Held It In the AM, Ate It In the PM

Went on a Louisiana swamp tour. Our Cajun tour guide said if we wanted to try alligator, we should go to Huck Finn’s Cafe in New Orleans, and order their Alligator Sauce Piquante dish. So, I made a mental note of that while I caressed his pet baby alligator.

Later, after the tour, I convinced Montego to try alligator. So, off we go to Huck Finn’s. Montego ordered a shrimp po’ boy, he was on a shrimp fix. I scanned their menu, searching for one keyword: alligator. Surprisingly, there were several alligator offerings on the menu. My indecision (and, admittedly, slight fear) drove me to order the Gator Platter: alligator served as a sausage, in sauce piquante, and blackened. If I didn’t like one preparation, then I at least had others to fill me. I ignored the odds that I might not like all three preparations. I ended up wishing I had just listened to our Cajun tour guide and ordered the Alligator Sauce Piquante. The blackened preparation was chewy. And, eating sausage can only stay so appetizing. So, what I did was dump all the blackened pieces into the small bowl of sauce piquante to make it more enjoyable. People are right, alligator does taste like chicken. Based on the blackened preparation, alligator has the meat consistency of pork and flavor of chicken. Montego helped me finish the sausage. I couldn’t finish all that. The sausage was like eating a turkey sausage. No flavor revelations. The alligator was satisfying, but I don’t see myself craving after it.

I also checked in on Foursquare, so we scored free beignets and had them boxed up. We passed by a homeless dude on the way to the car, so Montego gave him our beignets.

Honey Island Gator Platter

Shrimp Po’ Boy

 

Giggling Like A Schoolgirl

Had a late check-out at the [almost] 2-month old Holiday Inn, located at Truth or Consequences, NM. First of all, what the heck kind of town name is that? Truth or Consequences? I imagine this town used to be some rebel settlement where you had gunslingers duking it out on Date Street (one of the main streets in the tiny town). I suppose, with a name like this, you can let your imagination run wild.

The Holiday Inn Express itself was super new. I bet our room had been previously occupied only once–if at all! Everything was excellent. One criticism I do have is their decision to stick the coffee maker on the bathroom counter, directly next to the toilet. Gross. This new hotel is also the tallest hotel in the entire town, with three floors. That’s how tiny this place was.

After taking advantage of the late check-out, we headed out to Hatch, New Mexico. The chile capital of the country. Can’t cite reputable sources where this claim is made, but I believe Anthony Bourdain has said this. If you watch his show “No Reservations,” he visits this restaurant called Peppy’s Pot (now renamed to Pepper Pot). In the show, he orders the enchiladas, half green chile and half red chile. I did the same thing, except I added chicken in the mix. It was damn good. Bourdain concluded that he liked the red chile more, while I ended falling for the green chile. But, to put it in perspective, liking one chile over another is all about preference. Both chile sauces are excellent. Very rich and distinct flavors, with a lot of depth in it. I have a bias towards green chiles anyway (hence, my inclination to cook chicken chile verde for leftover chicken), so my preference did not come as a surprise.

The reason for the title of this post has to do with the fact that I was starstruck as soon as we pulled over in front of the restaurant. I don’t get starstruck easily. Not sure if it’s my Los Angeles upbringing, but that’s how I roll. Anyway, I had been anticipating this visit since I was able to take my mind off school. As soon as we walked in, I could instantly point out where Tony Bourdain and his crew sat. And, to my excitement, I saw one of the two sisters (the owners) out on the floor talking to customers. Holy shit. I figuratively peed in my pants.

We ate, we now understood the hype. Robin also preferred the green chile sauce, and jointly concluded that it was worth the stop. I had anxiety about talking to one of the owners, but Robin ultimately convinced me to go for it. So, I pestered the waitress (who I surmised was one of the daughters of the owners, and future heir of the secret recipes) to talk to one of them. Mensa, I believe her name was, came out looking confused and I sputtered out, “Hi, we came out here from LA–we saw you on TV–we are such big fans–can I take a picture?” I don’t think I said one complete sentence to the lady. So, Robin took a picture, we shook hands some more, promised to come back again, and we were off. On the way to door, my knees buckled, and I started giggling. I looked like someone who was high on marijuana.

Good times.


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Truth or Consequence, NM

Yes, the town name is “Truth or Consequence,” and we’re staying in the Truth or Consequence Holiday Inn Express, a brand-spankin’-new hotel in a very small and run down town.

The hotel is beautiful, and a good value at 99/night.

On our way down to ToC from Santa Fe, we drove through a spectacular thunder storm, with lightning flashing all around us, constantly. Quite impressive — lightning as far as the eye can see.  We also caught a beautiful New Mexico sunset along the way.  Both are natural wonders that are really hard to capture with a camera, although we certainly tried and tried! (Long drive…what else were we to do?)

Tomorrow we head south about 1 hour to a restaurant that’s on April’s list (for lunch), and then we start a 10 hour trek to Austin, TX.  Good bye, New Mexico!

Late Morning

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Had a late breakfast at a Route 66 Diner called Mr. D’z. The wait staff actually looked you in the eye. It was new to me! Took this picture to secretly capture the local people and local flavor, if you will. The guy on the right had an interesting facial hair style. This place touts their homemade root beer. Oprah supposedly loves it, based on the framed picture of her holding a mug of root beer.

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Flying Back to Drive Forward

Traveling by air is a horribly uncomfortable, inconvenient, and exhausting experience. From the moment you wake up at 4 AM to take an hour long bus ride to the airport, to then waiting in line to be inspected, to the mundane “boarding process,” it’s more effort, stress, and intellectual down time than most people experience in an entire week of normal living.

And then once you’re packed in the flying aluminum can you must endure the discomforts for what always feels like “forever.” The cramped seats, crying kids, and the monotonous commands from the “flight team” telling you how to fasten your seat belt, and that can’t smoke on the plane. Sit back and relax? That’s a joke now-a-days, right?

Alas, if you can put up with the jet lag, expense, and the stiff neck you’ll have for the next 2 days after, flying at 35,000 feet and at 550 mph is pretty efficient from a sheer distance traveled perspective. And until they build bullet trains, flying cars, or teleporters, it’s really the only option. How sad.

I WILL say, however, that flying can provide an amazing opportunity to mentally organize your thoughts, especially when traveling alone. Just turn off that tv (you forgot the headphones anyway), close that window shade (it’s too bright and distraction), and pull out that computer and you have a particularly unique focus environment — one where you CANT DO ANYTHING but think and type. Of course, if you waste your time analyzing the silly things that I do, it really doesn’t do you any good.

Oh, so I should mention that I’m flying back from the trip to take Kono to Boston — back to LA to be reunited (and it feels so good) with my Wife, TheRose, and to then jump in the car and start driving! We just have to a few things before we go:

Drop off any remaining “stuff” that we couldn’t take with us to GoodWill
Return our Time Warner Cable Modem
Swap rental cars at Hertz, from a gas guzzling Avenger to a efficient Corolla or Versa
Grab one-last-lunch with Mr. Capecci… probably in-n-out
Hit the bank, pack the car, and go go go.

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A Shout-Out to the Parents

It started with a perfect pickup, at 12am at night
Kono was stressed and I was tired from the 5 hour flight.

We were greeted with open arms and shuttled to the car.
Kono had some water and I, a rice krispies bar.

The ride home was swift, with Johnson Sr at the wheel
Kono didn’t mind, showing admirable travel appeal.

And when we completed the hour journey back to the house,
The Konos had his own food and water, and even a mouse!

I slept in a well made bed, with a great frame to match
Had to sleep almost naked, as few clothes I could pack.

The next few days flew by, but they were all quite nice
From eating at the EBG, to breakfast at the normal place.

Everything was so relaxing on this special Summer visit,
My empty cold apartment: I hardly missed it!

Thank you for the pleasant dose of family you bestowed
It only adds to the excitement of us coming home.