Saturday, December 12, 2020

Back for a few DDDs in South Florida

 When I got back from Texas I really wanted to get to some more places.  I saw that Guy had just been to a few places in the Fort Lauderdale area and the flights looked good so I decided why not?  After an all too short night I headed out.

My first stop was in the town of Parkland, about 20 miles or so north of Lauderdale.  "Los Bocados" is in a Chevron gas station and creates some delicious Mexican food.  I was greeted by Anthony, the owner and head chef.  He explained the menu and the items that Guy had on his visit.  I decided to try the Barbecue Brisket Tostadas.  The flat tortillas were topped with strips of brisket in a slightly sweet barbecue sauce and topped with avocado crema, pickled Jalapeno relish and Cotija cheese.  They were delicious!  I am not a fan of spice so the jalapeno relish kind of scared me, but the heat was minimal and very tasty.  Anthony and his staff are great, very friendly.  Since it's in a gas station you could easily miss it, but that would be a shame, Los Bocados is a hidden gem and worth a visit!

My next stop was about a 30 minute drive away, in the town of Sunrise. "Kababi Café by Kuluck" is a restaurant and nightclub.  They serve Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine.   They have a dance floor and disco ball!  I decided to try the Grilled Shrimp appetizer.  The 5 large shrimp were fire grilled with subtle spices, meaty and tasty, it came with a basket of pita bread.  I kind of felt bad for my server, she was all by herself and had a decent lunch crowd to deal with.  The place seems like it would be fun place for a group on a weekend night. 

After a short break I was back at it.  I headed to lesser known Hollywood and Hollywood Blvd!  The Florida version of Hollywood Blvd. is a very walking friendly area filled with restaurants, bars and shops.  In the midst of this and next to a physic reading shop is "Krakatoa Indonesian Restaurant".  The restaurant is in a narrow but long building and is decorated with maps, pictures and decorations of Indonesia.  Being my first time at an Indonesian restaurant the menu was a bit overwhelming, the menu focused on seafood and vegetable based dishes, although there was some beef, lamb and chicken dishes as well.  I chose a vegetable based noodle dish called Mie Goreng; sautéed noodles cooked in coconut oil and vegetables, served with some crispy chips.  There must have been 6 or 7 types of vegetables in the dish including mushrooms, broccoli, sprouts, white and purple onions, and peanuts to name just a few.  The dish delicious and filling.   Before I left I got to meet Abe (pronounced Ah-Bay), the owner and chef who has brought the flavors ad dishes of his homeland to South Florida.

My last place of the day was a few miles away in Dania Beach just down the street from a favorite Triple D pace of mine, Grampa's Bakery.  "3 Son's Brewing Company"  is a microbrewery that also features pub grub, from pizza to salads to baked goods.  They also feature about 20 beers on tap made on site.  It is in a warehouse and they do a big business.  I decided to do a dessert style beer as well as a dessert.  I chose the fresh baked chocolate chip cookies along with  beer called Scoop; an Imperial Neapolitan Sweet Stout with Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla infused.  It had a very interesting taste and aroma, a bit sweet with the sour notes of stout.  It was very good!  The cookies came fresh baked and gooey.  It was a great way to end the day!  As I left I met the manager who signed the book and we talked about travelling and trying different Triple D places.

The next morning I headed out to what would be the most unusual visit during my Triple D travels!  I went back to Hollywood not too far from Krakatoa, the place I had dinner the night before.  "J28 Sandwich Shop" features Peruvian cuisine specializing in sandwiches and empanadas.  When I arrived there was a sign on the door stating "Closed Due to a Power Outage".  Just my luck!  There were a couple of others who arrived and Javier, the owner came out and said that this was the first time in 5 years that this had happened and he wasn't sure when it would be back, according to Florida Power and Light.  I told him why I was there and he said to wait and wen ton and got me a small plate with two meat and potato empanadas.  WOW, what a treat to get a sample of their food by such a gracious owner.  Before leaving I got him to sign my book.  I ate them back at the hotel and they were delicious.  I plan to revisit J28 on my next visit to sample more of their food! Thanks Javier!

My last stop on the trip would be a very special one, too.  "Pirate Republic Restaurant and Bar" is located at the marina in Ft. Lauderdale on the Intercoastal Waterway.  As you enter you pass statues of pirates, so as they say "Be Aware as Ye Enter, Matey!"  After getting my temperature checked I was seated at a high top table with a wonderful view of the marina and boat traffic including the Famous Jungle Queen dinner cruise boat.  The views and tropical breezes made it an almost perfect setting!  The staff is friendly and very helpful, this would be a great meal!  I decided to try one of their shrimp dishes, Barbados Shrimp; Shrimp and Portobello mushrooms in a wine, shallot, herb and butter sauce served with rice and a basket of rolls.  The light sauce was a great accompaniment to the huge shrimp, very meaty.  After finishing  I got to meet the Chef and Owner, Claudia and her husband, Robert, known to all as "The Pirate".  I had a nice conversation with Claudia as she told me all about hearing that they had been selected to be on Triple D and about the filming, she is a great lady!

This trip was very quick but I was able to try new things and meet some wonderful people.  I have been so blessed and fortunate to have had so many great meals and meet such great people.  As I flew home my Tripe D count stood at 819!


Saturday, December 5, 2020

Remember Alamo! Checking out San Antonio

 After finishing up in Austin I headed southwest to the home of the Alamo, San Antonio.  It was a quick 70 minute drive and to my relief San Antonio ISN'T a total road construction zone, like Austin!

My first stop was on the west side of the city.  "Fat tummy Empanadas" is a small family run place.  As I entered I was warmly greeted by the husband and wife owners.  They really lit up when they saw my book and started to tell me about and show me pictures of the day Guy visited.   Empanada's have become a favorite of mine, they are an Argentinian pastry/turnover whose fillings can be sweet or savory.  Many places have too much crust and not enough filling, not so at Fat tummy, they make them perfect! I decided to get two empanadas, Spinach and Cheese and Beef and Potato.  After getting my book signed I took a seat in their dining room and was able to put a push pin in their 2 maps that show where their customers are from.  After a few minutes my meal came, both were perfectly baked and came with a spicy and mild sauce.  The spinach and cheese was delicious and gooey.  The Beef and Potato was tasty and the mild sauce was the perfect accompaniment!  Fat tummy is not a glitzy place, but their great food and wonderful owners make Fat tummy Empanadas a perfect place to visit when you're in the area!

My next stop was a bakery, "La Panderia" , a Hispanic bakery and café.  I decided to get a few pastries and bring them back to my hotel.  The seating area is pretty big and there were quite a few patrons for a weekday afternoon.  As you enter you walk through the line where all the pastries are on display, they also make sandwiches to order and everything is fresh baked on site. I chose two turnovers, a pineapple and a guava as well as a huge chocolate croissant.  They were delicious and I had them for dessert and breakfast!

The next place was a little bit of the "Windy City" right n San Antonio! "Wrigleyville Grill" is an homage to Chicago street food and the fun that is Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs.  It's owned by a couple that met in Chicago, him from Greece and her from Mexico.  They missed the foods and feel of Chicago and wanted to create it in San Antonio.  They succeeded.  The menu is pure Chicago and the décor is Wrigley, almost like visiting the Cubbie Bear!  One of the amusing signs said "3 Biggest mistakes - The Fire, The Flood and The Sox!"  This is a real Cubs place.  I decided to get a Chili Dog and the classic Chicago Dog.  Both were tasty, the chili was thick and hearty., the Chicago Dog was authentic with a sport pepper, tomatoes, and the neon green relish that is unique to the Windy City.  Both dogs were Vienna Beef with the Poppy Seed rolls.  Before leaving I got the  owner to sign my book.  I really like the Wrigleyville Grill, it's worth a visit.

My next stop was about a 90 minute drive west of San Antonio in the Texas Hill Country.  The scenery reminded me of driving in the canyons of Southern California with the colors of green, red and brown.  The hills are rolling  not too tall.  "Mac and Ernie's Roadside Eatery" is in the small town of Tarpley and was featured on the very first episode of Triple D.  In my opinion it is one of the most remote places Guy has visited in the US, but it's worth the trip.  As I walked in I was warmly greeted by the staff and shown the menu, which is on a chalk board next to the order area.  They feature an eclectic menu including deer, goat and beef burgers, and fish meals. Their menu changes for lunch and dinner and they are open only on the weekends.  I decided to try the Fried Catfish platter, which included a mound of fries.  After ordering an older couple came in and asked me where I was from and we had a nice conversation.  They found Mac and Ernie's about a decade earlier because they love goat meat burgers and drive a long way on each visit.  They even offered me a taste of their goat burger and I took a small cut of the burger.  The goat burger was very lean flavorful, if I hadn't been told I would have been certain that it was a beef burger!  My meal was very good, the batter on the fish wasn't too heavy, the fish was light and tasty.  I got to meet the owner, Naleen, a real Triple D superstar, and she signed her page in my Triple D book.  The place that Guy first visited was across the street and much smaller.  About 10 years go they took the original building and moved it across the street and added it to the new place.  Just about everyone who entered was greeted and friends and many of them knew the staff by name!  Guy has featured Mac and Ernie's two or three times, it's a real Triple D landmark!

After driving back to San Antonio I arrived at a place that is only open 3 days per week due to the pandemic.  They have very limited seating but were doing a good carry-out business.  "Ma Harper's Creole Kitchen" is an homage to Ma Harpers hometown of New Orleans.  This is the first place that everyone entering had get a temperature check and sanitize their hands, and too my surprise Ma Harper was doing the checks!  They also had a limited menu due to the pandemic, but with good options and the prices were very reasonable.  I hope this pandemic ends soon because this place looks like it would be a lot of fun when it's fully open!  I chose the small pork chop platter along with some lemonade.  The chop was deep fried with a tasty batter and included two slices of delicious corn bread, it was really good!  Before I left I met Ma Harper, a spry 93 years old, and she signed the book.  I really like Ma Harpers and can heartily recommend it!

After a short break I headed out to dinner with the intent to get to two places.  The first was a few miles south of the city.  It took about 30 minutes to get to "Luna Rosa Puerto Rican y Tapas" near one of the many military bases in the San Antonio area.  The place is in the middle of a small suburban strip mall but as you enter it feels like you are walking in Old San Juan with loud, lively Puerto Rican music.  I took a small table and was greeted by my server who told me that it was Happy Hour and they had several Tapas plates on special.  She had to explain all of the choices since I don't speak Spanish and don't know much about the cuisine of Puerto Rico.  I chose two plates: one featured Manchego Cheese and Olives marinated in oil with dried cranberries; the other was mussels cooked in a red wine broth with 4 slices of toasted bread.  The cheese and olives were delivered first and were very tasty. The sweet and savory combo was interesting but worked.  The mussels were really good, the sweet broth was good and the toast slices were great for dipping.  I was able to meet Iris, the owner and she not only signed my book but asked if they could take my picture, which of course I did and got one with my camera, too.  I was planning to go to another place, but I was full!  It was really good but really filling.  I guess I'd have to try the last one in the morning!

My last meal on this Triple D trip would be at a place in the downtown area not too far from the Alamo. "Dignowity Meats" is a barbecue joint. It's a carry-out place with a large seating area, all outdoor but there ae space eaters making it very comfortable in cooler times.  They have separate menus for weekday lunch and weekend lunches and dinner.  The diner meu is mostly ala carte, which is what I ordered off of.  I met the bartender and greeter who described the menu. I decided to try Dignowitty's newest sandwich, the Crazy Clucker, a fried chicken breast topped with mustard, marinated slaw, bread and butter pickles on a potato roll.  I waited in a very colorful and artful seating area.  The sandwich was awesome, filling and very tasty!  After finishing I got the host to sign my book.

After a nice time in San Antonio, I headed home.  On this trip I was able to get to my 800th place in Houston and get to Mac and Ernie's a place that had eluded me for a long time.  I have really enjoyed my travels and meeting so many nice people and restaurateurs.  My Triple D count now stands at 813!