My eight year-old son has quite the refined palate. So, when a city-wide search for crawfish pie in New Orleans left us empty-handed, I knew I had to start experimenting in the kitchen. This Corn and Crawfish Pie is the perfect combination of buttery crawfish tails, veggies and a New Orleans-style sauce hiding under a flaky pie crust.
For the full story and recipe, check out the St. Petersburg Foodies website here.
My family and I always seem to be eating our way through some city or another. Our summer trip to North Carolina was a bit different. Because this was our longest road trip to date with our 8 year-old son, Everett, the car was full of snacks and food packed for on-the-go; there was no stop every two hours for food. We stayed in the Franklin, North Carolina mountains, about 20 minutes out of town; instead of a hotel, we rented a cabin. Cooking in our cozy digs for the week made us feel more like residents than tourists. As a result of not eating out five times per day, we did not do our usual whirlwind culinary tour of town–however, we did do some drinking.
Living in St. Petersburg has spoiled us; we have coffee places and local breweries around every corner. When we venture out of our little town, those are the top two things on our radar. Rule number one: no coffee shop chains that we have at home–sorry, Starbucks. Rule number two: local craft beers only–no imports. With the current craft beer boom, we had no problem sticking with number two. To get the full mountain-town experience and to search for proper beverages, we ventured out to several of the other cities within a sixty-mile radius of Franklin: Bryson City, Sylva, Highlands, and Cashiers. On the route home, we drove through Greenville, SC and Savannah, GA all on the same quest. Here were our favorite drink stops along the way:
Ah, Quebec City…land of poutine, cheese curds and maple. We visited QC for a week during Spring Break for some snow, some culture–it was my son’s first trip out of the country–and, of course, for some food. Eating our way through Quebec City was, by far, the biggest culinary challenge to date; this town wasn’t exactly a vegetarian’s paradise. The Québécoise fare with a blend of French and Canadian cuisine was big on game; meat and seafood dominated nearly every menu we perused. With so many of the menus in this town being in French, learning enough of the language to translate them proved to be the most important thing I did to prep for this trip. In French, everything sounds amazing: even lapin–rabbit, wapiti–elk, cerf–venison, canard–duck; if I hadn’t focused so much of my time learning foods in Francais, who knows what would have landed on my plate! After much research, in the midst of all the carnage, we managed to find several spots that really made it count.
Or, more accurately, a boatload of maple… Like most folks, we use our fair share of maple syrup on breakfasty things like waffles, pancakes, and French toast; I also love to use it in muffins and cupcakes and icings. On a savory note, I remember when my mom used to make chicken dipped in maple syrup and coated in crushed pecans. I even go so far as to whisk this stuff into my homemade maple mustard vinaigrette. I knew maple syrup was versatile; I had no idea how versatile until our recent trip to Quebec City.
I know what you’re thinking; you don’t even have to say it: “Breakfast again?!” It is said to “write what you know,” and I know breakfast foods–oddly enough, I rarely eat them in the morning. So much so, that when my son was younger, I made eggs for breakfast one morning; he promptly told me, “Mommy, eggs are for dinner, NOT breakfast!” This isn’t a post about breakfast per se; it is about apples–and lots of them.
On any road trip there are two options: the direct route and the scenic one. Traveling with a seven year-old typically would necessitate the need for the former. Over the summer, while driving home from Pensacola, we opted for the latter. If you’ve ever driven through the panhandle via I-10, then you know that it is, by far, the most mind-numbing drive, ever. This flat, scenic-less route leaves you practically comatose after an 8-hour stint from central Florida. So, despite adding on a two-hour detour, it was refreshing to actually have something to see once we hit the Gulf Coast. After making our way through Seaside, Port Saint Joe and all points in between, we arrived at our destination: Apalachicola.
Well, friends, here we are again; I am two days away from taking down my Christmas decorations: that officially marks the end of yet another year. While 2015 had its challenges, it was also full of some pretty great stuff.
One of the most exciting things this year got lost in the chaos of the holiday season; my blog celebrated its one year anniversary on November 18th! Happy Birthday MVT! Putting myself out there and creating this blog was such a personal leap for me. I knew I wanted to start something where I could chit-chat about food, but then I got stuck. It took over a year of brainstorming ideas and then finally working up enough courage to begin a blog; it’s hard to believe that now another year has passed since I hit “publish” on my very first post! I hope you all have enjoyed reading it as much as I have loved writing it!
As promised in my You Say Tomato post, a word–or several hundred–on Caprese sandwiches.
My first Caprese sandwich did not come easily. Our first two hours in Rome consisted of the following: getting our backpack stuck in the overly crowded subway doors; arriving too early to check-in to our hotel; Ed being bitten by a horse; and receiving a scolding from an Italian policeman–not the best way to start out a ten-day stay of my first trip abroad. Once we found out our hotel room wasn’t ready, we dragged our luggage to the first cafe we could find and grabbed a “Caprese” sandwich to-go. I wasn’t exactly sure what was on that sandwich; after the long flight and crazy subway ride from the airport, all we wanted to do was sit down and eat it. Apparently the horse we walked by thought Ed was offering it up and decided to go for a bite…he took a bite of Ed’s arm instead. Yep, that actually happened–fortunately, it did not break the skin, just bruised him pretty badly. After that we headed to the Spanish Steps, sat down and happily began to unwrap our sandwich–and then a policeman began yelling at us. Apparently, you are not allowed to eat on the Spanish Steps. O-kay… Starving, grumpy and a little disenchanted, we found a spot to sit and–legally-eat our food. We opened our sandwich to see what was inside. The sandwich was simple with only a few ingredients: mozzarella cheese, sliced tomato, and fresh basil on crusty bread. Finally getting to taste that sandwich negated all of the crazy things that had happened in the two hours prior. I thought that if the rest of the food on this trip was this good, our visit was going to be unforgettable–and it was.
We spent our Spring Break in Washington DC. We arrived at the tail-end of winter with 40-degree highs and in the course of six days we watched the spring usher itself in with blooming daffodils and 70-degree days. Those six full days were spent touring, hoping to see some cherry blossoms bloom, and eating–boy, did we eat! Nowadays, the way we eat when we travel has changed a bit. We aren’t always seeking out the most famous restaurants with the most famous chefs as much; now it is more about finding good, simple food that the locals love. When we travel, we have a rule: no chains–or rather, no chains that we have at home. This rule is not a problem in DC; every corner has something new and exciting.
Simple. Fresh. Honest. Humble. These four words summarize the food that my husband, Ed, and I ate on every leg of our journey through Italy 14 years ago. We hit seven cities in ten days. Our tour gave us so many culinary firsts and “bests”: from the potato focaccia in Cinque Terre; to a foot-long calzone in Rome; to my first aglio y olio pasta in Sorrento; to our grilled, fresh mozzarella in Capri; to the crunchy, cheesy, sweet sfogliatella in Naples; to our daily breakfast of little toasts with jam alongside the best coffee on the planet; and finally, to our multi-daily trips for gelato. These food memories are still fresh on my palate and despite the years that have passed, I can recall all of them vividly. Ed and I are always on a quest to find these items again stateside, just to see if anyone can match what we found in Italy so long ago.
There is one additional item that has had the most lasting impression on the two of us: the pizza we had in Naples. Our first bite of Margherita pizza at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele was like no other I had had before. The crust was so thin and crisp; one person could easily eat an entire twelve-inch pizza. A scant amount of fresh tomato sauce was spread so thinly that you could still see the crust underneath. Fresh mozzarella cheese was sparsely placed and used as a topping as opposed to a covering—the other version offered had no cheese at all and was topped with a few strategically-placed basil leaves. After many years, many mediocre renditions, and a few winners along the way, we finally found a place in our own backyard that is a close second to our Neapolitan favorite; the restaurant is Tuttorosso Pizzeria Napoletana. How have we not found this place sooner?