Photo of The Day #50

The Rock and The Love of My Life

The Rock and The Love of My Life

 

I have thought long and hard about what my #50 “Photo of The Day” should be and what it should stand for. After I decided on the subject, it really didn’t take that long to locate a photo. I am 63 going on 64 years old and have shared 37 years of that life with this beautiful lady. She has stood behind me come whatever and I can’t express my love for this lady enough. That’s the reason I am dedicating #5o to her and telling the world how much she means to yours truly.

 

 

Thank you my dear for putting up with me all these years, helping raise three wonderful sons and for making my life a joy! I truly hope we can have another 37 years, that is if we can remember who and where we are! Thank you Kim, for sharing my life and for loving this old man through thick and thin!

Photo of The Day #47

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza

 

 

Okay I have to admit I really didn’t have this idea originally, but the end recipe was all mine. While most of my BBQ Chicken Pizza is made with Monterrey Jack Cheese, I read in a recent magazine, about a well known chef using some Gorgonzola cheese mixed with cheddar. I decided I would do a sprinkling of Monterrey Jack with the majority Gorgonzola cheese on my half. Kim wanted my traditional pie.

 

 

All my pizza’s are made with flat bread. I bake it for about 45 minutes and use a very ample supply of chicken boiled in cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and black pepper. I use a heavy amount of  red onions, along with jalapenos. The bread is basted with a large dose of BBQ sauce and when its finished, it is usually eaten within a day, if not that meal! Try it!

Photo of The Day #24

A Great Hamburger at California Kitchen

A Great Hamburger at California Kitchen

 

I stopped by the other day to visit friends that run the California Kitchen here in Cuenca. Carol and George Evans are great people and opened this thriving restaurant to help the family out. This time I met daughter Susie and inquired how things were and if they had any serious offers. The family recently decided to place the restaurant up for sale and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

 

I was taken back at how busy the place was for an afternoon. It was jam-packed and it appears they are busier than the last time Kim and I were in Cuenca. I wish them luck and continued success. If you have a few extra dollars and want to invest, this restaurant is a pillar of the community and has an awesome trade. Plus it has delicious food!

Eat it Raw!

I stepped out of the taxi and immediately knew I had been duped. I showed him the translation, exactly as written in Susan’s email and he dropped me about 12 blocks away. Great. A few minutes later and questions to locals helped me figure out which way I needed to walk. After about 5 minutes, which got my appetite working, I came upon her condo building and was permitted to enter. Last time Kim and I were in Cuenca we were going to take Susan Schenck’s Raw Foods Cooking class, but we missed it. I was bound and determined to take it this time and had communicated several emails to her about what I would like to see on the menu, after she inquired what I would fancy.

 

Susan and Her Prep Table, at the Front of the Class

Susan and Her Prep Table, at the Front of the Class

 

After all the other 8 people arrived Susan began and started making the “Raw” ice cream she had on the menu, as it would take about 20 minutes to freeze. It was entitled “French Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Swirl”. She blended 6 raw eggs, the Omega-3 kind and several other ingredients together and placed it in the freezer for solidification. It appeared very yummy and knowing the ingredients, my tastebuds were prepped. Besides who doesn’t like ice cream? She then gave a 10 minute talk on the benefits of a “Raw Diet”.

 

California Broccoli Salad

California Broccoli Salad

 

Susan next had several students chop broccoli, onions, etc for the “California Broccoli Salad”. She blended several ingredients from slivered almonds to dehydrated beef and put the items together and tossed them in two large bowls. Yours truly had one bowl and did a decent mixing job, as illustrated above. This was our first item and I can’t tell you how tasty this salad was. It made my taste buds come alive and I ate a large plate and went back for seconds. It was a meal in itself.

 

Raw Ice Cream

Raw Ice Cream

 

By this time the ice cream was ready and everybody had a bowl with the chocolate sauce made from “Raw” Cacao powder. If I had known ahead of time I could have brought some of my left over Cacao paste and used it. The ice cream would not set and was more of a milkshake texture. Susan thought it was the altitude maybe. It was still very good and I cleaned my bowl and went back for seconds (notice a pattern starting?).

 

Tiliapia Ceviche

Tiliapia Ceviche

 

Our final course was a “Tilapia Ceviche”. All the three courses had avocado in them, which was my original request. The fish has to be marinated from 4 to 8 hours for the lime juice to actually “cook” the fish and remove the parasites (not sure if this is true or just a “saying”). I love ceviche and in this part of the world it is very plentiful. Every country and area prepares it a little different and has their own ingredients. This was excellent and truly delicious. So much so that I believe I am going to use the frozen Mahi Mahi I have and try my hand at home today at making my own. By the way, of course I went back for a second plateful!

 

Susan Schenck with the Nomadic Texan

Susan Schenck with the Nomadic Texan

 

Susan gave us a lecture at the beginning of the class in which I learned more factors than I could record about a “Raw” diet. Did you know that when you cook anything over 118 degrees it destroys the valuable enzymes, 84% of the vitamins, 50% of the protein and a large portion of the Biophotons. Did you know that when you cook meat above 300 degrees it creates carcinogens? I couldn’t write fast enough. Susan is currently on about an 80% “Raw” diet after being on a 95% “raw” diet and regaining her health, not to mention losing weight and getting in shape. She is getting ready to hike for three-day on the Volcano trail and I couldn’t even begin to think about this outing. She is also author of two books “The Live Food Factor” and “Beyond Broccoli“, both available on Amazon. I would highly encourage you to take her class if you are interested in eating healthy and find yourself in Cuenca Ecuador. You will not be disappointed and you will learn a great deal about “Eating Raw”!

 

 

Photo of The Day #23

Pizza So Good I Forgot to Take a Photo

Pizza So Good I Forgot to Take a Photo

 

 

If you find yourself in Cuenca Ecuador and are ravished for a pizza, I recommend trying La Fornace on President Borrero off Sucre. It is fantastic. Kim instructed me before I left to make sure I did not eat my pizza with my hands, as it is bad manners in Ecuador. One must use a fork and knife to be in acceptable status.

 

 

No worries. I used both utensils as required and even though it felt strange at least the taste was phenomenal. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I apologize as the aroma was so enticing, I did not take a full pie photo, but rather dove in and ate half of it before I realized I needed a photo. I think you get the idea!

The Chocolatier

Heading out of Cuenca early last Wednesday morning, we passed the Feria Libre Market. This is the biggest market in the city and one can wonder for hours, bartering, looking and touching everything from quinoa, rice, fish, pork, to fruits and vegetables. It is a magical place. I could not believe the amount of activity at this time of the morning. People were unloading trucks and carrying merchandise to their stalls.

 

We headed out to the lower portion of Azuay Province. I displayed the geographical lay of the land in my Banana blog, but one item I didn’t show you is below. It seems that a large portion of the chocolate beans are brought up to this region from the Coastal growing area and the beans are laid out to dry in the sun for two days. They have to be brought in at night to avoid the moisture in the air and placed back on the concrete drying beds again the next day. They are then bagged 100lb bags and transported to their processors.

 

Cacao Drying Beds in the Dry Area of Azuay Province

Cacao Drying Beds in the Dry Area of Azuay Province

 

We did the banana tour and headed 30 minutes away to Santa Rosa with the Cacao Plantation’s owner in our car. We had time to discuss why he had resumed his cacao business seven years ago and Byron Trujillo Erazo told us it was simple mathematics. The chocolate industry was booming and he wanted to get back in it again after a forty-year lay off. We arrived at the Casa Ostrica and it was similar to what I expected. It had a tropical look and was filled with all kinds of plants and flowers that one would expect in a tropical setting. This is an example of the orchids growing on the entry poles that line the driveway. Amazing in my opinion!

 

Orchids Growing on the Entry Poles

Orchids Growing on the Entry Poles

 

The resort was constructed with a great deal of bamboo, which grows in large clumps on the Plantation and is used for a majority of the wood needs. This photo is what you see as you enter and arrive at the lodge. There are little cabanas all over the resort. I am guessing the resort can handle about 75 people at one time. Enough of this talk. Let’s head out to the Cacao Plantation ane see the process in action.

 

The Casa Ostrica Lodge

The Casa Ostrica Lodge

 

As you enter the Cacao section and look ahead all you can see is a plethora of trees filled with varying colors of the Cacao seed pods. The bright red ones are the ripe pods and are ready for harvesting. Each day the workers journey through the Cacao trees and harvest the ripe seed pods for processing.

 

One Red Seed Pod Ready for Harvest

One Red Seed Pod Ready for Harvest

 

Our guide showed us the method used to harvest the pods. He had a huge machete and I had no reservations about letting him do the cutting. Knowing how much a klutz I am, I figured it would very easy for me to lose a finger or two and I let him do the job.

 

Harvesting the Seed Pod

Harvesting the Seed Pod

 

He then started the process of cutting the seed pod off and making the delicious fruit inside available. A lot of people are more than likely not familiar with the fact that the huge seed pod has fruit that surrounds the interior smaller beans.

 

Staring the Process of Harvesting the Fruit

Staring the Process of Harvesting the Fruit

 

He hacked into the seed pod and tore away a section of the outer shell. The seed pod is actually quite hard and he does not hack gingerly. I know I would slip and hurt myself, if it was left to me. I had an idea what the interior looked like, but had no idea of the taste. There is a white fruit that surrounds the beans and this has to be removed to get to the beans. The guide gave us a sample and I was floored. Once in my life have I had such a delicious morsel of fruit. That was in the Philippines when I tasted Mangosteen for the first time. I was addicted immediately. I scooped out about half the beans and ate them one at a time as we walked the Plantation. I cannot describe in mere words how wonderful the beans fruit tasted. It made the whole day worth the drive, etc.

 

Interior Cacao Beans with Fruit

Interior Cacao Beans with Fruit

 

Normally the beans are taken up to the drier climate and sun-dried for two days, but they had a quick way to dry the beans and that was using a wok like skillet over a bed of coals. You stir the beans over the heat until the outer shell becomes brittle.

 

A Shortcut to Drying the Beans

A Shortcut to Drying the Beans

 

When the beans are ready you individually shell each bean. At first it seems a very daunting task and I couldn’t get it right. I kept breaking the beans apart and not harvesting solid beans. I tasted one of the beans after shelling and it was very bitter. I couldn’t believe that this would turn out to be a tasty treat. One of the ladies helped me and showed me how to snap the bean which left you with the entire bean in one piece. A much better step and saved the beans.

 

Diana Shelling the Beans.

Diana Shelling the Beans.

 

The next step was to place the beans in a contraption that had been used for a long time and physically break the beans down into chocolate. I though, okay once through the grinder and it would be a piece of cake. Oh contraire. I had to keep scooping the chocolate residue back into the grinder and re-grind the concoction about six times. By the ends of the process I was hot, sweating and thankful I had my Tilley Hat to block out the sun from my face. The young lady broke down and the crew got her a hat, as she was starting to sunburn. By the time we got through I was worn out and my arms ached.

 

Nomadic Texan Grinding the Beans

Nomadic Texan Grinding the Beans

 

After I finished the grinding it was time for a chocolate drink. This photo shows that they do not waste the seed pods and use them to serve the drinks in. One also receives a dark chocolate bar from their cacao plantation and the illustration shows a cross-cut of the seed pod.

 

Interior of the Seed Pod, Candy Bar and a Chocolate Drink

Interior of the Seed Pod, Candy Bar and a Chocolate Drink

 

Okay I had worked up an appetite and it was time to eat a traditional meal from Casa Ostrica. Obviously Mr. Erazo wanted us to taste ostrich and that was what we were served along with rice, salad and fried plantains. I have taken a liking to the plantains and didn’t think I would. For the record the ostrich tasted just like beef to me. The others thought it had a gamey taste. Before the meal they served us a hot chocolate drink made from the chocolate shavings. It was so good I had to have a second cup. It also acted to drive my temperature down as the Green Tea in Asia does. Caught me off guard.

 

Traditional Meal of Ostrich, Rice, Salad

Traditional Meal of Ostrich, Rice, Salad and Fried Plantains

 

I talked with my wife Kim prior to our trip and she asked me to bring back some of the cacao beans if at all possible. I obtained a bag and literally scooped the remaining beans from the wok like pan over the BBQ and let them cool down. They gave me the large ball of chocolate from all my efforts and I will try to bring it home. Wish me luck as I am not sure they will allow this to enter the US. We will see. Please cross your fingers for me. I hope I can and that way my family can sample the dark chocolate. I wish that there was some way to bring home a seed pod and let Kim try the taste of that fruit. It is one of the highlights of my trip to Ecuador.

 

My Chocolate Ball and Cacao Beans for Kim

My Chocolate Ball and Cacao Beans for Kim

 

I am thankful that Mio Tours allowed me to accompany them on this fabulous trip and I learned so much about Bananas and Cacao. This El Oro Province is amazing and you drive and drive through a vast amount of banana plantations, the number one export of Ecuador, but you also are privy to all kinds of fruit trees growing wild alongside the highway. For the purposes of full disclosure both Mio Tours and Tilley Hats are sponsors. Regardless I have to say that this a fabulous tour and tasting the Cacao fruit is worth the entire trip. I also have to say a tour of Casa Ostrica is a fabulous way to spend a day in Ecuador. If you get the opportunity to take this tour, jump on it! Saludos mi amigos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Little Piggy Went to Market

Okay so I am not really a “little” piggy. I am a rather large piggy for my height. That is one of the reasons I keep coming back to Cuenca is to help myself lose weight. Each time I visit I lose ten to fifteen pounds. This is obviously a result of walking everywhere I go and significantly more than I do back home.

 

It is also a result of “The Amoeba” that exists and all Ex Pats meet about ten days into their visits. I have lost about 8 pounds and a notch on my belt, so I am well on my way! Saturday in Cuenca is “Market Day” and the locals come to Cuenca, shop and try to secure their food, supply and trinket needs.

 

I started walking around after my fabulous Thai dinner and wound up on Presidente Cordova, on the south side of the San Francisco Market area. It is basically an entire square block with booths and small paths, that lead every which way through the maze of cubicles dedicated to various and sundry items. I am always fascinated by what you find at these markets. I was not disappointed this past Saturday.

 

Aisle Between Booths at the San Francisco Market

Aisle Between Booths at the San Francisco Market

 

This ia typical photo of one of the booths in the middle of the square and as you can see the stall is offering a variety of merchandise. Of special note was the amount of children’s backpacks being sold at a majority of the booths. I guess as school is about to start again, they must be a popular item.

 

Booth in Middle of the Market

Booth in Middle of the Market

 

Along the North side of the square and actually across the street is a set of booths that retail mainly clothing products made by local artisans. You can find a great poncho, shirt, scarf, bag or hoodie, if you can locate the appropriate size. This is an issue at times. The thing I like about the entire market is that you shop knowing the first price quoted is the “Gringo” price and if you don’t barter you are crazy. That is half the fun in my mind and the vendors seem to relish the practice.

 

Saturday Markets for Woven and Various Apparel

Saturday Markets for Woven Goods and Various Apparel

 

 

As you leave the San Francisco Market square you come upon the Flower Market section and I could spend hours looking at their crafts. Sometimes I do actually spend a large amount of time, as their talents are very impressive. I always seem to take massive amounts of photos and cannot walk by this market, which is open daily, without at least one photo.

 

Flower Market at the Sanctuary by the New Cathedral

Flower Market at the Sanctuary by the New Cathedral

 

 

As I left the flower market and went across the street I noticed that several booths lined the side of the New Cathedral and were selling various items. The first one made me wonder if I had taken a wrong turn. This was my first time to see a Ecuadorian dressed up like an American Indian. He was playing the pan flute, which were also being offered for sale, along with CD’s of their music!

 

Ecuadorian Dressed Up Like an American Indian

Ecuadorian Dressed Up Like an American Indian

 

As I strolled along the wall I encountered many more vendors and tried to capture as many different wares as were being sold. It was impossible and I could only capture a few that I will share with you now. As you are keenly aware, I am a “Hat” freak and really, really like to collect hats. I found many that would suit my tastes, but I also have to remember that I have three and a half more weeks to make a choice!

 

A Hat Vendor

A Hat Vendor

 

I was drawn to this booth as a result of the tiny figurines and the intricate artwork displayed in their dolls. It was amazing and so detailed. One can kind of get a picture of the size by comparing the items to the hand in the photo. This was directly beside a booth of ceramic cars and trucks modeled after the wooden toys in the US built in the early 90’s. I asked the clerk how long it took to make the ceramic vehicles and he told me 30 minutes each. I couldn’t believe it.

 

Small Doll Replicas

Small Doll Replicas

 

It was strange to be back in a time zone and see these wares at the incense and globe booth. For a minute I thought I had traveled back in time and landed in the 60’s. Then I woke up! Really found this strange, but Ecuador did legalize small amounts of Ganja recently.

 

Lampshade Vendor

Lampshade and Incense Vendor

 

This pottery booth contained a wonderful collection of hand painted ceramic wares and drew my attention immediately. If I actually resided in Cuenca, I would lay out the few dollars needed to purchase some of these vases. They have no shortage of flowers that can be used to fill the vases and I can look at fresh flowers every day of my life. My wife Kim, said one of the reasons she married me was a bouquet of roses I sent her after our first date. She told me many years later she was hooked at that point. So guys buy your lady flowers!

 

Pottery Vendor

Pottery Vendor.

 

Again my “Hat” fetish was drawn in to play and I had to stop and look at these of higher quality than the first booth. I could look at hats all day. I tend to buy hats with broad brims, but am open to a Fedora style and may make that step this trip.

 

Upgraded Hat Vendor

Upgraded Hat Vendor

 

 

I hope you enjoyed the photos and I encourage you to dedicate at least a half day (and make it a Saturday) to shop at these markets. You will find great bargains and wonderful souvenirs that you can either share with friends and family or keep yourself. Saludos mi amigios!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humitas, Quimbolitos y Tamales

After a day of walking around Cuenca and photographing the amazing architecture, one builds an appetite. My friends at Mio Tours introduced me to this rather small eating establishment in Cuenca. It is locate off Gran Columbia on calle Presidente Borrero before you get to calle Simon Bolivar. You really have to look for it as it only serves about 12 people at a time with a total of 5 tables I believe. As you walk the street you see this blackboard operating as a identification for the restaurant.

 

Sign on the Exterior of the Restuarant

Sign on the Exterior of the Restuarant

 

 

Each item is warmed and served in a banana leaf, that is fairly sticky with the sweet sugar applied to the item oozing out of the leaf. You have to unfold it and this is a messy operation, but drives your senses wild as the aroma of the item erupts from each serving. You are offered either coffee or tea to drink with your meal and I chose tea. I am not really a soft drink person and know the dangers associated with their regular consumption. Coffee in the late afternoon keeps me up late at nights anymore.

 

Banana Leaf Wrapping for All Three Items

Banana Leaf Wrapping for All Three Items

 

The item served first was a Humitas and was my favorite in the long run, as I am a carnivorous individual and like my protein from meats. The Humitas has pork inside and is swathed in the sweet corn meal that all of the products are wrapped in. It also includes a slice of egg, a few bites of vegetables and a couple of slices of chili peppers on top.

 

Humitas

Humitas

 

The ritual one goes through to eat these fantastic morsels and indigenous mainstays is unique. One squeezes a lime on the item, adds a little Aji which is the Ecuadorian version of salsa and takes their spoon and dives in to this sweet and tasty morsel.

 

Aji and Lime

Aji and Lime

 

 

The next morsel served was a very sweet and typical item that I imagine has been around for centuries and is basically just the corn meal folded into the banana leaf with out any stuffing. This is the Tamale and is not associated with the typical tamale filled with meat in Mexico and the US. Kim and Learned this on our trip in March of 2013.

 

Tamale

Tamale

 

 

The third and final item served was a Quimbolitos. It is a Tamale that is stuffed with raisins and has a few extra unidentifiable flavors. It is also has a sweet flavoring and resembles the Tamale. In my photo you can plainly see the raisins in the item and can imagine the wonderful taste.

 

 

Quimbolitos Stuffed With Raisins

Quimbolitos Stuffed With Raisins

 

All of this costs under $2.00 US and I promise you will leave this establishment full. I could not add another item and having sampled the three variations I will (and have) go back and only eat the Humitas. That is unless someone else is buying and I don’t want to hurt their feelings! Ha! I was not able to capture the lady’s name that runs the restaurant, but I did manage to take her photograph and this is her. Notice she is smiling as most of the people in this wonderful country do consistently!

 

 

Owner of the Restaurant

Owner of the Restaurant

 

As I have about three and a half weeks left in Cuenca I am sure I will stop by again and sample her wonderful Humitas, Quimbolitos y Tamales. Saludos!

 

 

I love this food! Stop Taking my Photo!

I love this food! Please Stop Taking my Photo and Let Me Eat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of The Day #7

  Vendor-selling-fresh-water-crabs-on-the-HWY-to-Salinas-Blog

On my first trip to Ecuador in October of 2011, I learned that they have a plethora of crabs available and the crabs are packed up in large bundles for sale at road side stands. It is an amazing site. I am positive I will see many again when I return to Cuenca in a few days, unless there is a seasonality to the crabs.

 

This will be the first time I have traveled to Ecuador during their winter. Kim wants me to measure how cold it really is, as she absolutely hates the cold and feels it down to her bones. I think it is actually getting worse the older we both get! I thought you might enjoy a little local food. I sincerely think though, that you better have a huge family, a party with about 20 attendees or an enormous appetite, if you make this purchase!

Is It Possible to Eat Ice Cream and Lose Weight

One of my passions in life is very unhealthy, completely degenerate in nature, filled to the brim with sugar, butter fat and other high caloric ingredients, but I can’t help myself. I am addicted to it. I love sampling the many flavors and I love the various methods of serving it. At home in the US, I cannot purchase it without gobbling down approximately what is considered three or four servings (at least).

 

I usually make do and hold my urge to feast on the entire package and devour it in one sitting. I am so unlucky, because in Texas we have what is arguably the best in the world for sale in every grocery, convenience, drug store, mass merchandisers and warehouse stand alone membership venues like Costco and Sam’s Club. It is frankly a losing battle and if one does not have a strong disposition you will suffer the consequences. That is simply the enormous expansion of your waistline or what becomes a middle tire effect.

 

Mixx Heladeria with 80 Flavors with Jim and Connie Joliff

Mixx Heladeria with 80 Flavors with Jim and Connie Joliff

Obviously by now you have deduced I am speaking of ice cream. It is so hard to shop at my local HEB and pick and choose from all the wonderful fruits and vegetables offered and try to stroll by the Blue Bell ice cream section, without grabbing two or three half gallons. Yes I said half gallons. In the old days when all three sons were living at home and playing athletics, it was nothing to go through five or six half gallons a week.

 

Growing young men need their calories which burn off in the Texas heat, of one hundred degrees plus at their particular sport’s practices. Of course Mom and Dad needed excessive butter fat to enable us to do all that screaming for our sons prowess or at the officials, which usually dominated the yelling. Somehow our referees, umpires, etc were always below standard, or at least that was the case when we were losing!

 

Mixx Flavor Creations

Mixx Flavor Creations

 

My weight would fluctuate enormously with the advent of late spring and the high temperatures. How else would one cool down? Thank God I realized by the end of summer that I had to cease my ingestion of massive quantities of ice cream and behave normally again as the cold seasons arrived, or else I would have looked like a Goodyear blimp.

 

As I aged each year it became harder and harder to shed the excess weight, punctuated with a little syrup and more than likely whipped cream. Kim gravitated toward flavors like Butter Pecan, Vanilla and and anything with Carmel flavor. I was infatuated with Banana Pudding, all things Chocolate and many of the seasonal short term offerings.

 

Mixx Flavor Options

Mixx Flavor Options

 

Over the years we cut back and started only eating ice cream on holidays and other celebrations. I pined away my fifties knowing I could not continue this charade. Then it happened. I visited Ecuador. A country full of organic fruits, vegetables and untainted food supplies like we have in the US, with all the GMO’s and preservatives.

 

I quickly noticed that there was a Heladeria on almost every block. Most were the run of the mill shops and served a gelato style ice cream with basic flavors and all serve a soft style, as rule. We talked with a few local Ex-Pats and they recommended Mixx Heladeria run by a Canadian genius.

 

Mixx Choice of Serving Methods

Mixx Choice of Serving Methods

 

This place has all types of flavors, including Mojito, Red Bull, Amaretto, and tons of fruit and tasty creations. The sign on the front says 80 Sabores. I am guessing that is correct. Once you walk in, it takes a while to decide which flavors you want to try. There are so many that are appealing. You also then get to decide what vessel you want the ice cream served in, a waffle cone, a waffle dish, or a normal cone.

 

Then, you get to decide if you want it dipped in chocolate! My word it is tasty. I have attached several photos for your pleasure and I am sure in a few days when I am back to Cuenca, I will head to Mixx and start testing the various new flavors. Somehow with all the walking in Cuenca I manage to eat ice cream and lose weight at the same time. Now that is my kind of experience!

Mixx Flavor Creations

Mixx Flavor Creations

 

How Many Times Have You Needed a Wheelbarrow, to Get Out of a Restaurant?

Sean, our middle son, called me last Friday at around 5:30 PM and said lets go out to eat. I am in South Austin and we can meet downtown, he says. I told him great idea, but a bad concept. One does not leave for downtown Austin, on a Friday night to go out and eat, unless they plan on eating around 9:00 PM. Not good for Kim and I, as we are generally yawning or going to bed at this time of the evening. Besides, I told Sean, I have dinner ready for your Mother and me at home. So I asked why would you call and ask this, as we had just been to his apartment the day before for a July 4th BBQ. He told me that the position he had been waiting for had materialized and he was the new Branch Manager. I told him how proud I was that he had gotten the job and would love to celebrate another night. How about Sunday night at Truluck’s he asked, knowing its the best seafood place in Austin and we all love eating there.

 

King Crab, Dungeness Crab and Stone Crab Claws

King Crab, Dungeness Crab and Stone Crab Claws

 

Sunday rolls around and we get a 5:00 PM reservation and show up early. Surprise the restaurant doesn’t open until 5:00 PM. Kim and I wait and Sean gets there right at 5:00 PM when they open the doors. We walk in and its apparent that crab is in season and they are featuring various items. Everywhere you turn are illustrations both live and on ice of these magnificent morsels. We sit and the restaurant comes alive as the server brings us bread and gets our drink order. The bar tender who is a friend of Sean’s stops by and asks the occassion. Sean tells her of his promotion and the fact we are celebrating his birthday early.

 

Stone Crab Claws

Stone Crab Claws

 

Sean then orders a plate of Calamari and we settle in. Kim orders Blackened Red Fish, which is right up there in my opinion, with the best fish in the ocean. I love its taste. Sean obviously orders Stone Crabs, the House special. I finally decide I will have a Dungeness crab. They go to the tank and obtain a live Dungeness that appears very large. I ask the server how much it weighs and she states a little over a pound. Okay that’s good I think, as the shell has to be half the weight. What do you want for your sides she asks. I look and the Mac N Cheese with Crabmeat looks delicious and I break down and order it and Asparagus.

 

Truluck's with Sean Michael Celebrating his Promotion 2013-07-07 006 Blog

 

The server brings out an array of tools, that will be needed to eat the Dungeness crab with. They are menacing and I am frankly not entirely sure how to use every tool. The server kindly illustrates the techniques. Our meals arrive and I am looking at what appears to be a three pound crab. I am scared I can’t finish it and am not sure if its safe to take crab home. I know one can get very sick around seafood if its not handled well. I have had food poisoning three times in my life and never want to go through that again.

 

Dungeness Crab with Mac N Cheese and Asparagus

Dungeness Crab with Mac N Cheese and Asparagus

 

Somewhere between about half of the Mac N Cheese with crab, half the Aparagus and about 75% of the crab, I start feeling like I need to regurgitate! I am fastly filling my stomach and I am not sure how much room is left. I stop eating the sides and concentrate on the crab. By this time Kim and Sean are done and I am still cracking legs, etc. Then they bring out this massive cake to help Sean celebrate. I want to literally toss my cookies. I have to taste it, but know there is no way I can finish the slice that Sean has carved for me. I get up to stretch my legs and go to the restroom. Maybe a little walking will help.

 

Truluck's with Sean Michael Celebrating his Promotion 2013-07-07 017 Blog

 

Sorry it didn’t. I return and sit down and take a few bites and tell Sean maybe I better take the rest home. In the end we all take our desert home, as I learn I am not the only one filled up. I rise and start to walk out and I realize that I am close to barfing. I need a wheelbarrow to help me to the car. Somehow we hug Sean, congratulate him on his promotion and get in our car to drive home. I am so full I can’t breathe! We get home and I tweet that I had to get in my elastic pants as soon as I walk in the door. Apparently this is a common syndrome, as many responded with appropriate and similar thoughts about the wheelbarrow. Next time I go to Truluck’s no heavy meal and I will be a good man and eat a filet of fish…OR NOT!!! Happy Birthday son!!!

Living in the Land of the Free

I promised myself I would take the day off and not drop a post on everyone today. I am sure all of you are getting ready to celebrate with family and friends and planning to go watch an “Epic” fireworks show at a local park. When our sons, now all young men, were younger we would make a big deal and BBQ all day, pig out over my Mother’s potato and pea salad recipes. It really didn’t matter what type of meat I was cooking as long as Kim made deviled eggs and I made the salads. It was a Texas tradition.

 

Guess Who Can't Touch Bottom

Guess Who Can’t Touch Bottom

 

The boys would always find an easy way to amuse themselves and play games in the yard, which they created and developed entirely from some TV show like Ninja Turtles or something of that nature. I was still fairly active and would join in sometimes between cooking and making the salads. Of course the occasional beer would be ingested and Kim would have her glass of wine so the eggs and other items she made would come out just right.

 

Credit

Credit

 

When all was done we would sit around a table, eat until we couldn’t walk and finish with ice cream and watermelon. Kim loves watermelon. I hated the next portion and that was cleaning up the mess we made preparing all this very unhealthy food. It seemed to always take longer to clean than to cook. By this time it was getting near dark and we would pile into the van, yes we had a van for many years just to haul the boys and their stuff to sporting events, to school and to activities. It was nice to have that many seats as the boys didn’t have to touch each other. Touching each other always led to arguments for some reason.

 

Most of the fireworks programs that we would view lasted a fairly long time and we would bring folding lawn chairs, another great reason to have a van. Through baseball we became friends with Mary and Larry Heffernan and started a tradition of attending the parties they threw on the 4th. After all the eating and cleaning it was the best scenario for watching the fireworks. All we had to do was walk right out into their Cul de Sac and plop our folding chairs down. The fireworks went off behind their house at a local park and these seats were the best in town!

 

Credit

Credit

 

Now we have a son in Japan, one in the Dallas area and one still here in Austin. We are going to his apartment and having a mini 4th BBQ. I hope we don’t embarrass him! I miss the old days and having all our family so close! Life has a way of hitting you right between the eyes at times and for some reason it did that today. I sincerely hope all you young parents “relish” (sorry I couldn’t help myself) the time you have now with your children and spend it wisely. Before you know it your children will be grown and out the door. Be careful with the fireworks and try to eat healthy! Happy 4th of July for all those friends “Living in the Land of the Free”!

 

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Amateur Traveler Episode 471 - Travel to Austin, Texas



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