Rembrandt’s Chattanooga


I had the great pleasure of hanging out in Chattanooga recently with two of my good friends. We were in town for a two-day conference but stayed over an extra day just to enjoy each other and the city — to indulge in one more day kid-free and just us girls.

One of the things we did was visit Rembrandt’s Coffee House in Chattanooga’s Bluff View Art District.

The art district is a very cute historic-looking area with several bakeries and restaurants to choose from. It looks much older than it actually is with much of what’s there only having opened since the mid ’90s (Rembrandt’s opened in ’94).

It’s near the river with great views of the water and a nearby sculpture garden too.

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Me and Stephanie at the bakery case

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Panoramic view of inside Rembrandt’s

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The courtyard is quaint yet gorgeous with a very “old town” feel

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Yum! Look at what we sampled. Coffees and pastries!

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Lots of chocolate-y things in the pastry case

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Memorable Eats


Week fourteen in the Rocket City Bloggers year long blogging challenge: What is the most memorable meal you’ve ever had?

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Clockwise: Grille 29 bananas foster, spaghetti at a little hole in the wall Italian place on Kauai, watermelon at my friend’s son’s baptism, my first Nicaraguan meal.

Food is such an integral part of the human experience that the thought process of narrowing down just one “most memorable meal” produces lots of memories of meals-gone-by.

For the food alone, there’s The Melting Pot at which I loved every course and the time we ate at Grille 29 and the fantabulous bananas foster dessert was over the top!

But not every food-related memory is about the food itself. Like, there was the time we ate hot dogs in the rain at Disney World, which is memorable not for the hot dogs but for the torrential downpour and huddling a family of four under one table umbrella trying to keep the kids completely try and the adults as dry as possible.

Which reminds me of Corn Dog 7 at the mall food court when I was a kid. I loved getting corn dogs at the mall, and for a time they had funnel cakes too.

Which reminds me of my most memorable funnel cake, a few years ago at Oktoberfest. I’d only ever seen funnel cakes topped with powdered sugar, but this carnival food stand added things like chocolate syrup or butterscotch, which were memorably yum.

The meal on my honeymoon that cost more than $100 for two.

The first time I ate with chopsticks at Nothing But Noodles.

Taking my sons to Olive Garden for Mother’s Day, memorable for all the whining about the two-hour wait followed by praising how much they loved it and thanking for me taking us there.

So, back to where I started, food is such an integral part of the human experience that it’s inseparably wrapped up into the experience itself, such that my most memorable meals aren’t necessarily about the food itself but the experience as a whole.

The good, the bad, and the food we eat in between — “It’s all part of the experience.”

 

Superheroes Eat Too


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We finally made it over to Supper Heroes restaurant last weekend.

In our neck of the woods, locally-owned burger and chicken places pop up from time to time. We definitely like to try new places and sometimes take others there or make it a family favorite.

Every thing I’d heard about Supper Heroes from those who had been there was good, and we had to, of course, check it out for the superhero theming.

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We all ordered pretty “safe” entrees, nothing too out there, although the menu packs lots of variety. The boys had chicken fingers and I got a bacon cheeseburger. I had to try the fried green tomatoes too, because fried green tomatoes are my favorite vegetable.

It is still considered a vegetable, even if you batter and fry it … right?

The burger reminded me of a Red Robin burger but on sourdough toast. The green tomatoes weren’t the best I’ve had but it may be because it’s too early in the growing season to have them fresh. I’ll just have to try them again. ;)

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Finn didn’t have much to say on the chicken — keep reading for his full review — but he liked watching Star Wars Episode 1 on the flat screen while we were there.

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The favorite part for Caden was that the dessert that came with the kids meal was your choice of a Little Debbie cake. (And, being allowed to play his brother’s iPod during the meal. He wouldn’t even look up for a picture.)

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I don’t generally eat slaw but the look of this slaw was intriguing. It little red flakes in it that turned out to be cayenne pepper. The slaw was kinda sweet, so the cayenne gave it a sweet-heat flavor.

I saved the best review for last though.

From the outside, you wouldn’t even know there was a restaurant in the building, much less a super-hero restaurant.

So Finn, the thoughty 9-year-old he is, said:

“From the outside it looks kinda boring, but on the inside it’s pretty awesome.”

‘Nuf Said.

Check ’em Out @ 1812 Winchester Road (Huntsville AL).

Also check out the reviews and photos by AKA Jane Random and Rocket City Mom.

Emma’s Tea Room


In Huntsville we have this adorable little place, Emma’s Tea Room, which I’ve been meaning to write about for a while, partly to showcase some of my photos of their couture decor.

My first time there, I was immediately captivated by the quaint old house, the charming atmosphere and delicious chicken salad!

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It’s a fun place for bridal or baby showers, a mother-daughter tea, or lunch with the girls.I suppose you could go on a lunch date there too, but it might me a little too frou-frou for the menfolk.

They also have a little shop with jewelry and other unique knick-knacky things.

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Call ahead to pick up orders to-go.

The fruit is fresh and the tea is sweet and flavored.

And sometimes, just sometimes, you might run into a doll like this little lady below who was dressed so sweetly while dining one day with her great aunt.

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Owner Rebekah Klein named the restaurant after her daughter, Emma, who is also a budding musician. Emma performs locally at the Flint River Coffee Company — which I love! and — of course — at her namesake restaurant, Emma’s Tea Room and the Huntsville Songwriters Round.

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Confessions of a Picky Eater


I’ve long been a picky eater, and especially when it comes to green foods.

It’s not really anything to do with the color “green.” It just so happened that all the foods I didn’t like also happened to be green. Broccoli, peas, green beans, salad ….

At some point I was able to sum up my food aversions with one sentence: “I don’t eat things that are green.”

Well, I’m happy to say that’s no longer true.

Going back to a few years ago, I started trying more and more new foods of all different colors, including green, because I was tired of being picky.

I realized this past week just how far I’d come when nearly every meal included something green. Guacamole and grilled cucumbers with my Mexican dish at lunch. Jalapenos on my nachos. Grilled broccoli with dinner. I didn’t pick around the peas in the fried rice.

This is not just a change in attitude about green foods in particular but about having a more open mind about food in general. I have misjudged a lot of foods based on smell or look or one bad experience. How a food is prepared makes a BIG difference. So I’m trying to be more open to new foods in general and so far I’m enjoying the results!

Recipe for Roasted Parmesan Green Beans (pictured above)

 

It’s Not Easy Eating Green


“I don’t eat anything green.”

That was my stance just a few years ago even and has been all my life. No broccoli. No green beans. No turnip greens. No lettuce until I was 18 or so. I did, however, enjoy fried green tomatoes. But that was it.

I still don’t eat turnip greens, but I’ve come to learn that if prepared the right way, I actually like broccoli and green beans pretty well (as well as few other non-green vegetables — squash, peppers, carrots to name a few).

I think my disdain for green beans originates with a bad experience as a preschooler. The babysitter I stayed with while my mom worked had made green beans for lunch. I refused to eat them in a not-so-nice way. I said a “dirty” word and MeMe washed my mouth out with soap (basically put a wet cloth with a bar of soap in it in my mouth) and then had me eat green beans. The combination of soap taste + yucky green bean taste didn’t help my feelings towards green beans one bit.

Also, my mom cooked green beans on the stove top with a beef bullion cube. My sister loves them this way and can eat a whole can all to herself. Not me.

A few years ago, while out at a restaurant, green beans were served to me (not of my own choosing) but these looked different. They were longer and held their shape instead of a soft mush like the stove-top ones always looked. They were topped with almonds. This “new” kind of green bean intrigued me so I tried it. Yum. They were actually really good. I started making them at home with just a little butter and almond slices on top.

Since then I’ve tried (and love!) both the spicy green beans and the fried green beans at PF Changs, and any number of restaurant green beans. A few weeks ago a buffet we were at had almandine green beans that just happened to be near a bowl of parmesan. Hmm? Green beans + parmesan? I tried it. Delicious! I went back for seconds.

Learning to like broccoli has been about the same. Broccoli with a Velveeta or cheddar is OK but never really did it for me. Broccoli with Parmesan? Mmm. Broccoli with black pepper or other spicy seasoning? Mmm mmm. At a work lunch last week my steak came with broccoli and I asked the server if I could have my broccoli topped with Parmesan. My co-worker beside me said that sounded good to her as well and she wanted the same. That was the first time ever where I’ve special ordered my dish by adding something to it and having someone at the table want to eat food more like me. Usually I’m telling the server to hold the mushrooms, hold the onions, etc.

The difference is how the foods are prepared and seasoned. David’s been learning that with how different meats are prepared and he’s been trying out different spices and seasonings on burgers, steaks and vegetables on the grill. The end products taste wonderful and so much more flavorful. If done right, good-for-you food can actually taste pretty good, good enough to eat and good enough to enjoy! So good, that one might actually finish all their vegetables and ask for seconds.

“U” is for Upside Down


No, I didn’t accidentally drop a dozen ice cream cones, or even accidentally drop one and then flip over all the others to match.

It was Caden’s turn this week to take snack to preschool, and lucky us — the letter of the week was “U.” This means the snack item was to start with the letter “U.” I could think of nothing and felt sure his teacher would have a suggestion of what parents had done other years. Her advice? Google foods that start with the letter “U.” What did parents do before we had google? Seriously.

I googled and discovered that I was not the first mother in this dilemma. All the message boards and discussion threads, though, were quite helpful in helping me determine that there’s only two foods out there that start with “u,” and they’re both weird and not easily attainable and not appetizing to preschoolers.

A few people suggested doing something u-shaped, like u-shaped cookies or umbrella-shaped cookies. Then I saw an idea for upside down cake and ran with it, except adapting it for greater ease and hopefully greater fun for Caden and his class.

So I made upside down ice cream cone cupcakes. (I made the kind where you cook the cupcake batter inside the ice cream cones. There’s another way to do it where you cook the cake in the cupcake liners, just like regular cupcakes, but before baking you turn a cone upside down into the batter to make a larger scoop-shape on top of the cone. I may try it like that if I ever do these again.)

I could have just done upside down cupcakes, but I thought the ice cream cone had a greater visual affect in communicating upside down.

It looks to me like when a kid drops their cone and it goes “splat” on the pavement.