The Lack of Lettuce…..

I have to admit a nation-wide (or maybe it’s global at this point) ban on romaine lettuce was not something I anticipated. As much havoc as it is causing in our personal shopping, I feel terrible for restaurants who have moved away from ice berg lettuce in favor of romaine as being more upscale and popular. There are many who do the “classic wedge” though so I guess that works if they can get adequate supply. It appears that field greens and of course spinach are safe, but again, romaine does tend to be a greater percentage of the trade. This brought to mind our time in Desert Shield/Desert Storm when fresh vegetables simply weren’t available. We did get some fresh fruit such as apples, oranges and tangerines, and figs (which I don’t eat). There was also fruit juice. Lettuce was simply too perishable and in the huge quantities of food needed for military rations, the big cans of vegetables are what are used. The Meals-Ready-To-Eat (MRE) as rations have some vegetables in items like Chicken A La King or Beef Stew, but at the time, that was about it. I know they’ve done a number of changes with the menu since then so there may be more options.

Anyway, when we did finally return to Germany, it was mid-May so the growing season was in full swing. That meant no shortage of lettuce and for at least a while it was strawberry season. Their strawberries are always delicious and especially so that summer. I’ve always loved the white radishes although at the time I was not a fan of white asparagus. There were naturally other culinary items we’d missed such as the wonderful pastries and we caught up on those as quickly as we could. Not surprisingly good German beer and wine were in the liquid category.

Wandering Around the Square…..

I’ve written in previous posts about the town square of Covington, Hubby’s home town. We always have lunch one day there and I then stroll around as he goes to take photos. The New Orleans-themed restaurant was closed, as does happen the day before Thanksgiving and we were already scheduled to have dinner at Mystic Grill with his sister and her husband. The “Fish Camp” place close to the square is being converted into a Japanese place and unfortunately, the Irish Pub didn’t succeed either. We went to the Your Pie which has pizza, paninis and salads. As an aside, the romaine lettuce recall is causing issues for restaurants and diners alike. Anyway, Your Pie is unique in it is set up similar to Subway. They serve 8-inch thin crust pizzas and you pick from a variety of crusts and toppings or you can order one of their creations. They do give you a number and bring your order to the table. I went with whole wheat crust, marinara, pepperoni, salami, sun dried and fresh tomatoes. Hubby had a turkey and pesto pannini.

After, he went off with his camera and I went to the Town Square Olive Oil shop. We haven’t been down to our Olive Morada for longer than we like, but we aren’t going to deal with holiday traffic. I had to restrain myself in stocking up, but how is one to resist cilantro and roasted garlic infused olive oil and I had to have blood orange and Persian Lime. Then there was the new bacon and I did stop at that. The Cork wine store was open as well and they did have the Nouveau Beaujolais in. Not for us – that was the gift to give Hubby’s cousin who hosts Thanksgiving. Then there was time for coffee at the Bread and Butter Bakery and I very carefully ignored the pastry section.

It was a lovely afternoon and a sweater was enough warmth since the temperature didn’t drop much until after the sun went down.

Trip, Day 8…….

Have completed sort of the last leg depending on how you want to count it. We spent yesterday afternoon, last night, and a bit of this morning with old friends in PA we hadn’t seen for a couple of years. They are closing in on a kitchen remodel, so we went out to eat at one of the older inns; a nice place with plenty of choices. Having had my crab cakes at lunch with the kids, I opted for a creative chicken dish, although everyone else went for seafood in one form or the other. I had already passed on the oysters on the half-shell – never been something I can deal with. Actually, I don’t eat oysters in any form, nor other mollusks for that matter. Anyway, we got caught up on lots of things and commiserated with Dodgers’ fans afterward when the outcome of the game/series seemed pretty obvious.

The trip down this morning was smooth and we’re ready for the warmer weather that has eluded us for the past week-plus. This late in October, you never quite know what you’ll get and unseasonably cool was it for the week. The rain has passed though, so that does help. Tomorrow is scheduled to be clear for good flying barring those different things one can encounter when traveling. I stocked up on Halloween candy before we left to avoid having to shop for it on the day of. If Hubby has time he will get the skeleton out of the garage and place him on the porch in the rocking chair. I don’t think we’ll mess with much of anything else and he is the most popular decoration we have anyway. I suspect the battery to ensure his eyes glow will need to be replaced and think we probably have a spare on hand.

Trip, Day 7…..

You can’t expect no rain on a 9-day trip. Mother Nature will have her way at some point. At least it did taper off early afternoon. Although Hubby didn’t get to go into DC for his photo shoot, there is a Wild Wings within decent walking distance of our friends and he had a nice lunch as well as watched some football before returning here and watching more football.

Girlfriend took me over to the National Harbor which is a great place if you haven’t been. It’s at the base of the drawbridge on the Maryland side. It’s modeled after the Inner Harbor of Baltimore with hotels, restaurants, shops, lovely water views, now a Ferris Wheel, and not too long ago an MGM resort complete with casino. It is quite large and we walked all around before going to the Sports Bar for lunch. The three really nice sit-down restaurants weren’t open until evening except for the Asian-themed Ginger and we weren’t in the mood for that. The sports bar wasn’t so loud we couldn’t talk. I probably should have had the crab cake, but may have that today with the kids.

The performance last night was enjoyable and they did include some of the younger students, mostly to give them a chance on stage before the bigger audiences for Nutcracker. Son choreographed two pieces and we would have been impressed even if we hadn’t known they were by him. Both modern and the influence of Lucy from Bowen-McCauley Dance was easy to identify. As we suspected, granddaughter was overly tired by the time it ended and we prudently decided to catch-up at early lunch today. She had become restless after the intermission and I did “Grandma duty” by taking her out to run around in the open spaces of the lobby and up and down the staircases a couple of times. We did use our “inside voice” to make sure she wasn’t disrupting the group that had some event going on upstairs. After lunch today, it’s on to PA.

Trip, Day 5…..

Time to head back to DC. For a change on a trip I was able to book all our transportation so we are not having to get up terrible early and mostly not caught in the heaviest urban traffic. Yesterday was the Museum of Modern Art with a surprisingly large exhibit about post-WW II rebuild of Yugoslavia and the subsequent development of the Adriatic as a major tourist draw. The use of concrete was a particular focus. In the gallery with the older definition of “modern”, there is something about seeing “Starry Night” in person.

Having not yet been into one of the many Irish pubs, we had lunch in the nearby Connolly’s. Hubby had traditional fish and chips and I had a salad special with shrimp.

We went early for Top of the Rock to be able to walk around and did see the skaters in the Plaza. Once we made our way through the line to get up, I told Hubby to take his time. Had the weather been less cold – quite a wind at 67 stories – 68 for him since he did that last one using the stairs – he would have hung around an extra hour to get the sun setting colors.

We’d saved the NY steakhouse for our last night and our first choice was booked. The runner-up was okay, although not what I experienced a couple of years ago at a well-known one, nor one I will name since I don’t particularly recommend it. The service was quite good though and the steaks were flavorful. The ambience was also okay and I will say it was nice to dine where we weren’t crammed up against two other tables.

I have to post this and get ready for departure. Hope the Acela trip back to DC goes as smoothly as the trip up.

Trip Day 3….

The visit to B and H, the massive store for photography and all sorts of electronics, was the prime event on the calendar. I had only somewhat jokingly said I hope there was a spa or bar or something next to it. Across the street was indeed an Irish bar, although we had passed other places close by. Had there been an actual coffee shop, I would have been in it right away. The camera “world” was on the second floor and they did have a “guest lounge” at the exit. There were seats, but let’s say the amenities were quite limited. I had allotted an hour to sit and basically play games on my phone and either through some innate sense that would be my limit or by being nearly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of equipment, Hubby appeared at about the hour mark. It was a great experience for him and he was able to see and discuss this one lens he’s been considering. He will probably rent it for an upcoming event, then decide if that will be his Christmas present. As a side note, it never occurred to me one could rent a lens, but he did so when he went to TN for the workshop. The process works quite well.

On the way to B and H, among the restaurants we passed was the Five Napkins Burger place. How could we not stop there for lunch on the return? The actual name-sake burger probably would have required five napkins had they been paper, but cloth was in use, and yes, it was messy. Hubby went with that and I had something slightly smaller; both delicious.

There was a bit more wandering around the Times Square area. We decided for this trip not to go out and about much (Top of the Rock this afternoon) and instead focus on walking. We enjoy walking and we do need the exercise. So for dinner last night, it was the Hourglass Tavern. I’d run across it when searching for places near Times Square that were not touristy. It’s an old converted brownstone and definitely not spacious. The “hourglass” part was the original restaurant was only downstairs so in order to turn the tables, they used an hourglass as a measure of time. Even after the other two floors were converted for dining, the name lingered and they do a pre-theater menu to get you out within an hour if needs be. You do have to let them know if that hour applies. I was concerned at first about the “close quarters”, but it was a delightful place and the food was quite good. Hubby had about decided on an entrée when the special turned out to be slow-cooked lamb shank. I had a lovely rosemary and garlic chicken with a honey-cumin sauce on the side.

Trip, Day 2…..

The Acela train was an experience. We were facing forward which made it nice. The couple on the opposite side of our table hoped to be able to swap seats, but it was a full train. We did have pleasant conversations along the way though. It was a three-hour trip with 4 or 5 stops before Penn Station and a crew change before they went on to Boston. Since we had treated ourselves to first class, lunch was served to us and we didn’t go check the dining car. It was a nice enough meal and the steward was quite pleasant.

Our Times Square hotel is only about a 10-minute cab ride away and the weather was mostly sunny and in the high 50s. We settled in the room, then went for a stroll to get oriented. We walked by a number of theaters and of course plenty of folks hawking different tours, shows, photo ops with dressed-up characters and so forth.

We decided on Becco for dinner; about a ten minute walk although the temperature had dropped. I wouldn’t have wanted to be out much longer. We did think to make reservations and it was crowded. When I had been looking for restaurants, I went to lists of where to go that weren’t chains (and there are plenty in sight) and Becco was on three different lists. It is a large place as I imagine most are considering the size of the population. The tables were of course quite close together and you do “absorb” the sounds and snippets of conversation. Hubby had osso bucco and I was a traditionalist with veal parm. Both were delicious and if we’d had the ability to do anything with leftovers, we would have taken a portion home. Needless to say, there was no room for sharing a dessert.

Trip Day 1…..

Not having excitement today is a good thing since you really don’t want that while getting somewhere. There was a bit of a startle – in typical fashion of poor signage, as we are on 936, we see signs that say “Airport Exit Right Now Open”. To my mind, that means they have opened a right-hand exit. That should not necessarily mean, “We’ve closed the left-hand exit you’ve always used and we’re not going to make that obvious until you’re practically at the closed exit.”  We used Supershuttle today and it was obvious our driver wasn’t aware of it either. Fortunately, we hadn’t had too many other back-ups so the ultimate exit and get on 936 again didn’t cause any timing issues. We were also out of my least favorite terminal at MIA, but it’s okay. The departure delay was about 15 minutes and it was a smooth flight.

It’s definitely nippy in the 50s in DC although a pretty day. We’re staying very close to Union Station and plan to have dinner at the French-themed Bistro here. I’ll probably go for the trout since we had steaks at home last night. Hubby will have a tough time choosing between the duck and the bouillabaisse.

We actually walked over to Union Station since we’ve never taken a train out of it. It is a beautiful building they did a great job on whenever it was they restored it. We’re also close to the Postal Museum although it was late enough when we arrived not to bother with. The National Gallery is in another direction, but not in the works for this afternoon either. The point for this leg of the trip is just to get us here so we can leisurely take the train to NYC tomorrow.

The trip up should be an interesting experience.

About Those Mushrooms…..

When we have leftover steak, one of the dishes we make is steak in mushroom sauce. It so happens Publix often carries a gourmet mushroom mix with something like six or seven different types. We can use any variety in the dish of course, but I always get this one if they have it in stock. I also very carefully push the mushrooms to one side for Hubby to have and me to avoid. This, as with a number of other foods, concerns Hubby as he continues to think I might someday discover a mushroom I like. I won’t say it’s impossible since I did finally find one method of cooking Brussel sprouts and that took me by surprise. Anyway, mushrooms are another case of not minding the flavor which is why I’m fine with having them in a dish as long as I can pick them out. It’s the texture I can’t handle.

When I’m at restaurant with Hubby it’s not a bit of a problem to order a dish with them because he’s happy to have extra. If I’m with anyone else, I politely inquire before ordering the dish and mostly there will be someone at the table who will take them. That also generally initiates conversations about who doesn’t eat what and there can be some amusing stories shared. I’m not referring to allergies which are rarely amusing – rather to likes and dislikes – and then there are those people who seem able and willing to eat literally anything. One guy I worked with who quite frankly could be rather odd swore he loved tripe, sweetbreads, tongue, and so forth. It might even be true and if so, he probably didn’t have too many people trying to swipe food from his plate.

Asparagus is another example of me never having been a fan. I could manage it lightly steamed with lemon juice or other flavoring. It was not until I had it roasted and grilled that I came actually enjoy it. Preparation can make all the difference at times.

Now That’s a Lot of Beer……

Exit One Taproom in Florida City

Opening any type of customer-service small business comes with risk and being on the entertainment side is particularly so. After all, people do have choices and it only takes one bad experience for someone to decide not to return, and even worse is if they share that opinion. I’m not trying to sound negative for the newest offering in our community – I am merely pointing out is takes courage and a lot of work to make the leap from dreaming to throwing open the doors to the public. The best way to describe Exit One Taproom is fun and funky. It is a family operation – mother and daughter and dad. He is still a full-time police officer, so he’s doing double-duty most days.

The entire family loves beer and they have only craft brews – 43 of them in fact. About thirteen are draft and they cover a range of ales, lagers, pilsners, stouts, etc., They researched dozens of breweries and are able to stock some items you don’t generally find in this area. They are delightfully enthusiastic and very happy to discuss the choices.

What they’ve gone with as a set-up is not large, but they have picnic tables in front and can roll up the doors to have an indoor-outdoor effect when the crowds are big. Inside they have about 12-14 spots at the bar, some more picnic tables, a few high-top tables and two seating areas with love seats and chairs. For food, they opted to enter a partnership with no kidding – Tacos and Tattoos. The food truck is there and that, too, is a family business, whose owners are friends. They describe their food as Southwestern with a Caribbean flair. You can wait at the truck after you order or they will give you a number to carry to a able and will bring the food to you.

You can never predict how a new place will do, but we are hoping the best for them.  They are located at 10 NE 3rd ST #30, Florida City is open Tues-Sun at 4:00 p.m. with varied closing times. (It’s actually at Krome Ave and 3rd next to Shivers Glass for those in this area). You can go to http://exitonetaproom.com or call (305) 812-4764. You can also check out http://tacosandtattoos.com