travel, a reading list, and a smoked salmon appetizer

Here we are in the first week of June, and already I’m overwhelmed with all the activities that this month holds. Overwhelmed in a good way, mostly, since most of the items on my agenda include a fair amount of fun. So, what’s up first?

The Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago, also known as "The Bean"

The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago


I’m headed to Chicago for a meeting, but trust me, it’s not going to be all work and no play. The weekend gets kicked off with dinner at Chef Rick Bayless’ restaurant, Topolobampo. I’ve had a craving for his mole sauce ever since watching him prepare it on Top Chef Masters. I’m also spending some time with my sister – something I only get to do once a year or so.

While I’m away, I thought I’d leave you some suggestions of food blogs you ought to be reading. My Google Reader is filled with inspiring sites, but I’m only going to suggest three for you. That should keep you busy over the weekend.

  • Kitchen-Confidante – A beautiful site, recently renamed, written and designed by Liren, a California mother of two. Her food is simple yet elegant, and her photographs reflect that. Plus, she’s a Ridge wine fan, proving she has excellent taste.
  • A Sweet Spoonful – I’ve recently discovered Megan’s site, and I’m hooked. It’s just a beautiful place to spend some time, and her writing just draws me in.
  • In Jennie’s Kitchen – Jennie is a New York writer and mother of two little girls. I can completely relate to her struggles to find that work-life balance that really becomes an issue after having children. Her posts are inspiring, and you’ll want to make homemade pasta after reading them.

But, before you head away to those three blogs to start your reading – and then cooking and baking — make a snack to take with you. This smoked salmon appetizer is incredibly easy to throw together at a moment’s notice, and the contrasting textures of the kettle-cooked chip and silky smoked salmon are a delight.

This appetizer is a fabulous reason to buy potato chips.

Yield: 4 servings.

Smoked Salmon on Chips with Lemon Crème Frâiche


1/4 cup crème frâiche
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
16 large black pepper or salt-and-pepper kettle-cooked potato chips
1 4-ounce package of thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut into 16 pieces
Chopped fresh chives


Stir crème frâiche and lemon peel in small bowl. Arrange potato chips on plate. Divide salmon among chips. Spoon rounded 1/2 teaspoon lemon crème frâiche atop salmon on each chip and sprinkle with chives.

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21 Responses to “st. augustine, florida: salt water cowboys”

  1. 1
    Liren — August 18, 2010 @ 10:59 pm

    What a peaceful looking place! It sounds like a perfect spot to unwind after a Disney trip. As much as I love Disney, it does seem to require a vacation after the vacation! It’s so nice that your parents can meet you and enjoy tasty meals (and fun drinks)! I love Jane and Michael Stern, too; their finds and the stories always make me smile. Sounds like you all found a true gem 🙂

  2. 2
    Gail — August 18, 2010 @ 11:02 pm

    In the words of the inimitable Tina Fey, “I want to go to there.”

  3. 3
    Eileen — August 18, 2010 @ 11:27 pm

    OMG… I love Salt Water Cowboys! My husband and I eat there every time we go to the St. Augustine area (which happens to be one of our favorite places to visit). Great food, fun atmosphere – I miss that place…

  4. 4
    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — August 19, 2010 @ 7:13 am

    Those drinks look incredible – i would have been right there with you. And that stuffed shrimp – YUM!

  5. 5
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — August 19, 2010 @ 7:19 am

    I would be right there with you drinking one of those… nothing to be ashamed of! 😉 And that food looks incredible.

  6. 6
    RavieNomNoms — August 19, 2010 @ 8:48 am

    ooooo looks like so much fun! And those drinks?! They look so cute 🙂

  7. 7
    Jason Phelps — August 19, 2010 @ 9:06 am

    Definitely one of those places that gets talked about for all the right reasons.

    Thank You


  8. 8
    Just Food Snobs — August 19, 2010 @ 9:45 am

    What a beautiful restaurant and beautiful food! Thanks for sharing!

  9. 9
    Kath — August 19, 2010 @ 10:40 am

    @Gail 🙂 lol I want to go to there, too!

  10. 10
    Barbara | VinoLuciStyle — August 19, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

    Even though you’re in Florida, these pictures and the foods are so reminiscent of when I lived in NC and we would vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC. I want that shrimp dish, it looks divine but more than that, I want to be there with that view eating that dish.

    I miss the Carolinas; even more so after seeing your posts about your vacation; maybe it’s time to consider revisiting a place where I left so much of my heart when I moved to Colorado.

    • merrygourmet

      merrygourmet replied: — August 19th, 2010 @ 7:46 pm

      Barb – Sounds like you need to plan a vacation. 🙂

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  12. 11
    Leigh — August 19, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

    You really have a gift for photography, MJ. I’ve heard amazing things about SWC, but I’ve never been. I don’t eat seafood so we normally opt for Cuban or Spanish in St. Aug. I think next time we go I’ll have to give it a look. I’m sure they have steak, yeah?

    • merrygourmet

      merrygourmet replied: — August 19th, 2010 @ 7:45 pm

      Leigh – You are SO sweet. They have barbecue and probably some form of beef. You could always go for the gator tail or frog legs. 😉

  13. 12
    Velva — August 20, 2010 @ 9:07 pm

    You are right, the view from the restaurant is stunning. The food is intended to be fun and it shows. Nice. I would not have resisted the drinks either. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. 13
    Monica — August 21, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

    darn–we were just there. Next trip to see the family I am suggesting this place! Cracker Coolade and a gator growl…might be mixing those up come football season!

    • merrygourmet

      merrygourmet replied: — August 22nd, 2010 @ 8:42 am

      Monica – Next time you definitely need to make the trip there. You – and the kids – would LOVE it.

  16. 14
    Claudia McCants — May 20, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

    Their salad is a family favorite that you can easily recreate at home when you’re nostalgic for Florida and Salt Water Cowboys. We make it with mixed greens, a sliced Granny Smith apple, walnuts, sliced red onions and Honey Mustard Dressing (store bought or homemade).

  17. 15
    Cristy — September 26, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

    Fabulous Food!

    Great experience!

    Joey was a great waiter!

    Highly recommend.

  18. 16
    Ron — May 25, 2013 @ 8:48 pm

    I have been to saltwater cowboys many times and usually have a good experience. On my most recent visit they had yellow fin tuna, mahi mahi and red snapper as the fish of the day. I went with the mahi mahi. Everything served was fine except the mahi mahi. I eat a lot of fish and I do not believe I was served mahi mahi. I believe I was served tilapia. In fact, I believe I was served soggy tilapia. It was rather disappointing, but my wife didn’t want to complain so we wrote it off. $44 for two soggy tilapias, 2 excellent baked potatoes, bread and salad may have been a bit more than it was worth.

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