Thursday, July 30, 2009

Le Cafe Marley (by the Louvre in Paris)

Café Marley sits under the arcades of the Louvre, no more than fifty feet from the glass pyramid. In fact, the terrace provides an elevated vantage point giving diners one of the best views in the city. At sunset the scene is all aglow; glass and metal shimmering against the surrounding basin of water.

The posh bistro serves Continental cuisine, although you can order only cocktails or a light lunch. Tourists and Parisians alike drop in to rest after wandering through the vast art collections.

I was introduced to the fashionable restaurant by an American friend living in Paris. She accompanied my daughter and me to dinner. We arrived, during what photographers call the magic hour, when the sunlight is low. My, what a glamorous first night in Paris.

We started with what Lisa called a traditional French aperitif: Kir Royale (champagne and cream de cassis.) Although I recall my seafood entrée was scrumptious, I was so taken with the location I cannot remember what type of fish I ate. We sipped amber wine and listened to stories of Lisa’s escapades in Europe.

Now, when it comes to dessert, I retain vivid memories-- priorities please. Laura and I chose the chocolate lava cake- oozing a molten center. Lisa picked a pink macaroon with fresh raspberries in the middle. Pure bliss.

After dinner we posed for photos in the Louvre courtyard, walked through Carrousel’s Triumphal Arch, the Tuileries Garden and into Place de la Concorde. Lisa left and we continued up the Champs Elysées, all the way to the Arch de Triomphe. Laura and I caught a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower dazzlingly illuminated like a giant sparkler. Little wonder Paris is called the City of Light.

Le Café Marly is on the pricy side but well worth the splurge.
Address: 93 Rue de Rivoli , Cour Napoléon du Louvre
Open every day from 8am to 10pm
Phone : +33 (0)1 49 26 06 60
Metro/Bus Stop: Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre
No website available.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Restaurant Recommendations around Sevierville and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Dine on Down Home Cookin’

I recently made a trip to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and hate to admit I dug in like a hungry bear. I sampled fried green tomatoes, fried gator, fried shrimp, fried okra and well…fried you name it. I put aside the knife and fork for barbeque ribs and finished plenty messy. Breakfast favorites became blueberry pancakes, syrup and apple fritters

Both towns of Sevierville and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee rest near the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. And both towns claim Dolly Parton as their own. The folks in these parts take pride in their country heritage. You can’t help but notice that music, food and family are the heart and soul of the people.

Tourists to the area will find numerous restaurants to choose from. Most proudly serve good-ole down home southern cookin.

Here is a list of restaurants I can recommend for casual dining in Sevierville:

Flapjacks, 1018 Pkwy, Sevierville, (865) 774-5374
Pancake houses are very popular in this area and Flapjacks draws a crowd. They offer a breakfast bonanza of delights from personal egg skillets to all varieties of pancakes. Endless cups of coffee and fast friendly service. Their cute country décor is just that --cute, not tacky or overdone.

Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant, Apple Valley Road Sevierville 865-428-1222
Each diner at Applewood is greeted with an apple julep (apple juice/mint combo), an apple spice muffin and apple fritters with apple butter. Folks come from all over for these treats. The restaurant serves southern style food from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. When you are finished eating (or waiting ‘cause there’s often a crowd), walk over to the Apple Barn Complex, the Cider Barn, gift shop, bakery or winery. You’ll find more “apple” items here than flies in a barn and I bet you end up taking something home.

English Mountain Trout Farm, 291 Blowing Cave Rd, Sevierville (865) 429-5553
If you’re itchin for something different, venture over and catch your lunch at the English Mountain Trout Farm. Kids love this place. Proprietor Charlie will fry it up lickety split, then serve the dish along with coleslaw and hush puppies. “You Hook Em’, We Cook Em.” reads their sign.

Damon’s Grill, 1640 Pkwy, Sevierville, (865) 428-6200

Damon’s specialty is ribs and they are indeed special. I do declare their ribs are as juicy as gossip; why the meat fell off the bones. The pulled pork was the best I’ve ever tasted; made me go hog wild. Patrons at Damon’s enjoy a lovely mountain view.

KT’s Bar & Grill, 1641 Parkway Drive, Sevierville (865) 428-1991

KT’s dishes firecracker shrimp to die for. Spicy but not over the edge, tangy and still moist. The fajitas are a flavorful sizzling sensation. Portions are way more than one person can eat. Fortunately I saved just enough room to nibble the Bananas Foster, best dessert on the yummy menu.

The Chop House, 1649 Parkway Dr, Sevierville (865) 774-1993
The ambiance of the Chop House feels like a cut above and the food certainly is. The restaurant showcases a clean open kitchen and inviting atmosphere. I sampled the petite filet which cut as easy as sliding off a greased log. My piece of steak was the tenderest selection grilled to perfection. The side dishes are plentiful- baked sweet potato, parmesan creamed spinach, fries, loaded baked potato, rice pilaf, burgundy mushrooms, sugar snap peas, baked cinnamon apples, steamed broccoli, green bean medley and asparagus. The cobbler looked luscious but I was stuffed.

Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant, 3629 Outdoor Sportsman’s Pl, (865) 932-5500

Enter this restaurant through the Bass Pro Shop and face a stunning 13,000 gallon salt water reef aquarium, a whole wall behind the bar. As you might guess, they’re hooked on seafood. I sank into calamari and gator tail as an appetizer. Both were lightly fried with a crunchy batter. My friend ordered the sushi-grade black and blue tuna that looked gorgeous. The Cajun pineapple salmon made a pretty plate, a zappy blend of sweet and spice; another diner’s fish & chips came piled a mile high. Warning: the desserts are decadent but delicious.
Outdoor patio dining available.

No sir, you surely won't go hungry in Sevierville.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Plan a Lunar Party to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Moon Landing

As a child I remember being told the moon was made of green cheese. Come to think of it, I was told a number of tales, but anyway, one evening my Mom took me outside to show me the night sky. Looking up, she said, “See those funny dents in the moon? They’re holes in the moon’s cheese.” And with a little imagination, I believed the lunar surface was casting a moldy Swiss-cheesy glow.

Now, I’ve got news for you. Today, you can taste a soup that’s been all the way to the moon, and it’s not made with cheese. Yes, Moon Soup, a heavenly cream-based verdigris broth is as scrumptious as a starry night. The recipe is condensed and sold in cans. I’ve seen them stocked in gourmet shops around the country or you can order online.

Back in the late 1960’s, astronauts often flew small planes to Lake Wales, Florida. They would land at the private airstrip of the Chalet Suzanne Inn and enjoy a home cooked meal.

Lunar Module pilot, Jim Irwin, grew particularly fond of the Inn’s romaine soup and chose it for his space menu. NASA freeze-dried the creamy green broth and carried it aboard Apollo missions. Chalet Suzanne then renamed and marketed their velvety mixture as Moon Soup.

Visit Central Florida like I did and take a taste. Better yet, spend the night at Chalet Suzanne Restaurant and Inn, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The family run facility offers 27 guest rooms and operates its own cannery, producing Moon Soup among thirteen varieties and three sauces.

July 20, 2009 marks the fortieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon. Those of us who were around can certainly remember that out-of-this-world historic moment. To celebrate and reminisce, why not plan a lunar party? Serve Moon soup, Moon Rocket Chicken and astronaut ice cream for dessert. In case you don’t know, astronaut ice cream is also freeze-dried and comes in air-tight packages.

Take one giant step and plan a summer space party now.

Moon Rocket Chicken

Cut uncooked chicken breasts into pieces, about 1 ½-2 inch squares. Place the pieces of chicken on heavy aluminum foil, each with enough for one serving. Top each serving with about a teaspoon of butter and a tablespoon of half and half cream. Add a few sliced mushrooms or very thinly sliced green pepper. Then seal the aluminum foil rolling and making it into a rocket shape. Give it a pointed nose at one end.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, then serve in foil to retain the juices. Each guest can unwrap their own rocket.

Add a side of long grain and wild rice to complete the meal. You’ll have to order the space ice cream ahead of time, unless you live near the Kennedy Space Center or National Air & Space Museum.