Monthly Archives: January 2010

Food For Thought

Last week Randy and I hit up P.F. Chang’s before heading to a 7:30 show of Up in the Air. We paid the bill at 7:40. Doh! So instead of rollicking entertainment, we went home and rented Food, Inc. from cable. Wow. What a thought-provoker.

For the four of you out there that have not yet seen the movie or read Michael Pollan’s books, this genre showcases ever-present high fructose corn syrup (check your labels…I really mean everything…cough syrup, “healthy” granola bars, etc.) and the literally shitty facilities our meat supply is raised in.

Coupling this with my desire to take off a few pounds, I gave myself a new challenge. I’m going to try and buy all my groceries from Outpost Natural Foods here in Milwaukee. This is a hippie, granola-munching co-op, so you have to pay an annual fee of $25 to get the deals. (Though anyone can shop there…Just be sure to bring your own bags so you’re not totally ostracized.) Outpost prides itself on local, organic, or fair-trade (or any combination thereof) products, so I should be able to feel slightly better about my food chain. I’m also debating purchasing a CSA share this summer. If you are in the metro Milwaukee area and do that already, what farm would you recommend?

The one place that’s harder to pick my ingredients is when I go out to eat. Ah, who am I kidding…anytime I’m away from home, really. I’m writing this in a hotel room in San Antonio where they plied me with diet coke, Doritos, and a Twix bar. Damn. Even something as simple as a salad may be bad for me and the earth. So again, loyal readers, what restaurants fit into this new challenge?

Thank you in advance for any advice or suggestions you can give. Stay tuned to future blogs to see if I can make this stick. In the meantime, I really do suggest you read Michael Pollan’s books, rent Food, Inc. or check out any number of web sites that make you think. Bon appétit!

Three Hour Tour of My Trip to Key West

As you will shortly see, this post is obknoxiously long, so please visit here if you want to see pictures…We got some good ones!

To use the words of an old boss of mine, this post is not timely nor relevant (shout out to my Alliance peeps!), but it does call to mind a happier time, a more relaxed time. A time full of good, gourmet food and fun, outdoor activity; not of diet-friendly Lean Cuisines and Winter Storm Warnings. That’s right…this is (finally!) the Key West update. 

For the two of you left that didn’t hear my proclamations from the hills, my mom, Randy and I headed to Key West for the week surrounding Christmas (Saturday to Saturday.) We managed to do this with three separate flights in and out. Fortunately enough all three of us got in without too much drama and were all comfortably fed and watered in our condo Saturday night. We had a great little place right in the heart of things. If we didn’t want to go off the island (or to buy groceries), we wouldn’t have needed a car. I’m totally recommending condo rental from here on out for all of my travels! 

While we did miss the big blizzard that knocked out the east coast, it was pretty cool for most of our stay. No swimsuits ‘til the end of the week and even then that probably started this cold that won’t go away. (Well, that and the 1,000s of people coming into port each day on the cruise ship. I have never seen so many foreigners in my life!) Sunday we wandered around town, hitting the art galleries and gift shops and took the obligatory pictures at the Southernmost point. (Which are unfortunately on my mom’s camera…) 

On Monday we braved the high seas (ok, so it was totally calm for being so cloudy and windy) to do a glass-bottom boat tour. What fun for those of us that can’t snorkel! I elbowed my way into a prime seat with all the other kids (surprised? didn’t think so), so I got to sit right close to the viewing area. We were able to see a bunch of neat fish and coral including one he called the Nascar fish-black and white stripes with red on it. 

Tuesday was probably the most unique day of the trip. It was still kind of cool, so it was perfect for a drive up Hwy. 1 to Marathon where we did a tour of the Turtle Hospital. This was very educational, but entertaining, too. Who knew Bubble Butt was a real disease? (And no, if you’re able to read this, you do not have it…trust me, a few extra pounds sounds a lot better than what this disease really entails.) We went here based on a recommendation of friends that had been in the Keys weeks earlier, but I also got mom and Randy to check out a pizza place in the middle of nowhere based on a blog article I found. The place is called No Name Pub on, you guessed it, No Name Key-i.e. Homebase of Originality. The place was unique solely given how hard it was to find, but it’s ‘thing’ was to sign a dollar bill and post it up somewhere on the walls. We guessed there was at least $5,000 on the walls. Crazy! Oh, and the pizza-Top. Notch. 

Wednesday started with girls day, where mom and I went to check out Truman’s Little White House and to lunch at another outside place where I was attacked by pigeons for a second time. This time it touched me. **Shutter!** (P.S. The first time, Randy was around to see. I pretty much ended up in my mom’s lap when a bird came kamakazee-ing into my fish sandwich. That was a good impression.) Getting back to Truman’s house…did you know that the original mascot for the democrats was the chicken? (Republicans were the eagles.) Go cocks! That afternoon Randy and I rented bikes and circled the island. This wouldn’t be a huge feat except for the fact that it was crazy windy. I must say…Randy handled Crabby Maggie pretty well during this activity. (Well, the whole week.) We got some great pictures of the coast though and enjoyed the most perfect moment out on a secluded part of the beach. There were waves, dolphins, sunsets, hugs…perfect. 

That night I talked Randy into a little bar crawl. (Key word ‘little’-we were home by 11…Where was everybody???) Visited three Key West staples-Green Parrot, Irish Kevin’s (my favorite!), and Sloppy Joe’s. For those of you wondering if I was going to mention it…no, no naked bar with my mom and/or Randy. Though we did see a 70+ year old get totally nekkid on the beach the next day. Yummy. 

Speaking of which, we finally got to hit the beach Thursday. It was still crazy windy, but at least we got to put on suits. Even though I was wrapped up in a towel for most of the day, I still managed to get a wicked sunburn. Yah! That night, Christmas Eve night, we remembered why we were on this trip and not sitting around a living room in Kerrville, and went on a sunset cruise. Dad would have loved that. He was totally there. The sunset was perfect that night. The band was great (including the Amazing Grace performed on harmonica…dad’s other instrument…really?!!?) Both mom and I (separately) had one good cry in honor of Pop and then we went back to having fun. (My apologies to Randy’s shirt for falling casualty to my cry, but g-damn if Randy isn’t the most perfect dude ever… Totally handled my falling apart on this occasion and all the other idiosyncrasies that happened while stuck with my mom and me with aplomb!) 

Friday, we opened presents and did one last shopping trip around the island. We hit up a place called the Rooftop Café where I got the Christmas dinner I’ve been talking about since August-fish tacos and a margarita! Perfect. Just what the doctor ordered. (Quite literally…) 

Speaking of food…there were almost too many good places to mention, but you know me, so I’m going to waste more of your time and do so. In my opinion, the best meal of the week came at the start when we had brunch at Blue Heaven. Sampling from Randy’s grits made me audibly sigh and the banana pancakes were perfection (especially considering I’m not really a fan of banana nor pancake.) Outstanding! One night when we didn’t have a real dinner, we had a vacation dinner of key lime pie from Blond Giraffe. We tried both the meringue topped and your traditional whipped cream topping. I vote meringue. We had an interesting sushi experience one night at a place called Ambrosia. (Hello people, why don’t you have web sites??) I officially am crowning myself as a novice in sushi and honestly, not sure if I have any desire to advance. This was good, but I was hungry a couple hours later. (Enter Irish Kevin’s lagers…) 

Christmas Eve night Randy and I had a great dinner at a place that turned out to be a restaurant at the Westin. Who knew a hotel restaurant could be so good? I had a perfect piece of fish and Randy’s French onion soup was delicious (yes…I ate off his plate a lot, but hey…he did off mine, too!!) Christmas dinner ended up being served to us at Mangos where I had a perfectly prepared chicken dish (sorry…this girl can only handle so much seafood in one week…and besides, Christmas dinner must have mashed potatoes no matter where you are.) Randy had duck and mom had fish. I think I won the prize for best dinner that night. We tried to close out the week back at Blue Heaven (yup, that good!), but ended up at Sarabeth’s. I guess this is an east coast chain. I recommend you try it no matter where you are. Here Randy had banana French toast and mom had a pumpkin waffle with raisins and sour cream. They won there. At this restaurant, Randy remembered to start taking pictures of the food. Stay tuned to posts dedicated solely to food after future trips. P.S. I love this man. 

When we said goodbye to mom (and to each other for a few hours) on Saturday, it felt like it had been just the right amount of time. Of course we could have sat by the pool and lounged forever, but it was a great week. Besides Christmas Eve, there were no tears. There were a lot of laughs, a lot of conversation, and a lot of time with Harry Potter and Bella. If there was ever a way to skip Christmas, this is the way to do it. I can’t wait to top it next year!!

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