Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lobster Gram - Yummy

My birthday continued after we returned home from NM. One of my gifts was a Lobstergram from my daughter Linda & Todd. They sent an email with the gift number and a phone number to call to arrange for delivery and it was sent FedEx overnight with an email notice that it was sent.

We arranged for it to be delivered on Wed 8/12, knowing we would be home for sure and would be able to cook them that night.
Mr. FedEx man brought the stryofoam box about 12:20. I laughed and asked him if they were my lobsters and he said yes. Then I told him that I would invite him for dinner – but was selfish, sorry! He walked away laughing.

Once we opened the box there was the hardware (bib, nutcrackers and pick). The food was piled in there. A box that had a plastic bag with New England Clam Chowder; 2 packages of oyster crackers; 2 1# bags of clams (there were a total of 20 of them); a whole lemon; a small container of clarified butter; 2 packages with 2 red potatoes and 1 ear of corn with the husk; and then sitting on top of 2 frozen packs were 2 / 2# lobsters trying to move around.

Preparing for dinner we had to have wine in our good wine glasses.

I steamed the clams and ate them about 2 hours before dinner, so we would be ready to enjoy our most luxurious meal.

Since we were having butter with the lobsters I made seafood sauce with ketchup and Boar’s Head Horseradish sauce.

They sure look big!!

The corn and the potatoes in their individual packages.

The instructions said to put them in head 1st so the feelers or claws won’t slap your arm, (which happened to me the 1st time I cooked lobster nearly 50 years ago)!

Dinner is ready!

And then Gene being the joy that he is, surprised me with an ice cream cake. (I am named after my grandmother and she was Weez so they call me that too!)

The cake lasted for days, so this was very special celebration.

We highly recommend LobsterGram for special gift giving. Everything was perfect from start to finish and they have other things besides seafood, like fantastic looking steaks and aged beef.
Thanks to everyone who made it so very special.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Birthday con't. Luna Mansion 8/5/09

This had to have been one of the most memorable birthdays ever. One of the others was when I turned 60 and my kids gave me 60 gifts. What fun that was! Another was a scavenger hunt for a mother’s ring that had all the kids and grandkids birthstones.

Right after we moved to Los Lunas, NM in the late 70's the Luna Mansion was opened as a steakhouse restaurant. Over the years it had its ups and downs until it was closed several months ago.
A local family recently bought it and totally renovated it and this showplace of Valencia County was reopened the end of July. When we heard this I knew that was where I wanted to have dinner on my birthday. And let me tell you we were not disappointed.
It is hard to read the sign, but it was original the hacienda of the Luna family and is built of adobe. It is very unusual to see a 2-story adobe building. (Adobe is brick made with mud, dried in the hot NM sun and used a building bricks).
The décor is black on white. It sounds stark but really is warm, elegant and very inviting.
The red velvet drapes in the curved bay window are outstanding. Gene and I shared a steak dinner that melted in our mouths. During dinner one of the family members came by our table and thanked us for being some of the 1st patrons of their new venture.
(The Torres family also owns the New Mexican restaurant right across the street that serves outstanding New Mexican food.)

I had mentioned it was my birthday and that resulted in a beautifully presented and fantastic piece of cheesecake with strawberry sauce and a candle.
After dinner, with Gene’s son and wife, we went to see them play beach volleyball in a nearby park.
While we were there the full moon started to rise over the Manzano Mountains.
After the games we went for pie at the Village Inn and got the call that a friend had a baby at 10:21 – Evan William.

What a day! Rail Runner to Santa Fe and the plaza, dinner at the "Mansion", volleyball, and Evan. And it wasn't over yet. After we arrived home a Lobster gram was delivered with live lobsters and clams. OMG was that good and the subject of another blog.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My birthday in Santa Fe, New Mexico Plaza 8/5/09

We have visited Santa Fe many, many times but arriving to Santa Fe this time on the Rail Runner Commuter High Speed Train was a 1st for both of us. Once a day there is one that goes directly from Belen, NM to Santa Fe without any delays or change of trains. There are several that go north from Albuquerque every day but there is a lay over for anyone traveling from the south.
Once we arrived in Santa Fe there was a shuttle sitting there waiting to take the Plaza.

It was still morning so our 1st stop was for breakfast. This little café is on the northeast side of the plaza – just across the street from the east end of the Palace of the Governors. We ate a very good breakfast burrito. After we ordered we saw a sign advertising their pancakes made with blue corn meal. There is nothing better than blue corn tortillas, but it was too early for cheese enchiladas with red chile. Yum-my

As we were leaving we noticed the door handle. How New Mexico! It is a brass chile pepper.

We strolled back to the plaza and one of the streets that surround it is The Old Santa Fe Trail. I remember bringing my German uncles here over 30 years ago and they were so tickled to see the Santa Fe Trail after seeing western movies in Germany for many years.

Just off the plaza is the famous La Fonda Hotel. There are 2 kinds of building styles prominent in Santa Fe. La Fonda is in the adobe style. The other is territorial that has sharper edges and not as rounded as the adobe. The State Capitol building is not that far from the plaza and the law is that no building can be higher than the capitol building, so you will not see very many multi storied buildings in the immediate area.

St. Francis Cathedral is a block off the plaza on the east side. It is the seat of the Catholic Diocese of Santa Fe. Not far from the Cathedral is the Miraculous staircase. It is a circular stairway built in 2 – 360 degree circle without the use of any nails. The sisters of Loretto tell the legend that St. Joseph arrived at the chapel one day, built the staircase to the choir loft and left. No one ever saw him again.
The Palace of the Governors is the longest occupied public building in this country. The Native Americans have sat under the eaves for centuries, selling their wares. The building itself is a museum.
After just a few hours in Santa Fe we returned on the shuttle of the return trip south on the Rail Runner.

RAIL RUNNER Commuter Train - Belen, NM to Santa Fe, NM

We moved away from NM 8 years ago and this train wasn’t even started. The track is there and actually runs from Cheyenne, WY all through Colorado south to El Paso, TX.

For right now the Rail Runner only goes between Belen (about 30 miles south of Albuquerque and Santa Fe (about 60 miles north of Albuquerque).
It is strange to watch this train go by because going south the engine leads all the cars. I guess they are not able to turn it around so when it goes north the back end goes first with the engine in the back.
On our recent visit to NM we rode from our RV campground at Isleta Lakes to Santa Fe and enjoyed the whole trip. Gene grew up riding trains since his father worked for the Santa Fe Railroad out of Belen. This was the 1st time I was on a full sized train for so long a trip. We went upstairs and were able to really enjoy the views.

Just north of Albuquerque we passed a rock outcropping standing all by itself. When my kids were small they would call it “The Thumb” and wave their thumb pointing up as we came up to it and then wave with their thumb pointing down as we went past it. To this day I can’t pass The Thumb without thinking about that and smiling.

Some new rail had to be built and for a short distance, just south of Santa Fe, they put it right down the middle of I-25. It is very strange driving down the highway and having a train coming toward you in the middle of the road.

Even the new station on the south side of Santa Fe straddles both north and south lanes of the Interstate.

When we arrived in Santa Fe (and at all stops) there are FREE shuttles to take you to different locations in the area. We took ours to the Plaza (see follow up blog for our few hours in Santa Fe.)

Finally New Mexico got something right. The trip took about 90 minutes and with a senior discount the round trip cost $12.00 for the 2 of us!!! There are so many categories NM ranks in the lower 10 but they have to be really congratulated on this shuttle.

It seems to be successful too. The conductor said the 4:30 train from Santa Fe south has 600 –700 people every day.

Good job New Mexico!!! If you are visiting the area, take a few hours to ride the Rail Runner, sit back and enjoy the incredible scenery of the Land of Enchantment!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

AmerAsia – Diem Sum Albuquerque, New Mexico

This restaurant is absolutely our most favorites and every time we are in NM we eat there at least one time.
So what is Diem Sum? Most are small tidbits – usually just a few bites that can be eaten with chopsticks or the fingers. The host or hostess pushes a little cart with all the selections on it. You make a selection and they put 3 on a separate plate on your table. We were at a huge Diem Sum restaurant in Chinatown in Chicago and each host goes around among the tables with only one selection the cart.
There is soy sauce or a hot chile pepper paste on the table as condiments

We always start with a Sichuan Salad and since we are not experts with chopsticks, ask for a fork. It is cold noodles with carrots & celery and slightly spicy.

Next favorite is the scallion pancake – a delicious layered pancake that you can actually taste the scallions / green onions.

Curry Pasty made with flaky crust and curried veggies.
There are too many other favorites to have all in one visit, so gee whiz, we have to go back to get it all!! LOL

Steamed dumping stuffed with beef & garlic then deep fried – Beef Jiao Tzu

Steamed and stuffed with beef and water chestnuts – Phoenix Eye

Raised dough filled with Chinese BBQ Pork & steamed – Bao Zi

Traditional Pot Stickers with Pork, Cabbage and Ginger – Pork Jiao Tzu

And then what we have for dessert –
Sesame Balls – Sweet rice dough coated with sesame seeds and filled with sweet red bean paste.

Snowballs – OMG are these good. Sweet rice dough stuffed with fruit filling and rolled in coconut and a small piece of lemon peel on top.

Fried egg roll skins or wonton wrappers and heavily coated with powdered sugar.

At the end of the meal our hostess counts how many plates and figures the total.

There are many other selections too but these are the ones we like best.

We leave there full, satisfied and feeling good that we ate lots of good, freshly prepared food.
AmerAsia shares the building with a sushi restaurant at 800 3rd St. (3rd goes south in front of the building – north of Lomas). Open 11AM to 2 PM Monday to Sat. and 5:30 – 8:30 Fri. and Sat.