Category Archives: Food

One St Patrick’s Day in Dublin

Did I ever tell you the story about Jake, myself and comedian Tom Briscoe in Dublin on Saint Patty’s Day? Well if you can imagine two rockers and the king of getting fired from jobs comedy ripping up the secret speakeasies, rocking out at the hidden gems in Temple Bar and drinking a bunch of Guinness and all the Irish coffees Ireland has to offer… You’ve got a great start for the day and be about 1/2 right.

Buy Lonely Planet Ireland Trave Guide
Lonely Planet Ireland Travel Guide is an Excellent Travel Resource

A couple of years ago while we were touring the British Isles, we were fortunate enough to land in Dublin right on the blessed day. What’s funny is in Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day it’s sort of just another day, everyone celebrates but there’s no 10 AM drinking silliness with leprechauns and parades. (Don’t get me wrong we found plenty of tourists in Dublin willing to live up to that side of St. Patty’s Day!)

We started the day on the second floor of Mr. Briscoe’s favorite Dublin pub, O’Neill’s, which happens to be in the heart of Dublin right near to Trinity College. O’Neill’s offers a carvery… It’s like going to Sunday Dinner, Christmas, New Years Eve, American Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl all in one lovely homey pub. They offer am amazing selection of meats and fish for you to choose from along with tons of traditional sides. Trust me, come hungry and plan on leaving extra full.

Buy UNESCO World Heritage Site Guide Book
Excellent Reference for UNESCO World Heritage Sites

After we filled our bellies, we wandered over to the Temple Bar neighborhood. Note: there is an establishment called “Temple Bar Pub” and the name also refers to the neighborhood surrounding the bar. Temple Bar has music pretty much 7 days a week. If you didn’t hear music in the streets, check out the many different bars for local artists performing both traditional Irish music as well as modern pop covers.

 

 

Many famous authors and artists hail from Dublin. It is and was a literary mecca for writers. Some very famous and classic authors hail from the fabulous city on the Liffey River like:

James Joyce, Ulysses

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

Bram Stoker, Dracula

and of course Johnathan Swift, Gullivers Travels

Other artists that also hail from Dublin like U2, Bono, Sinead O’Connor all create a bit of tension when spoken about in the local pubs as people are very opinionate about their outspoken political and religious views.

 

If you get a chance to visit Northern Ireland, near Belfast, you absolutely must take the journey up the Antrim Coast to the Giants Causeway and learn about Finn & all the other folk lore associated with the hexigonical stone way. It’s an amazing sight of wonder and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We’ve written about Ireland a few other times. You can check out those articles here.

New Orleans A First Time Tourist

I know there are a million sites to look at for places to visit in New Orleans. NOLA has a charm, a fairy tale, haunted, distinctly unique Southern hospitality meets quasi-Parisian flair meets drunken fool and a Creole Voodoo Queen. What you ask am I talking about? Well, check out some of these places on your first trip to New Orleans to get a handle on the history and the depth of their culture.

First, just orient yourself with the city on a map. It sits on Lake Ponchatrain and Lake Borgne,and also is bordered by the Mississippi River as it flows into the sounds that start the Gulf of Mexico. When you get there you’ll be better oriented if you keep some of these boundry areas in mind.

 

NOLA map New Orleans Louisiana
New Orleans Louisiana

 

I know many of you don’t want to “look like a tourist” and are afraid you stick out like a sore thumb. Well, guess what, you do. Unless you really are from a place, or visit it frequently, you really truly are better off just doing some main tourist things to get a lay of the land in any new city. NOLA is no exception. I think that using the Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing bus is an excellent way to take in the major sights of any city in a short period of time. From our days of traveling, many of our major trips start with the Hop On Hop Off. Once you see what the main sights are offering you can choose to dig deeper at any of their recommended stops or you can just move on and ask the locals for their favorite haunts.

Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus
Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus a great value for seeing all the sights any major tourist area has to offer

The most famous neighborhood is the French Quarter.

It is an absolute must for any first timer. Some folks who visit NOLA for the first time never really leave this area. This is after all the center of all the drinking and debauchery most people find New Orleans famous for. The French Quarter is where the old Spanish architecture with the hanging baskets of ferns are best viewed. The French Quarter is where all the action in the streets happens. Anyone can have a parade in NOLA, just be sure to get a permit.

When you’re in the Quarter, there are some famous places that are must-see, must-eat, must-do’s in the travelers life.

  • Take a photo at Jackson Square – This is one of the most famous views in New Orleans.
Jackson Square New Orleans Louisiana
Jackson Square New Orleans Louisiana
  • Just up the street from Jackson Square you can visit the French Market where folks of all kinds are selling their wares, food, voodoo dolls, hats, leather goods, you name it and I’m sure someone has it for sale at there. Ask about the historical significance of the original French Market in NOLA.
Melissa NOLA French Market
Melissa back in 2011 in NOLA at the French Market
  • Rest your feet after all that walking and have a cup of the famous chickoree coffee and benjiet at the Cafe Du Monde.
Cafe Du Monde Coffee Benjeit
Cafe Du Monde
  • Hit Coops Place for some authentic Cajun Creole Cuisine.

 

Coops Place famous for Cajun Creole Food New Orleans NOLA
Coops Place famous for Cajun Creole Cusine
  • Check out Preservation Hall and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a real sampling of Creole influenced jazz music. I remember seeing this group for the first time with my Mom back in 1995 or 1996 in the hall before the Flood. Since then, I’ve been past the building, but support the group whole heartedly. Jake & I saw the Preservation Hall Jazz Group’s touring show for A Creole Christmas performing at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Their saxophone/vocalist hails originally from Detroit, Charlie Gabriel and his family has stong musical and jazz ties here in Detroit. (All I can say is lucky us, that means they come to my city frequently!)
Preservation Hall Jazz Band Music DSO NOLA
Preservation Hall Jazz Band performing at the DSO

 

  • Listen to the street musicians up and down Burbon and Royal Streets. A variety of styles of music can be heard throughout the city. It’s like every musical ghost has taken up residency in someones body
Just One of the Bands of Street Musicians throughout the French Quarter.
Just One of the Bands of Street Musicians throughout the French Quarter.
  • Check out the concert series at Louis Armstrong Park. (When we were last there were performances on Thursday evenings.)
  • Drink a Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s and sing along at the top of your lungs to the guys in the piano bar.
  • Visit a famous above ground cemetery like the St. Louis Cemetary #1,  #2 or #3. There are guides for hire in the city and online with the appropriate permits to get you in and also show you around. (This is still on my to do list for NOLA.)
  • Take a Haunted History Tour of the French Quarter, there are family friendly tours and ones for people who like bars and want to drink their way around town.

 

But there are some other neighborhoods that are also worth considering while you are in NOLA.

Garden District NOLA
Garden District & Other Neighborhoods in NOLA

First and foremost for me is the Garden District and Magazine Street. This is really where you get a feel for the locals. This area has huge mansions, gardens to die for, also small shotgun shacks with traditional NOLA paint jobs in the Lower Garden District had Jake and I just drooling. As far as how to get there, just hop on a Street Car and ejoy the leisurely paced friendly relaxing ride along St. Charles Ave. Hop off a Napoleon, Jefferson or the Audobon Park. There is so much to see and do in this area.

 

Atchafalaya Restaurant NOLA
Atchafalaya Restaurant NOLA

 

Walk toward the River to hit Magazine Street with all their great restaurants and quirky shopping. Or go the opposite direction and check out the mansions of famous NOLA residents like vampire author, Ann Rice.

 

On the edge of the Lower Garden District near the freeway, is a sweet little brewery in an old refurbished warehouse. They have chairs from 6th grade classrooms and old wire spools for tables. Every night they have a different food truck in the parking lot and loads of great brews on tap.

 

Courtyard Brewery NOLA
Courtyard Brewery Lower Garden District NOLA

We’ve covered New Orleans a few other times on Permanent Workation.

A Few Things To Do Austin Texas

Austin from South Congress
View into Downtown Austin from South Congress

The other day, my cousin messaged me and asked if I knew of anything to do in Austin… Of course, I have some great recommendations for thinks to do in Austin. I love it there. It’s been our second home for over ten years.

 

Austin Capitol at Night
Austin Capitol at Night

Visual treasure
For sights, I really enjoy the architeure of the Texas State Capitol Building on Congress. Also, the bridge on Congress Avenue over Lady Bird Lake at dusk with the bats flying out from their roost.

IMG_3319

 

 

Plus there are miles of fantastic walking, running and biking trails all along the river in downtown Austin. Loads of places to wander and get in touch with nature.

Melissa's Kung Fu Grip
Melissa’s Kung Fu Grip

 

Shop til you drop!
South Congress Avenue and 6th Street West of Lamar are great neighborhoods for browsing and window shopping. There are a several uniquely Austin businesses around there where I have found some funky finds. From homegoods to clothing, the shop owners are proud of being Texans and they support their local artists and designers.

Curiosities and randomness in Austin Texas
Curiosities and Randomness

Food & Tunes
On the South Congress side of town, The Continental Bar and Guero’s Taco bar are great places to socialize and also happen to have good live music. Just check what time the band starts online… It’s almost always a good representation of local Texas music.

IMG_3278

On Sunday’s the brunch time band at Joe’s Coffee is also awesome. I’ve been to Austin in January when it is freezing rain and there’s nothing happening outside. Rarely though does the cold keep Texans inside when they could be out playing music.

Here’s a little video that is 15 seconds of exactly “What I love about Austin”

Another place that’s got a great band most Saturday nights is called the White Horse & it’s east of I-35 a couple blocks and near 6th Street. Look it up, my friend Dave Insley has a band called the Careless Smokers that usually plays honky tonk swing in there. They also offer dance lessons on Saturday nights. Super good times, not fancy, but as a bonus they have a pool table.

Dave Insley at White Horse Austin
Dave Insley at White Horse Austin

Another great iconic Austin place is the Driskoll Hotel on the famous 6th Street. Even if you’re not staying there, it’s beautiful to have a drink inside in the bar. I’d recommend 6th Street, but only if your college age or into a crazy shot-shot-shot-shot scene. For me, “Dirty 6th” is not really my cup of tea. Generally, I prefer the places that are off the beaten path a bit. Even Antone’s, the icon for live blues music has moved to the East side of I-35. What’s the city coming to?

IMG_3293

Great trendy Vietnamese food at a place called Elisabeth Street on First Street (also on the South side)… and as always the Torchy’s Taco Truck would never steer you wrong. Those guys can make tacos out of the most amazing ingrediants. The guys at Torchy’s recently opened a retro dine in taco dive that has a huge bar area and outdoor seating to boot. For those of you familiar with the bygone Austin landmark, Fran’s, you’ll note that Torcy’s Taco is on that same plot of land.

Torchy's Taco
Torchy’s Taco

Another idea is the Whole Foods headquarters store. It’s downtown Austin on the corner of 6th and Lamar. It has an ice rink on the roof. Also enough prepared food to pick up anything your tastebuds fancy for a great lunch on their patio. While you’re there, across the street is one of the only record stores left in the world called Waterloo Records and they have our 7 Million Jigawatts cd on their shelf somewhere. 🙂

Check out Cedar Street in the Warehouse district at night when my pal, Rob Wagner and his band Suede or the Jukebox Junkies are playing.  The place is “inside-outside” and has a totally fab Austin vibe.

A great outdoor concert venue to see major label artists is Stubb’s BBQ.

IMG_3273

I would not recommend their bbq, but I do love their sauce. The outdoor stage with the wild west style lean-to beer and bbq stands surrounding the main hill. The stage sits on the edge of some valley would have been stream if the weather ever rained in Texas.

IMG_3274

That’s not all!
There’s Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, swimming in Barton Springs, tubing the Colorado River, drive through the Hill Country, take in a pickers circle in Lukenbach, shop till you drop at the San Marcos Outlet Mall… There’s so much to do in Austin. All you really have to do is put your feet on the ground and bring your appetite.

View from the Lamar Walking Bridge
View from the Lamar Walking Bridge
Gorillas in Austin
Gorillas in Austin