Lunch in Curacao
I have a hard time remembering restaurant names, but this one fit. It was a bizarre little place and I loved it.
Building in the Colonial Quarter of Pietermaai
This wonderful structure was once a shop, nestled in a neighborhood of working class homes. The 2 level cafe and bar was filled with curious Cuban style decor.
We passed through the front room with the very classic mural and stepped through a set of flower-filled gates into the bar. Sandra, chatted from behind a mosaic bar as we looked over a menu.
Lots to See
There was plenty to stare at while we waited for our food order. We also chatted with Sandra and 2 Dutch gentleman eating at the bar. We talked about where to see a good sunset and how this old neighborhood is being renovated.
Since Curacao is incredibly close to Venezuela, it seemed appropriate to order Arepas, which are corn cakes filled with cheese and veggies. I've had them once before from a Venezuelan food truck in Houston, but these were much better. And it came with a salad!
We asked Sandra what her favorite was on the menu and she surprised us by answering, "Tuna sandwich." That gave Don an excuse to get what he loves. It was served on deliciously chewy-seedy bread! to edit.
Dining Under the Stairs
After sitting underneath an odd staircase for a while, we decided we should go exploring. We finished our food and headed up.
A colorful image of woman stared at us from the wall as we climbed. I wonder how many feet have walked up those stairs. The worn looking white and blue tiles made me picture a quaint cottage in Holland.
Upstairs, felt like a child's dream playhouse! So many playful colors and treasures. It was as if someone dug through 100 boxes in an old attic and stirred it all up with a couple cans of paint!
Perfect Meal and Setting
Our chat with Sandra and the others in this quiet setting... along with a light and yummy meal was perfect. It was odd to have the place practically to ourselves. The night before we had been unable to squeeze into the tiny, crowded cafe when we spotted it, as we dashed by in the rain. Some day, we'll have to try Mundo Bizarro for a whole different experience at night!
Don and I were in Curacao less than a week and we visited this restaurant/bar 3 times! That goes against all my common sense... to see and experience as much as I can!
The image of this red, twentieth century mansion from the street was enough to attract us. But we entered from the opposite street and discovered a wonderful courtyard, which was just as appealing!
Drinks with a View!
But on our first visit, it was still light and we chose a table in the small bar, with a window looking out on the waterfront. Our bartender, Terrence made us cosmopolotins, which we sipped while watching Curacao's entertaining "Swinging Lady" bridge, as it opened and closed for boat traffic.
The drink colors worked well with the pastels of the old Dutch buildings across the water!
On a different night we chose a table on the front terrace where we talked with some other travelers from The Netherlands. I guess I have to admit, this restaurant does appeal to tourists... and I do love a place that attracts the locals. But at least none of the tourists were speaking English. I don't think we met an American on our entire stay in Curacao.
We moved to another terrace for dining. Not only was the atmosphere heavenly, but the food was exceptional and our server (who reminded me of BB King) was outstanding!
We started with Cuban banana soup, served with a fried plantain strip. The bread and herbed butter was a treat, as well. I ordered chicken skewers with grilled pineapple, cucumber relish and coconut & peanut butter sauce. All was perfect.
What is Keshi Yena?
Evening # Three
We just went for drinks on our last evening. There is no better place than Gouverneur's, to make a toast to the wonderful Dutch architecture and the interesting blend of people and cultures that make up the island of Curacao. Terrance, our bartender made us festive drinks and wished us well when we headed out.
Hope to return, again!
Food Adventure Involving Iguana!
With Curacao's Dutch history, I expected to sample some Dutch food. But after a fun conversation with a chatty cab driver, I decided my goal was to try the local favorite, Iguana Soup! This is the Old Market building where I met my goal!
An Old Fashioned Food Court
Don and I peeked in during a morning walk. The yellow wall was lined with counters which were stacked with dishes and large pots. Different food vendors were preparing for the lunch crowd.
Tables and Benches
The rest of the space was filled with cloth covered community tables, protected by sheets of clear plastic. There were a few odd chandeliers hanging down, but most of the light came through the slatted windows. Actually they weren't windows at all. The whole place was an open air pavilion with criss-cross slats of wood.
There were about 10 different vendors open when we returned for lunch. We were drawn to the welcoming "Grasia de Dios" in the very center of the market. Caesar, with his big smile and many tattoos, was our server. He seemed pretty delighted that I wanted to try the iguana soup. He assured me it tasted just like chicken.
John (the owner, I believe) sat right down at our table and started speaking German to us. He laughed to find out we were American. "The Germans like it when you speak German." He explained. Then we settled into a fun conversation about names. He was proud to let us know John means Grace of God.
Our food arrived in colorful plastic dishes! I looked around and spotted a couple non-locals in the crowd. None of them seemed to have made the iguana soup choice. I was glad to see Don had a lot of food to share in case I was unable to finish my soup.
Here We Go
As you can see, it looks like I'm pretty eager about... a bowl of broth. In fact is there even anything on my spoon?
Don's plate was looking pretty good to me with curried chicken, rice, beans and plantains. Nothing scary there. As you can see there were quite a few carrots and potatoes in my bowl, so I wouldn't starve.
Close Up on the Soup!
Caesar didn't warn me that the iguana meat would be stuck to bones and tendons and such. I didn't have my glasses on, so I didn't really see what I was doing.
I did a lot of smiling as I worked on my soup because Caesar and John were checking on my reaction. I got pretty good at working on pieces in my mouth and discarding the non edible parts into my napkin. I pretended I was one of those skilled people who can eat a cherry with stem and open their mouth to reveal the stem tied in a knot. Well, not quite that skilled.
Iguana Here and There
Actually the taste of the meat wasn't bad. It did taste like chicken. But sometimes I feel guilty when I sample a local favorite that involves "pets". Like eating guinea pig in Peru.
But by the end of our trip to the ABC Islands, I was getting pretty freaked out by all the iguana invasions. One crawled over my foot while eating breakfast. So all in all, my iguana feast was successful. When Caesar came to clear the plates, he opened my lid and smiled. "You did a good job!" Why did he seem so surprised?
Champagne's Breaux Bridge Bakery
The drive from New Orleans to Houston can be a little tedious, especially when you have two, 1-hour traffic jams. A little detour into Breaux Bridge was just what the doctor ordered!
"Champagne" isn't on the sign, but that is the name of the bakery and the family that has owned it for over 125 years.
It was cozy and quiet inside. Don and I were the only customers, so the two young women working gave us lots of attention. We got a lesson on how to pronounce the name Champagne.
Still can't do it! And we were given a free sample of their famous "Pink Cookies" which are bite size and cake-like, with custom filling... and not necessarily pink!
The Cake Maker
We got to meet the cake maker and bought a slice of her lemon cake for later.
We also bought a few red coconut balls and a loaf of French bread. Champagne's has been selling French and Po'boy bread to restaurants for a long time. They also make delicious meat pies that are just right for eating in the car! They do not sell Boudin sausage, but we had an awfully entertaining discussion about this Louisiana specialty. Both of the women laughed about their husbands stopping to pick up Boudin for breakfast every morning!
The bread was packaged in a sheet of paper, twisted at the ends. This kept the bread more crisp, but it still had the texture of po'boy bread. I prefer chewy over airy, but it was fun change.
And the Meat Pies!
Worth The Walk
Our group of 4 hiked from the B & B near Audubon Park to this little oasis for a late night bite.
On a hot summer night, we tripped along dark, root-buckled sidewalks and worked up a good appetite. The pink glowing neon was a welcoming sight!
A Seat at the Counter
We arrived before 10 pm, which is late for a dinner crowd, but early for the later-night-munchie-crowd. Good timing since they only have one snaking counter for dine-in customers. There was seating along the wall with signs to show customers to sit in order to wait for seating. That made us appreciate the fact we found 4 stools together.
Camellia's is known for their friendly, playful service since they opened on Carrolton Avenue, along the St Charles Streetcar line in 1946. Hurricane Katrina caused them to close their doors in 2005, but saddened diner fans plastered the doors with signs and cards until it reopened in 2007.
Harry Tervalon, Sr., the first hired waiter in 1946, cut the ribbon for the reopening. Our server, Dennis posed with a a fellow server and a bottle of hot sauce. He hadn't worked quite as long as Harry, but he was pretty darn delightful... especially the way he fanned out the partially unwrapped straws to us!
Our Counter Corner
One more pic to show the fine counter and pink walls and our group. The Mickey Mouse wall clock and floral prints worked well with the pink. We ordered a good variety. Dennis steered me away from my first sandwich choice and my Reuben sandwich was excellent. Don's burger came with an egg on it!
Gumbo and a Fleur de Lis!
Chali ordered the gumbo and Scott got Lily's Chicken Strips which came with fries and gravy as well as a delectable serving of Corn MacQue Chox. I made sure to catch this side of Dennis in the photo, so you can see his awesome fleur de lis design!
By the time we were about to head out, the place was filling up with an eclectic mix of young and old, dressed up and dressed down folks. I made sure to take a trip to the restroom since Chali had gone before and said it was a real adventure. My journey took me right through the working kitchen and upstairs through another kitchen! Too fun! Next time I'm going to save room for pecan pie!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.