an mcu journey: quite a grudge & quite a mess

i am torn on how to rate this week’s movie and restaurant. on both i was initially extremely critical; i’d had a long week, i was tired, we didn’t start the movie until very late. all factors perfectly poised to set me up for disappointment. however, after a little further consideration, i think we may come out with a better, more accurate rating overall. i wouldn’t say either skyrocketed themselves to first place, but both were worth a second take.

there’s a new-ish spot in town called rose & olives, and since we had a coupon (who doesn’t love a good coupon?), we decided to give them our business. i’ll be honest, it felt like we ordered the entire menu, which is saying something because their menu is HUGE. i mean it. if you go online to view their menu, you’ll be scrolling for hours. we went all in on appetizers, entrees, and dessert. of everything we ate, i’ll go ahead and declare the feta dip was my favorite and could easily have eaten the whole thing myself with no shame at all. the caprese salad was mediocre at best, and i wish we’d simply done two orders of feta dip instead.

as for the entrees, phillip’s gyro was delicious (i may have snagged a bite or two), and jenn’s tabbouleh salad with grilled salmon looked very satisfying. on the other hand, the restaurant forgot to pack dave’s cornish hen kabob plate, and my chicken kabob platter felt a little on the dry side. the dessert sampler tried to make up for things, and the chocolate truffle did a decent job. part of me wants to give them another chance (perhaps eat in the restaurant instead of picking up), and another part of me really thinks life’s too short for restaurants that don’t spin your spurs. if we ever go back, i’ll let you know.

with full bellies that were semi-satisfied, we settled into our movie-watching spots for avengers: age of ultron. again, my initial review of this movie was that it was one of the worse ones in the universe. i felt like it dragged on for so long and required a lot of information from other movies about other characters that it was at times difficult and un-fun to stay engaged. it probably doesn’t help that i nodded off a time or two, likely during parts critical to the storyline. like some of the other movies, some things here just seemed too convenient or too predictable. ultron, with no prior knowledge of anything, suddenly has a huge grudge against all mankind and wants to destroy everyone. poor bruce banner gets riled up by his teammates to unleash a power he cannot control but must use for the greater good. and nick fury suddenly appears right at the right time at the end with his big ship full of perfectly sized smaller ships that have just enough seats for all sokovian citizens. i’m sensing a theme…

the good news is i think were a handful of redeeming moments throughout, such as towards the start when everyone tries to pick up thor’s hammer at the party or thor’s weird but amusing mindwarp scene. i wasn’t thrilled when jarvis died but understand not all the heroes can survive, and the fight scenes in this film were pretty legit. i think more than anything, though, i appreciate that this movie sets us up for whatever may be next. someone’s on the hunt for the infinity stones, and it’s up to the avengers to assemble and find out.

so, here we are, easily halfway through the journey and countless other restaurants to try. how did the avengers place this time around?

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. rose and olive
  9. wayback burger
  10. 2 nyers pizza
  11. 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. avengers: age of ultron
  8. captain america: the winter soldier
  9. iron man 3
  10. the avengers
  11. iron man 2

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: 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

a new year’s adventure

first things first – i’ve had my blog for 5 years!  and it is time to pick back up in this new decade with a fresh, new post.  here’s to great things in 2020 for us all.  🙂

somewhat on a whim, my mom and i decided to have a mother-daughter roadtrip after she spent the Christmas holiday with my younger brother clark up in washington, dc.  as you will find, this trip was just as much about our appetites as it was our time together, and i wouldn’t change a thing about it!

day one was a drive from the nation’s capital to norfolk, va.  for many reasons, it is a sentimental spot for my mother, and seeing as how i had never been, it was the perfect first stop on our trip.  during our drive south on i-64 we caught up on anything and everything and solved all the world’s problems at once.  if only someone would ask for our opinion, lol!

it ended up being quite a drive with lots of traffic and roadwork, so by the time we arrived in mermaid city, we were a hungry pair.  we dumped our luggage at the hotel and had a mostly forgettable dinner at guy fieri’s smokehouse.  even though there admittedly were generous lumps of crab meat atop our waffle fries, the best part may have been watching people trying to ride the mechanical bull.  that’s always good entertainment.  thankfully, dessert on the other hand was a bit better with a sweet treat from the fudgery, which my mom remembers from when she tended bar at a nearby waterside restaurant.  isn’t it neat how we can recall things like that?

after a good night of rest, the next day we started with some breakfast at yorgos bageldashery.  it had glowing reviews on yelp, and since i love a good bagel, we decided to give it a try.  it turns out we have taste just as good as the locals, as they were swarming the place right upon our arrival.  we chatted it up with another patron in line who recommended the chicken salad, so we split some of that along side a couple of bagels.  mom had a pumpernickel bagel with olive spread (an ode to her mother florence) while i enjoyed a classic plain bagel with veggie cream cheese.

while we waited on the bagels, we dug into the chicken salad first.  was it tasty?  yes, but when you come from alabama and georgia, your chicken salad tastebuds are a little different.  i don’t think we would order it again, but everyone does chicken salad differently, and theirs was all their own.

mom loved her bagel, especially because there was an abundance of olives, both green and black!  my bagel was also delicious.  i think i would have gone with a different spread (and maybe doubled up on the cream cheese because we all know i love cream cheese) but still ate up every bite of mine.

fueled up with full bellies, our tour of norfolk continued as my mom drove us past a couple of houses her parents owned when they lived there.  we even found the church where my parents married nearly 35 years ago now.  even though the town may not be exactly as she remembered, it was still fun to be with her as she took a trip down memory lane.

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old fourth distillery

after a yawn or two and some time in the backyard for grace, i begin each weekday morning with a cup of coffee, my computer, and the fun, entertaining fox 5 news team.  they’ve become my regular news crew ever since i started working from home last spring, and it wouldn’t be a good start to my day if they didn’t catch me up on all things weather, traffic, and politics related.

one of my favorite segments is with paul milliken and his drop-ins to interesting attractions around the state.  of the many places i’ve seen paul go, his recent visit to the old fourth distillery caught my attention so that i planned a get-together there myself!  a couple saturdays ago phillip and i met up at the distillery with mercy, kris, tommy, kaley, eric, and claire.  it wasn’t quite tour time (which, by the way, they prefer you reserve online before arriving), so we let the bartender fix us a couple of cocktails.  i enjoyed the refreshing blackberry bramble, phillip and kaley loved the frozen lemonade, and tommy sipped on his gin and tonic.  what better way to begin a distillery tour than with some of their finest spirits?

the top of the hour arrived, and our tour guide wrangled us all together.  one thing to mention about the distillery is that it is quite compact.  the bar area can handle probably 10 people comfortably, and the work space really was probably no more than a thousand square feet.  makes for an intimate setting!

you can take your cocktails with you during the tour and enjoy it between nuggets of distillery education and shots of alcohol.  now, i’ve been to plenty of breweries in my day, and for the most part, once you understand one brew process, you get the general idea.  however, before coming to the distillery, i knew nothing about these processes.  i was incredibly intrigued as i learned about how this distillery came to be, what types of ingredients you can use, and what different boiling points mean to it all.  by the end of our hour together, we were experts on heads, hearts, and tails and what makes all these spirits so tasty and special.

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i personally enjoyed the gin the most, likely because it didn’t have as much potency as the vodka and was infused with tons of different spices and herbs.  the lawn dart was one of the crowd favorites, and mercy enjoyed the bourbon so much that she took a bottle home with her.  when its been aged for such a while and when the next batch won’t be available until the fall, she figured it was a pretty excellent souvenir.  i agree!

mercy and phillip loved the frozen lemonade, especially with a bourbon floater!

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presidential chicken

as you all know, i’m almost always up for trying a new recipe, and a few weeks ago was one of those nights.  my inspiration was from my dear friend jamie and his fiance caleb.  they have been dabbling in the podcast world and have multiple times mentioned the famous presidential chicken recipe from michigan state university, which is where jamie attended college.  after hearing them describe it as chicken with puff pastry, sour cream, and cream cheese, i demanded a copy of the recipe so that i could try it myself.

so, being the obliging podcast hosts they are, they sent me a link and off i went to kroger to get everything we would need.  as i took over the kitchen with pots and pans and knives and cutting boards, phillip walked in and asked, “what are you making?”

“presidential chicken!” i replied, as if he should have known all along.

he politely said “okay” and left me to my work.

making the stuffing was no big deal, but trying to get the puff pastry looking all nice and on purpose was not as successful.  i may have even ended up with some precious little mini pouches, over there, on the right…oh well!

while these bad boys baked away in the oven, i got to start on the sauce.  now, as i started on the sauce, i found myself confused.  my sauce was not thickening up at all and, with a taste here and there, was quite bland to me.  i double-checked the directions and was doing everything right, but perhaps there’s an msu trick to getting it to thicken properly.  i’ll just have to let one of you show me how it’s done!

eventually the puffs were baked to near-golden perfection.  ah, who doesn’t love a nicely browned, flaky pastry crust?

i plated the chicken up with some broccoli and a little bit of the sauce, but honestly, my sauce wasn’t even necessary (and promptly wound up going down the drain).  those heavenly pouches can stand on their own with piping hot chicken and a creamy, rich sour cream and cream cheese mixture.  this dish is easily one i can see us enjoying time and time again.  🙂

so, if you enjoyed this post, there are two things you need to do:

  1. go get the recipe and enjoy this dish yourself
  2. go listen to jamie and caleb’s podcast

for both, you’ll thank me later.