Pearl's Oyster House, Memphis

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pearl's was the perfect restaurant to get my friends together to celebrate 35 again. They don't take reservations but they did situate our 17 top off to the side which was perfect because we had a couch and a television for the boys over in our nook. Byrum was our waiter and handled our crew well, even when we had our party divided up, the boys over by the TV and the girls away from the TV, we still got our checks split. Jackie and I've been to Pearl's half a dozen times and have always loved it. Tonight we enjoyed visiting with our crew of good friends, we had lots of classic topics the ladies covered at my end of the table like our children, food, friends, etc.

Luckily, for this non-appetizer orderer, Jimmy and his lovely companion Beth, arrived early and had an order of fried pickles with a tangy Ranch sauce. They shared and we loved, loved them. Alexis got our crew an order and we passed them around until they disappeared. They were thin, delicate and crunchy.
For dinner I got the fish tacos as did Becca, and we joked when it was served with french fries and ketchup. I actually loved the fries and the three tacos on corn tortillas had a great chipolte sauce with lots of tomatoes. Joy loved her shrimp and grits and shared them with me. Kara got gumbo (that arrived late) along with peel and eat shrimp. Jackie loved his Char-grilled Oysters, I think this is his favorite place for oysters in Memphis. Who knows what all the boys ordered, they were too busy watching the TV and texting people. I so enjoyed catching up with dear friend Dara Bigger, fellow blogger Tara Burton and Dr. Beth who is doing a triathlon this weekend, wow!

Because just about everyone had a sitter on the clock, no dessert but check please! I'm glad Pearl's stood the test of serving our large party. I think everyone had a good time, I was excited about everyone rolling out for it. A shout out to Alexis who has gotten all of us to celebrate our own birthdays. Kara's planning a Derby watch party for all of us Saturday on my actual birthday. We're looking forward to it at her fabulous home. I'll have to check her garden, we both got our raised beds in and seeded. It will be a fun summer enjoying each others produce.

It's great to be 35 again. Our ride home with Joy and Martin and Kara was a classic. Lots of subjects were covered with lots of laughs. Thanks Joy for taking the wheel! Happy Birthday!

Pearl's Oyster House, 299 S. Main, Memphis, TN 901-522-9070

Basin Park Hotel, Eureka Springs

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

I thought I'd plug the historic hotel we stayed in during my cousin Jennifer's wedding weekend. Her reception was on the second floor of the hotel so mother booked us a room there. We were on the 5th floor and had a gigantic room. The hotel was built in 1905 and is situated on curvy Spring Street surrounded by shops galore. I've always been a fan of Eureka Springs, it's beautiful and the people are nice, a good southern nice. Tourism is a huge business for this town and the hotel had several wedding receptions through out the weekend.

The hotel has a spa located on the second floor, the Balcony Bar with a patio over looking Spring Street, and behind the lobby you'll find the War Eagle Mill Outpost. It served a breakfast buffet of eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage and biscuits and gravy. They had a good selection of coffees with all the fixins. The store also sold the House of Webster jellys, whole grain natural foods and even bagels. They had a few tables set up in what looked like a cave with natural stone, see the top picture.

The hotel has Ghost Tours nightly at 8 pm for $15 and $7 for children 12 and under. We didn't take a tour but the website talks about the illegal gambling parlor of the 40s and 50s, a lion ghost, the young woman that tries to evict the tenants from "her" room, and on and on. I didn't even bring up the word haunted to Chloe because I knew it would turn into days of sleepless nights worried about what the word haunted meant and all.

Jennifer's reception was nice and the hotel staff were great at helping get things situated. My mother was in charge of table decorations and did a great job. It was simple with rose petals and votive candles. The reception room was roomy and set up perfectly for the crowd. Once the DJ started, Chloe was ready for bed. We heard the DJ through the night because we could hear music from her or someone else's reception in our room until the wee-hours of the morning.

We liked our room on the 5th floor. I can't tell from the website the last time the hotel was updated but I'd say it was the early 80s. They did give us a complementary inflatable bed for Audrey and Chloe to share. The girls enjoyed camping out in the living room part of our room. A king room runs $150 a night. We took the stairs the whole weekend because the little, old elevators were so slow. We definitely got our exercise that weekend. My brother Craig and his crew had a huge room on the second floor complete with a patio over looking Spring Street, Jacuzzi, huge couch and flat screen TV and two bathrooms. That room was probably a honeymoon suite but was perfect for Craig's five. A Jacuzzi runs around $200 a night.

We did have a snack right before the wedding in the restaurant bar and had a good club sandwich and french fries. Upon checking out of the hotel, I recommend requesting your car about an hour before you need it. We were ready to hit the road on our 5 hour trip home that Sunday morning and had to wait for an hour for our car. They had one guy getting the cars and there were several people in front of us. I never, never like to use valet parking but we did on this trip because the parking lot was located nearly a mile away where you wait on the hotel shuttle to take you and your bags up to the hotel.

The Basin Park Hotel is a neat hotel with lots of history to it. There aren't many of these type hotels in the country and it's worth a visit. Check out their website for more information.

Basin Park Hotel, 12 Spring St., Eureka Springs 877-643-4972

Bulldog, Bald Knob, Ark.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We hit it right coming back from Eureka Springs from my cousin's wedding. We pulled into the Bulldog at a quarter till noon, just before the after church crowd. The Bulldog is about 45 minutes West of Birdeye. We've hit this spot many times with Chloe, who loves the chocolate milkshake and cheese sticks. Jackie got the hamburger and I got the barbeque chicken sandwich with coleslaw and we all split some tator tots. I always add a few packets of the hot sauce which takes it up a notch. On this leg of our trip, Chloe was ready to see Biscuit, so we got it to go and were home in no time.

Ahh, the Bulldog. Always good and right on the way.

My original review from last summer is below!

Aug. 6, 2009

On our trip to Oklahoma City for my 20 year class reunion, we stopped at an old time favorite, the Bulldog, in Bald Knob, on Chloe's request. She had expanders installed at her orthodontist earlier that morning, so where ever she wanted to go was certainly fine with us. The Bulldog has been a favorite for Jackie and I on the way to Fayetteville football games for nearly 14 years now. It is a "cook to order" style, no frills restaurant, that is famous for its barbecue and desserts. Chloe hopped out of the car right quick and headed on in to get her favorite Bulldog kids meal, the chicken strip with fries, a small homemade chocolate shake and a toy, which is a delight in the car even at this age. Jackie always gets the pork barbecue sandwich with coleslaw on it, onion rings and a large chocolate shake. He's been ordering this for 14 years now. I ordered the chicken barbecue with coleslaw and a diet coke, yes, no tea today with the 7 hour trip ahead and maybe just one onion ring. The sandwich is always fresh, has just the right amount of sauce on it, and is delicious. I was thrilled to have such a savory meal before getting to Edmond because my mother was in San Antonio for a skeet shooting championship and meals would be out of the fridge in Edmond. Jackie pronounced his sandwich as really good and Chloe tenderly ate her chicken after I skinned the breading off it. She ate quite good even though her mouth was sore.
The Bulldog is such a must when you are heading in this direction. We're usually running into Wynne people or Heber Springs people at this landmark restaurant but on a Thursday night, we sat around blue hair locals, they were certainly fun to watch. I think they were all regulars, they checked the specials board which boasted chicken fried steak and of course, strawberry shortcake (in season, it said) with ice cream. No dessert for me, the homemade chocolate shakes took care of the rest of my party.
The Bulldog, 3524 Hwy 367 N, Bald Knob, Ark. 501-724-5195

The Oasis, Eureka Springs

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Jackie found this restaurant on the Internet that is known for it's authentic Mexican food. On the day of Jennifer's wedding, we had all of our nine family members heading to this restaurant that opened in 1988. Jackie got there first and realized there wasn't room for the whole crew, only tables of two with one four-top. I couldn't believe it, but he said to head somewhere else, so we went to the Mudd Street Cafe just across the street from the Basin Hotel. Jackie made such a stew about eating at the Oasis he talked my brother Craig and I into heading back to try it.

It was a no-frills restaurant. The decor was old photographs and the table cloths didn't match, I loved it. We were served homemade green salsa and chips, we all loved the salsa. I think it was a tomatillo based salsa with cilantro, onions, jalapenos, etc. Craig, of course, got a second helping served up to us that we all enjoyed on our lunch plates. Looking over the menu, I enjoyed reading the history of the restaurant, no website is available. "Oasis' original Arkansas-Mexican cuisine was born from kitchens and gardens of the counter-culture in and around Carroll County. This simple farmhouse style of cooking is the fusion of Mother Earth consciousness, campfire meals, authentic Mexican ingredients and fresh, from scratch artisenship." I was intrigued by this description...

After having plenty of time looking over the menu, the place had one waitress covering six 2 tops and our 3 top, I picked the Heavenly Frito Fie. It's a corn tortilla generously mounded with beans, chips, onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, mushrooms, tomatoes and chicken. As we drank our tea, no Margaritas are available, I was worried as usual, that I ordered the wrong thing. But much to my surprise, I ordered right. It was wonderful and perfect for me. It was served with a salad with tomatoes and a unique dressing with oil and vinegar. I really liked it's freshness.

Jackie ordered the Enchilada Special which had one chicken chipolte and one pork mole enchilada served with that same salad I got and beans. Not refried beans, not black beans but seasoned pinto beans. They reminded me of the Ranch style beans in the can you can get in the grocery store. They were homemade and delicious. My brother ordered the Enchilada Plate with one cheese, mushroom, and onion and one chicken chipolte enchilada. The plate is served with the salad, chips, sour cream and salsa. Craig's was $6.75 and Jackie's was $8.50. Not bad I'd say.

I noticed on the back of the menu and hanging on the walls, that the restaurant had been reviewed by the New York Times, Arkansas Democrat Gazette and the Arkansas Times, among others. I loved the fresh, thoughtful items and highly recommend patience to get a table and don't go with a group, keep it simple like the Oasis.

The pictures are from Jennifer's wedding at Thorncrown Chapel, Chloe and cousin Audrey, group photo before the wedding, and then two photos from the restaurant...

The Oasis, 53 C, Spring Street, Eureka Springs, AR 479-253-0886 (Located between Spring Street and Center Street on the staircase; Lunch Only, open everyday of the week, delivery downtown and catering available)

Orzo with Mushrooms, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil, Birdeye

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I bought a great vegetarian cookbook while in Chicago a few weeks ago. It's called the Supermarket Vegan. I am not a vegetarian but I am getting close. I have cooked more out of this cookbook than I have since Fresh, my favorite from Lake Austin Spa. This is an easy recipe and I had everything on hand and I was thrilled with it!

Orzo with Mushrooms, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil

2 T. olive oil
1 C. chopped onion
8 oz. sliced white or bella mushrooms
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped (I minced them)
1 t. coarse salt, I used Sea Salt
1/2 t. dried oregano, I used fresh oregano because I had it
1-2 t. fresh lemon juice, I used jarred, dang it
1/8 pound orzo pasta, cooked al dente, I used 8 oz uncooked
1/2 C. finely chopped fresh basil, I just chopped it
1/4 C. julienned and drained sun-dried tomato tomatoes, 1 T. marinade reserved

In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt, oregano and pepper, cooking until mushrooms have released their liquids, 5-6 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, orzo, basil, tomatoes, reserved marinade and toss thoroughly and heated through. Remove from heat and serve at once.

I've made this twice and I love, love it!

Papacitas, Birdeye

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gosh, I've wanted to try this recipe from Fresh, my favorite cookbook in all the land, the one from Lake Austin Spa, by Terry Conlan, to be exact. I haven't been disappointed in one recipe from him. It's all fat conscious, fresh ingredients all the time and super, duper easy. I planted eggplant this year, so I can make that Veggie Sandwich with Pesto from last summer. I love, love this cookbook, I am telling you.

Okay, so after work, I was in a time crunch, and picked up the cookbook and realized I had everything it called great is that?

Papacitas, Fresh Cookbook, Lake Austin Spa (Terry Conlan)

This is the description and I quote, "These tasty potato and masa pockets can be filled with just about anything (try sauteed mushrooms or bits of chopped cooked meat or poultry) and served just about anytime. They make a wonderful alternative breakfast or brunch item and shine as a light lunch or dinner entree. Serve with any of the salsas in this book, we especially like the Roasted Red Pepper or Avacado/Tomatillo salsas, and, perhaps some Pico De Gallo and fat-free sour cream. Serve one Papacita as an appetizer or two as an entree."

1 C. each: minced onion and fresh corn (I only grated my onion and used drained, canned corn)
1 small poblano chile, roasted, peeled, seeded and minced (I get that joker under the broiler in foil for 8 minutes or until you can smell him cooking, put him in a paper sack for a while, say 10 minutes, then get him out on a cutting board, get the seeds out and chop small, I don't mince it, just sayin)
1-1/2 C. masa harina de maiz (this is near the cornmeal and what is used for tamales)
1 C. water
1 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
3 C. cooked and mashed potatoes (I microwave mine for 6 minutes or until soft, cool then scoop out of skin and into the bowl)
3 T. canola oil, I used Olive Oil, DON'T do that, use canola, they crisp better, dang it....

Use nonstick cooking spray, gently saute the onion and corn until softened in a nonstick pan. Add the poblano chile. Combine the masa, water, salt and baking powder in a bowl mixing well. Add potatoes and stir, mixing well. Divide the mixture into 12 balls, place a 6 inch square of plastic baggie on a work surface and top with 1 dough ball, press it into a 4 inch circle, scoop 2-3 tablespoons (not too much I say), using the plastic as a guide and fold the top half of the dough circle over the filling completely enclosing it. Crimp edges to seal. Repeat the process until all dough balls have been filled. Heat the canola oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Saute the filled Papacitas until golden on both sides. Serve warm with the salsa of your choice.

I had the ingredients for the Roasted Red Pepper Salsa on hand...

Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

1 medium red bell pepper, I only had a green one
3 medium tomatoes
1 small onion, sliced, I used a yellow
2 minced garlic cloves
1/4 C. fresh cilantro, mine came back from last year in the garden and was happy to use it
1 C. tomato juice, I used the V8 Chloe asked for but wouldn't!
1 t. adobo paste from canned chipolte chiles
juice of 1 lime, I only had jarred, which is rare for me
1/2 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt

Roast the bell pepper over hot coals turning until blistered about 5 minutes. (I roasted that thing with the Pablano) Transfer the pepper to a paper bag, closed tightly and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Remove the bag, peel and seed. Grill the tomatoes and onions until softened and the outsides are charred (I put those jokers in the oven and roasted them and it was delicious. Combine the pepper and the remaining ingredients in a blender and process until desired consistency. (Don't make it too smooth, make it somewhat chunky, which means brief processing!)

I served my Papacitas with a fresh avocado and arugula salad from my garden with balsamic vinaigrette. I love, love this recipe. Jackie said "uh..." so I sent the rest of the fellas (Papacitas) to Harmon and Jeanie since we were headed to Eureka Springs for my cousin's wedding.

Easter at Helen's, Birdeye

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Wow, what a beautiful Easter Sunday! The past three years have been rain, freeze, rain, consecutively. Today was a morning temperature of 56 to a high of wonder the azaleas are trying to bloom two weeks early this year.

Chloe was up and at 'em at 7 am, ready to see what the Easter bunny brought her. This year her basket had no stuffed animals but a chocolate bunny, lots of things from the pre-teen store Justice, like nail polish, a scarf, etc. The bunny, me, hid a ton of eggs this morning. Kara and I decided to have the annual Birdeye Easter Egg Hunt at 9 am at her house and it was so fun in their PJ's.

After church we all headed to Jeanie's, who we call Helen on holidays. She had a delicious Honey Baked Ham, room temperature (which was fabulously moist instead of the warm, dried out ones we are all used to way back). Along with the ham was a wonderful homemade coleslaw (pic #3 recipe follows), Kara's cheese grits, baked beans and bread. Yes, Kara with a two week old, made grits, she said she was craving them....okie dokie, I'd be having that third nap of the day! I made a low fat chocolate cake with toasted pecans and ice cream that was surprisingly good from that favorite cookbook, Fresh. The slaw and grits were wonderful sides to a beautiful day.

Chloe decided she'd have dessert instead of heading out for the Easter Scavenger Hunt. So, we all partook then the kids got ready and headed out for Helen's hunt. Luckily this year the adults were kept out of the annual egg that usually has a $100 bill inside an egg, one year Counts Smith got one! Last year it was pouring down rain and we tossed fresh eggs into a bucket off the front porch. Chloe got a big bill last year and I'm proud to say she still has it. Hopefully that savings will continue! Helen had a scavenger hunt planned which was wonderful, then we headed to the pond for an egg toss that included adults. Martin, Kara, Jackie and the kids all had a good time tossing eggs into the trees in a hole from a woodpecker and to a painted target. Everyone enjoyed it, I think Kara won $100 and maybe Chloe, I was so busy with all the kid action, watching Whit get his boots from the house and head into the lake. Then we headed to let Grandad's ducks out for a swim in a round hay bale holder. The kids loved it and of course, the East Birdeye crew had their clothes off in, I'd say, 15 minutes. Then Whit begged twice to take it all off but Grandad said, "Whit, you've gotta keep 'em on," Whit replied, "Whhhhyyyyyy?," (yes, very long and nearly whinny), grandad's reply, "Because that water's been pooped in Whit," followed by laughs. Good times.

We were home by 4 pm and ready to attack my dog room and get it clean and tend to the garden but we had visitors, Benton and Alexis stopped by with Clarah Creighton and Tom B. The kids played and we got a second to catch up which was great. What a nice end to a really perfect day!

Jeanie's Fresh Coleslaw

1 package Cole slaw mix (be sure it's fresh and don't open until right before serving)
1 bell pepper, diced
1 bunch green onions, tops diced
1 container grape tomatoes, quartered
Celery seed, to taste
Course ground pepper, to taste

Open coleslaw and add the dressing it comes with, not too much, not too little and then add the rest of the ingredients. Serve immediately.

Happy Easter! I added pics of Whit on the fence of Grandad's duck pond, Jeanie's scavenger hunt, August 2 weeks old, the Easter table, Chloe, Whit and Stella after church...and then Chloe and Stella headed for the house.....

More Birdeye Daffodils

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What a beautiful Saturday! I was due to work but our college girls came back this weekend so we scheduled our weekend bike ride at 9:30 this morning. My yard is full of more daffodils and blooming trees so I've shared all these pictures...two trees I regret not photographing are the 50 year old Tulip Tree and Weeping Cherry. They were unbelievably beautiful attracting hundreds of bumble bees. The yard has a "hum" all day and it's refreshing. Now that we're back from the brutal 28 mile bike ride, I'll get my spinach, romaine and mesculin lettuce planted. I have seeds to plant squash, cucumber, herbs, eggplant etc, but we always have a late freeze around the last Saturday in April so I'll hold off on those till Mother's Day weekend.

I boiled 3 dozen of Chloe's fresh brown eggs this morning and have an egg dying thing planned with Kara late this afternoon. Looking forward to another Easter that Chloe still believes in the Easter Bunny....I doubt we'll have it next year!

The bikers are Chuck and Lisa Blanton, Beth and Stan Bradshaw, Martin and Jackie and I. I stalked Martin on the way to Harrisburg and told Jackie that was right where I wanted to be, he told Martin that and he left me in the dust on the way back finishing in a head wind 10 minutes quicker than me dang it!

BTW I am still blogging about the restaurants from Chloe's spring break trip to Washington DC, to be published soon!