Tag Archives: ham

Breakfast: The Old Coffee Pot

For breakfast today we sought out a well-recommended location in the French Quarter called The Old Coffee Pot – an original restaurant of old New Orleans established in 1696. The establishment’s history was evident in the historical paintings and objects located throughout the restaurant.

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Maureen and I ordered “the Plantation Breakfast” — two eggs any style, ham steak, grits, biscuit and something called “Calla Cakes” — deep-fried sweet rice balls seasoned with vanilla and almond flavourings and dusted with powdered sugar.

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On the plus side, the eggs were cooked a perfect over medium and the grits were buttery and well seasoned. The “ham steak” was tasty but was clearly a slice of processed, pressed ham which is kind of a sacrilege in the South. We were expecting a slice of off-the-bone ham. The biscuit was warm, light, fluffy and delicious – among the best we’ve had.

The calla cakes were, like the beignets of Cafe Du Monde, submerged under a tiny mountain of icing sugar. Once the cake was shaken off enough to get a bite without wearing some, the crispy treat was a warm, homey delicacy with dominant almond flavouring. Our server made it seem like it was a “secret ingredient” and looked crestfallen when we identified it immediately. They were good to try, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to order them.

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The ham was wonderfully rescued by placing it between two halves of this amazing biscuit. All is forgiven.

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RT6: to Providence, RI

This morning is our last morning in Boston. We are moving on to Providence, RI.  Before we go we are going to have breakfast at Mike’s City Diner, a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives-featured joint. We once again luck into parking out front but have to hunt down American change for the meter. Boston still resides in the dark ages regarding meter technology.

Mike’s is clean and homey. A classic no frills or kitsch diner. Black and white and checks. Comfy, padded, armless chairs and tables. No banquettes. Banquette seating takes away some of the versatility a place has to seat parties of different sizes. The busy kitchen is visible from the seating area. The restaurant’s various and many accolades are posted everywhere. President Clinton has been by.

Rob goes out to feed the meter and I peruse the menu. A very good breakfast menu. Good variety. Our server delivers excellent coffee and a humongous glass of grapefruit juice. Rob gets back to the table and we place our orders. I’m getting the Mike’s Special – ham carved off the bone, two eggs over medium, grits, toast – coffee included. Rob wants Mike’s Famous Pilgrim Sandwhich – turkey, stuffing and cranberries only to be told they don’t serve it until eleven. “I know – we suck!” says our waitress…lol. He settles for a Southender omelette stuffed with corned beef hash and cheese with home fries and rye toast.

Breakfast arrives quickly and piping hot. My eggs are perfect but the grits while creamy, are unseasoned. I add butter and salt but they really need to be cooked with LOTS of salt. So I would pass on them. My ham is plentiful and very tasty, sliced thin and grilled on the flat top for a little carmelization. It’s not over-salty. Perfect. The toast is decent, white and buttered. I ask for jam and she delivers really good homemade strawberry. “It’s all we have, except for packets of grape jelly” she says. It is wonderful.

Rob’s omelette is huge. The eggs are perfect and buttery good and hash inside is amazing, with large chunks of meat mixed with potato, while the cheddar flavour ties it all together. A very well made omelette. Mike’s home fries are very good as well. Some of the best we’ve had. They seem to be simply spiced with seasoned salt. Delicious.

Well fed, we hit the road for Rhode Island. Providence is a quick, forested, one-hour drive from Boston. We are there in a blink pretty much. We settle into the hotel and set out to explore the Brown’s University area which is kinda dead. We grab a beer, watch some Olympics, argue about whether the women’s beach volleyball uniforms are discriminatory as the men are not in skimpy suits and then head back to the Downcity Arts area where we are staying and explore a bit more. Providence seems a bit dead today. It’s 90 degree out. Is everybody at the beach? Inside? Not returned for school yet? The Hotel Providence where we are staying is old and beautiful, but the surrounding area is a bit sketchy. There is a mission two doors away and the only other people in the street appear to be homeless. Nobody is begging though. Weird vibe. Something just seems a little off.

For dinner tonight we choose the Providence Oyster House. Tomorrow we head inland so we want to have a last go at fresh seafood. The Oyster bar is half full with people celebrating the end of their work day. This area of town, Federal Hill is busier but not bustling on a Friday night. There’s live music somewhere and the night is pleasant.

After handing the car off to the valet, we are quickly seated. The restaurant is dim, with lots of wood accents, paper covers the white table cloths, and the kitchen is open. Nice atmosphere for a slow meal and good wine.

Good rustic bread is brought to the table accompanied by a very nice dipping oil with a hint of chili. We decide to try some local oysters along with some of our favorites, Umami from Rhode Island, Pepperell Cove, Maine, and Malagash from PEI. Since we are having oysters we go with beer instead of wine for the evening. The oysters arrive on ice with cocktail sauce and a very nice migniotte. We slurp them down. Fresh and briny. I did get shells in three of the twelve. This should NEVER happen. Especially when you have the words Oyster Bar in your name. One again we’re reminded how absolutely spoiled we are by the Whalesbone in Ottawa.

For mains we both order the lobster mac and cheese at $30 a pop. Fabulous! (say with jazz hands). Perfectly cooked penne sauteed in a decadent white cheddar cheese cream sauce, very lightly truffled, with thin, tender-crisp asparagus pieces, the meat of a whole lobster covered in buttery ritz cracker crumbs, and finished under a salamander. Scrumptious. Tomorrow we leave lobster land. It has been a treat.

This pic does NOT do their lobster mac justice. It was very dark and this has been heavily corrected.

Good-bye Austin!

It’s 28 degrees and sunny on our last day in Austin and we head to Walton’s Fancy and Staple for breakfast. Sandra Bullock, who lives in Austin, owns this establishment among other spots. Arriving and lucking into a parking spot right out front (there is a curious lack of traffic and an abundance of parking in downtown Austin), we are greeted by a very old-timey building with gold leaf signage.

Inside this elegantly restored historic building is a quaint granary, with rustic floors and tables, exposed brick walls and beamed ceilings. Small items like vintage style candies, baking cook books and coffee are for sale. The store boasts an in-house florist and a bakery with both unusual bakery items items like golden eggs (small nutmeg cake rolled in cinnamon and sugar) and traditional items like cream filled cupcakes, squares and whoopie pies.

The main part of the business is  a soup-salad-sandwich and breakfast bar. The hand scrawled chalk board has enticing items under the breakfast section such as grilled shrimp and grits.

Tempting, but oooh…it’s 10:30 and the lunch menu also looks very good. In the end I choose ham and cheese on a pretzel bun with a cup of onion soup, and Rob orders the pastrami with spicy potato salad. Walton’s uses organic local meat without injected preservatives and hormones.

I expected the usual run-of-the-mill deli ham but, no: the ham was thick sliced and oven roasted. Truly delicious paired with emmental Swiss cheese, crunchy leaf lettuce, dijon aioli on a soft, chewy, salted pretzel bun. The onion soup had great beefy depth and was very rich with cheese. A cup was enough. The sandwiches at Walton are substantial. Think about sharing if you want to order a side.

Rob’s Pastrami was very good: mild, well-made brisket pastrami with grainy mustard and Swiss on large pieces of grilled light rye bread. He did remove a bit of the mustard as it was over powering the meat, but once adjusted it was excellent. The potato salad was exceptional. Made creamy with a mustard-tinged mayo and kicked up with sliced jalapenos.

We also shared a golden egg out of curiosity. It was a light and delicious nutmeg cake concoction that, although baked not fried,  rolled in butter and sugar, still manages to taste like a very cakey, yet refined doughnut.

Walton’s was the kind of shop you wish they had back home — great sandwiches and other preparations, perfect for breakfast and lunch, a lovely bakery and a keen eye on quality.

Walton's Fancy and Staple on UrbanspoonOur early afternoon was spent walking Austin’s historic 6th Street and taking pictures in the lovely February sun. Soon we were hankering for a margarita and headed back to our favorite watering hole, Guero’s. Seems like everyone else had the same idea and we could not get a seat outside. Not wanting to waste the precious sunshine, we drove around looking for a patio. Seems there is not a lot of patio action in Austin in February, despite it being 28 degrees. Eventually we settled on a craft brewery, Uncle Billy’s Brew and ‘Cue, only because it had a patio. It’s not worth mentioning other than the beer was just okay, the margs below average and the queso…well, lets stop there. Better things await.

After spending an hour or two blogging and posting photos, we headed to Driftwood, Texas, about a 30 minute drive. In about an hour the sun will set on our last day in Texas. We are headed to The Salt Lick BBQ, another iconic Texas joint noted for open pit BBQ. After a leisurely drive through hills and valleys, we come upon the massive parking lot of the Salt Lick and its many out buildings. This is an impressive organization. We park and head over the the Salt Lick cellar, a pretty little building residing beside a still napping vineyard, and surrounded by rail fencing entwined with thorny rose canes. The Salt Lick is BYOB but sells wine and beer in this separate business on site. We saw the more prepared among our species lugging coolers.

After purchasing the minimum 6 pack on ice (Shiner Light Blonde), we headed inside the main building which houses the open pit, some seating, the cash and the requisite sauce and T-shirt “store”.

The Salt Lick is one of the only BBQ places that uses this open-pit style of smoking the meat, cooking it on a grill above a hot fire, constantly repositioning it to keep the temperature regulated. All of the meats they serve are cooked her at the same time. It’s quite a feast for the eyes to see this open pit in action.

We are quickly lead to the pleasant covered patio, with it’s warm, yellow Texas flagstone floor and lacquered wood tables and benches. The lighting is cheery and there are two trees growing through the canopy.

The staff is friendly and helpful. Our young waiter arrives and takes our order. We decide to eat family style which is all you can eat but brought to you by your server. Self serve is so wasteful. We were actually brought a perfect amount for us but our waiter was attentive if anything looked like it needed refilling.

We ordered moist brisket (choice of lean or moist), pork ribs, Texas link, beans, potato salad and coleslaw. Pickles, onion and white bread accompany the meal. Two creamy, tangy, mustard based sauces are provided, one sweet one with heat. They were unlike any other sauces we had tasted across the country The sauce is perfect for the meat, sweet how I like it but it allows the smokey flavours of the meat to come through.

The brisket is merely good. We were totally spoiled by the brisket at Kreuz. This mild brisket needed, and was rescued by the excellent Salt Lick BBQ Sauce sauce.

The pork ribs are meaty and well smoked to the bone with a good, thick bark. The Texas link is juicy and delicious especially eaten with the wonderful, soft white bread provided and the pickle which is much like a half sour deli pickle. Sides are also pleasing here at Salt Lick. The tangy coleslaw is crunchy and well dressed. Beans are of the unsweet cowboy variety of which I’m not fond, but the potato salad was excellent, creamy with a mustard-vinegar dressing which must have been poured in when the taters were still steaming hot. The dressing permeates right through the spuds instead of being a gloppy mess of mayo sitting on top. Addictive.

We had to push it away as the promise of a blackberry cobbler demanded it. Salt Lick offers peach and blackberry cobblers for dessert. We chose blackberry. Ice cream? Of course. The warm cobbler, dark with rich berry flavour and sweet with excellent vanilla ice cream was a perfect end to a great Texas day, and our final day in Texas.

The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon