an mcu journey: all the ants and all the meats

after a brief hiatus, we are back on our mcu journey, and this weekend phillip picked the eats while dave and jenn picked the flick. as always, let’s start with dinner.

phillip said he was in the mood for burgers, so we decided to try wayback burgers. when the boys brought dinner home and we unwrapped our meals, i was at first very excited. the double patty burger was loaded with all the classic burger toppings and even real strips of bacon. i chomped down on my double bacon everything in ravenous fashion and at first thought, “wow, this is what a classic burger should be!” dave and phillip had the same, and even though we all three ate our entire meals, we decided at the end they weren’t as satisfying as we had hoped. jenn was also underwhelmed, not even finishing her classic burger. the bacon on both the burgers and the bacon cheese fries was not nearly crispy enough, and overall it was as though it was too much of a good thing. if there is a saving grace here, it was the mac’n’cheese bites. those were pretty fun. oh, and dave’s watermelon-pineapple frozen margaritas. those kinda saved the day.

the better news from this mcu evening is that the movie was a hit! we dove into the world of ant-man, a new mcu movie to me, and i really do not think i could have been more pleased. paul rudd? love him. michael pena? never seen him in a movie i didn’t like. the super extra shrinking and enlarging and honestly ridiculously silly parts towards the end? totally okay with it all in this film! i feel like this movie embraced its quirky side and could not have cast the characters better, in my expert mcu opinion. although it felt like it dragged there a little in the middle, it was worth the two hours to watch that gigantic thomas the tank engine and his googly eyes at the end. am i right?

despite the polar opposites between the meal and the movie, the rankings are now a little shook up and getting interesting!

EATS

  1. gordo’s pizza
  2. burger 21
  3. jerusalem bakery
  4. armando’s caribe
  5. wayback burger
  6. lon u

MOVIES

  1. iron man
  2. ant-man
  3. captain america: the first avenger
  4. thor
  5. the avengers
  6. iron man 2

an mcu journey: bitter bad guys and lots of rice

our next movie was our first sequel of the mcu with iron man 2. dave and jenn had declared ahead of time their disdain of this sequel, and even before seeing it myself i could partly understand where they were coming from. i mean, hardly ever is the second in a series as good as the original. having seen iron man 2 now, though, what is my review? generally speaking it certainly was not as good as the first but definitely could have been worse. ah, see that little rhyme-y rhyme i did for you there?

was that opening scene with the scantily-clad iron man dancers super extra? oh yeah. was tony stark’s vomit-inducing ego even more disgusting in the second movie than the first? i’d say so. and was pepper potts a little whiny? i’ll give you all of that. but did things like don cheadle and tony’s vulnerable humanity and that pretty parrot make up for it all? almost. i liked that in this film there were two villains looking to take down iron man, and they increased the thrill and suspense, even if just a little bit.

as for dinner that evening, i’d say it was solidly mediocre, kind of like the movie. we ordered delivery from lon u. i actually didn’t mind my sesame chicken, white rice, and broccoli, but the rest of the group seemed underwhelmed with this go round of asian american. phillip ordered the chicken fried rice, one of his favorite dishes, and he barely put a dent in it. in fact, he was sneaking bites from my bowl instead! i did try his and agree it was pretty flavorless. but guess what? later that weekend i reheated some of it, and somehow it tasted better than before. strange, yes? do you think there’s some science behind why some dishes taste better the next day? maybe that’s lon u’s secret and we just don’t know it…

we are close to finishing up phase one of the mcu and are on a roll with these reviews! here is how the rankings shake out five movies and restaurants in.

EATS

  1. gordo’s pizza
  2. burger 21
  3. jerusalem bakery
  4. armando’s caribe
  5. lon u

MOVIES

  1. iron man
  2. captain america: the first avenger
  3. thor
  4. the avengers
  5. iron man 2

an mcu journey: big egos and big burritos

last week dave, jenn, phillip, and i settled into the comfy sectional sofas to watch the avengers. they told me i’d probably be inclined to like it because some of the characters i have already met come together in this film. honestly, though, i was underwhelmed. to start, i spent the first 40 minutes of the movie just trying to understand what was happening. everyone’s voices were so low, we are thrown right into the middle of a crisis, there is a new monster army that loki decides to “befriend,” and it took me several minutes to understand that the glowing rock thing had a name. but then again, this is the marvel universe, so why shouldn’t it have a name!

as the storyline progresses, the collision of each hero’s ginormous ego is no surprise, but i did find the moments between tony stark and bruce banner quite tender. anyone else? speaking of bruce, i found it highly convenient that on the ship he cannot control his rage but suddenly can when they are in new york city and he needs to use his powers for good. sure, whatever you have to do to make it work, i guess…kind of like hawkeye’s uncanny accuracy with his fancy arrows. my favorite (and least favorite) scene is when agent coulson decides to get in on the action. i think i was saddest about his death more than anything else in the movie! maybe he’ll reincarnate and show up in another film? i wouldn’t put it past this series.

generally it was fun to see all the heroes come together and use their forces against a common enemy, but it is starting to feel like every movie will be loki scheming a new plan to take over earth and someone trying to stop him. time will tell!

now, the only thing bigger than the avengers’ egos were the size of the meals we ordered from armando’s caribe for dinner. phillip and dave had steak quesadillas, and they were so full of tender meat and cheese that the tortilla could barely hold itself together. jenn had a stuffed burrito that made my mouth water, and i decided to try the media noche. it was basically a classic cuban sandwich but on sweet egg bread instead of cuban bread. i did like it but have had better dishes there (such as the tilapia tacos or the seared tuna, which is to die for). although not a new restaurant, at least i tried something new! and that is something.

four movies in, about a million to go. here are the rankings!

EATS

  1. gordo’s pizza
  2. burger 21
  3. jerusalem bakery
  4. armando’s caribe

MOVIES

  1. iron man
  2. captain america: the first avenger
  3. thor
  4. the avengers

an mcu journey: spoiled sons and pineapple on pizza

movie three in our journey was thor. similar to iron man, i had seen thor once before, but that was forever ago, and all i remembered was lovesick natalie portman and that big robot thing that shot a big laser thing out of its face. so, yes, it was time to rewatch it and actually absorb the story and understand how it fits into the bigger picture.

my honest review? thor left much to be desired, and even though chris hemsworth is unbelievably ripped, here are my biggest gripes:

  • thor’s storyline felt incredibly basic: spoiled son doesn’t get his way, so he starts a fight he can’t finish and gets put in timeout to learn a lesson. that’s it.
  • loki’s “origin story” was quite interesting, and he could have risen above his past but decides instead to also be selfish and cranky and take it out on everyone else. come on, loki.
  • the camera angles. why were so many of the camera angles at an awkward, tilted angle? do you want me paying attention to the movie or my easily triggered nausea?

once the movie finished and i gave my honest review, dave actually pulled up this video from the honest trailer series on youtube that perfectly sums up the movie and my feelings about it.

the good news is that our dinner was leaps and bounds better than the movie. phillip was in the mood for pizza, so dave and jenn picked up a couple pies from gordo’s pizza up the street. we had a supreme and then something with chicken, bacon, and pineapple. now, i’ve never been one to crave pineapple pizza. in fact, i’m probably one of those folks who never gave it much thought, but after those couple of slices, i just might be a believer! there’s something almost indescribable about warmed, sweet pineapple next to salty chicken and bacon and gobs of cheese. seriously!

so, let’s get to the rankings, shall we? after three movies and three restaurants, here’s where things stand. see you next time!

EATS

  1. gordo’s pizza
  2. burger 21
  3. jerusalem bakery

MOVIES

  1. iron man
  2. captain america: the first avenger
  3. thor

an mcu journey: the jericho and an american cheeseburger

so, i’m pretty sure this next mcu night goes out of any suggested order the internet would advise, but we decided iron man was next up, and you didn’t hear me complaining.

food was up first, though, and dave decided he was in the mood for burgers. so, he and phillip picked up dinner from burger 21. it was a new spot for all of us, and we all loved what we ordered. dave scarfed down the entire tex-mex haystack, jenn was very pleased with her bacon cheesy, and i didn’t make too big of a mess with the garlicky ‘shroom burger. and even though this was a burger spot, phillip went for the 101 combo, two hot dogs served on new england rolls. he kindly let me steal a bite, and i almost liked the hot dogs more than my burger! i think that buttery roll was the perfect finishing touch, and i don’t doubt we’ll be eating here again. and to top it all off, we of course had a few orders of fries and tried the cookies’n’cream milkshake and chocolate peanut butter milkshake. none of them lasted long.

now, let’s get to more good stuff: the movie! i have actually seen iron man several times before this mcu journey but loved it this time around just as much as before. why do i like this movie so much? let me count all the reasons. tony stark’s character is reprehensible but then redeeming while being charming and comical all along the way. the technology throughout, albeit quite fictional, is also quite badass, including jarvis the robot. and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love terrence howard?

i promised i would rank the movies and the food, and even though i feel like it was not a fair fight between the first couple evenings, here are the standings after two weeks:

EATS

  1. burger 21
  2. jerusalem bakery

MOVIES

  1. iron man
  2. captain america: the first avenger

can’t wait to see what’s up next!

an mcu journey: chris evans’ pecks and a side of shawarma

several weeks ago, i was on a zoom chat with some friends who were discussing mcu. shamelessly, i interrupted the conversation to ask, “what is mcu?” some of them held their heads in their hands in disappointment, others had their mouths open, aghast. “kelsey, it’s the marvel cinematic universe.”

“ah, of course it is!” was my response. i’ve heard good things, i’ve heard bad things, and then i decided that 2021 would be the year i would journey through the mcu. this week was week one of our journey, and we went over to our neighbors’ dave and jenn house to start with captain america: the first avenger. we also decided that this ritual would be the prime opportunity to pair the new movie viewing with some new eats. so, each movie will go along with a nearby restaurant we haven’t yet tried, and as the journey progresses, i’ll rank them all. let’s go!

we’ll start with dinner, since we ate before we pressed play. jenn raved about and recommended we try jerusalem bakery, about 15 minutes away from our neighborhood. as far as i am concerned, it’s hard to go wrong with fresh ingredients and shaved meat, so it was easy to like the food. i had the falafel entree and have decided regardless of restaurant i now need to stop ordering falafel to-go. don’t get me wrong, it was good, but by the time it is prepped and you drive home, it loses that richness and moist bite. on the other hand, phillip had to fight me for his chicken shawarma platter. it was good the first time and even still delicious when the leftovers were reheated this weekend. so far, so good! (p.s. i promise to take pictures next time 🙂 )

as for the movie, there was more to be desired. generally, i didn’t totally despise the storyline, and yes, i understand that super powers are not a thing. i also grasp that strength-enhancing serum is unreal. further, i realize that these movies involve supernatural characters and plotlines. nonetheless, the scale of just how unreal some of the things were in captain america: the first avenger had me rolling my eyes almost all night long! i mean, that big plane at the end. did it need to be that big? probably not. does there always have to be a love story between the hero and some gorgeous someone? apparently so. is that zipline scene really that believable? not in our world, so what i understand i must come to terms with if i am going to get through 20+ movies is that i need to simply appreciate them for what they are: entertainment.

now, i do look forward to how all the back stories and characters will intertwine in later movies, and some of the films have some of my favorite actors in the cast. and, let’s be honest, their bodies are positively ripped, and it’s hard to argue with that. perhaps most importantly, though, i’ll actually be able to talk about it when mcu comes up in conversation! and that is nearly priceless. well, for us it’ll cost us a bunch of dinners, but that is a price i am willing to pay.

check back as our mcu journey continues and come at me with your suggestions, whether it’s the proper viewing order or restaurants in our area we just must try. if nothing else, we should all be entertained!

obx

with the pandemic upsetting some of our plans, extra time was then suddenly available for some spontaneous activities. phillip and i decided to take advantage and road trip to the outer banks of north carolina. i’d say for about a year now we’ve considered vacationing there but only recently made it happen and are so glad we did.

rather than the standard day-by-day format for my travels, i’m going to do a little something different and share our trip with you by category. so, if you mostly care about what we eat, you can focus there. if you’re more interested in what we did, that’s all together for you, too. enjoy!

the lodging

even though phillip and i knew we wanted to go to the outer banks, we hadn’t yet really planned on where we would stay. well, the good news is that aaa came to the rescue. my mom was browsing through their member magazine on one of her visits and found a quick blurb about the sanderling resort in duck, nc. she didn’t have to do much convincing, as we quickly agreed to splurge on a couple of nights at the four-star resort.

even during the pandemic, the sanderling did not disappoint. it’s hard to complain when you are within a two-minute walk of the beach or when the bar is just a few steps away from the lobby or when you have the perfect view for a sunrise or when the concierge provides complimentary s’mores packs to roast in the fire pit or when the staff takes extra measures to ensure the common spaces are clean. i can only imagine how the service is elevated when restrictions are not in place.

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louisville – day 4

our fourth and final day in louisville started out like most last days on vacations begin, with some quick goodbyes. dad had driven up from alabama and needed to hit the road early so that he could get home at a reasonable hour. so, clark, phillip, and i woke up just enough to give him a hug and wish him safe travels and then got a couple more hours of sleep before checking out of the hotel ourselves.

the three of us had plenty of time to kill before our late afternoon flights, so we agreed a sunday like this one was the perfect excuse for some brunch. we put in our names at highland morning and walked next door to grab some lattes at day’s espresso & coffee while we waited. supporting local businesses is important, but i have a soft spot for coffee shops. reminds me of the cambridge coffee and jittery joe’s days, simpler times for sure.

before too long, we got the call that highland morning was ready for us, so we brought along our beverages and settled in at our table. you know the best places always have a wait, so we were already encouraged before we even ordered.

like i said, we had a lot of time before our flights home, so i wasted no time and ordered us the mimosa bucket. now, the mimosas were delicious – i mean who doesn’t love some bubbly on a lovely sunday afternoon? but what was almost better was something else new clark taught me. yesterday was “camera eats first” and “influencers in the wild.” could today possibly top it? pretty close!

so, i asked clark to take a picture of me with the champagne bottle. he sweetly obliged and then showed me the picture, to which i gasped in pleasant surprise. “what’s wrong?” he asked.

“nothing!” i said. “i’m just impressed by how great this picture makes me look!” nothing like tooting your own horn. 😀 clark then proceeded to explain portrait mode on the iphone to me (i have only ever owned android devices), to which i was amazed again at how technology and social media just rule our world some days. today was one of those days, clearly.

i didn’t have much time to gush over my beautiful portrait because our food soon arrived. phillip and clark both had the baja benedict on recommendation from the waitress. i had the stuffed french toast and a side of crispy bacon. the boys decided that although their dish was good, the amount of chorizo was underwhelming. i, on the other hand, could not get enough of my french toast. i don’t typically go for the sweet breakfast plates, but this one was delicious bite after bite!

like all good things, our trip did come to an end. clark flew west, phillip and i flew south, and we all went back to our normal day-to-day. looking back on it all, though, i’d say we made the most of our few days in louisville. folks were friendly just about everywhere we went, and it was easy to get to. if you ever find yourself driving through the bluegrass state, carve out a little time in louisville. i think you’ll be happy you did.

louisville – day 3

after our busy friday, we all slept in a bit and then walked the couple of blocks for a starbucks fuel-up for the day. we sipped on cold brews and frappuccinos and pumpkin spice lattes, and i think it’s pretty clear which of us in the family has their selfie game down to a science. 🙂

on our way out, dad could not resist getting a few pictures with the horse. like many towns, these statues are all over louisville with different designs. could you find them all?

since our breakfast was pretty light, we hopped in the car to eat at another favorite spot you just don’t see in the south, skyline chili! i first heard about skyline from my friend bank when he used to make it for us in college, and it’s one of the places you must eat at if it is nearby. kind of like grater’s. 🙂

we inhaled our chili dogs and pasta dishes in record time, savoring each bite since who knows when we’ll have it again!

after lunch we strolled around and took in the gorgeous weekend day. the sun was shining, folks were out and about. it was a fine day indeed, made even better when we stopped in at the eagle for a round of drinks al fresco.

like i said, saturday truly was our chill day of the trip, so we continued our fast food eating tour that night at raising cane’s for some chicken and over at white castle for some greasy mini burgers. gotta love ’em!

the day wrapped up as we lounged at the hotel, enjoying each other’s company and watching some good ‘ole fashion college football. one more day to go!

louisville – day 2

after a quick visit to the famed churchill downs friday morning…

…we ventured on over to biscuit belly, another sara-recommended spot.  if i could only say one thing about biscuit belly, it is that we LOVED it.

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but!  i’ll of course say more than just that.  now, after being overcome by what my dad called an “ordering frenzy,” we all settled in with our coffees, both hot and cold brew style.

as i snapped a picture of the cute mugs and glasses, clark so kindly educated us about what the kids are saying and doing these days when it comes to social media.  yes, kelsey, it’s more than just regular blogs like yours.  i learned about “camera eats first,” which about made me die, and then also “influencers in the wild.”  it’s funny how we were victims of these trends without even realizing it.  thank you, clark, for helping your 32 year old sister stay current.  🙂

we put our devices down briefly as our food started coming out, and i think we all felt our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.  so, what exactly did we order?  well, let me tell you.  for the table to share, we ordered the bonuts, the gravy train, and the pancake corndogs.  if you want the inside scoop, try dipping the bonut into the chocolate gravy from the gravy train.  you’ll be in biscuit heaven, i guarantee it.

but don’t forget that we all also had our entrees, as if we needed more!  we tried the love shack, the basic biscuit, and the rockwell.

i told you we ordered a lot!  we were at our table for nearly two hours just eating and drinking and solving all the world’s problems.  it was a homerun, and i think we all left wishing we had a location in each of our hometowns.

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