THE NAME!! Yes, this is the name of the family who has owned this restaurant for about 15 years. They graciously put up with Jay Leno's comments on two occasions! I give a solid 3 bonus points for this family embracing their name!
You know I appreciate an interesting exterior, so of course I would love this 75 year old farm house. But the fact that this is a block or so from the snarling traffic of the Houston Galleria, makes it an even greater oasis! 5 Bonus points!!
Okay, so Lorrie has been in the dining blog before. I guess I can't give any bonus points for introducing a new person to the blog. But, we were out in the morning, experimenting with Lorrie's new camera, so adding Italy to the blog was sort of an add-on to our day. 1 bonus for that!
This image of my minestrone is a bit lame, but as you can see it has a good helping of parmesan on top! Ever since I was 11 and experienced my first minestrone in Italy, I've been hoping to taste that amazing mixture of spices and veggies and cheese. I give 3 points for Crapitto's yummy minestrone, but I may have to go back to Italy (and maybe go back in time) to taste that memory again!
This is Armando, our waiter. His accent was not Italian, but he was a very nice and somewhat serious waiter. He came a little more to life when asked to pose for this photo. I hope he was kidding about the $5.00 payment...because I didn't pay him.
Who we didn't meet...
We just missed meeting Frank Crapitto, which would have made my day. ( Oddly enough he bought the restaurant from his son, John a few years ago.) We did get to enjoy looking at a wall of old Crapitto family photos, though. And we had a quick chat with Justin, the very busy, but accommodating manager.
I'm afraid we did not hear one Italian accent. That just makes me crave the old Italian restaurants back in St. Louis on "The Hill." 3 bonus for Armando and Justin. 1 negative point for not meeting an actual Crapitto!
Crapitto's gets a big 7 points for atmosphere, inside and out! The warm wood floors, white table cloths, small rooms, cozy bar and framed family photos, made the inside classy and comfy. The patio couldn't have been lovelier, with green umbrellas and shady Live Oaks! Even the fresh air felt oddly European!
I really need to come back and enjoy the night atmosphere for sure!
Crapitto's gets 21 points!!
EAST vs. WEST!
Thought it would be fun to compare two seafood spots we visited in October. JB's Fish Camp in Florida and Daurte's Tavern in California. Let's see who wins!
Here's the Rock Shrimp at JB's Fish Camp near New Smyrna, FL. This spicy stuff was served on a limp paper plate with tiny cups of butter.
3 points for food at JB's
Here are oysters served on an icy cold plate at Duarte's Tavern in Pescadaro, CA.
They were okay...but my avocado stuffed with crab (not pictured) gives Daurate's a total of 5 points for food!
Rating the building!
JB's in Florida was once an actual bait shop. Over the years the weathered wood and metal structure has expanded...in some odd ways.
3 points for a building that makes you feel like you're at summer camp!
Even though the exterior is not the most interesting...Duarte's gets 5 points for being the oldest building I've dined in for the dining blog!
It was 117 years ago that Great-Grandfather Frank bought a barrel of whiskey and sold it for 10 cents a shot!
Rating the tables!
Our table on the porch at JB's was quiet, with a view of the inter-coastal waterway. Nice and breezy and peaceful.
3 points for having the porch area to ourselves...2 weeks before BIKETOBERFEST IN DAYTONA!
Families waited over an hour for tables at Duarte's. What a treat getting our cozy corner with a view of old counter with swivel chairs. Kind of liked the fact our table (on Oct. 30th) had a cute little pumpkin. 3 points for that! (a real pumpkin...as well as my nephew, Silas!)
I love my people encounters...but it was a little creepy at JB's. The guy with the cut-offs wanted to pose for me. Gotta love his hands on hips and slight lean. Note the guys high-fiving at the bar.
2 points for JB's peeps
Costumed people always get extra points...even if it's the day before Halloween. I loved this kilted server at Duarte's, who offered to entertain my energetic nephew with some spoons!
5 points for colorful wait staff !
Looks like the West Coast wins! 18 points for California and 11 for Florida!
When you're surrounded by the pines of South Lake Tahoe, you sort of expect to find some kind of chalet-style American lodge. What I didn't expect to find was a Swiss restaurant owned by the same Swiss family for 55 years! Yea! I can add Swiss to my list!
The Baumann family opened their restaurant in 1957.
That means I am the same age as this restaurant.
Judging by this photo...I am very old!
Ralph Baumann is not as old as this restaurant. His parents moved from Switzerland and started the Swiss Chalet before he was born. By the time he was 6, he was standing on a bucket and cracking eggs. He said the restaurant was his babysitter. His parents have passed, but he and his brother Peter are the owner/chefs now.
3 bonus points for a pretty interesting chat with someone who was born into the restaurant business. Ralph was honest enough to make it clear that he didn't have a whole lot of choice in his career path.
Tim, the bartender is serving up a pot of fondue. He came to South Lake Tahoe 30 years ago...and never left. Bartending is Tim's retirement and although a little quiet, he calls all the local cutsomers by name. 1 bonus for Tim!
The cozy lounge is filled with worn wooden furniture and Swiss knickknacks. And you have to love a little bar with a stone fireplace! 1 bonus for that!
The dining room looks like it hasn't changed since opening day? Those nice flat chair backs are pretty awesome! Some music with a little yodeling was getting the wait staff geared up for the dinner crowd!
I love it when places don't change! I've never been here before, but I'm pretty sure this is how the restaurant looked 55 years ago! 3 bonus points for authentic '50's Swiss look!
It was too early for dinner, but our afternoon hike left us hungry enough for a big pot of Swiss fondue! A blend of Emmenthal and Gruyere cheese with white wine, garlic and spices. A couple beers was needed to wash it down. I will give the Chalet 5 points for food, since this seemed pretty authentic to me.
One bonus point for the fact I didn't have to clean out the pan. I have some gruesome memories of cleaning cheese out of pans...back in the fondue making days!
14 points for Baumann's Swiss Chalet!
Red Hut Waffle Shop
I've added so little to the International list during this crazy travel month of October, but the Regional experiences have been adding up. Above, we are in South Lake Tahoe, CA at a tiny Waffle Shop at 7 am. Breakfast is an important meal for people who ski or hike, so there are plenty of good spots in the area!
We visited Red Hut a year ago, when Cheryl waited on us. Back then I did more eating than visiting, since I had no blog. Now I know that Cheryl has worked here for 22 years. This family owned joint started in 1959 and has changed little. Cheryl could have been frazzled since every chair and bar stool was taken, but her calm warmth seemed to relax the place. It felt like she was just serving one big family!
If you're planning on hiking the Tahoe area, you have to have a big breakfast! Blueberry Streusel French Toast with a thick, diner-mug of coffee was just about right for a moderate hike. Since it was our first day and we were going from an altitude of about 65 ft back in Texas to around 7,700...we couldn't take on too much.
This is the kind of hike you can handle after French Toast! We did a little meandering through the Quaking Aspens on what was once part of the Pony Express!
Zephyr Cove Lodge
On another day, we needed a bigger breakfast for a bigger hike, so feasting at Zephyr Cove Lodge in Nevada was the plan. This has been a busy retreat for over 100 years! We arrived before the restaurant even opened and had the place to ourselves!
The interior has been updated with sort of cheesy furniture, but the fire and lake view made it a perfect way to start the day.
Our server, Vincente has worked at this National Forest Service Lodge for 17 years. In winter and summer the place is packed with tourists, but in October we saw mostly workmen coming in to grab a coffee.
A hefty, skillet meal of eggs, potato, spinach, mushroom and cheese was just the fuel I needed for a ten mile hike! Of course we didn't know we were going to hike that long. In fact when I look at this spread I don't know how we managed to do anything besides nap! Back to cereal breakfasts, soon!
Putting a good breakfast to use...
Our Zephyr breakfast lead to a more rugged hike than our Aspen Trail! But we were also motivated by the amazing views of Emerald Bay as we hiked!
Our other HIKING motivation was RUBICON's LIGHTHOUSE! We had been tipped off that the lighthouse was unimpressive, but all we could do was laugh when after 5 miles we came upon this weathered little building. This poor outhouse-looking thing was built almost 100 years ago and only worked for 2! Thankfully we packed sandwiches, because our breakfast had been forgotten and we had to head 5 miles back.
POINTS FOR BREAKFASTS IN LAKE TAHOE- Too hard to figure out!
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.