I’m pretty sure that the song “Burning Ring of Fire” was written about the heat and humidity in Nashville in the summer. We had a great time touring downtown Nashville despite the heat and the rain.
I served a mission for my church in the Dominican Republic and I lived there for two years. It was a great (and hard) two years. I lived in cinderblock, tin roof houses, and I ate as the Dominicans ate. Lunch was the big meal of the day and we would have rice and beans almost every day.
If you didn’t have rice and beans for lunch you might have rice with some other vegetable mixed in, or if you were really lucky rice with some chicken. For dinner you might have rice and eggs, fried plantains and eggs, or maybe some bread and hot chocolate.
Now the food wasn’t amazing but if I had to eat one thing every day, I would probably go back to rice and beans. It’s bland enough that you don’t get sick of it, and still has some nutrition and calories. My kids didn’t love the food but they enjoyed hanging out with their cousins.
I couldn’t find good Dominican food in Utah but as we travel further East I have started to see a few more choices. My friend Nathan (Marisa’s cousin) lived in the Dominican Republic as well so he and his wife Mandy took me to a great Dominican Food place in Orlando, Florida, called Tu Casa.
My favorite dish was the Moro de Guandules which is just seasoned rice with pigeon peas mixed in. We also had arroz y habichuela (rice and beans), tostones (fried green plantains), platanos maduros (ripe plantains), chicharrones (fried pork rinds), chicken, and tripe (intestine.) It was all very authentic. I would eat here once a week if it was in my neighborhood.
Like I said in my previous article, when I told people I was going to visit The French Quarter, the first thing they talked about was the food. “You have to go to Cafe Du Monde.” Make sure and have a “Po’ Boy.” “Make sure to eat at _______.” It was hard to follow all of the suggestions as we were there for one day, and our kids got filled up so fast that we didn’t even try everything we had planned. We still got to experience some new foods and it was a lot of fun.
The first thing we did because we were told we had to was to get beignets at Cafe Du Monde.
The beignets were really good. I was pretty fascinated by the restaurant. They serve beignets with 12 pounds of powdered sugar on top, coffee, and hot chocolate, and that’s it. The floor is sticky and gross, the bathrooms are disgusting, and it is packed. We walked by a few times throughout the day and there were always lines. It shows you the importance of word of mouth, and the value of simplicity. I have a theory that Cafe Du Monde does so well because everywhere else in the French Quarter is such an assault on the senses that it’s a relief to go somewhere with fried brown food and the comfort of not having to make a choice.
If you go don’t wear black and sit upwind of your neighbor since you will be covered with powdered sugar the rest of the day.
After walking around for a while we went to Central Grocery and got the best cold sandwich I have ever had. We bought one whole and one half Muffaletta which filled us up too much and no one was hungry the rest of the day.
There were candy shops every where making pralines in the windows. We sampled several different places and we thought that Aunt Sally’s were the best.
We ate too many beignets and the sandwich really filled us up. The only other thing we ate was a softshell crab po’boy. I don’t remember where we got it but it was tasty.
The food we tried was really great, we just wish we cold have had more.
You can call them crawfish, crayfish, mudbugs, yabbies, or even lobster, but regardless of what you call them, they are pretty freaky looking and don’t look very appealing. Growing up in Houston, Marisa has been to a lot of crawfish boils but the rest of us have never participated.
Marisa’s brother Cameron and his wife Betty were nice enough to provide us with our first crawdad experience. They were pretty good, although a little too much work for what you get. It’s always fun to try something new and now we can say we have eaten mudbugs. Is that a good thing?
We were having a slow day while in the Moneterey Bay area but we still felt like going out and doing something. It has been a while since we have gone on a butt trip. Click here to learn more about our butt trips.
This butt trip had some potential as we were basically driving 40 minutes to see an artichoke the size of a building. I was excited for lots of eye rolling and wailing and gnashing of teeth from the young’uns.
The artichoke was gigantic. There is a fruit and vegetable stand and a deli attached. The fruit stand was no bueno. The stuff didn’t seem very fresh and appealing. There were a lot of people getting sandwiches from the Deli. We noticed they had fried artichokes. I felt that if we didn’t eat fried artichokes next to a Behemoth lime green artichoke statue we would regret it for the rest of our lives. However, I also worried that if the fried artichokes were yummy, the kids would enjoy the butt trip which would defeat the purpose. I decided to risk it.
Luckily the artichokes were just OK. I think that almost anything deep fried is going to be palatable. These were good but I wouldn’t go back to get them so the kids continued with their downtrodden nature.
As far as Butt Trips go, this one was a little below average. The drive was long but it is very green and beautiful in this area so we didn’t have a lot of pain there. The kids didn’t have to learn anything. Marisa and I didn’t have any long winded lectures or stinky food for the kids to suffer through. The artichoke was awesome and it’s just off the freeway so I would recommend stopping for the photo op if you are by Castroville. The overall rating for this but trip was a 33 out of 67.
One of the goals we have as we travel is to eat some foods that are original to certain cultures and have our family try some new things that we haven’t had in the past. While we were in Winnemucca we found out that the Basque culture is very prominent in parts of Nevada. I didn’t know a lot about the Basque culture but here is a little history from Winnemucca’s own official site.
“People of Basque heritage originate from four provinces in Northern Spain and three adjacent regions in France. The Basque Country includes the regions around the Bay of Biscay and the Pyrenees Mountains. The origins of the Basque people are not entirely known. They speak a very unique language called Euskera. The Basque people began to immigrate to the western United States around 1850, drawn by the California Gold Rush. Many of these immigrants soon turned to running livestock, and became a prominent presence in the western range sheep industry.”
There are a few Basque restaurants in Winnemucca. We went to the Hotel Martin which has been around since. I explained to the waitress that we didn’t know what to do and asked her for suggestions. She explained that Basque food is generally served family style. She suggested we order 2 main entrees and then the rest of the food will just come out prior to the entrees being served. The meal ended up being 7 courses and we were stuffed.
Clam Chowder: This was an overall crowd pleaser and probably everyone’s favorite dish ( except my own). It was extremely rich and creamy. It was the best clam chowder I have ever had. We wanted more but didn’t dare ask since the waitress said there was a ton of food coming out.
Salad and Beans: This was an iceberg lettuce based salad with some sort of vinaigrette. The beans were more savory and salty with flecks of ham. They were good on their own but our waitress said that the warm beans were to be served over the cold salad. We all thought that sounded weird but we tried it and most of us liked it. Marisa and I loved it and and I actually crave beans on my salads now.
Mashed Potatoes: I grew up in Idaho and I like my mashed potatoes thicker and heartier than most. These were definitely thicker and than some would like with bigger pieces mixed in with the mash. nothing really special or different about them but we thought they were really good. They might be too gummy for some.
Green Beans: Nothing special. Normal green beans. They might have been canned.
Beef Toungue: This was my favorite of the night. It was covered with a subtle brown gravy and cooked with peppers and onions. It literally melted in your mouth. Everyone tried it and most liked it even though they didn’t like the idea of eating tongue.
Fries: Fresh cut fries. These were really good.
Overall, the meal was very good. The experience was even better. we were able to try new foods and get a little taste of Basque Food. If I lived in Winnemucca I probably wouldn’t go to the restaurant a lot, but I would definitely take visitors there to experience something unique and different. Our family enjoyed the food and had a great experience.
The cooking channel mapped out the best food for each of the 50 states. Did I mention that I enjoy food? We will be referring to this map, maybe more often than we refer to an actual atlas. Check it out here.