Sunday, February 27, 2011

Key Lime Pie, Three of Them Actually

I'm a chocolate person. Why would I ever choose a fruit dessert if I can pick chocolate cake, mousse, well, chocolate anything? I do have a weakness for cobbler in winter and Key Lime pie anytime, though. Back when I was young at my first job, my very first boss and I had a business trip in Florida. She made me have Key Lime pie at every meal. What a demanding boss! At 22, it was easy to do, too.

Since I was in the Keys, I felt like it was my duty to sample the goods and find the best. I've had Key Lime pie discussions with the girls when we visited Naples, FL. And I think we had the Publix one which was delicious.

The secret to these pies is using actual key limes, not the Persian variety you may be familiar with in the grocery store. They tend to be more perishable, a little tart, and definitely more aromatic. And they are prominent in the Key area.

So our first stop was actually in Key West, where we spent Sunday post wedding. Apparently, the Blond Giraffe is shut down for non payment of rent. We only discovered this after reading the sign to head around the corner to the other location. Which led us back to the original location. One big circle to discover someone wasn't paying rent and maybe not selling enough pies? Maybe it's coming back, it was voted the best one in Florida for 8 years.

Stop #1: Key Lime Pie Outlet, Key West
Everything in this is place is Key Lime based. We bought a slice for $3.75 to share. It was definitely lime, but had a cheesecake like consistency. It's been awhile since I had Key Lime pie, but this didn't seem like the texture I remembered. The woman told us this was the best because it was just Key Lime juice, condensed milk and egg yolk. There is no meringue topping on any of these (which seems to be consistent across Florida). We asked what other pies were like this and she said nothing. Lemon Meringue strikes me as a close relative?

On the way back from Key West, I decided we should try the store we made a stop back in Little Torch Key.

#2: Key West Key Lime Pie Co.
A few of us had the idea to bring pie back, because T picked up 2 of these pies (there were 8 of us after all). This had the right consistency: creamy. And just the right amount of crust. It was tangy, but not too tangy.

The pies are actually pale yellow because of the color of the juice and the egg yolks. If you see them greener, it's because someone added food coloring.

#3: Winn Dixie
I think this was better than the Key Lime Pie Outlet, but the the crust was more prominent.

So #2 was the winner! Does anyone else out there have some must try Key Lime pies? Because I'll have to get to those!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Florida, Wedding, and Food!

Nothing helps make an event great more than friends, family and food. So the wedding was perfect, great amounts of all three! You know it wouldn't be me if I didn't photograph the food. I think there may even be a picture of the official photographer taking a picture of me taking a picture of my dinner. Oh well! Everyone can laugh, but I love my food pictures.

This is a semi-food picture, in that I thought it was a cute picture that included the bride and groom, and the table we all gathered at for dinner.

Starting the evening with conch chowder and tiger shrimp and risotto for dinner (my choices).

And wrapping up the evening with cake and a mini cake (care of the Little Wedding Cake Company at Limelight). The wedding cake was delicious, even if it did have fruit on it, haha. I think fondant is a love or hate thing. And my sister and I like it.

But we had a little more cake the next day because my sister brought over the top. So we sampled. Sorry about that whole eating it one year later thing, dear sister. I swear it tasted better one day later than it would have a year later anyway.

And my perfect dessert at the rehearsal dinner. When that brownie and ice cream came, I was in heaven. I didn't even touch the other two.

How can you go to south Florida and not have a cuban inspired sandwich and plantains? I will say I still enjoy Porto's in Southern California.

I like tacos in Texas and I like tacos in Florida. I just like tacos.

But what would Key West be without some Key Lime pie tasting? Don't worry, covered that fully.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wedding Weekend

You'll have to just indulge me. There is no theme to my post tonight, just pictures from the weekend. Alas, don't fear, dear readers. For my next two posts I'll be back on familiar ground (food post!), just in the Florida Keys.

The bouquet was so pretty and smelled so nice! Mary, the planner, and I discussed how there was one flower in particular that was pretty and smelled great mixed in here. Not being a flower person, I'm not sure what it was. Mary knew, I should have remembered!

Long way from home!

I love these chairs on the dock at Little Palm Island, just in case you didn't know.

I'm letting another picture of actual people sneak in, we had so much fun touring. Well, I was actually my sister's assistant, coming with her to "take notes" of course.

There was quite a bit of wildlife on this trip: pelicans, roosters, deer, iguanas.

And here is where we stayed, Parmer's Resort, just about a mile from the Little Palm Island boat pick up on shore. Very cute and relaxing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Sister Got Married!

We just got back from an amazing weekend where my sister because Mrs. Middleton. It was absolutely wonderful to share the moment with her, I'm such a proud older sister at the moment. The whole day felt truly special and I am so happy they are so happy and in love. I can't help it!

And somehow I have over 650 pictures?!?! Well, as M says, digital pictures are free. I need to sit down and weed out the blurry ones and upload the good ones. But I can't help but post a preview....

We had a great weekend with family and friends, and it was so nice to really get to know everyone over the few days we were all together. Just a few travel mishaps, a celeb to assist in the wedding chair setup, and perfect weather.

The wedding took place on the dock where the boat come in, this is a shot from the day before. I'll take one of those chairs and a beverage! Actually make that a caiparinha. Which we did have during our morning island tour the day prior to the wedding. S thought we might need to relax. And it did the trick!

Sunset on Little Palm Island (and some random frolicking couple in the background). The lighting was perfect. Everyone needs that kind of lighting all the time, you look glowing! Which the new couple did, they were glowing.

I loved this one, just because you can see the smile in their eyes. And they are also eating cake, how can you not be happy?

Lots more to come!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Austin: The Food

Let's just wrap up the weekend by covering some good eats I had while in Austin. I may have eaten more of some things simply because I can't easily get them in New York. Fresh corn tortillas? Queso? Migas?

I had to make it to Bess Bistro. This is Sandra Bullock's Austin restaurant. I tried to get in on a Friday night and it was a 1 1/2 hour wait. They said they were booked in full Saturday night. So I tried again the following week, tried to sneak in quick after work on my way home. Still 45 minutes but I wasn't going to turn away this time. I had to visit, just for my friend LG! I will admit I looked up Brad Womack's bars but couldn't bring my self to really go that far down the celeb food establishment path.

The wonders of Facebook allowed me to connect with CF. We started out at the same company after undergrad over 10 years ago. We explored Trudy's and then Polvo's for Mexican. She didn't lead us wrong. We just over ordered and couldn't make a dent in the nachos or fajitas. I love how colorful it all is.

And she introduced D and I to Quack's Bakery, where the beginnings of Valentine's Day treats were on display. We couldn't resist the Tollhouse pie or cupcake.

Refreshing beverage at the San Jose Hotel with AD.

Breakfast afforded me another opportunity to sample Austin cuisine. Jo's coffee was just a quick walk up the street from my hotel, and where I ventured my first weekend in town. I finally tried the Migas breakfast taco here. Migas are scrambled eggs mixed with tortiallas and cheese. A Migas breakfast taco wraps it all up in a tortilla! The cinnamon roll was tasty, but say I like the Joe NY version better (doughier).

I couldn't get enough of the soft tacos. The freshly made corn tortillas did it. In fact, I went to Guero's twice, sat at the same Taco Bar and watched the same woman roll dough, flatten it out and grill it for two nights. First night on the left, second night on the right (different hats).

I even had the same waitress (how embarrassing!). She assured me it was ok, she had people come in 3-4 times a week. First night was the Pork al Pastor and grilled fish taco. I LOVE fish tacos and couldn't get enough of them when I lived in California. The "al Pastor" is like the Mexican version of the shwarma, a spit-grilled meat. The second night I had to go back for the fish taco and Chicken al Carbon where the chicken is marinated in anchiote and orange juice. Yum! Honestly, I'm already missing the tacos.

How could I not end the evenings with some sweets. Amy's is the local ice cream place and it's a little bit like Coldstone. The very friendly ice cream scooper said his favorite was the Mexican vanilla and crushed Nutter Butters. Of course, I had to try the regular and Mexican vanilla side by side, just to be sure it was what I wanted. He didn't steer me wrong.

And my very pregnant waitress at Guero's insisted the Tres Leches cake was well worth it, even if it was a big piece. I could only eat half. The cake is a traditional Spanish dessert made of a sponge/butter cake soaked in 3 kinds of milk: evaporated, condensed and heavy cream.

I can't say that this over indulgence was good my sister's wedding in a week. But it was sooo good and the dress, well, it's a little forgiving! Back to 4HB and lots of eggs this week!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Austin: The Sights

So it's been a few days since my last post (more than a few days). The process of getting my pictures up was too involved.

But did want to share more food and sights this weekend! Last Saturday, A. and I ate lunch at Kirbey Lane and decided we needed to space out our meals a bit so decided to explore the area. We might be the only people in Austin who actually saw the little dinosaur area at Zilker Park.

We still needed to spend some time between lunch and dinner so we hopped in the car and drove to San Antonio and the Alamo! On the way down, we realized we didn't really remember details of the big battle. That was ok, the history channel film at the sight filled us in. Honestly, there isn't too much to see there but now I can say I've been to the Alamo. We drove by the Riverwalk if that counts. The entire trip was to kill time between my breakfast tacos and Saltlick, and we didn't even end up at the BBQ place way outside town. Honestly, we felt like we needed to go because everyone told us to go. But even I needed something lighter to eat. And I realized that what I really like is pulled pork BBQ so should probably hit NC for that (or Big Jim's!).

On Sunday I was trying to do a quick trip to DSW and a going out of business Macy's so headed out early. Too early. They didn't open until 11 am, so detoured back and went to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential library at the UT-Austin Campus. It was actually quite interesting. I spoke with the docent and we talked about how it's different preserving things today. There aren't as many handwritten notes and letters. She said there is usually a long line during the week for people needing access to the documents for research purposes.

On Sunday evening, A. and I ventured to the San Jose Hotel for a drink. Several people recommended it as a cute little spot for a beverage. The outdoor area is a little bungalow-like and a little cozy. R. described it as a Austin Chateau Marmont in LA.

Alas, I couldn't escape the snow. This is what I faced my first Wednesday in town. Under the snow was a sheet of ice so even this New Englander was late to work. Maybe I should mention I don't have a car and didn't trust the Texans to be able to handle this.

A blog post without food! Never fear - I'll wrap up the trip tomorrow with tacos, nachos, more tacos and other tasty treats tomorrow! Austin was too good of a food city to not enjoy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Eating My Way Through Austin

Any attempt to keep to my 4HB routine has been thrown by the wayside (that's the Four Hour Body diet focusing on protein).  Life is too short and there is too much to eat in Austin to be worried about diet.  I don't let the cold stop me from getting out.  Yes, it's been like 17 degrees here!  But I have a fleece and scarf and don't let the cold weather stop me!

So I am here for two weeks and have endless recommendations from friends.  Day 1 was dinner at La Condesa (fabulous!).  Day 2 was dinner at Uchi on South Lamar Boulevard (thank you, Sarah for this one):

Really creative Japanese.  I sat at the sushi bar and had my personal guide through the menu.  I think my exact words were "what is good and what do you recommend, I like everything."  A smile and friendly face will get you the happy hour appetizers after happy hour, and an extra appetizer for free.  I've found that all of my servers feel like it's their job to make sure I can try as much as possible!

Machi Cure: maple­wood-smoked baby yellow­tail with yucca chips, asian pear, marcona almonds and garlic brittleUchiviche:  salmon, striped bass, vine-ripened toma­toes, yellow bell peppers, garlic and cilantro (below)

The sea scallops (hotate nuta) were divine, I wanted to lick my plate at the end.  There were powdered almonds and a thai chili foam.

And how could I say no to lemon gelato dessert, with special pistachios?  And I am someone who doesn't like anything fruit like for dessert, but the sushi chef and my waitress both put this as #1 on their list.

And on to Day 3 at Z Tejas on 6th Street.  I know this is a small chain, but the one in Austin is the original.  Again, totally scored at the bar with a free appetizer card and free dessert.  The skillet cornbread was too yummy to pass up.

Left dinner tonight with even more dinner recommendations (Smitty's and Black's for BBQ, South Congress Cafe, Vespaio!)  I promise to report out on the sights of Austin. But if you know me, you know I do alot of food eating, picture taking and reporting.


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