Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Olde Tyme Grocery - Lafayette, LA

When the Dining Companion and I were recently in Lafayette, LA, we made a couple of stops at Olde Tyme Grocery. While it's now an awesome po'boy (poor boy) place, at one time it was a grocery store.

Some of you may not be familiar with this most quintessential New Orleans sandwich. (The other being the muffuletta, but that's a tale for another day.) A po'boy is a sandwich that consists most commonly of fried seafood or also roast beef. It comes "dressed" with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise. However, roast beef po'boys often come with mustard. I don't think anyone is 100% certain how the name came about but Wikipedia had the following:

In the late 1800s fried oyster sandwiches on French loaves were known in New Orleans and San Francisco as "oyster loaves", a term still in use. The sandwich was alternately called a "peacemaker" or "La Mediatrice".[4]
There are countless stories as to the origin of the term "po' boy". A popular local theory claims that "po' boy", as specifically referring to a type of sandwich, was coined in a New Orleans restaurant owned by Benny and Clovis Martin (originally from Raceland, Louisiana), former streetcar conductors.[5] In 1929, during a four-month strike against the streetcar company, the Martin brothers served their former colleagues free sandwiches.[5] The Martins' restaurant workers jokingly referred to the strikers as "poor boys", and soon the sandwiches themselves 
took on the name.[5] In Louisiana dialect, this is naturally shortened to "po' boy."[5]

When you walk into Olde Tyme Grocery you still get that grocery store vibe. Only nowadays the shelves are filled with chips and beverages. 

I love Zapp's chips - The Voodoo flavor is seriously good

You place your order at the counter and you can either dine-in or take out. 

The first time we stopped by we ordered the Shrimp po'boy. It's shrimp seasoned and fried to a golden brown, served "full dressed" on a baugette style french bread. The bread is key. Any other bread and you have a shrimp sandwich. The french bread makes it a proper po'boy. And this one was spot on perfect.

Shrimp Po'boy at Olde Tyme Grocery

I spotted some small pies on one of the many shelves and grabbed one of those as well. It was a Buttermilk Pie and oh my goodness... it was wonderful. Buttery and tangy, not too sweet; the perfect way to finish a fantastic lunch.

Buttermilk Pie
We weren't done with Olde Tyme Grocery yet. Finding ourselves at odds and ends for lunch the next day we headed back and tried the Roast Beef and Sausage po'boys. We also snagged a half a shrimp for good measure. Oh yeah, and another buttermilk pie. The Roast Beef po'boy was one of the best roast beef sandwiches I've had. Sadly we ate it all before I could get a picture but trust me on this, get one when you visit.

There are no few excellent food regions in the country and Southern Louisiana is a great one. The diversity of the food and culture and the warmth of the people make it a truly wonderful place to spend some time. I may be biased as I grew up in the area but I believe that everyone should experience it at least once.

As the Cajuns say "Laissez les bons temps rouler!" and of course Happy Travels!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lafayette, Louisiana

The Dining Companion and I recently spent some time in Lafayette, Louisiana. We were there so that I could visit an exhibit at the Rodrigue Studio Lafayette. George Rodrigue is one of my favorite artists. He is best known for his famous Blue Dog. This iconic image appeared in most of George's art and also commercially in ads; famously for Absolute Vodka. George passed away in December of 2013 and this year each of his three galleries are holding a Memorial Retrospective.

Examples of George Rodrigue's art - Hurricanes

Turns out it was a perfect weekend for visiting an art gallery, it rained the entire time we were there. We still managed to eat, drink and be merry, just soggier than we would like. Because of the weather I wasn't able to get out in the city as much as I wanted to. I did get a few pictures...

Beautiful, stately trees seem to be everywhere
These trees are old and majestic. A tree this size could be over 100 years old.

To figure the approximate age of a tree, measure its girth four feet from the ground, convert that measurement to inches and divide by 1.5. An oak will add an average of 1.5 inches to its girth each year, although the older ones grow at a considerably lesser rate.

A charming Double Shotgun - Please pardon the raindrops

From the gumbo to the boudin and everything in between, the food is awesome. Beignets for breakfast, po'boys for lunch and a bowl of gumbo for dinner; it doesn't get much better than that.

Lafayette embraces city sophistication and small town warmth in equal measure. There is something here for almost everyone. You can take a swamp tour, visit a museum and tour the nearby historic homes and view the beautiful gardens.

Lafayette is located in the heart of Cajun country. What that will mean to visitors is that you have arrived in the epicenter of all things good. Great food, warm and welcoming people, fun festivals and so much more.

Lafayette is a great base for your visit to Cajun Country. Its central location in the region makes it perfect for planning day trips to the surrounding communities. You'll be in the heart of everything. This region is a destination in its own right. With all there is to see and do you can easily plan a weeks stay and never lack for something to do. A part of the country you really need to see.

Happy travels!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Emporio Brazilian Cafe - Houston, Texas

After almost two months spent hanging out at home the Dining Companion and I were finally able to get out a little bit recently. One of the places we visited was a Brazilian restaurant, Emporio Brazilian Cafe.

The restaurant is located in a small shopping center. The interior is nice and there is a full bar.

 That brings me to our other Brazilian favorite, the Caipirinha. A great warm weather drink made with limes, sugar and cachaca. Just delicious and hands down one of my favorite drinks.

I've mentioned before that both of us really like a traditional Brazilian black bean stew called feijoada and we were happy to see it on Emporio's menu.

While we decided on dinner we were served a basket of traditional Brazilian cheese bread. Typical of what you see in many of the Brazilian steakhouses.

 We started off with the Coxinha de Frango. (these are little stuffed croquettes) and a sausage plate that included sauteed onions and olives.

The small dish next to the sausage holds farofa. Farofa is a toasted flour that is flavored and served alongside various dishes, including the feijoada.

One of my favorite parts of the meal was the hot sauce we were served. I never really did find out what is was, but I do intend to. It was spicy, full of heat and had a great flavor.

Another sauce on the table looked a lot like pico de gallo but was actually pickled. Not a sauce I've had before but one I enjoyed.

Finally we got to the main event. The waiter asked if he could show me how feijoada is eaten in Brazil. How could I say no.

So delicious - Feijoada

Around the plate: fried bananas, an orange slice and steamed greens
The lower photo shows the way feijoada is typically eaten. (As explained by our waiter) Any way you eat it, it's fabulous. If you can find it in your area do give it a try. I also learned to make it at home. It's surprisingly simple to do.

The Dining Companion had the stroganoff which while very tasty was not very photogenic. But in the looks or taste contest I'm glad taste won.

While we might not make Emporio Brazilian Cafe a frequent stop I'd definitely go back for the feijoada and that amazing hot sauce.

It was so nice to get out again. I'm glad that most of my recovery is now behind me.Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Happy dining and as always Happy Travels!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Not quite back in the saddle

Hello! Just stopping in to blow off some of the dust and knock down the cobwebs.

I was away for a bit, in case no one noticed. Little hospital stay and now marching resolutely down the road to recovery.

I'll have this space back up and going full tilt as soon as I can.

Summer is moving along and Fall Travel plans are on the horizon. Hope all is well and everyone is have a great summer filled with travel and fun!

Pleae check back from time to time cause as they say in the movies...I'll be back!

And as always, Happy travels.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Down on the Corner - In four places at once

I want to travel out west and stand at the Four Corners Monument. It's something that I've always wanted to see. I've been doing some research and trying to figure out the best way to accomplish this goal.
I'm thinking we would fly into Las Vegas and then drive. Maybe see the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam too.

I realized the other day that I have a handful of states left to visit to complete the contiguous 48. (Alaska and Hawaii are on the list too with Alaska being most likely to get visited first.) I still have Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Denver, Washington and Oregon. Having been all over the Northeast, the South, and the Midwest, this is whats left.

 I had the idea at one time that we would see the west by train. I still would love to do that. There's just something about train travel that lends itself to adventure. For now I think we'll stick to the fly/drive route. But I haven't counted train travel out, not at all.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the western part of the US. Is there anyone of us who hasn't dreamed of driving Route 66? I want to see Cadillac Stone Henge, the Painted Desert, Arches National Park. And Roswell! Aliens, the age old debate of green or red chilies (both please). So, so much to see and do. 

The Four Corners, the Grand Canyon and all points west. Get out your best sunsets, your tastiest food and roll out the welcome mat, cause we'll be coming for you soon.

Happy travels! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

It's Five O'Clock Somewhere

Boys and girls, summer is on the way! It won't be long before we're all sitting outside, sipping a cold beverage and enjoying the warm weather. Maybe on a patio somewhere or poolside or in our own backyards.

It'll be time for fruity Umbrella Drinks and ice cold beers (what's better than that on a hot summer day?)

Maybe a frosty iced tea is more your style or a crisp ginger-ale with a squeeze of lime, so good.

One of my favorite warm weather refreshments is iced coffee. Nothing like a large cold press to start the day off. Frozen coffee drinks are great too and Caribou Coffee has a Northern Lite Caramel Cooler that I love.

Whatever your favorite is, summer is about to light the drinking lamp.

It'll be time to get outside, stake your claim on a lounge chair and raise a toast to warm weather, sunshine and friends.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

American Undersea Warfare Center - Seawolf Park - Galveston Island, Texas

Several years ago the Dining Companion and I visited the U-505 submarine exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Not only did we have a great time touring around the sub, I also got my very first Mold-A-Rama on that visit. None of which has much to do with anything other than to say we visited another sub exhibit recently. Sadly, no Mold-A-Ramas were to be found.

The Dining Companion and I made the trip to the American Undersea Warfare Center at Seawolf Park. The exhibit is made up of the WWII Submarine the USS Cavalla and the WWII Destroyer Escort the USS Stewart. Both are open for touring. The tours are generally self-guided but there are people about that can answer some questions.

Sadly, at one time the USS Cavalla and the USS Stewart were slated to be scrapped. A concerted public effort was able to prevent that from happening and in 2006 the Cavalla Historical Foundation was able to begin the restoration project to save both vessels.

The inside of the submarine is a warren of tiny rooms and narrow corridors. It's hard to imagine men living in these spaces for weeks at a time.

Those are bunks in amongst the torpedoes!

At least there aren't any torpedoes

Fanciest digs on the boat

It was fun walking through the submarine, making our way down tiny corridors and through all of those hatches. Seeing the spaces and the size of the boat's interior makes me wonder how anyone ever served on a sub. Close quarters doesn't even come close to describing it.

Now onto the USS Stewart, a destroyer class escort ship. Another warren of rooms and corridors, if just a slight bit larger.

Two hundred sailors called this ship their home. It was fascinating to see what life aboard the ship was like.

Sleeping quarters are roomier than on the Cavalla

Large kettles for cooking everything from coffee to soup - "Coppers"

An ice cream maker!
 Of course the ship also has giant guns, depth charges and something called a "hedgehog". It wasn't called a destroyer for nothing.

This is the gunners seat

Besides the submarine and the ship, Seawolf Park also has displays of memorials and  commemorative plaques.

Seawolf Park has areas for fishing and picnicing too. It's a family destination and on the day we were there several families were enjoying the beautiful weather.

If you're interested in the history of WWII, huge ships or submarines you'll definitely enjoy Seawolf Park and the American Undersea Warfare Center. There are tons of things to do in Galveston, this one is worth taking some time out of your schedule to visit.

Happy traveling!