“This sandwich was so good…”

Chopped Chicken Sandwich

Chopped Chicken Sandwich

It has been a while since returning to one of my favorite cookbooks, The Slim Down South Cookbook by Carolyn O’Neil, MS. Rd.  From the first reading of the book, I marked so many recipes to try I knew it would take some time to try them all.

I have already made the Pecan Pancakes, the Thai Noodle Salad and the Corn and Black Bean Salad recipes; all three were wonderfully delicious.

On a particularly hot day in March I decided to make something simple and quick for dinner.  I had marked a recipe called Chopped Chicken Sandwich.  Just reading the ingredients made me anticipate a lovely combination of tastes and textures that I knew would delight my palate.

Chopped Chicken Sandwich

4 hoagie rolls

½ cup grated Swiss cheese, divided

2 cups chopped cooked chicken

¼ cup Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Vegetable cooking spray

2 ½ cups Crunchy Pecan Slaw

  1. Light 1 side of grill, heating to 350° to 400°. (medium-high) heat; leave other side unlit.
  2. Split rolls in half horizontally, and hollow out soft bread from tops and bottoms, leaving a ¼-inch thick shell. Reserve soft bread for another use if desired. Sprinkle bottom of half of each roll with 1 Tablespoon Swiss cheese.
  3. Stir together chicken and Sweet and Spicy Dressing in a small bowl. Divide chicken mixture evenly among bottom halves of rolls. Lightly coat each sandwich with cooking spray, and wrap with aluminum foil.
  4. Place sandwiches over unlit side of grill, and grill, covered with grill lid, 10 to 12 minutes. Unwrap sandwiches, place over unlit side of grill and grill 5 minutes or until crust is crisp and cheese is melted. Remove from grill, and cut in half.
  5. Remove top halves of rolls from sandwiches. Arrange about ½ cup Crunchy Pecan Slaw over chicken and cheese. Cover with top halves of rolls. Serve immediately.

Serving size 1 sandwich—CALORIES 486; FAT 19.9g (sat 5.3g, mono 8.6g, poly 5.1g); PROTEIN 33.2g; CARB 45.2g; FIBER 2.9g; CHOL 72mg; IRON 2.5mg; SODIUM 620mg; CALC 206mg.

Sweet-and-Spicy Dressing

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup honey

2 Tablespoons hot sauce

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 tsp celery salt

¼ tsp black pepper

  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Service size 1 Tablespoon—CALORIES 43; FAT (sat 0.2g, mono 1.5g, poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 0.1g; CARB 6.1g; FIBER 0g; CHOL 0mg; IRON 0mg; SODIUM 146mg; CALC 1mg.

 

Crunchy Pecan Slaw

1 head Napa cabbage, cut into thin strips

1 Braeburn apple, cut into thin strips

½ cup sliced radishes

½ cup Sweet-and-Spicy Dressing

3 green onions, sliced

1 cup chopped toasted pecans

  1. Toss together cabbage and remaining ingredients in a large bowl until blended.

Serving Size 1 cup—CALORIES 141; FAT 9.9g (sat 0.9g, mono 5.7g, poly 2.5g); PROTEIN 2.3g; CARB 13.7; FIBER 3.7g; CHOL 0mg; IRON 0.8mg; SODIUM 136mg; CALC 49mg.

The only ingredient I did not have readily available was the Napa cabbage but was pleasantly surprised to find it at my local grocery store. The recipe was a little busy having to complete three steps but it really was very simple especially using precooked chicken breasts.

This sandwich was so good!  Each layer of the sandwich was a taste delight starting with opening the aluminum foil for just a few minutes to make the hoagie roll crunchy to the many tastes and textures of the slaw.  Oh, my, the softness of the cabbage mixed with the crunch of the apples, radishes and pecans was wonderful.  The dressing with the sweetness of the honey and hint of heat from the hot sauce added so many flavors.

The sandwiches with an extra helping of slaw were just the perfect dinner for a hot, Florida evening.

Note:  This sandwich was so good that I made them again during my annual first-round March Madness visit to daughter Kristine’s home in Virginia. Unable to find Napa cabbage, we substituted with a pre-packaged slaw mix that included cabbage, red cabbage and carrots.  We also used the oven to heat and toast the sandwiches.  These sandwiches were just the right food for spending a marathon day watching one basketball game after another; easy to prepare and delicious.

Enjoy,

Mary

Posted in chicken, Cookbook, dressings, pecans, Recipe, sandwiches, slaw, sweet-and-spicy dressing | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Cincinnati “Skyline” Chili

IMG_0307bBack in January I posted a recipe for 3-way Cincinnati Chili.  It was winter, the air was cold and I suddenly had a taste for something familiar from my time in Virginia.  Randy and I used to frequent the Hard Times Café near our home in Springfield, Virginia. I fell in love with their Cincinnati chili but had never prepared it myself.

After a little research I came across a recipe in What’s Cooking America that sounded perfect.  I prepared it and Randy and I love it.  We shared some of the chili with our friends Bob and Sandy and they love it too.

Eventually, Randy told me about his times he spent in Cincinnati on business many years ago and said that he frequented a restaurant called Skyline Chili.  And, while he loved the chili I prepared, I wondered out loud if the Skyline Chili was the same or just a bit different.

So, once again, I did a little research and came across this recipe called Cincinnati “Skyline” Chili and it sounded perfect.  So, off to the kitchen I went.

I remember mentioning the first blog that I loved the chili but, “I remember the chili being a little looser,” and so I would try to replicate the original Skyline Chili to see if that was the chili I remembered.

Cincinnati “Skyline” Chili

1 quart cold water

2 lbs. ground beef

2 cups crushed tomato

2 yellow onions, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

¼ cup chili powder

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp ground cumin

2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

1 whole bay leaf

¼ tsp ground cloves

1 tsp cinnamon

1 ½ tsp salt

Cooked spaghetti to serve chili over

Grated cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Add beef and water to a 4-quart pot. Bring to a simmer while stirring until the ground beef is in very small pieces. Simmer for 30 minutes and add all the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Simmer on low, uncovered, for 3 hours. Add water as needed if the chili becomes too thick.
  3. Refrigerate the chili overnight, and the next day remove the layer of fat from top before reheating and serving.

The Cincinnati “Skyline” Chili ordering code:

1-way: just the chili

2-way: chili over spaghetti

3-way: chili, spaghetti, and grated cheddar cheese

4-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese, and onions

5-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese, onions and beans.

As you can see from the recipe, the chili was very easy to prepare.  The whole time it simmered in my kitchen the air was filled with the aroma of both chocolate and cinnamon.  Trust me when I tell you it made for a pleasant day in our house.

Now to the differences I discovered.  Of course the first difference was the preparation of the meat.  On the first chili I only had to sauté the meat with several other ingredients eventually adding the rest of the ingredients.

The Skyline Chili recipe called for simmering the meat in a quart of water making sure to break up the meat into tiny pieces and then simmering before adding all the rest of the ingredients.

The end result of this difference is the first chili was thicker while the Skyline was, as I remembered, finer and looser.

There was a small difference in the ingredient list for the Skyline Chili.  The most pronounced difference was the addition of a bay leaf.  I was mystified by the addition of the bay leaf and went on the hunt for an explanation of why use it at all.

There seems to be a debate among cooks as to the use of and, need for bay leaves but one thing they all have in common is that if you prepare two like dishes you will notice a difference if you do not or do use the bay leaf.  I read that Serious Eats culinary director J. Kenji López-Alt appreciates bay leaf for its 50-plus flavor compounds and its “complex, tea-like aromas” after long cooking, he wrote in March 2014 in response to the site’s Food Lab query titled,“What’s the Point of Bay Leaves?”.

 

I really cannot say that I noticed any appreciable change in the taste of the chili with the addition of the bay leaf unless it was the richness of the cinnamon in this version of Cincinnati chili.

Normally when I make a new dish I send over some to my neighbors Bob and Sandy for them to try and render a verdict as to the taste.  This time, however, it was a beautiful, warm evening just perfect for a meal on the lanai.  I called them up and invited them to have dinner.  We enjoyed a dinner of 3-way Skyline Chili, a simple salad and sweet corn bread.

As Sandy was enjoying her second helping she remarked, “This is a thumbs-up meal.  No, it is a ten-thumbs up meal.  This is very, very good”.

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Like the first Cincinnati chili recipe, a few days later I prepared chili dogs and they were great too.

As for Randy, he liked both chilis but, thought the first one was sweeter.  Me, I loved both, but the Skyline Chili was what I remembered from long ago bringing back lovely memories of home.

Enjoy,

Mary

Posted in Chili, chili dogs, Cincinnati "Skyline" Chili, Cincinnati Chili, Food, Recipe | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Last day of birthday cruise and heading home

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I walked out onto the balcony this morning to a breathtaking sunrise and knew it was going to be a wonderful day.

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Today was our last day of my birthday cruise and I was looking forward to kicking back, relaxing, talking with our new friends, walking around the ship and attending the farewell variety show after dinner.

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DSC07922I love just walking around looking at all the artwork distributed around the ship.  I especially love seeing what artwork is to be seen down the elevator shafts bow and aft.  Between the elevators at the front of the ship are these beautiful jet airplanes with beautiful murals while at the back of the ship there are these, what seems like, oversized traffic signals.

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My favorite piece of artwork on the Freedom is the swimmer seemingly suspended in air from the Promenade ceiling.  The artwork is called Down Under and was created by British artist/sculpture David Mach.  Every time I am on the Freedom I find myself mesmerized by this wonderful sculpture and decided I would share.

In the artist’s words, “This sculpture has evolved from my collage and sculptural works.  The diving figure is a response to looking at thousands of images from books and magazines every day in my studio.  She’s larger than life and, unusually, dives into your space from the ceiling, as if you’re standing at the bottom of a pool looking up”.

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One other piece of artwork I particularly enjoyed this cruise was in the deck five stairway forward.  It is so large I had to stand down at the bottom of the stair to get a decent photo.  Each shadow box contained a shell.  The shells were different sizes, shapes, colors but all beautiful.  Unfortunately, I was preoccupied at the time and failed to get the artists credits.  I will get it next time I am on the ship.  The shells in this piece are just beautiful.

After walking for a while, Randy and I decided to take a walk on the Promenade and join in the fun of FreedomFest.  The FreedomFest is like a street fair with many tables set up with food, drink and things to sell.  There are also tables for demonstrating how to make towel animals, make the perfect drink and some entertainment.

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Many of the ship’s officers were on hand to chat with passengers.  Randy ran into Captain Holmes and renewed their conversation about motorcycles.

The last day of each cruise Randy is anxious to buy several $10 tee shirts.  He had already picked out the two designs he wanted so we made our way to the sales table and bought them.

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Now, since it was my birthday I decided I would buy a ‘Happy Birthday to me’ present.  From the first day on the ship, I had been eyeing a Michael Kors bag.  Now what you have to know about the happy birthday to me gift is that over the last 25 years they have all been different.  Once I bought myself an over-sized filled birthday cupcake, another time I bought a new doll for my doll collection, for several years I bought small angels to sit upon my bedroom shelf.   Price is never the issue, just what happens to suit my fancy at the time.

This time my fancy fell leaned towards a Michael Kors Hamilton Saffiano leather satchel.  I was so excited when I finally went into the shop and purchased the bag.  I love it, I love it, I love it.  I have never owned a bag that came with its own soft, satin storage bag.  How fun is that?

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A little after lunch a group of passengers were invited to see the unveiling of new cabins on Deck 12.  We toured the cabins, all of which were bright and shiny and all have panoramic windows.  A nice touch I thought.  However, the cabin I like most was the family cabin.  As soon as you entered there was a space for bunk beds for the children and a separate bathroom for the children.

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DSC07917bAs you went further into the cabin there was a spacious area that included a bedroom, sitting room, desk with storage and another bathroom.  What was really cool was in the center of the larger space was a wall unit that contained a flat screen TV that could be swung either towards the sitting area or the bedroom area.  The storage in this room was plentiful too.

Purchases complete, tour finished, we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in our cabin and packing for our departure the next day.

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The time passed quickly and it was time to prepare for dinner.  We made our way up to the Diamond Lounge and had a great conversation with Bev, Jan, Don and Kathy and agreed to meet back at the lounge after dinner to say our goodbyes.

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We attended the late Farewell Showtime, which is always fun.  The farewell show included a performance by comedian Billy Garan, an aerial performance by Peter and Ildiko, the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers and members of the ship’s crew.

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This was the first time we had seen Bill Garan and frankly, I was not that impressed.  However, the performance by Peter and Ildiko was phenomenal flying high above our heads.  The physical strength of these two people was nothing short of amazing.  It was a lovely, lovely show.

By the time the show was over Randy and I were ready to return to the cabin.  We had last minute packing to do and wanted to turn in and get a good night’s sleep.

High seas, howling winds, closed port, sunny days, meeting new friends, great Caribbean food, tequila tasting all made for a memorable birthday cruise.  Now, it was time to be home and plan our next adventure.

Enjoy,

Mary

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Sunny skies and tequila; life is good!

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As soon as I got up, pulled back the curtains and stepped onto the balcony I knew it was going to be a wonderful day.

We have visited Cozumel, Mexico with family and friends over the years and always had a great time whether just hanging out at the port, finding a local restaurant to try or going on a fun excursion.

One of my very favorite excursions in Cozumel was called Salsa, Salsa and Margaritas.  We spent a great afternoon learning to make various salsas including a delicious dessert salsa, two flavors of margaritas and, learning to salsa dance.  Great, great fun!

Today we are scheduled to go on the Tequila Experience by Jose Cuervo.  We were not sure what to expect on this excursion, but really, how bad could it be if there was tequila in the offing?

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DSC07853Our excursion did not leave until 1pm so Randy and I spent a little time walking around the port area visiting several shops, looking in at Senor Frogs, and taking a few photos.  The experience was to take place at Discover Mexico and was only a ten minute drive from the port.

 

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We were greeted by our tequilier Roy and led to an area planted with blue agave plants.   He explained the importance of the plant in the production of tequila.  We then entered a room set up for our presentation.  I had to take a second look when we entered the room.  I thought I was entering a room set up for a wine tasting presentation.

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Three wine glasses one each with a tasting of white tequila and two with tequilas a little darker.  There was also a small plate to be used by each couple to cleanse their palate with a cracker, coffee beans to enhance the aromas of the tequila and a lime peel.

 

 

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Roy was professional, knowledgeable and had a wonderful sense of humor all of which kept everyone’s attention throughout the presentation.  He taught us how to smell the tequilas from the bottom of the tipped glass, the center of the glass and above the tipped glass.  It was amazing how each level you could detect a distinct aroma.

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The white rests for 15 days in stainless steel tanks and is ready to bottle.  The second glass was what he called, “Rested” and is left for at least 2 months in wooden tanks or barrels.  The third glass had what Roy called, “Aged” and is left for at least 1 year in contact with American or French Oak barrels.

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Who knew that there were so many variations of tequila.  What I am accustomed to is Jose Cuervo Gold to make margaritas.  We learned that there is a long list of variations of tequilas including one that he compared to cognac to be sipped slowly.  At the end of our presentation we were presented with a certificate as a Tequila Aficionada for, “Having successfully completed the tequila seminar at Discover Mexico Park”.  I will hang that next to my Budweiser certificate.

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After our presentation we were led into a gift shop where many of our group purchased bottles of tequila.  The purchases were in bags with names attached and then led to the building called Discover Mexico.  The little building had a wonderful video presentation about Mexico, it’s people, traditions, Mayan ruins and popular tourist destinations.

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Roy took us to see a very unusual entertainment in the park.  Five men, dressed in very colorful costumes, climbed to the top of a pole and then spiraled by their feet back down to the ground.  It was quite impressive.  While watching the men fall back to earth I noticed one of the miniatures of Mayan ruins that dot the park.

 

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DSC07896We then moved on to a small museum that was filled with artworks by known and unknown artists.  They were all varied and beautiful.  We especially liked a small sculpture of a hummingbird with brilliant colors.  What made this experience wonderful was Roy’s enthusiasm and obvious love for his country and its history.

Next we were led to an area outside the museum for a photo opportunity that reminded me a little of being in Tijuana.  At the end of our walk was a woman holding the reins of a burro and a gentleman holding a very large snake.

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Our next stop was a small area with tables, chairs and a small bar where we were treated to a frozen strawberry margarita.  Now the unique thing about this margarita is that instead of dipping the glass rims in just salt they were dipped in a mixture of salt and chili powder.  The combination of sweet and sour was just wonderful and refreshing.

 

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No, we were not done yet.  Our next stop was our taco buffet.  Oh my, this was so delicious.  The soft corn tacos were freshly made as we stood in line.  I filled mine with seasoned shredded pork and black beans.  There were also seasoned potatoes and rice.  The meal was absolutely delicious.

Before we left, the group returned to the gift shop and, after a little tasting, purchased a bottle of Santa Clara Rompope.  This is an eggnog-like tequila drink made with eggs, milk and vanilla that is used widely in Mexico especially during the holidays.  It is yummy.

Clockwise: Don, Jan, Mary, Randy, Bev and Kathy.

Clockwise: Don, Jan, Mary, Randy, Bev and Kathy.

We returned to the ship just in time to ready for the evening.  We met with our new friends in the Diamond Lounge and shared stories of our day.  We decided not to attend a show this evening instead stopping for an after dinner drink and retiring to our cabin.

As I prepared to turn down the lights, I knew I would have pleasant dreams about our day in Cozumel.  Tomorrow we will have a relaxing day at sea.

DSC07910Enjoy,

Mary

 

Posted in cruising, Food, margarita, Mexican food, tequila, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Turbulent seas cancels stop at Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman in the mist.

Grand Cayman in the mist.

Today we were to stop at George Town, Grand Cayman.  It was not to be.

We woke up around 5am to 10-12 foot swells, winds over 30 miles per hour, cloudy skies and a heavy mist that covered everything.  Passengers need to be tendered at this port and it was obvious the short trip from the ship to shore would be treacherous.  After the ship sat off shore for some time, the Port Authority eventually decided to close the port.

We were both disappointed.  We have visited Grand Cayman several times over the years and always look forward to returning.

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The captain announced our predicament an assured everyone that they were prepared for just this sort of situation and had arranged for many activities to keep everyone busy.  He said we would be cruising the rest of the day towards our next destination, Cozumel, Mexico.

The winds were so strong that the pool deck was closed as well as the promenade deck.  So, everyone was staying inside.  Randy and I walked around the ship for a while and saw that every chair, stool and couch in every venue was filled with passengers reading, playing cards, playing games or just chatting.

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We wanted to try the Sabor, Modern Mexican restaurant on the Freedom so we made our way down to deck 4 to make a reservation for lunch.  We had eaten at the Sabor on the Oasis and love it.  It would be interesting to see if the food was the same.

We returned to our cabin for a morning of reading.  I was so excited because I had already finished one book and was anxious to start another.  Every so often the side of the ship would be slammed with a wave that sent a booming noise shuddering through the cabin.

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Before we knew it, it was time to make our way to Sabor.  We arrived at the restaurant around 12:30pm and were seated immediately.  When we entered the restaurant we thought perhaps this space had originally been a Japanese restaurant.  The furniture was a rich, deep, dark wood.  The cushions were predominantly red.  The walls were red with a beautiful 3D floral mural on the wall.  We asked the server but she said, “No, this has always been Sabor”.

Shredded pork tacos

Shredded pork tacos

DSC07840I ordered the Chicken and Roasted Corn Empanada with green mole, spicy peanut sauce and lemon verde again and while they were good, I thought the dish on the Oasis was better.  I thought it was interesting that on the Oasis you could order ala-carte.  On the Freedom there is a $15 charge for lunch and $25 for dinner.  We had the salsa, main course and dessert.

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As we ate our lunch a group came in and sat next to us.  It was obvious that one of the young ladies was not dealing well with the ship’s movement.  Eventually, she turned a little green and left the restaurant not to return.

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That’s the Voyager of the Seas on the horizon.

After lunch we made our way back to the cabin and took it easy until it was time to prepare for dinner.  Our first stop for the evening was a top-tier event at the Star Lounge for Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle members.  We were treated to hors d’oeuvres, beverages, entertainment  and a chat by Captain Holmes.

Don and Kathy were honored as the top cruisers for this trip with 892 nights.  Randy and I looked at each other and realized with only 135 nights we had a long way to go.

After such a big lunch we both decided to have soup and salad for dinner.  That is, until Randy noticed that lobster was on the menu.

The day had been so relaxing we decided to return to our cabin and just call it a day.  Tomorrow we are scheduled to dock at Cozumel.

DSC07848Enjoy,

Mary

 

Posted in cruising, Food, Mexican food, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Picture perfect day in Falmouth, Jamaica

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img017bWhat a lovely day!

Like so many travelers, when Randy and I first started cruising it was all about doing and seeing as much as we could at every port.  Over time, I felt as though we were so involved in tourist activities that we were missing the essence of the places we were visiting.

Now, when we travel we talk about what we would really like to do when we are revisiting or traveling to a new destination.  We had been to Jamaica several times and took a, what Randy called a boozy catamaran ride to Dunn’s River Falls, revisiting the falls again several years later. Today we would dock at Falmouth, Jamaica and decided we would see what there was to see in town and perhaps find a local restaurant to visit and enjoy the local cuisine.

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The day started with sunny skies, warm weather and the promise of warmer weather as the day wore on.  We grabbed a quick breakfast in the lounge and met yet another very nice couple and talked and talked.

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DSC07778The port area was very nice with a many jewelry, souvenir and gifts shops to visit.  There was also a large craft market in the middle of the square and many cart vendors scattered around the square.  We walked around a bit.  As usual I was looking for magnets for Kristine and Roxy and stopped at one cart that looked most interesting.  The gentleman who owned the cart was extremely pleasant and helpful and happy that we stopped by.

We told him that were just looking at that point but assured him we would be back on our return trip to the ship.  We asked him if he could recommend a good local restaurant where we could get a bite to eat for lunch.  “Nazz,” he replied.

“Stop at the gate and ask the security people and they will give you directions to get there,” he continued.

So, off we went.  We stopped at the gate and asked the two security guards if they would give us directions to Nazz.  To our pleasant surprise one of the guards said, “It is almost time for my lunch break, I will take you”.  Her name was Crystal and as we walked she told us a little bit about Falmouth.

We walked passed little shops and tents all brimming with island merchandise and souveniers.  We came across a group of tourist getting ready to participate in a Segway tour.  Crystal asked me if I would every do that and I said emphatically, “No!”  “I am sure,” I said, “I would run into a building or causing some other kind of mayhem”.  We all laughed.  It did not take us long at all to get to the restaurant.

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The restaurant was located on a very noisy corner.  The cacophony of sounds on that corner was amazing.  There were no stops signs, traffic lights so car, van and bus horns were blaring all the time.  Cart vendors were hawking their wares as they walked down the street.  Someone would see a friend and yell greetings across the street with an immediate response being yelled back.  I loved it.

The inside of the restaurant was very nice with dark wooden tables and chairs but I wanted to enjoy the patio and absorb my surroundings.  We invited Crystal to join us for lunch but she had to make her way back to the port.  After she made sure we knew how to get back to the port she said her goodbyes and left.

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DSC07784bAfter looking over the menu, Randy and I both ordered the barbeque chicken, red beans and rice and slaw.  What a great choice.  The chicken was perfectly cooked with a wonderful dry rub, the red beans and rice were so aromatic and perfectly cooked and the sweet slaw was just wonderful. There was also a small bowl of barbeque sauce to dip the chicken in that had just enough heat to make the chicken interesting.

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DSC07805Sated, we made our way back to the port passing by many shops.  Once back at the pier, we took a walk through Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant.  Margaritaville is not just a restaurant but a complex of restaurants, bars, shops, and a swimming pool.  We stopped for a little bit so Randy could get connected so he could send along a message and a few photos from our travels to family and friends.

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DSC07802bWe eventually made our way back to the cart vendor and told him how much we loved Nazz and thanked him for his recommendation.  We picked out two magnets and off we went back to the ship stopping along the way to read the wonderful historical signs that lined the street giving a bit of history of the Island, the original inhabitants, the Tainos, past governors, slave emancipation and eventually Jamaica becoming an independent nation in 1962.  We ran into Crystal at the entrance to the pier and, once again, thanked her for kindness in taking the time to show us where the restaurant was and said, “Goodbye”.

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By the time we made our way back to the cabin it was time to get ready for cocktails and dinner.  We met Bev, Jan, Don and Kathy and had a lovely time before heading to the dining room.

DSC07807 After such a big lunch I really was not very hungry and decided to just order the starter size Caprese Salad but to bring it out as my main dish.  Our waiter was distressed that I was not going to eat a main course but I assured him I would be fine.  When the salad came to the table I was surprised to see that the salad completely filled the plate.  Rajesh decided to order the salad as a main course.  I was not sure I could do it, but I finished it all and it was delicious.

These Guys--Josh Downtain, Jazzy Smith, Thomas Nanthavongdouangsy, Erik Carlson

These Guys–.Josh Downtain, Jazzy Smith, Thomas Nanthavongdouangsy, Erik Carlson

DSC07814bThe headliner group this evening was “These Guys”.  They were terrific. This group of singers kept the audience clapping, tapping their feet, singing along and have a great time all through their show even stopping at one point to introduce the members of the group and explain how they came to be together.  They are originally an Acapella group but also do a little Doo Wop, Barbershop quartet, a little jazz, a little soul and more.

On our way out of the theater I stopped to tell them how much we enjoyed their show and they offered to take a photo.  I thought that was very nice.

The whole day was just wonderful.  Now it was time to retire to our cabin for a good night’s sleep.

Our next stop is Georgetown, Grand Cayman.

DSC07823bEnjoy,

Mary

Posted in cruising, Food, restaurants, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Whiling away the hours on a beach at Labadee, Haiti

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View from the pier. Beautiful, crystal clear turquoise, green and blue waters.

 

Picture, if you will, sitting in your living room and seeing an ad flash across your television screen of a beautiful island with crystal clear turquoise waters, palm trees slowly moving with a gentle breeze and hearing island music in the background.  That picture and more is Royal Caribbean’s beautiful private playground of Labadee, Haiti.

Panoramic view of Labadee, Haiti

Panoramic view of Labadee, Haiti

We were up very early again this morning after another noisy, whistling night.  We headed up to the lounge for a quick breakfast and returned to the cabin to get ready for our day on shore.  We spent a few moments on the balcony as the ship tied up to the pier.  What a beautiful view!

By the time we exited the ship the sun was out in full glory, the sky was a beautiful blue with puffy white clouds and the temperature was in the mid-70’s and moving up.  It was going to be a beautiful day!

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The last time we were here we found a comfortable spot at Columbus Cove and so, armed with sun block, sunglasses, hats and books we made our way to the beach.

Aqua Park

Aqua Park

It is a bit of a walk to get to Columbus Cove but well worth the walk.  While I cannot explain why, I love walking past the rock formations that are just above the beach.  The rocks are a stark gray/white color with deep groves cut into the stone.  Randy will tell you that I have a thing for rock formations.

As I mention yesterday, when first we came to Labadee there was just a lot of beautiful beaches to be enjoyed.  Since then there have been so many changes.

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There is so much to do while visiting the area.  There are beaches offering different styles of water enjoyment, a waterslide, roller coaster and a very scary zip line that reaches speeds of 40-50 miles per hour called Dragon’s Breath.  You can kayak, wave jet, parasail or enjoy the fun of climbing or jumping off part of the aqua park.

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Now, did we take advantage of any of these tours or adventures while there?  No.  All Randy and I wanted to do was find a beach chair under a palm tree and relax and that is exactly what we did.

We quite literally spent the entire day just whiling away the hours sitting under a palm tree watching the world go by, chatting a bit, reading our books and listening to wonderful island music.  What I appreciated the most as we sat under the palm was listening to the gentle breezes making their way through the palm fronds.  What a lovely noise.  I love the swishing sound as the fronds move to and fro.

View of Freedom of the Seas from the beach

View of Freedom of the Seas from the beach

One wonderful feature of visiting this island paradise is lunch on the beach.  The ship brings all the food to various venues around the area and it is always good.  They serve everything from hot dogs, hamburgers, barbeque chicken, red beans and rice, salad fixings, fresh fruits, dessert and a variety of drinks.

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And the best thing is the food area was just a few steps from our beach chairs.  My favorite meal while visiting Coco Cay or Labadee is a plate full of salad greens topped with red rice and beans with just a little juice from the barbeque chicken.  This make-shift salad is light, filling, refreshing and always delicious.

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IMG_0173I left Randy relaxing and took a walk around the beach enjoying watching everyone have fun frolicking in the waves, having fun participating in one of the many water sports, stopped, took several pictures and listened to delightful island music by Caribbean Force.

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On our way back to the ship we walked through the flea market in search of refrigerator magnets for daughter Kristine and her friend Roxy.  We had forgotten to bring money along so we could not buy anything but wanted to window shop with the idea of getting back to the ship and returning if we found something we liked.

The Artisan Market Place

The Artisan Market Place

Unfortunately, that was a hard thing for us to explain as we made our way through the market.  As we passed each stall one very persistent gentleman kept lowering his prices and we tried in vain to explain our predicament.  We finally left the market and made our way to the ship.

Just before we reached the exit we came across a group of gentleman sitting on a wall with a display of their wares.  We stopped and found two hand-painted magnets that we liked and explained our situation.  We asked if he would please hold the items for us and we would return.  As we walked back to the ship we were not certain he would honor our request but hurried anyway.

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We hurried back to the ship passing a group of entertainers dancing on the pier.  We stopped only briefly and rushed back to our cabin.  We did not take a picture of the group on the pier because we did not have any money to put in their basket.

Once back in the cabin, we gathered the few dollars we needed from the safe and headed back to purchase our magnets.  To our surprise and pleasure the gentleman had bagged our two magnets and was holding them for our return.  We thanked him for his patience and holding our treasurers and returned to the ship.

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Just as we settled in the cabin a steward knocked on our door and presented us with plate of delicious looking cookies from the Executive Chef and the Loyalty & Cruise Sales Team.  What a nice afternoon treat we thought.

Before we knew it, it was time to dress for dinner.  We made our way to the Diamond Lounge and sat with Bev and Jan.  A little later we were joined by Don and Kathy.  Bev and Jan had met Don and Kathy on a previous cruise and struck up a friendship.  We had a lovely time getting to know one another and talking about various cruises we have all taken.

We learned that Don and Kathy are pinnacle members of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.  We were blown away to learn that they have stayed over 890 nights on Royal Caribbean ships.  How did they get to this amazing level we wondered?  They are snowbirds.  But not like the snowbirds we are accustomed to back home in Florida.  Instead of flying south and nesting for three or more months, Don and Kathy cruise.  How cool is that?

We enjoyed a light dinner and made the decision to bypass the evening’s entertainment.  We have sailed on Freedom several times and enjoyed illusionist Drew Thomas but decided to retire to our cabin for a good night’s rest.  We made this decision after experiencing two nights of winds loudly whistling through our cabin.

Tomorrow we dock in Falmouth, Jamaica.

DSC07768Enjoy,

Mary

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