Monday, April 23, 2018

Boom Boom or Bang Bang?

Several times I saw Boom Boom Shrimp on restaurant menus, but was always enticed by something "better" in the shrimp line.  As Florida has one toe in the Gulf, so to speak, the shrimp there are uniformly large and very, very fresh.  They are, of course, flash frozen on the boat that got'em, but that is nothing  - they still seem from the sea to the kitchen to your very own mouth.

Even though I didn't order it, doesn't mean I wasn't curious ... Boom Boom Sauce ingredients - tartar sauce, sweet chili sauce, sriracha, sesame oil, cilantro.   Very nice, but exactly how much of each would have been helpful.

3/4 cups mayonnaise
2 T catsup
2 T sweet chili sauce
2 1/2 teas. garlic powder
2 teas. sriracha sauce.  This recipe is from a woman who admits that she adapted it to cut out some of the "hot" in sriracha.  I thought the garlic was kind of daunting myself.

Bonefish Grill offers Bang Bang Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
1/4 teas. sriracha sauce.

In addition to being used with shrimp, it is also considered a very fine French fry dip or slathered on the bun of your hamburger.

I wouldn't know.  Yet.  Trader Joe has the Thai chile sauce (pink for some reason)  in a tall, thin bottle.  And you can't throw a rock in a supermarket without hitting a jar of mayonnaise or a bottle of sriracha sauce.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday and Our Last Meals in Florida

Ruth Ellen met us at the hotel and the three of us set off for the Manatee Refuge in Ft. Myers for a look-see.  In addition to the manatees in a power plant discharge canal, there is a bird sanctuary and another for butterflies.

We picked a bad time to do this - it was Sunday - gift shop was closed; the "season" is December to March and consequently all of the residents - birds, butterflies and manatees were visiting Elsewhere.

Undaunted we walked over to the discharge canal to see if there were any manatees that had missed the bus out of town.  There weren't.

By now, it was lunch time so we went restaurant hunting.  Few and far on the ground - the Sunday thing.  But we did happen across Beef O'Brady's, 11341 Palm Beach Blvd, Ft. Myers.  Ruth Ellen said it was a Florida chain, but there were cars in the lot, so we sauntered in.  Big room, sports bar themed with 25 good-size TV screens and a patio that must have been as big as the indoor dining area.

Richie and I had a Stella each  ($11.50).  Richie was feeling a bit peckish so he was satisfied with the soup and half sandwich meal. ($7.49)  The soup was billed as Jerk Soup and appeared to be very fluffy rice in chicken broth with cilantro sprigs and jerk seasoning.  We both thought it could have had some kick to it which was sadly missing.  My order was a lettuce wrap of shrimp and cabbage slaw, Thai-style ($9.99)  Ruth Ellen said, "Oh, I haven't had one of these in ages!" and promptly ordered a Reuben ($8.99)

And off we trundled to meet again at 6:30-ish at Maria's Pizzeria for as much of family as we could scrape up for a family dinner.

But ... the winds kicked up, it sprinkled, then rained intermittently but we left in clear weather which changed as soon as we got over the bridge from Ft. Myers to Cape Coral.  It began raining which is understatement to describe what would be a monsoon in other climes.  Lightning flashed (happily five miles away) and thunder boomed distantly.  Meanwhile the rain slammed us (safely still in the car) with more gusto than I felt was really called for.  We get it!  It's raining.   Finally it waned to a point where we could splash into the place with minimal damage to hair and clothes.

Pull up a chair and sit down with us!  Ruth Ellen and her husband, the late Giovanni, and their two sons Alfredo and Joseph own and run Maria's which frequently wins "Best of "awards.  They have been successful with Maria's since 1991.  They have a reputation (deserved) for quality and use real butter, cream, primo olive oil, etc.

We ordered Bruschetta Rustica to go with our drinks ($7.25) and it is a slice of thicker-than-thinner Italian bread, toasted, slathered with olive oil, chopped tomatoes, black olives and more and  presented on a platter, artfully drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  Quite tasty and, um, I pretty much filled up on them.

Ruth Ellen and I had Caesar salads ($8.50).  This was all I ordered (because I wanted their homemade tiramisu for dessert) but Ruth Ellen got the Giovanni's Veal Special - tender veal sautéed with mushrooms, spinach, heavy cream, butter and Romano cheese over your pasta of choice. ($24.95)  Richie was in culinary heaven.  He loves Chicken Cacciatore and can never find it out here.    Just what he loved - chicken breast with sautéed mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives and pepperoni in housemade marinara sauce. ($17.95)

We drank:   Cabernet Sauvignon  for Richie and sparkling prosecco splits for me.  Can't remember if Ruth Ellen had a drink or not.

Now it was time for tiramisu!  Italians have a deserved reputation for generous portions and this was no letting down the side.  It was a square portion, perhaps the size of half of a concrete block and every bite was delicious.  I shared it - I had to not only because it was such an enormous serving, but because it came with four forks and I didn't have much choice.  Share or get stuck.

And thus ends our informal restaurant tour..  We were up at 5 a.m. the next day for an 8 a.m. flight home; no time to eat and the hotel resto wasn't open at that ungodly hour anyhow.
Dueling showers - rt.


A beach on Sanibel

The manatee pirate

Saturday, April 21, 2018

4:45 p.m. London; 10:45 a.m. Houston

Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her 92nd birthday today.  The gun salutes are probably over in - Hyde Park 41 guns!  Windsor Great Park - 21!  Tower of London - 62!

Barbara Bush, 92, is being laid to rest in solemn ceremony- the 11 a.m. service is about to start.  Honored guests include four former Presidents - her husband, her son, the Clintons and the Obamas.  Many other notables will be there, too, and I read the list with interest.  A pair of names caught my eye - Keith and Jon Meacham.  Given the Bush attitude toward same sex marriage I was surprised so I looked them up  Jon and hi wife Margaret Keith Smythe Meacham are hetero and have three children.  He is a historian, she a former executive director for Harlem Day Charter School.

The service is clearly expected to be finished by 12:15 p.m. as the cortege will leave at 12:40 p.m. for a private interment at the Presidential Library at 2:40 p.m.  "2:40 p.m. to go from a church to a graveyard?  What?  They're going to hit the drive-through at MacDonald's?"

Everyone but me knows that the Presidential Library is in College Station, TX. 95 miles away with an estimated driving time of one hour, 29 minutes.  I stand corrected (and embarrassed.)

Barbara Bush had a tremendously good sense of humor.  I wonder if it's possible to attend your own funeral in spirit if not life...and if Barbara Bush is also waiting to see if Hillary will find some steps to fall down and what Michelle Obama will be wearing.

I wish her Godspeed as I think of the utter sadness of her husband, in his wheelchair pushed by daughter Dorothy, gazing at the closed coffin.  What memories he must have.

Friday, April 20, 2018

More Food? But, But ...

Saturday Ruth Ellen turned us loose no doubt hoping that we would be behaviorly correct and not embarrass the family.  She had raved about the Edison Ford Summer Houses, so we went to take a look.  Edison and Ford, both inventors of great talent, had an affinity for one another probably because of their shared day dreams that became reality.  Happily their wives and families found each mutually congenial.  Speaking of congeniality - their guest quarters were both larger than the houses they lived in!

The grounds were lovely and we enjoyed seeing them.  What was rather disappointing is that our "tour" of the houses was limited to such as standing on a veranda and peering through the windows.  Tourists are not allowed inside either home or the guest quarters.

Now it was time for lunch.  We had seen a place Friday called Ford's Garage during Ruth Ellen's tour  of  downtown Ft. Myers that today was doing a brisk business - the sidewalk tables were many and customers at every one of them.

The interior was themed right up to its eyebrows.  "Normal" wooden booths and tables and chairs, but few restaurants have an early model Ford car hanging over the bar.  The napkins were mechanic's rags with a c-clamp securing them.  A service bar was a rolling tool chest which had the cash register on top and the drawers held napkins, silverware.

This is the sort of thing that is cute, but truly touristy as was Doc Ford's (pretend Caribbean shack) and soon to be seen  Rum Runners.

The menu dishes were honored by being named for the Mayor, Police Chief and so on.  Richie had Ford's signature burger $12.50 with fries which came with a very good seasoning dusted over them.  I had a Caesar Salad (not a winner in my quest) $7.95 and we split a slice of Key Lime pie $6.95.  Two Stellas each for $25.  Total was $55.54 and portions had been extremely generous.

That night Ruth Ellen and her mother, Richie's Aunt Pat took us to dinner at Rum Runners, a restaurant next to the water, a yacht brokerage (no, we didn't shop) and very trying to be upscale (white tablecloths.)  Casual dress.  I can't remember seeing anyone in Sunday best the whole trip.  Just as well; I would have stared which is rude and would have been  a great shame to the family.

The room was vast, a big space here, another there all with some kind of water view, which wasn't really studied by us - too deep in conversation.   We had been seated next to the loudest groups in the whole place, but when we asked, were graciously moved to another area and we all sighed with relief - and could hear each other doing it!

We started off with drinks - Richie's usual pre-dinner tipple, a Tanqueray and tonic $8.65, a shot of Johnny Walker Black for Ruth Ellen $11.45, water for Aunt Pat and a prosecco split for me.  $10.50.  Aunt Pat ordered sweet potato fries $4.99 with our drinks - she just loves them due to the seasoning dusted over them - kind of peppery, but not tonsil threatening and kinda sweet, but no dentist would be alarmed.

Two orders of Gulf Coast pasta, $14.50 each, one pork tenderloin $22.99 and a Caesar salad and shrimp cocktail $9.99 came to our table..  They didn't list the Caesar salad amd I can't give you a price for it because I couldn't eat it.  Billed as "romaine" lettuce (pale, green spears of lettuce) what came was a jumbled, wilted mess o dark-green, big leaved something.  It looked like a pile of sautéed spinach to give you an idea.   I took one bite.  I wasn't going to say much of anything unless asked why I wasn't eating it by our server Kaitlyn but Ruth Ellen, a restaurant owner herself, rapidly called Kaitlyn over, pointed out the salad and said to take it away.  Lettuce qualities and colors were briefly discussed and I ate my shrimp cocktail and later told Kaitlyn it had been very good as a sort of appeasement for the salad.  There's no doubt I would have been a collaborateur in WW2.

I praised my sparkling prosecco which intrigued Aunt Pat and after I had given her a sip, she declared she loved it!  So she and Richie split another one.  I should note that Aunt Pat is now 91 years old, lives alone in a spacious condo, golfs, and just bought herself a new SUV - "I like to be up high," the straight-backed diminutive lady said.  If I get older (no one has shot at me yet) I want to be just like her.  Full of fun, full of enjoyment of life.

I am tired of writing about food for the moment and for all I know, you are all sick of  hearing about anyhow  Tomorrow we will polish off Beef O'Brady's and Maria's.  Stay hungry, my friends!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Breaking News - Richie Hits A Double!

How about that?  When he dictated it, he said, "Send it to both papers," and I thought, "I dunno about this ..." thinking (for no good reason at all) that if they both ran it, both saw it in the rival's pages, they'd strike him from their rolls of accepted contributors.  

And once again (quit groaning) "Write short to get in!"  Even with computers, there can be awkward leftover spaces.  That's our spot!  We own it!  Go for it!  A newspaper's editorial/letters page has a much bigger audience than the habitués of Smokie's Bar and Barbecue or the family dinner table.  

Share your thoughts and write of your indignation (if any.)   

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Eating In Florida

I'm trying to do this logically.  So.  Yesterday we got here.  Now it's time to eat!  It was a lovely surprise to discover that Florida restaurants on the whole are a lot cheaper than here in SoCal.

Friday, the 13th
Four Points of Sheraton Ft. Myers Airport - Breakfast
They have an extensive menu with surprisingly many Mexican breakfasts.  My scrambled eggs and well-done bacon and cheese quesadilla  - the eggs were the fluffiest scrambled eggs I've ever eaten.  The tortilla was warm and dry and cut in four pizza-type servings.  Richie wolfed down his sausage and eggs burrito with enjoyment.
     Our daily orange juice (fresh but no pulp which I welcomed) was served in a beer glass - the kind that has a pinched waist toward the bottom of the tall glass.  Generous to say the least, well worth the $3 each they cost.  We ate breakfast there Saturday and Sunday, too.  $23 +/- each day.

Friday - Lunch
Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grill  Captiva Island locaton
This was a great place, a sprawling huge place with a vast veranda.  Even though it was a nice day, we ate inside as Richie's cousin Ruth Ellen, a longtime resident, is bored with the heat and I can't blame her.  It was about 80.  It was slightly dim inside and the a/c was nicely gentle, not arctic blasts as are usual in other hot climes.

It was a late lunch (3 p.m.) because Ruth had toured us all over Sanibel AND Captiva and it was so interesting that we didn't start yowling to be fed at the usual noon-ish hour.

Richie - 1/2 order fresh oysters on the half shell - $8.95
1 1/2 lb. order Yucatan Shrimp, the house specialty.  $15.95
A Stella Artois $6.25

Ruth Ellen - A fried Grouper sandwich with Tartar sauce $18.95
Generous shot of Johnny Walker Black $9.00

Me - Yucatan Shrimp, 1/2 lb. order $15.95  Comes with two generous chunks of buttered, toasted bread to sop up the sauce.
One split Brut champagne $7.95

Tab was $88 + 20% tip

The restaurant is used to recipe requests and after we raved about the shrimp, he put the recipe in with the tab.

4 T sweet butter
1 large garlic clove minced
Juice of two limes
1 T Indonesian sambal - this is the hot part and it is quite hot.  Turn it down and use whatever appeals that is milder is my suggestion.  Not theirs.
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1 lb. large, fresh, shell-on shrimp
Garnish - 2 T chopped cilantro

1.  In a small sauce pan on low heat, melt 1 T of butter, add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
2.  Add the remaining 2 T of butter and when it melts, stir in the lime juice, sambal, salt and pepper.  Turn off the heat and let it all "rest" (from what is not in the recipe)
3.  Boil the shrimp in well-salted water for 2 minutes until they are just firm and pink.
4.  Toss the shrimp and sauce well, sprinkle with cilantro and toss again. Serve with plenty of bread to sop up the delicious sauce.

As we'd eaten so much for lunch and so late, none of us were hungry for dinner so we repaired to Ruth Ellen and sons pizzeria Maria's on Cape Coral to sit around on the patio with a glass of wine and visit.  Eventually we did feel a bit puckish so we split an excellent 12-in pizza.  More on Maria's later.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Where To Start? Getting There Is a Good Idea...

Many of you already know that Richie is retired from a Major American Airline (MAA) and as such is entitled to discount travel anywhere MAA goes.  We're billed for taxes and sundry other little things.

This most emphatically does not mean we fly with the same sang froid  of a paying customer.   We are very much the redheaded stepchildren - "Beat Us Up With Abandon!"   And accepting our kind  if somewhat masochistic offer, MAA does.  But then, when we get the flight we signed up for and we get 1st ... whale away!

Be that as it may.  Our flight to DFW (and thence to Ft. Myers) was loaded, the door was about to be closed and we're all just sitting there, bags stowed, books out, laptops warming up when the co-pilot comes on and informs us, "This is your co-pilot speaking, the Captain is in the terminal clearing some paper work for the delay we had for a slight mechanical problem.  That's all been fixed and we will be departing as soon as the Captain boards."

I said to Richie, "I'd prefer to think he's in the bar having one last shot."

Once rolling, we dutifully scrubbed the tray table, armrests, TV screen and controls with a wipe-on disinfectant sheet and settled back.  In my case, waiting for something to eat.  This was an 8:15 a.m. flight and we hadn't had time to eat anything other than a quickly gobbled pain chocolate" waiting to board.

As usual, I didn't pay any attention to the details underneath the photos of food available for sale.  There are set times for breakkies.  For flights that leave after 5 a.m. to 9:40 a.m. you can get a Continental Breakfast (basically a bagel and cream cheese) or harboiled egg slices and turkey bacon sandwich on a croissant which appealed and tasting turkey bacon might be interesting.  Due to our late start, and the 9:40 a.m. there was nothing but a fruit and cheese plate or a can of Pringles which didn't appeal somehow.  They did give everyone a packet of two shortbread cookies.

The aircraft was an AB-something and I didn't like the seat layout in the euphemistically named "Main Cabin" - three - aisle - three.   Same on the 737 we got coming home.  Business was the same layout!  First looked like it usually does with two - aisle - two.   Not that we got either.  But you know what?  I bet they got food!  And hot food at that! None of this 5 to 9 menu business.  No doubt MAA chuckles and says, "Hon, if you pay these prices, by God, we'll feed you and bless your little hearts."