Mardi Gras on the Beach in Pensacola Florida

gang bling s

It’s Mardi Gras and while New Orleans may get the glory, Pensacola, Florida knows how to party. Even the rain didn’t slow the parade in the town of Pensacola when we visited, and when the sun came out on parade day in Pensacola Beach, the party just got better. Continue reading

Look mamacita, I made tamales!

tamaleWhat’s your comfort food?

For British people it might be custard or a full English breakfast of fried eggs and toast with beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and sausages. For French Canadians it might be ragoût de boulettes (meatball stew) or tourtière (meat pie). Americans might long for mom’s apple pie. And Germans for a fat wurst and sauerkraut.

But for Mexicans, it’s tamales.

Tamales are composed of masa (corn meal based wet dough) and a filling, wrapped in a corn husk (though in parts of Central America they use a banana leaf). They may be filled with vegetables,  pork, chicken, beef, and even with sugar, cinnamon, cheese and raisins, pineapple, and other fruits. Continue reading

Small Town Perfection – Healdsburg

Healdsburg square orange trees sIt was 1851 and Harmon Heald, like many of California’s first settlers, was looking for gold.

And like most, he found no nuggets. But he built his cabin, and later a general store on the main road between the gold fields and San Francisco. So he found a share in the gold that had already ignited the economy of the recently created state of California. And he built the beginning of small town perfection – Healdsburg.

As his success attracted more settlers to the area, Heald designed the first plaza and laid out the streets that would become the town of Healdsburg. The newcomers quickly discovered that the fertile California soil could grown anything, especially grapes. By the mid-1880s, a flourishing wine industry had already begun to develop, and despite a blip during Prohibition, this region has become one of the world’s premier wine producing regions. In fact, Healdsburg is at the center of three wine areas – Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valley, with plenty of tasting rooms to sample their wines. And where there’s wine, there’s great food. Continue reading

Diner – Elvis Ate Here

This was Elvis' favourite booth. His picture marks his spot. Could be him, couldn't it?

This was Elvis’ favourite booth. His picture marks his spot. Could be him, couldn’t it?

For the past month, as we have travelled across the top of the US on I-80, down through California and along I-40 to Memphis, our most recent stop, I have looked for authentic diners. In their heyday, during the first two thirds of the 20th century, nearly 7,000 diners dotted the American landscape. They were THE stop for travellers on classic roads like Route 66, or for those looking for a hearty, inexpensive meal in many cities.

Today fewer than 2,000 remain and most of those are in the east. So looking for one in the Midwest and west was like searching for a needle in a haystack. The fast food chains have supplanted this uniquely American institution in the hearts and appetites of Americans. So imagine my delight when, in Memphis, I found The Arcade, a diner that has been around since 1919! Continue reading

Hot Stuff – Chiles

peppers sMy mouth is on fire!

My first bite of adovada, pork cooked slowly in a sauce of red chilies, leaves me gasping. I’m trying this New Mexican classic at a 40 year old Santa Fe restaurant, The Shed, which specializes in local cuisine. This warning should be on the menu:  Do not order unless you have an asbestos tongue!
adovada sNew Mexico is all about food….and art….and music…and history….but mostly about food! And in New Mexico, food begins and ends with chilies or chiles. Huge ristras (bundled chains of red chilies) decorate the doorways of homes, drying in the sun. People eat chilies at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and chilies are incorporated into everything from sauces and condiments to honey, jams and even marmalade! Continue reading