Archive for the tag “seafood”

It’s been a minute!

Well hello there! I haven’t written a post in a very long time, but I want to get back into it now that Pandemic isn’t 100% controlling our lives anymore.

The funny thing is that I took 84 flights last year – during COVID – and as a result did eat out quite a bit. I actually used my blog card most of those times, but just didn’t take the time to write up posts about my experiences. Shame on me, because those were probably some of the most unique dining experiences of late! Masked up and shielded by plexiglass. Who knew!?!

This was in Tampa. Beautiful and flavorful fish while eating by the water.

Also, like many, I baked A LOT during COVID. It’s not necessarily something that I “took up” during Pandemic, but I continued to feed my neighbors’ bellies, for sure! Cakes, cookies, cupcakes, muffins, soft pretzels, breads, bear claws, cinnamon rolls, bagels, biscotti, bars, etc. You name it, I’ve probably made some version of it. Single serve deli containers have been a saving grace – neighbors get “grab-n-go” treats in our lobby on a weekly basis.

I’m excited to work my creative side by getting back into blogging about my experiences in allowing servers to choose their best recommendations for me. It’s been such a fun way to try new food, or food that I wouldn’t normally choose for myself.

If you’ve got recommendations, please feel free to comment!

Cheers!

Ker

“I know a guy who knows a guy…” – La Belle Ferronniere, Paris, France

That’s how the email started. “I know a guy who knows a guy that recommended a typical French Brasserie.”

My colleague was voted to be “party planner” (probably by me!), and he stepped right up to the challenge, as he always does. We had twelve colleagues who were ready to enjoy an evening outside of the Charles de Gaulle airport region, and wanted to spend some time in Paris proper. It’s not necessarily an easy feat to coordinate for twelve people, but what a fun evening we had!

It turns out that when you “know a guy who knows a guy (the owner of La Belle Ferronniere)”, you get treated very nicely! We had excellent service from start to finish.

I had requested a cheese plate, and man oh man did La Belle Ferronniere deliver! We devoured the various cheeses before I even thought to snap a photo. We did this while enjoying a few bottles of wine (I think there were twelve emptied in total – whoops!).

When it came time to order dinner, in typical fashion, I surrendered my order over to our server. He asked a few vague questions, but seemed right on board with surprising me.

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It was a simple dish of shrimp and vegetables – much needed vegetables at that point! It was not too heavy and full of flavor. Perhaps just a bit on the messy side! 🙂

None of my colleagues could pass up dessert either! I only ate half of my dish before passing on to another colleague to finish, but bourbon creme brulee with a Woodford Reserve on the side? Yes, please!

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We had such a good time, laughing and chatting (and being obnoxious Americans). It was much needed after travel overseas and a couple of looong days of meetings!

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As we were leaving, we were stopped at the bar to enjoy a shot “on the house”. Oh boy…

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We then walked a bit of the dinner off and enjoyed the typical sights of Paris.

It was a fantastic way to cap off a very busy week in the City of Lights / Love.

Next stop: Barcelona!

Cheers!

Ker

Bites in Baltimore! Who am I kidding? BINGING in Baltimore! #PSTC

I flew out to Baltimore last week to attend my third PSTC (Pressure Sensitive Tape Council) conference.  It’s not a large conference, but a very focused industry event.

I found myself getting to know new colleagues from a sister company, spending lots of quality time with key customers, and bonding with newer colleagues from my own company.  In all, it was a great week (and I normally loathe being away for almost a week – especially while having a senior dog (and having recently said goodbye to my other senior dog)).

On my first evening in Baltimore, I met two new colleagues from Arkema Coating Resins for dinner.  I immediately knew Pat (the planner of the evening) and I would get along.  He promised me “a good restaurant”!  😉  Keith, a technical guy and I also hit it off quite quickly – lots of common interests! It’s awesome to feel such a natural connection with guys I had never met, and who live in NJ and NC, respectively.  Yet, we are now “family”!

We met at the cocktail hour reception at PSTC (quite literally one hour, folks…so we weren’t staying long). We walked several blocks over to Kona Grill and immediately realized we were in a good spot for a seafood dinner!  Here is the menu.

We were hungry, so we knew we wanted appetizers.  Pat chose the Shrimp Diablo (diablo sauce, danish bleu, bleu cheese sauce), and then Keith turned the second option over to Robbie, our server.  He chose the chicken + shrimp lettuce wraps (bibb lettuce, cucumber salad, spicy sesame vinaigrette).  Both appetizers were delicious, and we devoured every last bite!  IMG_2049IMG_2050

 

Robbie charmed me immediately with his great sense of humor (stepping back to “reset” as he flubbed when describing the evening’s special (which Pat ordered)).  I can definitely appreciate someone who can laugh at himself and who can also recover so nicely after a minor “trip up”.

It didn’t hurt that Robbie brought me a glass of Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay to compliment the appetizers and entree as well! 🙂

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The entree he chose for me was the Snapper topped with crab meat, served with couscous and asparagus. Normally, couscous doesn’t seem like an interesting side, but Kona’s couscous had really good flavor and texture to it! Delicious!

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And, my colleagues had equally delicious, and beautifully plated dishes as well!

In addition to having a very pleasant server who was quite open-minded and excited about “She Ordered What?”, I had good quality time to get to know my new colleagues and to chat about both business and personal interests.

On Wednesday, we decided to have a casual evening and walk over to Oriole Park at Camden Yards to watch the O’s take on the Toronto Blue Jays.  I had never been to Camden Yards, so I was excited to check that ballpark off the bucket list of venues to visit!  If you haven’t been, you’ll see that it’s beautifully situated in the heart of the city and the brickwork makes it an absolutely beautiful area!

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The view from my hotel room! Thank you, Hilton Baltimore!

Of course, it was a hot dog and beer kind of night. No fancy dining while watching America’s pastime!  And, the Orioles won 6-1 that evening, so it made the local experience all the better!

Thursday, however, was a different story.  I was totally set on going to my hotel room for the evening to write meeting notes, but my colleagues convinced me to venture out for dinner at a restaurant an industry contact recommended – The Fork & Wrench.  It’s perfectly described as a “boutique dive bar”, and founded by Cyrus Keefer, (associated with that well-known James Beard foundation!).

The Fork & Wrench is an eclectic and charming space!

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The staff all greeted us warmly, and at ~6:30 on a Thursday night, we were able to grab a table for four with no problem.  Well, except the fact that we were all still reeling from one of the worst cab rides I’ve ever experienced.  To the driver of cab number 90 in Baltimore: I will NEVER get into your vehicle again! It was so bad I took a picture AND tweeted about this dangerous ride!

I have a strong stomach, but all four of us wanted to bail multiple times during this 2 mile / 35 minute cab ride!!!

I have a strong stomach, but all four of us wanted to bail multiple times during this 2 mile / 35 minute cab ride!!!

A quick glance at the menu, and I knew everything would be wonderful.  My colleague was really trying hard to “move out of her comfort zone”, so she was quite impressed when she saw me hand my blog card to our server, Greg.  He read it, and was totally up for the task!  The only question he asked me was how hungry I was.  Answer: pretty darned hungry!

The meal started with fresh bread and salted butter (delicious!).

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Then came fried oysters, served with a glass of Simonnet Febvre Brut Rosé .

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For good measure, I took a picture of all of the appetizers on our table.

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You’ll see smoked Beef Tongue with tostones, aji marmalade & cilantro crema on the right, and Ssamjang Glazed Pork Belly with green papaya relish, kimchi purée & Bibb lettuce on the left (the colleague who stepped out of her comfort zone – and thoroughly enjoyed her appetizer!).

I teased Greg that he gave me a clue about my entrée when he set down a serrated knife.

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For my entree, Greg was not the person to serve me, so I wasn’t sure if I should claim the dish that was presented or not!  After all, this was a surprise!

When I mentioned that it “might” be my dinner, the server sat the plate down and then excitedly told me that everyone in the kitchen saw the blog card and thought it was such a cool idea!  I have to admit that I got pretty excited by that response as well!

It turns out that I was served the Leg of Lamb served over stewed white beans, baby carrots & wild ramp salsa verde. Extremely tender meat and really nice flavor! I felt like it was a reasonably healthy dish as well – lots of veggies and no heavy cream sauce. That makes up for all of the gorging, right?

I couldn’t possibly finish it all, but I wanted to!  And, it turns out that I didn’t need that serrated knife – the meat was that tender!

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Although I was overly full, Greg had already decided that I needed to try dessert as well.  I mentioned on Instagram that I (jokingly) thought I found my soulmate in Greg.  He picked the dessert that had immediately caught my eye.  The “Creamsicle” Gooey Butter Cake with blood orange curd, orange sherbet.  Y’all know how much I love a citrus dessert!

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But, let me tell you that the butter cake was the absolute BOMB.  I wasn’t hungry any longer, but I would have licked that plate clean if it were socially acceptable!

On the way out, I stopped in the Ladies’ room, and I even felt compelled to take photos there. Such a charming space!

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It’s no wonder Baltimore is called “Charm City”.  Everyone I met was very pleasant, our servers Robbie and Greg were both charming men, and the spaces and places we visited had unique charm and character.

Now, time to get back to healthy eating and exercise!  No more binging!

I hope you enjoyed my recap of my visit to Baltimore as much as I enjoyed the visit!

Cheers!

Ker

Tapas, mom, not topless! Cafe Tu Tu Tango, Orlando, FL

I was traveling for work last week and found myself in Florida in February – there are worse places to go at that time of year!  My colleagues and I were staying at The Grande Vista Marriott, the world’s largest Marriott property.  At least that’s what the bell man told me as he drove me from the lobby to my hotel room!

After our fist full day at the ICE Convention in the Orange County Convention Center, nine of us went for a late dinner at Cafe Tu Tu Tango.  One of my colleagues, Lianne, had been there before and really enjoyed the tapas menu, the energetic vibe, and the local artistry on display in the cafe.

The wall behind our table...Campbell's soup artwork.

The wall behind our table…Campbell’s soup artwork.

Even the the silverware was a little work of art…

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Now, the reason for the name of this post is that my mom thought I said we went to a topless place for dinner when I told her it was tapas.  Ahhh, Pamcakes…

Back to the evening… In addition to a bevy of cocktail, beer and wine options, we enjoyed a slew of small plates.  Each of us ordered a couple of plates to share with the table.  Here’s the list of delicious orders…

Guacamame (Edamame, chickpeas, avocado, salsa roja, chips) and Tuna Sashimi (Yuzu vinaigrette, cucumber salad, avocado, sesame seeds, jalapeño, micro cilantro): 

Guacamame and Ahi Tuna

Guacamame and Sashimi Tuna

Spiced Alligator Bites (Local florida wild gator, key lime mustard):

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Goat Cheese Timbale (Whipped goat cheese, arugula, nuts, parmesan baguettes, balsamic glaze):

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Dynamite Shrimp (Crispy shrimp, sweet chili aioli):

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Hazelnut Lemongrass Mahi Mahi: (I failed to take a photo of this beautifully plated dish!)

Blackened Fish Tacos (Citrus and cilantro marinated white fish, avocado coleslaw, fresno peppers, microgreens)

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Picadillo Empanadas (Chipotle spiced ground beef, manchego, cilantro sour cream):

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Southwest Chicken Flatbread (Chipotle spiced ground beef, manchego, cilantro sour cream):

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Cajun Chicken Egg Rolls (Blackened chicken, roasted corn, red onions, cheddar, goat cheese, creole mustard sauce):

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Mediterranean Flatbread Pizza (Ricotta, eggplant, tomatoes and basil):

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Pork Belly Reuben (Roasted pork belly, house-made sauerkraut, thousand island, pretzel bun ):

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Argentinian Chimichurri Steak (Tostones, marinated steak, garlic mojo):

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Jalapeno Mac & Cheese (Oven-charred tomatoes, crispy pancetta, caramelized onions, jalapeño-horseradish mornay sauce):

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And…saving my favorite for last… the Short Rib Wraps (Kimchi, scallions, cilantro, bibb lettuce wrap): 
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Such a light dish, but rich with flavor.  Tender meat, the right amount of heat (I’ve loved Kimchi since I dated man of Korean descent in high school), and perfect flavors surrounding the dish.

While I enjoyed most of the dishes, my three favorite would be: 1) the short rib wraps, 2) goat cheese timbale (I’m a cheese fanatic, so please take that into account), and 3) the Cajun chicken egg rolls.

I was not a huge fan of the pork belly reuben, and I found the spiced alligator bites to be a bit lackluster.  The other dishes were great, IMO.  I loved the guacamame as an appetizer, and the dynamite shrimp was another worthy plate!

Have you been to Cafe Tu Tu Tango?  Do you have a favorite dish?  Have you ever purchased artwork there (I had my eye on a Michael Jackson, circa “Beat it” days painting)?

In general, do you have a favorite tapas plate?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Cheers!

Ker

A lovely summer evening at Bosley on Brady

A couple of weekends ago, Stairwell Guy (Jeff) and I decided to head over to Brady Street for dinner.  After sending a tweet to my younger (and cooler) coworker, Alex, we decided to head over to Bosley on Brady on his recommendation.  If I recall correctly, we had played a little tennis earlier in the afternoon and found ourselves to be famished by 5PM!  Needless to say, we didn’t have to wait for a table and in fact had our pick of the outside seating.  It was a beautiful afternoon, so sitting outside was the obvious choice!

We were quickly and warmly greeted by Skip, our server.  He gave us a brief overview of the place, including highlighting that Bosley on Brady is essentially a Florida Keys-influenced restaurant.  The back story on their website explains a bit more about that.  Skip also proved to have a great sense of humor and was very personable throughout our dinner.

We perused the menu, and everything looked so delicious!  I decided to let Skip choose my dinner and a drink to go along with it.  He read my card, and quickly affirmed that he had great choices in mind.

Skip delivered “the mango tango” cocktail (in a bucket!) to me.  Although I typically don’t drink hard liquor, I put my trust in Skip (and also advised Jeff that he might have to carry me home!). It was refreshing on a warm evening!

Mango puree, rum, mango vodka, and orange juice.

Mango puree, rum, mango vodka, and orange juice.

Jeff and I decided to order an appetizer sampler (which we devoured before I thought to take a picture).  We also ordered the watermelon salad (a favorite of mine!).  How can one not enjoy watermelon covered in feta, mint, red onions, toasted almonds, cracked pepper, olive oil and blackened shrimp?

IMG_7802Although we certainly weren’t in a hurry that evening, I will say that we both though the food service was a bit slow.

Eventually, we received and enjoyed the salad, and then we moved on to our entrees.  Jeff chose the scallop dish (he knows I can’t have scallops, but that I think they’re fantastic! They are one of his favorite dishes as well).

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They were served on a delicious risotto and with Jeff’s other favorite: asparagus.  Needless to say, he enjoyed the meal.

Skip had decided to bring me the special of the evening: Cobia.  A solitary fish that feeds on other fish, giving it a really intense flavor.

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This too, was served over risotto and with a mango salsa.  The green beans had a wonderful caramelized bacon on them as well.  Very good combination of flavors, although I couldn’t finish my meal.  I mean, look back at how much we had already eaten!  Jeff decided to take my leftovers home, so they certainly didn’t go to waste!

There was no way we were going to try dessert after that gluttonous dinner!  However, I am certainly not opposed to going back to Bosley on Brady for a lighter dinner and possibly trying dessert.

If you’re looking for a leisurely dinner on the east side, I’d suggest heading over to Bosley on Brady.

Cheers!

Ker

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