Highlighted Travel

Normalcy in GG World?? Surely Not…

Posted by on Oct 17, 2012 in Featured, Highlighted Travel, Updates | 0 comments

Normalcy in GG World?? Surely Not…

By now y’all are more than ready for another update to my crazy life. It’s never a boring, sedate place to be. Your Gypsy Gourmet has not stopped traveling the countryside in search of the perfect bite. The wheels keep rolling, both in business and life, and there’s been some major changes, AGAIN. Remember that driver I’d hired? Gone. There is no longer a mystery man, or a second truck. I’m now mentoring a student on the Freightliner, and getting a little closer to paying off Buella. About the time I thought life was easing up a bit, I had to recover my beloved truck, Buella, in Phoenix, AZ. She was filthy, and not in great shape. Somewhere along the way something had gone wrong with the communication in my world, both with my business, and in my personal life. Everything happens for a reason, of course, but it seemed to me when it started raining it began to pour. I ended both partnerships. Well, really one was ended for me, and the other was for his own good. Those of you who have followed this blog from the beginning, know where my heart has always been. It will remain where it has always, and I do promise my faithful readers when the time is right, I’ll let you guys celebrate with me. Just for today, however, I’m keeping my lips zipped and waiting for the outcome just like you. When I got to Phoenix, I cleaned my girl within an inch of her life. I set up the inside just the way I like, and proceeded to go through the engine maintenance like a good owner should. While the shop had a hold on her, I decided to do something I’ve grappled with doing for the last few years. Become a certified mentor for Swift. I took my certification classes and was approached and requested to be a mentor by a very nice young man named, Brad. I am sure I got very lucky, as we get along well, and he’s an all around great person. We come from very similar backgrounds, he’s terribly intelligent, and it feels a lot less like work, and more like I’m teaching my buddy Brad how to navigate the Swift system and highways. As soon as we were almost ready to being our first journey, I got some news from the shop that Buella was in need of a whole new clutch assembly. Crimeny Sakes! Eight payments to go and an expensive repair. My helpful and excellent mechanics at the Swift corporate shop in Phoenix, assured me it would be done post haste. Jeff Feagins, the service operations manager for the shop, carefully oversaw the project to make sure it went off without a hitch. Many folks have a lot of terrible things to say about my company, but you won’t EVER hear a bad word out of my mouth. My support staff has been the reason I’m still out here on the road. Whether it’s been the follow up from people like Brian, Becky, Richard, Mark, Eddie, and Joran in Rapid Response, Cindy in dispatch, or Jeff  and Chris in the shop, the people here have always given me the best support anyone could ask for. So, when folks talk trash, pay no mind. Every company has it’s strengths and weaknesses. Mine is no different; it’s how you navigate those challenges that matters. Thanks, team. Brad and I have been skipping across the states hauling varied loads from place to place, even getting to spend some time in Georgia with my...

Read More

New Jersey to Washington, Tilapia Made Easy

Posted by on Jun 2, 2012 in Food, Highlighted Travel | 0 comments

New Jersey to Washington, Tilapia Made Easy

aWelcome to another adventure! We have a bad-ass addition to the Gypsy Gourmet franchise, Ms. Niki Stewart (Round of applause please!) She’s a southern Californian(San Diego) with an amazing work ethic, a great personality, and did I mention she’s a hottie? This girl definitely knows her stuff and has taught this ol’ bird a few new tricks as well. Nice not to be solo anymore (Sorry Harley we know you’d drive if you could) and it’s certainly a good thing to be a smokin’ hot team again. We’re back on the just in time (JIT) freight, hazardous materials endorsed, specialized division where we belong. Our first week out was a lesson in learning the ropes, but our second week out seriously kicked tail. 7010 miles accomplished in one week, safely and legally! However, on weeks like this we are lacking in the gourmet food porn department. It’s tough to remember that it can only take a few minutes of preparation to produce food that’s good for the body and the soul. Try living off of protein granola bars, non fat Greek yogurt, and fruit for days on end and see if your generally sunny disposition takes a turn for the worse. The trick to running hard (on the road and in regular life) lies somewhere in that grey area that equals balance. I know that some of my readers don’t drive professionally. It may be hard understanding what it’s like to schedule your life around bathroom breaks and fuel stops, but I do know that you’re all busy in your daily lives and this level of understanding chaos is universal. You can be a mom, a dad, a writer, a carpenter, a chef, or any number of occupations that are demanding. The bottom line is that finding time to be good to your body and spirit is a daily challenge. This next dish is a simple reminder that a tiny bit of effort can produce that balance that we all crave. Being good to yourself sets you up for success amid the chaos, and better prepares you for the challenges ahead. Tilapia is a versatile fish that can easily be cooked from a frozen or fresh state. It is readily available at the best fish markets or in your local grocery store or food co-op. This dish is a one skillet wonder and you can keep it simple with your favorite all in one seasoning blend. I used a blend that has become one of my favorites (Thanks Jay for the introduction!). It’s called Tex Joy and can be purchased all over Texas or online at http://www.texjoy.com. If either way is inconvenient for you, Tony Chacherie’s Cajun seasoning is an excellent substitute and can be found in the spice isle at your local supermarket. Round off your meal with fresh fruit and a sauteed veggie and you’ve only taken about fifteen minutes out of your day to create a hot, home cooked meal that you don’t have to feel guilty about. One Skillet Tilapia for Two 2 tilapia fillets (4 if they’re very small) 2 T. olive oil 1 T. REAL butter Tex Joy or Tony Chacherie’s seasoning to taste 4 c. fresh broccoli florets 1/2 sweet onion julienne into 1/4 in strips small amount of water to steam (less than 1/4 c) small additional amount of olive oil (less than a tablespoon) Instructions: Easy enough in a non stick electric skillet, but whatever your favorite is use it! Make sure you have a cover for it, for the slight steam process at the end. Get skillet good and hot (med-high for some or between 300-325 for...

Read More

Misissippi to Texas

Posted by on Apr 8, 2012 in Farmers Market, Food, Highlighted Travel | 0 comments

Misissippi to Texas

Welcome to Breaux Bridge, Louisiana! Man have I MISSED y’all! Your Gypsy Gourmet has been traveling solo. Yes, my friends, I have the same kinds of relationship ups and downs as everyone else. I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and as an added bonus, quit drinking. Instead of bemoaning my fate, or getting terribly involved in my sad story, I just simply got back to work doing what I love. I have been all over the place lately, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, just to name a few. On this trip just a couple of days ago I started out in Mobile, AL and was headed to Lancaster, TX. To my delight, I found another gem nestled in the midst of obscurity in Breaux Bridge, LA. I’ve probably butchered the name of both their fair city and the lovely family run market I stumbled across, Foti’s. How about a paradise for the eyes! The moment I hit the door I was engulfed in wonderful smells. Fresh bananas, ripe plums, the briny scent of shrimp, and wiggling crawfish. It was a sight to behold. Floyd Foti reminds me of one of my uncles. Tireless, constantly moving, and all about this small business that he’s run strong for almost twenty-five years. I was met with a little skepticism, as to whether or not I’d have a film crew traipsing all over his market, but once we cleared it up that it’d just be me, he opened up about the business that he so obviously loves. He get a sparkle in his eyes as he talks about his family, and the new expansion he’s in the midst of. Mr. Floyd seems confident about the small restaurant expansion now that his kids aren’t little anymore and can help with the extra business it’ll create. I was greeted soon after by Floyd’s niece, Melissa, who was patient and sweet as I marveled over all the goods in front of me. It was seriously like the clouds parted and angels sang, with all the variety and abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables to choose from. Sweet potatoes, sweet onions, lemons, vine ripe tomatoes, fresh garlic cloves, ginger root, and locally grown Satsumas oranges distract me as people flow in and out in a constant steady stream. Folks buying everything from locally harvested Gulf shrimp, sacks of crawfish still wiggling, and myriad vegetables and spices to boil their dinners. I got a tour of the back room from Mr. Mike, as he showed me the process of sorting, boiling, and refrigerating the crawfish that they sell by the pound already cooked. After I had my tour of the back room I was shown the restaurant expansion that’s well underway. Mr. Floyd explained that they had been making boiled seafood to go for many years, but while his children were little it was impossible to tackle a sit down atmosphere, as you can only spread yourself so far. This statement hit awfully close to home as I remembered the many 12-15 hour days at my family’s restaurant and resort. Now that everyone’s grown and able to help with the extra business it creates he’s expanding to fried and boiled seafood that’s served in a comfortable functional dine in nook. Floyd seems confident they can handle it now, and I have no doubt they”ll be “The” spot to bring family and friends for dinner. I wish him and his family the best of luck in their new endeavor, and know I’ll certainly be back! These are the shrimp I purchased…You’ve all seen my shrimp stir-fry and this one was...

Read More

Happy New Year!

Posted by on Jan 6, 2012 in Food, Highlighted Travel | 0 comments

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Another round of holidays has given way to the inevitable, back to work, hectic schedules, and general chaos. Round one 2012 here we come. We have all danced this choreographed juggling act of planning meals, shopping, wrapping gifts, cocktailing with friends, and heaped that upon our regularly scheduled programming. I think it’s about time to wind down a little, spend a few quality moments in the kitchen, and reflect on some of the more interesting things that have occurred this past year. Our festive little tree Christmas Eve Dinner I was recently home right after some birthday fun in Cocoa Beach, FL.(Birthday’s ten days before Christmas, so I love December) It was an incredible celebration with lots of food, friends, and general merriment. While I’m not able to post about it now, the birthday blog WILL be epic, and will coincide with the air date of a nationally syndicated television show we’ll be appearing on. Sorry about the hush, hush, but I promise it’ll be worth the wait. I bring it up because we did boil lobsters and had one soldier left out of the bunch, which I used in this version of GG’s Kitchen Sink Skillet Potatoes. So after the general chaos dies down, phone’s not ringing, house is quiet, coffee’s brewing in the kitchen, (Safehouse Honduran) the stillness suits me in a way I don’t get to indulge in very often. I know when this house wakes up I’ll have a couple appetites ready, and am loathe to leave the peaceful confines of my kitchen for anything, much less a store run. So I tackle the task of hunt and gather in the pantry and fridge. This step will change every time you make this, as the kitchen sink is the only thing this dish is lacking. It’s a simple tool to use what’s on hand and available. Sometimes it’s ordinary,while other times it’s simply extraordinary. Due to the leftovers in my fridge, let me assure you extraordinary is not only possible, but almost required. Assembled ingredients While at the food co-op in Cocoa Beach, I had picked up a bag of gourmet baby potatoes, the Yukon gold, red, and purple had such a pretty contrast I just couldn’t resist. We had such a busy schedule the previous few days, that I had thought ahead and par boiled these adorable little spuds with the general idea that I’d roast or fry them later. I like shortcuts like these. Being prepared with clean, cut vegetables or partially cooked veggies saves me a lot of aggravation both at home and on the road. Also on hand are baby bell peppers in orange, yellow, and red. Sweet onion is in abundance along with shittake and baby portabella mushrooms, thick sliced bacon from our friends at T&T Meats in McDonough, GA, and fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary from Ms Faye’s garden, marjoram, and sage). Already looking like something delicious in my head, I remember with a start that I have an entire Maine lobster left over from my birthday. Yay! We have now graduated to extraordinary! I’m not gonna lie, the prospect of cracking that girl outta her shell doesn’t make me warm and fuzzy inside, but it was infinitely worth it in the end. I’m gonna get right on to the recipe, so you can enjoy it too! GG’s Kitchen Sink Skillet Potatoes GG’s Kitchen Sink Skillet Potatoes 2 lbs baby potatoes, par boiled and cut in half or quartered depending on size 1 med sweet onion, julienne 3 baby bell peppers, rough chopped 1 sprig each fresh chopped herbs (use what you...

Read More

California to Florida

Posted by on Dec 10, 2011 in Food, Highlighted Travel | 2 comments

California to Florida

Welcome to Cocoa Beach  Well I say to hell with writer’s block! Gypsy Gourmet is on the scene to discuss another cool place to chill and a recipe that is amazing, simple, and looks kind of fancy even if it’s not. I’ve set out today to write what I know, that’s all y’all are looking for anyway, right? We just recently took a 34 hour reset in one of the most beautiful places in the US.  I’ve been to all 48 lower states, so I think I have the authority to make that statement. I always thought Cocoa Beach, FL was supposed to be a tourist trap. Here’s to being unequivocally wrong! From the beauty of the beaches, the unabashed warmth of the locals, and the epic availability of fresh seafood, we would’ve been content to learn how to weave baskets for the tourists and stay forever. Garlic Butter Blue Crabs Atlantic Seafood’s Jumbo Shrimp We stayed a block away from the beach and wandered our first evening away. We stumbled across a dive joint called Atlantic Seafood that boasts on the window “You buy, we fry”. Looks like a bright yellow barely polished turd from the outside, and if Guy has taught me anything at all, it’s that we had to go in and see for ourselves. The place consists of one table, a few scattered chairs, a cold seafood case, and a cash register. So you can literally buy fresh seafood to go, or pick your seafood to have cooked. Novel concept if you ask me. Still skeptical, we eyeball the case for a few minutes and look over the hand printed menu on the wall. We chose an order of the fried grouper and jumbo shrimp combo, and six garlic butter blue crabs. I think we spent a little under $20 bucks for the both of us, and it was simply put, delectable. The picture speaks for itself. My only wish was that I had showered after I ate, because I had so much crab debris everywhere that Chris teased that he’d have to take me out back and hose me off! Before we left, I purchased about a pound of fresh jumbo shrimp. I wasn’t sure what I’d use them for yet, but that comes along a little later. Fathead Pierce It’s getting pretty close to my birthday, and inevitably now that my life is UNCENSORED, I’m looking to get some new ink. We scouted the area for just the right place, making friends along the way. Shout out to Fathead Pierce of Studio XIII for the excellent customer service, stunning competence, and general affability! He changed my lip jewelry to 14K, sold me another piece in purple titanium, entertained us with his witty commentary, and was just a cool cat. We’ll be back to see him & the crew at Studio XIII again soon.   Argyle Franks Ed Madigan’s ABW The highlight of our trip was to Artistic Body Works Tattoos, owned by Ed Madigan, one of the legends of the tattoo industry. Ed started his apprenticeship at Ancient Art in Orlando, FL in 1990 under Bud Pierson. In 1993 Bud opened Brevard County’s oldest tattoo studio, Artistic Body Works in Cocoa Beach, FL. After working at ABW for two years, Ed moved beach side and bought the studio. My artist is Argyle Franks, a fifteen year veteran of the industry, which has talent running out of his fingertips. He has a way with people that puts you at ease immediately and is the genuine article as far as this girl’s concerned. The way he...

Read More

Seattle, Washington Pike Place Market

Posted by on Oct 16, 2011 in Farmers Market, Food, Highlighted Travel | 0 comments

Seattle, Washington Pike Place Market

Greetings from Seattle Washington! Downtown Seattle So much to do, so little time they say, but we managed to get our bobtail into downtown Seattle, WA,(double parked in two spaces with no parking ticket, golf clap everyone!) and check out famous Pike Place Market. Three expansive floors of every foodie’s fondest dream, the colors, textures, smells, and people were an absolute sensory overload. The stunning array of fresh organic produce in every available color known to man was absolutely breathtaking. The orange and purple hues of beets & carrots, the bright, crisp burgundy of raspberries, the deep reds, oranges, and greens of woven, wreathed chili peppers, the buttery yellow of bell peppers, all made a riotous crescendo of music for my eyes.  The hustle and bustle of this market was a swirling, almost choreographed, dance for the senses. My first stop was at a little produce stand right outside the front doors of the market, under the farmers market sign. The young lady that helped us, Ms. Erin, was a delightful almost pixie like girl with a warm smile. She gave us some valuable information to make the most of our tight schedule and imparted “THE” must see spots along our journey. Right across the street from her was Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, and down the way, la petite bakery, along with Sur La Table that she said was a must. I thanked her profusely, as we swapped e-mail and contact information. She seemed like a really cool girl and asked if she could show us the sights next time we’re through. That is a definite possibility! We quickly moved along to the main floor of the market to catch the show. The Lovely Ms Erin Solly Amos & I Our next stop along this cacophony of shouting merchants, hurried patrons, and vibrant colors brought us to the historic Pure Fish Food Market. Opened in 1911 by Jack Amon; Mr. Amon came to America from Turkey and began selling seafood from a stand here in Seattle at Pike Place Public Market. Both the city and the market were relatively new, but all the local folks immediately recognized the value of local fish and shellfish. Jack sold only the finest. I had the pleasure to meet Solly Amon, Jack’s son. He has run his father’s business for more than 50 years, which gives him the record of the longest tenure of any of the Pike Place Public Market’s vendors. We were astonished at the sheer size of most of the fresh shellfish, as their classification of jumbo far exceeds anything we’ve ever seen. Dungeness crab the size of a dinner plate, and jumbo grilling shrimp that Guy Fieri would’ve called a sea pony. The shrimp we looked at could’ve been saddled and ridden! The scallops were the size of baseballs and the only way I could think of to cook them through, would be a hot sear and finished in the oven. Huge!!! The Ahi tuna is what caught my eye, as it was so succulent, in it’s rich color, that instead of a deep red it was almost a royal purple. *Sigh* Sea Pony All in all we could’ve spent a couple of hours trying to make our choices, but in the end, soaked up the experience and promised ourselves we’d be back. On a side note, Pure Food Fish Market can ship anywhere in the country! Check them out at http://www.freshseafood.com, and we’re off to the next must see! Further down the common-way, we reach Market Spice. The immediate scent that hits our nostrils, is that of a rich orange and cinnamon tea, freshly...

Read More