Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Riquísimo Belize

Mmm, "riquísimo..." Ok, they speak English there, but nevermind.  The Spanish word for "scrumptious" just looks and sounds cool.

Belize City, Belize

Fresh off a 7 day cruise to Cozumel, Belize City and Isla Roatan with a pretty cool group of people, I can say that I was fortunate to dine at a location that boasted a dish worth blogging about.  Our second port-of-call was Belize City, Belize and we participated in an excursion to the Altun Ha Archaeological Site, which managed to re-convince me of the universe's demise in 2012.  On the plus side, the tour was very educational and our guide has an appropriate appetite for her native food.  She recommended a local spot at our port and upon locating it, we realized it was a bar.  The adjoining restaurant, where were could actually get a meal, was called The Deck and that was where we had lunch.  

Upon looking at the menu, we noticed that the prices were a little more than what we expected.  I had a feeling that we would get our money's worth and was willing to take the chance.  So on a lazy, rainy afternoon in Belize, I ordered the stewed chicken for $10 USD and this is what I received:

Belizean Stewed Chicken

Stewed chicken with stew beans and white rice, potato salad and plantains!  (Un)fortunately for me, there was not enough chicken to complete my serving, so our hostess, Lisette,  offered stewed beef to compensate.  Sucks for me, I know.  The chicken and beef were cooked in a mildly spicy broth; the rice was cooked in coconut milk and the stew consisted of red and green peppers, onions, kidney beans and tomatoes.  I'm usually particular about potato salad and don't eat a lot of it, but this one was muy delicioso!  And to top it off, fried plantains on the side and an ice cold Coke.  The mister had the stewed beef and decided to sprinkle some habanero sauce on it...I thought it was muy, muy caliente and went back to my mild meal. 

We were the only customers at the moment, but as we dined, several of the locals came in to sit and socialize with one another.  It was wonderful to see a sampling of the different cultures and people laughing and enjoying each other's company.  Lisette was quite gifted in her hosting and culinary skills.  She continually asked us how the food was and if we needed anything to make our meal and visit more enjoyable.  As much as her consideration was sincerely appreciated, it was not a stretch of the imagination to figure out what we thought of her food:
Yeah...that was the business!

So, if you ever find yourself in Belize, please make sure to stop by The Deck and see Lisette.  I can guarantee that it'll be worth the time and money.  And tell her I sent you.  She did ask if she was going to see her business on Facebook.  And she's a really good hugger too :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Party Week a la Pisces

So with the festivities finally over, I can sit back and breathe...and loosen my pants!  Last week marked a flurry of birthday celebrations; I count 10 birthdays within the span of 4 days, my 30ish included, but admit that could be a gross underestimation.  *inserting shameless plug here* Pisces rock!! 

We participated in several dinners last week, and even a Wine vs. Beer Tasting on Thursday.  It was absolutely incredible, boasting 5 courses with 5 beers and wines paired with every course; there's nothing quite like a friendly competition to determine the better liquor.  The food was pretty amazing too...oysters, grouper, lamb, duck, my most sincere Terminator voice, "I'll be back."

One of my friends managed to get me to party with her twice last week, and by party I mean that we just went to dinner because we both decided that we were too old to run around like Spring chickens, gallivanting about into the wee hours during the work week.  On her actual birthday, we dined at Side Street Grill on Overton Square and on Saturday, we dined at Jim's Place East at Poplar and Perkins.

I'd never been to Side Street, but fortunately as someone who likes to eat, I'm always up for a new experience.  I'd seen the location and thought that it was just a bar*, but was pleasantly surprised.  The interior is cozy and the staff seemed generally quite animated and enthusiastic.  That is a plus, considering the patience involved in waiting for a Pisces to make up their mind...about just about anything... As birthday luck would have it, the menu on Wednesday night offered an appetizer to share, two steaks of your choice, and a dessert to share, with the purchase of an "adult beverage" for $28.  I trust your judgement to presume what we chose.  I ordered the Key Lime Martini.  I've sampled Key Lime Pie only on one occasion, and by no stretch of the imagination would I consider myself to be a Martini connoisseur, but the ingredients captured my curiosity; the Vanilla Vodka sealed the deal as a wise choice.  Our appetizer was the Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, our main course was Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon with Twice Baked Potatoes topped with cheddar cheese and my gratitude was that I don't have high blood pressure.  I must say that for my repeatedly broken promise to stop eating red meat, that steak was totally worth the cheat...cooked to perfection and the juiciest portion that I've had in quite some time.  For dessert, we enjoyed the Chocolate Caramel Pyramid, also known as:

Heaven on a spoon!

Pistachio Encrusted Chilean Sea Bass

Not actually Spankopeta
On Saturday evening, we dined at Jim's Place East,  a generationally-owned family business that boasts a Greek cuisine.  This dinner party was a bit larger, thereby allowing me to slightly increase my "share and share alike" method of meal sampling.  To start the evening, we ordered the combination Phyllo Puffs, which consisted of  Tiropetakia (stuffed simply with feta cheese) and Spanakopetakia (stuffed with spinach and feta cheese).  I've never been able to properly pronounce the latter, despite several attempts, but it seems that calling it "spankopeta" is sufficient to complete the order.  The meals ranged from variations on fish and chicken, as well as a Grecian Lamb burger.  I ordered the Souflima and still managed to get my fork into the Mister's Pistachio-Encrusted Chilean Sea Bass with a mustard sauce.  I did sample his dish first, which he ordered with buttered creamed potatoes.  If I wasn't so committed to my food, I might have taken half of his.  That and the fact that he might have smacked my hand right there in the restaurant for even trying.  So, my Souflima was a pork dish, more accurately described as skewered pieces of pork, slowly charcoal grilled en rotisserie and served with rice pilaf covered with Grecian tomato sauce and the best turnip greens I've ever tasted on the side.  Please, no one tell my mother I said that.  Just to make my night, it was also accompanied by fresh Grecian bread.  And I'm not making this up...

We were all so stuffed and thoroughly satisfied from our respective meals, that we seriously considered skipping the after-party and just turning in for the night, partying be damned.  We left to the second venue, and honestly after a lot of good laughs and evening cordials, I went to bed.  I'm lame.  But it was a great birthday week/end. 

And Happy Birthday to all of my Piscean comrades.  Thank you for the fun and the other 5 pounds I put back on this weekend.  Yes, thank you for that.

*Point to mention: Side Street still allows smoking inside, because this is a cigar bar.  I was told that Saturday evening is non-smoking, but I didn't stop eating and talking long enough to remember to verify that tidbit of information...