Tag Archives: po’boy

Arles, Provence

Still trying to conquer jetlag and enjoy the offerings on day 2 of our cruise. We have signed up for a leisurely walking tour through the city of Arles in classic Provence.

IMG_3503Breakfast in the dining room proffers an American style hot breakfast of omelets, scramble, sausage and bacon as well as a European selection of meat, cheese and fruit. Our breakfast companions inform me that the the coffee is excellent but I am avoiding liquid before our planned excursion as we have been told that French public toilets are scarce and…”oh la la.” Yes, they actually say that here.

Soon we board a comfortable Mercedes-Benz coach bus and we are off to explore Arles and the Roman ruins in the city. The scenic countryside of Provence unfolds outside our windows. Ditches are clotted with wild yellow iris and scarlet poppies. Cherries are just pinking up in their orchards, thorny artichokes ripen in neat rows, and bridal spirea hedgerows arch to the ground with their heavy blossom bounty. We fly past horses grazing in the morning sun, ancient terracotta roofs, giant sycamores, elegant cypress, a colour all their own.

We pull in to Arles on the Rhone river, just outside the city ramparts. The ancient stone ramparts are softened by eons of time and have given themselves over to wildflowers. Our guide says the city would like to restore them but I think they are magnificent as is.

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We enter the city beyond the ramparts and begin our walking tour through Arles. Classic Provence. Cobbled streets in amazingly good shape and lovely, colourful, shuttered windows bedecked with window boxes and planters of all kinds greet us cheerily. The ship gives us quiet box radios to listen to our guide through. We are lucky to have a most excellent and informed guide. She allows us to walk and explore at our own pace and we are guided by her voice, always knowing down which narrow alley the tour will go and when to jump out of the way of the cars which travel down these narrow streets.

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Arles is waking up this Monday morning and the small shops and cafes that dot the charming streets sputter to life.. The sun warm on the light breeze makes the walk perfect.  As we move through Arles we come to the Colosseum built by the Romans in 90 AD. The structure, largely intact serves today as a stadium where bullfights are hosted. Go Bull! Sitting on the cold, ancient stone seats brings the ghosts of another time to the fore.

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From there we head into Vincent Van Gogh territory, the cafe where he painted “Cafe Terrace at Night”. The cafe has been unfortunately completely bastardized for les touriste, but ah….stuff happened here.

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We also were treated to the spot Van Gogh was inspired to paint “Starry Night on The Rhone” and the garden courtyard  of the Hotel Dieu, “Garten des hospitals in Arles”, where Van Gogh was hospitalized after getting loose and free with a knife near an ear.

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Our walking tour through the streets of Arles is everything you could want in a brief tour of Provence. Arles and Provence define “quaint”.

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We wind our way slowly back to the coach and are transported to Tarascon where the ship has moved in the meanwhile to meet us. We board and head to the dining room for a light lunch of squid pasta and shrimp po’boys. Not quite classic but a very nice sandwich.

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After a brief nap (still recovering from the time change), we head up to the lounge for a pre dinner drink and await the briefing about the events for the following day after which we retire for dinner at the civilized hour of 7 pm.

At dinner we meet up with companions from day one who are entertaining dinner mates. Our foursome elects to abide by the chef’s choices for the evening: Poached Scallops and Avocado, Chateaubriand and Chocolate Souffle.

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IMG_3166IMG_3168Dinner was beautifully presented and accompanied by a local wine. All in all, an excellent meal. Tomorrow we do hope to take advantage of a cafe in Avignon on our free time.

Mr. Fish & Points North

We start our trek north today, intending to stop at Mr. Fish in Myrtle Beach for lunch. We had a wonderful meal there 4 years ago at the end of a road trip. We do know that the business has become very successful and has expanded considerably. I hope the food is still good.

After a pleasant mostly rural drive with plenty to look at, we pull into Myrtle Beach. The noon sun is blazing hot. The town is busy with last minute vacationers leaving or squeezing in the last bit of summer before returning to school and work.

Mr. Fish has become a veritable empire, with a fresh fish restaurant supply business and a new restaurant that has easily tripled in size and so has the parking lot, which is half full. We head in just having missed a rush. The new resto is nothing like before but the homey touches are still there with framed clippings about the place and children’s drawings on the wall. Ted Hammerman, Mr. Fish is there, seating people. He is always here, our waitress says.

We order something new, coconut mahi mahi bites and two favs from our last visit, shrimp and grits and a shrimp po’boy. Fresh, really well made hushpuppies and butter are plunked on the table. These are the most evil freebie and will spoil your meal. I had to force myself to stop eating them.

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The mahi mahi “bites” must be two whole fillets cut into halves, battered in an excellent coconut heavy batter and expertly fried. No scraps of fish or shredded fish formed into fingers here. Served with an orange marmalade horseradish sauce. Total yum.

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My shrimp and grits arrive, an overly generous potion (should have opted for the appy size). The grits are much as I remember them from 4 years ago, creamy with a rich low country sauce, but this time there is fresh diced tomato on top and large pieces of onion and well cooked sweet green bell pepper within that I do not recall but are an excellent addition.

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Rob’s sandwich had all the hallmarks of a great po’boy. Simple, with expertly fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato and a mayo-based tartar sauce on a soft, fresh bun. They were served with home-made, Old Bay spiced kettle chip and a great slaw which was a perfect foil to the rest.

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Mr. Fish’s was a great idea for lunch. While I’m happy for Ted’s obvious success, I do mourn a bit for the tiny place that was Mr. Fish’s four yeas ago when we sat and chatted with Ted and locals reading the paper. Four years ago we were the only tourists eating lunch that day. Today, the place has retained it’s quality food but the atmosphere is all tourist. I think it is probably the only way to survive in the food business in Myrtle Beach.

 

RT…and we’re off!

Today began at 4:45 am. I never sleep the night before I fly and we set two alarms. It was dark of course as I struggled out of bed, but I was happy to be “getting on the road”. Our younger cat, Scout was asleep at the bottom of the bed, all puffy eyed with sleep and none too happy about the disruption. It is still a full hour and a half before she is supposed to lick me awake and failing that, knock my lamp on my head. Our older kitty Smudge is off pouting somewhere, as she has been since she saw me take the suitcases out.

We have a 7:30 flight to Charlotte and then connecting on to New Orleans. Our flying experiences have taught us not to depend on Ottawa international for sustenance so we bring along Chinese BBQ pork buns from Green Fresh, the perfect on-the-run snack, and some sweet cherries. Both flights are on time and have us in to New Orleans just after noon. Its 42 degrees, and humid. We are dressed for a cool Ottawa morning and a cold plane ride. Getting the rental car was unusually painless this time and our room at the Hotel Monteleone was ready for early check in. The travel fairies are in our corner today. Coincidentally there is an international food bloggers conference going on in the city and it is hosted at our hotel. Many of the bloggers I personally follow will be in attendance. We might possibly sign up for an event or two if there is space.

The view from our hotel room of the Mighty Mississippi.
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After unpacking, changing and settling in, we decide to grab a pint and a bite. Acme’s Oyster House is around the corner. We visited on our last trip and decided to brave the line and headed over. The line is long but if you are just two and say you will take a table or the bar, it gets you in faster. We were seated at a small table for two at the front window. Pleasant view except for the delivery truck blocking entire said view. No matter. We are hungry, thirsty and thrilled to be here.

We immediately order Blue Moon beers, a favourite of ours that is unavailable at home. We would have ordered a pitcher but it is so hot, it’s pointless. It would be warm before you could get to the bottom of it. The beer goes down easy. We order two more beers and an order of craw puppies, deep fried crawfish meat, spices, green onion and corn batter, which are much like seafood croquettes. The puppies come with a horseradish cream sauce, with a bite bigger than it’s bark for sure.

Next up, Rob ordered a shrimp po’boy, dressed, and I asked for a 1/2 shrimp po’boy with a cup of their crab and corn bisque soup of the day. Po’boys of course are classic N’awlins fare. The bread is slightly crispy with the perfect chewy factor. The shrimp on this po’boy were good but really indistinguishable from any fried fare. I am spoiled by the shrimp po’boy at Guys from my last visit to the city. At Guys the shrimp is lightly battered allowing the delicate flavour of the Gulf shrimp to shine through. The crab and corn bisque was a classic chowder, with a strong corn taste and a nice mild crab flavour.

We finished our “bite” with a shared dish of Acme’s bread pudding, highly recommended by our server. Hot, sweet with a solid pudding texture. Delicious!

Now fortified, we headed back into the heat of the French Quarter ready to explore a bit. But then, we looked at each other and realized more than anything, it was nap time.

Revitalized for the most part after a snooze, we headed out into the evening “blast furnace” that is New Orleans in late August. We strolled through the French Quarter, reminiscing about the last time. Our walk was peppered with foodie landmarks, all yet to be experienced by us., including Paul Prudhomme’s K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA, and Central Grocery where the muffaletta sandwich was born.

We found ourselves headed to Coop’s Place where we had enjoyed an inspired rabbit and ham jambalaya on our last visit. Still travel weary, we were not terribly hungry, but we were awfully thirsty.

Coop’s Place is an awesome dive bar. The bar, dim but warmly lit features a raw, rough oak top that owes its sateen finish to the oil, sweat and beers of thousands. Staff is accommodating but far from effusive. We took our “regular” seats at the bar, with our backs to the pool table, the Packers game and an altar of sorts, and ordered up a couple of beers.

We had to of course have some more of that amazing jambalaya and it can be ordered in a cup size. Perfect. Two cups of jamabalaya and a shared shrimp remoulade salad. The jambalaya was smoky and spicy with hot sauce. The andouille mild and flavorful. The salad was comprised of nice mixed very fresh greens, with large wedges of tomato and rounds of cucumber. The shrimp were plump and sweet. the dressing came on the side and was creamy and mild, a little herbaceous and slightly sweet.

Dinner by dive-bar light.