Sunday, May 01, 2011

Plates of food on I-10

During my 10-day cross-country road trip from NYC to Los Angeles, I was very disciplined. Not about my diet but in keeping a strict, structured and detailed journal that included from the daily mileage and finances to a daily food “diary”. Looking at my notes for the purpose of this posting, I saw entries as “Tostitos tortilla chips”, “cracker jacks”, “bananas”, “Lay's sour cream chips”, “margaritas” and many similar to those words that do not really indicate a mouthwatering or newsworthy diet.

But I also saw oysters in Apalachicola, the heart of the Forgotten Coast as it is called. The coast, famous for its seafood and better yet, oysters, offered the great opportunity for a proper “dinner” on our second evening at Papa Joe’s Oyster Bar. We had half shell raw oysters, oysters steamed with spices, the scallop shrimp bisque and the grouper salad with a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio, a nice treat to an all day empty stomach. 

The next culinary stop was in New Orleans, where the French Market Restaurant and Bar offered their Cajun Jambalaya (a perfect mix of rice cooked with Chicken, Smoked Sausage & Boneless Pork) as well as the Louisiana Crawfish boat, another local seafood specialty. A stop by The CafĂ© Du Monde for coffees and beignets was a must-do before leaving behind this colorful, French alike city. 

Cajun Jambalaya

In Houston, willing to witness a real Tex-Mex restaurant, I followed the advice of a local friend who emailed: “even if you don’t do any sightseeing, go to La Taqueria Goode Company”. Here we were! Mesquite hamburgers, tortilla chips, tacos, and Cholula hot sauce paired with a watermelon juice became my definition of pleasure in that hot and humid day. 

Watermelon Juice

With a few days of driving and eating chips, fruits and energy bars kept in our fully loaded car, we finally made it to True or Consequences in perfect timing for Sunday brunch. This scenic, lost in time colorful town was rather quiet that Sunday morning but nonetheless gentle with its small number of travelers: The Happy Belly Deli prepared breakfast and I couldn’t resist their Southwestern omelet offered with plenty of spicy sauces and pots of coffee. 

A few days later, in Newport California after endless hours of driving once again, we visited the well-known fish market and restaurant, the Crab Cooker. Built in 1951, this local hub was packed both with locals and tourists. We shared crab - what else?- and a nice bottle of Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc, an excellent combination to celebrate the Southwest Pacific Coast Highway drive

But the end to my travel was just about to come. The following day in Los Angeles, I paid my tributes to the Los Angeles farmers market, a lively area of food vendors and cafes, tiny restaurants, ice cream shops and cute candy stands. The Chicken Mole with rice and beans at the Loteria Grill was just the perfect ending to my culinary travels. 
Chicken Mole with beans and rice

It was sad that the trip was nearly to its end but one thing is certain. I promise that on my next cross-country road trip, I will eat less packaged, salty foods and more real, fresh dishes made with love from all over the country.