A Travellerspoint blog

July 2009

Staycation Guacamole Recipe


Staycations are the latest vacation for the budget-minded. Here is a great recipe for Guacamole that you can make yourself in minutes. Serve it with bagel chips, taco chips, or pita bread and a glass of chilled white wine and you’ve got yourself a picnic party on your balcony, terrace or in your own backyard!

2 ripe avocados (you can tell if they’re ripe if they are slightly soft)
½ small onion rough chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 teaspoons lime juice (fresh or bottled)
½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes if you like hot and spicy only!

Slice the avocados all the way around and split in two. Dig your knife into the pit and scoop it out. Then, slide a spoon under the skin and scoop all the meat out of the avocado. Drop it into the food processor with all the other ingredients. Pulse until the onion is blended (about 20 times).

Now serve with your drinks. See how easy it is to stay home and pretend you are on vacation? Well, at least until your next real vacation. Enjoy!

Posted by teethetrav 13:12 Archived in USA Tagged food Comments (0)

MORE Things to Do at the Jersey Shore:

The Recovering Asbury Park


The sixties were notable for many iconic events. Asbury Park’s decline was barely noticed, in spite of Bruce Springsteen (Greetings from Asbury Park was the album that made his career pop) Asbury fizzled out completely in the sixties.

Developers have come and gone, corrupt officials have come and gone, well-intentioned officials and developers have come and gone, and Asbury is still merely teetering on the brink of revival. Just when a comeback looked nearly foolproof, the economy tanked and well…you can figure out the rest.

But there are a few areas that have turned around. All along Mattison and Cookman Avenues shops and restaurants are doing well and have been for several seasons. The latest comeback area is the beach. Convention Hall is still going strong. Concerts are regularly scheduled there with decent and fairly well-know groups. Meatloaf was there last year and an upcoming weekend will feature Staind.
Sadly, the old amusement building is a shell. The carousel, bumper cars, and original Tillie are long gone and there doesn’t seem to be any hope of renovation any time soon. But the news is not all bleak. There is a new water park for the kids as well as mini-golf. The water park is not for big kids or teens. It was designed for younger children and the daily rate is under $10 so it is striving to be family friendly.
There are a number of places to eat along the beach, as well. You can sit outside facing the beach when the weather is nice and the view is spectacular. There are several good snack, sandwich, and drink places. I’ve been to Langosta Lounge several times. Their appetizers are delicious. The chef uses only fresh ingredients, as does the bartender. No mixes here, just fresh fruit and freshly squeezed fruit juices. My favorite is the Blood Orange Margarita, but the Asian Pear Margarita is also good. The house specialty is a Market Mojito with fresh muddled strawberries (I have no idea what that means, but I love the sound of it) and a “float of dark rum.” I’m not a rum drinker, but if I was, that sounds incredible. Doesn’t it?
The best appetizer, as far as I’m concerned is the calamari which comes with three dipping sauces; each is original and mysterious. I’m usually good as figuring out ingredients so that I can steal recipes, but I have no idea what is in their Diablo sauce or their Brazilian vatapa. The Thai sweet chile lime sauce is the best of the three.
For something more substantial try the quesadillas or my favorite: the Mediterranean salad with homemade hummus, feta, roasted peppers and kalamata olives. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Go to www.theasburyparkboardwalk.com for more events and concert schedules at the local venues.

Posted by teethetrav 06:28 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Capri: A Day Trip on the Amalfi Coast

Everything you have heard or read about the Amalfi coast is true. The views are stunning, the traffic is appalling, the cuisine in southern Italy is unforgettable, and the drive through the hills gives new meaning to breath-taking. You hold your breath because you are sure you are never going to survive the trip.
There have been many words written about the coast, but just off the coast is the island of Capri. Famous for being famous, Capri is definitely worth seeing, but I think it’s a day trip, not a place to stay. It’s also not a place for the feeble. Nor is any of the Amalfi coast for that matter. You must be in decent physical shape, because everything is a climb and there is little you can do to circumvent that. Forget the Italian stilettos; wear your walking shoes, bring lots of water, and be prepared to trudge up and down hills all over the coast.
Capri is a short ferry ride from Sorrento, which was my base. The ride was cool and the scenery from the water is spectacular. The water was a deep, sapphire blue and dared you to dive in. Capri was a touristy, but pretty place. The higher up you go, the better the views. The crowds do not, however, thin out. There are stores galore and you buy everything Italian; from sandals to exquisites tiles. The namesake perfume Capri is a delicious-smelling scent that can’t be found anywhere else. Lemoncello flows freely and the seafood is fresh and delicious. Ferries run frequently, so you can linger by the port and watch the boats and the tourists come and go while sitting outside and sipping your favorite drink.

Posted by teethetrav 11:26 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Summer in Sorrento, Italy

Sorrento: A great base on the Amalfi Coast

Travel in Italy is like childbirth. Painful much of the time, yet at the end of the whole process, it's so amazing you forget how awful it was and you do it again. And, in my case, again and again. I learned my lesson about having children after having three...they don't stay cute and tiny, by the way. But I'm still not over Italy, and so I keep going back. After all, there are still parts I haven't seen and Italy doesn't disappoint. The true dilemma is whether to return to the places I love or keep pushing forward. I try to do both.
Since it's summer as I'm writing this, I'll start by telling you about the Amalfi Coast. I stayed in Sorrento, which is a great beach town and a fantastic place for a summer vacation. True to all my Italian experiences, it was difficult to get there. I took the tiny commuter train called the Circumvesuviana from Naples. First of all, there is no lift at the train station in Naples and I had luggage. I should learn to backpack, but I can't. I'm not wired that way. And although I have severely trimmed down what I travel with, I must have a certain amount of accoutrements with me or I am very unhappy. Leaving, I tried a car instead of the train. The traffic was unbelievable, and everything you have heard about driving the hairpin turns through the Amalfi hills is true. I'd return, but next time, I might try a helicopter or the ferry.
Sorrento is a great town. The locals have an ongoing love affair with Dean Martin and you can hear his lovely, slurring voice drifting through the air everywhere you go. There’s not much to do here except admire the scenery, swim, shop the markets at night and stroll, but I loved it. Sorrento has a ferry stop, as well as a bus station, and yes, there is that train so it makes a great base from which to go to the other towns in Amalfi.

There are great bargains to be had in the shops. There are incredible linens, such as tablecloths, napkins, embroidered throws, and pillow cases. All were inexpensive and I loaded up on gifts (see why I need luggage?).
Lemons grow everywhere and they are the size of American grapefruit. The lemon motif is predominant and lemons are used in nearly every recipe. My favorite meal here was pasta served in a half of a lemon shell. Not only was it delicious, it was more than enough to fill me up. The lemons are huge! The meal was served at my favorite restaurant called Ristorante L’Antica Trattoria. The waiters are charming and are known to strew your plate with flower petals. The second time we ate there, they gave us complimentary champagne because we came back.

See, that's the lure of Italy. Everything and everyone is so seductive you keep coming back for more.

Posted by teethetrav 05:31 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Spanish Food: Favorite Chicken and Rice Recipe

Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo
Chicken with Rice (Spanish Style)

When I was travelling in Spain, I was struck by the quality and variety of ingredients there. There is a nearly endless array of Spanish foods. Many people don’t realize there is a wide variety of Spanish cooking. Mexican food is quite different than Puerto Rican cooking. Different South American cuisines are and ingredients are vastly different, too. Within Spain itself, there are numerous regional favorites and scores of ways to prepare food. Five favorite ingredients all over Spain are: onions, smoked paprika (not regular…smoked), chorizo sausage, chicken, and the staple in every kitchen, rice. Here is my favorite chicken with rice recipe.

Serves 4
Extra virgin olive oil
6 chicken thighs or 3 breasts cut in halves
1 large sweet or Spanish onion, diced roughly
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 oz. of chorizo, diced (hot or mild depending on your taste)
4 oz. of diced pancetta (prosciutto will do if you can’t find pancetta)
1 cup rice
1 large can chopped tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon thyme
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Use enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large skillet or casserole dish. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Fry until brown on all sides. Remove from pan and put on a plate.
Add the onion to the pan, making sure there is enough olive oil. Cook 8-10 minutes until translucent and soft. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Don’t let the garlic brown. Add the diced chorizo and pancetta pieces. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the olive oil is turning red. Stir often.
Add the rice and stir. Let the rice cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, seasonings, bay leaves and stir. Let the rice cook for 10 minutes on a low heat. Add the chicken back in and continue to cook, covered over a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until the rice is still crunchy but not hard and the chicken is no longer pink inside. Garnish with parsley, remove the bay leaves, and serve.

Side Dish Suggestion
Zucchini with parmesan cheese. Slice and grill or bake for 10-15 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and parmesan cheese before cooking.

Posted by teethetrav 14:49 Archived in Spain Tagged food Comments (0)

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