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Monthly Archives: July 2012

California Adventures

The next part of our summer vacation / adventure started the day after we flew home from Ireland. We started the drive to California with 3 of our 4 girls, so they could have some summer fun, too.

We headed out less than 24 hours after we arrived home. We drove about 12 hours the first day and more than 8 hours the next. The Hubs and I have never been so happy to arrive anywhere as we were to arrive at our destination, north of Bakersfield.

One of my favorite parts of being in California is all of the fresh produce. As tired and jetlagged as I was I could not wait to get to the grocery store the next morning and get some fresh fruits and vegetables. I was not disappointed. Even the girls, especially Daughter Number 4, were excited about the fresh fruits. For dinner we enjoyed an amazing dinner of a fresh salad and fresh fruits and some chicken and steak that The Hubs grilled. Oh, and bread. The bakery at the local grocery store had this unbelievable Ciabatta roll ring that had 4 flavors of Ciabatta bread; regular, cheese, jalapeno, and olive. That was another favorite with the group.

Since I was only able to stay for a short period of time and come back to the Middle of the country, we wanted to take a vacation from our vacation and headed south for a few days to San Diego.

One of my big reasons for wanting to go to San Diego was the seafood. Another was because the San Diego County fair in Del Mar was going on. We found out that was where Chicken Charlie’s was going to be. I really wanted to try some of the deep fried goodness that IS Chicken Charlie’s. I had seen something on the news a few months previously about Chicken Charlie’s at the Los Angeles County Fair. I know that county fairs have been deep frying food in increasing amounts and varieties for some time. I had never before heard of deep fried Kool-Aid or a deep fried Klondike bar, so I was beyond intrigued.

After our four hour drive south to Del Mar, we spent about an hour (easily) getting parked, and maybe another 30 minutes getting tickets, and then spent some time looking at the livestock arenas and rides and booths. We found the area where many food booths were, but could not find Chicken Charlie’s. When we found it, it was easy to see how we missed it. The lines around it were so long that it nearly obscured the signs from view! We waited in line and then to get our order for no less than 20 minutes. We slipped aside to try our deep fried goodies; Kool-Aid, Klondike, Twinkie, Oreos, and avocados. The Oreos were my personal favorite. I did enjoy the Klondike, except it got pretty gooey pretty fast. The deep fried Kool-Aid was a lot like a strawberry hush puppy or deep fried cake ball. Believe it or not, all of that deep fried goodness did not make for happy tummies. We did not stay at the fair much longer, but headed for the comfort of our hotel room, where we could un-do our pants and breathe a bit.

On the way to our hotel we passed a little place called Marvelous Muffins. As you know, I am a huge fan of making (and eating) muffins, so really hoped we could try it while we were there. We were able to have breakfast there twice. They didn’t just make Texas size homemade muffins, which were good (not better than mine), but they also made cinnamon rolls (fritter style) and breakfast sandwiches. The portions were all HUGE and everyone enjoyed the food. I love being able to put money back into locally owned businesses. If we ever stay close to ShelterIsland I will be sure to go back.

We also enjoyed a fantastic meal at Brigantine Seafood Restaurant. I was feeling very adventuresome and ordered oysters on the half. I had never tried them before and The Hubs said he would join me in that adventure. Honestly, they were not as bad as I had thought they would be. I would definitely have them again. I’m not sure about The Hubs. We also had calamari, partly so I could compare it to the calamari we had eaten not too long before in Ireland. The calamari was good, but I still say Donnelly’s is the best. I also tried sanddabs. They are a small fish related to the flounder, found in the Pacific. I enjoyed it. My only real disappointment was that the Macaroni and Cheese ordered by Daughter Number Three (the others ordered seafood) was very obviously made by a company whose name begins with K. I would have expected more, considering everything else was so good.

The last food highlight from this portion of my trip (they are still in California) was the Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Shop at SeaportVillage. Really. That may sound silly or lame, but not only did we all enjoy the ice creams and cones, but it has given The Hubs and Daughter Number Two something to do now that they have gone back North. They have each attempted (maybe even outdone) the dipped waffle cones at the Scoop Shop.

I hope you enjoyed some of the highlights of my California adventure. I love trying new food and also enjoy trying to make my own versions of those foods. I look forward to sharing those with you in the weeks (and months) to come.

Stay cool if you can!

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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Irish adventures

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted anything. I’ve been on vacation in places where I did not have very good (if any) internet access. Also, on the first part of my vacation I didn’t do any cooking and did very little cooking on the next leg of my vacation. Furthermore, since I came home from vacation alone (the hubs and girls are still away) and I don’t have anyone to cook for and the weather has been extremely hot, I just have not done much cooking.

I did manage to do quite a bit of eating on all of the portions of my trip! I am going to share some of the culinary adventures I had and confess that I will probably by doing my part to replicate some of these dishes or make my own twist on same or similar types of cuisine.

So, the hubs and I took our very first trip together since we have been married. We have had a few “overnights” away from the girls now and then, but this was the first real trip that we’ve gone on. We both have Irish ancestry and I have always wanted to go toIreland. We embraced the opportunity to see the country and enjoy the food (and drink) of Ireland.

Our trip started inDublinand nearby Enniskerry, where we stayed for several days. We also adventured toWaterford, Galway, and theAran Islands, seeing many other towns and sights. We even ventured to Northern Island, toBelfast. As much as I would like to share our trip with you step by step, bite by bite – I won’t. I will just give you an overview and some of the highlights.

The first “real” Irish meal we had was fish and chips, a mixed green salad with Bulmer’s Cider Vinegar dressing, and Guinness, of course! I love seafood and enjoyed the fish and chips. I asked our server a little bit about Bulmer’s and why this cider vinegar was important enough to be a highlight of the meal. His reply, “It’s Irish, of course”. I did like the dressing. What I learned foremost at that meal is that it takes 2 minutes to pour a pint of Guinness. Not less than 2 minutes, don’t even think about rushing this process. So, at least I knew from that first day to expect to wait for my pint.

I enjoyed my breakfasts inIrelandenormously. I think the Hubs did, also. We breakfast very differently. I usually have fruit and oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast with lots of coffee. The yogurt I had inIrelandwas so fresh and creamy it may have ruined me on most of the yogurt in stores here. They offered porridge (oatmeal) everywhere we had breakfast and a large assortment of fresh fruits and fresh pastries. Chocolate croissants are definitely going to be on the “to make” list. The Hubs went with the full Irish breakfast most mornings. Eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, bread, juice coffee. He even tried the black and white pudding. That will not be making it to the “to make” list.

We both ate Irish stew, and the Hubs tried Shepherd’s pie. Actually I think he tried at least 4 different times and places. He liked it – a lot. I didn’t have Guinness with every meal, but did choose it with many of them. It is definitely creamier inIrelandthan anywhere I have had it in theU.S.The Hubs didn’t think the difference was quite as noticeable as we had been assured it would be. That didn’t stop us from continually trying it, just to see.

Our mutual favorite place to eat was a small Restaurant and pub inBarnaVillage, nearGalway. It is called Donnelly’s. We actually ate two meals there, since the first one was so amazing. We tried seafood chowder there, and it was the best I have ever eaten. We had some delicious Calamari, with an outstanding dipping sauce. The brown bread, which is served at every meal, was very hearty. I had a seafood crêpe with hollandaise sauce one of my meals and fish the other. They were both delicious. Aside from the very good food, the service was second to none. I have rarely had service that compares to the service at Donnelly’s. It is a place that if I ever have a chance to go back toIreland, I am definitely going back to.

I knew that once I had the opportunity to sit down and start writing about the food on ourIrelandadventure it would be very hard to pinpoint just the highlights. With that being said, I feel I have hit some of the key food adventures that we had. I promise I will share more of our Irish food journey, as well as some of the foods we experienced on the second part of our summer vacation another day.

Right now, I am going to think about seafood and Guinness.

Sláinte!

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Uncategorized