Category Archives: Travel

The Ocean Grill…or Mesanje en un botella

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The weather in Louisiana is warming up now, but we have recently had record cold weather.  The temperatures dropped into the low twenties, and then there was the freezing rain.  The roads were not navigable.  I was content to stay at home and get some work done.  However, I couldn’t help but daydream about warmer weather.  My thoughts wandered to last summer when my sisters, our husbands and I traveled to Puerto Vallarta with my cousin and his wife.  It was my sister’s tenth anniversary and they quite generously wanted to share it with family.

Family fun
We had a great time

Before we left, I was told that we would be dining at the Ocean Grill during the trip.  My sister had been to the restaurant more than once and loved the food and the atmosphere.  One of the cool things about it, she said, was that we had to travel by boat to get there.  I have since learned from their faq that one can also hike there from Boca de Tomatlan.

My brother-in-law arranged for us to have a boat for the day, and we all were looking forward to being out on the water.   My sister had made a reservation which is required for one of their three seatings (11 am, 1pm and 3 pm).  We could have also taken the Ocean Grill’s boat taxi from the Boca de Tomatlan pier but we were planning on making a few other stops as well.  We met our boat at the marina and all piled in.

bar
Ocean grill bar

Although it had not happened to her before, my sister began feeling symptoms of motion sickness soon after we embarked on our journey.  She didn’t feel well at all when we arrived at our destination.  Luckily the perfect remedy awaited!

The original dock had been destroyed by a storm, so we had to make a beach landing.  There we were greeted by Wilson, the canine host.

wilson
Wilson is the perfect canine host

The Ocean Grill’s gracious human host, Alfonso offered to us upon our arrival the best margarita I have ever had.  An elixir including fresh lime juice, ginger and mint leaves, it was a refreshing start to a delicious meal.  When I returned home I had lots of fun attempting a re-creation of this cocktail.

While we were waiting for our drinks, Alfonso told us that he was from Mexico City and when we asked about his building project he explained that he was in the process of adding a spa and boutique hotel to his seaside restaurant.

refreshing margarita
Margarita with fresh lime, ginger and mint leaves

The perfect atmosphere on a good weather day, dining at the Ocean grill is outdoors and covered.  Even the bathroom has an ocean view.

loo view
View from the bathroom at the ocean grill

 

Grilled Clam appetizer
The hickory flavor added a smokey flavor to the warm butter and lime on the grilled clams.

We each ordered a variety of items from the menu so that we could share the experience.   If I close my eyes I can still taste the butter-lime hickory sauce that was covering the grilled clams.  The smoked marlin tostadas were delicious as well but I dream about those clams.  The fresh guacamole was quite appetizing and enough for us all to have a generous amount.

While we waited between courses I walked around the restaurant and absorbed the refreshing atmosphere.  Construction continues on the addition and Alfonso tells me that they hope to be finished in March of this year.

Construction
When we were at Ocean Grill in June, construction was in progress on an addition.

There were printed menus as well as a menu posted on a blackboard behind the bar — in Spanish.  The catch of the day is served with a choice of side and a choice of sauce.  A couple of us ordered the fish with different sauces and sides.  I think my favorite of the sauces was the lime butter sauce.  We were trying to place the smokey flavor and Alfonso solved our puzzle — hickory.

Red Snapper
The catch of the day was Red Snapper and was flaky and delicious.

 

smoked marlin tostadas
Smoked Marlin tostadas

Entrees were well presented.  Fresh red snapper, shrimp, Octopus and a hamburger (yes, a hamburger) were the items ordered.  In the photo to the left, one can just see the fried plantains that are peeking out from under the fish.  They were crispy and a great compliment to the lime butter sauce.

Fresh fish with the house sauce
I think this is the Sarandeado sauce on top of the Catch of the day with a side of black beans.

When it came time to pay the bill…we realized that not all of us knew that the restaurant is cash only.  There isn’t an ATM, so there was a tense moment while we all gathered our pesos.

Octopus with Kalamata Tapenada
The octopus was an adventurous choice and very tasty

As we were leaving with our bellies full,  we walked around the lagoon looking at the sand crabs.

sand crab
The beach was home to many sand crabs

 

Someone noticed a wine bottle that had washed up and joked about a message in a bottle.  It turned out that there was one!  Apparently the little boy who put the message in the bottle had released it into the water just the day before.

Our trip to the Ocean Grill was a memorable occasion and one that I hope to repeat.

Mesanje en un botella
As we were leaving we found a message in a bottle

Killer Poboys are a danger of the serial kind — I am compelled to return again and again…

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DSC_0156
It all started when after a day of Saints football and drinking in the French Quarter, my sisters, our husbands and I  were looking for a place to eat before we headed to watch Better Than Ezra play at Harrah’s Casino.   For some reason no one in our group had thought about the fact that few restaurants are open in the Quarter for dinner on Sunday.  We headed to Vacherie which was near our hotel.  We had eaten at Vacherie for breakfast a few times and just knew that dinner was going to be perfect!   I should have known when I walked into the dining room and saw no one, that something was not right.  “We are closed for dinner on Sunday,” was the reply when I asked for a table for eight.  After trying a couple of other places, we were quite frustrated.  We really didn’t want to go to an elegant restaurant where jackets are required.  Casual atmosphere was in order for the evening, but it goes without saying that it had to have flavor and atmosphere.  It was time to head to the Erin Rose…not to eat, because they don’t serve food.  For some reason the Erin Rose, a small Irish pub on Conti, became my brother-in-law’s favorite New Orleans Irish Pub the night we were kicked out of the place because he argued with a Texan in a ten-gallon hat about who had to buy the next round. For some reason we always run into the most interesting people there.

I digress.

The Erin Rose was the perfect environment to brainstorm over a pint. Little did we know what would happen next!

We headed to the back of the bar, because the front was full–the back is cozy and it soon filled up too. Once in the back, we discovered that we were wrong. The Erin Rose has food! Not only food, but Killer Poboys! This pleased me to no end, because I. Required. Food. NOW! I had to wait a bit though.  I was hesitant. These are not your every day run of the mill poboys. The sign said that they are, “Internationally inspired chef crafted poboys.”   I mean, it seemed a sacrilege of sorts to play with the traditional New Orleans sandwich.  I really had my mouth set on a shrimp poboy. Crisply fried shrimp on a loaf of French Bread and fully dressed (meaning that it has lettuce, tomatoes and mayo)– that is what I just HAD to have! I told my Loup Garou to order a Shrimp Poboy and a Tin Roof beer…and make it snappy! He brought me the menu and I paused…

Menu from Killer Poboys in the Erin Rose, New Orleans
Killer Poboys Menu

The Coriander Lime Gulf Shrimp Poboy has:

“Marinated Radish (radish is my favorite red vegetable!), Carrot, Cucumber, Herbs and Special Sauce (hmm…got to have the special sauce!).”

Be still my beating heart…that just makes my mouth water to read about it.

But on a poboy?  It sounded like something I would expect to find in an Asian restaurant served over noodles.

While he was ordering, my Loup Garou found out from the chef that they have not been at the Erin Rose very long. (We knew this because we were in the Erin Rose in April.) They take cash only, and they serve menu items until they run out of the ingredients. The first one they usually run out of is the, “Dark & Stormy Pork.” NOLA Rum braised pork with lime slaw and garlic aoli sounds decadent.  We weren’t able to have any because Goldilocks had been there right before us and it was ALL GONE!

When I saw the poboy that I ordered, I just knew that I had to take a picture of it, because I knew I was going to write about it.

Apparently, however, I did not take that photo.  I really thought I did, but I can’t find it!

I must have been so enraptured with my poboy that I just plain forgot!  It was the perfect blend of Asia and New Orleans.  The marinated shrimp was grilled and served with fresh cilantro, radish, carrot and cucumber, and was so amazing that I still remember the way it tasted a month later.  In fact, I swear I dreamed about it.

In fact, last weekend at Food Blog South, 2013, my friend, Helana Brigman of Clearly Delicious  and I were chatting with the keynote speaker, Kenji Lopez-Alt, Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats. He wanted to know the best place to get a poboy in New Orleans. I suddenly had a flashback to a memory of being in my grandmother’s black Cadillac, my grandmother, my mother, my sisters and I  piled in my grandmother’s car and headed to Deanie’s Seafood to get shrimp poboys.  My grandmother lived in New Orleans when I was growing up, and Deanies was her go-to place for a shrimp poboy.  I mentioned a couple of other  traditional New Orleans poboy restaurants such as Domalise’s… and then…

Suddenly I felt a flash of heat on my side!  I looked down at the bag on my shoulder and remembered that I still had the menu from Killer Poboys with me.

Of course, I ripped it out, (it was kind of crumpled by then from all of the times I took it out and read the ingredients again) and told him that he simply HAD to try the Coriander Lime Gulf Shrimp poboy at Killer Poboys, (of course with Zapps Cajun Crawtators on the side.)

He may take my word for it…or not.

However, just this morning, I saw a CBS story about the legendary poboy and its history. Mo Rocca interviewed the chef of Killer Poboys as part of his segment about: NOLA’s po boy: The story behind the iconic sandwich.

The caption underneath says, “A new CBS News poll shows 60 percent of Americans would like to try the famous new Orleans sandwich,..”

Coincidence? I think not.

Why don’t you try it and decide for yourself?

Killer Poboys on Urbanspoon

 

PoBoys, Dr. Pepper and Zapps — a southern thing? Yes Ma’am!

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I think that some of us who grew up with regional food traditions take our good fortune for granted.  In the south, and especially in Louisiana, we eat things that raise eyebrows.  Crawfish, for instance — some people are completely grossed out by the idea of eating something that came from the mud!  Because we’re known for eating some unusual things, some visitors are hesitant to ask what they’re being offered to eat!

I’m reminded of the first time my Canadian brother-in-law, the Doc came down for a visit.  He had been dating my sister for a couple of months, long distance, and came down to Louisiana bearing lobster (which to his horror, my sister proceeded to boil in crawfish boil spices.)  It was my birthday, and I had the day off.  My sister did not have the day off, so the Doc and I had lunch.  We ate at a Baton Rouge restaurant where the menu offered, “Zapps” on the side of just about every sandwich.  After perusing the menu for a short time, the Doc raised one eyebrow, looked up, and said, “Caroline, what is a Zapp?”  I had to explain to him that Zapps were only the best potato chips in the country!  After the Doc and my sister, the Hen were married, I went to visit them in Canada.  I brought with me a bag of Spicy Cajun Craw-tators that the Hen had requested.  The doc finished them off before the day was over!

The Hen missed her Zapps, but even more than that, she missed Dr. Pepper!  It’s almost impossible for her to find Dr. Pepper where she lives!  One of our favorite treats at Memere’s house was a Purple Cow.  Crushed ice and Dr. Pepper with vanilla ice cream in a tall glass was a refreshing summer drink!

We have passed our love of Dr. Pepper on to our children.  Last weekend, as you may remember from my earlier post, Loup Garou, the Cub and I traveled to Texas to pick up the young goddesses from camp.  The goddesses are not given soft drinks or candy at camp, so Dr. Pepper is a standing order when they leave camp!  Because we usually buy the Dr. Pepper in Kerrville, Texas, we learned a secret about the Dr. Pepper in Texas!  Dublin, Texas boasts the oldest Dr. Pepper bottler in the world!  Not only that, they still use the original formula, which has real cane sugar as a sweetener, not high fructose corn syrup!  They’re celebrating their 125th birthday this year.  My grandparents told me that their mothers always had a Dr. Pepper at 10, 2 and 4.  According to the Dublin Dr. Pepper website, there was a study released  in the 1920’s showing that the human body has a dip in energy at 10, 2 and 4.  Dr. Pepper advertised that their drink was perfect for those times that we need a little energy — especially at 10-2-4!

Finally — the poboy must be mentioned.  In fact, when she comes home to visit,  the Hen usually picks one up in the New Orleans airport as soon as her plane lands!   The poboy, or “poor boy” sandwich was invented in New Orleans and is always on crusty, yummy French bread.  It is a lunch tradition in Louisiana and many times includes fried or grilled shrimp, fried oysters (also called an oyster loaf) or a combination of these.  Poboys can also be made with ham, roast beef or other sandwich meats.  In a restaurant, the poboy may be ordered, “dressed” or “undressed” which basically lets the server know what you want on the sandwich — lettuce, tomato, pickle, etc. It’s believed that the poboy came about during a streetcar company strike in the late 20’s.

Last night for dinner, Loup Garou brought home a loaf of French bread, so for lunch today I had a roast beef poboy with lettuce, tomato and pepper jack cheese!  That Dr. Pepper was so good — it’s a shame we only have two left!  I wonder if the kids counted them before they left for school!

 

GG

 

 

 

 

Destin and Stinky’s

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Gulf of Mexico in Destin, Florida
I have never seen the Gulf of Mexico so clear and beautiful!

 

The Loup Garou, the cub and I have recently returned from a trip to Destin, Florida, where we had a fabulous time playing on the beach, and visiting with the Loup Garou relatives who were also in town for a sort of family reunion. The day we arrived, we were somewhat discouraged. The sky was black and cloudy and the weather report predicted not much change for most of the week. Sunday arrived with rain and clouds as predicted. We had planned on grilling for supper that night, but because of the rain, Monday’s supper was moved up to Tuesday — spaghetti for an unknown number of people. We planned on twenty and that was about what we had….but I know some people had seconds.

Spaghetti Sauce
Sauce for 20

We awoke Tuesday morning to beautiful skies and calm waters! I have never seen the Gulf of Mexico look so beautiful and clear!! The weather stayed nice until the day we left. We decided on dinner out Tuesday night, and ate at a restaurant called Stinky’s Fish Camp.    The atmosphere was relaxed — casual and rustic, with a New Orleans music theme — lots of posters for New Orleans bands and music venues.  Unfortunately there was a wait — an hour and a half!!  Because there were so many of us, and because we ordered several appetizers on which to manger while we were waiting, I will share with you some recommendations.   The fried green tomatoes with crawfish etouffee and the crab cake with warm remoulade were well recommended by those who partook.   One of the best appetizers is the fire cracker shrimp!  We ordered it as an appetizer, but it was so good that the Loup Garou Mum had it as her main course!  The fire cracker shrimp is sort of a tempura shrimp with a sweet and sour glaze, and sprinkles of sesame seeds.  Others of us who had shrimp dishes found that our shrimp had the tails still on, which is not always fun, and one of us was less enthusiastic about his meal because of the pesky shells.  Both the grilled shrimp with angel hair and the fried shrimp were served tail-on, but were tasty.  The grilled shrimp with angel hair is served with sauted vegetables and a pesto sauce.  I recommend the Hot New Orleans Garlic bread as an accompaniment to the dish.   The winner entree of the evening was ordered by the Loup Garou, and was Stinky’s fish of the day.  Offered several choices of fish, Loup Garou chose the grouper and it was an excellent choice!  It was cooked to perfection — moist and flaky white grouper on a bed of stir-fried veggies that were a perfect compliment to the fish.  Because it was quite late when we left, several of us brought home leftovers to finish later.  Apparently, in Destin, if you want to eat at a restaurant for dinner, you should go somewhere where reservations are taken (Stinkys doesn’t take reservations) or be prepared for a long wait.  We loved the food there, but recommend that if you want to try it you should go early and be prepared to wait a long time!!

Wednesday night, someone suggested going out to meet other family members for dinner, and we decided that it was a much better idea to cook something and have everyone eat with us…the two questions were what to cook and how many people were coming!

The next post will be about what we decided to cook!

 

xoxo,

GG