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: 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: 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: 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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louisville – day 1

like many folks these days, our plans have been canceled or rearranged, and while some days we might feel down about it all, others you just have to make your own happiness happen.  phillip and i did just that this past weekend with a quick getaway to louisville, ky.  it was a good halfway point to meet up with my dad (who drove up from alabama) and my younger brother clark (who flew down from chicago).

phillip, clark, and i got in around lunch, so after we dropped our suitcases at the hotel, we took a walk to the highlands to try out el taco luchador.  this spot was recommended by my friend sara, who lived here for several years, and is bright and fun, serving up delicious food and beverages.

round one was a couple of coronas, of course, while clark tried the frozen watermelon margarita.  clark said his drink was tasty and only made better with an order of chips and queso.  apparently, the only way they serve queso in chicago is fundido-style which, although good in its own way, cannot quite compare to the runny, mouthwatering white queso you find at mexican restaurants in the south.  i think clark was in heaven with each bite!

as for the tacos themselves, we all three tried the baja fish taco and declared it the uncontested favorite.  between the perfectly battered filet and crispy cabbage, it was a taco that would satisfy any taco-lover in town.

baja fish tacos & the al pastor taco.

also tried (and devoured) were the al pastor, carnitas, and chicharron tacos.  they, too, were a tasty trio, and for me, the chicharron was so perfect and tender that i had to order a second!

the carnitas & chicharron tacos.

later that day, milo rolled into louisville and, inevitably, it was time to eat again.  if you’ve ever been on a trip with my family, you know the plans largely revolve around food.  surely we aren’t the only ones?

we wanted something good but not too fancy and soon settled on trying feast bbq.  how did we decide on trying feast?  i’d be lying if i told you it wasn’t because of the bourbon slushies they prominently feature on their site… 🙂  also, it was a short drive from the hotel.

dad had the brisket sandwich, which he rated as an 8 out of 10.  i feel like that’s saying a lot seeing as how he has lived in the south over 30 years now and has tried his fair share of brisket.

clark went for the pulled pork sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries.  he commented that it all was perfectly satisfying.

phillip and i were in a sharing mood since we were still full from lunch, so we munched on the simple salad (gotta get some greens, somehow, some way) and crispy mac & cheese balls (which, in our opinion, didn’t need the overpowering horseradish sauce at all).

overall, we ended our first day in louisville two for two.  not a bad start!