Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Valentines Day, and AdventureMan Scores

My greatest fear, when AdventureMan retired, was that after the life of challenge and adventure we had led, he would be bored and restless. Instead his days are full. He supervises all the house repairs and researches financial questions, plays with the grandchildren (who are able to give him a run for his money in the games they play), he supervises the landscaping and gardening, and . . . . he cooks.

He doesn’t just cook. He tries new recipes all the time. Most of the time they are really, really good. Occasionally, we just don’t care for it. But tonight, for Valentines Day, he went all out, and oh WOW.

Tonight he fixed Wagyu filets he found at a nearby butcher shop; he stuffed them with a crab mixture, and wrapped them in bacon. Oh WOW. He pounded pepper coarsely in a mortar, and patted it onto the sides before cooking, and while they were cooking, he and made a brandy-mushroom cream sauce to serve with it.

We agreed it was his BEST Mushroom sauce ever, made with Cremini mushrooms.

We went by the Craft bakery early in the day to pick up a freshly baked Focaccia, and my paltry contribution was a leafy green salad.

We feasted. We agreed this dinner matched the best we had eaten in any restaurant we could remember. It was rich. It was flavorful. AdventureMan took full honors.

He also thought to buy our last King Cake for our dessert; Lent starts this Wednesday and King Cake will be no more for another year. We are too full to eat it. AdventureMan thinks maybe in an hour, with a little French Vanilla ice cream, but I am not so sure.

February 14, 2021 Posted by | Cooking, Cultural, Entertainment, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues | | Leave a comment

Love Never Gets Old

Most of the time, in our lives, “important” days are barely recognized. Valentine’s Day is no exception. I needed to do my daily swim/water aerobics and prepare for a meeting at my house; my husband was busy with taxes, the grandchildren, his own gym-time. Even lunch, our daily date, was a take-out thing, and then he helped me move all the cat equipment – litter, food, water dishes, their carpet – into a room they couldn’t get out of. They are smart cats, and persistent. They can open some doors, but not others.

As he was heading out the door to pick up the grandkids and take them to the park as my group started arriving, I thanked him. “I don’t need a card or flowers,” I said, “helping move the cat litter is True Love.”

I cleaned up when the meeting was over. I was at my limit. I had semi-planned to pull some shrimp out and do a simple shrimp pasta, but by the time I had everything washed up, all the chairs put back, all the meeting things put away and the cat accessories back in the cat room, I was wiped out. My husband found me lying down. He’s, too, was exhausted – playing with a ten year old and six year old will do that to you.

We know it is flirting with disaster, but we decide to try a simple restaurant nearby, not a romantic restaurant, to see if we can get in. It’s Valentine’s Day, one of the major dining-out holidays in the world. We are in luck, it is early enough that we can snag a table, relax, have a satisfying dinner together and head home.

Once home, I gave him his card and he surprised me! He had sought, and found, on the internet, a cup I had owned, and treasured, and used with joy, for several years until, inevitably, it fell on the hard tile floor and smashed into a thousand un-mendable pieces. I mourned the loss of that cup. All these years later – more than twenty-five – he had found it, and bought it for me. I told him I planned to actually use it, not put it on a shelf, that life is short. He gave me a measured look and said “it’s the most expensive coffee cup you will ever use.”


Life is short. I have all I need, and more. I know what matters. I don’t need a card, or flowers, or even a new coffee cup. I have a husband who will bring me lunch when I am approaching being overwhelmed by a time-crunch, who will help me move the cat litter, who will take care of the grandchildren all by himself when I have other responsibilities, and who will secretly search out an old treasure, and present it to me with delight, because he knows what it will mean to me.

I know what true love looks like. I’m going to use this cup.

February 15, 2020 Posted by | Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Character, Cultural, Exercise, Family Issues, Mating Behavior, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Values | , | 1 Comment

Petrella’s Italian Cafe on 9 Mile Road in Pensacola

One of the reasons AdventureMan and I have been married almost 40 years is that we agree on some very irrational basics – like nothing says romance on Valentine’s Day like Italian food. He had recently been to Petrella’s and suggested I might like it – so off we went, on the worst day of the year to try to get in someplace without a reservation. I remembered all our Valentine’s Day dinners in Kuwait, trying to get in someplace, anyplace, Italian was out of the question, fully booked. We usually ended up bribing someone to let us have an early dinner, promising to be out before our later-eating Kuwaiti Valentines diners arrived; they would never even know they had shared their reservation with us.


We were in luck. Although every table in Petrella’s was taken, within five minutes one group left and we got their booth. AdventureMan had truly nailed this one; this is a neighborhood eatery, full of people who have been eating at Petrella’s for a long time. There were lots of couples, like us, but also many groups of four, many working people having their daily lunch, and a very large table of women affiliated in some way. We speculated, maybe church? Maybe a retirement home? Maybe a club?


Petrella’s took me back to my childhood, where Italian food was “foreign” food and very exotic. People didn’t eat out so much. The very most special restaurants were steak restaurants, or clubs. Even pizza was new, not uncommon; there were frozen pizzas and home-made pizza dough, but it wasn’t the normal American kind of food – meat, potatoes, veg. It was kind of “spicy.” Yes, I can hear you laughing, but things were different, eating out was not a daily or even a weekly event, eating out was something you did maybe once a month. Even then, it was sometimes, hamburgers! Dairy Queen was about the fastest-food there was and there were no McDonalds or Burger King chains, no Kentucky Fried Chicken. There was A&W Hamburgers; there were ice-cream and soda bars, and of course, in Seattle, there was Chinese and Japanese foods.

Petrella’s is comfortable. The salads and the dishes they served are the dishes Italian restaurants have been serving for a hundred years. The lunch specials are all under $8.00, and they all come with salad and garlic bread. They take it for granted you are going to need a box to take home the excess; portions are large. We also had our lunches for dinner 🙂


This was AdventureMan’s main course, the Baked Spaghetti:


and here was mine, Petrella’s Famous Marsala (with shrimp):


It was comfort food. Nothing fancy or unexpected, but good, honest ingredients, crafted well. It’s a kind of food that calls you back again and again when you want a good reliable meal. I know we will be going back, and we will probably take family and friends, it’s that kind of place.

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They have an excellent website, with their complete menu.

February 16, 2013 Posted by | Aging, Character, Community, Cooking, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Restaurant | | Leave a comment