Friday, July 3, 2015

Not Your Every Day Room Service

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

I know it's been a "cruel summer" in terms of limited number of new LilyOnTheLam blog posts.  I have been traveling a lot and having a LOT of fun.  My iPhone camera (Facebook and Instagram accounts too) have been capturing lots of pictures, but I have not made blog writing a priority.  However this week I uploaded several new LilyOnTheLam posts to ring in the July 4th holiday in style!  I hope you have been enjoying reading them as much as I have enjoyed living the adventures behind the stories!

In May, I drove to Miami and then flew to the Turks and Caicos Islands for an amazing vacation.  I was a huge British Virgin Islands fan, but now I think the "TCI" has replaced the "BVI" in my heart!  I had the best time.  My hotel (Ports of Call Resort) was awesome.  The locals were fabulous.  It was just an excellent time all around.

I stayed one night in Miami at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport and Convention Center.  Nice property with a small but nice pool, a great breakfast buffet and large, clean rooms.  Plus very convenient to the airport with a small shopping mall attached to the hotel.  All good things!

I was so exhausted when I arrived at the Doubletree, I just wanted to order room service for dinner and watch TV.  Now usually hotel room service menus seem to have the same old, same old - soup, sandwiches, pizza, an overpriced steak, etc.  But on this particular evening, I ordered a caprese salad with shrimp and this arrived ...


So simple - perfectly ripe thick tomato slices, two thick firm slices of fresh mozzarella, on a bed of greens with 3 buttery shrimp, 2 slices of sourdough bread and a generous slosh of balsamic vinegar and herbs.  Simple, easy and yet oh so tasty.  I made a mental note to make this salad the next time I had friends over for dinner.  Easy but awesomely delicious are the types of summer recipes I like to prepare.  

I feel like this room service salad set the tone for my entire vacation - simple yet elegant, natural and good.  This was an A+ meal in my book and not what I am used to getting from room service!  Thank you, Doubletree!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

New Product Wednesday on a Thursday: Tajin Clasico Seasoning

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

As it is a shortened holiday week in the United States, I am all screwed up on my days and as such I am doing my "New Product Review Wednesday" (products that are new or new to me) on a Thursday!  It's just CRAZY land, here at LilyOnTheLam!

Growing up glued to the television set, I am particularly susceptible to advertising of any kind.  On my Instagram account, one of the people I follow I swear is some sort of paid or unpaid brand ambassador for Tajin Clasico Seasoning.  Every day she would post a picture of whatever fruit she was eating that day, sprinkled lovingly with Tajin.  And each day, I would drool a little more.

I had no idea what Tajin Clasico Seasoning was, but I HAD TO HAVE IT.

A quick search on the internet explained that Tajin is a mix of dried chili peppers, sea salt and dehydrated lime juice.  It's supposed to add a spicy, citrus salt kick to fruit and other food stuffs.

In case Tajin needs a "Spokescat,"
Mr. Rufus T. "Chibby" Chibs
is on standby 

Now I am not actively seeking new ways to introduce salt into my diet ...

Hypocrisy check side note:  OK OK I will admit that at my last dinner party, I served vodka marinated grape tomatoes with four dipping salts - truffle, alderwood smoked, chipotle and black Hawaiian lava salt.  And these 24 hour vodka soaked drunken tomatoes with festive salt pairings were the HIT of the party.  Especially since I served them with 
Fred and Friends LIP SERVICE Mustache Toothpicks (which can be found at my Amazon Affiliate link).  




But in general, I am not trying to add more salt into my diet.  But the Instagram Tajin Lover's daily pictures were more than I could stand!  I went on to Amazon.com and found a ten pack of mini "purse-size" bottles of Tajin Clasico Seasoning.     

This Amazon affiliate link is actually for a 2 pack of 10 minis to go, so I assume that is 20 little bottles!  Tajin Seasoning with Lime 10 Minis to Go, 10/.35 Oz. Bottles (2 pack)

Did I need TEN mini bottles?  No, but they didn't sell them in packs of one.   

So yes, I had become THAT woman who carries condiments in her purse.  As if being an elderly, spinster cat lady wasn't appealing enough!  And if the product didn't taste good, well I knew what I would be handing out to the neighborhood kids at Halloween.  (Ohhh my reputation gets worse and worse!)

My tiny little bottles of pepper-lime-salt seasoning arrived from Amazon and after taking a few minutes to pretend I was a giant, I tried the Tajin on fresh cut watermelon.

Oooof I am in trouble because this stuff is TASTY on fruit!  Citrusy, spicy with a punch of salt - on fresh, cold, perfectly ripe and sweet watermelon ... it is my new snack obsession.  I try not to overdo it with the Tajin - as I said, I am not trying to invent new ways to add salt into my diet - but wow, is it good!  

If you're looking for some zip to your fresh fruit or other food items, check out Tajin Clasico Seasoning.  It's delicious!

P.S.  I have added Amazon Affiliate links to some of my blog posts.  If you like LilyOnTheLam and want to try some of the products I mention, please try them through my Amazon Affiliate links program to help me continue running LilyOnTheLam.  Thank you!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Selective Memory ... The Search For Mega-Size Desserts Continues

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

Way back in October 2012, I wrote a post about my friend's husband who I refer to as "The DW" (short for "The Dog Whisperer" - I won't explain why he has this nickname, because I want to force you to read the old post and increase my click count!  I'm evil, I tell ya!)  

The 2012 post was about The DW and his "Big Green Egg" grilling system contraption/space machine.  I enjoy this old post because it combines my two favorite things - grilling and admissions of my own personal insanity.

It seems that every three years, I am legally required to write about "The DW" (although let's be honest, the post is ALL ABOUT ME, loosely disguised as being about someone else ... so here goes ... catch ya next time in 2018, DW!)

When I was young (about 974 years ago), I had a photographic memory.  However each year I aged (sadly and unattractively!), I seemed to lose a little more of this amazing memory.  I recall in high school French class I could visualize what page number certain vocabulary words were listed on in my textbook but I might not be able to remember the actual English translation.  

(Which by the way was not a great hinderance because I learned that if I spoke English but with an abrupt nasally accent and a look of haughty disdain, usually the French would understand me.  This also may be why they hate Americans ... just a thought.)

As I continue to age I find that my brain only holds on to the most trivial of memories.  In fact, I have several friends who tend to interrogate me for details - none of which my brain feels important enough to remember.  

At some point during the interrogation I usually let out a shriek and scream "NO, NO, I DON'T KNOW!  I HAVE A "ONE IN, ONE OUT" POLICY FOR MY BRAIN!  IF I REMEMBER WHAT COLOR SO AND SO'S COUSIN'S HUSBAND'S DENTIST'S SWEATER WAS; I WON'T REMEMBER HOW TO DRIVE TO VILLAGE INN!"  

And if you know anything about LilyOnTheLam, forgetting how to get to the 24 hour pancake restaurant would be a fate worse than death!

It has actually become quite amusing what I choose to remember and what my brain just doesn't have the bandwidth to retain.  A perfect example is a little tidbit that I am pretty sure I have held onto for several years now.

"The DW" attended graduate school on the East Coast of Florida.  One very innocent day, he posted a picture or a link or made reference to an ice cream parlor he liked on the eastern coast of Florida on his Facebook page.  

That ice cream parlor?  Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlour and Restaurant of Dania Beach, Florida.  The mention of this ice cream parlor (or "parlour" if you enjoy an extra "u" - and really, who doesn't enjoy a superfluous "u" on occasion?) embedded in my brain like a diseased tick.  No sharp tweezers were going to pull the thought of an ice cream parlour from my brain.

Jaxson's makes homemade ice cream and serves it in ridiculously large serving sizes.  I may not be able to name all the Amendments to the US Constitution, but my brain thought it was absolutely imperative to remember the name of this ice cream parlour/parlor in case I was ever near Dania Beach, Florida.

Several years went by and then suddenly one day I found myself in Miami.  Which with my lifestyle, this is not an odd occurrence to find myself in other cities.  Like the old movie "Sybil," I find myself just waking up in other cities.  

Two weeks ago I was in Raleigh-Durham.  I woke up in a hotel and had absolutely no idea where I was, who I was or what this whole world was all about.  

It took about five minutes for me to figure out that I am LilyOnTheLam (which is pretty awesome).  

I was in a Doubletree Hotel (yay free cookies!).  

I was in North Carolina.  (Um, ok.)

I was on a business trip for work.  (Pfft - annoying.)

And most importantly, I had packed everything I needed.
WHEW!  (Oh and I still remembered how to drive to the nearest pancake house!  Double whew!)

But for this particular trip to Miami, I was on a mission to go to the Brazilian consulate.  I was desperately trying to get the officials to change their currently 5 week visa processing time to 2 weeks as I have to go to Brazil for work.  (Where are my free cookies?)

My face was a combination of sadness, devastation and yet hopeful optimism regarding the potential levels of kindness and compassion of Brazilian consulate workers.  

For the record, this was exhausting.  

Ninety percent of the time, my face is in permanent "bitchy resting face" - so trying to mold my hardened features to approximate some level of hopefulness, caring and kindness is quite a feat.  I'm worn out just thinking about it!  

Even though I arrived 15 minutes before the Visa office opened, I was like 40th in line for the two hour window that the Brazilian visa team was entertaining in person visits.  

I will say that the guard at the door was extremely nice, but that's really all I will say about my experience at the Consulate until I get my Visa!  Kidding!  JUST KIDDING!  

Lucky for me, I brought a big book.  Unlucky for me, the book was a lame rip off of "Fight Club" and annoyed me more than the "2 open windows for 100 people" Brazil visa line.

Side note:  As of the writing of this post, I have still not received my Brazilian visa - BUT I AM OPTIMISTIC!  That's all I can be right now.

After the ordeal at the Brazilian consulate, my selective memory whispered out to me: "Hey, you're on the East Coast of Florida - how about you check out that place The DW mentioned on Facebook 97 years ago?  The one with the ginormous bowls of ice cream?"  

When I am sad, frustrated, blue, angry or whatever - five words always make me smile.

Ginormous

Bowls 

Of 

Ice

Cream

I grabbed my GPS and set out to chart my course to this mythical sounding "Dania Beach, Florida."  Thanks to DW, this day in Miami did not have to be a total disaster.  There were calories that needed to be ingested and new pockets of fat that needed to blossom on my body!  To Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlour - STAT!

As I drove, I wondered what kind of homemade ice cream I would like to try.  (Pre-planning a BINGE is sooooo important!)  I knew that Jaxson's had a "kitchen sink" dessert - a gigantic vat of ice cream for four people that cost around $50.  Since I wasn't wearing my "stretchy pants" or a disguise, I thought that getting the "gigantic dessert for four people for one" was probably not the best idea.  

I mean, it's actually kind of a great idea but also it just begs for someone to take a picture and suddenly I am "Stressed Bitchy Resting Face Elderly Woman Devours Mega Sundae for Four After Annoying Brazilian Consulate Workers.  Video of the Horrific Gluttony at 11 p.m."  It's like my own personal immersion into Honey Boo Boo land.  

So maybe a dessert known to be a heroic feat for four people was not the sensible caloric choice for this lone gal from Tampa.  (Just maybe.)  But I did know that whatever I ordered at Jaxson's, I wanted marshmallow topping on it.  I am not a giant marshmallow topping fan, so I can only assume I was having some sort of marshmallow deficiency that day.  It's like anemia, but marshmallow related.  I'm pretty sure I read something like that on WebMD.  

I arrived at Jaxson's and was mesmerized by the circus like decor (which by the way, was my SECOND circus like restaurant I had visited in 2 days in the greater Miami area - everything is better under a "big top tent."  I'll write about my experience at Donut Divas - yes it's called "Donut Divas" in a later blog post!)  






I soon noticed that "The DW" had failed to mention Jaxson's sells Hello Kitty merchandise.  Evidently "The DW" doesn't share my ravenous love of all things comically cat-ish.

I sat down with the HUGE Jaxson's menu.  All the food seemed to be super-sized.  It was like The Cheesecake Factory menu on steroids.  At heart, I didn't want a one pound hot dog or a hamburger bigger than my head ... I just wanted a sundae.  

So I decided to throw out modern convention and just ordered a sundae as my entire lunch.  

The waitress asked "Do you want a free bowl of fresh popcorn with that?"  

"Well yes, sure."  I wasn't a savage after all.  Now my lunch had both food groups represented - popcorn and ice cream.  My diet is so healthy!

Now Jaxson's has a huge list of homemade ice cream flavors, but I have to admit that when the waitress came over I totally panicked.




There were just TOO MANY CHOICES!  There was a section titled "HUMONGOUS OFFERINGS."  Seriously?  "Spectacular Goblets ... Colossal Parfaits ..." and a giant section devoted just to HOT FUDGE SUNDAES.  

How could I be expected to choose something on my own?  Do the good people at Jaxson's not understand how feeble-minded I am?  I need to have the court appoint a guardian just to help me make ice cream choices in my best interest!  A "Guardian Ad Whipped Cream," I believe is the correct legal term.  

I could NOT decide.  My head was spinning.  Why, why, why was life so difficult?

My eyes scanned the list of sundaes and I chose one of the top ones on the list - because it had marshmallow topping and pound cake.  Who can say "no" to pound cake???

The sundae I ordered was called "Two On A Blanket" which sounded a little too sexual for me but also reminded me of sausage rolled up in a pancake (Pig In A Blanket).  I wondered if my sundae would be topped with a sausage instead of a cherry?

For the record, the Jaxson's menu describes the "Two On A Blanket" sundae as two cuts of pound cake with scoops of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, marshmallow, toasted almonds, whipped cream and cherries.  It's like a description of heaven.

What seemed like two seconds later, the waitress brought out THIS ...




Now I could lie to you and say that this sundae looks large because of the cropping of the photo or the moon's gravitational pull on the Earth, but I respect you and this sundae too much to turn to lying now.

THIS SUNDAE WAS FREAKING HUGE!   

If anything the picture above doesn't do justice to how freaking mammoth this sundae was ...  I seriously shrieked "OH MY LORD JESUS" when I saw it.  Other patrons oohed and ahhhed ... all eyes were on me and this monster sundae.

When the waitress set the "Two On A Blanket" down on the table, the sound of the THUD from the heft and weight of this sundae could be heard in neighboring counties!  Gee, I am glad I also have a giant bowl of popcorn just in case I get hungry!

The American flag toothpicks inserted into the top of the sundae served two purposes for me.  One, proof that I may be a glutton but I am a patriotic glutton

And two, I felt like I was doing my own exploration to the summit of Mount Ice Cream.  Instead of writing a book like Krakauer's "Into Thin Air," the depiction of my ice cream mountain odyssey was more "Into Fat Belly."  

But a noble and worthwhile trek, nonetheless ... or at least that's my opinion!

The vanilla ice cream was your normal standard vanilla ice cream.  But Jaxson's homemade chocolate ice cream was the stuff of a chocoholic's fevered dream.  

It was SO RICH, SO CHOCOLATEY, SO GOOD.  

I just kept shoveling the whipped cream, nuts and marshmallow topped chocolate ice cream into my mouth and making noises that I am ashamed to admit to here.  

Let's just say my fellow patrons at Jaxson's were significantly scandalized by the noises emerging from my ice cream coated mouth.  I also think they did an "I'll have what she's having" order as well!

This sundae was amazing.  The marshmallow topping was thick and marshmallow-y.  The pound cake was soft, fresh and buttery.  The ocean of whipped cream was lush and delicious -- and the toasted almonds were toasted, crunchy perfection.  This sundae was a WINNER.

The year 2016 will be Jaxson's SIXTIETH anniversary.  In a time where restaurants seem to come and go in a blink of an eye, it is good to know that a place that serves gigantic sundaes is still giving Florida it's all!  

I would like to return to Jaxson's next year and try another one of their ginormous sundaes in honor of their 60th anniversary.  I think if I start working out today and don't stop until 2016, I may just burn off the calories I ingested from just a mere portion of my giant Two On A Blanket sundae.  (A girl can dream!)

The moral of this story is that as one gets older and more things fight for space in our consciousness, do yourself a tremendous favor and only hold on to the information that serves you well.  

And in this case, the information that serves me the best is the location of a homemade ice cream parlor that serves portions as big as my body!  Thank you DW for turning me on to this Ice Cream Wonderland!

If you're on the east coast of Florida, make it a priority to check out Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlour ... but don't forget to bring your stretchy pants and extra stomach!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Now Here's The Problem ... My Big Gay Theatre Weekend in New York City

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

I just returned from a theater weekend in New York City which also coincided with Gay Pride weekend.  So you might say it was a gay theater weekend!  I was very happy to hear of the SCOTUS decision on marriage equality - emphasis on the word "equality."  I don't know how one can justify a legal system where not all citizens are given equal rights and protections under the law.  So score one for equality for the LGBTQ community.  

I joked that for the start of my theater weekend that I spent "Gay Pride Weekend with a Front Row Seat with a Queen!"  I indeed was in the front row for the spectacular Dame Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth in "The Audience."   



Since I am woefully ignorant of British Prime Minister History other than Churchill and Thatcher, I was very excited that in my Playbill was a card with the background information on all the Prime Ministers under Queen Elizabeth.  In case there is a test later, I will be prepared!  (Prepared to get a D+.)



I highly recommend the play "The Audience."  There was actually one moment where I had a tear in my eye - but I am also overly emotional at times too. 

The next night I was supposed to see Vanessa Hudgens star in the musical "Gigi."  I'm not a Vanessa Hudgens fan and I have never seen any of the "High School Musical" franchise, but I haven't seen the musical "Gigi" in decades and that is why I bought my ticket.  Sadly the reviews were not good and the show closed early.  I received a refund and I believe it was God telling me a better show was in my future.

And God was correct because in my eyes, a much better opportunity did come along!

For the record, one of my many ridiculous obsessions is the reality competition show "RuPaul's Drag Race."  Ever since a childhood friend introduced me to the glamazon once known as "Starbooty" many decades ago, I have been in love with all things RuPaul Charles.  However my real obsession didn't kick in until I forcibly invited myself to accompany a fellow #RPDR fan to a live show at Ritz Ybor for RuPaul's Battle of the Seasons.  In this show, I was able to see several "RuPaul Drag Race" contestants up close and personal.  

To add more fuel to the fire of my obsession: I have been trying to exercise more since I have an overwhelming love of all things sugar, fat and starch.  

(And as I type this, my youngest cat - Rufus T. "Chibby" Chibs is giving me a shady side eye with a "Um yeah, that's an understatement, Tubby!" sneer.  WHY ARE CATS SO MEAN?  And yes, I am eating instant mac and cheese processed food stuffs as I type this - but what does that have to do with anything?)  

OK back to the topic ... due to my love of all things terrible for me, I started working out more.  As part of my increased exercise program, I have been trying to walk 5 - 13 miles a day.  

Newsflash:  Walking this much is incredibly boring for me.  I do see some lovely water views and floral arrangements, but I could do without the overly friendly senior citizens who want to stop and chat me up with their life story.  I will say that since I started wearing my "RuPaul Drag Race Season 6 Winner" Bianca Del Rio's "NOT TODAY SATAN" t-shirt, a lot less seniors want to chat me up.  But I have a feeling they are making the sign of the cross as they walk past me.  To entertain myself I have been listening to RuPaul's Podcast while I walk, which has made me even more OBSESSIVE about all things RuPaul and all things RuPaul Drag Race.  Yes, I know I have ISSUES.



Of all the drag queens on RuPaul Drag Race, one of my absolute favorites is Jinkx Monsoon - season five winner.  Well when Gigi the Musical fell through, I discovered that my beloved Jinkx was putting on a sequel to his/her previous show "The Vaudevillians."  This one was called "The Vaudevillians: Bringing Up Baby" with Jinkx Monson as a pregnant Kitty Witless and Major Scales as her husband.



What's more comical than a funny musical drag queen?  A funny, musical, PREGNANT drag queen.  I ordered a VIP ticket faster than you can say "more mac and cheese please!"





The show - at the Laurie Beeckman Theatre- was beyond fantastic.  Any show where you get to see a drag queen give birth on top of a piano while you're eating peppered shrimp with a side of risotto balls is a GOOD SHOW in my book!

Now I will admit that I may have possibly mentioned on social media that I love Jinkx Monsoon so much I want to skin her and wear her as a coat ... but when my "in person meet and greet" occurred, I was a BABBLING IDIOT!  I gave up drinking for a year (actually 13 months, but who is keeping track?) so I cannot even blame a cocktail for acting so bizarre.  I gave Jinkx my STALKER EYES and both Jinkx and his real life self Jerick Hofer, gave me a look of fear in return. But God bless that talented drag queen, he wrapped an arm around me (have you ever been pressed up against the bosom of a pregnant drag queen?) and posed for several pictures.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE YOU Jinkx Monsoon!  (Season Four- RuPaul Drag Race Contestant Latrice Royale, you're next on my bucket list!)


Latrice Royale

Last, but NOT least, for my big gay theatre weekend in NYC was my SIXTH (yes, SIXTH) time seeing my favorite musical of ALL TIME -- "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."  This time starring Glee's Darren Criss.  Ms. Toledo and I had first seen Darren Criss in "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."  He was good in that show but he really brought it home in Hedwig.  




Because I was also in the front row for Hedwig, I had some very up close and personal moments with Darren Criss as he dropped to the stage and did the worm - as he faced me - a mere 2 inches from my face.  I also received a high five from him.  Another patron was "motorboated" by Darren Criss in his role as Hedwig.  Her name was Brie and Darren Criss referred to her as a stinky cheese and left her with a chestful of glittery eye makeup.  

My absolute favorite Hedwig is still the creator and originator - John Cameron Mitchell.  

I have seen 4 of the 5 Hedwigs - sorry Dexter's Michael C. Hall - I missed ya!

On July 22 2015, Taye Diggs takes over the role from Darren Criss.  Another one of my favorite RuPaul Drag Race contestants Alaska Thunderf*ck 5000 will also be doing a show in the city around the same time.  I'd like to see both shows but I am a bit burnt out on NYC weekends.  This has been the summer of travel for work and for fun and frankly it's nice to stay home once in awhile!  

But the one thing that NEVER lets me down whenever I travel to New York City is the BIZARRE overheard conversations.  I was staying at The Cassa Hotel and Residences - which was fabulous.  I highly recommend!  The staff was so friendly.  The room clean and modern.  The location could NOT be beat.  Win-win-win!  And it's near The Sofitel Hotel, so my deep desire to always eat French-style meals was satisfied by the Restaurant Gaby there.  Plus Alex Guarnaschelli (or however you spell it)'s restaurant BUTTER is in The Cassa (midtown location).  Any restaurant named Butter is good by me!  (My inner Paula Deen is SO HAPPY!)


Side Note:  Butter Midtown just opened a really gorgeous outdoor "secret garden."  Check it out and have their lobster roll while you're out there soaking up the sun!

Anyway, I was walking from The Cassa to Gaby Restaurant to start my day with an infusion of decaf cappuccino, French bread, ham and brie.

My perfect breakfast!

As I was walking, I heard two gentlemen talking as they walked past me.

Guy One (who I assume was commiserating about a recent woman he dated) said: "I mean, she has nice tits and all ... it's just the third one that is the problem."

Guy Two diplomatically frowned with an appearance of empathy and just shook his head in response.

New York City, you never fail to disappoint me with those eye-popping overheard conversations!  Thank you for another great theater weekend - and a happy belated Pride weekend to all my readers!