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Flan at El Paso Mexican Grill
Restaurant Review: El Paso Mexican Grill

El Paso Mexican Grill in Hammond is a tasty place to find yourself. Come with us and visit our other new favorite Mexican restaurant.

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Hello again, Dear Readers:

You may remember recently that BF and I went to a new Mexican restaurant in Hammond. Well, guess what? We found another one. We had no idea this was even here. And it’s right across the street!

I’ve also got a couple of updates, so let’s get to it.

Misfits Market Update

After my last post, I sent a link to Misfits Market on Instagram, and let them know that I wrote about my experience. They read it and responded that I could send a report to their support team about the carrots that were not in good shape. I declined to do that because they were usable once I cut off the bad parts. Yes,  I’m still eating avocados.

In the meantime, I still haven’t figured out why I need to keep the box, so I decided to see if Tab E. Cat was interested. He was.

Cat in box

There he is, our little apex predator.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the Cat Catcher 3500.

The Meat Box

My second box from Misfits Market will arrive on Saturday. I was right, you can’t do your shopping until your “ordering window” opens, which is a few days before the time they charge your card. In my case, it’s Tuesday night at 10:45 pm Central. I have from Sunday through that time to go in and see what they’ve curated for my weekly order.

I had less trouble accessing my account this time, so that was good. The company puts together a $30 box of organic produce, and it’s up to you to change it (or cancel) as you like. I removed most of the fresh produce and added mostly meat. Re-ordered some sugar snap peas and kept the included bag of those cute little sweet peppers. No discount code this time, so I’m a little bummed, but that’s OK, I tried to find one.

This week, the website had only turkey bacon and bacon ends, and BF said “no” to the turkey bacon. So, I’m getting one package of bacon ends for the freezer, along with any meat we don’t use immediately. I added some ground beef, stew meat, and some chops. Full report in a future blog post.

Valentine’s Day

I forgot to recently mention that BF and I tried to have a lovely Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly what we wanted. Allow me to explain.

Chocolate covered strawberries in a box wrapped with ribbon

Very nice.

Again this year, BF brought some delicious decorated chocolate-covered strawberries.

Decorated chocolate covered strawberries

Aren’t they beautiful? And tasty, too.

He brought home some meat to grill too. The meat was grilled to perfection and delicious. Unfortunately, the second part of our evening wasn’t what we’d planned. We had an urgent plumbing problem at the Casa de Rurale that needed attention and couldn’t wait. I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say that it sort of changed the vibe.

This year’s Valentine’s Day was a great dinner, but the “entertainment” was, to say the least, sub-par. Disappointing, but not as bad as it could have been.

At least we weren’t facing a winter storm with ice, snow, and a potential power outage.

Update On Buddy The Puppy

The new puppy, Buddy, also nicknamed “Broccoli Stir Fry,” has grown considerably since he arrived on January 29th. We have not yet weighed him, but he looks to be about the same size as Spencer.

Buddy the dog

Look at me! I’m cute!

Unlike Spencer, this 3-month-old canine is strong as an ox. I’m having considerable trouble walking him on a leash and keeping him from pulling me in another direction. Now that he’s getting bigger and more rambunctious, I must give the Pitbull periodic time-outs away from the puppy.

Buddy the puppy walking

I try to take him for a few walks a day around the property.

Buddy whines, of course, but the pit bull gets some “me time,” which usually means sleeping in the back room with me while the pup has his meltdown is on the other side of the doggie gate. BF estimates that Buddy will be at least as big as the pit bull, if not bigger when he’s fully grown. Don’t know what I’ll do when he gets that big.

It’s A Joke, Folks

The nickname “Broccoli Stir-fry” is just a tongue-in-cheek description used in the frustration of dealing with an untrained puppy who, we hope, will catch on soon and learn how to dog.

No need to send the animal rights activists over with torches and pitchforks. It’s a joke, that’s all. We’re taking care of him best we can, and the pit bull is just tolerating this weird little creature. There’s a lot of growling and snarling when they’re not sleeping, eating, or playing outside. The dog is not being mistreated.

The Mexican Night Out

BF and I frequently have what we call “dinner meetings.” This is a discussion to decide what we will attempt to pursue for the next evening meal. I usually ask the night before, with occasional requests during the day. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. He frequently can’t make up his mind. “I don’t know what I want,” he says, but I’m thinking he’s deciding on which drive-through window is the easiest to get through at that time.

Recently, on a Saturday night, after I spent the day cleaning and Dancing With The Mop, BF again couldn’t decide on dinner. I mean, you can’t just throw something out at 6:15 and expect it at 6:30 unless you’re talking about frozen pizza or a Stouffer’s frozen meal. This is why putting food in the slow cooker is ideal for a Saturday–it’s all done. Then he said to me, “I was thinking about Mexican.”

Now you’re talking.

Headed To Hammond

Since there is a Taco Bell in town, that’s my “go-to” for Mexican. Yes, I know it really isn’t. On this evening, the plan was to head to Los Primos in Hammond, since we enjoyed it the last time. Off we went only to discover. . .they were closing. At 7:00 pm on a Saturday night. Can you imagine? (Not in Houston, that’s for sure.)

On the way, I noticed a Mexican place on the right side of the road (Los Primos is on the left a couple of blocks away.) I mentioned it to BF and asked about going there. He had no idea, he’d never been in it before.

Have I mentioned that I’ve been here for over five years now?

Well, we left Los Primos to go to the mystery place across the street. Hola, Amigos!

The El Paso Mexican Grill

We pulled into the parking lot and saw quite a few newer vehicles, mostly large pickup trucks. BF says that’s a good sign.

Wide shot of El Paso Mexican Grill

There it is!

Their outdoor sign needs a little work, but I guess that’s just because they’re too busy cooking for their guests.

El Paso Welcome Sign left

The left side of the entrance

 

El Paso Entrance Picture 2

And the right side.

It was cold this particular evening, so there were no patrons dining outside. I’m sure when the weather warms up a little more there will be plenty of outdoor dining.

We were greeted by a nice young woman and brought to a nice booth near the front window. A great server named Stephanie came by with the requisite chips, salsa. . .and a mild black bean dip that’s just fantastic.

El Paso Salsa and Black Bean Dip

Oh, that dip is so good!

And the menu.

El Paso menu

Looks good so far, but that website isn’t correct.

You’re totally in control until the chips and salsa show up. We definitely lost control at that point.

We decided on fajitas—BF had chicken and steak combo, and I had shrimp, since these are shrimp I don’t have to peel myself. And this is where the pictures end. . .because I didn’t think to take any, since we were enjoying everything so much. BF couldn’t get over how delicious his fajitas were.

The manager (I think, might be the owner too) is a very nice man who also appears to be Mexican and speaks Spanish came by to see how we liked dinner. BF declared it better than the *other* local establishment. I was impressed. But of course, I thoroughly enjoyed everything, too, and told him so. Everything was delicious, no complaints from me–except, why we haven’t been here before?

Now onto dessert.

FLLAAAAAAAANNN!!!!

Oh, yes, they have desserts, including churros, sopapillas, and FLAN. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I had a bit of flan. Normally, we don’t order dessert. But on this night, we ordered one.

Flan at El Paso Mexican Grill

Isn’t it gorgeous? Say it with me. . .FLAAAANNNN.

Mildly sweet and creamy, this one came with lots of whipped cream, and two spoons. I did mention to Stephanie that we’d be sharing this one. It’s not unusual, she said, and happily obliged us.

BF never had flan before. In fact, he’d never even seen one. He had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. One day I mentioned making a flan, but he gave me that look that says, “this does not compute.” Poor thing. Stephanie was kind enough to explain it—part pudding, part custard, with a smooth texture, and not overly sweet like a cake.

After enjoying his fajitas, a few bites of flan with whipped cream hit the spot. I asked him how he liked the flan, he said, “it was OK.” Well, he tried it.

Nobody Told Him

So after this visit, he called two of his car-guy friends who frequent the local establishment and asked, “Have you ever been to El Paso Mexican Grill in Hammond?”

Both said the same thing: “yes, we have.” BF was flabbergasted to find out that both also really liked the place but never said a word to him. Maybe they didn’t want us to go there and find out their little secret. Too late!

Oh, well—it’s our new favorite place in Hammond. I don’t care what anyone says about it, we’re happy we finally made it there. I told BF that El Paso is the place he can take me when he wants to apologize for something, ha, ha, ha.

Our Second Visit

Last week BF had another hankering for Mexican food mid-week, and not on a weekend. His first suggestion was to go back to El Paso, so we did. We were not disappointed, and this time I took a few more pictures.

Greeted by the aforementioned owner/manager, he was again nice and very tolerant of my limited billboard Spanish. He seated us in a different spot than our first visit, and we got to see more of the interesting décor.

Wall decor at El Paso

Isn’t that cool?

Love this wall:

Wall decor at El Paso Mexican Grill

You see a lot of “sun-and-moon” decor in Mexico and areas with a lot of Hispanic folks, like Houston, of course.

What a beautiful picture:

Painting in El Paso

Very appropriate for a restaurant

This painting was my favorite:

Painting in El Paso

Isn’t it gorgeous? Love the fold-down table, too.

Within seconds, a basket of hot chips, salsa, and black bean dip appeared on our table as they did last time. Our waitress was not Stephanie but was equally nice. The place wasn’t crowded this time, and we decided to try something different. For BF, it was the Chimichangas:

Chimichangas at El Paso Mexican Grill

This was what BF ordered. I had his guacamole.

For me, it was Chiles Rellenos, a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with Queso Fresco, fried, and plated under more Queso Fresco and a red sauce.

Chile Rellenos at El Paso Mesican Grill

Delish! It also wasn’t that big, which was perfect. I still took half of it home because, well, chips and salsa. BF did the same thing. That meant no cooking the next night so we could enjoy the delicious leftovers. Plus he always gives me his guacamole.

We didn’t order dessert this time, but I did suggest to BF that he try churros. Puzzled as he was, one of the ladies explained that to him. (Little fried sweet dough sticks with cinnamon served with chocolate syrup for dunking.) I mentioned to them that I once had churros with melted Nutella, at an AWAI Bootcamp many years ago in Delray Beach. Their eyes widened at that idea. BF turned his nose up because he hates Nutella. They were that good, but it was in a Marriott Hotel, after all.

I also suggested sopapillas, which BF also didn’t understand, until I said, “You know what beignets are? Same thing, served with honey.” Ultimately, BF passed on dessert entirely, possibly because I overwhelmed him with info.

More Tex-Mex In Hammond

We are quite thrilled to find another Mexican restaurant in Hammond, and it’s definitely our new go-to place. Highly recommended if you’re in the area. And if you’re not, they have multiple locations around the state, including Monroe, Denham Springs, and New Iberia.

But one odd thing I discovered is that their main website hasn’t been updated since about 2017. There isn’t a complete list of locations, either. The website on the menu isn’t online anymore. And the other oddity is that there are multiple websites for the same company. Or rather. . .well, I’m not sure.

There’s a website for one location in Baton Rouge, one in Slidell, one in West Monroe, one in Belle Chase, and another in Metairie. There is also one in Pensacola, Florida, according to the main website.

I’m guessing it’s franchised, and each one is individually owned. The websites all say, “family-owned,” but I’m not sure if it’s one family, or each location is owned by a different family. I didn’t think to ask, but then we were enjoying chips, black bean dip, and salsa too much.

Well, whatever the ownership situation is, Hammond will always be our favorite.

El Paso Mexican Grill is located at 1603 N Morrison Blvd, Hammond, LA 70401-1531, and their phone number is 985-956-7223.

Until Next Time

In addition to the upcoming meat box from Misfits Market, I’m working on a few other things to report.

Spring is coming, and that means lovely spring vegetables as well as gardening. Maybe. I’m trying to get BF to think about another round of gardening, this time on the far side of the garage.

He has access to a tractor with something called a “box blade,” which would render that area suitable for planting. Two huge tree stumps with an extensive root system are what stand in our way for a nice garden over there. But it’s protected from the main area, with an existing fence to help keep the local wildlife (and occasional visits from BigFoot) from destroying it like last time.

I should look for some BigFoot garden décor. Maybe even this sign on the outside of the garage. I bet that would keep the night creatures away from our garden. Along with anyone else who decided to show up.

Well, I still have my paint bucket garden. They’re cheap. Maybe I’ll try tomatoes again this year. I clipped a bit of basil from last year’s plants back in November before the winter chill got here and sprouted them on the kitchen windowsill. They’re currently planted in a small ceramic pot. Now I’ve got two small plants in the kitchen window waiting for the day they can grow outside.

Time to see what Tractor Supply has ready to bring home and plant. BF just turns his nose up. Until next time. . . .

Happy Dining, Amigos!

Menu from Los Primos Restaurant
Restaurant Review: Los Primos

In the quest for delicious Mexican food in the middle of Louisiana, Los Primos is an oasis of deliciousness. Come along for a trip with me and BF.

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Hello again, Dear Readers:

This week marks six years since I crossed the Sabine River to visit BF for the first time. We didn’t “celebrate” like we did last year. We’ve decided on a movie for Valentine’s Day: Ghostbusters: Afterlife. We’ll get that from the red kisok somewhere.

I suggested the fourth installment of Hotel Transylvania, which is only currently available for streaming. But BF thought the newest Ghostbusters film would be better. The menu is yet to be decided, but we’ve got some great choices. There may be some chocolate waffling going on, too.

Update On Spencer

We’re still mourning the loss of our little free spirit, Spencer.

My phone went off with a text notification a couple of weeks ago from our very nice animal communicator friend, Ami Pope. She read my previous post describing him and enjoyed reading the stories. She said that Spencer was glad I shared all the memories and was surprised that I remembered everything. He is very happy with a new family, running around, and sends us much love.

Spencer was unforgettable. And I forgot to mention one more thing about him: he was also a mouser.

Living in the “piney woods,” mice are a given. We’ve had them a few times but have taken steps to keep them out. Mousies are especially persistent when it gets cold because they just want to be warm.

You’d think with a cat, we wouldn’t have any. Sealing up the holes has kept them out for some time, and we’ve not had any inside since. BF caught one or two with a sticky trap, Tab E. Cat has caught six, and Spencer caught three. No kidding, he really did, but we didn’t take any pictures.

When he found them, Tab E. Cat’s feline hunting nature would quickly become activated, and he sprang into action. The mouse didn’t last long after that, and I apologized to each one for the outcome of their visit. In BF’s case. he picked up the trap and took it out. Spencer would just leave them in the middle of the floor and stare at them, wondering what they were.

The Big Mouse

Actually, Spencer caught four if you count the “big mouse.”

Picture of north American Possum

Source: Google Images

A few years ago, we went to someone’s house one summer evening so BF could help a coworker work on a car (naturally.) Anticipating a short visit, we put the dogs out with fresh water and left. It was only about five miles up the road.

As things often do with cars, it took longer than expected. One of BF’s favorite mechanic memes says, “Every 20-minute project is just one broken bolt away from becoming a three-day nightmare.” That was certainly true in this case, and we returned home at about 1:00 am.

Nature’s Surprise

When we pulled up to the house, I looked over at Spencer’s little spot and he was not alone. There was another creature lying on its side, looking, well, deceased. Spencer was looking around like he didn’t understand why the creature wasn’t moving. I said to BF, “Honey, there’s something over there by Spencer.”  Both BF and Spencer were unfazed by the creature’s presence. I didn’t know what to think but was still a little freaked out.

North American possum

Source: Google

I stayed in the truck, and BF fearlessly approached the creature that was somewhat smaller than Spencer. He quickly discovered that it was “playing possum.”

Carefully, BF picked up a shovel and approached what he realized was a standard American opossum. This beast opened one eye at BF as if to say, “hey, can you help me out here?”  BF then gingerly scooped up the animal with the shovel, carefully carrying it to the back part of the property behind the house where there are large trees. On the way, the possum looked at BF with a look that said, “is the coast clear?”  As BF slowly lowered the shovel to the ground, the animal gave him one more look that said, “Hey, thanks, Buddy!” Off he went into the dark night, never to be seen again.

BF just laughed. Spencer didn’t understand.

Los Primos The Restaurant

A few months ago I told you about the accidental discovery of the grocery store called Los Primos in Hammond. I was ecstatic, and still am. Finally, I got BF to consent to a dinner date at the restaurant side. We were not disappointed, either.

When most locals think of “Mexican food,” two places come to mind: Taco Bell and La Carreta. While the food is good, I’m not a real big fan of La Carreta. Mardi Gras decor and Fleur de Lis on the metal tabletops in a Mexican restaurant? No. But it’s *the* place here, with steak nights on Thursdays. (There’s also a La Carreta in Hammond, but we’ve never been to that one.)

So one particular evening, we set out to Hammond for dinner. We happened to have been on a long phone conversation with Ami’s husband at the time, no kidding. After hanging up, we went in to have some delicious and authentic Mexican food.

Salt and pepper tray on table at Los Primos

This greeted us, along with the menu. Cute, isn’t it?

Then a nice lady handed us the menus.

Menu from Los Primos Restaurant

The Menu

She didn’t speak too much English, so you know it’s authentic. (Most of the staff in La Carreta speak fluent English with varied accents, none of them Hispanic.) Oh, and don’t forget!

Chips and salsa in Los Primos

Of course!!

Yes, you’re all about self-control until these show up. Hey–I’m not sedentary!

While BF ordered his usual Coca-Cola, I had no problem asking for slices of limos for my water–and they brought me some.

Mexican Coke

THIS is the real thing!

BF didn’t seem to mind that it was Mexican Coke, famed in Texas for having cane sugar.

Looking around, we saw some equally authentic decor:

Antique picture in Los Primos

Emiliano Zapata portrait

It’s a nice portrait of a man named Emiliano Zapata, a Mexican revolutionary and political figure. There was also music by:

Pepe Aguilar music in Los Primos

Music, maestro!

Pepe Aguilar was actually born in San Antonio, Texas but raised in Mexico. Born into a musical family, Pepe is very famous in Mexico for his music as well as being a businessman. We just enjoyed the music while we were there.

What We Had For Dinner

As I’ve said before, I don’t speak much Spanish. Fortunately, these nice folks at Los Primos do understand enough English to take orders and whatnot. We were the only Gringos having dinner that night, and it was a Tuesday or something, just a week or two prior to Hurricane Ida.

So BF ordered steak fajitas on this date night:

Steak fajitas on hot plate

For BF

And as is my habit, I ordered shrimp fajitas:

shrimp fajitas on hot plate

Oh, YEAH!!!

Because they are shrimp that I don’t have to mess with. Both plates also came with accompaniments, including handmade tortillas:

Plate of beans, rice, salad and limes

Oh, these were good!

Needless to say, there were takeout boxes involved. And a spot of shopping in the grocery store side after we were finished. BF sat in the truck while I shopped.

Poking Around Los Primos

I’ll just admit that the wait for dinner wasn’t long, but my curiosity also got the best of me.

Chances are you’ve seen regular-sized bags of this masa harina in the grocery store, especially if you’re in any grocery in Texas.

Stack of large bags of masa harina in Los Primos

That’s a lot of masa!

I’ve got one in the pantry, sealed up for the next time I attempt tamales. But like any restaurant, they buy larger sizes of everything, and masa harina is no exception:

50 pound bag of masa harina

That’s right–fifty pounds!

I’ve never seen these before, even in Houston. After trips into so many Mexican restaurants, I’ve never seen a bag this big. Even visiting places like the El Dorado Mexican Restaurant in Clear Lake never let anything like this sit out. That’s OK, since Los Primos is an authentic little place much like El Dorado, which is also family-owned. (And they’ve got a new location in League City.) These 50-pound bags were just eye-popping!

Much as I enjoyed going to El Dorado, I’m also glad to find Los Primos for a little taste of Mexican food right in Hammond. We’ll be going back for another delicious meal.

Until Next Time

Los Primos is located at 1320 N. Morrison Blvd, Suite 118, Hammond, LA 70401. As I mentioned in the last blog, the information I found says that the restaurant is open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. As always, call ahead (985-429-1722) before you go. Hopefully we’ll be visiting them again soon.

Winter is still here, and Mother Nature is offering bipolar weather with up-and-down temperatures that look like lottery numbers. But since it’s still winter, I thought nice hot soups would be a good idea. Two easy and tasty recipes are lined up for the next blog post. Both are good, easy to make, and. . .vegetarian. But there is a considerable amount of cheese involved. BF actually likes one of them, so stay tuned.

Ole!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building Sign Angelo Brocato's
Angelo Brocato’s

For coffee and dessert, you have a lot of choices. In New Orleans, you have Angelo Brocato’s in the Mid-City area. Come along with me and The E-Man for a quick visit.

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Hi, Again, Dear Readers:

Well, unfortunately, I broke my “streak” again. There’s a reason for it, as I’ll explain. But because it’s been a while, I’m taking another one out of the “draft” file for you. It’s about time.

Let’s get started.

Aunt Nancy

Before I moved to BF’s house, I was introduced to a very nice lady who lived in Folsom, LA, about 45 minutes from here. The occasion was a video sent to districts around the US of Buddhists with experiences to tell. I didn’t know who she was, but I knew her partner, PB.

Surprise! A year later, I found myself in BF’s house, and they came to visit in short order. I didn’t want them to visit, because everything was such a mess. PB is a nice man, but he insisted they needed to do a home visit. Over time, it’s gotten better, but it’s still, shall we say, “disorganized.” Not for lack of trying.

Her actual name is Nancy Mallory, and she moved down here in 2013 from Pennsylvania to spend her life with PB. He drove up to Pennsylvania to get this woman. BF only had to drive five hours to Houston to get me.  They lived on his acreage in Folsom, and very happy together.

The Fight

Somewhere, Nancy was diagnosed with cancer. Over time, she fought it hard, and along the way was a great friend to everyone, including me and BF. She asked about him one day, and I said, “he’s still going around telling people I’m trying to kill him.” Nancy’s reply: “you mean because of healthier food?” Yes. “Oh, so everything’s OK then.” Aunt Nancy got it.

I still don’t want to have company because I just don’t feel like the house is yet “company ready.” Mind you, we were ready to host the GER, Miss Alice and her daughter, as well as Neighbor E during the February freeze if they needed it. But they would have been warned about the disorganization.

Aunt Nancy wanted to do a “home visit” a couple of years ago, but I just didn’t want it here. She said, “so meet me somewhere!” We decided on the local PJ’s, and she drove up. I took this picture, and now I’m very glad I did.

Nancy Mallory In PJ's

A great candid shot, taken November 1, 2019

I called her “Aunt Nancy” for the same reason I call two of the blog’s readers Aunt Kathy and Aunt Ruth. They’re like aunts to everyone. At least, that’s the way I see it, and I use it as a term of endearment. We’re not actually related, and nobody has complained.

One More Home Visit

Unfortunately, Aunt Nancy lost the fight on Friday, June 18th, in the evening. I went to visit her about a week before, and, let’s just say she didn’t look like this picture. The strong, vibrant woman was now someone who was “all beat up” from fighting. Her daughter and grandson were around, as well as her longtime friend from New Jersey. I didn’t know what to do, so her daughter said, “just talk to her.” That’s what I did, knowing it would likely be the last chance I had.

I gave Aunt Nancy updates about me and BF, how we were doing, and about some of our benefits. I sent her an email in January about one benefit we had but didn’t get a response. That’s OK–some people read them and don’t respond. But for Aunt Nancy, she gets a pass. Mostly, I wanted her to know what we’ve been up to, and that we’re doing OK. I didn’t want her to worry about us. She chanted for us more than once, and I believe that because of it , BF and I will be fine.

PB is carrying on, as he has a business to run and bills to pay. But we all miss her already.

More Website Issues

So, if you’ve come to the website a few times, you may have found that ridiculous spam redirect–again. Banana Rat and I have removed more of these nasty plugins, and we think we got it this time. Feel free to notify me if it returns and you get it.

On June 15th, I received an email from JetPack (one of my security add-ins) that stated:

Our security systems identified unusual behavior on your account. This usually happens when the password used for your WordPress.com account is also used on another service that had a data breach, or the password is weak, insecure, or easily guessable. Because the account behavior indicated that someone else might have access to your account, we reset the password and revoked any app tokens associated with the account.

Great! So I didn’t go back to the website until today. But since I had already changed the password, it was fine. Frequently, solving tech problems on the blog takes a LOT of time. Banana Rat is skilled in these things and has taken care of several on my behalf. Please give him your thanks. We think it’s OK now, and we hope so. That was highly annoying.

Iced Coffee, Anyone?

Well, now that it’s officially summer in the US, it’s iced coffee “season.” I get that iced coffee is an acquired taste–I didn’t actually like it until about 2008 when I got a coupon in my morning Houston Chronicle for a free one. I started actively drinking it in 2011, when we had a hot summer with drought in Houston, and later learned to make it at home.  A couple of years ago, it got easier when I bought Kitchenaid’s cold brew iced coffee maker.

Nick Usborne of Coffee Detective has again published a blog on making iced coffee at home, with some updated equipment. The blog includes links to some other recipes, plus a review of the Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot and the Asobu cold-brew coffee maker. As I said the last time, there are many ways to make iced coffee, I just chose the one from Kitchenaid.

Coffee On The Way Home

So, as I mentioned in the post on Katie’s of Mid-City, I am frequently in need of a coffee for the 90-minute ride home from New Orleans. I usually stop at either Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, or PJ’s Coffee. All three are along the stretch of Veterans Memorial Boulevard, which is Metairie’s “main drag.” Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and very large Rouse’s are also on Veterans in different places. After shopping, I get my coffee, and head back to the I-10, or occasionally, north on the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway, for the 90-minute drive.

There are two PJ’s on either side of Veterans, and, to my knowledge, two Starbucks. Dunkin sits next door to one of the Starbucks, and I like Dunkin’s iced coffees. But then, the ‘rona struck. We haven’t had any in-town meetings in 18 months. The only trip to New Orleans was for last year’s socially-distanced wedding at Southern Oaks.

Why Starbucks? Two reasons: one, until recently, I saved up my “stars” in the Starbucks Rewards program just to get a “free thing” for the trip home. Two: Since Starbucks in Louisiana doesn’t have as many stores as Starbucks in Houston, there are no salads. That means I’m having either their Egg Bites or some form of a coffee on the way out. I’ve exhausted my “stars,” because I haven’t been collecting them like I used to, and the last 50 were about to expire. The Hammond store has been fully opened since April, but I just don’t drop in as often.

Angelo Brocato’s

So one day, The E-Man says to me, “forget Starbucks–you should get coffee at a local place.” Got anyplace in mind, Dude? “Angelo Brocato’s.”

Now, I grew up in the New Orleans area, but there are many places that I was never familiar with. This is one of them. I’ve seen the name here and there, but not in a long time.

So we park a couple of blocks away, as you do in Mid-City, and walked here:

Building Sign Angelo Brocato's

An old New Orleans kind of place.

Angelo Brocato's Front Door Sign

A most friendly, welcoming place

It’s a lovely place where you can have a coffee, as we did, as well as all manner of delicious Italian pastries, cookies, gelatos, and more.

Angelo Brocato's mezzanine area

The mezzanine inside the cafe. Isn’t it lovely?

My first question: “Are we fancy enough for this place?” I guess we were, they served us.

Gelato

If you’re not familiar with the term, gelato is the richer and more Italian form of ice cream. There are many brands available around the US, and Giada de Laurentiis has a recipe for it here.

Angelo Brocato’s serves it in the cafe as well as sells it in different retail locations. For me, they’re all an hour’s drive, but that’s OK.

In-store, you have a choice of them:

Gelato case at Angelo Brocato's

A lot of delicious!

I’m sure I had that chocolate at the top right. The E-Man had a slice of this delicious spumoni.

More gelato in Angelo Brocato's

Spumoni! (Sorry about the foggy)

They can pack up a quart of their gelato in the store for you to take home. They also sell the gelato and other treats at many local retailers.

Cookies And Bakery Goods

Because this visit was in July, there was no way I could get a pint of ice cream back to the Casa de Rurale intact without an ice chest and a pound of dry ice. Not knowing where to procure such a thing, I chose to bring BF a little white paper bag of tasty cookie treats.

Angelo Brocato's first bakery case

Delicious treats that make the trip home

But wait! There’s more!

Angelo Brocato's second bakery case

Such lovely things

You can buy these one at a time:

Angelo Brocato's cookie jar

I have a weakness for these, but was good that day.

I brought home to BF a small selection of the things I knew would survive the trip, including a couple of these little amaretti cookies. He ate them happily, one at a time.

Visit With The E-Man

I asked for some cappuccino, which the nice lady expertly made for me:

Cappuccino Angelo Brocato's

Absolutely delicious

The E-Man preferred to stick with coffee:

 

The E-Man and his coffee i

He bought some of their bagged “day-old” baked goods (biscotti, I think) and we talked with some nice folks while we were there. Then it was time for me to head home to the Casa de Rurale.

Naturally, I let BF know what we were doing. He knew I was bringing back some tasty things for him. Because I always do.

The Pandemic Takeout Window

Angelo Brocato’s is a very busy place most days, and on Friday and Saturday nights, there’s a line outside. Just about every week, I’m told. 

But a pandemic couldn’t keep them down. They’ve been around for over 100 years! Hurricane Katrina took them out for about a year, and they came back strong.

When the world closed up last year, Angelo Brocato’s decided to do what most restaurants did–open for takeout, including an exclusive take-out window.

Angelo Brocato's Takeout window

The very modern pandemic solution for an old-world business (Source: The Times-Picayune)

I’m guessing those lines are back on Friday and Saturday nights now that the state has re-opened.

A Great Place To Visit

I’ve said this before: if you’re visiting New Orleans, skip Starbucks and find someplace local. Angelo Brocato’s fits that bill, even if it’s just for a morning coffee. It’s a delicious and elegant “old world” cafe that will make you glad you did.  You can also order online for shipment anywhere in the continental US.

They’re located at 214 N. Carrollton Avenue in New Orleans’ Mid-City area. They are closed on Mondays like many New Orleans businesses. It’s a thing there. They’re open 10 am to 10 pm, Tuesday through Saturday, and 10 am to 9 pm on Sunday.

Happy Dining!

Katie's Frittata
Restaurant Review: Katie’s of Mid-City

Katie’s of Mid-City is a great neighborhood restaurant to visit if you’re looking for a real New Orleans place. Or, if you’re not interested in going near the French Quarter.

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Hi, Again, Dear Readers:

As we begin the process of getting back to normal, I realized it’s been a while since I did a restaurant review. It’s been some  time since I’ve been in this particular restaurant, too, but I never forgot it. Maybe BF and I should take a ride there and have lunch one day, and drag The E-Man with us.

Before I tell you about Katie’s of Mid-City, I’ve got a few other things to tell you about first.

Instant Pot: Venison Roast

So, back in December, one of the neighbors brought over what BF said was “deer roast.” I have no idea what part of the deer. I asked BF how to cook this. His response: “just like a regular roast.” Oh, that’s helpful. So I bagged them up and put them into a bag with other meats in the big freezer.

While researching the Instant Pot post, I came across this recipe for Instant Pot Venison Roast. Dinner is always a challenge to figure out no matter how far in advance I try to plan it. So I asked BF if we could try this out.

Meat and Potatoes. How bad can that be?

I’m happy to report that I made this for us over the weekend and it was a success. I only had dried thyme on hand, and I used about two teaspoons of it. The venison came out tender and juicy, and the vegetables perfectly cooked.

Yes, I know it’s not “keto,” but as I always say, I eat “keto, mostly.” And I didn’t take pictures, sorry. If you’re in possession of venison but have no idea what to do with it, I highly recommend this recipe. Just understand the irony that it will take a good three hours using the. . .Instant Pot.

Freezer Organization

A quick note–if you have a large freezer as we do now, things can get very disorganized quickly.

The solution: reusable grocery bags. No kidding. Wash them first.

I could have sworn I saw this tip on One Good Thing By Jillee, but now I can’t find it there. But I did find it on LifeHacker’s website, albeit shorter.

Dionne at Home Made Our Way has a more detailed blog post on organizing your chest freezer. Because I’m telling you, I speak from experience–you’ll be getting frostbite trying to find that one thing you need somewhere. (I have a pair of gloves for the day I have to do that.)

BF is of the habit of opening the lid of the big freezer and chucking things in without looking. I’ve shown him the “system,” but he’s not concerned. I’m guessing he thinks the solution is to make sure I have additional housework and chores. I’ll fix that one day.

Lunch After The Activity at Katie’s

Because going to the New Orleans Buddhist Center (which has not yet reopened) is an all-day thing for me, frequently I go have lunch or coffee with The E-Man, and sometimes other members too. Most often, I need a little “leaded” coffee for the long trip home.

The E-Man was not born in New Orleans, but he’s certainly made it home after many years of living there. He knows every street, every avenue, and every place to go as well as avoid.

One particular day he said something about “Katie’s.” I had no idea what he was talking about. After all, I haven’t lived there in more than 20 years. But one thing about The E-Man, he’s been around.

Katie's dining room

Really busy place, and for good reason.

Because I had no idea where I was going, I had to follow him. In a pickup truck, no less, in a part of town I was never completely familiar with–Mid-City. But off we went to a little place that wasn’t touristy, and a little off the beaten path.

Katie’s, The Place

Katie’s is one of those restaurants that if nobody told you about it, you might not even know it was there. One block off the Canal Street streetcar line, it’s at 3701 Iberville Street. But we drove and had to park over a block away–that’s where parking was available.

The restaurant is one that’s nearly always busy and crowded, and like everyone else, we had to wait outside before getting in. What does that tell you? Everybody wants to go there!

The place has also been featured on two Food Network programs, “Food On The Road,” and this one.

Guy Fieri Poster In Katie's

Yes, Guy Fieri’s been here, too.

And in 2013, it was voted a Best Of New Orleans by local publication Gambit. So that wait for a table tells you that the place has a loyal following. Waiting at Cafe Express or The Olive Garden is just not the same thing as waiting to get into Katie’s, because Katie’s is a different experience completely.

Casual Interior

It’s a casual place, like a lot of places are now. And that’s OK, too:

Katie's Dining Area

Window view in between customers. It filled up quickly again.

When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Katie’s wasn’t spared.

Katie's water line during Katrina

Because Mid-City is a below-sea-level neighborhood, Katie’s took a fair amount of water.

But they rebuilt and came back. With decor like this:

Katie's Fork Sculpture

Now that’s using your noodle!

Or This:

Katies sign in ladies' room

This was in the ladies’ room but probably shouldn’t have been.

You can’t help but have a good time.

More Views

From the upstairs, I saw this outside, just someone’s house:

Katie's Upstairs View

Nice!

And there are more awards!

Katie's Awards

These were in the upstairs area, where there is both food prep and additional seating. (And the ladies’ room.)

Downstairs the casual, fun vibe was the same:

Katie's big painting

Interesting, yes?

I liked this too:

Katie's Picture Gallery

On the left side is one with, shall we say, “local vernacular.”

Katie's painting trio

These were particularly interesting

Since our last trip, Katie’s has stayed relatively the same, I’m told. That means you’ll see much the same thing, but I can’t answer for the menu.

The place is great but not terribly big. Although it’s on a corner, it’s in one of those older neighborhoods with small buildings and “shotgun” houses. In fact, that’s probably what the blue house next door is. That being said, expect a wait, especially on popular days like Sundays.  They’re only open from 9-3 on Sunday, and everybody goes there after church.

Our Brunch At Katie’s

Let’s talk about food. It’s casual, it’s good, and just what you’d expect from a place like this.

The E-Man knows what he likes, and ordered something called Oysters Slessinger.

Katie's Oyster Slessinger

This was what The E-Man ordered as an appetizer!

This appetizer consists of a half-dozen oysters (I think I tried one or two, and you can also order a dozen) along with “creamy provel, shrimp, spinach and bacon served with french bread.” I have no idea what “provel” is and didn’t ask, nor did I handle the French bread. I left that to The E-Man.

For lunch, he ordered:

Katie's chicken & waffles

Yes, he was hungry.

I asked for something that was gluten-free and was offered a frittata. Yes, please. Thank you.

Katie's Frittata

In keeping with gluten-free and low-carb, I asked and was offered this delicious frittata.

All cheesy, with sausage on the inside. Italian, if I remember correctly:

Katies frittata with a bite out of it

Delicious!

No complaint from me!

Of course, when I picked up BF from work that afternoon, I told him all about it. His response: “that’s a lot different  than the ham and cheese sandwich I had.” Touche. I did make sure he had a good dinner.

Rack Of Tabasco

If you like Tabasco, so do they:

Tabasco rack in Katie's

They did have every flavor of it, including my favorite, Chipotle.

Some of Katie’s online menu items aren’t the same as what we had that day, because we went for Sunday brunch. But like many neighborhood restaurants, they may also change their menu periodically.

Have A Good Time At Katie’s!

No, this isn’t a sponsored post. I’ve been wanting to write this for a while, and finally got to it. Besides, one of my astute readers may be planning a trip to New Orleans soon and wants to find a good place to eat. I don’t think you’ll go wrong by including a visit to Katie’s in the itinerary.

Katie’s is at 3701 Iberville Street in New Orleans (70119), and their number is (504) 488-6582. You can find a map at the bottom of their home page. They open daily at 11 am, and close at 9 pm during the week, 9:30 pm on Friday and Saturday. Visit them for brunch from 9 am to 3 pm on Sundays. Call or email for reservations, or for larger parties. They’re still doing curbside and takeout if you prefer.

I’m planning another review of a Mid-City place soon–and they have coffee plus sweets. No, it’s not a Starbucks, either.

Enjoy!

Front of the French Truck Coffee shop on Magazine Street
French Truck Coffee

What do you do when you want a coffee but don’t know where to go? Ask someone. I found a new coffee spot I like, French Truck Coffee. It’s a two-block walk from the New Orleans Buddhist Center although there are multiple locations. Boy, I’m glad I asked!

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Hello, Again, Dear Readers:

Here’s another post about coffee–good coffee. If you’re like BF and don’t drink it, well, pass it along to someone who does. Especially if they’re heading to New Orleans anytime soon.

On Strike

Y’all, last week I’d had about enough of it. I told BF I would no longer cook for him, and so far, I haven’t. I made the Citrus Spice Chicken recipe I covered a few years ago, but I shouldn’t have bothered. BF didn’t like it–said it tasted “sour.”

Oh, and to make matters worse, he also wouldn’t try cauliflower rice I’d made with it. I blitzed up a whole, organic cauliflower in a food processor, and cooked it in a big cast iron skillet with butter, olive oil and the Paula Deen House Seasoning I make and keep around–delicious. Nope–wouldn’t touch it, even after telling me, “I’ll try anything you make.” I reminded him of this, and he was undeterred.

He barely ate the Knorr “four cheese risotto” from a package that isn’t a real risotto, because it doesn’t have arborio rice. (I’ve made risotto before.) I called it “cheesy rice,” and the dogs ate most of it.

After that incident, I haven’t cooked anything for him since. Nada. Nuffin’. He ate a bowl of cereal last night, and has cooked food once. Last time he made “red beans and rice,” with red beans from cans, I took a taste and was unimpressed. (I will eat it occasionally, just to be nice, and he puts sausage in it.) When he wasn’t looking, I grabbed that bottle of Tabasco Sriracha Sauce from the pantry, opened it, and went once around the pot. Mixed it in really well. It was about a tablespoon, I think, in that big pot. Now THAT tasted good!

I know, I know. . .but I’m on strike for a while, darnit.

Coffee In The Crescent City

One of the many things I always told people in Houston is that if they were going to New Orleans, don’t go to Starbucks for a coffee if you can help it. Find a local coffee chain–any one will do–and go there. Much as I’m a fan of Starbucks, local chains like PJ’s Coffee and CC’s Coffee (Community Coffee’s retail chain) are even better. (I also discovered that there is a PJ’s in the Conroe Medical Center, north of Houston. That was a surprise.)

Another place is Orleans Coffee, where I’ve ordered delicious flavored decaf coffee from many times while I lived in Texas.  (Because decaf chocolate raspberry is hard to find.) They used to have a little cafe in the Quarter, but after Katrina and all that, they now have two cafes, and I don’t know where they are.

Well, I found another one, and I was able to visit again before the April activity.

Arriving Early

When I go to New Orleans for a Buddhist activity, I leave as early as I can, at least 90 minutes before I want to be there. That way, if there’s traffic, or a diversion, I have time. Sometimes I hit Trader Joe’s for non-perishable items before the meeting, then head elsewhere after the meeting.

For the November activity, the E Man told me to do my shopping afterwards this particular Sunday, not before. The Saints were having a game, and some kind of tailgating thing, so it would be better to get there early and shop later.

I get off the freeway at the St. Charles exit, and I’m more than an hour early. Driving a little on St. Charles in a half-ton pickup is a bit of a pain (I miss my Saturn.) So I park it and ask one of the guys outside where to get a coffee. They’re the guys that hang around outside and help with traffic management and getting people inside safely. Since it was looking like rain this particular day, they were armed with umbrellas.

He looks up at his phone and tells me that there’s a shop about a two-block walk from the Buddhist Center via Erato Street. I don’t quite know where I’m going, so I’m walking cautiously in my flats with my purse tightly under my arm. (It’s November, so of course, it’s warm this day in NOLA.)

But it wasn’t that far. I carefully crossed the street twice, and saw this on Magazine Street:

Front of the French Truck Coffee shop on Magazine Street

A small building with great coffee

Neat little place. I walked in, and of course, the smell is awesome:

 

Barista at the counter

I talked to this man to order my coffee

And I walked around and took a few pictures while I waited because for decaf, they do a pour-over:

Wall of French Truck Coffee on shelves

Oh, boy!

If you’re hungry, they’ve got you covered with croissants and things:

Glass case with pastries

These look delicious

I did ask about the “Yankee Apple Hand Pies” in the bottom left of that picture and asked if they had many Yankees come in. He didn’t know, and I said, “Well, we can’t get rid of the Yankees in Texas.” No comment. . . .

Burlap bag as wall art.

This is a coffee bag that they framed. Love it!

Wall art in French Truck Coffee

The burlap bag is just one of the many pieces of coffee-related art on the wall by the counter

I waited a few minutes and had a sip of water from the big jar they put out with cups. But of course, I forgot to get a picture of that. And they also serve lunch or something:

Dining menu

This is their menu, which I’m sure is available every day

 

Coffee map

This map of where all the coffees come from is interesting. (Yes, that’s me snapping a pic like a tourist.)

They were busy that Sunday, so I had a wait while I watched them go at it behind the counter. When they called my name and handed me that coffee. . .mmmmmm. . .oh, yes, definitely worth it. Freshly roasted coffee, freshly brewed.

Highly recommended!

They Have Multiple Locations

French Truck Coffee has six locations, including two on Magazine Street, with two more coming. They also sell their delicious coffees in local grocery stores like Rouse’s. What? You’re not near a Rouse’s? You can order it, too. They also have a page so you can learn to brew your coffee at home.

The company is all about freshly roasted coffee, as the founder describes here on their web page. Honestly, it’s what Starbucks wishes it could be, or maybe used to be. French Truck Coffee is smooth and delicious. I haven’t bought any in the store yet, but that may happen soon if I can find the decaf.

If you’re planning a trip to the Crescent City, find one of these. You won’t be sorry.

When I went before the April activity. . .there was a big chicken walking around Erato Street. At 9:00 am. A CHICKEN in the middle of the street. I hope the owner found it before someone with a pot did.

On The Way Home

I lost track of The E Man, and so I tried to get into Trader Joe’s. No parking is available! Well, I ended up getting everything I needed across the street at the huge Rouses on Veterans.

As I hopped onto I-10 West, I was just listening to my music and driving. Until I got outside of Kenner, past the airport, on my way to I-55. . .and I saw that I-10 East was backed up. WAY Up. Like, way past the I-55 exit backed up.

Anytime The E Man tells me what to avoid, I generally listen. Boy was he right. Thanks, Dude!

Other Local Coffees

I’ve also been buying this other local brand of ground coffee for every day:

Two bags of DEcaf New Orleans Roast

Made in Covington, New Orleans Roast is also available at Rouse’s

Back of the New Orleans Roast bag

More about the company

And of course, the brand that’s also available in Houston:

Bag of Community Cafe Special Decaf

Both are used in the pot and in the iced coffee maker.

And on a recent morning when we found ourselves with no power, I packed up my laptop and spent most of the day working at the local PJ’s, where they had Internet. Well, they were very nice, and I drank some coffee and had a yogurt parfait.

I’ve done this on many occasions at the Hammond Starbucks, where they are also very nice. Before we had Internet, and BF was sent to another work location, I got on Google Maps and found the closest Starbucks. Most were within 2 miles of his workplace. I drank fresh coffee all day, worked in a new place, and we were both happy.

Additionally, PJ’s also offers military and veterans discounts. So now BF likes PJ’s even more, and he likes some of the tasty things they have there. He still won’t try coffee, but he now sees that there is nothing bad about him going into a coffee shop. They have things even he might even enjoy!

Happy Easter!

This weekend is the “bunny holiday,” also known as Easter. Yes, I know what Easter is really all about, but popular media simply shows us bunnies and chocolate. If there is a chocolate bunny made with sugar-free chocolate, I’ll indulge, but I’m sure my chocolate will be the regular sugar-free stuff. We may go visit BF’s father, maybe not.

The Goddess of the Slow Cooker, Stephanie O’Dea, sent out an email last week offering Easter recipes for the slow cooker. And why not?

For all you Texans, know that HEB will be closed. . .but I think Kroger may be open.

Whatever you do, have a great holiday weekend.

Enjoy!

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