Monday, March 31, 2008

Where have I been? After Durham, Charlotte.

I drove down to Mike's on Thursday afternoon. My college roommate Kat is in Charlotte right now, helping her sis out, who just had her third child. Brave girl! Kat, Mike, and I met up on Thursday night, and went to a place called Arpa for dinner.

Mike said it all pretty succinctly in his Yelp post, but in my own words, it was good food, and the prices were reasonable. What went wrong was the portion size. Like, I thought the tuna I ordered was good. And I didn't even mind that it was $14. But for $14, I expect to have at least three pieces of it! Two little tuna nuggets for that price point didn't match up. I guess the way I feel about it is, I think I should have been a hell of a lot fuller having paid the bill that I did. But the food itself was decent enough. The drinks were very good. Maybe this should be a drinking place from now on.

After dinner, we stepped over to an Irish bar called Ri Ra. This place was fun! It definitely looked the part of the pub. The live music was awesome! As in, would come back just to hear them. They were able to get the entire bar revved up, with promises of various music, from 80s to "80s bluegrass"!

I was pleasantly tipsy -- see incriminating photo -- as was Kat. Or I guessed she was, since she was compelled to get up and grace the bar with a slightly modified River Dance knockoff. Priceless.

Where have I been? Durham, for starters.

So...I'm a little bit behind on my blogging, but I haven't disappeared. It's more of a hiatus. I just returned from a week in North Carolina. The first part of the week was visiting my sister and her family. The second half was visiting Mike.

Because I'm behind in blogging about my food explorations, I will attempt to describe each experience concisely. We begin with:

Tuesday, March 25:
Kate and I went to eat burritos for lunch at a restaurant called Cosmic Cantina, in downtown Durham. To eliminate the risk of being redundant, I will link to my review on Yelp. In a nutshell, I thought it was good, but nothing spectacular. A cool hangout, I'll give you that.

For dinner, I was coerced to try borscht. It was surprisingly good, considering I find beets to be one of the most repellent foods there are. I'm not sure if it's a Polish thing to add various other stuff to the soup to make it hearty, but that's what we did: sausage, ham, hard boiled eggs, potatoes. I didn't like the actual beets, but the broth was tasty. And pink.

Wednesday, March 26:
Kate and I had sushi for lunch at a place, again in downtown Durham, called Mount Fuji. Again, here is my review on Yelp. The sushi was fresh, but nothing to rave about. Would've been just as happy with RuSan's. The service was nice.

We did dinner at a bar & grill called Federal. Here's the Yelp review. We brought the kids here, although I'm not sure I would suggest this place for kids normally. It's a bar, I think, first and foremost. But they were well-behaved for the most part. The patio is nice.

Thursday, March 27:
Kate and I went to Elmo's for lunch. I had asked to go here because I had a fantastic breakfast here on a prior visit, and was looking forward to trying it again. But, since we went for lunch, there weren't any breakfast specials, and nothing was really calling out to me. So I got a hummus sandwich.

The sandwich wasn't my favorite, but my opinion of this restaurant is still very high. The breakfast I had during my first visit was delicious. I can't recall exactly what it was, but I think I got a waffle with some sort of fruit in it. Not typically my thing, and it was awesome.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My salad dressing is as good as this

Last night, I got kind of lazy, so I decided to make a basic salad with a side of polenta. This is actually a dish I had one year at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. One of the vendors made polenta, which they put in one of those flat gyro containers, and topped a basic salad on top. Sounds weird with the hot/cold combo, but it was actually quite good.

But I did consult my ATK cookbook to make their basic vinaigrette. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that it tastes every bit as good as mine! Well, I can't really say "mine", since it's really Mike's original concoction. But it's mine now! I took it! Mwahahaha.


So anyway, their recipe calls for all the same ingredients that I have used before -- oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, shallots, dijon -- but I did use my chardonnay vinegar, rather than the types they suggested. And their recipe called for garlic and fresh herbs, such as basil, which I had on hand. That gave it a fresh flavor.

Salad was topped with fresh strawberries and feta. Yum.

I had a pre-made package of polenta, which was good. But next time I'll make my own. It's pretty simple.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Pappasito's is great for groups

So, Heather finally got a new job! So, in honor of this event, I got a group of people together to celebrate. We decided on Pappasito's because it is Mexican and because it was a good location for various people coming from Atlanta or from Kennesaw.

And it's good for groups! I called ahead to reserve a table for 8, which they were happy to do. I also said that we wanted to sit on the patio, since it was so nice out. They said that was not guaranteed, but they would do their best. Fine.

We got there, and after a minor glitch of them sitting another large party at our patio table, they were able to still put us out there with just a small wait. No biggie, since people hadn't all arrived.

The food was good! Margaritas were good! And strong! I got my nachos with no meat, as usual. They don't do half orders anymore, so that's a bummer. I just can't do the whole order with all the chips I eat!

We ordered guacamole and yellow cheese dip, which was delish. Overall, a nice time!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Supper club!

We had our second installment of supper club last night. It was at Laura's house and she chose Mexican as the theme. There were nine people there: Laura/Gary, Heather/Chris, me/Jenny, Amanda/no guest, and Neely and her husband as the guests).

I thought it was a lot of fun! I wasn't sure exactly how it was going to work since her place is so small, but it did. In fact, it was probably more successful than mine since the dining room table was in the living room, rather than being separate. She also had two less people, which helps.

I made Tortilla Soup from the ATK cookbook. I thought it was a total success, and everyone seemed to like it. I did the prep at home, and then the assembly at Laura's. It was difficult because of the limited space, since there is a fair amount to assemble. But it worked out.

Laura made chicken quesadillas, Amanda "made" guacamole, cheese dip, and salsa (thanks, La Paz!), and Heather made a dessert called "chocolate goo pie". Despite the horrendous name, the dessert was good! She said it wasn't particularly Mexican, so she added toasted cinammon-sugar tortillas to make it more so. I would have liked to have more of that. Yum!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Planet Bombay

I ordered from Planet Bombay last night, and it wasn't as good as the first time I ordered from there. I just don't know what went wrong. I got the same things: order of nan, order of Chana Masala, and an order of Chicken Saag. I mean, it was good. It just wasn't great.

Maybe it had to do with the fact that I was ordering on a Friday night instead of a weeknight. The Chana Masala was runny and not spicy. The Chicken Saag was bland. Oh! And they put my Chana Masala in a broken plastic container. I got that sauce EVERYWHERE.

This is after a weird interaction in the restaurant too. The first frustrating thing about this restaurant is that the only parking they have is a paid parking lot. So you have to explain that you are just picking up food and will be right back, and the parking attendant looks at you like you are probably lying. That sucks.

When you get inside the restaurant, there's an overwhelming smell of curry. It's on you when you leave. Which is why I want to get in and out of there as quickly as possible. You have to walk to the back to get your order. So I do, and they ask me to sit. Fine, but I'm hoping they'll hurry since they already told me it would take 25 minutes, and I've given them 40 by the time I get there.

And I sit. And sit. And I'm trying to make contact with a server, but they are ignoring me. Then, a guy comes in to put covers over the fish aquarium in the restaurant. So I have to get up to get out of his way. A server stops to ask me to sit. All the available seats are taken at this point, so I tell him so, and said that I would be happy to just settle so I can clear out. No love.

Finally, I get my food. But I mean, come on! If it's going to take an hour, tell me it's going to take an hour!

I will go back, since that's not the experience I had the first time. But I'm hoping it doesn't happen again...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sushi with Al

Al and I had lunch at MF Sushi today. He had never been, I always crave sushi, and I owed him lunch.

It was good! Mike and I went there on our first date, and it was very romantic. And expensive! Be prepared for the prices if you go for dinner. For lunch, however, it's quite reasonable. Al and I concluded that that's how they rope you in. You go once for lunch, and when you find out how good it is, you go for dinner, and then they get you!

I digress.

They have sushi lunch specials that range from $10-20. And each one comes with a bowl of miso soup and a generously-sized ginger salad. I loved the salad -- the ginger dressing is very salty and yummy. The miso soup was typical.

The fish itself it very fresh. No complaints. I will definitely come back here for lunch.

Oh, one other thought: I tried, at an earlier date, to order takeout from here, and was unsuccessful. I called their number twice, and both times, was disconnected. Strange.