Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Last week I wrote down some favorite restaurants, which got me thinking about my favorite places to drink.  Which then got me wondering if consuming three glasses of wine during Downton Abbey counts as “fruit.”  Pretty sure it does.  Anyway, it also got me thinking about why it’s so easy to act like an a**hole when you travel to the Big Easy.  No disrespect intended, but there is something about the combination of alcohol to-go cups and . . . well, pretty much anything that makes a lot of us visitors act like jackasses in NOLA.

So while I’m contemplating my list of top drinking spots for a future post, I figured I’d offer some helpful tips to consider before you down those 24 ounce hurricanes . . .

The Getaway Girls Guide to Not Acting like an A**hole in New Orleans:

1. Don’t puke in public.  Unless you are pregnant or suffering from Ebola, you don’t really have an excuse for vomiting in the street.  If I could make it from Frenchman Street to the Andrew Jackson Hotel on a belly of bad oysters, so can you.  (Lesson learned: “oyster shooter” is not some cute appetizer dressed in a shot glass.  It’s cheap booze, hot sauce and an oyster. Or, in my case, four very bad oysters).  Also, if you’re out of college, have children or are old enough to meet either of those criteria, you should seriously know better.  If the Mayor of NYC banned big gulps of Coke, what do you think your chances are against a giant cup of rum?  Go be sick in the privacy of your own clean room and read my book.  You'll thank me in the morning.

2. Don’t even think about performing any other bodily function in public, either.  I shouldn’t even have to say this one, but sadly, I do.  There are some people who, after a few drinks too many, treat the Rue Bourbon as their personal toilet.  Just say no.  You paid for your hotel room and its facilities– go use them!  Or, if you feel such an urgent need, go into a bar, buy a drink and use the damn bathroom.  (Tip: if you are stuck on Bourbon, the gay bars have nicer ladies rooms. Or at least they do until someone pukes in them).

3. Know your limits.  Just because grown people old enough to be your grandma are staggering down the street doesn’t mean you should.  I use the alcohol-to-karaoke ratio to determine when I’ve had enough.  If I think karaoke sounds like a good idea, it’s probably time for last call.  If I actually make it inside a karaoke bar, it’s time to switch to water.  If, after taking the time to sign myself up for karaoke, some sober brain cell alerts me to the fact that I’m way too intoxicated to pull this off, it’s time to get a cheeseburger.  If you find yourself in a similar situation, head to the Clover Grill, get some greasy good and enjoy it with my book.  (Yes, I'm that shameless. But really, a cheeseburger and flesh-eating scavengers work so well together).

4. Avoid the tacky t-shirt trap.  There are so many souvenir shops in New Orleans, it’s hard not to buy something.  And that’s fine – pick out a stuffed animal for your kid, or maybe a Christmas ornament or fridge magnet.  But the moment you’re tempted to buy anything with a clever (read: obscene) saying involving liquor, sex, or old age (or all three), put down your wallet and GET OUT. Unless you’re buying it as a gag gift for your husband and you know FOR A FACT that he will not either: A) misinterpret the gift and wear the shirt anyway because he thinks it’s cool or B) ironically interpret the gift and wear it anyway as a deluded homage to his hipster dad status.  Trust me, no one’s hip enough to make “Suck me Raw” work on a neon-green wife-beater.

And finally –

5. Stay out of anyplace labeled “Topless and Bottomless!”  Despite what the exclamation point would have you believe, this is not a good thing.  And I say this not so much to avoid acting like an a**hole, but to avoid certain scenarios you don’t really need in life.  Like, for example, when one of your friends discovers the “bottomless” male dancers are in fact, wearing sweatpants instead and demands a refund on the basis of false advertising.  Before you know it, some stripper in green sweatpants is grinding against you like a pencil sharpener until one of your friends pays him to leave you alone. (Is this like stripper mariachi?  I hope this never catches on in Mexican restaurants).  Then some very angry people are escorting you and your friends out of said club and you realize you really need a cheeseburger.

But not, thank God, karaoke.

P.S. If you'd like to read about some real a**holes, specifically flesh-eating scavengers and the women who loathe them, I've got an ace suggestion for you: check out my book!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A quick update to my post on Getaway Girls Guide to New Orleans Eats - I have been reminded by my fellow getaway girls that I've left out a few places:

Galatoire's - Honestly, I was so busy enjoying a really delicious Chardonnay and a bizarre but lively discussion of shelfish and religion that I kind of forgot what we all ate, but I know my fish came slathered in butter and almonds, as it should.  Sorry, I'm not the best fish-eater and I kind of feel like it should always be coated in butter and nuts or fried in beer batter.  I try, people - you can take the girl out of Kentucky, but you can't take the Kentucky out of the girl.

Petunia's - scrumptious crepes, and I didn't personally sample this there, but my fellow getaway girl assures me this is THE PLACE for brandy milk punch (BMP - more about this later in my future post of best places to drink in New Orleans).  Or maybe that was Irene's.  Restaurants with women's names confuse me.

Antoine's - I was so excited to eat there, but unfortunately we lunched there the day after I experienced a horrible night of Bad Oysters.  If you have never had a Bad Oyster, consider yourself lucky.  If you have, well, you know what I mean.  I'll spare you the revolting details, but let me paint you just this picture:  you're in a small hotel room and while your girlfriends are having a Sex in the City-esque discussion of the dating scene, you are locked in the tiny bathrooom vomiting so hard that at one point, you fear you might stop breathing.  Funny thing is, your friends never hear you.  Too bad I wasn't bulimic, I'd have had a field day.  Anyway, I digress: my friends say Antoine's was delicious.  I'm sure they are right and someday I'll dine there sans tainted shellfish.  I hope.

That's it. For now.  Happy eating!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

So - enough with the soup.  Mardi Gras is coming up, plus I'm really, really hungry, so I thought what better time to do a list of my top places to eat in New Orleans, my favorite city EVER?  (Dublin, Ireland or Hong Kong are tied for second place, but considering that NOLA is one short Southwest Airlines flight away and Dublin is 8 hours, Hong Kong 18, you do the math and figure the odds I'll ever return to either of those places in this lifetime.  Yeah, that's what I thought).

Without further ado, I present The Getaway Girls Guide to New Orleans Eats - enjoy, all you lucky folks en route to the Crescent City. And don't mind me, I'll be sitting here at home in Texas eating more . . . soup.  Rock on.

Lucky Dogs - any cart, any place.  What - you think Ignatius Reilly is the only one who appreciates a good foot long?  I once averaged two lucky dogs with mustard NIGHTLY on a girls' trip.  Granted, this was because we skipped dinner in order to save money and not waste our dining dollars during prime drinking hours, but still.  It was a two-dog night every night.  'Cause that's how I roll.

Clover Grill - Best. Burger. Ever.  (FYI: second best is the Texas burger at Del's Charburger right here in Richardson, Texas).  Seriously, it's cooked under a hub cap, how could it not be good?

Praline Connection - kickass pork chops.  I don't know if they still serve them or not, but I grew up in Kentucky; I know pork chops.  My dad makes the best.  But second best was definitely Praline Connection.  And turnip greens.   I could cook mine all day and they wouldn't turn out that good.  Because every time I ask anyone who makes good greens (see: my dad) I just know THEY ARE HOLDING OUT ON ME and failing to give me some top secret ingredient that makes them super-awesome.  Just like my mom and her "oh, I just put salt and pepper in the fried chicken."  Right, mom. Sorry, getting distracted by thoughts of food.  Moving on . . .

Palace Cafe - I have two words for you: crabmeat cheesecake.  I'm serious, people.  My husband ate so much of this appetizer he went into food coma mode immediately after dinner and returned to the hotel, claiming he was "too full" to go out any more.  I've never been "too full" for wine, so I don't really get that.

Bayona - their bread basket was so good I ate the entire thing.  Everyone was like, "don't eat all the bread, you'll be too full for dinner."  So what?  The bread is fantastic, it's worth every gluteny calorie.  In other words, don't go there on Atkins.  (But, really, why would you go to NOLA on Atkins?  Bad move.  Just saying.)

I'm not even mentioning Cafe du Monde because you know you're gonna go there anyway, you don't need me to tell you.  I will say that I like the iced cafe au lait to go, more so than the hot version.  Which does you no good, because it's cold right now.  So never mind.

Emeril's - peaches and cream for dessert.  So simple and so yum.  Also when I was there a million years ago, the waiters were hot.  

Napoleon House - my absolute favorite place to eat a hot muffaletta.  They will be turning up again when I do my top places to drink in New Orleans, but for now I repeat: muffaletta, hot.  Olive salad, cheese, meat . . . I am so hungry right now I could eat my foot.

Igor's Garlic Clove - caveat: when I ate there it was just called The Garlic Clove, so I don't know if they still have this, but I had the most insanely delicious caesar salad dressing .  And you're probably thinking why waste space on salad dressing?  Because it was so tasty, I have spent YEARS trying to recreate it and never succeeded.  Maybe you'll have better luck . . . and if so, may I please have the recipe? 

Johnny's Po Boys - because any place that puts french fries on a sandwich is all right by me.  They used to have one with spaghetti and meat balls, which I found quite refreshing.  Maybe if you ask nicely, they will make you one.

Someplace off or near Frenchman Street that had these cool sofa-ish seats and sort of Indian fusion tapas thingies.  Unfortunately, I can't remember the name or locate it online.  So it has probably closed and therefore this is completely useless information.  Sorry.  It's just that I'm so damn hungry, I had to include it because I can still taste the samosas . . .

Finally - of course I had to include it - Commander's Palace.  If you're going to do one fancy place, I'd do this or Palace Cafe. Honestly, I liked the food slightly better at Palace Cafe, but Commander's is beautiful.  And a short taxi ride to the Columns Hotel, where my book commences.  Nice segue, Gage. 

So . . . if you'd like to read about four fabulous women enjoying cocktails on the porch of the Columns Hotel, click this link:

Thanks for listening to a hungry girl and Bon Appetit!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ahh, soup - is there anything more comforting on a cold winter's evening?  Funny you should ask - because I've just spent the week consuming soup for lunch and dinner every day and I have to tell you that right now, a stale pretzel would be a decadent treat.

I should explain.  After the holidays, having put on a couple of unwanted pounds, I decided to take them off - and I devised what I thought was a pretty clever plan to do so.  I would make a giant pot of super-healthy vegetable soup at the beginning of the week and eat it at every meal but breakfast, because soup and coffee?  That's just ridiculous.

Anyway, I especially thought my plan was so smart because all those veggies would surely protect me from all the nasty cold and flu germs AND I'd lose weight.  Hello - get skinny and avoid the flu - win-win!  At first, it was going pretty well - I am a decent cook, and my soup was pretty good. But I made two key mistakes:  first, I added leftover pot roast for flavor.  This might have been a good idea if the pot roast had not been slow-cooked to the point of shredding, so that over several hours in the soup pot, the beef no longer resembled meat but instead took on a slimy, hair-like consistency.  I've heard of hair shirts, but hair soup?  I can assure you, this is not a culinary trend to watch for.

My second mistake was making so very, very much of the stuff.  I bought this giant plastic container to house said soup, and after Monday night's dinner, I carefully ladled the enormous stock pot of soup into the plastic - all smug as I pointed out to my husband several times how much soup we had for the week.  (Note:  he ate one bowl of it Monday night.  That's it.  Thanks, sweetie, way to take ONE BOWL OF SOUP for the team).

Now I like vegetable soup.  But NOBODY likes vegetable soup that much.  Nobody.  You try eating the same goddamn soup every lunch and every dinner four days in a row.  You will get tired of it, I promise.  Every time I open the refrigerator, that plastic container leers at me from the door - I have grown to loathe it.

And I'm afraid of what will happen when it's finally empty (will it ever be empty?) - how will I get that orange veggie-rich film off the plastic?  Will the last chunk of carrot and cabbage lodge in the container so I have to reach down into the scummy, greasy depths and pluck it out by hand?  Will one of those awful beefy, hairy strands wrap around my wrists and try to suck me into the container? Maybe if I ignore it, the soup fairy will come and whisk it away to a place where people really, really LOVE vegetable soup. Like Luby's.

In all fairness, though, it must be said that the soup has resulted in a weight loss of three pounds.  Because if all you eat is soup, you will get very, very hungry.  And feeding your children (who wouldn't eat soup if their lives depended on it) will become a horrible, masochistic affair in which you glare at them over the eighth bowl of soup you've eaten this week and snap, "EAT YOUR DAMN DINNER!"  They, of course, will ignore you as they casually, almost reluctantly eat a stray bite here and there of delectable-looking cheese pizza while laughing at the antics of Peppa Pig.

There is still a third of the container left.  And the week is not yet over.  I vowed earlier that I would "mix things up" over the weekend by adding rice to the soup, maybe some spinach.  The only thing I want to mix now is a cocktail.  A strong one, with enough booze in it to make me close my eyes and gulp down the last of that disgusting brew.  I usually cook something special to watch The Golden Globes, but I no longer care about a fancy dinner, I just want to eat something that has an actual texture.  Something that doesn't require a spoon.  Something that won't, when I dip down my utensil, bring up a yucky-looking strand of brown that's sort of shiny and weird and makes me gag. At this point, I'd be fine with box wine and popcorn.

Just as long as it's not soup.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

So last week I tried to compile a 'best and worst' movie list for 2012.  As it turns out, I could only come up with a couple worst movies, one of which may or may not have actually been made this year.  In honor of the upcoming Golden Globes, I decided I could do better.

My problem was that I tend to forget only slightly crummy movies and there just weren't that many lame ones I saw this year.  Because when you pay a sitter every time you see a film, you do your damn research - and I don't waste sitter time on crap.  I do, however, have an excellent memory for really awful movies seen in years past - and sure, they're not up for awards right now (or ever) but perhaps this list will save somebody else from wasting a night's Netflix.  So without further ado, I present:

The Getaway Girl's Top Five WORST MOVIES EVER

1.  Junebug - basic premise is that a man from North Carolina leaves his NYC pad for a visit home with his fancy East Coasty wife, who his family has never met.  Like ever. Oh, and they go back home so the wife can meet some funky old folk artist.  The whole story seems on the surface like it should be a lot of fun with its quirky indie Southern vibe.  Only thing is, there's a spunky, cute pregnant sister-in-law (Amy Adams - best part of the movie) and - SPOILER ALERT - her baby DIES.  I should probably mention here that I was very pregnant when I watched this.  So yeah, there's that bias which may or may not have impacted my enjoyment of the film.  Sorry, maybe this one isn't that bad - but don't watch it if you're pregnant!

2.  Mail Order Bride - again, sounded funny.  But basically, it was this super gross guy sexually mistreating his immigrant wife.  Oh yeah, barrels of laughs.  Only movie I have ever demanded my money back from Blockbuster from - remember that place?

3.  Any of the new Star Wars movies - I'm sorry, but really?  I saw Star Wars.  In the EIGHTIES when it came out.  Harrison Ford.  Chewbacca.  Cool stuff.  I don't even know who or what the hell this one was about, all I know is that I had to take my teenage brother-in-law and his girlfriend and it was the longest 2 hours (and more) of my life.  I wanted to fall asleep, I may have - I don't know, it felt that long

4.  Koyaanisqatsi  - Jesus.  It's this movie with this song that never ends and all these people coming and going on a damn escalator, and there's no plot or dialogue or anything but that fucking song . . . at least, that's all I saw before I went to bed.  Also, I saw it with a boyfriend who I wanted to think I liked it, because clearly he did, but some things you just can't fake. 

5.  Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer - this one really shouldn't require explanation, but I can't help myself.  Imagine it's the early 90s, you're in college with friends and one of your best guy pals tells you about this movie you just HAVE to rent.  And he tells you the title and you're all, "Really?  Serial killers?"  But he's all, "No, seriously, it's funny, you HAVE to see it!"  So you squat down in the common room to reserve the ONE VCR for the dorm, because again, it's '91 and there are no iPods or Netflix or anything.  We had to walk five miles barefoot to Sno-White Video and we were damn glad to do it!  Anyway, so you watch it and it's just . . . nasty.  Seriously.  Yes, it had maybe one or two funny moments by accident, but that is not even remotely enough to describe the movie as a comedy, Adam Howard!  I'd tell you more, but I can't really describe it without probably triggering some super creepy porn. 

In fact, now that I've finished this list I have to go take a shower.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Dallas Morning News had a list of best and worst movies of the past year - and since the only kind of date night we ever go on is to the movies, I had to read it.  My question:  Lincoln is a best, but Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is a worst?  How could anyone watch Mary Todd Lincoln blow a hole right through a vampire chick and NOT be impressed?  Seems kinda harsh...

So I decided to compile my own list, shorter of course 'cause them babysitters cost serious cash, but here it is:

Seven Psychopaths
Silver Linings whatever the hell the rest of that title is
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
Probably that other Lincoln movie - but frankly, I'm probably not going to see it.  Here's my logic: why waste babysitting money on a potentially depressing movie when I can stay home and feel depressed FOR FREE?

What to Expect When You're Expecting (and seriously, you gotta work HARD to make me hate a movie about babies and pregnant ladies.  I mean, I have kids who once WERE babies and twice I WAS pregnant. So, like, I can totally relate)

Whatever Cars movie my kids are watching right now - OK, so I don't even know when it came out, but is it really necessary for cartoon cars to threaten to kill each other?  I got a three-year-old watching, Owen Wilson, let's keep it clean.

Hmmm...I guess that's about it.  And I suppose you could say my list is pretty lame since I can only come up with two "worsts" OR you could say I'm easy to please and kind of a sucker for anything that gets me out of the house.  Either way, I'm a film fan so really, we all win.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Never trust an Irish dentist

So last night I had a dream about my book and it was kind of weird.  There's this character in my book named Declan Byrne, sort of hot mess of an Irish actor.  Not a real actor, just someone I made up, although I'm sure there's loads of guys somewhere with that name in real life and here's hoping they don't sue me.  But anyway, just a fictional Irish movie star with a predilection for sex, drugs, and vampire movies.

In my dream, though, I walked into a room full of real-life Irish actors.  And they were pissed.  At me, for inventing my own actor instead of using one of them in the book.  Which seems a little whiny on their part, but all I know is that one minute I'm walking into an abandoned warehouse, the next minute Liam Neeson's chucking a vat of dill pickles at me.  And not the good kind, like crunchy and garlicky; the crappy kind I bought on sale for Christmas lunch and nobody ate.  Apparently cheap pickles will come back to haunt you; lesson learned the hard way, thanks very much.

So I'm dodging pickles, grown men are yelling at me - and it should be terrifying except their accents are so damn cute, it's not really scary.  Plus, I mean, it's a dream.  Then there's the Irish peridontist from the office where I had my root canal done last year.  Not the angry one who actually performed the procedure and yelled at me to stop squirming, which if you ask me, is a mean thing to say to someone who's taken two Halcions, but that's another story.  Anyway, the damn dentist is shaking his finger at me and that's pretty odd. 

Then Colin Farrell dumps an entire Gatorade thermos of Guinness on my head, and I'm all, "joke's on you asshole; that shit's good for my hair!" And I'm about to throw the thermos right back when I feel these little tiny arms and legs on my back.  All I can think is "holy shit, they've unleashed leprechauns on me!"  So I start fighting the leprechauns and the warehouse fades to black as I peel off these nasty, kicking legs and feet.

And then I wake up.  The Irish mafia is gone, replaced by my six-year-old kicking me awake, demanding apple juice.  As I stumble into the kitchen, push the button on the coffeemaker and grab some juice, I trip over something.  It's my crappy little paper calendar/planner thingy.  I pick it up, flip to today's date where in bright red Sharpie letters I read, "Dentist 9:30."


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013...not so impressive yet.  My New Year's Day started off like so many others, with my 3 year old hissing at his brother (both of whom had crawled into bed, forcing my husband to steal one of their beds) for taking over the prime spot next to me.  "I wanted to sweep next to you!" He practically spat out the words, and if I'd been paying more attention, his narrowed eyes might have alerted me to the impending danger.  But I was half-asleep and so I just swatted him away, pointing out that he already had a turn "sweeping" next to me, and it was his brother's turn now.  Silly, silly woman. 

What happened next can't technically be described as domestic violence because I don't think you can call the cops on your own toddler, but it was horrifying nonetheless. With an angry squeal of, "I wanted to sweep next to Mommy!" he beamed his sippy cup straight into my cheekbone.  For the record, ten ounces of plastic slammed into your cheek hurts a lot more than you'd think.  THEN he started sobbing as if in shock at his own nastiness, and wandered around the house wailing at the top of his tiny lungs until I had to stop my own crying and give him a damn hug.

It was 6:45 am.  Happy Fucking New Year.