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Eastbound and Down

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Eastbound and Down

Eastbound and Down

See that map? If we thought the drive from Southern California to Portland was a doozie, heading eastbound and down from Portland to Houston should be memorable.

The sun is setting on our time in Portland, and our days here are sadly numbered. Brady accepted a new job, so we’re trading flannel shirts and Starbucks for bolo ties and barbecue joints. We’re excited, stressed, eager, anxious…all of the adjectives that come with a big move. Oh yeah, and we’re still homeless.

There are so many details left to sort out, including how to transport a dog 2,500 miles that weighs more than most college freshmen. We’re pretty confident that Henri is going to have the biggest problem of all with this move. You see, he originated in Dallas, flew through Houston to get to Orange County, trekked up to the land of Lewis and Clark with us, and now we’re carting him back to his native land. Flying him there is an option, albeit it an expensive one, so there’s a solid chance that the “baby cow” will be riding shotgun in a moving truck with his dad while listening to Robert Earl Keen. Just think of all that wind for your hair, Henri! We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention our stuck-up cat (also named Brady) who will be stuffed in a carrier for the first time and forced to fly coach. Thankfully, his brother, Tom, is a lot more down to earth.

There’s never a dull moment at this three-ring circus, so moving the cast of characters halfway across the country will be a comedy of errors at best. The good news is that we’ll be a 45-minute flight from New Orleans (a place we both love), my commute to work in Boston will be slashed by almost half, and Brady (the human) won’t look out of place anymore in his Brooks Brothers clothes and cowboy boots. Did you think I was kidding about the pajamas?

We’re headed down to Houston this weekend to meet with a realtor and try to at least resolve our homeless problem. One of my requests is that we live somewhere “walkable,” which has been met with incessant giggling by most real estate agents. Evidently, Houston isn’t quite as “green” as Portland and people drive everywhere. Not this girl. We sold my car, and I want to live where Henri and I can still walk to the grocery store, window-shop for southern trinkets, and maybe grab a Starbucks every now and again. I’m sure their laughter has something to do with the oppressive heat and humidity, but I’m banking on Carrie Underwood’s theory that big hair just makes you look smaller. She really said that.

I wonder if Henri will develop a charming, southern bark? Stay tuned ya’ll!

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Eat Your Meat(loaf)

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No, not that meatloaf. Eat your meat(loaf)

One of the challenges of cooking is getting picky eaters to delight in the same things you do. There’s tricks that moms use to sneak vegetables into their kids’ diets, but the bait-and-switch tactic isn’t so easy when you’re dealing with a grown man.

At some point during Thanksgiving weekend, I mentioned that I wanted to make a meatloaf. That idea was met with a sour face, to put it nicely. He blamed it on his childhood, so of course, all I could imagine was seeing a meatloaf chasing him down the hallway of his childhood home while he ran away screaming in his Brooks Brothers pajamas. I don’t think it was quite that dramatic, but in a way, I can agree with him. I never was all that happy to see it show-up on dining tables at my friends’ houses, but I like my mom’s meatloaf.

So, what’s her trick? For one, many people overwork the meat, turning it into an iron-clad football. And then to top it off (quite literally), they slather ketchup on top like it’s a cardboard McDonald’s hamburger. Ick. Yuck. To me, meatloaf is one of the most simple comfort foods. All you need is high-quality ground beef, cracker crumbs, diced onion, a little milk, and an egg. How do people manage to ruin something that’s so easy?

When I explained this to the mister, he seemed less threatened by the aforementioned childhood loaf. Maybe it’s just that he trusts my abilities in the kitchen, but he said he’s willing to give it a try. To up the ante, I’ve decide to complicate my own meatloaf recipe this next time around. I’m adding a little bit of ground pork sausage, swapping in a red onion for a little spice and visual appeal, and I’m going to stud my meatloaf with tater tots. I’ll finish it off with a little egg-wash to help it achieve the crunchy crust that I know his temperamental palette will enjoy, and should there be any left the next day, I’ve already told him that we’ll slice it up and reheat it on the BBQ.

I don’t know if it will be a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am meal, but if it’s a total flop, I know a dog who would be more than happy to help.

(Non) Rev’ed Up: A Trip Recap

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Paris Light

Paris Light

Despite almost not making the CDG–JFK flight last night (overselling is such an attractive practice), I’m back in the states and already down in Florida. JetBlue didn’t waste any time assigning me a trip. I landed and had a 5:00 a.m. report. Oh well, I commuted in from Paris for work; things could be worse.

Paris was like an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while. With no real agenda to speak of while I was there, I kind of just walked around and did whatever I fancied. While I never got around to taking any cooking classes, I did manage to eat my way through the city and visit some restaurants that have been on my list for some time, and one that is just a perennial favorite. Take note: Verjus, Reed, and Fish La Boissonerie are three restaurants you shouldn’t miss in Paris. Just don’t. Take the time to make a reservation and find them, and then sit back for a culinary fireworks show. And yes, if you read my last diatribe, I did make it to Fish on my last day for lunch.

Tuesday, I spent the day in Strasbourg, which was an easy and excellent day trip from Paris. The TGV whisks you there in two hours, and it was this amazing collaboration of French and German influences, almost like they had a child together. I had lunch in an Alsatian restaurant (Le Gruber) that was outfitted in what looked like Bavarian décor, yet, I was ordering my food in French. It was great. I also managed to locate the historic wine cave under the hospital, which was something I had read about prior to arriving. While I wasn’t able to taste any wine that day, they do have a wine shop, so I procured three Alsatian wines (a rosé, a pinot noir, and a Chateauneuf du Pape) that I lugged back on the train to Paris, and then on the plane to the U.S. Despite carting my flight attendant costume with me, I wasn’t permitted to bring the wine through security with me. So, I checked the bag and prayed I wouldn’t be met with a soggy suitcase tumbling down the luggage belt like it was on a water slide. Lucked out there.

Cave Historique Hospices Strasbourg

Cave Historique Hospices Strasbourg

So, what’s up with this whole non-rev business? Well, for one, I now get why people tolerate the measly flight attendant salary. I paid $92 for my ticket over (JFK–LHR) and was put in first class on American. No, not business. First class. Pajamas, champagne and all. On the way back, the ticket was more expensive (maybe $150), but Air France was gracious enough to give me Premium Economy, which is almost like a junior business cabin. Yes, flying standby is not for the faint of heart, but if you are flexible like every good flight attendant is meant to be, you can see the world for pennies on the dollar and giggle about how much the person sitting next to you spent. I did that.

I don’t have any plans for my next trip (yet), but doubt it will be long before there’s something on the books. Any suggestions?

Lessons Learned

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Fish La Boissonerie Paris

Fish La Boissonerie, Paris

Paris is: so far, superb. I found the new apartment easy as pie, my French flooded back to me, and the weather is perfect. Could the winning streak continue?

The day started with me eating lunch at a café around the corner from Fish La Boissonerie because I believed the internet that said it was closed on Sundays. Mistake #1. And instead of walking the 10 extra feet to investigate it firsthand, I gave into my craving for a croque and the cute overalls the servers wear. Mistake #2. After lunch, I walked by to snap that photo on the left and saw people coming out the door. There are people dining inside as I’m simultaneously taking the photo and kicking myself. The internet lied. Lesson learned.

Full from Bar du Marché, I stopped in for a glass of wine at a restaurant that was recommended by a friend on another trip. It gave me the chance to decide if I should brave the cold for the night time bike tour or go back to Fish for dinner? I picked up the phone and called them to be sure they were open, and yes, they were. Settled: dinner at Fish. If you’ve eaten there before, you know why the decision was simple. But here comes mistake #3: not bothering to inquire about their hours and just assuming they would be open when I was ready for my early supper. I walked back past the restaurant at 5pm, and they didn’t open back up until 7pm. Oy!

After hoofing it back to my apartment in the 2nd, I couldn’t bring myself to walk all the way back down there. I was exhausted from catching the early Eurostar this morning and going to bed late in London (this morning). And I really did walk quite a bit today. Now, in a cruel twist of fate, I’m up writing this at nine minutes to midnight because I can’t sleep. I could have doubled back to Fish four times over by this point. I guess inter-Europe jetlag does exist.

What I did discover is that my apartment is a pitching wedge away from Rue Montorgeuil, so I mustered up enough energy to go to dinner at Little Italy Caffe. Italian food served by a guy from Brooklyn in Paris. It was good, but it wasn’t Fish. And now I feel like I squandered the only chance I had to eat at there on this trip, which is exactly the case (my eating trail is already paved). If you think you can’t plan an entire trip to Paris around eating, well, then you obviously have never been to Paris.

Looks like I better start planning a follow-up trip for the feeding frenzy!

Order Up: London, Paris and Strasbourg!

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Cheeses of Paris

Fromagerie in Montmartre

To celebrate making it past the six-month probationary mark with JetBlue, I’m heading to Europe next week! At least I think I am. This will be the first time I tempt the non-rev’ing Gods internationally, so I’m hoping I can get a seat on one of the three non-stops from JFK to Heathrow. Then again, I’m just hoping I can get back to JFK for work at this rate. With Europe involved, I will find a way!

It always amazes me how quickly my trips come together. Brady encouraged me to go last Thursday, so I contacted my friends in London, rented an apartment via Airbnb in Paris, and bought train tickets to Strasbourg for a day trip. I’m also taking the Eurostar/Chunnel for the first time, and I can’t wait for the experience. It only cost a bit more to book in first class, so I figured, “Why not?” They give you a three-course meal, there’s free wi-fi so I can use my phone or laptop, and the seats are bigger. Perfect.

As far as culinary things go in Paris, I’m booked in for two great dinners at Verjus and Reed, and I’m definitely visiting The Gallery Museum Baccarat this time. Evidently, it’s a sight for sore eyes, and there’s a particularly eye-catching bathroom that shouldn’t be missed. I’ve booked myself in for lunch there too at the Crystal Room restaurant. I’ve been on the hunt for cooking classes, but haven’t been able to match anything with my schedule. If you’re up for a hilarious story regarding a cooking class inquiry gone awry, you can read about that here. A word of advice: learn the difference between “forward” and “reply” when it comes to business emails.

There’s still time for a class to work out, but if not, there are dozens of other culinary-related items I can get myself into. You can make a day of snacking on delicious cheeses like the ones in the photo, chatting with bartenders about wines, and eating a Berthillon ice cream cone as the world walks by. I’ll report back as the trip rolls on.

Portland Visitor’s Map

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It’s literally been forever since I posted on here. I’m still overdue on my Portland, ME food walking tour, which I did do, but the summer got away from me. Seriously. It’s hard to believe I was just bidding for my October work schedule, and that we’re already talking about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Where do the years go?

I’m back in Left Coast Portland for about two weeks, and in between working and walking Henri, I’m trying to get organized for my parents’ impending visit. They’re headed up to house- and creature-sit for about 10 days at the end of the month while the mister and I head to the Florida Keys. Between doing copious amounts of laundry and enjoying the NFL season starting, I just realized it would be nice to hand them a map of our favorite restaurants, where they can find the grocery store, and also where the vet and emergency animal hospital are located (although I really hope they don’t need that last bit).

I started looking online for a map I could print out, but it’s actually easier to just create a Google map and pin all of the locations there. So here’s a little overview of all the places we think they should frequent as they live life as Portlanders. While it looks like a jumbled up mess, it’s actually a pretty handy map. It’s interactive, so just click on the pins to see details about the places.

Legend: 

  • Fork/Knife: Restaurant
  • Coffee Cup: Coffee/Breakfast
  • Martini Glass: Bar
  • Shopping Bag: Market/Store
  • Cross: Vet/Animal Hospital
  • Dollar Sign: Bank

<iframe width=”600″ height=”700″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” marginheight=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ src=”https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=206017250814233052645.0004c961d43ed315211a7&hl=en&ie=UTF8&t=m&ll=45.530102,-122.693295&spn=0.021045,0.025792&z=15&output=embed”&gt;
View Portland Visitor’s Map in a larger map

Can’t Get Enough Portland

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Foodie Walking Tour in Portland, MaineI’ve been trapped in New York for nearly three weeks now. You may think “trapped” is a little dramatic, but being on reserve with an airline feels a little like Riker’s Island. It’s partially my fault because I arranged my schedule so that I can be home longer later this month. But doing that has meant long blocks of reserve days with only a few orphan days off in between.

Today, I rolled the dice and went to a Mets game despite being on home reserve. Home reserve is exactly what it sounds like; keep your phone close in case they call. “Mets reserve” was a lot more fun, and fortunately, they didn’t interrupt my baseball game. That little gamble also made me realize that I need to take advantage of my geographic location on my next day off.

So, next Monday, I’m headed to Portland, Maine! I’ve secured a foodie walking tour of the charming seaside enclave, and I think it will be the perfect distraction from not being able to be in the other Portland, 3,186 miles away. Strangely enough, about a month ago, I was in both Portlands the same day. I don’t think many people can claim that!

Look for an upcoming post about my one-day, culinary adventure on the mean cobblestone streets of Maine’s largest city.