Friday, August 15, 2014

A Taste Of The Bahamas

For my eighth wedding anniversary, my husband and I spent a week in the Bahamas on the island of Nassau. We asked a few locals where they would recommend us to eat to get some local cuisine, not tourist food, they all said the same place: The Fish Fry.

The only thing to me is that if that's what they all said, then they probably all told tourists that Fish Fry was the place to go... so wouldn't that make it tourist food? I don't know, but we went there anyway to check it out.

Pulling up, we were a little early for lunch, just before 11 a.m. so they weren't serving lunch quite yet, but the hostess still seated us and we ordered mango lemonade and I just got regular lemonade and water. The waitress seemed to really push the bottled water even though we insisted on tap, but she ended up bringing us tiny plastic cups of ice water that were gone in seconds because it's so hot and humid there. I know Kansas is pretty humid, but this was ridiculous. It felt like 75-80 percent humidity while it was around 91 degrees. The waitress wasn't quick to refill our waters, either.

The restaurant seemed outdated, but most things on the island were that way so it just felt local. There was a lot of construction going on all over the island. Everywhere we went there were buildings halfway built and crews building. Even next to our hotel there were at least two other resorts being built. I spent some time watching them work at the tops of high buildings on cranes. Scary. Anyway, it was like the entire island was in the process of updating. The restaurant included.

The lemonade was extremely sweet and I couldn't even drink the entire glass. The mango lemonade was even sweeter. All the drinks I got while on the island were sweeter than back home. My husband and I decided it was because they used real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. When I bought a bottle of Sprite, I looked and sure enough, it was made with real sugar and even had "Sprite Bahamas" on it. Crazy how much difference the real thing makes.

Conch fritters. Yum.
Service was pretty slow for being one of two tables that we could see were eating lunch.

For an appetizer we ordered the conch fritters, which are pretty popular in the Bahamas. Conch is a shell fish that seems to be used in everything there, and it's pretty good. (See video below). Although it seemed a little chewy sometimes, I think that's just the nature of the fish. These conch fritters reminded me of hush puppies with chunks of conch throughout. They were served with a sauce that was creamy and spicy and reminded me of Sriracha hot sauce. The fritters were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside and the fish wasn't overpowering either, they really blended in. The chunks would kind of pull them apart and eating them could get messy, but they were worth it.

I ordered a fish sandwich. There didn't seem to be much on the menu other than a Conch burger, fried fish and burgers. The fish sandwich was tasty: fried white fish, lettuce, tomato, (I took the onion off), with a side of fries. I put tartar sauce on it, too. The fish was crispy and the bun was soft, although it was a little greasy. I mean, it was fried, but it wasn't a fish steak, it was pieces of fish so it seemed to be a little greasier than if it were just one piece. I couldn't eat the entire sandwich, the portions were pretty good size, there was a lot of fish.

I would say it was a good fish sandwich, but I was a little disappointed, honestly. I was expecting some fresh fish tasting of the sea. This fish tasted just like any fish I could order back home. The only exciting thing, to me, was the conch fritters because I couldn't order them anywhere else. I was also hoping to try other types of fish than just fried, but that just didn't happen, they didn't really have much of a selection.

Because it cost $20 each way to get anywhere in Nassau it was hard for us to want to try any other restaurant while we were there -- especially while staying at an all-inclusive resort where we didn't have to pay more for food. So, I was a little disappointed.

I would probably try to find a different restaurant next time I visit Nassau. Fish Fry was good, but I am curious to see if I could find some fish that isn't fried.

If you're not sure what conch is, or how they prepare it, watch this video of two fisherman in the Bahamas.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Taste of Colorado

I took a trip to Longmont, Colorado for my friend's wedding. Of course I had to try a local restaurant, but I decided I was going to drive over to Boulder and check what they had to offer there. Boulder is only about 30 minutes away.

When I got to Longmont, which is about 45 minutes north of Denver on the east side of the mountains, I didn't feel like eating my turkey sandwiches on white bread any more, I wanted real food. (I always bring food in a cooler to save money on the trip). I decided to check out the Mexican restaurant called 3 Margaritas, next door to the hotel I was staying in. The lady at the front desk said it was good, and I didn't have to drive anywhere. After driving eight hours I didn't want to drive any more.

Three Margaritas was your typical Mexican restaurant that can be found here in Topeka, or really any other city for that matter. The only thing special that I found on the menu, was the Burrito Colorado, and the server recommended it, too. So that's what I got and it wasn't bad, I ate the whole thing. It was shredded beef cooked in a spicy red sauce inside a flour tortilla with guacamole, beans, cheese, sour cream and green chili. I did not like their chips and salsa, though. The first bowl was so spicy I could hardly eat it, and the second bowl, when I asked for something mild, tasted like tomato sauce, so I didn't eat much of that, either. If you like spicy, you'll like the salsa, I'm just a wimp, I guess.

The Burrito Colorado was smothered in a green chili sauce, sour cream and cheese. Inside, the shredded beef was just spicy enough to be toned down by the creaminess of the toppings. Since I didn't like the salsa, I used the chips to eat most of the toppings mixed together. Other than it being a tasty combination, I didn't really get the "Colorado" part of it. Then again, I'm not from there, so who knows. My server wasn't too chatty so I didn't ask him.

After eating Mexican, I wanted to get a taste of the region. I went back to my hotel room and looked up restaurants in Boulder. I found a list of the top 10 spots, and tried to go with one that wasn't going to cost me over $35 an entree. I found a little diner called Lucile's, a creole/cajun breakfast nook found in an old Victorian style house in a residential area.

Fresh squeezed lemonade
The tables are packed inside, reminding me of restaurants in New York City, but it has a down-home country feel. The napkins are swatches of random fabric, and the walls feature local newspapers and playbills.  The wait was almost 30 minutes at noon on a Saturday, but the review I read said that would be the case, so I wasn't surprised and ready to wait. The host said there was a community table with no wait so I said "What the heck?" I was immediately sat and even got to meet some locals while I ate my meal.

I ordered freshly squeezed lemonade because my table mates recommended it and had just waited on it to be made. For lunch I ordered breakfast: eggs, potatoes and a biscuit. Everything about the meal was memorable. The biscuits come out first, square and cut from a cake pan, fluffy and buttery and hot. They are so big, too, I had to slow down so I would still be hungry for the rest of my food. There is strawberry jam on the table and I tried that, too. It was sweet and I enjoyed it, but the biscuits were so good on their own, I only just tried the jam.

My potatoes and eggs came out soon after. The potatoes were so good that I bought the creole seasoning they used and tried to make them myself at home. They were soft and smothered in Lucile's own creole seasoning. I wouldn't say they were fried, but they weren't boiled either. I think they may have been steamed or sauteed like I did them at home, only adding water every so often to soften them up. The seasoning was just a little spicy, but it was sweet,
too. I was pretty full from the biscuit but the potatoes were so good, I practically finished them off. The eggs were a perfect over medium, which is usually hard to come by -- I usually get over easy when I order over medium. Yeah, I'm picky.

I stood in line to pay and the service was brisk. Nine people were in front of me to pay, but I only stood there for about 10 minutes. I only paid $11 for the meal and I tipped a few bucks, too. I figured that since the other restaurants on the top 10 list averaged $35 for entrees that I had fared pretty well.

I saw that Lucile's has locations in Denver, Longmont, Littleton and Fort Collins, also. The one in Boulder was the original restaurant that was opened in 1980. When I return to the state I will definitely be returning to Lucile's Creole Cafe.