Mediterranean Vegetable Sandwich with Basil/Feta Pesto, Birdeye

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Terry Conlan is a genius! He's the cookbook author of Fresh, from Lake Austin Spa. I made this sandwich again and it's so wonderful. I love using ingredients from the backyard. This is a gourmet sandwich that literally takes 10 minutes to make...or maybe 15!

The Pesto

1 c. fresh basil, packed
1 t. minced garlic
3 T. feta cheese, I used mine from the Memphis Farmer's Market
1/8 t. salt and pepper
1-1/2 t. white wine vinegar, I used apple cider vinegar
2 T. olive oil
8 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

Combine all ingredients but the olives in a blender or food processor and puree. The add the olives and pulse until combined, set aside.

The Sandwich

2 portabella mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 1/2 inch vertical slices
1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded, I used my green
1 red onion, I use only a half
1 small eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch slices, my eggplant died in the heat this year so I did buy one, dang it
1 zucchini, sliced in 1/4 inch slices
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 c. shredded lettuce, I used romaine from the farmer's market
4 whole wheat hoagie buns, I used hoagie buns from Hay's, can't find whole wheat ones

Spray the mushrooms, pepper, onion, eggplant and zucchini with nonstick cooking spray and salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables over medium hot coals until soft and slightly charred, I use cooking spray in my grill pan on the stove and it works beautifully. Layer the vegetables on one half of the bun, top with lettuce, tomato and pesto. I do keep the pesto and vegetables up to a week and it is wonderful leftover, the pesto is even more pungent.

Chloe signed up for soccer this year! I'm so excited, it's one of my favorite sports to watch in the stands, lots of laughs. The pic is Chloe with Whit's hat on, I think it is some king of soccer hat. lol!

Itta Bena, Memphis

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gosh, it's hard to believe that Jackie and I've seen Sheryl Crow eight times and today we had tickets for our 9th concert at Mud Island in downtown Memphis. Before the concert we wanted a snack so we headed to Beale Street. It had been a long time since we've been on Beale. It was a lazy Friday afternoon and the street was picking up with tourists. We went to the old Pat O'Brien's which is now Ground Zero Blues Club that's owned by Morgan Freeman. It had just moved in from being by the Westin, two blocks over. We were entertained by a wonderful local band. It took the waitress a while to get our beer to us, they were out of wine and micro brews so we ordered up some Ultra. The band was so entertaining, I tried to use the Shazam app on my phone to see what the name of the songs were but it didn't register. Jackie named a few of the songs from the Almond Brothers. I wish now that I'd gotten the name of that band.

So we headed onto Beale and went upstairs at BB Kings to the bar at Itta Bena. We'd been there several times before but today was outstanding. We sat ourselves at the bar around 6:30 and the place was filling up. Jason was our waiter and he got Jackie's beer and my wonderful Sonoma Curtrer Chardonnay on the way. We ordered off the appetizer menu and Jason recommended the Fried Avocado with crabmeat. Let me just say, that avocado dish was excellent. It was lightly battered and not warmed up at all on the inside which was perfect. On the side of it was a spinach salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette and remoulade sauce. Jackie ordered the Award-wining She Crab Soup. We also ordered the Wild Mushroom Ravioli which was rich and the right size. The three huge handmade ravioli were served with a cream sauce that was divine. Can you tell I loved this meal?

I love the feel of the restaurant. It has a private entrance on Second Ave., and doesn't have a huge sign out front. In fact, it's known as the restaurant NBA and other celebrities go to dine because of it's privacy. Jason asked us if we were headed to the bull riding at the Fedex Forum and I said, "of course not, we're going to Sheryl Crow." He added that she had dined there just a few months ago.

I did get a peek at Chef Derk Meitzler who was busy with the kitchen. Jackie cringed when I said I wanted to squeeze the chef and tell him how much I loved his restaurant. I settled for a smile and wave as I passed him on the way from the ladies room. And the ladies room is the best one I've ever been to. It's crazy to talk about a bathroom but it's the most modern, private and clean places ever. Anytime you put some Aveda products out for the ladies and a trashcan by the door, you've gotta good thing going.

Itta Bena, 145 Second Ave., Memphis 901-578-3031

Memphis Farmer's Market and Sheryl Crow, Memphis

Monday, August 23, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Jackie and I went to see Sheryl Crow for the fifth time in Memphis Friday night. Of the concerts we've seen, this one was my favorite. Her new album, 100 Miles from Memphis, is a soul, R&B record which is not what fans of Crow are used to hearing. Jackie picked up the CD over in Memphis in July and I've so enjoyed it. The concert at Mud Island, was hot and mosquito filled, but fantastic. She played almost all of the new songs on her latest album plus Winding Road with compliments from the trumpet and sax. She also played I Shall Believe, a song off her 1994 debut album, that I have never heard her perform live. What a treat!

Jackie and I also bantered about her age and just before she said she was 48, I googled it and we both agreed she didn't look 48, I'd say 38. I also said I thought this would be her last album and concert tour since she just adopted an infant and has Wyatt, who's 3, but Jackie quickly rebutted that Mick Jagger is 65 and is still on tour. What a comparison.

Before heading back home Saturday morning, we hit the downtown farmer's market that my good Memphian friend Kim Harwood told me about. We loved it! I picked up some local goat cheese, bread and vegetables. They also had lots of flowers, gourds and a table for children to make vegetable crafts. It was a great place! We also noticed they had a 9 am bike ride with historical points of interest. Maybe we'll have to do that!

Madison Hotel, Memphis

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

I love this southern boutique hotel located on Madison Avenue in downtown Memphis. Jackie and I had concert tickets to Sheryl Crow and were thrilled with not having to drive back at midnight. The hotel offers continental breakfast in its restaurant, Grill 83. We didn't get dressed to partake instead we went to the Farmer's Market. Jackie got a donut and coffee while I made a few loops through the market.

The hotel is used by the NBA teams because of its low key location and entrance. Not that long ago, Jackie and I spotted Grant Hill, who I think was in town with the Lakers. The rooms at the Madison are small but they do boast a lighted makeup mirror and all the extras like a vanity kit, shower cap, shower gel etc. We were educated that they have a workout facility and lap pool in the basement. I was so, so sad I didn't pack my swimsuit since I am taking lessons for the first time in my life. One hitch at the Madison is there are no ice machines on the floors, you have to call for it to be brought up to your room. Other than that, I like the Madison Hotel. Room rates go for $208 and up, don't freak when valet parking is added to your room for $23, and it does take a while to get your car even on a slow Saturday morning.

The Madison Hotel, 79 Madison, Memphis, TN 901-333-1299
Check out this great website:

Grace, not culinary at all....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I am so, so behind on blogging New York City as well as two other places! I have gotta get this local Kid's Marathon in order and just got my nieces delivered to their mother...then I'll blog about some fabulous places Kara and I went to. So, on my mind, is Grace, a 6 month old stray, spayed, crate trained, great with kids, cats and other dogs....

Why don't people invest in spay/neuter the day they get the dog? We have a ton of strays where we live. In progressive towns they have a license fee where you have to pay more if your dog is not spayed or neutered (unless it is a show dog). Hmmm....what a great idea. This is something Julie and I have talked about for years here in our small town. An incentive for people to get their dog AND cat spayed or neutered right off the bat...great idea.

Grace is a really sweet lady that Chloe's had no trouble leash training. This is a wonderful pet that can be a lifetime family member for fun, laughs and companionship. There you go...if you are interested let me know! Spay and neuter people...

Junior's, Brooklyn

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

After a subway ride to Brooklyn and getting off two stops too late, I arrived at this popular restaurant to have lunch with my high school youth minister Ronnie Adams. I was so excited about catching up with him that I didn't even get a subway map or anything, I just relied on the hotspot application on my phone to get there. Just so you know, the subway goes under the Hudson River and you can't get service under there and my stop was the first one that I totally missed. Luckily Ronnie was a little flexible that day as I arrived 30 minutes late which killed me, I hate being late!

This unique restaurant is famous for its cheesecake but when we were seated, our waitress Janise F, got our drink order and served us pickled beats, sweet pickles and a relish in three separate bowls. I did snack on them as Ronnie and I caught up over the past 21 years. We had lots of people to cover from my friends to mutual youth we'd known over the years, as well as his family. Ronnie is busy at the Metro Baptist Church in Brooklyn as well as an AIDS ministry in Hell's Kitchen. He was a wonderful mentor to me during my high school years, always an encourager and friend. He continues this in his work in the city. He loves his ministry and talked quite a bit about his girlfriend Barbara, a retired teacher who runs a headstart in Brooklyn. Together they have helped a family and mentored a girl who just graduated high school. Ronnie said that was amazing because not many children there graduate from high school. That is amazing. Ronnie is an inspiration!

For lunch, I ordered the Jerk Chicken which came with sides of yellow rice and collard greens. Let me tell you, I loved that chicken even though it was on the bone. The greens and rice were the perfect accompaniment. Ronnie got the fish and chips and over our conversation, both our plates were finished off. I noticed that you can get breakfast all day, they have "famous" barbecue, specialty sandwiches and even offer sugar free cheesecake that I didn't notice until today writing this review!

Can you believe we both ordered dessert? I had the strawberry cheesecake and coffee while Ronnie ordered up the chocolate swirl cheesecake. They were huge pieces and I loved the super thick graham cracker crust so much. Our total for lunch for two was only $46, not bad for a long lunch catching up. We enjoyed our time together so much, laughing about life and each other. I wish Ronnie continued success in his ministry and hope to get to keep up with him on Facebook!

Junior's, 386 Flatbush Ave Extended, Brooklyn 718-852-5257

Kefi, New York

Friday, August 6, 2010

Okay...we found it. Yes, Kara and I found it. The best restaurant in New York. It's hard to believe I just made a statement like that. But it's true. Kara gets all the credit for this one. Kefi, owned by its chef Michael Psilakis and Manhattan restauranteaur Donatella Arpaia, is located in the Upper West Side of the city. Kara found Kefi from having one of Michael's cookbooks. She'd become a fan quite a while ago and I'm glad she took us there.

Kara had reservations at 7:30 and we were seated immediately along the upper back wall at a booth/table. We were offered cocktails by John M, our waiter who we later had fetch the chef for us. We had some wine and enjoyed the feel of the rustic, modern restaurant. After looking over the lengthy menu, we both ordered the Kefi Salad that boasts lettuce, fennel, tomatoes, feta, cucumber and olives. Hello, yes it was fantastic with the olive oil dressing. Kara did add an order of taziki sauce to go along with the house bread and olive tapenade and it was great. The waitstaff tried to remove it with our salad plates and Kara nearly slapped the wrist of the guy to make sure he left it in case she wanted it later. Crack me up.

For dinner, Kara ordered the Sheep's Milk Dumplings with spicy lamb sausage and pine nuts. For a minute there, I wasn't sure she could speak. All I heard was moaning. That's not a typo, she swirled around her fork in her little dish and kept mumbling "oh, oh my gosh.....". It was an empty dish shortly after. For me, I went with John's recommendation, the Spanakoorzo that featured shrimp, orzo, feta and tomatoes. Divine, really divine. I didn't quite lick the bowl clean, but it was close.

Dessert anyone? I was totally full but Kara ventured on the menu and ordered up the Walnut Cake with walnut ice cream. My coffee was hot and strong enough and luckily Kara shared the dessert and it was good, I'll say. Kara was funny because after dessert she kept looking at the kitchen and then she boasted, "there HE is, oh my gosh....that's him, he's here,". I thought that's great, it's Rudy Giulaini or Bill Clinton. No, it was Michael Psilakis. I thought Kara might pee her pants until we got our waiter, John M, to tell him we wanted to visit with him. Meanwhile back at the ranch, he still didn't make it over but we did notice him visiting with a couple by the door of the kitchen. Kara quickly pointed out that he didn't know those people because he only shook their hands. Kara said if he knew them, he would have hugged them. That's true, I never thought of that. So we continued to wait and tried not to stare directly into the kitchen and then he finally made his way over to us. It was a thrill because Kara went on and on about her dinner and him. After a brief chat, I told him how much we loved Kefi and that it was finally great to meet a celebrity on this trip to New York. He grinned.

Our poor cab driver had to listen to our celebrity sighting all the way back to the Vanderbilt Y. Lots of laughs had and what a great trip it was. We've gotta go back, stay at the Y and go to Kefi again. I don't do repeats but this one would be worth it.

The picture is of us at Kefi!

Kefi, 505 Columbus Ave, New York 212-873-0200 A wonderful website,

Tomoe Sushi, SoHo

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Kara and I arrived in New York City today and were like little girls on Christmas morning...we were so, so excited about being back in the city. We had dinner reservations with hometown celebrity, Ryan Lawson, who hooked us up with a sushi restaurant in West Village. After a short cab ride to the restaurant, we got in line outside the restaurant. We were dying of thirst and Kara needed some cough syrup for her whooping cough, so she headed to the CVS on the corner to get us fixed up. BTW, there is a Duane Reade or CVS on every corner I swear. We were at least 15 people back in line when Ryan joined us. It drove him crazy that we had to wait but we all agreed that if you're waiting in NYC for a restaurant, it's worth the wait. So we waited for an hour outside and it gave us time to catch up with Ryan and ask him all about Chelsea Clinton's wedding. Yes, he was invited to not only the wedding, but the rehearsal dinner and Sunday brunch.

We were seated by the window and Ryan made a comment that it's always good for a Japanese restaurant to be filled with Japanese patrons. We agreed because our journey began with a bowl of noodles, Ramen with soy sauce. Ryan had Saki, Kara and I orderd up Kirin beer. The noodles were unlike anything I had ever before. Ryan served us all a bowl and knew to give us the right amount of noodles and broth. And the three of us finished it off.

Now to the fun. Ryan, of course, knew what to order. Kara is a true sushi eater, I am just now into this type of food, so I prefer rolls. So under the sushi department, Ryan ordered the Katsuo Bonito, Maguro Tuna, Striped Jack Shima Aji and Tai Red Snapper. I will say, the Bonito and Striped Jack are seasonal east coast fish and I was forced to try both in small bites, and they were outstanding! I did have my own dipping bowl with plenty of soy sauce and wasabi. In the roll department, Ryan ordered up the Ebiten Shrimp, Tempura and Cucumber, Negi-Hamachi with yellow tail and jalapeno, Spicy Hotale with spicy scallop, cucumber and fish ore, Spikey Tekka which is spicy tuna and all our favorite the Ume-Shiso which is pickled plum and mint leaf. WOW! Yes, it was amazing. And by the end of our meal, a table of Spanish patrons with one translator were next to us ordering what Ryan suggested. Kara and I loved our first meal in the city. It's always wonderful to enjoy a meal, conversation and the city and people around you.

Only one hitch, the bathroom is co-ed but was in good shape with plenty of soap and a trash can by the door. You must, must try this truly authentic Japanese Sushi restaurant. After dinner, Ryan took us to his nearby apartment that also houses Robert Deniro. I kid you not, we saw the mailbox label. His apartment was on the 3rd floor that he shares with two others, both in MBA programs in New York. Kara and I checked out their bikes in the living room, not that I know that much about road bikes, but a little. We also got to check out Chelsea's wedding invitation. It was not like any other I've seen.

Later Ryan took us for a cocktail at the Pegu Club around the corner from his apartment. We had specialty cocktails and were glad we were with someone who knew where to sit and what to order. It wasn't your typical nightclub. It was high class. A big thank you to Ryan for the champagne he bought me and recommendation for lunch at Barney's the next day and our massages he lined up for us.

There's nothing like seeing New York with your own personal tour guide with class.

Tomoe Sushi, 172 Thompson, NYC, 212-777-9346 Between Bleecker and Houston St., AMEX or CASH ONLY