Tag Archives: food

The Trip Starts ~ Friday, June 5, 2015

I woke up at 8 and still have to pack.  We’re leaving for the train at 11…

So, naturally, I did some online stuff and at 9:08, I posted “We’re getting on a train at 1:02 (love how precise Amtrak is!) today so I guess I should start packing…”

Tom called for a cab to arrive at 11:15.  The cab arrived about 11 and started honking his horn.  Mimi started barking.  I took the first bag out at 11:15.  Good thing – the driver was getting ready to leave.  I told him that we’d said 11:15 – he’d missed that part

We got the 3 finally packed bags to the cab and settled in, fairly early to get to Union Station.

About 15 minutes out, I asked Tom if he had his passport.  He’d been thinking New York, not the cruise to Bermuda so we went back home and started again.

The rest of the trip was uneventful, if expensive.  The driver was fairly talkative and carried on an interesting conversation with Tom about Sikhs and other religions. Also, immigration to the states as opposed to the UK, education here, life in India…

Finally – Union Station.  Hooray!

Union_Station_Washington_DC

We only had to wait in line for about 10 minutes before our train was called.  Since the train originated in DC, we were able to get seats together.  Hooray!

View of the next train to our left…

And the trip starts...the train next track

The ride to New York was fine.  No derailments, which was really good.  The train that derailed in May was Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188.  We were on Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 186.  I assume that they retired #188.  It seemed ridership was down a little but we were on an earlier train than usual so maybe not.

We arrived at Penn Station, NY on time and started getting in the cab line.  I hate to say it, but the line was long and we fell for a gypsy cab trip.  The driver didn’t take us out of our way – I was following the trip on my Waze.  The driver got us to our hotel – and wanted an exorbitant amount of money (plus tip), cash only.  Tom convinced him to take a lot less (and NO tip!) and we checked into the hotel.

Four Points by Sheraton SoHo is apparently built on a small lot – it’s very compact, but tall.  Our room is on the small side and I think that there are only a few rooms on each floor.

We’re on the second floor and the view is a next door roof.  I’ll try to get a picture of that tomorrow.

Michael arrived – hooray!  After some discussion – nap or food – we decided to go out to eat.  We walked through Father Fagan Park.  Mimi wouldn’t consider this to be a “real park” but then, she’s not a city dog.

father-faganFather Fagan Park is gem of a vest-pocket park on the western edge of Soho. This park commemorates four local heroes who perished in the face of fire.

http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/M207

The first restaurant we tried could have taken us without a reservation but we’d have to eat quickly so we could be out when those who had reservations arrived.  We left, allowing plenty of time for those who planned ahead.

Walking along, we read other menus until we arrived at Spice.  Yummy Thai food!  I had Pad Thai with tofu and Tom had the same but with chicken.  Michael had rice with mixed seafood – some of the mix was squid.  EEEWW.

As an afterthought, I asked for Thai tea.  I was surprised, and very happy, when it came as a bubble tea.  As far as I know, there are only 2 places near me with bubble tea so this was a real treat.

bubble-teaAt the bottom are yummy boba tapioca pearls.  Here’s why I don’t make bubble tea at home:

How to Make Boba and Bubble Tea

What You Need

Ingredients

1/4 cup dried boba tapioca pearls per serving (NOT quick-cooking boba)
1-2 tea bags per serving, any kind
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Milk, almond milk, or sweetened condensed milk
Fruit juice or nectar (optional)

Equipment

Saucepan
Bowl for holding the cooked boba
Measuring cups

Instructions

1. Cook the Boba: Measure 2 cups of water for every 1/4 cup of boba being prepared into a saucepan. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the boba and stir gently until they begin floating to the top of the water.

Turn the heat to medium and cook the boba for 12-15 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, cover, and let the pearls sit for another 12-15 minutes.

2. Prepare Sugar Syrup for the Boba: While the boba are cooking, make a simple sugar syrup to sweeten and preserve them once cooked. Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil over high heat on the stove or in the microwave. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup sugar until dissolved. Set aside to cool.

3. Prepare a Strong Cup of Tea: This can be done either while the boba are cooking or ahead of time. Allow enough time for the tea to cool completely before making the boba. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the tea bag. Use one tea bag for regular-strength bubble tea or two for a stronger tea flavor. Remove the tea bag after 15 minutes and chill the tea.

4. Finish the Boba: Once the boba have finished cooking, drain them from the water and transfer them to a small bowl or container. Pour the sugar syrup over top until the boba are submerged. Let sit until the boba are room temperature, at least 15 minutes, or refrigerate until ready to use. Boba are best if used within a few hours of cooking, but will keep refrigerated for several days. The boba will gradually harden and become crunchy as they sit.

5. Make the Bubble Tea: Pour the prepared tea into a tall glass and add the boba. Add milk for a creamy bubble tea, juice for a fruity tea, or leave plain and add a little extra water. Sweeten to taste with the simple syrup from soaking the boba.

Additional Notes:

Very Chilled Bubble Tea: For an extra-chilly bubble tea, combine all the tea, milk, and/or juice, but not the boba in a cocktail shaker. Add a few ice cubes and shake for 20 seconds. Pour into a tall glass and add the boba.

Shortcut Boba: If you want immediate gratification, just cook your boba until they are tender, 5 to 10 minutes, and use them as soon as they’re cool. This kind of boba don’t [sic] keep for very long (turning rock hard in a few hours), but are delicious if eaten right away.

Saving Leftover Boba and Making Boba for Later: Boba are best if used within a few hours of cooking, but will keep refrigerated with simple syrup for several days. The boba will gradually harden and become crunchy as they sit.

During dinner, we discussed where to go next but that was fairly indecisive.  We thought about going to Tribeca park where one of the Sing For Hope pianos is located.  That was going to be about a mile walk and it was about 7:00 so we went back to the hotel to use the free WiFi and find another activity.  We ended up doing nothing except coming up with ideas for tomorrow.

So far:  breakfast, Michael has a training session at 12:30, Barge MusicAvery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York to hear an all-Mozart program, possibly a talk before that.  Somewhere in there we need to practice some…

We’ll see how that all works out!  Meanwhile, It’s 5:30 and I’m going back to sleep!

MaryOColorfulButterfly

New Orleans, LA, January 11, 2013

New Orleans

Find more about Weather in New Orleans, LA
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We had the breakfast buffet at hotel and went to the little shops.  Then, for only $3.00 we got an all-day streetcar pass.  We took the streetcar to the French Market and back.

The streetcar driver was very helpful and knowledgeable.  We first got on at the Poydras Street Stop and he said that he had only one more stop – Julia Street – to go before he had to go to his terminal to turn around.  But he would ask us to leave in the “most polite and respectful manner”.

Along the way, he pointed out the Harrah’s casino, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, iMAX theater (“The Largest IMAX screen in the Gulf South”), the Mississippi river, paddlewheel boats (including ours) and more all the way to the French Market.

The French Market is a  series of commercial buildings, stalls and tents in the French Quarter.  These days, it’s mostly food and flee market and most of the stalls sell similar goods.  The food includes stuff like alligator kabobs and other novelties.

It stretches just inland from the Mississippi River downriver from Jackson Square, with the famous Café du Monde at the upriver end, down to the flea market stalls across from the New Orleans Mint building.

The New Orleans Mint operated as a branch mint of the United States Mint from 1838 to 1861 and from 1879 to 1909.   It was closed during most of the American Civil War and Reconstruction.

After its decommissioning as a mint, the building served a variety of purposes, including as an assay office, a United States Coast Guard storage facility and a fallout shelter. Since 1981 it has served as a branch of the Louisiana State Museum. It was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and reopened in October 2007.

The New Orleans Mint has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and is currently the oldest surviving structure to have served as a U.S. Mint.

The New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park office and visitor’s center is in the French Market.

The French Market market is included on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.

We got on the streetcar and rode back to the Poydras stop.

Waiting for the paddlewheel trip  met 2 couples who were also going on our cruise.  One was from Devon, UK – they’d flown to Chicago then Amtrak to Memphis/Graceland. Another UK couple behind them was doing the exact opposite. The couple in front of us was Canadian and they’d just come off a cruise and after ours were going on one in Dubai.

We boarded the boat and headed downriver.  The guide pointed out several of the same sights we had seen from the streetcar.

The Creole Queen

The Creole Queen

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Paddlewheel trip

The paddle

The paddlewheel

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I just liked this message :)

I just liked this message 🙂

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A pier that was damaged in Hurricane Katrina

A pier that was damaged in Hurricane Katrina

 

We didn’t get off at Chalmette battlefield. This was the location of what is often called The Battle of New Orleans, where United States forces under Major General Andrew Jackson defeated the British, led by  Lieutenant General Sir Edward Pakenham in January 1815. The battlefield is preserved as a national monument, and the military Chalmette National Cemetery is adjacent.

For those who are too young to remember:

Or the more popular:

In 1814, we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip’.
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in a town in New Orleans.

We fired our guns and the British kept a-coming
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more, and they began to running,
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

We looked down the river and we see’d the British come
and there musta’ been a hundred of ’em beating on the drum.
They stepped so high and they made their bugles ring
We stood beside our cotton bales and didn’t say a thing.

We fired our guns, and the British kept a-coming
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to running,
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Ole Hickory said we could take ’em by surprise
If we didn’t fire our muskets ’till we look ’em in the eyes.
We held our fire ’til we seen their faces well
Then we opened up our squirrel guns and really gave ’em… Well..

We fired our guns, and the British kept a-coming
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to running,
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Well they ran through the briars, and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go.
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ’em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

We fired our cannon ’til the barrel melted down
So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round.
We filled his head with cannon balls and powdered his behind,
And when we touched the powder off, the gator lost his mind.

We fired our guns and the British kept a-coming
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to running,
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Well they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go.
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ’em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

~~

We went by the Domino sugar plant which was in operation.  Susan was fascinated by the process.

We disembarked and headed for the hotel. After we crossed railroad crossing signs, the bars came down and Kansas City Southern went rolling by very close…too close for comfort!  No time to get back under them but time to whip out my phone:

Kansas City Southern.  Too close for comfort!

Kansas City Southern. Too close for comfort!

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Back to Gordon Biersch for dinner. Pineapple mojito was less pineapple-y. I got sweet and spicy cashew chicken. Wonderful. Susan had half a turkey sandwich. Last night’s BBQ pulled pork had been too spicy, even though the waitress said “no spice”.

Susan found an interesting movie on TV, Perfect Pitch, so we watched that then off to sleep.

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