Sunday, July 25, 2010

Louisiana, Chicken, Powder Sugar and Meow!


Map picture

Although you cannot usually judge a book by it's cover, I think it is fair however to say you can judge a restaurant by it's customers.


CPM 004 Using this as my measuring tool, I am sure from the line of customers waiting outside of Coops Place that I will not be disappointed.

Peeking through a hazy window I can see that the small dining room and bar is packed.



It's a hot and muggy evening in the French Quarter and I think about waiting inside at the bar. Unfortunately because of limited space, Coop's “official” policy is to wait outside for a dining table.


Corona Can we drink outside while we wait? With two cold Coronas in hand, I guess the answer is, Si! (Yes)





In the evening heat the Corona goes down fast. I only wish the inside diners would do the same. Jealous, I am tempted to yell “fire” to clear out the place. However, I have to come up with a plan that won't get me arrested.

The Corona is finally starting to have a positive effect on my thinking. Can we eat at the bar? “Yes, If you are hungry”, I am told by one of the two hard working bartenders/waiters.


CPM 006 Ordering is simple for me, I am here for Coop’s “New Orleans” if not “World Famous” Fried Chicken.





“Hi, I am Allison” as we wait for our orders. Allison along with her husband are Coop’s Place regulars. Soon a flow of local information is coming our way then a great discussion and story telling about Katrina, a major storm that hit the area in 2005.

Fortunate to be on vacation when the storm hits, Allison tells a funny story about what happened in her neighborhood. Being a Southern Lady she does warn that her story has a few “F” words.

A day or so after the storm passes, a local gentleman is rapidly riding his bicycle down her street and comes upon her next door neighbor.


Katrina He frantically and out of breath tells the neighbor “Da water is comin, da water is comin, get ya boat”.

Since the storm had already passed, the neighbor is confused and questions, “What water”?




To which the response is given, “You stand there, long enuff and you gonna see da F'ng water I'm talkin about”

In 45 minutes 9 feet of water flooded Allison's house as levees around New Orleans broke and caused major damage to the city.


CPM 009

Caught up in the storytelling which also involved lost underwear and panicking in-laws, I miss the arrival of my two piece all white meat (few bucks extra) Coop's Fried Chicken Dinner.

Served with coleslaw and a rabbit sausage jambalaya, for $10.95 I have a true southern dish. According to my local sources the chicken batter is a little off today although I can't imagine it being much more flavorful.


CPM 010 An almost melt in your mouth experience, the warm meat is moist and so tender it comes apart like shredded paper.

The batter is light, pepper flavored and almost as tender as the meat.







CPM 014 A Raspberry Wheat Brew by Abita called “Purple Haze” is a nice compliment to the meal.

Coop's has a lively atmosphere with a pool table and video slot machines. Popular with locals, it should also be popular with tourists that are looking for a real southern meal at a reasonable price.




CPM 005 Coop's Place is located on Decatur opposite Margaritaville.


CPM 002 No trip to “The Big Easy” would be complete without a trip to Beignet Heaven, Cafe Du Monde.






CPM 016 I mix with others from Atlanta, Philadelphia, Texas and even as far away as Phoenix as we patiently wait to experience one of New Orleans, French Connections.





CPM 017 I can feel the warmth of three freshly made beignets radiating from the classic white bag that I just exchanged for $2.10.

Properly sealed, I shake the bag to awaken the half pound of powder sugar I know is lying at the bottom. Like 007, I prefer my beignets shaken not stirred.


CPM 018 An inspection reveals I have coated them perfectly. The challenge now becomes can I eat them without coating myself in powder sugar.

Taking a bite, I tear the beignet with my hand as one half is trapped in the clench of my teeth. This decorates my dark blue T-shirt with what looks like fresh snow flakes.


All a part of enjoying a Cafe Du Monde beignet unless you are a wimp and sit down to eat it with of fork.

Open 24 hours a day, I high calorie recommend Cafe Du Monde for breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight snack or early morning meal!


CPM 029 I am now over budget on my calorie intake for the month. In New Orleans, I can think of no better way for one to reduce a calorie deficit than to “shake what your mama gave ya”.

I am headed to Bourbon Street.





CPM 033

From Jazz to Hip Hop, Bourbon Street offers many options to show your best Beyonce or Saturday Night Fever moves.

Now if you have the moves and a voice to go along with it then Cat's Meow may just be the place for you.


CPM 023 Always full of energy, a lot of “shake what your mama gave ya” is going on when I arrive to an almost packed house.







CPM 026 With a chance to hold a Category 4 or 5 Hurricane in my hand, I stand back and enjoy the show.





Here there is something for everyone as young and old a like take to the stage to woo the crowd. I am so moved by one rendition by an old cowboy that I take on another Category 5.

Well it was all that I could do to keep from cryin'

Sometimes it seemed so useless to remain

But then I joined the crowd in hanging around although no one called us darlin or even called us by our names. Waylon Jenning, Charlie Pride or Merle Haggard would have been nice.


CPM 019Cat Meow turns out to be a lot of fun!








The night passes too quickly as I am frantically running down Bourbon Street to my hotel. “Da sun is coming, da sun is comin, with an early flight, I gotta get my F'ng A@@ to bed”!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pennsylvania, Warm, Soft And Chewy


Map picture


In search of “The Best Philly Steak Sandwich”, I take an afternoon stroll towards 2nd and Market in the Old Historic portion of downtown Philadelphia. Here I am promised to discover what I am looking for.


PHL 038 I have a feeling my discovery will uncover that this city has more than one way to show a little brotherly love.






PHL 001 It is not long before I arrive at Sonny’s Famous Steaks located at 228 Market Street.





The amount of customers in line ahead of me along with the scent from a sizzling grill tells me I might be onto something.



PHL 004

Although Sonny eats “The Classic” (Beef Steak With Cheez Whiz And Fried Onions), I opt for “The Plain Steak” with a side of grilled onions.



oldies_speedo I have a feeling Sonny is not worried about fitting into his Banana Speedo for summer like some of us.







I patiently wait, salivating as my order is freshly made. “One Plain Steak With Side of Onions” is welcomed news to all my senses.

I calmly proceed to the pick area where my sandwich is wrapped like a new born baby but nice and hot to the touch as I gladly retrieve it.


PHL 007 With free peppers as compliments, I unwrap my new born and let it breathe for a moment like a fine bottle of wine.

Loaded with piles of meat, an aroma of flavors and seasonings escape to my nostrils as I allow my sandwich to cool.





PHL 008 Adding onions, the moment arrives and I take my first bite and then another, then another to be sure.

This can’t be right!





The meat is warm, tender and full of flavor not salty like others I have tasted. While the bread is soft and chewy just enough to make it all work.

Drizzled with the juice I have just freed from a pickled pepper, I am enjoying this too much for it not to be a sin.

I am thinking Summer and Speedos be damned!


PHL 005

Next time “The Classic” minus the Cheez Whiz, I think Sonny would forgive me.



Sunday, July 18, 2010

Georgia, Buy Me Some Peanuts



Map picture

Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the park, buy me some peanuts ....

And if you cop an attitude, I won't be like Bono and U2. I guess, I will just have to see the game with or without you. Nevertheless, I would prefer that we see the game together.


Bobby Cox After all, this is Bobby Cox's last year. Can you believe he has been The Braves manager for 25 years? Wow!






Leaving Peachtree MARTA Station, it's a short train ride to the next stop, 5 Points Station located at the famous Atlanta Underground.


ATL 015 From here, I follow signs to the free MARTA bus shuttle service to Turner Field, home of The Atlanta Braves.





“Ice Cold Water, $1.00 …. Ice Cold Water, $1.00”. It's a hot and humid afternoon in Atlanta with temperatures in the high 80's. I am sure this street vendor will make a fortune. Her water is indeed ice cold and quenches her customer's thirst.



ATL 016 For a total of $2.50, I am on my way with a bus load of fellow baseball fans to take in a night of Braves baseball.







I don't have a ticket for tonight's game and usually never do when I visit an out of town stadium. Most baseball stadiums have a fair amount of seats available and tickets are normally easy to come by, even at the last minute.

This is bus load of baseball fans, maybe someone on board has extra tickets. Why not start my search here?


ATL 062 “Tickets, Tickets … “ It doesn’t take long.

I have a $40 ticket for half price.





A bargain except the seller tells me, it will force him to sit next to John. A good laugh from his friends that see some poetic justice in it all.Turns out to be a nice group of guys from Alabama.

Arriving at Turner Field about an hour and a half before the first pitch, I am on a little mission to blend in.

From Bangkok to California, Buenos Aires to Vancouver or wherever I travel, I always want to experience where I am as much as I can like a local.

A Braves Jersey, T-Shirt or Hat would fit the bill nicely. At a parking lot souvenir stand I accomplish my mission for $10.00.


ATL 023 A blue T-shirt with No.19 Escobar, makes me one of the many Braves fans that are disappointed that their beloved shortstop was just traded two days ago.

I truly feel their pain.





ATL 018

I am a happy camper pocketing free samples of a new High Energy Minute Maid Drink. Coincidently, Minute Maid is owned by Coca Cola, an Atlanta institution.



ATL 025

Although I have not had a major league start since Cleveland, I take a recommendation from one of the “Minute Maid Girls” and head to “The Bull Pen”.


ATL 024Pull Pork With Coleslaw                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    






This time there are no coaches yelling at me as I whine up with a pull pork sandwich topped with coleslaw and an ice cold Miller Lite.


Miller Lite It's going to take a 100 miles per hour fastball to beat this taste. I sure hope they don't call me in for relief because I am enjoying hanging out in this bull pen.







american-flag-2a As silly as it may seem, I am always proud and touched to hear or sing my adopted home's national anthem.





A part of baseball tradition, this evening's national anthem is sung by the son of Terry Pendleton, a Braves coach celebrating his 50th birthday.

What a neat tribute by a son that brings cheers from the stadium crowd and makes a father proud.



ATL 028 Let's play ball!








The home team is not doing so well tonight especially the new shortstop, one Mr. Alex Gonzalez.


ATL 029 We miss No. 19, Escobar.






Conversations with my neighbors about Nick Saban, Alabama football and Lebron James playing in Miami eases our pain.

Late in the game, the Braves gives the crowd some excitement loading the bases.


ATL 035 We abandon our political correctness and sensitivities.

Soon 20,000 plus fans are doing “The Tomahawk”.




Not able to capitalize on our situation, we let the Milwaukee Brewers walk away with the win. The final score 9 to 3.

Knowing we will have a chance for redemption tomorrow night, we are still in a good mood.


ATL 045

About 20 minutes after the game ends, the stadium goes dark then night sky explodes.

Bombs bursting in the air, it's Publix Friday Night Fireworks at Turner Field.


ATL 052 The area around Hank Aaron drive lights up and had I not known any better I would have thought we just won another World Championship.





More, “Ice Cold Water $1.00, Ice Cold Water $1.0” as I leave Turner Field for a free Marta shuttle bus ride back to 5 Points Station. Not a bad evening for under $50.

It's a nice evening as I disembark at 5 Points Stations. Joining a few other fans from the game, I stroll along Forsyth Street towards my hotel near MARTA Peachtree Station and save $2.50.

For most people, a night at the ballpark, fireworks and a late evening walk would complete a night out on the town.


Rock Star But then I hear, “We all wanna be Big Big Rock Stars ...”






Is there Red Bull being pumped into the city? All of a sudden my feet has wings as I follow my ears to Metro Cafe Diner.


ATL 078 Located on corner of Peachtree Center Ave and Andrew Young International Drive.






Metro offers 24 hour dining (The Chicken Wrap was good) and your chance to be a “Big, Big Rock Star” 7 Days A Week.

With over 21,000 songs available how can you resist?

So you don't feel like being a Rock Star? Well, have I still got a deal for you.


ATL 074 How about I be “The Rock Star” and you and about five of your friends come help me eat a “Mile High” Carrot, Chocolate or Strawberry Short Cake?







ATL 069 Can you say CHOCOLATE?







ATL 072 My Favorite, Strawberry “Tall” Short Cake!



Atlanta 001 What, you want me to audition first?

“Where it began, I can't remember but ..”





At first, I thought I might lose my NAACP membership singing a Neil Diamond song in Atlanta . The crowd participation eases my fears. I think I even see Rev Jackson and Al Sharpton in the audience, reaching out, touching me, touching you. Moving!

Later, all my fears are removed when another NAACP member does “Purple Haze”. Wow, what courage.

My little meteorology knowledge tells me that temperatures are suppose to fall as the evening goes on.


Atlanta 002 Something is definitely a mist here as the temperature is rising and No.19 Escobar is dripping in sweat.




Does it have something to do with “The Humpty Dumpty Dance” or Sir Mix A Lot's, “I Like Big Butts And I Cannot Lie”?


ATL 065


This requires further investigation that lasts until the wee, wee, wee, wee hours of the morning. It is indeed cooler outside as I leave Metro Cafe but I think inside the temperature is still rising. Oh, what a night.

I must now re-write the “7th Inning Stretch Song”.

Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the park, buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, Atlanta Georgia, Please Let Me Come Back!