Chihuly in Denver

Glass Sculptures grace the Denver Botanical Gardens.

A lovely display of exquisite glass sculptures by world renowned artist Dale Chihuly are dramatic and yet peaceful in Denver exhibition.

Vibrant colors, whimsical shapes — some flamboyant, some subtle — entertain, amuse, and impress visitors. The exhibition just closed, but the effect lingers in the minds, memories and photos of those fortunate enough to experience it.

It is fun to see some different sculptures in the Denver Botanical Gardens that were not in Desert Botanical Gardens exhibit in Phoenix. It is equally fun seeing familiar shapes from the Phoenix gardens in the Denver setting.

ENJOY!

Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver

 

Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in DenverChihuly in DenverChihuly in Denver

Chihuly in DenverChihuly in DenverChihuly in Denver
Chihuly in Denver Chihuly in Denver
Chihuly in Denver

 

 

Chihuly in Denver Chihuly in Denver Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver Chihuly in DenverChihuly in Denver

Chihuly in DenverChihuly in DenverChihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver

 

Chihuly in Denver Chihuly in Denver

 

 

 

 

 

Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver Chihuly in Denver

Chihuly in Denver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Credits: Darian J, Devon J, Bradley P, Tyler P

Beignets & Coffee

Beignets & Coffee at World Famous Cafe du Monde

Are THE BEST in New Orleans

 

Beignets & Coffee Having Beignets & Coffee at Cafe Du Monde is a MUST when in New Orleans! Beignets & Coffee

 A traditional coffee shop in the French Market of New Orleans, the Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand is World Famous for its Beignets and Cafe’ au Lait…. and in my opinion, they offer the BEST in New Orleans! The Cafe, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week — closing only on Christmas Day and  “on the day an occasional Hurricane passes too close to New Orleans” —Beignets & Coffee also offers the  opportunity to people watch and is a wonderful spot for the entertainment of the iconic street musicians.

Beignets & Coffee

 Beignets are square French-style doughnuts, lavishly covered with powdered sugar. The square pieces of dough are fried then dusted with powdered sugar. Coming from the Southwest, they remind me of Mexican Sopapilla’s served with honey or cinnamon/sugar.

As a youngster, I enjoyed ‘Fry Babies’ as a treat on the days my mother made bread.  Saving aside small pieces of dough, she patted and stretched them into circles, then deep-fried them. But ‘Fry Babies’ were more like the Indian Fry Bread of the Southwest than Mexican Sopapillas or the French Beignets. Sapapillas are more of a ‘quick’ bread using a leavening agent like baking powder rather than yeast. Beignets have a unique flavor of their own and the dough itself is a ‘choux pastry’, containing only butter, water, flour, and eggs. Instead of a raising agent, it employs high moisture content to create steam during cooking to puff the pastry.   

Beignets & CoffeeJust as Sopapillas with honey are sticky eating, the Beignets –buried under a mountain of snowy white powdered sugar– are fun to eat, with the  super fine powder poofing off into the air and getting everywhere!

Beignets and COFFEE

Beignets & Coffee The Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand has been serving dark roasted coffee with chicory since 1862.  The rich dark coffee is served ‘black ‘ or ‘au Lait’  (mixed half and half with warm milk).

 Nothing goes better with Beignets than cafe’ au lait! And of course, they both taste BEST when eaten IN New Orleans AT Cafe’ du Monde!

Images: Gail H; Vicki L; Great Food Fun Places

de’Medici Cucina Italiana

de’Medici Cucina Italiana

“Fine Italian Dining”

in San Diego’s Downtown Gaslamp District

Out on the town for an evening of dinner and a concert, we chose a restaurant in the Gaslamp district of San Diego.  de’Medici Cucina Italiana is only a couple blocks from the Balboa Theater, the Lyceum Theater and a parking garage near Horton Plaza in the Gaslamp District. Great location and SO easy to get to!!

de' Medici Cucina ItalianaThe owner, Salvatore Vitale – “just call me Sal!” – posed for a photo.  Very friendly and very solicitous, Sal went around to the tables several times checking on his patrons, all the time keeping an absolute eagle eye on the servers and the kitchen.

de' Medici Cucina Italiana

de’Medici offers alfresco dining and on this  beautiful balmy evening their alfresco area was packed!    The interior has a lovely ambiance and we want to eat in there next time, but this evening was too beautiful to be eating inside and we joined the others dining in the open air – alfresco!

 

First, we were served a kind of garlic bread that had a kind of pesto spread on it (really delicious). Sorry, I didn’t think to find out more about it, nor did I think to take a picture!

de' Medici Cucina Italiana

Our Caesar salad (Fabulous!) was made table-side by our delightful waiter, Antonio.

de' Medici Cucina Italiana

In between the salad and the entree we were served lime sorbet — to cleanse our palate!

Even though it’s fine “Italian” dining – and we do want to go back and eat our way through the Pasta list! – we both ended up getting the filet mignon and lobster tail combo.  Wow! The filet mignon had a port wine-reduction sauce and cut like butter. The lobster tail was done to absolute perfection.

And for dessert? Tempting choices of  Tiramisu, Cannoli, Profiterolls, Gelato Berries, Cream Brulee, Floating Island….the list goes on…  Sadly, we weren’t able to sample (or even get a look at) any of these delectable desserts as we had to leave for the concert. Another return engagement is required to eat our way through the desserts along with the Pasta List

de' Medici Cucina Italianade’Medici Cucina Italiana has an “Excellent” rating from Zagat. I never thought I’d ever have the chance to eat in a Zagat “Excellent” rated restaurant – that’s heady stuff!    And yet, we found de’ Medici to be very reasonably priced for such a fancy restaurant.

“From the Spaghetti al Pomodoro Fresco to the award winning Sole Portofino, de’Medici signature dishes are a feast to be remembered.”

Visit the website of de’Medici Cucina italiana 

 Thanks, Alice P, for this fun post!

Last Stop: Belgium -Cruising Scandinavia

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise

Belgium  – Our Last Stop   

 

Our Scandinavian-Baltic cruise concluded with a stop in Belgium.

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium

 Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium We spent the morning of our final destination, Belgium, visiting Flanders Field, near Eiper (or Ypres in French). This town is so old it was destroyed by the Romans in the 1st century AD. It was again reduced to rubble during WWI. This area was a crucial battle sight between Germany and France. Almost 12,000 soldiers are buried in Tyne Cot (just one of many cemeteries here).

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium

The afternoon was spent in Bruges – probably my favorite of the medieval towns. Even the rainy day couldn’t spoil this treasure! The chocolate we purchased did not make it back home -we knew it would melt!

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium

 

 

 

 

 

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium

Scandinavia & Baltic Cruise: Belgium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Author: Vicki L

Copenhagen Denmark – Cruising Scandinavia

Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic

Copenhagen, Denmark

 

Our trip was winding down by the time we got to Copenhagen, Denmark.

Copenhagen Denmark - Cruising Scandinavia

What a beautiful city. It was so clean.  I think the reason is that there is such a huge tax (50-100%) on private vehicles, so most people walk or ride bicycles. There are around 550,000 people in Copenhagen and over 680,000 registered bicycles!!

 We passed the 370 year old Stock Exchange building on our river cruise and saw some other beautiful buildings and fountains.

Copenhagen Denmark - Cruising Scandinavia

Copenhagen Denmark - Cruising Scandinavia

On our city tour, we saw Amalienborg – the quartet of palaces (really fairly small ones) that house the Queen, her 2 sons and their families and the guest palace.

Copenhagen Denmark - Cruising Scandinavia

 And, no visit would be complete without seeing the statue of the Little Mermaid in the harbor.

Copenhagen Denmark - Cruising Scandinavia

        Guest Author: Vicki L

Helsinki, Finland – on the Scandinavia Cruise

Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic

Helsinki, Finland

After St. Petersburg, we went to Helsinki, Finland. What a difference!

We had an opportunity to take a drive around the city of Helsinki and stopped at a beautiful Lutheran church that almost looked Russian.

Helsinki, Finland - on the Scandinavia Cruise

  And another church, built in 1969, was blasted out of solid rock

Helsinki, Finland - on the Scandinavia Cruise

Helsinki, Finland - on the Scandinavia Cruise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took an unusual tour to a Finnish horse farm that’s been in the family for centuries – not just decades!

Helsinki, Finland - on the Scandinavia Cruise

Helsinki, Finland - on the Scandinavia Cruise

Currently, four generations with 26 family members run the farm. We had a lovely lunch in the house (never thought I would enjoy a fish casserole…but I did. Sorry, no pictures).

And we got to see preparations for an international horse and carriage competition.Helsinki, Finland - on the Scandinavia Cruise

Helsinki, Finland - on the Scandinavia Cruise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Author: Vicki L

House of Tricks Restaurant

House of Tricks  — an Oasis in the Desert

House of Tricks RestaurantThis charming restaurant is nestled inside a fenced garden under a canopy of trees which provide a relaxing and peaceful environment for enjoying ‘mouth-watering cuisine’!   Just off the beaten path in downtown Tempe, Arizona, this delightful treasure is a favorite of locals and those visitors lucky enough to discover it.

House of Tricks RestaurantSitting on the ‘sun dappled’ patio under shady trees, umbrellas and enjoying the cool misting system, we lingered over an exquisite late afternoon lunch. The contemporary American menu offers a variety of seasonally inspired options that also reflect an “eclectic blend of cultures and flavors” and feature fresh produce when availableHouse of Tricks Restaurant

House of Tricks Restaurant House of Tricks RestaurantWe  chose  the Albacore Tuna Melt Sandwich with Tomato, Bacon and Havarti Cheese on Sourdough with Spring Mix Salad. And the Grilled Salmon entree which was served over Baby Lettuce with Sweet Roasted Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Avocado, Chive Risotto Cake, Tortilla Strips and Chipotle-Grapefruit Vinaigrette

House of Tricks Restaurant.

Following these amazing meals, there was no ignoring dessert! We opted for the daily special : a Blueberry Tea Cheesecake Mousse over chocolate cookie crumbs and served in a brandy snifter – oh my! House of Tricks RestaurantIt was all at once light and rich and decadent and delicious! And a perfect ending to our delightful al fresco lunch!

 

See the full menu and learn about the ‘Tricks’

 

 

St Petersburg-Day 2

Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic

St Petersburg Part 3

 

Day 2 in St Petersburg

Our second day in St. Petersburg was spent at the Hermitage –the Winter Palace – Peter and Paul Fortress –
and the Russian Orthodox Cathedral where the tsars are buried.St Petersburg-Day 2 of Scandinavia Cruise

St Petersburg-Day 2 of Scandinavia Cruise

St Petersburg-Day 2 of Scandinavia Cruise

We heard a very different version regarding the deaths of Tsar Nicholas II and his family (the Romanovs) deaths before the Communist takeover. During the Communist era religion was banned. Churches and cathedrals were turned into libraries, offices and even an ice rink or two. Most of the icons and other religious artifacts were stolen or sold off.

Vladamir Putin is from St. Petersburg and has been instrumental in getting many of the buildings renovated (even though I abhor what he has done elsewhere).

St. Petersburg really is the Venice of the North.

St Petersburg-Day 2 of Scandinavia Cruise
St Petersburg-Day 2 of Scandinavia Cruise

Guest Author: Vicki L.

Peterhof Palace – St Petersburg

 Cruising Scandinavia &  the Baltic

St Petersburg Part 2

 

Peterhof Palace

Part of our first day in St. Petersburg was taking an 1 1/2 hour trip through the suburbs and rural areas to Peterhof Palace – the summer home of Peter the Great. OMG!! The pictures just can’t do it justice. There were massive lawns, gardens and fountains everywhere.

Peterhof Palace - St Petersburg

St P5 Peterhof Palace - St Petersburg

Peterhof Palace - St Petersburg

Inside and out, gold gilt was used extensively. Peter was able to take a boat from St. Petersburg right up to his summer palace. It was good to be the tsar!

Peterhof Palace - St Petersburg

Peterhof Palace - St Petersburg

Peterhof Palace - St Petersburg

Guest Author: Vicki L

St Petersburg – Scandinavia Cruise

 Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic

 

On to  St. Petersburg, Russia, for two days!   

Part 1

St Petersburg- Scandinavia Cruise

This city has been on my bucket list for at least 15 years.

After our visit,  I’ve decided it was good to be the Tsar (or Tsarina) because life was miserable for everyone else. I would have had to be a Tsarina!  The difference between the royalty and everyone else was staggering. One can easily see how the peasants decided to overthrow the Tsars but I don’t think they realized that communism would be even more oppressive.

I’m splitting this into 3 different posts – this first one is just scenes around St. Petersburg. Some are views from our river cruise on the Neva River in the heart of the city.

St Petersburg- Scandinavia Cruise

St Petersburg- Scandinavia Cruise

St Petersburg- Scandinavia Cruise

St Petersburg- Scandinavia Cruise

St Petersburg- Scandinavia Cruise

St Petersburg- Scandinavia Cruise

Guest Author: Vicki L