Posts Tagged With: good eats


Past family reunions always included a run on the flume over the Independence Day Holiday. Virginia is floating peacefully along. I chose this picture to show what the flume looks like with dappled sun, shadows, and growth on the banks of the gunite flume. It was built during the gold rush to bring water to the miners.

A staying hand, a paddle or two, and the tube obeys in the swirling waters.

Flume Master, Doug, is the hoss, picking the best drop-in to start and the best, and the safest, pull-out near an eddy. He wanted to introduce his friends, Dirk Christianson and family to a unique waterway.

Everyone carries  their own tube. You can jump in anytime but a low spot we’ve nicknamed the beach is Doug’s choice to launch. The gunite can be rough on knees and elbows so an anchor helps people up the bank.  The flume is practically in our backyard, so it’s been our air conditioning for years. Jump in, get your clothes wet and stay cool in half damp clothes for the rest of the day.

Mother, Kelly skipped the first run. She is strong and supple and has the appearance of a yoga maven.

And that is the way she sat her tube. Doug told me later that she is a yoga aficionado. I love my yoga and thai chi, so we have a lot in common.

Daughter Kendal…

…and her friend, Jenna were enjoying the ride. The water is high this year, but that is a relative term. Some places are thigh deep, others calf deep. In a low year, your butt can’t always clear the rocks.

Dirk is watchful, and takes the tubes out for the girls

Young and nimble, they need no help to get up the bank.

They tell the Flume Master all about their experience. It looks like Kendal has twigs caught in her hair.

Time out for snacks between runs.

By the second…

…and third runs, the girls are relaxed and playing games. Kendal admitted they were careful on the first run, watching for poison oak,  spiders, the swift curves and maybe other things Doug teased them about.

Dirk liked the flume. He also pulled out some plastic garbage tangled in some bushes.  The girls snagged a flattened tube someone ditched on the bank. Our rules are you take everything out that you bring in.

Dirk found himself a cool spot, hanging onto a tree root, to sit and enjoy the cool water in the shade.

Virginia and Theo got into a race, passed the girls and…

…the winner was Theo,  first under the bridge.

Mom was a close second.

When Theo made it up top, he was surprised to find out that his dodge past a patch of blackberries left him souvenirs.  The flume is not a straight shot. It winds around and around to slow the water and passes several spots for water to be taken out in case of fire.

Cedric opted to snack and stay on the bridge with Owen who appeared to be feeling poorly, though he denied it.

Hmm! I don’t know. There has to be something amiss with a 17 year old who doesn’t pay attention to two beautiful girls. Time to do some digging and turn that sad face into a smile.

Back at the house, the Flume Master also reigns as Master Meat Chef. Doug makes some amazing tri-tip, ribs, sausage and chicken come off the grill.

Neighbors Cindy and Gary Gonzalez joined us for eats, along with my brother, Bill. Pushing eighty he looks terrific for his age. I’d like to steal some of his natural curly hair. He told me to meet him at the barbershop and take home what I wanted. That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, doncha know.

Happy Independence Day tomorrow.


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Marina Koren just wrote a piece for Smithsonian Magazine identifying the 20 most iconic foods that, according to her, the locals adore and travelers flock to. We’ve done a lot of traveling and eating our way across country. We’ve found some wonderful places. Let’s see if her places and ours have crossed? I expect her choices are big city spots, where Jim and I take the roads less traveled.

The world’s largest drive-in diner, The Varsity of Atlanta, GA. serves the varsity dog. Order a red dog for pile on the ketchup, yellow dog, heavy on the mustard, heavy weight, with chili. And sides, bag-a-rags equals chips and one ring is a single order of onion rings.  Hmm! I’m thinking the lingo is part of the appeal. Sounds really delicious.

Faidley Seafood of Baltimore, MD serves up the crab cake sandwich, described as a huge half-pound lump of crab mixed with saltine crackers, old bay mix and mustard, deep-fried for five seconds and served up with the usual tomato and lettuce. I’d go for that in a hip-hop second.


(Crab cake picture by Flickr user JPellengen)

Bostonians apparently love their Union Oyster House, but it is the history of the place that is interesting. John Kennedy loved his oysters there in the longest operating restaurant in the country. Daniel Webster washed his oysters down with brandy a looooong time ago.  It would be hard to pick the best oysters because, after all an oyster is an oyster and what ever you put on it is to taste, though they cook them many ways. The place also claims to have invented the toothpick. Now, that is classy.

Camp Washington Chili of Cincinnati, OH. has been serving up a greek formula chili over spaghetti and piled high with cheese since 1940. You can also order it with onions and  beans, called a five-way. I’d love to try their five-way chilie. It is now on my bucket list along with that crab cake.


(Image from Getty images.)

Ninfa’s of Houston where fajitas were invented by Mama Ninfa and has since spread to every Tex-Mex restaurant in America. Served with a generous flour tortilla and pico degallo, it is a real hit since 1973, but we all have our favorite Mex restaurant that serves fajitas. Chicken, beef or pork, they are available almost anywhere. So, I won’t cry if I don’t get to Ninfa’s, but she deserves a 21 gun salute for inventing the dish.

Oklahoma Joes Barbeque of  Kansas City. Not being a heavy meat eater I can’t quibble with all of the awards this place has received for its brisket, sausages, lamb and other meats that are smoked on the grounds with white oak. So, I’d have to give Joes a “Let’s Go!” So far, we’ve been to Baltimore and Boston, but not Kansas City.


Canters Jewish Deli has been open since 1930 in several different locations in Los Angeles, but his half-pound of pastrami on rye with a side of pickles has been the must have sandwich as well as 22 other signature sandwiches people love at Canters.  Canter is originally from New Jersey, so eat your heart out New York.  (Photo by flker user Nat Gray)

Makes my mouth water just reading this stuff. I’ll report on some of the rest of her choices later.

We left Scotrun, PA. in the middle of a storm.

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It lasted about an hour before clearing.

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We crossed over the highest peak in the Pocohana Mountains at 22,250 feet.

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The country is green, green and beautiful with plenty of rivers.

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Most of the drive was on the interstates with too many trucks and this narrow, scary passage in a construction zone. I was glad I wasn’t driving. We ended up in Clarion, PA. at a Moose Club for the night. It is hit the road time again as we press for Michigan to meet friends and old haunts for me.

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Summertime and the livin’ is easy. Come Independence Day, we celebrate with a  family and friends reunion. Doug spends a couple days mowing and weed eating; raking the horseshoe pit, blowing up inner tubes and a multitude of other tasks to make ready.

Sister Karen set up his chair with a humorous note and identified garbage from recycling.

Preparation counts.

By 11:00 on Saturday, people began putting up their tents.

The adults enjoyed snacking…

while the kids jumped on the trampoline until they were temporarily exhausted and needed a rest.

Squirt guns were  popular items for keeping cool.

Sisters, Bev and Cathy.

By 2:00 everyone was ready for a cooling flume ride.

That is, everyone except our youngest, 4-year-old Abbie who fell asleep on Dad’s lap.

Doug challenged Anthony to swim to him in the swirling current.

The chicken and tri-tip are Doug’s strong forte.

The two best cooks. Norma brought her famous home-made Chili Verde with Peruvian yellow beans and rice.  (To die for.)

To by-pass mosquitoes, we hid inside and played Black Magic for a couple of hours.

The kids got to stay up really late and played on the trampoline with light sticks until everyone was ready to call it a night.  More tomorrow.

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This is a view of Murphys Irish Day around noon. People were bundled up but still determined to have a great day, and, they did.

That is because earlier, at 9:00, volunteers were out shoveling the white stuff off the streets. Then, once shoveled, where do you put it?

It had to go somewhere, so it kind of lay piled around in mounds here and there. I saw a few snowball fights, but the kids were respectful and took their fun away from people and onto lawns or side streets.
At the beginning of March, in preparation for this day, the street was painted with two huge clovers and the space between the double lines was painted green for the length of Main St. This is done legally, now. It wasn’t always so. The guys who started this affair, Jim Riggs and Bob Bliss,  would invite people over to Riggs Beauty Salon for corned beef sandwiches and beer. Then about midnight, after they’d had plenty of  liquid courage, they’d paint the single yellow line green with the help of anyone else willing to face arrest if caught.  The powers that be laid in wait and caught Jim Riggs, arrested him, and put him in jail one year. The judge was friendly to one of the outstanding merchants, movers and shakers about town, and Jim was released the next morning without charges being filed.  They finally made a deal to everyone’s satisfaction, and the practice continues to this day.

The local booths provided good eats and drinks of all kinds. The churches brought home made soda bread and  pies to sell.  The nearby Congregational Church held a pancake breakfast. The Native Sons provided corned beef sandwiches and green beer. There was all manner of barbeque, chicken, fries, corn dogs and other good stuff. I opted to get warm at the pancake breakfast and just missed the parade.

The last event of the parade is the manure scoopers with their little green wagon and shovel, but I couldn’t see any horses. I think it must have been a short parade this year.

Cute glasses.

The old foggie club.

I enjoyed the green trappings.

Meeting old friends. Glen Berry is once again President of the Native Sons, he told me to be sure and tell my son, Ken. (They’re old school chums.)

And young girls looking for an older boy than the one interested in them.

And the music. They had an Irish band, but this guy with his hammer dulcimer was fascinating to watch and hear.

Here is a very short sample. I was sorry I cut it off so soon.

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From Mary’s desk:

My partner Jim wanted to visit the French Market.  We walked through the old area of Marigny and found everything French, signs, a Frenchmen Hotel, a Paris fountain, a statue of Joan Of Arc, and Frenchmen Street,  which made Jim very happy.

The street scenes here are San Francisco,  Haight-Ashbury,  University Ave.,  Berkeley, 1960’s.  Street musicians, laid back, friendly people, artists, dogs to pet.  Shops with opium pipes and cigarette rollers;  a strong gay and lesbian population. Homey, ragtag eating places, tacos on the street, everybody has to make a living, man!  (I found a  another endangered species- a working telephone booth.)

The music never stops. Everywhere, people are having a good time. Everyone knows everyone’s business and they like it that way. One shop keeper told us that Marigny was just chosen the best neighborhood in the United States. He didn’t have much in the way of detail, who judged it, or what criterion.

This  graffitied building even had its windows painted over, but it was open for some kind of business. I opened the door and peeked and got a glimpse of a billiard table.

This clinched the Haight with this well used telephone pole.

The Spotted Cat piano player was hammering out tunes. The joint was small and cozy. At night, I’m guessing it is a very friendly place. I want to come back here.

A woman told me she lives next door to this “found junk” artist. Her comment, “You should see his yard!” I laughed because I would have loved to see his yard.

When we reached the French Market, music was in full swing. This costumed fellow jumped off the stage and played with the crowd. Oh, the costume, to die for.

As you might guess, characters abound here. And this gent decided you don’t have to wear your mask on your face.

Boiled peanuts were a new food to me. Though salty, they were quite good. We enjoyed Creole chicken with dirty rice and peas; and alligator sausage stew from a market booth.  Both choices were delicious, plentiful and cheap. We saw people waiting in line 20 deep to get into buy a muffaletto sandwich.

If you don’t have jazz musician friends, you can still have a jazz funeral.  A mime told me and I quote: “You only have to do three things. Die. In order to die you have to live. In order to live you have to take a good shit once in awhile.”   Street wisdom!

We wondered back to “The Quarter” , stopped for real brews at Crescent City Brewhouse and watched the kid shuck oysters. He told us he sometimes does this for 13 hours straight. He makes it look pretty easy, but you have to have the right tools because it isn’t easy.

Around Jackson square the proselytizers were in full sway. The gentleman above challenged passersby to a chess match for $5 a game. Fortune tellers, tarot dealers, face painters, portrait painters, street musicians, artists and tourists crowded the square.

We visited a jillion souvenir shops trying to find a frog hat for Jim. Alligators? Plenty.  But no frogs.

I took a lot of pictures. You can check them out with this link.

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