Friday FabOoolousness – Celebrations, Part II

Last week I blogged about my week of celebrations, combining Valentine’s Day with my big thirty-fifth birthday.  This week in February is always my favorite time of year, go figure.  For me personally, I believe there is no better way to celebrate a special occasion than to incorporate as much good food as possible into the diet.  By good I mean tasty, not necessarily healthy.

I love food.  Instead of choosing a fancy Dallas restaurant where we could spend hundreds of dollars, I opted for three smaller meals at a few of my favorite locations.  Two of these eateries are national chains, while one is a Texas specialty.  No, not BBQ – Mexican food!  I highly recommend these restaurants and dishes for everyone to try at least once when they have the chance!

It’s time to celebrate!

Stop Number One: Chinese cuisine at PF Chang’s China Bistro

My love affair started with PF Chang’s a few years ago on a trip to Dallas, before I lived here.  To start, I ordered the chain’s signature Lettuce Wraps and later sampled from multiple main dishes on the menu.  Since the meals are served family style, I was able to taste two or three different delicacies and honestly didn’t find a single plate that I didn’t like.

When we arrived for my birthday dinner, we sat at the bar to wait for our table.  My Honey ordered a Maker’s and Coke while I sipped on a Kir Royale (Champaign and Cream de Cassis).  Some like to make a Kir Royale with Chambord instead, but the simple and less expensive Cream de Cassis works just as fine and tastes just as yummy.  Trust me.

Sorry it's so dark. We had to work with the lighting on the camera...

Once seated at our romantic, over-sized booth, I didn’t even need the dinner menu.  After numerous trips whenever I could, I found perhaps the most sinful appetizer and main dish that I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting at PF Chang’s, and I knew exactly what I wanted…

Okay, I know what everyone is thinking – we can get fried calamari at almost any restaurant location around the globe.  That’s true; but what we can’t get is the perfect combination of dry sea salt and pepper rub that accompanies the PF Chang’s appetizer.  Dip a piece of the lightly breaded fried seafood into the rub, then into the Chinese mystery sauce (I’m pretty sure it’s some sort of ginger, pepper, and sweet and sour sauce combined, but I’m not one hundred percent on the contents), and experience a taste bud explosion!

Next is the entire reason I wanted to eat at PF Chang’s in the first place – the Lemon Scallops.  Sadly it’s not on the national menu any longer, but the Dallas PF Chang’s chefs still whip up a batch of their lemon sauce for those patrons that would like to place an order (they do lemon chicken too).  For anyone that likes a citrus base accompanied by a lightly pan-fried shellfish, this plate hits the mark.

Stop Number Two: A Mardi Gras celebration at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen

A few years ago, we celebrated my birthday in the fabOoolous city of New Orleans.  We missed Mardi Gras by a week, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  The city is always hopping with tourists, so we still experienced New Orleans at its finest, but we were also able to enjoy the local restaurants without the long lines and crazy, celebratory people everywhere.

When one can’t make it to The Big Easy for a night of Cajun cuisine, Pappadeaux is the next best thing.  I honestly wasn’t thinking about Mardi Gras, but the hostesses handing out beads to everyone as they walked through the doors reminded me that Fat Tuesday was just around the corner (and has since passed).  I immediately realized that I needed the signature drink of New Orleans to start off the night – a Hurricane.

My cocktail didn’t disappoint, a hurricane glass filled with light and dark rum, orange and passion fruit juice, and a slice of lime.  The drink was made popular in the 1940’s at Pat O’Brien’s in the French Quarter, a must-stop location when in New Orleans.

And what trip to the Bayou is complete without fresh oysters on the half shell?  My guy wasn’t thrilled that I ordered these slimy little creatures, but once I mixed up my cocktail sauce with the right amount of horseradish sauce, he let one slide…down his throat.

The dinner salad at Pappadeaux, with their signature Creole dressing, is the entire reason why I wanted to go to this location as a part of my birthday celebration.  I have no idea what is in the dressing or how to describe it, other than it is fabOoolous and it opens up the sinuses.   I was so excited when my bowl of greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, and croutons was placed in front of me that I forgot to take a picture.  Sorry!

By the time our dinner arrived, I was already too full to eat.  I ordered a combination plate of Blackened Catfish served atop a bed of dirty rice and Shrimp Creole.  I managed to somewhat enjoy the shrimp and okra in the tomato stew base of the Shrimp Creole, but couldn’t muster up enough energy to take even one bite of my catfish.  And don’t be mistaken; I only “somewhat enjoyed” the Cajun dish because I was absolutely miserable and felt like I was going to explode from our earlier appetizers and salads, not because it wasn’t delish.

Sorry, I took the picture after I enjoyed my Shrimp Creole...

In case anyone is wondering whether or not the catfish reheats well, it does.  I slid it into the oven and squeezed fresh lemon over the top, enjoying a perfect Ash Wednesday meal this week.

Stop Number Three: The perfect hangover food at Chuy’s

Still recovering from our fabOoolous Big Easy date the night before, my guy and I scrambled into Chuy’s for the perfect day-after food – Mexican.  I’ve had Mexican food from all over, including Mexico and New Mexico, but nothing tastes quite the same as our state’s combination of Texan and Mexican dishes, more commonly known as Tex-Mex.  All restaurants claim their Mexican food is authentic, and maybe it is, I really don’t care.  All I know is that Chuy’s always hits the spot.

Of course we started with a drink, and one of my favorite Mexican liquids is a glass of Sangria.  I know, everyone thought I was going to say margarita, but tequila and I don’t get along.  I have had a margarita at Chuy’s and it is tasty, but I’ll go for my glass of wine adorned with fruit any day when given the choice.  Oh, and my Honey had one of our favorite Mexican beers – Pacifico.

In Texas, all Mexican restaurants bring complimentary chips and salsa to the table with a glass of water.  Chuy’s, however, raises the bar. Not only do diners get a fabOoolous chopped tomato, cilantro, onion, and jalapeño hot sauce, but can also receive a dish of their creamy jalapeño sauce on request.  Think ranch and jalapeño here.  And yes, it’s free too.  Always request this salsa when eating at Chuy’s!

I could have gone one of two ways when ordering my main dish – did I want a Big As Your Face burrito smothered in tomatillo sauce (yes, it is literally as big as your face and guarantees left-overs for most women when ordered) or the Chica-Chica Boom-Boom enchiladas?

It was time for Chica-Chica Boom-Boom, shredded chicken enchiladas covered in a spicy queso sauce served with green chili rice and charro beans (pinto simmered with tomato and peppers).  Chuy’s loves to use fresh Hatch green chilies in almost everything, and sometimes the dinners are really spicy!  Nose-run spicy.

At this point, after three consecutive days of dining out with my Honey, I was ready to fall out of my chair and curl up into a ball on the sofa with the remote control.  Instead, I ordered one last delicacy – Chuy’s Tres Leches Cake.  I was so excited once our waiter placed the bowl of moist cake covered in fresh strawberries, Mexican vanilla cream, and caramel at the center of the table that I forgot to take a picture.  I still took one, just after I had attacked it like a starving lion.

Thank you to everyone for all of the warm birthday wishes!  I hope you’ve enjoyed celebrating this special time of year with me.  Until next time…

Our weak attempt at a self-photo...

Where do you like to go out to eat to celebrate those special days?  Have any favorite dishes that the rest of us must try?  I’d love to hear from you!

36 Replies to “Friday FabOoolousness – Celebrations, Part II”

  1. You’re making me hungry. 😛 There’s only one (affordable) restaurant I can go to and get something gluten free: Una Mas Taqueria. If I ask, they won’t put flour on the fish tacos. 😀

    1. Hi, Pooh! I lented out fried foods this year. Since my acid reflux attack in December, I’ve given up caffeine so there was no need to give up cokes too. Now if only I could kick this fried food habit… 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by! XOXO

  2. Lady, you had me at fried calamari! Oh my God! And the lemon scallops! I’m drooling here! Can you tell I’m hungry? And seeing these shots of these great food plates is not helping! Happy belated birthday! 🙂

  3. You’ve struck my foodie heart. Food photos are beautiful. I don’t go out much ’cause I trained as a chef and love cooking something new and different. I also like trying to create a duplicate of something that I’ve had. One I really like is Steak and Stout. Strip steaks marinated in red wine and Guiness and seared to perfection. Thinking of a steak run tommorrow.

      1. Recipe is as follows:
        Strip steaks, one per person
        12oz Guiness Stout
        2 C Red Wine (anything you enjoy)
        1 sm onion, rough chopped
        2 cloves garlic (more or less),crushed

        Combine ingredients in large ziploc bag,add steaks. Let marinate in refrigerator overnight max. Remove steaks dry and let warm to room temp. Char broil or sear in a cast iron skillet. When steaks are done add mushrooms and pat of butter. Saute. Add 1/2 C marinade. Bring to boil. Reduce until thickened. Mangia!

  4. OMG I am STARVING and my mouth is WATERING! Delicious and FUN!! Love it and am soooo jealous…hmmmm…gonna have to plan a night on the town for a fab dish myself!!
    Love it girl…LOVE IT!! Have a FAB weekend and remember, birthdays are a season (not just a day) so let the partying continue….

  5. OMG, so drooling now and already was hungry! Love PF Chang’s and the New Orleans one sounds delish too…I had the best Etouffee when I was there years ago. What a bunch of nice nights out you had! Happy Birthday!

    1. Thanks, Darlene! I love PF Chang’s. I’ve tried so many of the dishes, from traditional Chinese to the more gourmet. Everything is fabOoolous. I hope you get the chance to check one out. 🙂

  6. Omg, why did I choose to read this at 7:30 in the morning? Now I’m totally craving that jalapeno ranch stuff from Chuy’s ~ and we don’t have one here! I bet I could make it…

    PF Changs. Yum. Although, I am confused why you don’t like cheese, but you’ll eat those slimy gross scallops and oysters. Eww, it’s like a huge bugger. Give me cheese any day of the week!

    Your celebrations looked fantastic. What fun to go to all your fave restaurants and celebrate all week long. I totally believe birthdays deserve more than just one day!

  7. Mmmm delicious looking food! I’d love to taste all of it. I’m with you, calamari and oysters and scallops…yum! Even those enchiladas looked to die for.

    Glad you’re indulging in some time with your guy and great meals. You’ve given me an idea for a guilty pleasure post!

  8. You are so dang PRETTY, Tiffany! I think it every time I see you.

    Anyway, I’m on the gluten-free route and P.F. Changs is my FAVORITE new love. Their GF menu rocks the house, lettuce wraps and all. 🙂

    I’m with everyone else…now I’m hungry!!!!!!!

  9. We don’t have PF Chang’s nearby, but we revel in their cheaper version — Pei Wei. Same lettuce wraps and great Chinese food. I also love their tea.

    As to my food favorites, I’ve been loving the southwestern enchiladas at Cafe Adobe. (Houston area Tex-Mex restaurants.) They come with chicken, black beans, corn, cilantro sauce, spinach, and more. Yum. I’m also partial to sangria with my Mexican food.

    I’ll eat fried fish or shrimp just about anywhere, but living close to Galveston and Kemah, there are some great options in that area. For those traveling, try Outriggers in Seabrook/Kemah area. The view is great, and the seafood is delish.

    I’m hungry now. And I agree with Jenny — you are quite lovely, Tiffany. Glad you posted the happy pic!

    1. I eat at Pei Wei as much as I can, Julie. I love the Dan Dan Noodles and PF Chang’s has it on the menu now too. Between you and Catie, I have some new Houston restaurants that I definitely need to check out! How I need to visit….

      Thanks so much for the kind words and for stopping by! You’re the best! 🙂

  10. There is a PF Chang’s over by the Mall–about five miles from my house–but I’ve never eaten there. When I go eat Chinese/Asian food, I frequent non-franchise places. It’s not that the food is necessarily better, but it usually *is* cheaper. And I’m a tightwad, so that’s that.

    We have a Chuys about three miles from the house, but I haven’t been in years. My favorite Mexican restaurants are the non-franchise ones. The food really *is* better in the ones where the Tejano music is deafening, the walls are painted with gaudy murals, and your waiter greets you in Spanish.

    And I love, love, love tres leche cake.

    So glad you had a wonderful birthday.

    1. Non-franchise places are often times the best, Catie. No harm in that! Nor is there anything wrong with being a tightwad (your words, not mine). 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and let me know if you check out Chuys…

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