Okay, I generally post only about my trips in these situations, but I am going to deviate from that. It was a good day visiting with my dad and sister. On the other hand, after the longest gap since 1997, my new novel, To Play on Grass Fields, is out. I need to explain about this book though. It is very different from any of my others. As I mention on the website, it is darker, more intense, and has a strong political tone. The easiest way to explain it is if you ever read and enjoyed Atlas Shrugged, you should be okay. That is not to say it is anywhere nearly as long or has the making of a classic, but merely to give an idea of what it is like.
I developed the idea for the book more than twenty years ago when I was in Haiti for Operation Uphold Democracy in the waning months of my career. I retired soon after returning from that deployment in a coincidence of timing, not because of. The position I held while in Haiti gave me insight into some discussions I would not have ordinarily had. Those conversations and my own observations stayed with me and I struggled with how to articulate what I wanted to present in the book. Now, as with most novels, while there are absolutely true elements woven in, it is written for drama with what is referred to as “literary license”. Therefore, revelation about the incident in the Caribbean should not be taken as literal.
If this book does not appeal to you, don’t worry. I do intend to have Shades of Deception, the new scuba-themed novel out in Jan or Feb. If I can ever figure out one more sub-plot to Small Town Quilting Treasures, I will have that out next summer.
Oh, I did have my catfish meal which is a “must” when I come back to Louisiana.
Sorry, I was going to upload the cover of the book, but am having computer issues. (That will ne explained in my next post.)
Well, began is the correct word. John Popper of Blues Traveler was the headline last night to an appreciative crowd. I had never heard of Katrina Woolverton, but she was the opener and quite good. She was on for a while, then we had intermission before the main act. One of the things with older performers is they logically cannot do too many vocal numbers consecutively, so you get a fair amount of talk in between with background of how a song came to be written or people who were of particular influence, etc. That does provide another dimension to the show and at least we were spared any political thought.
The show had been planned for some time and the Rotary Club decided to join in and make it a benefit for Hurricane Irma Relief. A number of other businesses, Lorenzo Ford, Center State Bank and my apologies to whomever I forgot, contributed to the evening as well. I haven’t heard the results yet, but from the way things were looking, there should have been a nice sum collected.
We had thought about having dinner after the show and I’m glad Hubby suggested burgers at Lucky’s beforehand. We didn’t actually leave the theatre until 9:30 which would have meant 10:00 or later dining. Even with having a snack beforehand, that makes for a very late meal for me. Since it was a Sunday, there would also have been a limited choice of places still open. Anyway, it was a good kick-off to the season that has several other shows we are interested in. Everything is listed on http://seminoletheatre.org
I guess I forgot to actually post this which explains the gap over the past few days (Sigh, it’s been hectic)
It’s always a shame when you have a restaurant in a good, or at least decent location that can’t seem to make a go of it. I’ve posted before about the historic Hotel Redland’s restaurant, excited about the changes that unfortunately didn’t last. I am more optimistic this time though as it is now the City Hall Bistro and Martini Bar with the same website of https://www.hotelredland.com
The new chef and manager, Enrique, has a distinct vision he seems to be carrying out in phases. He’s originally from Boston and has been in Homestead at two other restaurants before taking this step. They are open for lunch Tues-Sat and for dinner Tues through Sunday. They are in the upscale dining range with the well appointed dining room although people still tend to sit in the bar. There is the Tapas and the regular menu and two options for Dinner for Two; one paella and one referred to as a “Tomahawk Steak”. You need to read the description of that substantial meal.
The new menu is pared down from the previous, yet provides the “something for everyone” approach and so far, everything has been delicious. Unlike before, the menu is easy to read and the service is definitely improved. The exterior of the hotel with the wonderful wrap around porch has also been freshened and will be quite inviting once the temperatures drop a bit.
I admit I haven’t had a martini yet, so I can’t vouch for that part of the name. They will be working with the Director of the Seminole though to develop a before and after theater option. We’re hoping for the best for them so we can once again promote another excellent dining choice for Homestead.
When I retired and it became painfully obvious I was not going to make an income from writing, I did what most retired military officers do in the D.C. area and went to work for a company involved in Department of Defense contracting. Since we were in a position to where I just had to make a respectable salary rather than as much as I possibly could, I had the flexibility to go with a small, nimble company founded by an entrepreneur whom I grew to greatly admire. Actually, two of them since the company started with either five or seven individuals (I don’t recall the exact number). I’m sure the other founding members were also great, but I mostly dealt with the two. Anyway, even though I chose not to move up much in the company, I was fascinated with how things came about and listened carefully as they expanded literally to the point where they had to sell because they were, “too big to be small and too small to be big”. In essence, in the world of government contracting, there are a lot of “set-asides” for smaller companies. Once you reach a certain size though, you no longer qualify for those contracts and you are thrust into competition with the really big guys. The genuine ability to compete against them is extremely difficult and so the most practical option is hold tight until one or more of them take notice of you and make an offer to buy you out. There are all sorts of considerations, but it’s something that happens all the time.
Anyway, that was a very interesting lesson in the real world of business. Coming closer to home, we had lunch today at the Redlander Restaurant at Schnebly’s (https://www.schneblywinery.com). They are a fantastic example of starting small with a niche market and expanding in a reasoned fashion. For those who may not be familiar with them they make wine from our local tropical/exotic fruits. They began with what was basically a modular building as their tasting and sales room. They grew to a beautifully landscaped property with a wonderful large room that added a restaurant. During the process they also branched out to brew beer on the property and opened “The Tap Room” which is quite large and serves 18 beers. They are an event place as well and are always coming up with new ideas. They are family run and it’s a pleasure to watch each new venture.
Well, grilling, too. I’m one of these women who doesn’t grill although I admire those women who have mastered the ability. For this post, the point is about vegetables, especially asparagus. My husband, and several friends for that matter, despair of the many vegetables I don’t care for. Asparagus used to be one of them as I wold only manage to choke some down in polite settings when they were presented to me in a steamed fashion. Yes, the seasonings helped, and if it was the tiny ones, I could manage them okay. I don’t actually recall the first time I had roasted or grilled. It may have been in watching one of the cooking shows with the explanation that this is a time when a cooking method really does alter the taste and we tried them at home. It might have been in a restaurant instead. Whatever the occasion, I was instantly converted.
The other night when we were at Chefs on the Run in Homestead, and yes that is their website, I decided to trust Chef’s ability with Brussels sprouts. I was fully prepared to be disappointed and yet, while I won’t declare them to be my favorite, they were quite good. (http://chefsontheruninhomestead.com) I’m not sure we can replicate, but when he came out and chatted with us, he explained he uses the leaves and not the centers. He pan roasts and then adds the particular sauce depending on the dish he is serving them with. Mine happened to be ginger coconut with the Captain Morgan rum shrimp. I do plan to experiment and we’ll see what happens. Oh, Hubby and I have a slight difference of opinion on oven roasting. I go with 400 degrees for a little shorter time – generally 16-20 minutes. Grilling of course I leave to him.
Aside from the delightful evening I spent with the members of the Darting Needles Quilting Guild and seeing my old friend for the first time in more than ten years, my trip to Wisconsin gave me the chance to visit a part of the country I had not previously been to. There were indeed lots of rolling hills, very green grass and trees, lovely wild flowers and plenty of barns and silos. Cows, of course and I passed multiple billboards showing various cheese stores. They must also have a huge deer population because there was a surprising number of dead deer along the roadways. I did go zipping past Wisconsin Dells, “The Water Park Capital of the World,” but didn’t have time to stop. It certainly looked like it would be a fun place.
The little town where my friend lives is very much a “Small Town, U.S.A” with only a couple of streets for the downtown, a park at the end, and the post office, City Hall, and senior center all clustered close together. The hospital is fairly new and in addition to robust medical services for a place the size it is, there was a very large fitness center. We did not go inside, but it looked to be well equipped and there was an indoor swimming pool. All of this makes good sense in a place with difficult winters.
A regional fast-food chain was Culvers, but it is a family-based business that emphasizes fresh ingredients and their specialty is frozen custard. It is apparently made fresh on the premises. They do have a small freezer stocked with to-go containers. It’s one of the kind of places where you order at the counter and they bring your food to the table. The staff was quite friendly and I could see why it was a favorite.
What a charming town Appleton is and what a vibrant quilting community. The presentation tonight was in the First Methodist Church and the lady who’s been coordinating the visit invited me to early dinner at one of the local favorites. Pullman’s is on the river and you go past the old Woolen Mills that have been converted to commercial and residential space. I always love to see that.
I had a number of things I had to deal with while I still have internet connectivity, but went out to scout the area (old Army training) in between. The downtown seems to be thriving (Lawrence College is here) with a couple of museums, a performing arts center, several restaurants, pubs and a beer factory I regrettably won’t have time to try.
Dinner turned out to be with several of the ladies from the quilting guild. Pullmans was a large place with an excellent menu and great ambience. They did do an order of fried cheese curds for the table which were delicious as was the walleye I had. The salads looked lovely, too.
There were I guess around 70 people at the meeting and they had me present, then do their break, then go on into the business meeting and show and tell. If I hadn’t been up since really early, I probably would have stayed because they had some very nice quilts and quilt items to talk about.
As soon as I post this, I’ll pack up and head to Baldwin to visit with my friend until tomorrow afternoon. It’s a bit of a drive, but the point is I will also see more of the state and that is one of my objectives.
In general if the wait to get a table at a restaurant is an hour, we don’t bother. However, it was a Friday night in DC and we were intrigued by the menu and look of Farmers and Distillers, a place we were not familiar with. (http://farmersanddistillers.com/about) We put our name on the list and decided to go to the bar. It was pretty crowded, too, and perhaps in an omen, a couple left as we walked up. More kindly, a trio gave up one seat so we could be together. I will begin with the bar which was quite large and designed as two-sided. Three bartenders serving the front where the stools were and two taking service orders for the back, plus a dishwasher, all of whom were quite busy, gives you an idea of the size of the place. The front bartenders also had flair with competition-level movements, friendly smiles, and not rushing us as we took in the wide variety. You can read the entire background at their website, but the concept adds a twist to the “farm to table” and sustainable sourcing trends. The distilling aspect includes whiskey, vodka, gin, pisco (South American sugarcane-based liquor similar to rum) and of course craft beers. Even the ice was unusual. I know that sounds odd, yet true. Rather than standard cubes, there were ice chunks and therefore did not melt as quickly as most cubes do.
Okay, onto the food where the choices were almost as difficult. Since we’d done burgers for lunch, we were leaning toward seafood although the description of the lamb and pork chops was tempting. The oven roasted shrimp with crab called to me and as soon as Hubby saw cioppino, that settled it. We shared a lovely salad and the round loaf of fresh bread was excellent. Price-wise, it was not out of line with DC restaurants, although being a moderate-priced restaurant is a relative term.
Anyone who is familiar with service in our area is aware that good service is the exception rather than the rule. It varies from erratic to terrible and that includes a number of high-end places. It is a topic of discussion among most diners and newcomers are often startled. Many of us think it might be due to the large number of tourists who tend to not be regulars, but that really is the subject for a future post. Service at Farmers and Distillers was as good as everything else. The manager stopped by our table and we passed on all our compliments. If you find a Farmers and Distillers anywhere you are traveling, we highly recommend it.
The annual trip to D.C. to see son’s performance with Bowen McCauley Dance (http://www.bmdc.org) was shorter than usual,but it’s the way the timing worked out. We crammed everything in and even though Mother Nature could have been nicer, the rain did go away for after the show and wasn’t too awful prior to that. Hubby didn’t get to spend the day taking great photos. He did, however, make it to the Spy Museum and into the National Portrait Gallery and enjoyed them both.
I was able to catch up with old friends and the performance was terrific. Amelia was as good as one can possibly expect a two-year old to be during an hour-and-a-half event with an intermission. She has been going to performances since she was tiny and she understands to watch, listen, and use an “inside voice” or whisper for the little bit she wanted to say – mostly “Daddy dancing”.
It was at the Landsburgh Theater this year instead of the Terrace Theater so we learned a new section of D.C. Traffic was of course as bad as always. We found some new restaurants as well, one of which I’ll blog about tomorrow. We dined before the show at Carmines which is also where the Gala after was held. I have no idea how many people the place can actually sit, but it is huge and has multiple rooms. Meals are served family style and the servers help guide you through the menu depending on the size of your party. A couple could dine alone as long as they have the ability to take leftovers.
We had early lunch with the kids at the airport and since Amelia loves to walk around, I let Hubby and the kids have coffee while Amelia and I got a little exercise. She enjoys climbing steps and then the escalator caught her eye. That was a little trickier, yet manageable. Anytime someone was behind us, I checked to see if they needed to pass. Flights were pretty good both ways so no complaints there.
Grand Opening of Pub 935 at Capri in Florida City
Pub 935 opened a couple of months ago to quite a stir as something innovative in Florida City/Homestead. I’ve posted here, on Facebook, and Tweeted about it. As happens, there was a fairly quick reshuffling of staff, then talk of a revised menu. I wasn’t overly concerned although I was interested to see what was going to happen. I got the answer yesterday afternoon and am happy to report it is just as good, if not perhaps better. Hubby won’t have a chance to go for a few days, but I will get him there before too long.
Shrimp and grits and the wonderful skirt steak are still choices as are some of our other favorites like the great flatbread. Lasagna and Italian Nachos have been added. Not that I am a Little Neck Clam person, but for those who are, that inclusion met with full approval. The clams are done with andouille (or maybe it was chorizo) sausage, fresh tomatoes and some lovely herbs. There is also an option for a whole or half muffuleta sandwich. As the two of us familiar with the popular New Orleans fare explained, half is quite large. I am no more a fan of those than clams, however, the individual who ordered it was quite happy, took our advice of the half and took half of that home.
We do have another chain restaurant opening nearby soon, a Texas Roadhouse Grill, and while I enjoy those and wish them well, the family-owned Pub 935 is a big plus to local dining. It is in what was formerly called the King Richard Room of Capri Restaurant at yes, 935 Krome Ave, Florida City. (Many people refer to it as in Homestead)