Friday, February 28, 2014

Cream Cake at Vila Ajda - Bled, Slovenia

After visiting the Church of Mary the Queen on Bled Island, probably the most well known place in Slovenia, Judy mentioned that she would really like to try Lake Bled's famous dessert, called "kremsnita," or cream cake. As we walked along the road which borders the lake, on the way back to our car, I spied a tell tale sign on the outside of Vila Ajda and I strongly suspected they served the dessert! 
It just happened that this place also had some amazing views. The church in the lake was visible at a distance as was Bled Castle which we had a great view of from our outside table. 
The church on the island from near where we were sitting.
Bled Castle from our table.
Bled Castle
It took awhile, which was fine, because it was a great place to sit and enjoy, then a real visual masterpiece was brought to our table. The cake on the sign looked good, but this looked crazy good. A piece of strawberry sat on top, several rose petals were on the plate and milk chocolate was drizzled all over the plate, rose petals and even some of the cake. It has a puff pastry base, a custard cream filling and a meringue top. However, it was the chocolate that made it for me. The cake itself was good, but I would have liked it much sweeter. See a recipe here. The drizzled chocolate smeared into the pieces by rolling it around on the plate provided the extra sweetness that I really enjoyed. Even the rose petals tasted fantastic with drizzled chocolate. People say bacon makes anything better. I think the same can be said for milk chocolate.
Kremsnita, or Bled cream cake

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Caffe Bar Arasta - Prizren, Kosovo

While visiting Prizren, Kosovo with our driver, Bekim Sadiku, and my brother's friend, Inan Mahmuti, we ate at the Caffe Bar Arasta, named after the old district and bridge in Prizren, just across the Arasta Bridge and close to the Sinan Pasha Mosque. It was a nice day so we ate outside, under a large Coca Cola canopy, with the Prizrenska Bistrica River flowing nearby, which added a nice ambiance and some coolness to the air.
Caffe Bar Arasta is to the left of the Arasta Bridge over the Prizrenska Bistrica River. 
A different view with the Sinan Pasha Mosque in the background. 
From the fortress above the city, looking down on Sinan Pasha Mosque to the left and Arasta off the second bridge on the river (indicated by the red Coca Cola canopies). 
Judy ordered a meat plate which included a huge sausage, about the size of an entire package of kielbasa we occasionally buy from Albertson's. She gave me a piece and it was cooked about right, juicy and with good flavor. I don't recall the specifics of any of the other meats, other than there was a lot of it and she enjoyed the portions she ate.  
Some very large pieces of heavy bread that came with the meal. Very good.
Judy got a small shopska salad
I got a Greek salad which was tomato, cucumber, onion and feta. It was okay, but I generally like the ingredients in smaller pieces and the dressing was not as good as others I've had.
Some serious meat on this plate. The sausage alone was enough to feed several people.
I ordered a Skenderbeg steak (named after an Albanian hero) with rolled rare beef and cheese inside a breadcrumb coated and fried shell. I think it must be a regional dish as I found another reference to it at a different restaurant in Kosovo which referred to it as "heart attack on a plate." It was unlike anything I've had before. It was very large and the breadcrumb coating was quite hard. The cheese may have been Sharr cheese, appeared packed into the middle of the wrapped layers of rare roast beef. The cheese oozed out as the roll was cut. I enjoyed it, primarily because of it uniqueness, but I think I would have liked it more without the hard coating, or with a coating that mushed more together with the meat.  
The Skenderbeg steak, like a large meat and cheese burrito.
The Skenderbeg, cut in half with cheese oozing out.
You can see how rare some of the meat is.
I believe it was at a later ice cream stand that we were introduced to Boza, a sweet drink from corn which was quite good. A Wiki article says it is made from maize (corn), wheat flour, sugar and water in Albania, primarily in the northern portion, with a sweet to sour taste and consumed as a refreshing drink in summer. Prizren is virtually all Albanian and so I'm sure that is the version we had. In other countries it is made with other ingredients and appears quite a bit different. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Atlantic Canada Goose

The Canada goose has a black head, neck and bill with a white chinstrap, brown back and wings, white under the tail on the rump and a black tail and legs. Sometimes there is a white ring around the base of the neck. The female looks the same, but is about 10% smaller. There are seven subspecies of Canada goose and a goose that used to be considered a Canada goose but is now considered its own distinct species, the cackling goose, which is smaller and itself has four subspecies. It appears that two subspecies of Canada goose are found in Europe. One is the Atlantic Canada goose (canadensis). It is one of the larger subspecies, light colored, with white at the base of the neck which is relatively clear, extending to the back and forming a sharp line with the black neck. The other subspecies is the lesser Canada goose (parvipes), the smallest of the seven subspecies of Canada goose. The lesser Canada goose is of medium size, which helps differentiate it from the smaller cackling goose, which can be as small as a mallard and also has a shorter proportional neck and bill.  The lesser is widely variable in color, with breasts of dark to light gray, and sometimes even brown.
These Canada geese, all in Rudesheim, Germany on the Rhine River, appear to be the Atlantic subspecies. They appear to be a uniform relatively light color and quite large, although I don't have any other geese to compare them against. 

This view shows that the white chinstrap does not connect at the back of the head.
I was a little surprised to find Canada geese in Europe. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


The male mallard is one of the most beautiful ducks, exotic looking but common, and the mallard is ancestor to most of the breeds of domestic ducks. The male has a glossy bottle-green head, a white collar, a purple-tinged brown breast, gray/brown wings, pale gray belly, black rear and black tail tinged with white borders, coral red feet and legs and a yellow/green bill. The central black tail feather, or drake feather, is curled (but not so in females). The female is mottled with individual feathers showing significant contrast from light to dark brown, buff cheeks, throat and neck, with a darker crown and eye stripe, orange legs and feet and an orange bill splotched with brown. Both males and females have iridescent purple/blue speculum feathers (back, down-side, closer to the body) edged with black and white.
Two mallard males at the edge of Lake Bled in Slovenia. Note the coral red feet and legs which stand out against the green and brown.
Along Lake Bled. Note the black tail with white border, the iridescent purple/blue wing feathers bordered by black and white and the yellowish/green bill.
This mallard male, in Rudesheim, Germany, reveals its curly black drake feather and a side view of the purplish/blue wing feathers. 
The glossy green head, white collar, brown breast, coral feet and legs and curly drake feather.
This mallard female in Rudesheim shows great blending in ability. The orange on the bill is almost totally dominated by the brown and the variation in the mottled feathers is beautiful.
More orange shows on the bill from the side and the brown eye line is readily visible. 
Mallard in Leyden, Netherlands. Note that the purplish/blue wing feathers are not showing as they also do not show on the females in the pictures above.
Looking a little daffy with its mouth open.
It is widely distributed, over most of North America, Europe and Central Asia and down into North Africa, and southern Australia.

Monday, February 24, 2014

European Wood Pigeon

The European wood pigeon is one of six subspecies of the common wood pigeon. It has a bluish/gray back and feathers, a slate gray crown and neck, with a mauve pink breast, stiff neck feathers forming lines of iridescent green to purple with a white patch of feathers underneath, a black-tipped tail,  white bar across the middle of the wings, a pale yellow to greenish white eye, and pink bill which is reddish at the base, and grayish/purple legs and feet.
This wood pigeon was found in Cologne, Germany. Note the mauve pink breast and white bar on the wing and purplish feet.
This wood pigeon was found in Rudesheim, Germany. Note the iridescent purple to blue lines and white patch on the neck. Also the black tipped tail. 
Yellow eyes and bill with reddish base. 
The purple to green stripes continue around the back of the neck, but the white patches do not connect. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

King O Falafel - Kissimmee, Florida

I've been to Florida twice now for a legal conference in Orlando (actually Kissimmee, just outside of Orlando) and for lunch I leave the large and crowded hotel where the conference is held and try to find something less crowded and more peaceful. I've tried a number of different places, but the default has become King O Falafel, located on Irlo Bronson Highway (US 192). My first year I visited four times and last month I visited at least three times, even though I determined ahead of time I was going to branch out and try new places. If it was near home, I would probably eat lunch there about once a week. It is reasonably priced, the food is fresh, inexpensive, primarily vegetarian and the owner is one of the nicest people in the business. Each time I try to pay initially he motions for me to take a seat, then brings me my food, always with a smile. It is ranked no. 4 of 647 restaurants in Kissimmee on Trip Advisor. 
Located in a non-descript strip mall along the highway.
I've had the vegetarian plate a number of times, which includes hummus, babaghanouj, tabouleh, falafel, stuffed grape leaves and a Lebanese salad. It is a nice complement of food items and filling. 
vegetarian plate

Their Mediterranean salad, what I would normally call a Greek salad, was my staple this year. I think I had it at least twice. It is so fresh and the dressing is wonderful, I find myself considering ordering another one. I asked the owner this year what was in the dressing and he indicated it has olive oil, lemon and some other ingredients. It reminds me of the dressing on my archetypal Greek salad, the one on which all Greek salads should be based, which we had in Delphi Greece. Just thinking about this salad now has me craving it.
Mediterranean salad

I've had the falafel sandwich at least three times and it is large, the falafel are moist and tender, the sauce is good, and the accompanying cucumber, tomato and onion go well, with a nicely cooked and fresh pita. 
falafel sandwich
falafel sandwich
I've also had their hummus, which is okay, I don't love it, the split lentil soup and baklava.The baklava is also just okay, not my favorite. 
If I do go back to Kissimmee again, I'm sure I'll be back to King O Falafel. Very nice place.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mediterranean Sandwich Co. - Mobile, Alabama

Mediterranean Sandwich Company, located on Dauphin Street, just down from the Cathedral, gets 4.5 stars on Yelp with 46 reviews and is the number one rated restaurant (out of in 560) in Mobile on Trip Advisor with 73 reviews.  We had no idea at the time we visited that it was this highly regarded.  We were walking Dauphin and it looked like the best of the options. We did have at least two people, while we were looking at the menu in the window, comment as they walked by that it was amazingly good. 
Located on Dauphine, the main tourist street in Mobile.

The staff (the owner and one other worker) was friendly and good about answering questions we had. The menu is fun and varied and catered to our desire to eat vegetarian for this meal. One of the staff told us we needed to have the orzo pasta, so we got both kinds, the spinach-tomato and the bacon carbonara. He was right, they were both very good. We took it take-out and as we were eating it later in the day in our hotel room I was wishing we'd ordered more. Both were good, but the bacon was probably a tad bit better than the spinach (so we didn't stay strictly vegetarian). 
bacon carbonara orzo pasta
spinach-tomato orzo pasta
The roasted vegetable and cheese pita had peppers, onions, mushrooms, mozzarella, parmesan and pesto mayo. It was a decent sauce, the pita was nice and all the ingredients were there, and it was pretty good, but it just did not have anything real distinguishing about it. If I'd had access to some condiments I would have added salt and perhaps some hot sauce.
roasted vegetables and cheese pita
The goat and boursin cheese salad had roasted red peppers, roasted mushrooms, goat and garlic boursin cheese mixed together, almonds, citrus vinaigrette dressing and lettuce. There was a nice volume of mushrooms, just a small bit of red peppers, a glob of the cheese (which was good, but small) and mostly just lettuce without enough dressing. It was disappointing. 
goat and boursin cheese salad
I'm sure we did not have the best they had to offer as we were going vegetarian and the orzo pasta they recommended was very good. I'm sure if we'd gotten some meat sandwiches we'd have had an even better experience. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Agave - Atlanta, Georgia

We visited Atlanta in early January and thought our timing was bad - it was about 26 degrees when we got off our airplane - in the afternoon. A month later we look back and say our timing was pretty good. It was just a week or two later that snow and ice stranded people on the freeways for up to 13 hours and I was extremely glad that was not us. 

We checked out Yelp and decided to visit the restaurant Agave. I was skeptical about eating New Mexican food in Atlanta. I've had bad Mexican food most everywhere outside the southwest. But this was different. Very good and won me over.  The Hatch Green Chile Stew with beef, potatoes, chiles and corn was thick, meaty and had a nice subtle heat, with an after burn. Given the cold, and I was near the door and would catch a draft when people came in or left, it was the perfect dish to warm up with. 
Agave in Atlanta
Hatch green chile stew.
We had guacamole, which was a little watery, and salsa, which was also watery, but had a nice bite. These were just okay. 

The best item we had was the Beef and Pepper Poblano Chile Relleno: a roasted Poblano pepper stuffed with steak and white Mexican cheese, in a tomato and serrano pepper puree which had just a bit of a kick to it. Poblanos are large, have a relatively strong taste, and the roasting added a nice charred element. Truly a 5 star dish. 
Beef and pepper poblano chile relleno in tomato and serrano pepper puree.
The Chile and Lime Fish Tacos were different from what I expected. They were more like light mini burritos with lots of cabbage and a nice lime touch.  They were okay, but not in the league with the stew or Poblano relleno. 
Chile and lime fish tacos.
Judy got a Southwestern Burrito with Hatch Green Chile Stew. I had a bite of the burrito and it was good. I've not had much New Mexican food, and what I'd had I didn't love. But I would go back for more of this. It was a fun and good meal. 
Southwestern burrito

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Index - Restaurants

The following restaurants are sorted by country, with the United States first and then the rest of the countries in alphabetical order. Within the U.S., the restaurants are sorted by state and city.

United States of America
               Mediterranean Sandwich Co.
               Mel's Dairy Dream
               Rustic Goat
          Denali NP
               229 Parks
               Denali Salmon Bake
               Fat Olives
               The Little Mermaid
               Tracy's King Crab Shack 
               Annabelle's Famous Keg and Chowder House
               The Cookery
               Talkeetna Roadhouse 
               Agave Grill
               One Hundred Estrella Restaurant  
               Chino Bandito  
                Matt's Big Breakfast 
          Hot Springs
               Smokin' In Style BBQ
          Little Rock
               Whole Hog Cafe
               Mamounia Authentic Moroccan Cuisine    
               Wheel Inn   
               The Dead Fish Crab House and Prime Rib  
                Island Breeze Jamaican Cuisine 
               Maria's Cafe 
          Diamond Bar
               Diamond Palace Chinese Seafood
          Eagle Rock
               The Oinkster  
               Polka Polish 
          Lee Vining
               Whoa Nellis Deli 
          Loma Linda
               Mr. Kebab 
          Los Angeles
               Anamaria's Mexican Food 
               Animal; 2017
               Antojitos Bibi
               Bottega Louie  
               Cafe Gratitude 
               Canter's Delicatessen 
               Haejangchon Dolgooi Restaurant 
               Hwal Uh Kwang Jang
               Jaragua Salvadoran Restaurant
               Lala's Argentine Grill     
               Merkato Ethiopian Restaurant
               Palms Thai Restaurant  
               Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine 
               Real Food Daily: Organic Vegan Cuisine
               Rinconcito Guatemalteco  
               Beverly Hills
                    Stinking Rose: A Garlic Restaurant  
                    Red Medicine 
               Boyle Heights
              Culver City
                    Ford's Filling Station  
               Echo Park
                    Sage Organic Vegan Bistro  
                    Sage Plant Based Bistro
                    Tahoe Galbi
                    Green Street Tavern
                    Royce Wood-Fired Steakhouse
               Santa Monica
               Silver Lake
                    Flore Vegan Cuisine    
                    Baby Blues B.B.Q.
               King's Fish House  [Lobster roe and tomalley], [raw oysters], [soft-shell crab]
         Palm Springs
               Le Vallauris  
         Rancho Cucamonga
               Afghan Palace Cuisine 
               Bright Star Thai Vegan 
               Dhat Island Caribbean Creole 
               Innabi Mediterranean Grill & New York Deli 
               La Costa Mariscos
               Red Chili Szechwan Cuisine
               Tokyo [yellowtail collar], [salmon collar], [soft-shell crab
               Watercress Vietnamese Bistro
               Oasis Vegetarian Cafe 
          San Bernardino
               Amapola Rico Taco
               El Rico Pollo 
               Le Rendezvous Restaurant 
               Los Altos
               Lotus Garden [sole], [Peking style goose
               Mitla Cafe 
          Santa Barbara
               Brophy Bros. Restaurant and Clam Bar 
          San Luis Obispo
               Splash Cafe  
          San Francisco
               Olsen's Danish Village Bakery  
               Loving Hut 
               Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe
          West Covina
               Salo-Salo Grill  
               Quan Hy Restaurant 
               Peggy Sue's Diner
          Yosemite National Park
               Sunrise High Sierra Camp 
               Tuolumne Meadows Grill 
               Angus McCurdy's
               Buckhorn Exchange
               Ted's Montana Grill  
               Carlos Miguel's Mexican Bar and Grill 
               The Fort
               Big Fish Grill on the Riverfront  
          Crystal River
               Dan's Clam Stand  
          Fort Meade
               Just Ribs
          Key West
               The Cafe    
               King O Falafel  
          Miami Beach
               Joe's Stone Crab 
               Lagoona Grille Restaurant and Bar
               Dandelion Communitea Cafe     
          St. Augustine
               The Floridian  
           Winter Park
                Cafe 118 Degrees 
               Gladys Knight's Chicken and Waffles  
               Olde Pink House   
          Des Moines
          West Branch
               Reid's Beans Coffee Shoppe  
          Kansas City
               Joe's Kansas City Barb-B-Que
               RowHouse Restaurant
               Friendship House
               The Clam Shack 
               Mabel's Lobster Claw 
               Maine Diner
               Himalayan House Restaurant
               La Scala Ristorante  
               Mike's Crab House   
               Barking Crab 
               Cabby Shack 
               Northern Waters Smokehaus
          Grand Marais
               Angry Trout Cafe
          Knife River
               Russ Kendall's Smoke House
               Sea Salt Eatery
          Kansas City
               Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue
               Gram & Dun
               Mouth of the South Southern Grub
               Sebastian's Table
     New Hampshire
               Daniel's Restaurant and Pub         
               Cafe MoMo 
     New Jersey
               Gyro Express
     New York
               Archie's Bar & Pizza   
          New York City
               Barney Greengrass: The Sturgeon King  
               Halal Guys Cart - 53rd and 6th 
               Harlem's Floridita Bar Restaurant 
               Kirsh Bakery & Kitchen 
               Malaysia Grill
               Mulberry Meat Market
               Red Rooster   
               Shake Shack 
               Taim Falafel & Smoothie Bar 
               The Earth Cafe and Deli
          Oklahoma City
               Cattlemen's Steakhouse
               Pacific Way Cafe and Bakery  
          Lincoln City
               Barnacle Bill's Seafood Market  
               Deep End Cafe
               Fish Peddler's Market
               Food Carts - Poh Boy, Moroccan, Dumplings and Fried Fish
          The Dalles
               Blue Heron French Cheese Co.
               Tillamook Cheese Factory 
     South Carolina
               FIG (Food Is Good) 
               Hominy Grill 
               Lamb's Bread Vegan Cafe
     South Dakota
               Blue Bell Lodge
               Sylvan Lake Lodge
          Rapid City
               Everest Cuisine
               Wall Drug
               Texas Pride Barbecue  
               Cafe 43
               Meddlesome Moth
               Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse
               Southside Market and Barbeque  
          Fort Worth
               Railhead Smokehouse
               T-Bone Tom's 
          San Antonio
               Augies Barbed Wire Smoke House 
               Joseph's Storehouse
               Taqueria Los Portillos  
               Naaman's Championship BBQ
          Brigham City
               Maddox Drive-Inn   
          Heber City
               Dairy Keen
               Mirror Lake Diner
               Dirk's Farmhouse Restaurant 
               Eliane French Bakery
               Communal Restaurant
          Saint George
               Black Bear Diner
               George's Corner Restaurant and Pub
          Salt Lake City
               Lone Star Taqueria  
               MacCools Public House
               Mrs. Backer's Pastry Shop    
               Pat's Barbecue  
               Red Iguana 
               Hen of the Wood 
          Mount Vernon
               Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant
               Riverwalk Cafe
          East Wenatchee
               Fonda Oaxaquena
               Pike Place Market
     Washington, D.C.
          We, The Pizza  
          Harry's Bar
          Old Ebbitt Grill
          Open City at the National Cathedral   
     West Virginia
               Hellbender Burritos
               Amy's Gourmet Apples   
               The Old Fashioned  
               Buckleys Restaurant & Bar
               Kegel's Inn   
          Hotel Restorant Mangalemi
     Copper & Lumber Restaurant
     Dockyard Bakery   
          Restaurant Zur Post
          Mado Cafe
          Seki Restaurant 
          Silver Moon Barbados
 Bosnia & Herzegovina
          Inat Kuca
     Roadside spit-roasted lamb  
          Au Cinquieme Peche 
          Boulangerie Premiere Moisson
          Granville Market
          Burnt Toast Cafe
          Food of Beijing
          Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant  
     Hong Kong
          Hung's Delicacies
          Ark A Restaurant
          Croatian Markets  
Czech Republic
     Kutna Hora
          Country Life Vegetarian Restaurant
          Food of Czech Republic
          Zlaty Dvur
          Copenhagen Radisson Blu  
          Lumpfish Roe  
          Al Bustan Grill Restaurant
                Fish & Wine
          Timbaali Restaurant   
          Herings im Martinswinkel
          Lubeck Radisson Blu  
          Airport [packaged octopus]
          Coconut Grove Beach Resort   
          Coconut Grove Bridge House  
          Athens Meat and Fish Market
          Bread - Feta and Spinach Stuffed  
          Psaras Fish Taverna  
          Patrikomas's Tavern
          Fakanal Etterem Restaurant
          Nagyi Palacsintazoja  (Granny's Pancake House)
          Trofea Grill
          Dr. Shakshuka
          Family Restaurant
          Conveyor Belt Sushi
          Horse Restaurant  
          Tsukiji Fish Market
          The Balad
          Burj Al Hamam
          Fakhr El-Din Restaurant
          Reem Al Bawadi Restaurant
          Abay Restaurant
     Carnivore Restaurant - Nairobi   
     Nairobi Intercontinental Hotel   
     Sarova Lion Hill 
     Sarova Shaba
     Serena Mara  
     Serena Mountain Lodge   
          Sharr Cheese  
          Caffe Bar Arasta
          Damar Restaurant 
          Summer Garden Kaneo 
          Vinotueka Temov 
     Mexico City
          El Hidalguense  
     Puerto Penasco
          Friendly Dolphin 
          Mariscos El Malecon
          Del Angel Inn Restaurante    
          Restaurant Pizzeria Giardino
     Ait Ben Haddou
          L'Oasis D'Or   
          La Medina Restaurant   
          Riad Laaroussa
          Snail Soup  
          Chez Lamine Hadj Mustapha   
          Faim d'Epices
          Riad Badi   
          Sheep's Head
          Restaurant Traiteur
          Bivouac Merzouga Experience
          Hotel Taddart
          Camel Milk  
          L'Ma Lodge 
          Reypenaer Cheese Tasting  
          DS Louise Restaurant
          Oslo Hotel Bristol  
     Aguas Calientes
          Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
          Brujas De Cachiche
     Puerto Maldonado
          Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica
Puerto Rico
          Lechonera Bruny's
          Lechonera Los Pinos
          El Kampestre
          Mi Vida Cafe & Burgers
          Russian Blini  
          Moscow Marriott  
          Russian Sausage 
Saint Kitts and Nevis
          American Bakery
     Sandy Point Town
          King Snack
Saint Lucia
          Fedo's New Venture  
          Zekin Salas 
          Cream Cake at Vila Ajda
South Africa   
      Cape Town
     Serena Ngorongoro
     Serena Serengeti   
          Beyaz Balik Restaurant 
          Erguvan Hotel Breakfast 
          Spice Market 
          Bar BQ
     Emerald Princess