Poblano Grill, Oklahoma City

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

On the recommendation of Angelia, my good friend since 5th grade, my high school friends met for dinner at this Mexican restaurant that originates in Oklahoma City. Luckily on Barbie's advice, Jackie and I got there early so we could have a chance at a table for our party of 10 that turned out to be 14.

We were promptly seated in a long booth that was in the center of the restaurant. The decor reminded me of other chain restaurants we've eaten at over the years. Betty was our attentive waitress that did a great job as our party of ten kept growing. Barbie and Bill arrived first and it's always fabulous to see Barbie. She and I were really close friends during our four years in high school and have since let the distance keep us from staying close. But I hope this changes as we had a wonderful conversation catching up about our children and what our parents are up to. Barbie and I ordered up a happy hour beer for $1, which is a really good deal, since it was five minutes until happy hour was up. We were delighted that Stephanie Brice joined us, she is as beautiful as she was 20 years ago in high school. Laurie Anderson also joined us and had us enthralled in a recent burglary in her home in Belle Isle, where they stole computers, her children's piggy banks and her grandmother's 3 carat diamond ring. Tragic, to say in the least.

Lori Leiser Manning also came, her fabulous husband was with his football team at a game. Lance is the head coach of the Norman North High School Timberwolves that have been ranked in the top 10 Class 6A in the state of Oklahoma the last several years. Leslie Johnson Williams and Bart also joined us. It's always great to see Leslie who can tell any of us what our classmates are up to. She's like a human registrar for my senior yearbook that I haven't seen in 15 years. They got to talking about a guy Angelia dated in junior high from another country and had everyone laughing and carrying on. Fun times. Last but definitely not least, Stephanie Bates Jones and Dagne Day Newcomb joined us stag but Dagne brought her very well-mannered sons with her. One a junior at McGuinness and the other going into the eighth grade. I was seated near this crew and loved every minute of it, taking in her boys. Of course, this left Jackie, Bill and Bart to have to go to the bar which worked out fabulously since they didn't want to be at our table any longer.

Betty kept the ritas served and adding on more orders as the girls arrived. I had the fish tacos and loved them. They were blackened tilapia, shredded lettuce, chipolte ailoi and black bean salsa. It was served with rice and beans and later I realized I could have had with Papas Tejanos which are potatoes and green onions, very good Barbie reported. Jackie had a combo plate of chicken enchiladas, a taco, refried beans and rice. He commented all day today about how much he loved them. He did remark that he was surprised we picked such a family place for our crew. I plead the fifth on that because the girls and I had a great time catching up. Leslie invited us all over for a drink afterwards and it was fun seeing Jack and Whitney, her precious children and I got to see Annie, her older sister for the first time in many years. We hung around for a bit and the crowd grew with classmates Michael Patton, Tim Sanders and Jason James.

Above all, I love getting together with the girls I spent so many years with during high school. They kept remarking that they only get together when I come to town which is once a year. That seems crazy because being with them last night was like picking up where we left off in 1989. I still get made fun of even now, you can see that in the picture Jackie took of us. Poblano's was a great restaurant for us, good food and service and wonderful conversation with fabulous old friends.

Poblano Grill, 13593 N. May, Oklahoma City, 405-755-8111 www.poblanogrill.com

Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It has taken me a while to blog about our weekend in Louisville for my first cousin's wedding. May is an incredibly busy month for me, my mom's birthday, Mother's Day, Chloe's birthday, this wedding and a family reunion Memorial Day weekend in Oklahoma City. But here is the first of several in the fabulous town of Louisville.

What a rainy day! We checked out of the wonderful Brown Hotel and ventured around downtown before arriving at Churchill Downs just after noon. The track is located just a few miles from downtown and sits right next door to the University of Louisville's new Papa John's Stadium. Amazing that such a historical track is in a neighborhood and college campus in the middle of the city. We parked for just $10 and were offered club passes for $10 each, children 12 and under are free, so Chloe grabed her umbrella and her monkey, Mo Mo, and we were off. Yes, on this trip, she had that stuffed animal with her. I'm not sure what was up with that, she doesn't sleep with animals, just Biscuit. Maybe she missed him on our trip, she did politic for Biscuit to travel with us, but we quickly stopped that from the start.

So across the parking lot, a double seated gas golf cart with sides pulled up and offered us a dry ride over through the parking lot to the door and Chloe loved it! Jackie kept remarking about how the track had changed since he had been there during his undergraduate years. Later in the day, he took us for a tour in the older, original parts of the track. It was nice, nice. We are used to Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, that is original with lots of smoking areas, old bathrooms watched over by ladies, toiletries galore and a tip cup. Oaklawn also has lots of space along the trackside to watch the race at the finish line, here at Churchill, the space was filled with bleacher seats and other outside "boxes". We kinda made our way through the seats and tiny crowd to see a race finish outside in the rain and it was neat. I could image what it was like on Kentucky Derby Saturday when a crowd of over 150,000 fills this legendary place. Just two weeks earlier, on my birthday May 1, Super Saver won the derby and finished eighth in yesterday's Preakness, dashing another Triple Crown hopeful. Jackie said there was no way he'd take me here in that crowd and after I've seen the track, I think he was right.

Our box was located in section 315, near the Trackside Cafe, which boasted ice cream, deli sandwiches and quick grab food lined up like salads, chips, gatoraide etc. Chloe, of course, wanted nachos first so she could hit up that ice cream stand. She shared the nachos with us and we loved them because the chips weren't those thick yellow round ones but more like Tostitos. She topped that off with a waffle cone and sprinkles. Jackie and I split a corned beef sandwich. I was actually in search of the Hot Brown sandwich made famous in Louisville but the ladies said the stand for the Hot Brown wasn't open on Sundays, dang it.

We toured around to see the older parts of the track and the Kentucky Derby Museum. We went in but weren't sure about the $22 per adult price and $12 for children. So we toured the gift shop and when we headed back to our box we came across Jockey Parking. I thought it was interesting, a few trucks, SUV's, Honda and one brand new Jaguar. We figured it belonged to Calvin Borrel, who won the derby the last couple of years, and had ridden in the Preakness the day before.

Nevertheless, we had a wonderful time at the track. Chloe wouldn't stay out of the wonderful gift shop. She had her dad buying her keychains, a hat and I came away with another coffee cup I don't need and two Derby Glasses from this year's race. It was a great but rainy day to be at the track. We enjoyed seeing Churchill without a huge crowd.

www.churchilldowns.com Check out this great website!

Nancy's Bagel Box, Louisville

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It was a gorgeous Saturday morning in Louisville. On the recommendation of our hotel, we walked the block to this sidewalk shop. There was a long line at Nancy's for homemade bagels, coffee and the like. I was thrilled with a selection of homemade granola and a choice of raisins, dried cranberries and any nut I wanted on top. And I was asked how much milk I wanted in it, the server saying that some like it swimming and some don't. What a nice touch.

Chloe and Jackie got a bagel with cream cheese and orange juice and coffee. We enjoyed sitting on the sidewalk tables and enjoyed the morning breeze. After this great find, we packed up the extra bagel and headed downtown. Jackie wanted to head straight down 4th to the Ohio River. It was a beautiful morning and we enjoyed the 2 mile walk to the river and back. Downtown was clean and the people were very nice. We enjoyed our quick breakfast at the bagel shop and our tour of downtown Louisville.

Nancy's Bagel Box, 651 N. 4th St., Louisville, KY 502-589-4004 www.nancysbagels.com

The Brown Hotel, Louisville

Friday, May 14, 2010

We headed to Louisville on Chloe's ninth birthday at noon. She talked us into letting her go to school that day for her class picnic and it was her birthday after all, even though we planned on leaving at the crack of dawn. We arrived in Louisville at 7 pm eastern time. Jackie booked us a queen room, which almost put me over the edge when I realized that it was one queen not two. But after taking a deep breath and looking around the beautiful lobby, I just thought I'd have to let him sleep on the floor. I did ask the guy checking us in if they had a roll away, and they did but it was $20 a night. So I voted against that and just pictured him on the floor.

Our room was on a club floor of the hotel, the eleventh floor to be exact, and had to use our key to get us up there. We had a beautiful, spacious room that Chloe immediately pronounced as "fancy". We set our bags down and ventured across the street, on the concierge's advice, to a restaurant. We loved it as we ate outside near a courtyard facing the hotel and watched the locals.

The next day we had a little time to walk around Louisville before heading to my cousin's wedding. Jackie took us down 4th street for a stroll to the Ohio River. We walked by stores, restaurants and part of a block was blocked off near some sports bars where a 5K walk was going on to benefit a charity. Louisville has a very charming and clean downtown. Chloe enjoyed seeing all the horse statues around the city.

Open in 1923, the Brown Hotel was a prominent hotel for guests and social events downtown. It closed in 1971 and then served as the Board of Education. In the early 80s, it was remodeled and reopened with 16 stories and meeting rooms and is used frequently by the University of Louisville and business professionals. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and according to Jackie, it is a preferred hotel during derby season and one of the reasons he picked the hotel. The English Grill restaurant is located on the lobby floor and we considered eating there but they don't allow cell phones, sandals or shorts, so we enjoyed walking right by it.

I did have to ask housekeeping to bring us a working hair dryer one morning and it arrived in about a minute. And it wasn't that little one on the wall, it was a full size powerful dryer. Our room also boasted a feather bed, English duvet and the bathroom had marble and granite counter tops. I personally liked the single cup coffee maker and was thrilled that housekeeping let me get extra coffees each day.

We didn't valet our car but parked in the covered lot attached to our hotel for $20 per day. There is very limited parking downtown and there really is no other choice for parking. When we checked out on Sunday I noticed a parking sign for bikes. Louisville is a very forward thinking town that has a ton of bike trails, recycling and the sort. On our walk to the river we noticed a rack of bikes attached to a box. Later I checked with my good friend from Oklahoma City that lives there, and they were Humana Bikes for their employees to use for local errands. Hmmm, if only all businesses would take this approach...

The hotel is also listed as a Preferred Hotel and Resort similar to one of my favorite Memphis hotels, the Madison. We really loved the Brown, its location, accommodations and feel of the "fancy" hotel.

The Brown Hotel, 335 West Broadway, Louisville 888-387-0498 www.brownhotel.com Check out this fancy website!