an mcu journey: teamwork & piles of pork

another mcu night called for another sequel, this time for the one and only thor. and like chris hemsworth, our dinner that evening was beefy. we were craving some barbecue and ordered from nearby cue. on the verge of becoming unpleasantly hangry, i only had time to snap a couple photos of my meal, the fresh garden salad with shredded pork on top. did this salad change my life? not quite, but with enough chipotle ranch and bbq sauce slathered on top of that generous mound of meat, it was a pretty enjoyable bite. dave also had a salad but went for the southwestern barbecue chicken salad, and jenn and phillip both had platters. i’d be lying if i said phillip’s brisket and jenn’s side of mac’n’cheese didn’t make me a little jealous. good thing i can always hop in the car and go get some for myself!

but what about thor: the dark world? was it as mildly enjoyable as our dinner? i’d actually say it was better than expected. generally i feel like thor’s films have gotten sour reviews, but after watching the movie and catching it a couple more times on tv, i came to really like it. i was pleased to see that thor was much less self-involved this time around, and i don’t know that i’ll ever be able to get enough tom hiddleston. despite some selfish motives, the brothers came together to set aside their differences for the greater good, giving us plenty reason to root for them both. i was glad that jane generally wasn’t the center of the story, as she’s never been my favorite, but her rag-tag team of scientists are always a joy to watch.

our commitment to new movies and new restaurants is stronger than ever, so bring on the rankings!

EATS

  1. gordo’s pizza
  2. alebrije mexican restaurant
  3. burger 21
  4. jerusalem bakery
  5. armando’s caribe
  6. cue barbecue
  7. lon u
  8. wayback burger
  9. 2 nyers pizza
  10. tokyo shokudo

MOVIES

  1. iron man
  2. ant-man
  3. guardians of the galaxy
  4. captain america: the first avenger
  5. thor: the dark world
  6. thor
  7. captain america: the winter soldier
  8. iron man 3
  9. the avengers
  10. iron man 2

an mcu journey: gobs of queso & goofy guardians

we’ve been chugging right along through the restaurants in our city and the films of the marvel cinematic universe, and after winter solider we decided to take to lighten the mood a bit with guardians. before the movie, though, came dinner, and before dinner came a shot of tequila to get the party goin’. ole!

everybody that night was on board for mexican, so we ordered from a spot new to all of us, alebrije mexican restaurant. i don’t think any mexican meal is complete without a queso appetizer, so we ordered two bowlfuls and ate every last melty drop. you know how sometimes when you order dip there aren’t enough chips? definitely not the case here; we had plenty of chips for the queso and then some to spare! our entrees were just as satisfying as the queso, from the taco combo dinner to the shredded lettuce salad dinner to the steak ancho pepper fajita dinner and the pollo yucateco dinner, everything was so delicious that there were hardly any leftovers to box up. can you ask for more?

yes, you can ask for more. you can ask for a movie that ticks just about all the boxes for what a fun movie should be. guardians of the galaxy felt like the perfect balance of heavy (i like how all the misfits had their own backstory) and comedy (“bunch of jackasses, standing in a circle.”). i do think i saw the movie ages ago after it first came out and all the hype had built it up, but i remember not loving it then. the good news is that tastes change, and i thoroughly enjoyed the film this second time around. the soundtrack, yes, was refreshing, and that jail breakout scene was a joy to watch. the guardians are an unexpected bunch, which i guess is part of their draw, and i’d gladly sit through the film again any time. 🙂

with all that, how have alebrije and the guardians shook up the ratings? let’s see!

EATS

  1. gordo’s pizza
  2. alebrije mexican restaurant
  3. burger 21
  4. jerusalem bakery
  5. armando’s caribe
  6. lon u
  7. wayback burger
  8. 2 nyers pizza
  9. tokyo shokudo

MOVIES

  1. iron man
  2. ant-man
  3. guardians of the galaxy
  4. captain america: the first avenger
  5. thor
  6. captain america: the winter soldier
  7. iron man 3
  8. the avengers
  9. iron man 2

an mcu journey: mega ships & raw fish

well, last week i mentioned to you that i was ready to mix things up. i felt like we were getting in a character and food rut, so we definitely got a taste of something different this week. we’ll get the bad news out of the way first, not that there’s particularly stellar news to share afterwards…

i told dave that burgers and pizza were out of the question, so he suggested we do japanese for dinner. it’s been a while since i’ve had a good roll of sushi, so i was game. we did some searching online and decided to give tokyo shokudo a chance. looking back, there were plenty of red flags and, in hindsight, we should have run in the other direction. no, not just run. we should have sprinted away.

first, i’m not saying that every restaurant needs to have a fancy website, but the only way to view their menu is through three pictures on their google maps profile. i get that sometimes the best places to eat are those that aren’t glitzy and are those hole-in-the-wall type of joints, but in viewing the menu, i was already questioning our choice. not wanting to be a debbie downer, though, i went with the flow and let phillip know what i wanted so that he could call and place the order.

jenn and i stayed at home with grace and gwen while the boys went to go get dinner. conversation was pleasant (as always), the weather outside was lovely, and the dogs were getting in some good zoomies, but we both started wondering what was taking so long. i wouldn’t say we were hangry, but tokyo shokudo is right down the street, and it’s not like we ordered one of everything. no sooner were those thoughts in our mind than they returned, shaking their heads. we knew there was a story to tell!

the guys arrived at tokyo shokudo, and it sounds like no one greeted them at all. not a good start. the sushi chef asked who they were, they replied, and he said it would be 20 minutes before the food was ready. the guys decided to go on a quick white claw run while waiting, and upon returning to the restaurant, the food still was not ready. the chef gestured to phillip and dave to have a seat, and although it sounds like he meant to come across nicely, his demeanor was just plain prickly. finally, everything was ready and packed up and we sat down at the dinner table to chow down. dave’s sashimi bowl looked very appetizing, and the sushi rolls phillip and i ordered were bright and colorful and just what i was in the mood for. i eagerly snapped apart my chopsticks, poured myself a little soy sauce, and grabbed a piece of the spicy tuna roll. i’ll say it was perfectly spicy and perfectly tasty. i always love getting tuna with my sushi. i then went to grab a piece of the yummy yummy roll but frowned as i discovered a nice little piece of plastic wrap clinging to the top of the salmon slice. if the service had been impeccable and speedy, i would have been able to forgive what was probably an honest oversight. however, the experience overall was pretty disappointing, and it is hard to come back from plastic wrap on your sushi. i think it’s safe to say we’ll be looking for another sushi spot in town to satisfy our raw fish craving.

i wish i could say things with the movie improved greatly, but at least the evening didn’t deteriorate into anything worse than plastic wrap covered sushi. dave had suggested we watch captain america: the winter soldier next, so that is exactly what we did. i feel like i am generally inclined to like captain america simply because he seems to be the most grounded of all the marvel heroes, and even though his characterization proved to be true throughout this movie, i feel like the plot took some eye roll-inducing turns when that creepy-ass zola consciousness started talking, when bucky barnes (whom i didn’t recognize at all) made a “dramatic” reappearance, and when the super-critical controller chips on these humongous ships were being guarded by no one. again, whatever makes the storyline work…

if there is anything i liked about this movie, it was getting to know a little bit more about sam wilson (falcon) and seeing more of black widow. i wasn’t so sure about her during our first encounter, but she’s starting to grow on me. let’s see how it affects the rankings!

EATS

  1. gordo’s pizza
  2. burger 21
  3. jerusalem bakery
  4. armando’s caribe
  5. lon u
  6. wayback burger
  7. 2 nyers pizza
  8. tokyo shokudo

MOVIES

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

an mcu journey: fan boys & chewy dough

we decided it was time to keep on with iron man’s personal saga and forged ahead through iron man 3. as most of these movies have started, people who were insecure decided to use good technology and science for less than good motives, manipulate others to rise to “power,” and then take out their grudges on the innocent. sound familiar? i think my favorite parts were when tony stark crossed paths with harley in his garage and then gary in the news van. gotta love a good boy crush. oh, and happy getting better. 🙂 that was a nice touch. my less favorite parts? killian shooting hansen, pepper just having to survive her extremis treatment so that she can perfectly intervene to save tony, and all the suits blowing up. again, necessary? no. a little “forced” to make the storyline work? probably.

something else that felt forced that night was our dinner. we picked up a couple of pizzas from the local pizza place up the street, 2 nyers pizza. now, i have had their pizza before, and the first time we tried them was via delivery. it was okay, in all honesty. then, i thought we should give them another chance and we ate at the restaurant, and it was like a whole different experience. the bianca and meat lovers pizzas are hands down our favorites, and the staff is so friendly! but this night the pies weren’t as flavorful as they usually are, the dough was very chewy and not light and slightly crisp like i’d come to expect. it definitely was not their best performance, and i think i’ve determined they are one of the places that is best to enjoy at the restaurant.

i think at this point in the journey, i am ready to meet some new heroes and try some new types of food. we need to mix it up a little bit!

EATS

  1. gordo’s pizza
  2. burger 21
  3. jerusalem bakery
  4. armando’s caribe
  5. lon u
  6. wayback burger
  7. 2 nyers pizza

MOVIES

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

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

it’s doughp, yo!

like many folks these days, i have taken the opportunity to seize moments i couldn’t otherwise. like deep cleaning the house. or really tackling the yard work. or ordering stuff just because i want to. this post is related to that final category. 🙂

as i have alluded to previously, i am a sucker for a good marketing campaign. the p’zone and cheez-it pizza squares by pizza hut? tried ’em both. the shaqaroni by papa john’s? had it just the other week. the famous popeye’s chicken sandwich? devoured it. the list goes on and on. truly. just ask any of my family and friends. my latest foodie adventure, though, is a little on the sweeter side with edible raw cookie dough by doughp.

the reasons i wanted to try doughp included…

  1. the founder’s name is kelsey. that honestly should be enough reason.
  2. it’s cookie dough. i like cookies. i like dough. ’nuff said.
  3. and there’s a good cause behind each purchase.

oh, and i had a sweet-ass bogo coupon from my favorite daily newsletter morning brew. that had a little something to do with it, too.

regardless of why i was motivated to place that order, how was the dough? was it as doughp as i wanted it to be? in a few short words, yes, it was.

we ordered the self control cookie dough box and at first did just eat the dough by the spoonfuls right out of the containers. the general consensus (between phillip and i) was that the dough was tasty and the different flavors were fun, but i wasn’t getting ready to smack my mama over it.

it then dawned on me that we should probably bake the dough and see what we thought of it then. oh, honey, was that just the best idea we’d had all day? i think so. i’ll be honest, i loved doughp SO much more when baked. i’m talking a junk ton more. the first batch we underbaked slightly, so they were warm and ooey and gooey right out of the oven. the second batch we let go a little longer, and each crispy bite was still delicious.

phillip’s favorite was “i need smore” while i could easily put away a whole tub of “cookie monsta” myself, and i definitely recommend the variety pack if you want a little, yes, variety. lawlz.

so, if you’re in the mood to treat yo’self and do a little something good at the same time, go order some doughp right away. as far as i see it, your satisfaction is guaranteed. 🙂

mozzarella!

earlier this month i wanted to plan a little date night in for phillip and me and was inspired when my coworker sue told me about a creamery in pennsylvania that offers mozzarella-making kits and instructions.  no sooner were the words out of her mouth than i had placed my order for a pound of our very own curds.

you want to know the most interesting thing i learned about making mozzarella?  that once you have the curds, it really doesn’t take long at all!  rynn takes you through the mozz-making process step by step in an adorable online video you get access to once your curds arrive.  to echo her suggestion, i highly recommend pouring yourself a drink, kicking back, and simply watching the process first before diving in to make your own.  rynn is charming and entertaining and informative all at the same time and really does give you deep insight into cheese and, of course, mozzarella.

once we felt prepared, we inched our aprons and shred our curds and boiled our water and sprinkled our salt and got to work.  the process, again, really isn’t too difficult, and i ultimately think the most important step is getting your water hot enough.  i don’t know that ours was because our mozz balls were a little lumpy and not as smooth as i think they could have been.  however, it was still a fun time watching those curds clump together and then pulling them with the spoon for that picturesque waterfall effect.  i mean, i think they look pretty good for first-timers!

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so now that we had our fresh mozzarella available, how did we enjoy it?  well, we sliced up one of the balls and enjoyed it on its own, and some things just taste better when you make them yourself.  next up that night were individual pizzas with our lovely mozz plopped on top.  each bite was super cheesy and super delicious.  then, we paired the mozz with some fresh tomatoes, basil, and vinegar for a little caprese salad.  how gourmet!

if you like cooking and you like cheese, please order yourself some curds and join in on the fun.  it was a delightful evening in and almost makes me feel like i’m right in italy alongside the experts.  almost.  🙂