farm land and sporadic industrial parks, like the one you see in the above picture to the right. Kinda looks like Emerald City from afar, minus the yellow brick road and happy sparkle.

Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge had a nice discovery center where Luis fell in love with a.. I believe it’s called a shield nose snake, or a pig nosed snake, can’t remember.  After playing with the snakes in the discovery center, we went on the auto tour trial around the refuge.  Thankfully it was trials were for your car (even though they do have about three walking trials) and not walking trials since the mosquitos were fierce, and swarmed my whole body in seconds as soon as I stepped outside.  Luis just laughed at me as I jumped around trying to get away from them.  He said all he saw were clouds of black following me.  Luckily, I managed to hop around enough to only get a few bites on my legs, nothing too bad.

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The photo above was taken by Luis.

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The refuge wasn’t as exciting as we hoped since the drought in Texas has affected the wetlands, ponds, and waterways.  Hopefully, all the rain that we have been getting lately will help.  If we ever go back, we will definitely need bug repellant!

As you can guess, there are lots of cattle in Texas, and yes I make Luis stop on the side of the road whenever I see cattle close to the road.  Why you ask?

So, I can talk to them of course!

It’s hard to tell in the picture below, but she has a calf next to her.  I wanted to get a closer picture, but those mosquitos love me so, I ran back to the car.

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After the refuge, we headed to Downtown Houston for dinner at an Italian restaurant called Birraporetti’s, a great Italian restaurant, one heck on an Irish bar.  Most of the downtown area seemed to be pretty empty, but by the time we left this place was packed with people.  Maybe because of the Performing Arts Center next door?

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To start we had the sampler; jumbo grilled shrimp, crab cakes, and calamari.

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Luis had the chicken and italian sausage with spinach fettuccine alfredo.

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I had the shrimp diablo, which had a really nice kick to it.

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We ended our meal with chocolate chip cheesecake.

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Then it was time to head the Brazos Bend State Park for a night of star gazing at the George Observatory, which is about 30 miles from downtown Houston.  The website warned us to bring flashlights since the area wasn’t lit very well and would be mostly dark.  The path to the observatory did have these dim red lights to guide us, and each one had a different fun fact of a planet.  Along the path Luis and I heard wrestling in the woods, so we used our flashlights to see if we could catch what was making the noise, and we did!  It was an armadillo, my first armadillo!  Of course, Luis tried to catch it, as he has a goal of having one as a pet.  Don’t ask me why.  Even though he didn’t catch it, we did get close to a few more, but he decided not to catch one and instead we just watched them dig around in the ground with their noses.  They are so cute, and wouldn’t mind if Luis did get one as a pet… in the future though.

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The George Observatory houses three doomed telescopes. The 36 inch Gueymard Research Telescope, the largest of the tree was broken, but it didn’t matter since many astronomy hobbyist set out their extremely expensive telescopes for people to look through.  We were able to see all four of Jupiter’s moons on the 14 inch telescope and on the 18 inch telescope we saw Orion’s Nebula.  The most interesting of the night was looking through one of the amateur’s telescope.  He had it zoomed in on M82, where stars are born.  It was pretty neat to see.  Mostly though, it was fun to talk with all the people and hear the excitement in their voices while they talked about rings, cloud belts, and galaxies.

A beautiful day outside followed by a cloudless sky at night, nothing more I could ask for today.

Day 7 in Kemah, Texas

13 Jan

Today is a beautiful day so, I decided to take some pictures of our complex before my noontime workout session.  The temperature is in the 40’s, but with the sun out, it’s feels perfect.

Inside the clubhouse and game room of Summerbroke.

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A view outside to the patio and pool entrance.

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The pool area has an outdoor grill, high top tables, and wi-fi.  I will definitely have to come out here when it gets a little warmer and catch some sun while doing work.