Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

January 27, 2012

A Desert Day

D only had one day off during the recent biz trip to Abu Dhabi, and D really wanted to enjoy the area, so D went on a UAE desert safari. Included was off roading on dunes, camel riding, sand boarding, dune buggy riding, trying on traditional outfits, henna tattoos, partaking in a really fantastic regional food buffet, hookah pipe smoking, viewing belly dancing, and lastly heading home. How the trip worked was D and crew got a desert tour outfitter to arrange the trip. The desert tour outfitter showed up at the hotel with a bunch of SUVs to drive the crew to the dunes about 80Km south of Abu Dhabi. There is a really good paved road most of the way. The SUV drivers stopped the cars right before entering the sand and deflated the tires. The drivers got back into the cars and started driving the rest of the way to camp site through the sand dunes. As D said, it was like an SUV roller coaster ride over the sand dunes for about 1/2 hr before getting to the camp.

camels for camel rides

The dunes for dune riding in SUVs

Buffet line after all the camel and dune riding fun

D's plate

D enjoyed the sandy fun and the buffet. The buffet was extensive and includes beef and lamb kebabs, kefta, and grilled chicken. To accompany the meats were rice pilaf, tabouli, hummas, olives, shirazi salad, spiced mixed veggies, grilled eggplant, and French fries and cole slaw for the American guests.

January 23, 2012

Happy New Year of the Dragon!

Happy New Year of the Dragon!!
Good bye year of the bunny.

(photo by Jenni Palmer of one of her bunnies)

January 22, 2012

Guest Blogger D

It is no secret that I have flown in and out of CLE dozens of times over the past decade. I love Cleveland, I love the food scene, and I love our Great Lake Erie. When I was getting out of school, my pals all wanted to go to big cities to work like NY, Chicago, L.A. San Fran, Boston, and I wanted to go to Cleveland. There is no better place in the summer than Cleveland. The sun is shining, the kids are happy, there is low humidity, and the farmers markets are a bounty to behold. THEN there is winter, and I just am not a winter girl anymore.

Besides all the fun things to do in Cleveland, there is one of the best hospital systems in the USA, the Cleveland Clinic. Now, UAE has partnered with CC to create an uber hospital system in the UAE in the state capital city of Abu Dhabi in the state of Emirates. The best of the best of CC have flown over to Abu Dhabi to consult and direct the creation of the best hospital in the world. As an aside, if you ever find yourself in the Persian Gulf area, and in need of a hospital visit, feel assured by going to the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi for medical help because it will be the best designed hospital in the world. Back to the story, as I stood in line at the CLE airport, I heard the best of cardiology taking to the best of files management discussing the best airlines to get into Abu Dhabi from CLE. Everyone says Singapore Air, but most take Qatar Air because they have the most direct flights into Abu Dhabi.

Well, I just so happen to have a pal, I will call D, who works for the CC who is representing the best of the best of the department. D is flying back and forth to Abu Dhabi to advise on the best of the best of setting up the department. D is taking Qatar Air because it is the shortest trip, 14 hrs or so one way. D tells me Qatar Air is terrific and ranked #3 in service, comfort and luxury. I have taken only USA based airlines to Hawaii and Europe, and they are NOT winning any awards in comfort or luxury, rather it may beat out school buses for comfort, but not much else.

Here is what my pal D has to say about how nice it was to take Qatar air. After hearing conversations about how much greater Singapore Air is, Singapore Air must be great because Qatar Air was that good, in D's opinion.

Qatar Air Western style breakfast

Breakfast included mushroom crepes with a baked tomato, chicken sausage, roasted corn hash browns, croissant, and wheat roll. There was sides of fresh pineapple, grapes, melon, yogurt, cheese, butter, jams and crackers. D said it was just very tasty, and no one is going to starve on this plane trip.

Granted it was only 6 hrs from Dallas to Maui on my last longer trip, but there was NO FOOD offered on that domestic flight, let alone fresh pineapple and chicken sausage. I see a check plus for Qatar Air

Qatar Air vegetarian Eastern style dinner

On the first flight we had two choices for dinner entrees, Creole Chicken with roasted new potatoes and veggies or Channa Masala with basmati rice and mixed vegetables in a mild curry sauce. I opted for the Punjabi dish. The airline’s version of channa masala was mashed chickpeas with mild spices mixed with spinach. The sides included a mixed bean salad that was vinegary but not sweet like American Three Bean Salad, Raita dipping sauce, a roll and Thai Rice Pudding for dessert. There was a tiny container of Indian-style pickled vegetables (achar) and a small box of crackers, butter, cheese and a piece of chocolate. There was also a small packet of Indian Mouth Freshener (fennel, anise and other seeds). It was a very interesting meal! Much more than you would ever expect on a U.S. airline.

Yes, I agree this is way more than you would ever expect on U.S. airline is correct because most U.S. airlines on domestic flights have done away with all meals! My 6 hour flight to Hawaii, without any meals offered, AND I did not have any food with me because it is illegal to bring fresh foods into the state of Hawaii, I was hungry and mad.

Qatar Air meat dinner

Dinner was a traditional local dish of boneless chicken bites baked in red, spicy jasmine rice with mixed vegetables in a spicy sauce on the side. It was served with a mini pita and a dinner roll, a small serving of hummus topped with an olive, a salad of cucumbers, shredded carrot and onion in a mild vinegar dressing and a creamy blueberry topped dessert. As usual, we had crackers, butter, cheese and a chocolate truffle.

Well, it looks like D is not going to starve on the flights back and forth from the US and UAE. I think it will be a delicious trip every time.

January 17, 2012

Budda C


ginger scallion lobster

Off the beaten path from Boston restaurants is a little place called Budda C in Brookline. This place is located a couple miles west of downtown Boston, and a few blocks east of Coolidge Corner Brookline in a fairly residential area. The T Green Line C has a stop right outside the restaurant. Budda C is really slick inside, the decor is Chinese Asian inspired with red, white, black and gold and modern minimalism as well. The low volume music in the background is industrial. I really love this place. But, it is also in a slight cursed location because it isn't in a high foot traffic area, and doesn't have the same walking traffic as other restaurants do in Boston, Brookline and Cambridge. The upswing is that the food is really good here, and there isn't a wait. I hope this delicious restaurant thrives long enough for my next visit to Boston.

Honestly, I went back to Budda C on two evenings in a row on Monday and Tuesday. Yup, that is how much I like this place. Budda C has really good specials on Monday and Tuesday which is twin lobsters for $20 and oysters for $1/per. Since I don't trust oysters in Nashville, except at Fish and Co, and I can't really get lobster in Nashville at all, I jumped on the opportunity to get these dishes and at a special price. What a good yummy deal!

The atmosphere here is also something I like too. It is hip and modern, and let's me suspend my disbelief of who I am. I look like some geeky version of a suburban soccer mom, but when I I was seated at Budda C, I became (in my mind) the hip, urban, skinny jean and pearl earring wearing Bostonian instead. Not bad for the price of two discounted dinner prices in a row.

Budda C Asian Bistro Restaurant on Urbanspoon

January 11, 2012

The Best Little Restaurant

The Best Little Restaurant
13A Hudson St
Boston, MA

the sign

bean sprout greens

I once called Boston home. It has been many years since I called Boston home, and a lot has changed. The restaurants I liked are gone, the old buildings I liked have been renovated or torn down and a bigger building has been built, a major highway once there is now hidden and a city park, and there is a new subway line that I have never ridden on before. So many changes that I really have no idea what to do or where to go to get the best anything.

So, I told my mom that I wanted Chinese food in Boston Chinatown, and the old restaurant favorites of mine are long gone, making way for new ventures. She said to me, ok, let's go to the best little restaurant in Chinatown. I said, "Sure, what is the name of the restaurant so I can Yelp or Urbanspoon search it?" She said, "It is just the best little restaurant in Chinatown, ok." I asked again, and her reply was the same. It was like playing Who's on First. So, I let it go, and didn't search on the restaurant. To my surprise, the restaurant name is The Best Little Restaurant.

While in Boston, I wanted to get all the food I can't get in Nashville. We ordered Cantonese style roasted duck, garlic and scallion lobster, and mung bean sprout greens with garlic and salt. These are some of my favorite yummies. The lobster was a twin lobster deal for $15. The lobster was right off the boat from the dock in Boston, and was just delicious. While in Boston, I could eat lobster from the dock everyday. In Nashville, there are grocery store lobsters, but what bacteria is in the water in the tank and how long have the lobsters been there. It is just not right to eat a lobster that has been sitting in TN tank cared for by people who don't know a thing about lobsters.

The mung bean greens were tasty too, and similar to ong choy, long stem and water cress style green. I love the deceptively simple preparation of the garlic and salt green that can only be had in a restaurant with someone who knows how to cook in a very hot wok. Since I have an electric stove at home, I cannot get the BTUs hot enough to cook greens in this manner. I must wait for greens like this when I visit Chinatowns in Boston, S.F., L.A., N.Y., Chicago and Atlanta. I long for greens prepared this way.

I think we should have stopped at these 2 dishes for just the two of us, but we ordered Cantonese style roasted duck too because I cannot get that here in Nashville, and every attempt I have made (but one) to make it (it is a multi-day process) has ended in failure. I much rather not disrespect a duck, so I just don't attempt to make roasted duck anymore. Well, this duck was ok, but wasn't the best I have had. I am not sure if it was because I was full, and didn't want to eat anymore (so food becomes unappealing when full) or if it was just ok duck. I have a feeling that it was because I was so stuffed, I just didn't want to eat anymore.

The portions here are big, and we walked away with to-go boxes full of lobster, greens and duck. I hope my mom enjoyed many more meals from the leftovers.

The Best Little Restaurant on Urbanspoon

January 4, 2012

Calling All Fruities!

Locavore Fruities of Nashville Listen Up! There is a new fruit farm in town! You read that right Fruit!

The new fruit farm is Stewart Orchard up in Bells Bend, the northwest area of Davidson County.

There is a delicious way you can help Stewart Orchard get up and running. They need some start up capital to buy some fruit trees and bushes and plant them. What they have in mind is that you offer a dollar amount this year, and you get local farm fresh fruit each year for 5 years.

The bonds will be issued as follows:
For $30, you may select one item from the following list.
For $60, you may select two items from the following list.
For $100, you will receive all three items plus a special gift

And the items are:
Two quarts of blackberries
Five pounds of peaches
One peck of apples

The bearer of the bond will receive their selected items every year for FIVE YEARS from the issuance of the bond, which will begin in June of 2012. Crop losses will be taken into account, with the bond simply extending for one more year. That is a lot of fruit! I mean yummy! So let's take a look at the break down, if you offer $30, you will get 10 quarts of black berries (average $3/quart very good deal) or 25 lbs of ripe peaches ($1.20/lb also a very good deal), or 5 pecks (5 heaping basket) of apples. There are a variety of apples to select, of which Arkansas Blacks are one of them. Arkansas Blacks are dark burgundy red and tart apples, excellent for an afternoon snack. That is a lot of fruity goodness.

If you are interested in helping your local agriculture expand by purchasing a fruit bond, please contact Stewart Orchard. You may mail a check and your selected item list (3305 Bell Street Ashland City, TN 37015). You may call anytime and Tatum and Jobeth would be happy to speak with you (615-792-9829). Stewart Orchard is even UPTOWN enough to take your credit card! (this is what I did with my bon, and it is super easy!) Or you may email Stewart Orchard:

OK, so here is the deal, when Stewart Orchard Bells Bend is up and running, it will be a Pick Your Own fruit farm. It will be a nice place to take kids for a visit to pick fruit, a great place for apple cider in the fall, and a great place to go without driving very far from downtown Nashville. 15 minutes drive from downtown and you will be at Stewart Orchard.

I really can't wait for this fruit farm to open. Fruit has been the hardest local food group for me to find on a regular basis. Stewart Orchard will be quite helpful to me to get local fruit into my home. I will likely learn to can some pears and freeze some berries for the cold winter months when fruit is hard to come by. Thanks Stewart family! I am waiting with baited breath!

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year 2012!

bacon jam puff pastry treats

Happy New Year!
May the new year bring you happiness,
health and prosperity.

We are invited to a New Year's Day potluck and I decided to make bacon jam puff pastry treats. I got some bacon jam from a pal of mine, and I think this is the recipe for bacon jam. When I run out of bacon jam, I will be making more of it from that recipe. What is not to love about bacon jam, there is maple syrup, bacon and onions, one of the trinity of flavor perfection for salty, sweet and savory. Anyway, as simple as simple can be, I cut out little bite sized puff pastry pieces, and then I topped each with a small dollop of bacon jam. I baked the puff pastry in the oven as directed. The result is a really delicious bite sized treat.