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It has been a little over a week since I went on my adventure to Pho NOLA with my awesome friend Michelle. She is quite adventurous when it comes to trying new restaurants and new foods, which usually entails a good bit of ethnic food. In addition to American fare, we have eaten Korean, Cuban, and Mexican together. Because of distance, we do not get to hang out together as much as I would like, so when an opportunity presents itself, I take it. I can always count on Michelle to suggest somewhere terrific for us to enjoy a fantastic meal and a wonderful conversation.

Meatball Pho

Meatball Pho

When deciding where to eat lunch, I shared with her that one of my 20 for 2020 (#11) was to try 20 new restaurants this year. Since I had never eaten Vietnamese food, she suggested Pho NOLA in Metairie. I relied totally on Michelle to help me order because I had no clue. Of course, on my first visit, I had to try the pho (pronounced fu).

Brisket Pho

Brisket Pho

For those of you not familiar with pho, it is a popular Vietnamese soup traditionally found on the streets of Vietnam that is served in restaurants globally. It consists of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat. The key ingredient in the soup is the broth which simmers for many hours. A variety of meats can be used, including chicken and shrimp.

Trying PhoI ordered a combo meal: meatball pho with a grilled shrimp Banh Mi, a Vietnamese PoBoy (sandwich). Michelle opted for the same, but ordered brisket pho. The bread used to make the sandwich comes from a well-known Vietnamese bakery in New Orleans East called Dong Phuong Bakery. The bakery is famous for their king cakes. I have not been fortunate enough to try one of their king cakes; however, the bread that was used to make my Banh Mi was delicious.

SmoothieMy first experience eating Vietnamese at Pho NOLA was gratifying. My food was scrumptious. The meatball pho was heavenly and a perfect choice for the cold day (warm with a perfect blend of seasonings). A basket was brought to the table with basil, cilantro, bean sprouts, and scallions to garnish the pho. I chose only to add bean sprouts and cilantro. My sandwich tasted fresh and flavorful with the right combination of grilled shrimp dressed with aioli (light mayo mixture), pickled carrots and daikon (radish), cucumber, and cilantro. YUMMO! We topped off lunch by ordering BOBA Smoothies with tapioca pearls. I requested a mango and pineapple smoothie (delicious), and Michelle requested an avocado one (equally delicious). She was sweet enough to let me taste her avocado smoothie. Now, I dream about these delightful concoctions. What a wonderful treat with my AMAZING friend! Pho NOLA was a hit and a perfect place to start trying twenty new restaurants this year.

Pho NOLAHaving lunch and spending time with Michelle is always a happiness boost. Trying a new restaurant AND a new cuisine with her was a joyful adventure. I will definitely eat Vietnamese cuisine again, and I look forward to trying the different types of pho. Dear reader, I highly recommend having an adventure eating a cuisine that you have never tried before or visiting a new restaurant. You can even be adventurous at a restaurant that you frequent often by trying something new. I’d loved to know what new foods or new restaurants that you have tried recently. Please share your adventures with me because I have 19 more new restaurants to try before the end of 2020.

“Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.” ~ Anthony Bourdain

 

 

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Sylvia the Sloth 

On the Friday after Mardi Gras, my hubby, my mother-in-law (Mrs. Billie), Andrew and I packed up the car and drove down to Orange Beach in Alabama. Along the way, we stopped at Lambert’s Café which is “home of the throwed rolls” and had an amazing meal. Once we checked into the hotel, Andrew and I headed to the beach where we scoured the shore for seashells, relaxed on the sand, and admired its magnificent beauty.

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Barry took a picture from the hotel lobby of Andrew and me on the beach.

We all woke up early Saturday morning and ate a hearty breakfast at the hotel. Before packing up the car, Andrew and I walked along the beach and collected more seashells. Then, it was time to travel to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores where we participated in wildlife encounters. Mrs. Billie and Andrew played with the lemurs. This was the first time that Mrs. Billie had been to the zoo, and it was her first wildlife encounter. She had a blast!

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Mrs. Billie and Andrew playing with the lemurs

Afterwards, we all made our way over to the enclosure that housed two tamanduas, Xena and Titan. A tamandua is a lesser anteater. Andrew and I spent about 20 minutes interacting with them. They were both very busy, either investigating, digging, or walking around their enclosure and did not pay us too much attention.  Both of them were gentle and allowed us to pet them. Surprisingly, tamanduas have thick, coarse fur.

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Andrew petting Xena

As soon as our encounter with the tamanduas was over, the four of us walked around the rest of the zoo. Since it is not a large zoo, we were finished in about an hour. Mrs. Billie was getting tired, so she sat on a bench watching the kangaroo encounters while my hubby, Andrew, and I went to our sloth encounter.

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Sonic the Sloth

First, we met Sonic and Speedy. They are two-toed sloths who were neither speedy nor as fast as Sonic the Hedgehog. The zookeeper tried to entice them with small pieces of fruit to wake them up, and we were hopeful when Sonic looked up; however, it was brief, and he was soon back to sleep.  Sloths sleep 15 to 18 hours per day. The zookeeper told us that we could pet Sonic and Speedy; however, we would have to pet them on their backs. Apparently, sloths have poor eyesight and poor hearing. They are also closely related to anteaters. While anteaters do not have teeth, sloths do. Their fur is also thick and coarse.

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Andrew & Sylvia

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Kat & Sid

Since Sonic and Speedy decided to sleep instead of participating in our meet and greet, the zookeeper took us over to the other sloth enclosure to meet Sylvia and Sid who are also two-toed sloths. Sylvia was active and climbing on the ropes in her enclosure. My hubby, Andrew, and I pet Sylvia while she was exercising. We followed her into the room she shares with Sid. I was surprised by how fast she moved. She nestled in an elevated corner of her room to sleep. Sid slept through the entire encounter. This was a wondrous experience. Check out my Facebook page where I posted videos of Sylvia going back inside her room, as well as other pictures of our adventure in Alabama. For any of my readers interested in seeing the videos and are not on Facebook, email me, and I will send them to you via email.

Our Alabama adventure was an awesome way to end our Mardi Gras break, and it gave me the opportunity to cross off another item on my 18 for 2018 list. While I wish we could have spent more time at the beach, I am grateful for the time that we were there. It just means we need to go back for another visit. Maybe the next time we go, we can introduce my momma and daddy to the lemurs. Have you ever, dear reader, had a wildlife encounter at a zoo, a wildlife sanctuary, or in your own backyard? If so, please share in the comments. Enjoy your upcoming week. Happiness!

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ~ W.B. Yeats 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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