Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

So, in awkwardly timed news, the husband and I are heading to Paris this week to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.

Am I scared? No more scared than I’ve ever been traveling to a major city.

I came of age in the ’80s and early ’90s, and I paid attention to the news, meaning that I knew England was potentially still a hotspot for IRA bombings when I traveled there in 1993 to take a World War II history class for the better part of a month.

I paid attention, but I also roved the city like a … well, like a girl who was raised in rural South Mississippi her whole life only to discover at age 21 that she BELONGED in a big city like she had never belonged anywhere else. I endured a couple of subway station evacuations, kept an eye out for abandoned knapsacks, as instructed, and went about my day, like you do.

European countries have dealt with more terrorist bombings and shootings than Americans can even imagine (hit up Wikipedia’s page for terrorist incidents in France – this isn’t the first day at the rodeo for Paris).

I fell in love with New York City a few years after 9/11, traveling there repeatedly with the knowledge that Manhattan is the quintessential American city, meaning that it’s a juicy target for terrorists. Again, I watched for weirdness and went where I wanted to go.

I realize that “See something, say something” only goes so far, and watching for abandoned backpacks in the train station seems like a very 1980s model of protection. At the same time, however, I won’t live in fear of the unknown.

I live in Atlanta, another major American city, albeit without the cachet of New York City. We have a pro football team, a pro baseball team (for now), several concert arenas and TONS of people – in short, Atlanta could very well be a target, too. Any place on the planet could be a target, frankly, if we’re including incidents of mass shootings that have nothing to do with international politics.

Paris is a lovely city, a lively city, a city that feels REAL. Unlike New York and London (and Atlanta, as long as we’re naming names), it hasn’t succumbed to to the outbreak of EveryCityLookstheSame that is rapidly spreading all over the globe.

To paraphrase Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Joann Sfar, Paris is music, champagne, kisses, joy and life.

So, I’m heading to La Ville Lumière, a city that I love, with the man I love, to fearlessly, if cautiously, eat, drink, talk and perhaps weep with its citizens. More than hating the enemy, more than demanding violence in the name of peace, celebrating life, love and freedom is the ultimate revenge on those who would like the world to cower.

Read Full Post »

After ditching the terrible kitchen that I gladly left behind in Mobile (huge room, no counter space, two outlets on walls spaced some 20 feet apart), I enjoyed the large expanse of a kitchen built in the late 90s, complete with tons of cabinet space. Pure suburbia.

I didn’t exactly get along with pure suburbia, however, and ended up in a medium-sized condo in Midtown Atlanta with a decidedly NOT medium-sized kitchen.

I like it. I donated the china that I’ve been packing around for nearly 20 years (china that was meticulously packed away in my paternal grandmother’s home, so don’t worry that I’ve thrown away some sort of beloved family legacy). I need one more smallish cabinet to keep my own wedding china, which is actually pottery, but other than that a smaller kitchen is definitely working for me. Less to dirty, less to clean up. Less cabinet space to attract stuff that has nothing to do with food prep.

On a recent trip to London and Paris (I’m not going to call it a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, because I fully intend to go back, but yeah, it was a big deal), I realized how much less kitchen I could live without. We stayed in apartments in both cities, beginning with a laughably tiny kitchenette in Chelsea:

kitchen

It really took the concept of “no counter space” to a whole new level, but it worked. We boiled pasta and heated sauce for Christmas dinner, and we scrambled eggs one morning. We also had a water kettle, microwave and toaster, meaning we could easily make coffee (via French press) and tea, plus warm up the occasional sandwich or other bakery treat.

In Paris, we added a dishwasher and slightly more counter space to our cooking area:
kitchen2

I think the most complicated thing I made here was oatmeal (dozens of authentic French bakeries within walking distance does not prompt a girl to break out the pots and pans). I also enjoyed the kitchen’s Nespresso Senseo coffeemaker, which I was disappointed to learn is no longer sold in the United States. While I hold anything involving K-cups in utter disdain, I could live with coffee made from those little filter packets every last day.

So much more to talk about from this trip later. Right now, I have to go enjoy the wide-open spaces of my tiny condo kitchen.

Read Full Post »

As a friend of mine would say, Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale is real spicy-like. It’ll also produce a flaming hot soda burp. I mean, probably. Because I wouldn’t really know.

I have a not-very-secret obsession with ginger.  Ginger ale. Ginger beer. Ginger-based cocktails. Ginger cookies. Candied ginger (I like the uncrystallized version from Trader Joe’s because I can eat it at my desk without dropping sugar everywhere).

I like spicy things. I like sweet things. All of my favorite ginger concoctions satisfy both of those likes.

The addition of Earth Fare to Huntsville’s shopping choices made it pretty easy to fill my ginger beer craving. A four-pack of Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew seemed to be the spiciest ginger soda I was going to find around here, and I thought it was the perfect brand for the occasional ginger-based cocktail.

I was wrong, however. It seems I didn’t need to look to all the way to a California company to satisfy this fix. Some of the hottest, spiciest ginger ale I can get my hands on is bottled a mere 100 miles away in Birmingham, Alabama.

Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale – Southern Spice is honestly one of the zestiest blends I’ve ever tasted, challenging the array of international ginger ales that decimate the taste buds of mere mortals at the Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta. (If you ever go there, you should totally mix the spiciest ginger ale you can find with ALL the other soda flavors, no matter how many funny looks you get from your date.)

I discovered this peppery ambrosia at the I Dream of Weenie hot dog van in Nashville, which is another post for another day, I promise.

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale at my neighborhood Publix, meaning beverages are about to get a lot spicier at Chez Haggerty. Maybe a couple of pimento cheese hot dogs (totally a thing at I Dream of Weenie) are in order, too.

Read Full Post »

One of the clandestine pleasures of visiting New York City, Vegas or Orlando is the ability to make a quick visit to M&M’s World.

Don’t get me wrong — the store is full of ridiculous tchotchkes that no one over 9 should ever openly display, and I can’t think of an event that would call for me to wear M&M-themed clothing.

No. The draw is the wall of M&M’s that you can purchase by the pound. It’s like the huge crayon box of M&M’s, with candies on display in every hue you can possibly imagine.

I go for the special flavors at the end of the wall. I don’t know if they’re limited edition or available in stores — frankly, I don’t spend a lot of time in the candy aisle at the grocery store. (And on a side note, when I do pay attention to areas like the cookie aisle, I am utterly appalled. Have you SEEN the ridiculous number of Oreo varieties lately?)

Anyway, I was in Orlando for business last week, and the husband joined me for a day at Universal Studios and a weekend with a longtime friend. On the way to the airport, we serendipitously passed the mall holding the M&M’s store, meaning we practically HAD to stop. We emerged with coconut and raspberry M&M’s.

I honestly can’t pick a favorite. The raspberry candies pack an intense berry flavor, while the coconut variety was slightly reminiscent of a Mounds bar, with a pronounced coconut essence. Both varieties are almost the size of Peanut M&M’s, but without the peanut inside, meaning you’ve got a pretty big serving of creamy chocolate in each one.

I wish I had bought more.

Visits to M&M’s World don’t always turn out this well. We bought the Strawberried Peanut Butter variety a couple of years ago in New York, and they were completely meh, with neither the flavor of strawberry or peanut butter really standing out.

And yes, I’m completely ignoring the fact that I can buy limited edition M&M flavors on Amazon.com.

Read Full Post »

Clockwise, from top left: Valrhona Chocolate, Strawberry, Tres Leches and Carrot Cake.

Where does one kick off an Entirely Adequate 40th birthday?

The Doughnut Plant on the Lower East Side, of course.

The Valrhona Chocolate doughnut is part of my standard Doughnut Plant order now, and the carrot cake doughnut merits repeat business, even though it’s almost too rich for breakfast (alas, I persevere). The husband and I split the strawberry and chocolate treats (it’s always a good idea to order the store’s seasonal doughnut variety), and I left the Tres Leches, also a richer-than-rich indulgence, all for him.

Bonus: Doughnut Plant founder Mark Isreal sang “Happy Birthday” to me and delivered a Creme Brulee doughnut fresh from the kitchen after my husband spotted him and revealed my secret. This doughnut was better than the best creme brulee I’ve ever eaten; it was light, filled with the perfect amount of filling and mercifully small.

Forget breakfast in bed. I’d like all my future birthdays to feature a walk through Chinatown and a couple of choice Doughnut Plant treats. Owner singing optional.

Read Full Post »

When I tell people that I’m traveling to New York City, they inevitably ask if I’m going to see a show. Apparently I’m supposed to hit up Broadway every time.

Instead of a list of must-see shows, however, I have a list of must-eat foods. Thanks to a reading habit that includes a lot of New York-centric publications (Serious Eats New York, the New Yorker, Time Out New York and the New York Times, among other random finds), I never get to check everything off the ever-expanding list. Also, there’s only so much food that the husband and I can eat in three to four days no matter how many subway stairs we climb.

On our latest trip, my great find was Melt Bakery, which makes some fabulous ice cream sandwiches. I stumbled on the Melt stand at the Hester Street Fair, an event that I suggested we attend because it was just a few blocks from our hotel and I knew that it featured at least one culinary treasure that I simply had to try. I just couldn’t remember which one.

After we each enjoyed a meatball slider from Mighty Balls, we split an Elvis from Melt — banana ice cream on peanut butter cookies. It was the freezer attendant’s favorite flavor, and the husband has a thing for peanut butter, so it was the obvious choice.

Delicious. The folks at Melt have somehow produced a cookie that doesn’t harden into a rocky, crumbly mess in the freezer, and their homemade ice cream isn’t the frozen-solid puck that it resembles.

Each bite — firm but not tough, creamy but not prone to quick melting — was a delicate combination of peanut butter and banana. Neither flavor overwhelmed the other, and it was just big enough for two people post-lunch. I think Elvis would approve of this treat, despite its blatant lack of bacon.

So, don’t weep for my lack of Broadway attendance. Instead, celebrate one more delicious delicacy checked off my list.

Read Full Post »

If I’m not planning my vacation around doughnuts, then you can bet that I’ve got my eye on a good ice cream place or two. Jake’s Ice Cream in Atlanta, for example, or the Shake Shack in Manhattan (actually, TONS of ice cream places in Manhattan — I never have enough time to visit all the places on my list and they just keep opening) — you name a city, I’ll find an ice cream place that you should try.

I had been trying to get to the Pied Piper Creamery in Nashville for a couple of years now, but always seemed to be in a rush to return home or to get somewhere else in Nashville, which, BTW, has topped Atlanta as my least-favorite city to drive around in. We never seemed to make it to the right part of town, which is a shame because East Nashville’s Five Points District is really awesome, and possibly my favorite part of Nashville given its lack of the touristy junk that pervades downtown.

Back to ice cream. After a quick lunch at the 3 Crow Bar (which turned a simple BLT into an unforgettable BLTEA with the addition of sliced boiled eggs and avocado), we took a detour before heading back to the car. Half a block down, I spotted the Pied Piper Creamery and I’m pretty sure I stopped, gasped and pointed. I was a little full for ice cream, but I WAS NOT about to miss out on this surprise discovery.

The husband agreed to split a small cup with me. This upped the pressure, since I could choose only ONE flavor.

I passed up the ever-famous Trailer Trash (vanilla with Oreo, Twix, Butterfinger, Nestle Crunch, Snickers, M&Ms, and Reese’s Pieces). I managed to avoid the siren call of the weird flavors, such as We Can Pickle That (dill pickle sorbet). I didn’t want to go too pedestrian, however, and I had been craving banana pudding since reading about Miss Lily’s Banana Pudding last week, so I chose the Banana Fanna Fo Fudding (banana pudding ice cream with vanilla wafers).

It was exquisitely creamy, filled with just the right ratio of bananas to vanilla wafers. Both the bananas and wafers held their textures well, especially considering the tendency of bananas to get slimy and wafers to get soggy when immersed in pudding. The banana flavor was distinct, but it was definitely not the overwhelming artificial banana flavor found in so many fruit-flavored foods.

The small cup was about $2.50, and it would have been enough for one person had that one person not just eaten a BLTEA wrap and a small bag of kettle chips all by herself.

I’m already planning my return trip, because sometimes the Pied Piper Creamery has a flavor called Ziggy Starcrunch (chocolate with Little Debbie Star Crunch pieces and a caramel swirl), and if you talk with me about food for more than 15 minutes you’ll probably find out why I call myself the Forrest Gump of Little Debbie products and you’ll also know why I simply have to try this flavor.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: