Thursday, November 18, 2010

Casa Real Comes To Flint

I have known for a few months that Casa Real of Oxford, MI was opening a sister site in Flint. It is in the previously inhabited site that was Rib City (I miss the okra they had but nothing else).  Several times I thought they were almost ready to open and then nothing. New sign, lights on inside, stickers on the door. But finally two weeks ago, was the marquee announcement that they would open middle of November. They are now open and more info can be found HERE.

The free basket of chips was fresh, crisp and more than enough for two. Salsa was served in a bottle you could pour into a molcajete. I would have preferred a slightly spicy salsa, as this was rather bland. You can order a spicy one, but my dinner partner does not like spicy.  His loss.

This is the bean dip we ordered to go with the chips. I asked what the milky melt on top was and the waitress told me, but I thought it started with an F....but now I think it may be Asadero or possibly Teleme, but the taste of it reminded me of sweetened condensed milk. We swirled a chip thru the bean dip (mildly spicy with jalapeno) then dug in. This was a huge bowl-enough for sure for 4 or more.

 I don't like Spanish rice. It's usually falsely colored orange and just overcooked, dry and tasteless. But this wasn't. It was fluffy and had real vegetables in it. Corn, peas, and mini carrot bits were dispersed thru the rice. The only thing better for this dish would be brown rice!

Finally here  is my entree Queso Enchiladas. There are three enchiladas under that sauce and cheese (I will ask for light on the cheese next time). I only finished one, so I have a full meal for this weekend with my leftover rice and beans.  Casa Real is vegetarian friendly with 6, count them SIX vegetarian entrees and the possibility of others should you leave off the meats. There are also several breakfast/supper egg dishes, various appetizers and OMG desserts!  that any vegetarian would certainly dig into. Prices run a tad cheaper than Don Pablo's but are so much fresher. All the sauces are made in house and the enchilada sauce does not taste bottled like other places. A bit sweet with a mild tang, it's a red sauce you could use on many items.

Smaller portions are served from 11 AM til 3 PM for lunch. They have a full bar, TVs for all you stock market junkies at lunchtime and ESPN in the evening. The decor is whimsical with hand carved and painted tables and chairs with a choice of booths, tall tables and regular height tables. Tejano, mariachi, Mexican will hear it all and it can be loud depending on how many patrons absorb the extra noise. Definitely family friendly and sure to please both tummy and wallet. And can I also praise the waiters? Service was terrific!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Observations of a Road Trip

We (meaning my driver, my clingy dog and myself) just got back from a 6 day tripper to Iowa where we got to meet our new grand daughter for the first time. Avanelle is now 6 weeks old, putting on weight and even starting to smile a bit. I miss being able to feed her but I don't have the proper working equipment for that task. One day I rocked her so long, my butt went to sleep and my back locked up.  I would do it again, even if it hurts, however.

In the course of our Interstates (69, 94, 96, 80, 380 etc.)  traveling  to Iowa and back to Michigan, several things crossed my mind depending on the occurring event at the time.  I decided to rattle on about some and with others, probably embarrass myself .

  • You never will have the perfect time to go on a long drive. If it doesn't rain or snow one way, it will coming back the other way. Actually, wind may play a bigger role if you drive into it. It's not so bad if you have it at your back....blows you home, so to speak.
  • One person has to remember the bulk of everything to pack in the car. Other person only has to remember his underwear. Ultimately, something or many things will have to be left behind because there is no room in the Chevy transporter. So Ben didn't get his Little Mister Books (sorry dude but Avanelle can't read them yet) and I forgot the phone number and info I needed to make a dinner date and I feel awful as I really wanted to connect.
  • If you are planning on leaving at 8 AM, then sleep in the car.  With the key ready to ignite the traveling gases. Forget teeth brushing, lock check etc. Just leave at 8 or be late.

  • Get your gas the day before and if Gas Buddy tells you prices are stable, fill up yesterday.The worst thing to start off a road trip is sticker shock for gasoline. It went up 30 cents a gallon overnight. Not nice, Speedway.
  • Dropping one dog off at Doggie Day Care for a week is very hurtful to the wallet. They have no weekend pick up unless you pay an additional if you wait until Monday, you still get screwed a day. Plus the shots and flea control you never would use anyway if you didn't board the monster. But he sat on Marley's head on the way to camp, so there was NO room or ambition on my part to take him with me.
  • Know that if you are the passenger, you are at the mercy of the driver's selection on the radio for tunes. I am sick of 50's songs and the 60's are getting pretty lame, too. I prefer folk, protest rock and show tunes. We heard the same things going to Iowa as coming home. I also like news. I can forego the farm reports, however. I see corn, I see soybeans, I see cows. Doing good farmers. I don't care how much a pound of cow is, I ain't contributing to your massacre.
  • Having a GPS without access to updates is useless. That diner from 2004 probably ain't there anymore.

  • Just because I like the sammies at Panera, and usually the vegetarian soups doesn't mean the breakfast is tasty. I tasted it all right, all the way to Iowa. Yuck.
  • If you need gas again, wait til Indiana. Or hope you make it past Illinois. Indiana is about 30 cents cheaper than Michigan, and Illinois thru Chicago area is impossible to get off the ramps without getting killed or cutting people off and it costs the most. Pay your toll and get very far west. Or wait til Iowa, where mid grade is cheaper than regular unleaded and better for the environment.  Ethanol is the way to go if your car can use it.
  • Hammond Indiana stinks....always has and always will.
  • Passing by the rock quarry just inside the Illinois border, I have always wanted to yell out "Hey, Mr. Slate!" and "Yabba Dabba Doo!".

  • I am not the least bit embarrassed when my dog lifts his leg at the gas station stops. He feels my pain.
  • The toll booth people are not a happy lot. And why did Ron say thank you to them? They would not have a job without my 60 cents each way. They should thank the drivers who pay them to be surly.
  • Your dog will make a liar of you. He didn't run off when let off the leash. He went around the deck and sat and whined.
  • The least thought of problem item will be the one that happens. Dog broke his leash while twisting himself around a yard torch. So we bought a new one plus a tie down. Never used the tie down but it was 25 bucks. Out of the packaging and in the garage, it probably won't see the light of day again.
  • I took tons of Vernor's to Iowa.. Deposit is 10 cents a can in Michigan but it's only 5 cents a can in Iowa. Can't we all figure out that 10 cents or more will get many more cans and bottles out of landfills and off roadsides? I was appalled at how many containers I saw along roads during the trip. Plus I feel ripped off when son doesn't at least get the full 10 cents back. And if you get caught in Michigan returning cans from another's trouble, I tell ya.
  • I was asked how I liked Iowa by the pastor's wife. I told her about as much as I like Michigan. I don't like cold. I don't like snow. Then the monsoons started and I was up all night listening to the winds blow. Did the gods put a curse on me?
  • My son learned how to cook. His specialty used to be sammies made in this little griddle with two pieces of bread and stuff in between the layers. Now he actually has real pots and pans and real knives. He even has cookbooks. My baby grew up!I wonder if he will ever make Scooby Sammiches again??
  • Back to that wind thing-just as you change directions, so does the wind. So don't put your paper dollars in your sweatshirt pouch and expect to get back to the car with any of it after stopping for a drink break. The wind took all my bills, blowing right thru the pouch and I stood like an idiot instead of chasing it down.
  • Then I realized what happened and tried to chase them down. Don't do this! Especially in a truck stop with a bunch of semi trucks jockeying for a gas pump. You won't live and if you do, your bills will be tossed into the salad along with all the other food wrappers, liquor bottles, dirty diapers and other trash that people toss out along the interstate.
  • Make sure you get your free Iowa map. Or Illinois map. Or Michigan map. I have a bag full of them. Someday they will be antiques. I plan on using them for something. Maybe when the GPS figures out it is a stupid machine and can be replaced, these maps will be worth something.
  • I asked the GPS to give me the fastest route back to Michigan. It thought to Milwaukee then Fort Wayne would work. I thought maybe it wanted me to swim or take the ferry across the lake. CR 234 isn't the fast route. Unless you are running along side a sloth.
  • Don't pass rest stops by. Even if you don't have to use the facilities, stop anyway. Even if you don't want to piss off the driver, it's better to piss him off than piss on yourself. Or the car seat.
  • Note to self--re-read the above.
  • When you are trying to find a place to go and the sign says next rest area 98 miles, and you have to find a dark, secluded place to "go", don't congratulate yourself for not peeing your pants too early. Your undies may have made it thru unscathed, but your pant legs and shoes didn't fare so well.
  • Note to self--re-read the above.
  • Don't try to read all your mail, newspapers (oh how I missed my newspapers while I was gone! I am a junkie!), packages and emails when you get home. I tried. I just don't like to have unread papers and mail.
  • Don't take a camera if you aren't going to use it. You did notice I have no baby photos, right? I don't have a good flash, and we can't use them around baby. The weather was dreary, we didn't go anywhere to take photos, and I don't like to be obnoxious. I am mostly a nature photographer, so macro of a big nose boogie would have been kind of gross. Ben has some. Hopefully he will email me a few?
  • I am now caught up with laundry, mail and am going to bed with today's papers.  Have a grand Ides. It used to be payday, now it's just another manic Monday.

Monday, November 01, 2010