Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Providence, Rhode Island

Earlier this summer we spent some time on the East Coast. We visited Newport and spent some time there but we stayed in Providence. Our visit was cut short by some annoying travel delays so we were in the city for less than 48 hours. No matter, we managed to fit a lot of fun into a small amount of time.

Sidewalk dining at Mediterraneo
We got together with family to have dinner at the Mediterraneo Cafe on Federal Hill. Federal Hill, long a gathering place and home to Italian immigrants, is still the place for fabulous Italian restaurants. The area now also boasts a very diversified and lively dining scene made up of many different cultures and cuisines.

The gateway arch over Atwells Ave.- The LaPigna (the pinecone) sculpture hanging from its center is a traditional Italian symbol of abundance and quality and has become the symbol of Federal Hill (not the pineapple, which is what I always call it)

Outdoor dining piazza style

Many of the area restaurants have outdoor dining options. Some are set up around a central courtyard made to mimic a piazza in Italy. A place to meet up with family and friends, grab a nightcap and take an after dinner stroll. 

There are many things to bring visitors to Providence, everything from the nearby beaches, art museums (the RISD museum to name one) to the spectacle that is WaterFire. We've never managed to make our schedule work so that we can get to the WaterFire display. Definitely on our list of things to do next time we're in town. It looks amazing.

Providence has history, interesting architecture, world class dining, shopping, sun and sand; just about anything you might be looking for in a vacation getaway.

Lastly, but not least by any stretch, I want to mention some of my favorite local foods. Be sure to look for these on your visit. Can't leave town without a stop at Del's for some frozen lemonade, no trip to the beach is complete without a stop for stuffies and clam cakes, of course chowder too, snail salad, pizza strips, Italian pastry, and New York System hot weinies. Which have always been from Rhode Island, go figure. All worth seeking out.

There you have it, the many reasons to put Rhode Island and Providence on your must visit list. A little something for everyone. 

Happy travels!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tookie's Hamburgers & More - Seabrook, Texas

A little while back Tookie's Burgers was featured on the Travel Channel show Burger Land when they made a stop in Houston. My SIL, who happened to be watching, let us know that we should check this place out. One of the best things about all of the traveling the Dining Companion and I have been doing is getting to try different regional favorites like Tookie's Squealer burger.

Tookie's was pretty much wiped out by hurricane Ike in 2008 and sat boarded up until it was bought and reopened in 2011. Part of the purchase included the recipe for Tookie's iconic Squealer Burger. According to both locals and burger aficionados it was well worth the wait. (George Motz included Tookie's in his book Hamburger America)

The Squealer is a huge half pound bacon cheeseburger on a locally made, buttered and toasted bun. The thing that sets this bacon cheeseburger apart is that the bacon is ground together with the beef and then formed into a patty.

The Tookie's Squealer Bacon Cheeseburger

 The Dining Companion had the Squealer and while it was good he wasn't blown away by it. A solid offering but not his favorite. I want to get back there and try it for myself.

Stomp's Ice House Special (Very Hot) Dressed with mayo, Pace Picante Sauce, chopped jalapenos, grilled onions, lettuce & tomato
I had the Stomp's Ice House Special - with mayo, Pace Picante Sauce, chopped jalapenos, grilled onions, lettuce & tomato. The menu calls this one out as being very hot. While it was very flavorful and definitely had some heat, I wouldn't call it very hot. Really good though.

 The menu also includes a few other sandwiches and is rounded out by the usual suspects of fries, onion rings and one of my favorites, Jalapeno Poppers.

 Tookie's large, hand-battered onion rings are good. It's one of the menu items that this burger joint is know for. Definitely worth a try if you're an onion ring fan.

Overall Tookie's was good. Solid burger offerings in a fun atmosphere. The locals were lucky to get this place back.

If you're in the area and looking for a decent, affordable burger option look no further, Tookie's has you covered.

Happy dining!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Perry's Steakhouse & Grille - Clear Lake - Houston, Texas

Perry's Steakhouse & Grille Logo
Image from Perry's website

We headed to Perry's Steakhouse & Grille for dinner Sunday night. Perry's is a nice place with a typical steakhouse feel. The pace of service is good and the servers are attentive without being intrusive.

While I'm sure Perry's has excellent steaks we were there for their triple cut pork chop.

The pork chops are grilled bone-in and are then brought out and carved table side for presentation. Funny, I've had the best pork ever at steakhouses. The best pork chop I've ever had was at Bohanan's in San Antonio, Texas. While the pork chop at Perry's is not quite in that category it is very good in its own right. The meat is grilled to perfection; seared perfectly on the outside to create a flavorful crust and moist on the inside.
Famous Pork Chop
Image from Perry's website

I also had a wedge salad with what I think was a very mild blue cheese dressing and applewood smoked bacon.

Wedge Salad

Last but not least was the dessert sampler that finished the meal. The Dessert Trio includes Vanilla bean crème brulée, a Grand Marnier chocolate truffle, and praline cheesecake. The hands down winner was the Grand Marnier truffle. Dark chocolate and orange, a wonderful combination. A great way to end the evening.

To round everything out we had a lovely bottle of wine. A 2011 Kesseler ‘R’ Riesling from Germany. We love Rieslings in general and this one was very nice. A little toward the dry side for a Riesling but still full of the great fruit flavors we look for in this wine. I'll be looking for it at the local wine shop. If you're a fan of Riesling this one is worth trying.

2011 Kesseler ‘R’ Riesling, Germany

I'm sure one of these days we'll get to Perry's to try the steaks but until then you definitely can't go wrong with the grilled pork. 

Happy dining!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Dog's Life

Today's blog post is a bit of a departure from what you normally find here. I want to share a little about what's been happening around here the past couple of weeks.

To get right to it, the Dining Companion and I are in the midst of adopting a dog. What's that you say? With all of the gallivanting about the country y'all do this can't be a good time to get a little dog, can it? Honestly I don't know whether this is the right time or not. What I do know is that this is the time it's happening.

We've talked about getting a dog in the past. Talk that didn't go much beyond that. I was convinced that I wanted a puppy and the DC thought a slightly older dog would be better (hint: he was right).

Looking for a pet seems like it should be a straight forward deal right? Look for a breeder, pick out a puppy, done deal. But no, that couldn't be further from reality. At least for us. First of all I'm going to go on record as being anti breeder. I'm sure there are many reputable, humane and caring dog breeders out there. But, for every one of them there are many, many more who are disreputable and inhumane. So getting a pet that way was not an option we chose. That leaves the animal shelters and rescue and foster system. Both are good options for someone looking for a pet. And both have their downsides.

Luckily for us there are people who do the hard work required to get dogs and cats out of the shelter systems and placed in rescue/foster homes. Some, if not all, of these dogs and cats were days, if not hours, away from being euthanized. Overcrowding is a harsh but very real situation facing many shelters today. There are some no kill shelters that take in strays and keep them until they are placed with a family. Because of that policy they fill up and can only take in so many dogs and cats at a time. The other option is a short stay at a kill shelter or possibly rescue and foster. 

If you are looking for a specific breed, like I was, there is almost surely a rescue group associated with it. Some people may think that if they want a "pure breed" that rescue and foster is not an option for them. That is 100% wrong. There are rescue groups for just about every breed of dog (and cats too!) And hey, mutts need love too!

All that by way of saying that we are currently making our way through the foster system. Just a few things to keep in mind if you decide that rescue/foster is the way to go (a way that I can't recommend highly enough!):

  • There probably will be an interview process
  • There will be an assessment form of some kind to fill out
  • There will more likely than not be a home visit and in person interview
  • You will have to provide references and they will be called
  • You will probably have to meet with your prospective pet for a "getting to know you visit"

Only once all of these criteria have been met (it varies from group to group but this is not atypical) will you be cleared to move forward with the adoption. Please don't let this deter you from pursuing a rescue/foster pet. Unlike adopting from a shelter, foster dogs and cats live with the people that place them. They see first hand the sometimes horrific situations that these animals come from. They spend weeks, if not months, nursing them back to health, restoring their trust in people and getting them ready for their forever homes. Their care and concern is heartfelt and genuine.

A most excellent addition to our family

As I'm typing this our new little furry friend is sitting on my lap. She is curious about what I'm doing and happy to sit here and just spend time with me. Our new dog is healthy and well behaved. Curious about her surroundings and ready to be a part of her new family. All due to the care and love she received from her foster family.

We can't thank them enough.