Getaway to Santa Fe

   Santa Fe New Mexico is one of my favorite places to visit.  Recently, Wade and I wanted to have a fast weekend get away, and our critieria was four hours away or less.  That left us with a choice of Albuquerque NM, Ruidoso NM, or Santa Fe NM.  We haven’t been to Santa Fe in a while so it won the contest!  We weren’t disappointed in any way!  Last minute internet searches for a reduced hotel rate got us a room at the awesome Eldorado Hotel and Spa, a member of the Preferred Hotel group.  This hotel is located only 2 blocks from the plaza on W. San Francisco Street. The room was quiet, the bed very comfortable, and the bathroom clean with nice amenities.  Their cocktail lounge, The Agave Lounge, makes a wonderful agave coin margarita.  And the green chili cheese “Kobe” beef sliders were extremely yummy!  We will definitely be back at the Eldorado.  Another favorite place to stay is at the La Fonda Hotel which is at least 200 years old and is on the square.  It is currently under renovation, but is and will always be an amazing place to stay.

The Eldorado Hotel and Spa

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The La Fonda

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     After checking in to the hotel, we headed down to the plaza and decided to visit the Loretto Chapel.  I have visited it several times before, but this was Wade’s first time.  It is the most beautiful chapel.   Two mysteries surround the spiral staircase in the Loretto Chapel: the identity of its builder and the physics of its construction.
When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft twenty-two feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem, but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small Chapel.
Legend says that to find a solution to the seating problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the sisters’ prayers.
The stairway’s carpenter, whoever he was, built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today.
The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. Also, it is said that the staircase was built without nails—only wooden pegs. Questions also surround the number of stair risers relative to the height of the choir loft and about the types of wood and other materials used in the stairway’s construction.
Over the years many have flocked to the Loretto Chapel to see the Miraculous Staircase. The staircase has been the subject of many articles, TV specials, and movies including “Unsolved Mysteries” and the television movie titled “The Staircase.”

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     Then it was dinner at Geronimo.  Regretfully I didn’t think to get photos here.  It was a very memorable meal…probably in our Top 3 ever.  We had a delicious Bing Cherry and Proscuitto Salad with Baby arugula, Fresh Burrata, Port Reduction and Sweet Sherry Vinaigrette.  My entree was Fiery Sweet Chili and Honey Grilled Mexican White Prawns with Jasmine Almond Rice Cakes, Frisee’ Red Onion Salad, and Yuzu Basil Aioli.  Absolutely to die for!  Wade had the Peppery Elk Tenderloin and Apple-wood Smoked Bacon with Roasted Garlic Fork-Mashed Potatoes, Sugar Snap Peas, and Creamy Brandied-Mushroom Sauce.  He was equally impressed!  To top it off we enjoyed a nice coffee and decadent mandarin orange tres leches cake.  Go there!  You will not be sorry!  Geronimo Restaurant, 724 Canyon Rd., Santa Fe.  Phone for reservations or use Open Table.

     Here are 2 asses!  Wade made this joke, not me!

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   Another fun thing to do is people watch from the Thunderbird Bar and Grill (formerly The Ore House) on their second story balcony overlooking the Plaza.  We enjoyed great margaritas and chips and salsa, guacamole, and queso.Image

Looking out over the Plaza from the Thunderbird, you can see the Loretto Chapel in the distance.

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The Indians are getting ready to sell their beautiful jewelry on the Plaza.

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Great shopping in Santa Fe.

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And of course, Jackalope, which has gotten huge!

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     After Jackalope it was time for lunch and Harry’s Roadhouse was just the spot.  We opted for a hand shaken margarita and a gluten-free pizza.  Our recent adventure of learning about gluten free foods has been a process of trial and error.  It’s about learning which flours give the best results, and since we love to make pizza we decided to try it at Harry’s.  This margherita pizza with proscuitto was delicious.  The crust was tasty and crisp.  I asked our waiter and he told me it was made from brown rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch.  We tore into the pizza before I got the photo, so here is half of the pizza that was left!

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     On our last morning, we got in line outside the door 30 minutes before Cafe Pasqual’s opened for breakfast.  We had tried to get a dinner reservation the evening before, but it was already full.  Pasqual’s is one of those rare, amazing places that is always the same.  Always consistently delicious year after year.  It remains small with a community table, uses sustainable organic ingredients, and is the tastiest food ever!  I ordered Huevos Rancheros with 2 eggs which most people get over easy, but I ordered mine medium, with black beans on a corn tortilla, red and green chile and melted jack.  Wade ordered Huevos Barbacoa Con Chile D’Arbol Salsa.  It was marinated, slow cooked shredded beef with 2 eggs on corn tortillas , refried beans, and cotija cheese.  We thought we had died and gone to heaven!  After practically licking our bowls, I asked our waiter for dessert.  Wade thought I was crazy until he took a bite of the Lemon Meringe Tartlet.  It was completely amazing!  You will love Cafe Pasqual’s.  Be sure to pick up one of their new cookbooks, “Cooking With Cafe Pasqual’s”, their second book.  The first cookbook was published in 1993, “Cafe Pasqual’s Cookbook”.  The executive chef and founder of Pasqual’s is  Katharine Kagel.  In 1999 Cafe Pasqual’s  received the James Beard America’s Regional Cooking Classics award and Kagel was nominated for Best Chef: Southwest that same year.

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   It was time to head for home, but first we stopped by Trader Joe’s and loaded up some great groceries, a pineapple plant, and a beautiful huge basil plant!    We are already talking about our next weekend getaway to Santa Fe!

 

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08-19-2012 I MET MY DONOR, ROBERT!

What an awesome week I had!  On August 8th and 9th, Wade and I were in Houston at MD Anderson for my appointments.  My appointment with Dr. Hosing went very well!  We enjoyed dinners with friends and family, visited the 11th floor where I was hospitalized for my transplant, ran into Alison Gulbis, my PharmD, and had a visit and hug with Dr. Garcia-Manero!  It was all so very good!  I will blog about all of this next week and post some photos.  I got some great photos I will share!

We then flew to Philadelphia to meet Robert and his family.  Our flight was delayed due to weather, but we finally arrived at the hotel (The Inn at Penn – which is next to the Penn campus – a great place to stay).  The Gawlas family was waiting for us there.  It was an unbelievable experience to meet Robert and his family!  He was there with his parents, Bob and Cathy, brother David, and sister Katie.  I had waited a long time for this!  Yes, I was teary…happy tears to finally meet the young man who had saved my life!  It was an indescribable experience!  There are no words to describe it!  We went to dinner at Fogo de Chao and it was delicious.

                                                                                                                  Left to right:  David, Robert, Katie, Cathy, Bob, me and Wade

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ROBERT!

The next day, Robert gave us a tour of the University of Pennsylvania campus which is a beautiful campus.  The University is the 4th oldest in the United States, founded in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin.  We ended up in the football stadium where Robert plays football.  This will be his senior year.  Wade and I hope to go to one of his games:)  Like when Penn plays Harvard since his brother David plays football for Harvard!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       The Love Sign UPenn campus

That afternoon we saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the US Mint.

                                                                                                                                     The Liberty Bell, Robert and Katie with Independence Hall in the background.

After a little rest, we loaded up and went to eat Philadelphia Cheese Steak sandwiches on our way to a Phillies game.  Geno’s and Pat’s are across the street from one another and in big competition to have the Number One Philly Cheese Steak so we got sandwiches from both places and tried them both.  You gotta order them with “Cheese Whiz wit” or “Cheese Whiz without” (grilled onions).  They were delicious, well worth the wait!  You definitely have to get Cheese Whiz.  It just melts into the steak!  Notice the lines and the traffic in the pictures!  We voted and half of us liked Geno’s best, the other half, Pat’s.  It was a toss up!

                                                                                                                         This is a mural on a brick building next to Geno’s.  Pretty cool!

Visiting all of the major league baseball parks is on my bucket list, and Robert (not knowing this) suggested we all go to the Phillies/Cardinals game Saturday night.  I was thrilled!  It’s a great ballpark.  I especially liked the Liberty Bell that lights up anytime the Phillies hit a home run.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to watch the bell do its special thing that night…no home runs!  Robert’s girlfriend, Teresa, joined us for the cheese steaks and game.  It was lots of fun!

                                                                                                                                                                                                Bob, David, and Cathy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Robert and Teresa

After the game it was time to say goodbye which was very difficult.  There were lots of tears from me and lots of hugs.  I was not wanting the weekend to be over!   It truly was an amazing weekend spent with the most unselfish, giving person and his wonderful family, the one who gave me my life back.  Thank you Robert!  And thank you Cathy and Bob!

A few final thoughts:  Roberta, from Be the Match, the bone marrow registry, told me that Robert and I would be a lot alike since we have the exact same DNA.  Over this weekend visit it became apparent!  To be so different and at the same time share the very same DNA is mind blowing.  One thing is for sure…the Gawlas family felt like family from the very beginning when we met.  It was never awkward or uncomfortable.  It was more like discovering a missing link in my life!  And there is definitely a special connection there!  I hope they will always be a part of my life!  I will be forever thankful for Robert!  I love you Robert!  You are AWESOME!

Please get into the bone marrow registry at BeTheMatch.com so that you can possibly save a life just like Robert did!

06-27-2012 Austin is street food heaven!

Wade and I got to spend a few days in Austin last week, and we always love the Austin scene!  Particularly the food!  The street trucks and trailers have increased dramatically since our last visit to Austin.  Needless to say we ate some great street food!  All of these shown are in the South Congress or the “SoCo” area.

Crepes Mille…(and Lockhart BBQ next door)

Ms P’s Electric Cock…

The famous Mighty Cones…delicious fried chicken breasts, slaw, and a chipotle dressing inside a tortilla that is placed in a paper snow cone type wrapper.

Hey Cupcake! … have your cupcake injected with whipped cream!

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AND OUR TWO FAVES THIS TRIP…

Gourdough Big. Fat. Donuts.

                                                                                                      Wade had the Flying Pig, his donut was covered with bacon and maple syrup.  I had the Sara’s Joy, a donut with coconut cream, chocolate icing, and shredded coconut.  These donuts are huge and hugely wonderful!  They are fried when you order.

This is Torchy’s Tacos

I don’t think I have ever had a better taco, and their salsa and queso are to die for!  There is a reason this place is ranked #9 out of 1561 restaurants in Austin on Trip Advisor!  Wade had their most popular taco, The Green Chili Pork, slow roasted pork carnitas simmered in green chilies, topped with queso fresco, cilantro, onions, and a wedge of lime on a corn tortilla with tomatillo sauce.  I had The Crossroads, smoked beef brisket with grilled onions, jalapeno, cilantro, jack cheese, and avocado served on a corn tortilla with tomatillo sauce.  On a second visit (!) I had The Baja Shrimp with grilled shrimp, cabbage slaw, pickled jalapenos and onions, queso fresco, mango, cilantro and lime on a flour tortilla with chipotle sauce.  We also tried the street corn, fresh roasted off-the-cob corn topped with ancho aiolo, queso fresco, cilantro, and dusted with New Mexico red chili powder.  It is amazing!  Besides the trailer, they have an eat in restaurant nearby.  Look for this little devil..Damn Good Tacos!

A fun place to get a great cocktail is at Lambert’s at 401 W. 2nd St.  The 2nd street area has some cool shops and restaurants.  Lambert’s has a great happy hour at 5:00, serving delicious bar food half price along with $2 off their drinks.  I ordered a Sangria Blanco which is Vino Verde, peach brandy, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, lemon, orange, and lime slices.  It was dangerously delicious!  Demetrius is the most awesome bartender!  Make sure to go when he is there.  Lambert’s serves what I would call fancy barbeque, and has live music.

Sangria Blanco

And of course, how can you go to SoCo in Austin and not drop into Allens Boots?!  There are more Old Gringo boots here than you have ever seen in your life!  Rows and rows.  And some pretty cool clothes too!

We left Austin and flew to Dallas.  That will be a post forthcoming!  Meanwhile, smile a lot!

Holly