Thursday, October 27, 2016

Naylamp Peruvian Restaurant Oklahoma City

        We moved away from Oklahoma City 19 years ago yet every time we return for a visit we are intrigued with the new growth, especially on he culinary scene.  This is a bit of a departure for us, but then retirement is all about the Joie de Vivre.  This place was recommended to me so this trip we decided to check it out.  LOVE trying new cuisines.   'Naylamp' is a relatively new Peruvian Restaurant in Oklahoma City.  In fact the one we visited was an expansion due to the overwhelming success of the original.  Raul and Samara Ramos opened their first establishment in Warr Acres, OK 2009.

      Peruvian culture is at the core of what the Ramoses had in mind for their restaurant. That's why many of Naylamp's weekend events revolve around traditional music and dance. On top of cultural appreciation parties, the new location also offers live music on Thursdays.  As for the food, Peruvian cuisine has and always will begin with potatoes. Peru is home to more than 3,800 potato varieties, and believe it or not every spud on Earth originated in the Andes.  With a coastline that runs the length of the country, Peru is also where ceviche was born. That's probably the nation's most popular dish and the one Peru is most known for, with good reason.  Every country in Latin America offers ceviche, but none can hold a candle to Peru. Naylamp keeps that tradition alive with its haute interpretation.
      Their menu is quite eclectic specializing in cuisine from throughout their native Peru.  They have outstanding, yet somewhat underrated seafood as well as broaster chicken.  Some of the other menu classics include Paella, Papa Relleno (twice baked potato), Bistek a lo Pobre (a simply seasoned skirt steak topped with a fried egg and served with sliced avocados and fried plantain wedges). Lomo saltado (featuring steak slices with tomato and onion, topped with french fries, and served over rice).                   Everything looked and smelled delicious.  After some thought Barb and I selected the Peruvian Sampler to split as our appetizer.   This was a mix of Yucca topped with Huancaina Cream Sauce , Causa Limena, and Empenada Beef along with a side of their Salsa Criolla.  It was delicious!  Admittedly the Yucca is better with added salt. 
      Barb selected the Lomo Saltado which is a marinated beef steak covered with seasoning, two eggs, and a side of rice, fries, and fried plantains.  She loved the dish, except that we both found our meals to be much more food than we anticipated........'to go box' was in order.  We drank water, but all the other drinks: soda, beer, and juice are authentic Peruvian. 
      I decided on the Jalea de Mariscos a deep - fried breaded calamari, shrimp, mussels, and fish seasoned in a mixture of spices accompanied by Salsa Criolla and fried yucca.  We did notice that most foods are topped with either pickled or spicy onions which adds a whole new dimension to the taste.  It was delicious. 
      It was an interesting and unique evening overall.  The food is delicious and the service very good.  This location is somewhat smaller as there are only 9 tables total.  One very good waitress handles it all.  This is a family run establishment.  Our tab for the evening was around $38, but well worth it for the amount of food you get.  They do have a Facebook presence at Naylamp Peruvian Restaurant South that you can visit as well. 

"If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay at home"

                                                                              James Michener

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Boondocking & Catfishing in the Ozarks

NOTE:  An afterthought from the last post I forgot to include.  We did notice 2 separate taxes imposed on our receipts when shopping in Missouri.  Research showed that you pay separate state, local, and sometimes county taxes, which in this case equated to nearly 10%.  That's a bit different. 

The view from the top of Winding Stair Mountain
     Schedules being dynamic as they are when you're retired allowed us some extra days between scheduled stops.  Even though we were a day late leaving Neosho, MO due to a never ending line of thunderstorms we took advantage to do some relaxing and fishing in the Ouachita National Forest of Oklahoma, a spur of the Ozarks.  Leaving Neosho, MO we ventured south on I-49 to Fort Smith, Arkansas and then I-40 just west into Oklahoma where we began our journey to the southeastern part of the state.  If you've never been here, it is by far the most beautiful part of this state.  It is rolling, mountainous land with plenty of lakes, streams, hardwood forests, and some wilderness (without banjo music).  It would remind you of the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina or even the Porcupines of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  We visited here a lot when we lived in Oklahoma. 
      Our destination was at Short Mountain Cove on the Arkansas River, just south of Sallisaw, OK.  This is an Army Corp of Engineers Campground that qualifies for the 'Senior All Access' discounted price of  $9.50 for water, electric, showers, and dump station (borderline boondocking).  9 days for $85.50.....nice!  There are two loops to this campground which is nestled in the hardwoods next to Robert S. Kerr Lake.  We chose the emptier loop as we love the peace and quiet while still on the water. 
      The main focus of this stop was catfishing.  The Arkansas River system is prime catfishing water and our tackle was 'all about that' this trip.  First we stocked up on firewood.  We were lucky enough to be allowed by the Camp Host to cut up an old oak that had fallen near camp.  Then we headed to the nearest bait shop to pick up some cut shad for fishing.  Catfish, especially flatheads and channel cats love cut shad.  Sallisaw, OK is only 7 miles north so were able to have access to several bait shops, Walmart, a laundromat, gas, propane, and even a casino for my bride.  Weather was a bit on the warm side with highs in the upper 80s and a couple over 90.  With such warm temps we concentrated our fishing late afternoon and on into the evening.  During the heat of the day we usually just rested and watched movies while Roux played outside. 
      Catfishing is a sedentary activity.  Once your bait is cast just take your favorite book or smart phone and enjoy.  We also attached little bells to the end of our poles just in case we weren't paying attention (insert wry grin here)   We tried several combinations of bait, but cut shad left out in the sun to spoil a bit provided the best STANK.
      Try as we might, changing our hours, baits, and locations (and this is a bit hard to admit) we did not catch one single catfish.  After 3 days we braved the 90s heat and fished the river below the dam near the locks, but the only thing we found were snapping turtles.  I even changed hats 3 times (Fleet Farm, Tabasco, and Spartans) to find some luck.  Nope.
      Many catfish were being caught, but mostly by 'jugliners' who put out large strings of baited hooks supported by buoys (milkjugs) overnight. Those of us from shore did not have much luck. I'm sure that once this blog chapter hits the internet we may indeed be banned from several southern states.  After 5 days we decided to 'mellow out' and just relax around camp.  We even did the casino thing one night, but our luck there was no different......but at least there was no debate on TV.
      Ah yes, the obligatory meal and cooking section.  While here we dined on Shrimp Feta Salads, Tasso, Cheese, & Grits, Wild Boar Steaks w/Peach Salsa, Fish Taco Boats, Mexican Manicotti, Caprese Chicken, and grilled a couple of NY Strips over the fire to name a few.  We replaced our original 1 1/2 quart RV crockpot with a bit bigger 2 quart model this time.  This is plenty big for Barb and I.  I christened it with a batch of Creole Crawfish Tasso Corn Chowder including the homemade Tasso I smoked this summer.

Creole Crawfish Tasso Corn Chowder

Wild Boar Ham Steaks w/Peach Pineapple Chipotle Salsa, Spaetzle and Green Beans

      Lowest diesel of the trip so far in Sallisaw, OK.....$2.09  The casino at Sallisaw, OK, although they serve a delicious menu are nowhere reasonably priced for gambling.  The cheapest slots are 1 cent although the minimum bet is 50 cents.   Pulling anchor we head west to Lake Thunderbird just SE of Oklahoma City to visit family and friends.  We will continue to practice our retiree relaxation and catfishing to the best of our ability.  Barb reminds me that there will some serious shopping (pre-hunting) while we are there as well.  I hope I find my MOJO before quail season gets here......

      "Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind"
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Saturday, October 8, 2016

2nd Star to the Left and Straight onTill Morning....

      After 6 wonderful months at home in beautiful NW Michigan we hit the road.  Truck and RV are fully serviced, washed, waxed, and all our stuff is packed.  We have both the onboard and Engel freezers stocked to include:  10 packs asparagus, 13 packs corn, 6 packs broccoli, 10 packs green beans, 10 packs Tasso, 11 packs Cudighi, 10 packs whitefish, and 1 pack oxtail.  We also prepared and froze individual meals of Crab n Corn Bisque, Wild Boar Mac n Cheese, Wild Boar Ham, and New Mexico Manicotti, and 6 packs of frozen Pastys.  This always helps to defer costs and ease meal prep for several months.  A to Z, soup to nuts, we head out.  You are never fully prepared as everybody always forgets something.....which makes retirement travel all the more an adventure, yet without measurable stress.  McMansion is cleared for departure.....US 131 South. 
      We depart this fall with hearts full of hope and prayers for my best friend in Wisconsin who has been battling several serious health issues throughout the summer.  We spent a week with him the early part of September doing everything from preparing meals, painting, running errands, and just good old moral support.  Much still needs to happen for a full recovery, but the latest round of medical referrals bring much improved news and hope. 
      We accomplished quite a bit this summer with all our projects and several camping trips tucked in there, but it is always good to head out knowing that this voyage is long.  Autonomous on the road....we have grown to love it. 
     We have no true itinerary.  We have long range plans to venture north to Alaska again next spring so this winter will still be filled with adventures, but with a truly boondocking, austere flavor.  Lots of adventure, very little frills.  There will still be lots of hunting, fishing, and relaxing.  Joie de Vivre! 
     Roux looks forward to her first year of chasing quail and pheasant in Oklahoma and Kansas.  Bones on the other hand relishes another winter of good weather, plenty of relaxing, being spoiled, and of course re-familiarizing his sister with the food chain. 
      Our itinerary enabled us to boondock at new places and still visit some family on the way. 

Wal Mart Pontiac, ILOur original plan had us stopping at Des Plaines WMA just south of Joliet, IL, but unfortunately (and this is becoming an all too familiar story) the campground was closed several years back due to lack of funding.  So we ventured another 40 miles further south on I-55 to the town of Pontiac. You really can't beat pitching your wigwam at Wally World for a quick, safe overnighter. 

Freedom Lake:  Our stop here coincided with visiting two of Barb's cousins in Waterloo and Valmeyer, Illinois.  Close to family and convenient....what can I say?  This family owned campground is quite a bit out in the country on a privately owned lake.  We had free access to our own pavilion with a fire pit (with wood) as well as free fishing for stocked bass, crappie, bluegill, and catfish.  Full hookups at a bit steep price of $35/night.  I have to admit this is one of the prettiest, quietest, scenic RV parks we've ever stayed at.  We had a great visit with Barb's cousins, Beverly and Stephanie, and their families.  Lots of catching up and pizza made for a nice evening. 

Malden, MO Airport RV Park:  We try to stay here when visiting Barb's immediate family. Simple and bare bones, but with full hookups and close proximity for our needs at $84 a week!  The airport has a great museum of the local WW 2 aeronautical history which is a 'must see'. 
NOTE:  The campground is grass with trees, but does have lots of sand burrs so make sure to put out your RV yard mat and take off/brush your shoes before entering the RV. 
For scale:  the sites are large, these folks only occupied half a spot

      One great thing about being back in Missouri is being able to enjoy Chicken Gizzards and Red Diamond Ice Tea.  Although Barb spent much of her time visiting her sisters we did enjoy Crab & Corn Chowder, Whitefish, and Beef Pastys w/gravy.  I am once again trying seriously to lose some weight so I am applying the Weight Watchers Point System.  It's all a matter of portion control, a change of lifestyle and discipline........lots of discipline, especially when traveling.  I even had enough bonus points left for a modest catfish dinner our last night in town.

Neosho, MO City Park (Hickory Creek RV Park):  Another stop in SW Missouri to visit Barb's cousin and his family.  Very nice city park with 10 electric and water site hookups with a central RV dump station......$12/day.  Large grassy fields, but very little shade.  A nice park.  Fees are paid at the City Hall in town, but since we arrived on a Saturday and Monday is a holiday, I guess we'll see.  Probably stay an extra day or two cause who the hell is in a hurry?  We love visiting with Stephen and his family.  We always feel welcome in Neosho and I am excited for the opportunity to photograph their daughter Maddy.  What a cutie!

      We averaged a very nice 14.3 mpg towing for this first segment of our winter journey.  Cheapest diesel was $2.15 in Dexter, MO.  From here we head into Oklahoma, staying along both the shores of Robert S. Kerr Lake on the Arkansas River, as well as either Billy Creek or Cedar Lake in the Ozarks before ending up at Lake Thunderbird just east of Oklahoma City.  We plan on relaxing, shopping, catfishing, and visiting with some very good Air Force retiree friends for a couple of weeks prior to bird hunting season.

"The gladdest moment in human life, methinks, is a departure into unknown lands"
                                                                           Sir Richard Burton

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