an mcu journey: a progressive dinner & daddy issues

for once i am writing about this next leg in our journey the day right after the event! perhaps with everything fresh in my mind my review will be fair and accurate.

so, as everyone knows, with each new movie we have been ordering dinner from a restaurant new to all if not most of us. now, i love having someone else cook for me as much as the next full-time working 30-something, but this time we mixed it up and, if i say so myself, had the best time. we have, now that i think about it, an absurd number and variety of grocery stores around us. kroger, publix, whole foods, walmart, lidl, aldi, fresh market. you name it, we probably have it. however, one that i do not frequent but that has been in town for ages is the local trader joe’s. i wouldn’t say i don’t go because i don’t like it; rather, when my grocery run truly is a run for the essentials and not a stroll through the store kind of event, there are many stores closer than tj’s that will get the job done. and i know how popular tj’s is across the country and that it has a huge loyal customer base. so, what did we do for dinner last night? we ravaged the local tj’s for a bunch of their customer favorites and had a progressive dinner together!

my shopping experience wasn’t as relaxing as i wanted it to be (i mean, 5 o’clock on a saturday probably was not the best time to go), but after i conquered my anxiety, the result was well worth the effort. listed in no particular order, here are all the goodies we dined on last night and our general review of each. i think it’s safe to say that we will try making tj’s a more regular stop on our grocery route!

  • pork & ginger soup dumplings – these were a winner among the crowd. easy to prepare and perfectly steamed, i am convinced it would be quite easy to eat a whole box myself. do be warned, though, that you really do need to like ginger to like these dumplings.
  • cauliflower jalapeno dip – this dip was talked up on a website i visited but really failed to deliver on the cauliflower or jalapeno flavor. it was nice and creamy, i’ll give it that, and gave us a good excuse to try the pita bite crackers. however, this dip will not be on my re-buy list.
  • salsa – thinking the dip was going to be too spicy, we grabbed a jar of salsa as a nice mild option. however, this salsa had more kick to it than the dip! but, we all agreed it was more flavor than heat and paired perfectly with the blue corn tortilla chips.
  • chicken burrito – everyone had a half a burrito as a little appetizer, and everyone had the same opinion: please, no more. in a pinch? sure. if you had to eat it to survive, okay? however, there was not much depth to the flavor, and unless i followed the heating instructions incorrectly, the burrito really was not heated through consistently. maybe if i had flipped them in the microwave halfway through they would have been better? maybe, but i don’t know that i will go buy more just try my theory.
  • cauliflower gnocchi – more cauliflower? why not! decadent gnocchi are a treat for me, and a cauliflower version sounded like a pretty safe version. as much as i wanted this one to be a winner, i’d say it probably took home the bronze. the texture was the slightest bit gummy, but i cannot fault them for taste. these little pillows were packed with cauliflower flavor, and i am betting that if i had first boiled them and then finished them off in the pan for a little browning that they would have been even better.
  • mac and cheese bites – these little buddies got high marks all around. i’m not sure there’s much to not like here. crispy outside? yes, please. creamy mac’n’cheese center? of course! these were right on in every way and would be good to keep in the freezer for when family or friends come over.
  • mandarin orange chicken – everything i read/heard told me this chicken has been a top-seller for years, and for once, the reviews did not steer us wrong. i baked the chicken in the oven, heated the sauce in the microwave, and prepared some rice on the stovetop. one bite altogether, and it is like you are in takeout heaven, but it’s better than takeout because it does not cost as much and is ready in minutes (no waiting on delivery or going out in your jammies for pickup!). due to the sheer amount of food we had throughout the evening, there were leftovers, but i don’t expect them to last long.
  • snacks – throughout the night we also munched on other snacks like the plantain chips (so crispy and flavorful and salty), the white cheddar corn puffs (i may have eaten half the bag during the movie), and bite size everything crackers (these were INCREDIBLE).
  • desserts – and you can’t forget about the sweets! the dark chocolate peanut butter cups and crispy crunchy chocolate chip cookies were nearly gone by night’s end. gotta balance the salty with the sweet!

now that we were filled to the brim with flavors of all kinds, it was time for guardians of the galaxy vol. 2. i will certainly get more detailed with my review, but at the end of the film, realizing that this one’s purpose was primarily necessary for character building, i said, “alright, if they insist.”

ego and his planet and his whole “expansion” thing were quite over the top (again, i know that’s how these stories go, but still). additionally, the movie was about 30 minutes too long in my opinion, but this is coming from the girl who likes movies 2 hours or shorter. as i sit here and reflect, i think those were my biggest gripes. then, if i really put some thought into what i did like, i’d say there were a good handful of things, but just not enough to outweigh my general apathy towards this film.

drax was my favorite character, and i hope we see more of him later. knowing a character’s backstory seems to be my thing, as i really liked learning more about gamora’s and nebula’s past. i wasn’t so sure about baby groot, but the scene when he is supposed to get the fin for yondu was too funny, and i especially thought the extra clip at the end with teenager groot was particularly precious. oh, and how could i forget about poor taserface? he never stood a chance.

i feel like we are in the final lap of this adventure and will be very interested to see if anything can dethrone iron man or trader joe’s (yes, we have a new number 1!) in these last few films. anything is possible!

EATS

  1. trader joe’s
  2. sweet octopus
  3. alessio’s
  4. gordo’s pizza
  5. alebrije mexican restaurant
  6. jim’n’nick’s
  7. burger 21
  8. jerusalem bakery
  9. armando’s caribe
  10. honeypig
  11. sonny’s bbq
  12. cue barbecue
  13. lon u
  14. rose and olive
  15. wayback burger
  16. 2 nyers pizza
  17. tokyo shokudo

MOVIES

  1. iron man
  2. ant-man
  3. spider-man: homecoming
  4. guardians of the galaxy
  5. captain america: the first avenger
  6. black panther
  7. thor: ragnarok
  8. thor: the dark world
  9. captain america: civil war
  10. guardians of the galaxy vol. 2
  11. thor
  12. avengers: age of ultron
  13. captain america: the winter soldier
  14. doctor strange
  15. iron man 3
  16. the avengers
  17. iron man 2

an mcu journey: an al dente dinner with modern vibes

the delicious eats and fun flicks are still a-comin’, and although i feel like we still have a good chunk to get through, we’ve come so far! you know what’s up. we’ve had the good, the bad, the better, the worse, and if i had to describe everything for this week of adventure, i’d say everything was solidly solid. wait, is it grammatically acceptable to use an adjective to describe itself? sure, why not!

first up is dinner, and one food group we had not yet enjoyed together for marvel night was italian. i mean, we’ve had pizza, but i’m talking pastas and marinaras and garlicky goodness.

phillip and i were super ready to recommend we order dinner from nearby alessio’s. we had tried them for his birthday dinner last year via delivery during the pandemic, and they just might be one of my favorite italian places in town. if i were force fed the tortellii cardinal every day for a week, i would gladly welcome the challenge. phillip tried the ravioli, which i admit was divine. dave and jenn both had parmigiana, dave the veal and jenn the chicken. dave had never had veal before and commented that the texture seemed a little off. could it be because it was delivered? would it be better fresh out of the oven, tableside? is it possible that veal simply is not for him? i guess we’ll just need to eat at the restaurant soon to settle it!

so, dinner was a hit, as far as my dish was concerned. can we say the same for the movie? well, i don’t know that i’d give black panther the highest marks, but it definitely is not at the back of the pack. i feel like it was quite a hit when it first released in 2018, and i’ll admit i was looking forward to seeing it for myself. and now thinking back on it, i first was a huge fan of the fact that this movie takes place in a completely different setting from all the other movies i have seen so far. although most of the scenery is probably computer-generated, it was a nice change. i also appreciate that the start of the movie is very straightforward and explains the history of wakanda; it was helpful to get some direct insight right upfront!

from the vibranium thieves to n’jadaka’s thirst for revenge, i liked the multi-layered conflict throughout the film. the soundtrack was pretty awesome, too, and i was especially glad that at the end t’challa chose to open an outreach center. i really don’t know that there was a better way to conclude the movie.

you know, as i sit here thinking and writing about the restaurant and the movie, i think they both get higher ratings that i originally planned. it’s anybody’s game at this point!

EATS

  1. sweet octopus
  2. alessio’s
  3. gordo’s pizza
  4. alebrije mexican restaurant
  5. jim’n’nick’s
  6. burger 21
  7. jerusalem bakery
  8. armando’s caribe
  9. honeypig
  10. cue barbecue
  11. lon u
  12. rose and olive
  13. wayback burger
  14. 2 nyers pizza
  15. tokyo shokudo

MOVIES

  1. iron man
  2. ant-man
  3. spider-man: homecoming
  4. guardians of the galaxy
  5. captain america: the first avenger
  6. black panther
  7. thor: the dark world
  8. captain america: civil war
  9. thor
  10. avengers: age of ultron
  11. captain america: the winter soldier
  12. doctor strange
  13. iron man 3
  14. the avengers
  15. iron man 2

an mcu journey: meat & magic

oh man, where do i start? if i sound exasperated, it’s because i am! this journey has come to feel more like a saga, but i’ve put in this much time so far. just gotta finish the drill!

a couple weeks ago phillip and dave were out and about for some quality bro time and drove right to our next restaurant pick, honeypig. korean bbq? right up my alley! i wasted no time ordering the bulgogi bowl (which phillip had, too), and jenn ordered the be be bop with chicken. the brothy soup was a great start, and i nearly scarfed down the bulgogi, fitting in bites of rice and kimchi, too. however, everything else in my to-go container was, unfortunately, forgettable. from what i recall, jenn’s chicken dish was just okay, and i couldn’t even tell you what dave had. i guess that says it all, doesn’t it? maybe it’s a better experience at the restaurant than at home…i mean, who doesn’t love that k-pop/grilling atmosphere?

like our meal, this week’s movie was mostly mediocre with hints of harry potter and inception in the wild world of doctor strange. i was warned ahead of time that this movie is very unlike the others in the mcu and am glad i had a head’s up so that i could brace myself for the weird experience i was about to have. despite some killer cast members (who can ever have enough benjamin bratt or chiwetel ejiofor?), i had a hard time really connecting with stephen strange’s character. i mean, we all know he was a huge jerk at the start of the movie, and even as he started gaining his powers (which happened awfully quickly), he still seemed to be selfishly focused on only what was in it all for him. it wasn’t until he just happened to be around as the sanctums started to collapse that he really cared to consider how he could help others with what he had learned. there was the slightest glimmer of redemption when he apologized to christine, but that still only came when he needed something from her.

now, enough of that critique, let’s focus on others! the out-of-body astral fights had me rolling my eyes, and the absurdly pathetic security protocols were disappointing. i mean, why didn’t that special book have a few more locks or guards around!? and as i rewatched the movie earlier this morning to refresh my memory, a big question finally dawned on me: why are all these other beings from other universes and worlds wanting to always destroy earth? there aren’t other uninhabited planets to conquer? guess that wouldn’t make for a very entertaining movie franchise.

i did like the special effects and appreciated the comic relief doctor strange’s cape relic brought in a couple fight scenes. other than that, i’m not sure there was much for me to love here. oh well, gotta have the bad to appreciate the good i guess.

both picks this time around were very middle of the pack-ish. cannot wait to see if the rankings get mixed up a bit as things progress!

EATS

  1. sweet octopus
  2. gordo’s pizza
  3. alebrije mexican restaurant
  4. jim’n’nick’s
  5. burger 21
  6. jerusalem bakery
  7. armando’s caribe
  8. honeypig
  9. cue barbecue
  10. lon u
  11. rose and olive
  12. wayback burger
  13. 2 nyers pizza
  14. tokyo shokudo

MOVIES

  1. iron man
  2. ant-man
  3. spider-man: homecoming
  4. guardians of the galaxy
  5. captain america: the first avenger
  6. thor: the dark world
  7. captain america: civil war
  8. thor
  9. avengers: age of ultron
  10. captain america: the winter soldier
  11. doctor strange
  12. iron man 3
  13. the avengers
  14. iron man 2

thx for the memories, asheville

to celebrate my birthday earlier this month, phillip and i decided to enjoy a getaway weekend just a few hours northeast in asheville, nc. phillip hadn’t been, and it feels like a lifetime ago since i visited for a bachelorette weekend. so, with really no reason not to go and a junk ton of breweries ready to welcome us, to asheville we went!

we were a bit parched from our travels, so after dropping our luggage, we hit downtown by foot and started taking in the city. it was a bustling thursday night, and eager to up our own energy, phillip’s eye was caught by double d’s coffee & desserts bus. what a lovely, unexpected surprise to begin our adventures!

i mean, how can you walk by this and not stop. 🙂 phillip ordered an iced mocha, of course, and i tried their unsweetened peach tea, which was perfectly refreshing on a warm summer evening. there were plenty of tables and benches around, so we sat back and relaxed as we enjoyed this little oasis plopped right in the middle of the city. i highly recommend you put this bus on your list!

caffeinated and ready for more, we strolled down to wicked weed brewing. this place seems like an asheville staple to me, and instead of sitting in the main dining room, we walked downstairs to find a couple stools at a hightop. there were lots of folks with their doggies nearby, and i noticed throughout our trip that all of asheville seems to be pretty pet-friendly. perhaps next time grace can join us!

known very much as a beer town, asheville has lots to offer in this category, so we wasted no more time. we both ordered a flight, grabbed some pretzels and yellow mustard, and took a seat. it was not too long before we were chatting with the folks at the other end of the table, getting their stories. you just never know who you might meet! we were lucky enough to get to know chase and tiffany over the course of a few more hours and a couple more rounds of beer. they are a pleasant couple from ohio and vacation to asheville every year, so we lucked out with our own tour guides! and although it was their last night in town, they shared with us the inside scoop on all their favorite places that we had to try during our visit. spoiler alert! everything they recommended was incredible. 🙂

Continue reading

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!

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.  🙂

and she made pasta

i’m sure many of us are trying to occupy our suddenly copious amounts of free time, and i am no exception, especially since i have a week of pto coming up.  i’ve already done a little tidying and organizing, but the other night i got a flash of inspiration to make my own pasta dough.  sure, why not!

with flour in the pantry and eggs in the fridge, i set off to follow this recipe by gemma stafford.  i’d perused a few sites before settling on her approach, and i’d be lying if i said her charming smile and accent weren’t a couple of the deciding factors.

i grabbed my ingredients and cleared off the counter and got to work at about 10:30 on friday night.  i’m not in charge of when inspiration strikes!  i just answer when it calls.  🙂

the kneading itself wasn’t particularly difficult, but it did take some patience and those few splashes of water like gemma recommends.  i also should have probably let the eggs come to room temperature, but i was flying by the seat of my pants here and couldn’t wait.

the dough did come together nicely, don’t you think?  once all wrapped up, it sat overnight in the fridge.

now, when it came to rolling out the dough and getting it prepped for cooking, i definitely should have let the dough rest out of the fridge for a bit.  the first half that i rolled out was a bit tough and had me breaking a sweat!  the second half was more pliable and, i think, ended up thinner than the first.  this is called the “living and learning” process.  i lived it and i learned for next time.

i will say it was extremely satisfying to cut up the dough into noodles once it was ready.  look at that happy little pile!

i boiled up a big ‘ole pot of salted water and cooked the noodles for only about two minutes.  remember, because it’s fresh pasta, it doesn’t need too long.  per gemma’s recommendation, i topped our bowls with butter, pepper, and a healthy showering of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  my review?  it was a delicious saturday afternoon snack.  the pasta really was divine, and i can imagine with a homemade sauce on top it would be that much more enjoyable.  sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that bring a smile to your face.

bon appetit!

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.

Continue reading

the great chicken sandwich debate

okay, folks!  coming to you directly is another social media-driven taste test of the popeye’s chicken sandwich versus the chick-fil-a chicken sandwich.  unless you have been living under a rock the past week, you have seen a reference somewhere in your day-to-day about popeye’s new chicken sandwich and all the talk it’s causing around town.  well, i decided i could not simply sit aside and let the rest of america tell me which they liked better:  i needed to try them for myself!

this past friday after work and a great workout, my big brother kyle so kindly first waited at popeye’s (for 30 minutes) to pick up a couple of their sandwiches and then swung by chick-fil-a to grab their sandwiches and some sides.

to make this taste test as fair as possible, we ordered both sandwiches plain, just chicken and bread, and split them down the middle so that we all (phillip, kyle, kari, and i) would have half of each.

popeye’s on the left, chick-fil-a on the right.

i started with a bite of the all familiar chick-fil-a sandwich, as i hadn’t had one in a while and wanted to re-familiarize myself with that distinct taste.  after doing so, i bit right into the popeye’s sandwich and immediately noted how much crunchier their breading is than cfa’s.  phillip agreed in that regard and also commented that the popeye’s sandwich is, in its own way, somehow lighter yet more buttery than cfa.  i mean, if you look in the photo above, the popeye’s bun is glistening from the ceiling light.  must be all that melted butter goodness!

with all this being said, the cfa sandwich still had plenty going for it, including its signature, somewhat sweet taste – maybe it’s all that peanut oil?  and as i continued to munch through bite by bite, i personally concluded that i could easily see myself craving a popeye’s sandwich in one moment and then a cfa sandwich or nuggets in another.  someone at the dinner table commented that they are “both in the same tier of good” just different, and i don’t think i could agree more.  the popeye’s sandwich is an excellent fried chicken sandwich, while cfa does what it does well with a simple, classic chicken sandwich.

one excellent comment kari made was that the popeye’s sandwich makes her want to go try the popeye’s five bonafide big box to see how the fried chicken itself is.  you know the one, don’t you?  where the popeye’s spokeswoman annie is standing in the street and an oversized popeye’s box drops from the sky?  well, in case you don’t know it, here it is for your viewing pleasure.  🙂

and if you don’t believe us after all this, then read this post that phillip found.  it puts into additional words all you need to know about this 21st century fast food drama.

now, i mentioned that we also grabbed some sides from cfa, which included their classic waffle fries and also their new macaroni and cheese.  yes!  you read that correctly, mac’n’cheese at chick-fil-a!  kyle was the first to try a spoonful and without any hesitation said it was “gangster” and that he wants it “pumped right into his veins.”  that paints quite a picture, doesn’t it?  phillip gave the mac’n’cheese a taste, too, and gave it an “a+” (and a thumbs up).  i agree the mac’n’cheese is creamy and delicious and a fully unhealthy but completely satisfying accompaniment to a meal that, overall, was fun to share with my loved ones.

towards the end of dinner, i asked everyone which of all the dishes would they want for their last bite?  phillip and kari both said the cfa french fries because there’s something irresistible about those thick waffle fries.  kyle said the cfa sandwich.  i myself said the popeye’s sandwich, but what do you know?  my last bites were the mac’n’cheese!  as for my nearly ten-month old nephew bode, he was at the table, too, and enjoyed some vanilla puffs for his last bites.  can’t wait to take him for his first popeye’s before too long!

Coming to America – Day 3

After breakfasting at the hotel, we set out to visit our relatives in Brownsville.  It was an absolutely beautiful day with blue skies and warm, comfortable temperatures.  As I mentioned earlier, my mother took us by train to visit Brownsville in 1964.  As we drove onto the street, it was just like we remembered!  The main house that belonged to my mother’s uncle and aunt, and where we stayed in 1964, is in the middle of the block with two family homes above it and two family homes below it.  Such a lovely area, very green and open.  The chicken coops behind the main house are even still there, but no chickens today.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We met our cousin Jim Despot (who remembers our visit in 1964) and his son Dustin and his two children who all live on the block.  Dustin was a fifth generation coal miner until recently.  They were so welcoming and kind.  We all sat around Jim’s dining room table talking family, both past and present.  Jim prepared a delicious lunch for us of pasta and meatballs and homemade apple pie.  Jim shared recipes with me, and I was very grateful for that.

On our way back, we followed Jim to another cemetery where his grandfather and grandmother are buried.  His grandfather was our grandfather’s older brother.  Jim and Dustin told us how he arrived in America by boat before World War II, where at some point he was drafted and sent to war back in Europe on the very same boat he came to America on!

Back in Pittsburgh at our hotel, Gary, Kyle, Kelsey and I went for a walk over the Sixth Street Bridge, also known as the Roberto Clemente Bridge, one of the nearly identical “Three Sister Bridges” that spans the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh.  This bridge was erected in 1927, and you have a beautiful view of the baseball stadium right on the river.  The bridge is closed to cars on game days so that fans can cross it.  On the walkways of the bridge, many locks (Love Locks) are placed on the railings, similar to what you might see in Europe.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dinner that night was Clark’s choice, and we ate at a wonderful Mexican restaurant called Las Velas.  We all enjoyed the food very much.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When we got back to the hotel, it was time for Liverpool Rummy, the favorite card game in our family.  My mom used to play this with her lady friends betting dimes.  They were quite the group!  Mom, my brothers, and I, along with Uncle Al when he was in from fishing, would play this game.  Mom taught it to all her grandchildren.  Luckily, Kelsey had purchased three decks of cards earlier that day.  We took over a large table in the hotel lounge area and proceeded to have a wonderful time.  It is always fun to play this with the family.  Shout out to Clark who won the game!