We are awake as we come into Corfu, the sun is rising and although the forecast was for rain, we have another beautiful day. All along, the forecasts have been iffy, but the beautiful weather has held. How long can this last?
We take the panoramic tour, and although our guide is very good and very knowledgeable, we are uncomfortable in a group of 40, and drop off once we get to the city. Corfu is our kind of place, the old city has beautiful family-friendly parks, and wonderful narrow little streets, full of interesting shops. This is perfect, because although we are not big shoppers, we like to bring something special back for those we love.
The truth is, we know little about Corfu. We wandered, bought a souvenir or gift here and there, but didn’t really get beneath the surface. We can tell Corfu is tourist geared; in each shop the prices are lowered and the proprietors quietly tell us, “It’s the end of the season, the last boats are here. Soon we will shut down for the winter.”
We’ve wandered to a place we don’t know, and looking at the map doesn’t seem to help. We sit down for drinks at a restaurant, looking at the map and signage, and figure out that it is really hard to get lost; there is the old fortress and the new fortress, and we are between the two. To get back where we need to be – the Old Fortress – we need to wind back the way we came. Meanwhile, we had drinks; too early for lunch.
When we found this square, I heard a voice in my head say “I could be happy living on this square.” I don’t know that is true, but I liked the feel of this out-of-the way, neighborhood-like little plaza, and I have lived in places with the same feeling. In the center, in the shadows, is an old well.
By the time we get back to familiar surroundings, we are getting hungry, and find a lovely restaurant on the square where we can sit, watch people. The service is cordial and helpful, but not rushing us. When we order, he tells us the bread is still baking, and he won’t bring our salads until the bread is ready. That’s OK. When the bread arrives, hot and crusty, it is really OK, it is some of the best bread we have ever tasted.
Melanzane salad, which is tantalizingly close to Baba ghannoush and yet not:
Taramosalata, which is a paste made of fish eggs and maybe cream cheese, and sounds awful, but we ate this a lot in Greek restaurants in Germany, and I got to like it.
Oh! The crusty fresh hot bread! I only wish you could taste this for yourself, it truly brings to mind “the bread of life.”
AdventureMan’s Pasta Marinara, which had lots of seafood in it.
My Moussaka was heavy and rich, tasty, but not a good photo.
We take our time, have a cup of coffee, and wander over to where we catch the shuttle back to the ship. We enjoyed Corfu.
I’ve been doing reviews on Trip Advisor for ten years, starting with out trips into Zambia, and the Robin Pope Camps. From time to time, when I give a restaurant five stars, Trip Advisor asks me “Is this one of the best meals you have ever eaten?”
We’ve eaten some fine meals in our lives and travels, memorable meals, in Monterey/Carmel, in Germany and France, in the Middle East. Some stand out. Maybe only once or twice have I said “Yes” that this is one of the best meals I have ever eaten.
At the Kona Brewing Company, in a little marina on the back side of Diamond Head, I had one of the best meals I have ever eaten.
It started with a ginger lemonade. Have I ever mentioned how much I love ginger beer? This was one of the strongest gingery drinks I have ever had, and it was magnificent.
My lunch was Shoyu Chicken, with spinach and carrots. The chicken was divine, with a teriyaki marinade and sauce. The spinach was equally wonderful, very garlicky. The rice was rice, but I was so far gone over the chicken and spinach that it just wouldn’t matter.
My Kailua friend had a root beer.
With Shrimp Tacos
And a mango slaw, which she said was surprising and also, wonderful.
AdventureMan had fish tacos, which he thought very good.
We left very happy people. It was one of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten.
Today AdventueMan and I went out for a quick lunch at a local Chinese buffet restaurant, a larger restaurant that has a lot of selection and several rooms. We asked for a booth. I got a bowl of soup and came back to the table. The waiter had gotten everything wrong!
We had asked for a pot of hot tea and water, but there was no hot tea there, and when I put went to drink the ice water, the waiter had given me sweet iced tea, not ice water! I saw the waiter hurrying toward me with an odd look on his face, but before he could get there, some other guy was standing next to me grinning and saying “they sat you at our table?”
All of a sudden, it all fell into place and I realized no, I hadn’t been seated at the wrong table, I was in the wrong room, at the wrong table. I was SO embarrassed, but the other guy and the waiter just laughed.
I wasn’t laughing then, but I think it’s kind of funny now.
I left so quickly, I didn’t even apologize for having drunk out of the other guys iced tea!
All the years we lived in the Middle East with prohibitions against alcohol, it never occurred to me that there may be a connection between alcohol and skin cancer. This is from a Bottom Line newsletter.
Alcohol: The Drink That’s Linked to Deadly Melanoma Skin Cancer
You know that cavorting in the sun without adequate protection from clothing and sunscreen is a big mistake when it comes to preventing melanoma…and you know that this kind of skin cancer can kill. But did you know that what you drinkaffects your melanoma risk, too? When it comes to alcohol, it’s true—in fact, your skin cancer risk rises with as little as one serving of alcohol a day, according to new research. Here’s the startling connection…
It’s well-established that the leading cause of melanoma is intermittent, intense, sunburn-causing exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Even sunburns from childhood can come back to haunt you decades later, increasing your skin cancer risk. But other factors (a fair complexion, the presence of moles, advancing age, etc.) enter into the risk equation, too…and researchers decided to see whether alcohol also played a role. To that end, they conducted a meta-analysis, pulling together 16 previous studies that investigated a possible relationship between alcohol consumption and melanoma. The data they examined represented a total of 6,251 cases of this type of skin cancer.
Because the various studies used different measures to describe levels of alcohol consumption, the researchers looked at the grams of ethanol consumed each day, designating one drink as 12.5 grams of ethanol. (For comparison’s sake, in the US, one drink is generally defined as 14 grams of ethanol—the equivalent of a 12-ounce beer, a five-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor.) For the new study, light drinking was defined as no more than 12.5 grams of ethanol per day…moderate-to-heavy consumption was defined as anything in excess of 12.5 grams per day. Although there was limited data on heavy drinking, this level of consumption was defined as more than 50 grams of ethanol (four drinks) per day.
What the researchers discovered: Compared with people who never or seldom drank, people who did drink were 20% more likely to get melanoma. As alcohol intake went up, so did the danger—light drinking was associated with a 10% increase in melanoma risk…moderate-to-heavy drinking was associated with an 18% increase in risk…and heavy drinking was associated with a 55% increase in risk.
What explains the link? You may assume that people who are imbibing at the beach, barbecue or ballgame don’t want to interrupt their fun, so they don’t bother to refresh their sunscreen…or else they’re so buzzed that they’re oblivious to how sunburned they’re getting. And no doubt that plays a part—in fact, other research suggests that nearly one-fifth of sunburns in American adults are attributable to alcohol consumption.
But drunk-induced sunburns don’t tell the whole story, the new study’s authors suggested. Their theory: Alcohol intake may reduce the strength of the immune system, allowing the sun’s UV rays to do greater harm to cells. That’s because soon after ethanol is consumed, it’s converted to a substance that makes skin even more sun-sensitive and vulnerable to oxidative stress, which in turn damages DNA and increases cancer risk.
Self-defense for your skin: If you plan to drink alcohol when you’re outdoors, you’d be wise to slather on the sunscreen beforehand and wear plenty of protective clothing…set a timer on your watch or phone to remind you to refresh your sunscreen every few hours…and limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day. Need even more motivation? Remember that alcohol is linked to numerous other malignancies, including cancers of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, colon, liver, breast and prostate—so in that regard, what’s good for your skin is good for the rest of your body, too.
Source: Study titled “Alcohol drinking and cutaneous melanoma risk—A systematic review and dose-risk meta-analysis,” to be published in British Journal of Dermatology.
“I think this is what MaMa might fix for us if we lived in Jamaica,” I said to AdventureMan as our meals were delivered at the Island Kitchen. We’ve passed Island Kitchen a hundred times, and many of those times AdventureMan has said one of these days he’d like to give it a try. This was the day.
There were other Islanders eating there – one eating oxtail and another eating goat curry. It looks like a lively place on the weekends, when expats come to eat food from home and listen to Island music.
I ordered the Jamaican Tea; it was delicious. I thought it was ginger, but the server said no, it was an herbal tea.
We ordered at the counter – so many options, and a set of choices unlike any other restaurant in Pensacola. Our orders were the special-of-the-day, AdventureMan ordered the Chicken With Brown Sauce and I ordered the Chicken Curry.
It was down-home chow. It was food like Grandmama would serve, if Grandmama were Caribbean. There are other options – Oxtail. Goat Curry. Beef Pasties. Everything looked well prepared, wholesome, and copious.
Still hoping for an Ethiopian restaurant in Pensacola . . . 🙂
My mind works in quirky ways, and yesterday as I was setting up for the hands-on Heirloom Feathers workshop with Cindy Needham, one of the good local Pensacola quilters was telling her how you can tell a Southerner from a Northerner.
“If you go to a Southerner’s house, they’ll ask you first thing if you’d like a drink of water, or iced tea or something, but if you go into a Northerner’s house, you can sit there for five hours and they won’t offer you ANYTHING!”
I grinned to myself, no, I have learned to censor these thoughts. But I couldn’t help it.
“You’re not a Southerner,” I am thinking, “You’re ARAB!”
I thought about a long ago trip through Morocco, we have a rental car and on our way from Ouazazarte to Marrakesh, on an isolated stretch of the road, we see a car in trouble. We stop and ask if we can help, if the man would like a lift to the next town. He tells us no, he wants to stay with the car, but asks if we would go to such and such service station and tell his uncle he needs help, and where he is.
We drive into town, find the service station, and find the young man’s uncle, who is the owner. He sends help.
Did I mention it was Ramadan? No eating or drinking in public from dawn to dusk?
The owner insisted we come into his house, and seated us in his diwaniyya, and sent in mint tea and luscious almond-filled dates to refresh us. We said “No! No! It’s Ramadan!” but he told us it was his honor. He sat while we drank and ate.
Such enormous hospitality. Such grace. We only stayed a very short time; we still had a long drive, but I’ve never forgotten his hospitality.
Then again, it was Southern Morocco. 🙂 Maybe he was Southern.
The Thanksgiving venue changed this year. We all have families, families have struggles, and one of those struggles meant that the Thanksgiving celebration would shift to another home. Same cast of characters, same fabulous food, just a different location.
The organization is superb. Everyone has a part to play. Nieces and nephews arrive to assist in preparations, clearing the grounds, putting out tables and chairs, helping wherever they can. Cousins get to spend time together, catching up, as they work together. The aunts are all busy in the kitchens, cutting, chopping, baking, cooking, stewing, putting their best efforts into making the dishes everyone loves.
The guys do the turkeys. They may have help, but the turkeys seem to be the guys prerogatives. They also carry in the hams.
There are so many desserts that they won’t fit on one table. They won’t fit on two tables! When all the desserts are put on the tables, there are still back-up pies and cakes in the pie-safe behind the table!
Cousins fill glasses with ice; guest can choose lemonade, sweet tea or “un”
The tables groan with turkeys, hams and side dishes – beans and peas from the garden, corn bread, sweet potato casseroles, and more, much, much more:
There is fun for everyone – kayak rides, tractor rides, and ring toss:
There’s always a special room where babies can nap – this is a very child friendly celebration. This family loves babies and little ones, and encourages all the cousins to stay close. It’s always a full day, Thanksgiving, with much for which to give thanks. 🙂 When the great meal is over, people play, visit, walk, chat . . . and then sneak back for another taste of their favorite dish!
This is all about the power of the press. This morning, as I checked my news online, I saw an article about a restaurant area in East Pensacola Heights, and it mentioned several restaurants, including Hopjack’s Filling Station, which our son had told us about.
“Today, I want to go to Hopjack’s!” AdventureMan announced after having read the Pensacola News Journal, and off we went.
Hopjack’s Filling Station is all about beer. I wish I had gotten a photo of the 33 taps for their beers on tap. Next to the 33 beers on tap, there is a huge refrigerator case, an entire wall of cold beers in bottles, so many I have no idea how many there are. And across from that wall, on the opposite wall, is another wall of beer.
They also have food. 🙂 There is a cold chest full of hard-to-find cheeses, and not a huge menu, but a very very cool menu, a big city kind of brew-pub menu, with international offerings at reasonable prices:
I ordered the Duck Panini with the garlic aioli (really, a garlic mayonnaise) (“garlic aioli” is like saying “shrimp scampi” or “Vista View” LOL)
And AdventureMan ordered the Caprese Panini, which had a balsamic vinegar reduction that was divine:
And, of course, we both had beer :-). If you don’t know what you like, they have little tasting cups. I had a dark beer, just a tiny bit sweet, called Rogue, and AdventureMan had something he hoped would approximate a good German Pils, but he says we are going to have to go back and keep trying until he finds it. 🙂
Hopjack’s Filling Station will have a grand opening Friday, August 10, with wine tasting as well as beer sampling. Go welcome them to the neighborhood.
(I really want to go back and try their Belgian frites with aioli!)
Alpharetta, GA is a bedroom community of Atlanta, with a nice big mall with a Macy’s.
(Pensacola does not have a Macy’s.)
When we got to Alpharetta, it was 7 pm because we had lost an hour between Pensacola and Atlanta; we got settled and then we decided to look for a place to eat. I checked with TripAdvisor and Yelp, but we really didn’t see anything that interested us until we checked one of the sattelite strips around the Northpoint Mall, and found Rio Nuevo.
Rio Nuevo is a relatively new Mexican restaurant. I loved the hostess, who essentially looked at me and said “I don’t think you’re from around here” LOL; her Mother is European and she pegged me for European, too. She was surprised when I told her I am an Eskimo (not really true) and that I am a born Alaskan (true).
I loved the light fixtures. I wish I had the courage to put one of these gorgeous sparkly lights up in my entry hall instead of the traditional chandelier I have there, now. These light fixtures really give life to the restaurant; they sparkle!
It gave me something to think about besides the menu. The problem with the menu: too many good things to choose from, and a lot of them I have never heard of before, but they sound really really good.
Very good selection of beers and wine 🙂 I had ordered a Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet, but ended up with the house cab – and it was just fine.
I ordered the Chili Seared Scallops. They were beautiful, and tasty, and surrounded by lovely vegetables, so I felt doubly good, eating tasty scallops AND vegetables. I was just a tiny bit taken aback that the chili sauce was sweet, so it reminded me a little of Thai food; I think I would prefer them sharp and salty, rather than sweet. They were, however, beautiful and delicious.
AdventureMan, however, was the big winner. He ordered a la carte Mexican tacos, one with a Pastore filling and one with a Barbacoa filling.
Here is what Wikipedia says about Tacos al Pastore:
A similar dish is served in Mexico known as tacos al pastor or “tacos de trompo”. The cooking is different from that of the kebab. The meat is cooked and then sliced into a corn tortilla. They can be found all over Mexico, especially in street corners. They are not new to Mexico, and it is unknown if there is a direct relationship with the Turkish Kebab. In Puebla, this was introduced by the numerous Middle-Eastern immigrants, mostly from Lebanon and Syria, but also Turkey and Iraq, in the early 1920s. Since then, it has become a traditional dish of the city, locally known as taco árabe, “Arabian taco”, sold in taquerías orientales, “[Middle-]Eastern taco stands”. Nonetheless, it is now usually made with beef and lamb and served either in pitas –locally called pan árabe, “Arabian bread”–, leavened bread –locally called torta árabe, “Arabian baguette”, also called cemita–, or simply in flour tortillas.
It is usually accompanied tahini and labneh –locally called jocoque– even though the skhug (or kharif) has been replaced with a thick chipotle-garlic sauce. In other parts of the country, most notably in Mexico City, the dish has adapted to the Mexican cuisine by replacing the pita with corn tortillas, in what is now called a taco al pastor, “shepherd taco”. Unlike a taco árabe, the taco al pastor is served with pineapple, cilantro, chopped onions and green or red salsa, and marinated with annatto sauce.
Regardless of local adaptations, authentic middle eastern shawarma is available in the many middle eastern restaurants and kosher taquerias that cater to the large Mexican Lebanese and Mexican Sephardim communities. German style Doner Kebab can be found too but is not common, although is gaining popularity.
In some places of Northern Mexico, such as Nuevo Leon, Durango, Chihuahua, these are usually called Tacos de Trompo if served on maize flour tortillas, and gringas if they are served on wheat flour tortillas with cheese.
A similar dish is called Tacos Árabes, which originated in Puebla in the 1930s from Lebanese-Mexican cuisine. Tacos Árabes use shawarma-style meat carved from a spit, but are served in a pita bread called pan arabe. These tacos have been brought by Mexican immigrants to the United States in the past few years and have become popular in cities like Chicago and Los Angeles, the two largest Mexican and Mexican-American population centers in the United States.
LLOOLLL – an Arab taco! Filed under doner kebab! And made with PORK! Well, they are delicious, and they have this taste like I imagine you could buy on a street in Mexico 😉 I have to imagine. I have never been to Mexico. Not yet 🙂
Here is what Wikipedia says about Barbacoa:
Throughout Mexico, from pre-Mexican times to the present, barbacoa (the name derives from the Caribbean indigenous Taino barabicu) was the original Mexican barbecue, utilizing the many and varied moles (from Nahuatl molli) and salsa de molcajete, which were the first barbecue sauces. Game, turkey, and fish along with beans and other side dishes were slow cooked together in a pit for many hours. Following the introduction of cattle, domestic pigs, goats, sheep, and chickens by the Spanish, the meat of these animals was cooked utilizing the traditional indigenous barbacoa style of cooking.
“Barbacoa” actually has its origins in all the countries that Tainos and other Indian populations inhabited, not just Mexico. The Tainos themselves were pre-Columbian Indians located throughout the Caribbean and which some believe included the Arawak Indians who especially dominated the most leeward Caribbean islands themselves.
The Arawak were first and foremost those who historically used the green and fire resistant flexible limbs of the hanging branches of the giant Bearded Fig Tree (Los Barbadoes) to cook meats and fish over an open fire while first marinating their foods in tropical herbs and spices found naturally throughout the southern islands to South America.
Unlike latter variations, the original and most authentic “Barbacoa” used herbs and spices, such as island prepared “cassareep” (derived from the root of the cassava plant), not only to enhance the natural flavors of meats, fish and vegetables, but preserve their cooked foods from spoiling in the heat of the tropics. The Arawak Indians called their preparations “Barbacoa,” accordingly, as these methods proved to be a boon of protection for keeping their foods from prematurely spoiling.
Rio Nuevo also had two different Mole’s I am dying to try, but when we went back for lunch the next day . . . . after hours at the Mall on the hottest day in Atlanta history ever, we BOTH ordered the tacos-a-la-carte: al pastore and barbacoa. They were SO good, served with bowls of fresh cilantro and chopped onion to sprinkle on – divine!
Service both times was excellent. This is not fast food, but there were a lot of people eating lunch there who were in and out quickly. The owner came by both times we ate there, and there are still things on the menu I would love to try.