Good Eats While Home in the States

I know I have said this before, but I assure you eating was not the only thing I did while home in the States for a visit back in October.  Food just happens to be the only thing of interest that I took pictures of while I was home.  Hanging out with friends, doing homework, and shopping are not really photo-worthy events.  Well the friends part maybe and I did get a few shots with friends, but I spent most of my time chatting and catching up.

My first stop during my 3 weeks home was to visit my grandparents in Florida.  I decided that a long visit was overdue and Florida served as a great spot to relax while adjusting to the change in time zones before heading to a conference in Atlanta.  I was right!

Dinner my first night (or the night of my first full day) was at a new restaurant my grandparents had recently come across called Aladdin's Eatery.  They know I love Middle Eastern food so I was happy to go give it a try.  It is a Lebanese restaurant with lots of my favorites on the menu.
They had a lot of good information on their beliefs on healthy foods and I liked that they had many vegetarian options.
I started off with some foul.  It's one of my favorite Middle Eastern dishes and I used to eat it at the Egyptian restaurant I worked at while in high school and college.  The last time I had it was in Chiang Mai.  It was really good!
For my entree I had a falafel sandwich.  I can never resist falafel!
It's in there.  I promise!
For dessert my grandma and I shared a piece of coconut cake.  Overall this was an excellent meal and I would definitely recommend this restaurant.
The next day we ate lunch at First Watch.  It's a chain and I have eaten at other locations.  They serve excellent breakfast and lunch.  My grandma had this nice salad.
I went with the smoked salmon benedict, which is one of my favorite dishes.
Dinner was at one of my grandparents favorite restaurants.  I love this place too!  It's called Greek Islands Taverna.  I think I always get the same thing.  My grandpa always orders for me and this is what I get.  The fish is delicious!
It came with a side of greens.
It had been a really long time since I had rice pudding so I got some to share with my grandmother.
Although I ate a ton more, that does it for the pictures I took with my camera.  I think I spent more time just enjoying the time with my grandparents and hanging out.  I took more pictures on my phone but they aren't on the computer I am using right now.

After Florida I headed to Atlanta for the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo.  It's the largest food and nutrition conference held annually and is put together by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  I was really excited for the conference because I would get to see a lot of people that I only see once a year.  I had a roommate this year but it was a different person than who I normally room with.  This year I roomed with my friend and classmate Kim, whom I also roomed with back in last January when I was in Newark for class.
The first night I went to dinner with two of my most favorite dietitians.  Aurora is a former intern of mine from back in Las Vegas and Vicky is the current president elect of the American Overseas Dietetic Association.  Together we have so much fun!  I had a great time at dinner.  We went to Legal Seafood, which was just a short walk from the hotel we were staying in.

We started off with calamari.  Delicious!
This was Aurora's dinner.  All kinds of stuff!
I ended up with a seafood platter.
And Vicky had a fish dish, which appears to be buried underneath cheese!
Later that night I headed to the Hard Rock to buy a shirt.
On the way back Aurora and I found this cute bar and stopped in.  It was set up like you were sitting on a southern porch and they had really cute rocking chairs.  Plus the drinks were just too cute to pass up!
I ended up trying out the peach cobbler.  Hey, I was in Atlanta, I couldn't pass this traditional dish up!
The next day I grabbed lunch at the hotel.  I was really impressed with their build your own burger option.  I went with grilled fish and topped with with a fried egg.  The sweet potato fries were an excellent compliment!
After lunch I headed over to the CNN center which was connected to my hotel.
The conference was excellent and I had a great time with all of my friends from AODA and other RDs I know from back home.  I don't have a whole lot to write about the conference.  It was a few months ago and I know so many RDs already provided excellent reviews of the conference and what they liked and didn't like.  I didn't get to attend a lot of presentations this year because I was helping with the sessions that were put on by AODA or our members were speakers at.  I was covering the Twitter account and Facebook account for AODA and so I was busy posting from those sessions.  The rest of the time I was catching up with friends and spending time in the Expo checking out products that I have missed out on because I live overseas.

After Atlanta I headed up to Baltimore to see my family.  My father took me out to a restaurant called Pappas.  We went to their new location.  They are actually very well known for amazing crab cakes in Baltimore.
The food was amazing!  Absolutely amazing!  The only downside was that they were recently open and still getting things figured out so the service was a bit slow.  The restaurant was busy and I really can't blame them for the slow service.  It was only a problem when I was cutting it close to teach that night online.
I guess it wouldn't have been so bad if I didn't really want to try their dessert!  Thankfully my dad and step mom shared with me.
The next day I took my sister to brunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Food Market, in Hampden. As always, this was an amazing meal.

We started off with the pretzels and beer cheese fondue.  Yum!
My sister had the Army breakfast and instead of the meat she got a bruleed grapefruit.
I had the smoked salmon benedict...I told you it's one of my favorites!
The last picture I have is from a dinner I went to with my family and some of my mom's friends.  We went to Suburban House for some good old fashioned Jewish eats.  Along with everything we ordered we also ended up with a platter of latkes brought over to the table on the house!  So much food, but so good!
Like I said, it was mostly pictures of food and not even everything I had to eat while we were away.  I was so busy that I didn't take many pictures of other things, especially not with my camera.  I enjoyed my time with family and friends.  I even managed to get up to New York City for a day.  So much fun!  I doubt I will be back to the States until we move in August so I am thankful that I got to spend this time with everyone.

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever had Lebanese food?  What is your favorite brunch dish?

Beef and Garlic Festival

Back in early October we headed to Takko Town for their annual Beef and Garlic Festival.  We hadn't been to this festival yet and it would be our last chance before moving later in 2015.  Think of Takko Town as the Gilroy of Japan or at least the Tohoku region.  Since I don't eat meat I didn't partake in the main event, but it was still fun to walk around and see the local goods and other festival foods available.  We went with a larger group of people which was nice because then Ryan wasn't the only one eating beef.
The first thing we did was take our beef ticket to the counter to pick up the items for cooking.  Below you can see everything that was given per ticket.  I didn't have to pay for a ticket to the festival but if you wanted to eat the beef, you had to buy a ticket.  I believe it was about $20.  The hard part was finding an open grill!  This festival was so busy and real estate was limited.
Each person got beef, garlic, sauce, veggies, and wet-wipes.  The grills were already going and had lard on them for cooking grease.  I ended up eating some plain veggies before everyone cooked theirs.
Our group used this end of one of the tables.  You can see what it looked like as everyone was getting started.
Here is Ryan peeling his garlic.  Then it was just cooked on the grill with the veggies.
Everyone started grilling.
Eventually everyone had the grill filled with beef and veggies.
Once everything was cooked everyone enjoyed their delicious beef and garlic.  I don't have a picture of it, but I did enjoy some other foods.  I even had grilled tofu on a stick!

Afterwards we headed to see the entertainment.  Miss Gilroy was there and performed a ballet dance to "Let It Go".  She's the girl in the white outfit.

There was also a garlic spitting contest.  I know, sounds strange!  Contestants were given a piece of garlic and they stood on the stage and spit it out into the grass.  There was a line they had to pass with their "spit" and there were circles too.  If it landed in the circle the person got a prize, like from Sports Authority or other local businesses.  If it didn't land in the circle the person got a bag of garlic flavored potato chips.

Definitely glad we did this once.  It was neat to see the local tradition and get some garlic to bring home.  We have tons still!

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever been to a garlic festival?  Have you ever visited Gilroy, CA?  Does your town has a famous food?

Shimokita Peninsula and the Wild Horses

We are coming into our final year here in Japan (less than a year at the time of publishing) so I had started putting together a list of all my must-sees before we move on to our next adventure.  The weekend after the trip out to the west coast to see the Takayama Inari shrine we got in the car and headed up north.  All the way north!  

We live in the northern region of the island of Honshu, and although we are pretty much as far north as you can go, there is still more land on this island that is further north.  There are different areas (technically known as capes) on the Shimokita peninsula.  We decided to start with Cape Shiriya on the eastern side of the peninsula so we could see the wild horses.

The horses are definitely wild, but more like free range than anything else.  They are familiar enough with people that they do not run off if you try to pet them.  They are have a large area to roam free in and plenty of wooded and secluded areas.  There is a gate located at both ends of the road the goes around the northern end of the cape so the horses can't get out.

Below are my pictures of the horses.  We drove through twice and on both passes we spotted groups of horses in different areas.  They were beautiful!  And a lot bigger than I had expected.

This is the northernmost spot on this side and is bordered by water.  Lots of cliffs and beautiful coastline scenery.

Just hanging out by the side of the road.

Here is a map.  You can see where we are in relation to the north easter tip of Honshu.
We even walked down to the water.
Here I am.  Obviously this was a while ago because there is no way I could wear a tank top in the current weather!  The road to the horses is also closed now for the winter.
Some birds hanging out on a rock in the ocean.
And then a storm started to roll in!  You can see the rain in the distance.  So we decided we better hurry up and check out the famous lighthouse before we needed to move on...quickly!

Love these horses!

With the storm rolling in and having seen multiple groups of horses we were content and ready to make the ~3 hour drive back home.  It was definitely worth the drive!

QUESTION:  Have you ever seen wild horses?  Where did you go on your last road trip?