Friday, December 14, 2018

First Night, One Star

For the first time in our lives, we ate at a restaurant with a Michelin star!

Le Dôme Café in Paris, opened in 1897, is located in the Montparnasse neighborhood on the left bank of the river Seine. It's the first restaurant we had dinner in when we arrived. 

I'm not in love with the photos from this place, but I just couldn't get anything better.  The lighting was low and we were in a private little alcove, but at least you can see some of the food and decor.
Apparently, this is a famous place!  It was frequented by "the famous (and soon to be famous) painters, sculptors, writers, poets, models, art connoisseurs, and dealers. Le Dôme later became the gathering place of the American literary colony and became a focal point for artists residing in Paris's Left Bank."

Michelin Guide inspectors said, "One of the temples of literary and artistic bohemia from the Roaring Twenties with a legendary Art Deco setting. Le Dôme continues to serve the freshest fish and seafood in the best time-honoure."

Condé Nast Traveler in 2015 said, “I don’t eat fancy food, so most of my recommendations are for bistros and other elbows on-the-table sorts of places—like this one, where Hemingway met painter Jules Pascin, commemorating their story in A Moveable Feast. Here, the fish is still prepared in an old-school way (i.e., filleted tableside) and the maître d’s still wear tuxedos.” 
It's true. Ed had the Dover Sole Meunière, which came to the table whole, but then was prepared for Ed (deboned) before eating. The rest of us had Scallops (photo above) with a delicious sauce and side of sautéed spinach. 

Then, a Mille-Feuille for dessert.  We decided to share one just for a taste.  This was HALF the serving!!  It stood 8" high!
I was happy with the meal.  The atmosphere was refined old school, the service was excellent, and the food was really good.  According to The Michelin Guide, one star signifies "a very good restaurant", two stars are "excellent cooking that is worth a detour", and three stars mean "exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey".  

I'd say it fit with the one-star rating description.  Very good indeed.  

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Co Co Ni No

2016: Ladies Of Leisure
2015: Represent Cuba
2014: Where To Go For Pig And Eggs
2013: My Memory Goes Way Way Back

2012: Remember One, Remember All
2011: History Still Standing
2010: Stay Home: TV And Hot Chocolate Is The Only Way To Make It Through
2009: A Rainy Rainbow 
2008: Be Wary Of Women Wearing Skull Panties
2007: Holiday Sparkle
2006: Arizona Sunset
2005: Before And After The Chops

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Most Exclusive Rooftop

Our second night in Paris we went to the terrace of the Galeries Lafayette department store (upon the recommendation of one of my blog readers - thanks, Pablo!) to take in the view.

It was our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower at night.  The building on the left side of this photo is the Palais Garnier, the Paris opera house.

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Cell Block 8

2016: The Price Of American Made
2015: Sunset In The Brick City
2014: The King Of Light
2013: The End Of WiFi???
2012: Through A Canopy Of Oaks
2011: Clap Your Hands
2010: Wishing For A Blizzard But Will Settle For Flakes
2009: A Hideous Thief Exposed 
2008: Southwest Sunset
2007: Subtlety Is SO Not His Middle Name
2006: Bridging Chicago
2005: Oxymoronic Holiday

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Beauty Crossing The Seine

One of the four statues that sit on socles on either end of the Pont Alexandre III in Paris.  Named after Tsar Alexander III, it's regarded as the most ornate and most extravagant bridge in the city.   

More pictures of this beautiful bridge can be seen here.  

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Designed By Nature

2016: The Last Mile
2015: Off Season Surf Shop
2014: Two Full Weeks Of Shopping Left
2013: Team Daily Rant Makes A Pitstop In Florida
2012: An Apple A Day
2011: California Sunshine
2010: A Star (Or Two) Is Born
2009: Modern Road Warriors And Their Weapons 
2008: Holsteins On Display
2007: Listening And LOVING
2006: Unfortunately Synonymous
2005: The Gays Are The Ritziest

Saturday, December 08, 2018

La Rive Gauche

There are hundreds of little cafés in Paris, but this one is famous. 

Located in the Montparnasse Quarter in the 14th Arrondissement, it was a gathering place for the artistic world.  People like Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Marc Chagall, Ezra Pound, Salvador Dali, Edgar Degas, and others, have all spent time here. 
Our hotel was about a mile from this restaurant, on the left bank of the Seine, and although we did a lot of walking around, we saw this place while on our bus tour.  I didn't know it was famous when I snapped the photo, I just loved the building and the red awnings all around.

There's so much to see in this city, and I'm so surprised at how it has affected me.  I never had any desire to go to Paris.  I've wanted to visit France, just not Paris, but now that I've been there, I know I'll be going back. 

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Where Broken Hearts Reside
2015: Joy Delivery
2006: Border Town

Friday, December 07, 2018

Ordinary Food Done Extraordinarily Well

Our friends Marlaina and MacG have told us about a restaurant in Albuquerque, not far from the TA truck stop, that we had to try if we had the chance.  Well, this week we had the chance.

The Range Cafe is located about a half mile from the truck stop, and after my Olympic training in Europe, walking there was as easy as breathing.  Seriously, it's not far.  If you're in a big rig or an RV, there's no parking there, so stay at the truck stop and use your legs.

The first thing you see when you walk in is the dessert display case.  What a great way to start thinking about what you're going to eat.  

The restaurant, which was clearly repurposed, has a Denny's/Shari's/Howard Johnson's kind of building design but it decorated in kitschy retro contemporary Southwest style.  Is that even a thing?
Very Southwestern colors, sturdy wooden chairs with cutouts, muted pinks and blues in a three-dimensional wall mural that hangs above the kitchen pass-through window, and bright Fiestaware plates stacked on the counter.
And then other elements, like vintage-inspired little toy stoves (or what people used to call ranges, which is where the restaurant name comes from) placed throughout the restaurant, coyotes floating on balloons, and these cool ceiling fans.

They have an extensive menu with everything from soups and salads, burgers and sandwiches, to Southwestern/Mexican dishes.
 They have featured plates, too, which add a twist to the familiar.
We started with the Green Chile Strips (breaded whole chiles served with cool creamy jalapeño dipping sauce...$5.99) as an appetizer.  I'll eat anything with a green chile on it, and in New Mexico, I think it's the law that you have at least one if you're dining in the state.  Green chiles are fairly big, so we went with the three-strip plate.  Just the right amount.
Ed had the Matt's Ultimate Hoosier (Parmesan breaded pork loin, topped with frizzled onions, housemade chipotle BBQ, lettuce, tomato & mayo on a toasted bun...$11.99) with a side of onion rings.  I'm glad he got this because I was eyeballin' it and was happy to be able to have a taste.  The pork loin was done perfectly.  Crispy and juicy. 
I decided to have one of the featured plates - the Fried Zucchini Sandwich (panko breaded zucchini, Italian spices, served on a focaccia roll with basil cream, onion, tomato, avocado, and red pepper...$12.99) with a side of sweet potato fries.  Apparently, it's one of their cookbook favorites.  Ed and I shared our sandwiches, half to each of us.  They were both delicious, but I looooooved mine.  
Let's look at its deliciousness up close.  The zucchini was perfect.  Lightly breaded and crisply fried, I would have never thought to pair that with lettuce and tomato let alone avocado.  It was a good combination.  And the fries were sweet little pieces of heaven.  It's no wonder their motto is "Ordinary Food Done Extraordinarily Well."
I also wanted to taste their Green Chile Tomato Jam, so I asked the waitress for a small ramekin.  It was delicious.  They sell jars of it for $4.99 to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.  They sell hats, t-shirts, and a few other goodies at this location, but they have a full-blown gift shop at their Bernalillo, NM store, just 15 miles north of Albuquerque.
We'll be back here for sure.  There were several things on the menu I saw that I'd like to try and since we didn't have room for dessert on this visit, we decided we need to go back.  Ed heard the pies were great and I'm itching to try Death By Lemon.

Or their giant Cream Puff.

Or the classic Carrot Cake.

Or maybe my favorite, Vanilla Crème Brûlée.

I need help.

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Glimpse From The BQE

2016: Looking Out Over The Valley Of The Sun
2015: Eastern Shore
2014: Sunday Elixirs
2013: Getting Robbed On The Way OUT Of New York
2012: Not Everyone Learns In The Same Manner
Just Another Day In New York

2010: Practicing For The Retirement Home
2009: United Parcel Servant
2008: Whizzing Through Dallas
2007: Eddie With The Luscious Kisser Friday
2006: ’Tis The Season To Be Tweety
2005: Cat Fiiiiiight!!!

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Spiked Kaffee

In Rüdesheim, Germany, they drink an alcoholic coffee drink called Rüdesheimer Kaffee.  It was invented in 1957 by German television chef Hans Karl Adam.

It contains Asbach Uralt brandy, which is combined with sugar cubes and added to a cup.  In Rüdesheim, a cup that is specially designed for this beverage is used (see photo).  The brandy is flambeed and stirred until the sugar dissolves.  Strong coffee is added, followed by a topping of thickly whipped cream sweetened with vanilla sugar.  Chocolate flakes are scattered onto the cream as a garnish.

It was so delicious, I drank it all before I got a picture of the whipped cream and chocolate flakes! 

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A Superlative Example

2016: Sandwiches Fit For A King
2015: Rollin' With A Little Christmas
2014: Waterfront Biz
2013: My Boy And I Love Us Some Cheese
2012: A Visit To The Island Plantation of Hibernia
2011: Now They Are Heard And Not Just Seen

2010: By Request
2009: The Reason My Ass Is Not Getting Any Smaller
2008: Out Of This World Outport Life
2007: Max Says To Go Placidly, As It Is Still A Beautiful World
2006: Dangerous Beauty
2005: Big Bad Cherry Peppers

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Eat Local

I love the colors of fruits and vegetables at a farmer's market, but in a foreign country, it's the signs I find appealing.

Why does grocery shopping seem more fun when you're not at home?

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2017: Rock Solid Christmas Decorations
2016: Illuminated Mystery
2015: Getting In The Holiday Mood
2014: A Door To Another World
2013: Beaver Exploitation In Texas
2012: Perfected And Built By Italians 
2011: So THIS Is What We Look Like!
2010: Just Because
2009: Plastic Is A Sure Thing
2008: The All Purpose Swab
2007: Jump The Weeds
2006: Forty Dollars A Gallon
2005: Off With Their Heads!

Sunday, December 02, 2018

The Magnificent Magyars

Budapest was one of my favorite cities on our European trip.  It was historic, beautiful, with great restaurants, friendly people, and was fairly easy to navigate.  The language is an issue, as it's difficult to learn and there are hardly any signs that you can read and sort of figure out what it says, but we managed.

Walking around the city, I felt surrounded by history.  I looked at the old people in the neighborhood of the market we went to and knew they were very aware of the history of their city.  Most had been probably been born during World War II and grew up during the German occupation, witnessed the Hungarian Revolution, saw the end of communism, and now mingle with a portion of the 4.4 million tourists that visit each year.  The young people, on the other hand, looked like young people everywhere - dressed fashionably, glued to their cell phones, oblivious to the fact that they're drinking coffee, and buying groceries, and living in apartments, that are housed in buildings that are over 100 years old. 

I kept wondering if they knew how impressive their city was.  Did they realize how beautiful the buildings were?  Did walking past a building like the one in the photo above do anything for them?  Because it wowed me.

The first photo in this post show the view from the window of our room at the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus - see more photos of our room here - which was located on the fifth floor at the front of the hotel, facing Erzsébet tér (Elizabeth Park).  We got to see the Budapest Eye and the dome of St. Stephen's Basilica day and night.

The photo below shows one of the four guard lions on the Széchenyi Chain Bridge that connects Buda and Pest. They were installed on the bridge in 1852. 

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2017: West Side Lights
2016: Paw Prints On Our Heart
2015: The Incredible Portable Egg
2014: Bric-à-brac
2013: Bidding Adieu
2012: Rushing To The Mine 
2011: Ari-Snowna
2010: It’s In The Air
2009: Wish List
2008: He Must Have Learned It From TV
2007: When Pizza Is Involved, Jesus Is Always In Charge
2006: Sexier Than The Rockettes
2005: $3.99 A Minute 

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Traditional Klompen

A display of wooden shoes at the Kooijman Wooden Shoe Workshop at Zaanse Schans in Holland. 

Although clogs were originally made by hand, the workshop at Zaanse Schans uses antique machines to demonstrate how clogs were made a hundred years ago - they give free demonstrations in 11 languages!

The shoes are made of naturally hard but lightweight wood and we were told they are worn with thick socks, with one finger width of space in the back. They keep your feet warm and dry. We tried on a pair and they were surprisingly comfortable! 

More than 8,000 people worked in the clog-making industry a century ago; now there are only a few dozen. Click HERE to see how clogs are made and explore the website for information on the history of the clog, the history of this family business, and pictures of unique clogs and wooden shoes through the ages. What a great shop!

"Approximately 3 million pairs of klompen are made each year.  They are sold throughout the Netherlands. A large part of the market is for tourist souvenirs. However, some Dutch people, particularly farmers, market gardeners, and gardeners still wear them for everyday use. Outside the tourist industry, klompen can be found in local tool shops and garden centers."

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Kicking It Up For Christmas

2016: Testing Ed's Giant Brain
2015: Practically A Cardinal Red Sin
2014: Drink And A Movie?
2013: Leaving The Blue Skies Behind
2012: One Special Request
2011: Body Language
2010: Move Along, Not Much To Read Here
2009: My Favorite Geek Scores Two Bargains In One Day
2008: Your Beating Heart
2007: All I Want For Christmas Are My Two Front Teeth
2006: Eddie Opens An Eye In Vegas Friday
2005: You’re Giving Me Agida

Friday, November 30, 2018

A Flourish Of Flying Buttresses

Attracting an average of 20,000 people a day (7.3 million per year!), and currently the tallest twin-spired church at 515 feet (157 meters) tall, Germany’s most visited landmark is the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom).

We caught the tail end of Sunday mass on the day we were there.  This is a view from the nave of the cathedral, looking toward the chancel. The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. They began construction on it in 1248, but stopped in 1473, leaving it unfinished. Construction started again in the 19th century and didn’t finish until 1880. It took 632 years (and many men) to get the job done!!

Although the church was hit with 14 aerial bombs during World War II, and endured more than 70 firebomb hits, the building never collapsed; it remained standing as the rest of the city fell around it.  Repairs were done in 1956, and some of the poorer quality work was fixed in the 1990s. 

The cathedral is often referred to as the "black church" because of it's exterior color.  The dark grey, almost black exterior isn't painted, nor is it dirty.  The sandstone which most of the building is made from reacts with the sulphuric acid in rain, turning dark grey over time.  The sections that are newer/repaired appear whiter and lighter than than the rest of the building but will also darken over time.

It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

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2017: The Chief Troll
2016: Look, Ma! No Hands!
2015: My Counter Floweth Over
2014: Breakfast Served All Day
2013: A Peek At Mission Learning
2012: Pretty Yung Ting 
2011: How To Get Kids To Eat Vegetables
2010: Back In The Saddle
2009: Logging Lots Of Miles
2008: Apples, Fudge And Homemade Jam
2007: Eddie Hick Runs Deep Friday
2006: If You Can’t Make It To France
2005: I’m Sleeping With Someone New