Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stay-cation in DFW

Had friends in for the weekend, so tried to show them a bit of the area. We went to see FC Dallas play against the LA Galaxy (I was very very disheartened to find out that Becks is currently on loan from the Galaxy...probably why there were tickets available). They have free parking, and encourage tailgating. Starting 90 minutes before games they have a happy hour with $1 beers. They had a crawfish boil and $3 hurricanes, too. I can't speak to the quality of the crawfish, but P loved it. I personally don't like playing with my food, so if I'm going to eat crawfish, it had better be the tails already removed from the rest of the carcass. The hurricanes had more of a kick than you'd expect for $3. I got a chicken sandwich that was the most pitiful thing in the world, was basically a chicken strip on a bun.

As for the soccer, it was a pretty good game (at least as far as I know) and most of the action happened at our end. It rained a bit, but fortunately the sun went down so it didn't turn into a sauna and it was nice and cool.

Sunday, P had to work, so I took our guests around downtown Dallas. We went to the Farmer's Market and got some fabulously tasty cookies from The Baker Man that sells there on the weekends, and also picked up some fruit for later. I got lemon and margarita this time...I have to say the margarita cookies are my new favorite. Drove them past Star Labs, er, I mean City Hall, and the library (its companion piece of 70s era modernist concrete barren aesthetics). Drove them past several locales that substituted for Detroit in RoboCop. Drove them in the general vicinity of some Kennedy assasination related sites, but like any good Dallasite was a little fuzzy about exact locales of everything. Went to TGI Friday's in the West End, which I know is hardly unique to Dallas is at least local. Came home and grilled up some fajitas and made watermelon bellinis for dinner.

All in all a successful weekend!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coming up for summer!

I thought I'd give y'all a little tease about what trips we've got coming up!

Kansas City
NOLA / Biloxi / Gulf Shores / Pensacola
Connecticut / PA ?
Disneyland & San Diego

Plus, I plan on putting up some posts with travel tips that we've picked up along the way!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Houston, May 10-12

The original plan had been for P to fly back from Houston on Monday morning and then I'd drive back on Tuesday night after my training class. Fortunately we thought better of that and Southwest makes it cheap enough for us to change our minds at that late a date. Shorter trip than anticipated, but we'll be back soon enough.

We went to the original Ninfa's on Navigation St in Houston. It reminded us a lot of Joe T. Garcia's in Ft. Worth - an original house that had been expanded greatly as time passed and more and more people came to eat. It was excellent...I miss having Ninfa's in Dallas, but there just aren't any up here anymore.

Then Monday morning he took off toward home (with a stop for lunch at Breakfast Klub on the way out) and I went to my class. I had lunch at the Ninfa's in the Galleria (hey, we'd had most of a week's worth of Cajun food, it was time for food that tasted like home :) ).

A friend came and picked me up for dinner...we went to a place called the Grotto - Italian. It was pretty good. I had chicken with a mushroom - tomato - butter sauce and sent 1/2 of it home with her for her husband. We split a positively divine angel food + ricotta + strawberry dessert.

Tuesday night was dinner with another friend at Canyon was also quite good. I had a smoked chicken breast stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, and onions with some sort of sauce over the top.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Louisiana - May 6-10

We started out by throwing our stuff together after work in Wednesday. I'd scored us a free hotel room at the Horseshoe in Bossier City (I guess they figured I'd lost enough money with them in the past, so if they gave me a room on a night they had a bunch of rooms available I'd come in and lose some more money :) ). Man was it a nice room. Very comfy bed, a couch, HDTV, a second TV in the bathroom, and a tub that the two of us could've swam around in.

The line for the restaurant at the casino was long, so we splurged and ordered room service - a shrimp cocktail and an order of Louisiana meat pies. The cocktail was a bit disappointing, 5 not so large shrimp. But oh the meat's like a pot pie crust stuffed with seasoned meat & gravy. They're a true delight. And with the bleu cheese dressing they gave us, even better.

No gambling on this trip, though. We got up and got on the road, turned south down I-49 and headed toward Nachitoches. Stopped at Lasyone's and had the Meat Pie Breakfast - a meat pie, eggs, and hash browns. While the ones at the Horseshoe were excellent, these are the gold standard - they've been making meat pies since 1967 and are the place that made them famous.

Nachitoches is where the movie "Steel Magnolias" was set and filmed, and in their tourist guide they have a SM tour route plotted out. I wanted to go (doing the play in HS, I still have a good 85% of the lines memorized), but no time for that this trip.

Back on the road again, on south and then east toward Baton Rouge. Stopped for road snacks at Bergeron's Meat Market in West Baton Rouge. We've been through there before...solid boudin balls and meat pies and crawfish pies. Plus they have a lot of interesting cajun meat products vacuum sealed and frozen and ready to go - turduckins, seafood stuffed bell peppers, tasso, andouille, boudin, sausage stuffed pork loins. We hit them on the way back out to get the meat to take home so we wouldn't have to worry about as much ice.

On to Ponchatoula. Checked into the new Microtel, unloaded the car, then off to Winn Dixie to load up on Abita Strawberry beer (made with fresh southeastern Louisiana strawberries and made in limited quantities) and head out to a memorial service (the whole reason for the trip). The reason for being there was heartbreaking, and I will miss him dearly, but we had one hell of a wake that he would've enjoyed very much. A ton of great home-cooked food and a pool of alcohol and instruments and singing and cannon blasts.

So much fun that a piece of me was left on I-12, but alas, such is life. The room was comfy enough, I guess...hard to tell when you're drunk / hung over. P was comfy at least. He got up and went swimming while I slept it off and had a little trouble with the latch on the gate - fortunately the manager was nearby to let him back out :)

Got up, got down to the Garden District to help out my friends, and had and excellent lunch at La Petite Grocery on Magazine St. The table got Roasted Breton Sound Oysters...I don't eat oysters, but everyone who does loved them. A few people also got the Blue Crab in Brie Cream and man that was good, too. Everything was excellent and I can't wait until we come back to explore more of the menu.

Dinner was another excellent home-cooked meal on the north shore. Stayed with friends of friends who were gracious enough to let us crash at their lovely home. We were gifted with a pair of tickets to see Bonnie Raitt Saturday night at the Paragon Casino in Marksville that they were unable to use. As we had nowhere in particular we needed to be until Sunday night, we took them and headed up that direction by way of Natchez. Stopped at the Louisiana State History Museum in Baton Rouge right by the state capitol building. It was a very well put together museum, gave a nice overview of the state. It was a beautiful setting, and appropriately there was a bride coming in with her hair done and veil in place with BMs in tow as we were leaving.

Picked up a fresh watermelon on the side of the road on the was quite tasty (we enjoyed it after we got home). Cruised around Natchez...P's dad was born there and went to a year of HS there. Picked up a milkshake. I imagine we'll be back through sometime soon for a longer visit - maybe stay at one of the many B&Bs and explore some of the antebellum homes in the area.

Cruised across the mighty Mississippi and back into LA. Looking at the map it's only 20-30 miles as the crow flies from Natchez to Marksville, by road it's 60 miles, though. There's a big ol' swamp that nobody ever felt like trying to plow a road through. Not far into LA we saw a sign that we were definitely in LA - alligator roadkill. We got to Marksville and found a room at the Deluxe Inn. Not many hotels in town, the casino has one, there's the Deluxe, and one other. So I guess we were fortunate to find a room, cause the next closest town with motels was 20 miles away. The room was big and had a fridge. The bed was ok. They had free wifi.

Had dinner at The Bistreaux. Smaller than it seemed from the outside, and seemed to be rather new. The kitchen didn't seem to quite have their rhythm down yet. It took forever to get our meals, and the appetizers we ordered came out with our dinners, but everything we got was tasty. I'd be willing to give them another shot in the future...hopefully they'll get the kitchen timing & prep down as time passes.

Then over to the Paragon. It was much bigger than we thought it would be. It just kept going and going. A very nice casino. They have a pond in the hotel lobby with alligators and turtles. P hit a nickel slot for $ took like 10+ minutes for the machine to count up the nickels one at a time. We weren't sure when it was going to stop. P said "If only it'd been dollars!" to which I replied that had it been a dollar machine he wouldn't have been betting that much :) Of course we cashed out right away and wandered through the rest of the casino back to the concert hall.

We had great seats, with a clear view of the stage. There were maybe 30 people younger than either of us in the place, which meant that everybody else stayed seated the whole was great! A concert we could actually sit through!! Bonnie was great, played a lot of tracks from Luck of the Draw, looked fabulous.

P went out the next morning and got donuts from Meche's Donut were they good. Fresh, still a little warm. Krispy Kreme fresh out of the grease wasn't even as good as these.

Got on the road south, stopped for lunch at Prejean's in Lafayette. It was excellent as always...had the Eggplant Abbeville and OMG it was good. Next time that's my meal instead of just an app. Had to sop up all of the sauce with the bread because it would've been unseemly to lick it up off the plate :)

After that, we headed back west on I-10, leaving the state of Louisiana for Houston, a trip to be detailed in the next post.