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: forgettable food & a funny film

although we are well over halfway through the original mcu films, i finally hit my point after this last one that i am very ready to be done. i don’t think it’s that i’m not having fun; rather, it’s the knowledge that after we finish these originals that there is still so much more we can watch. like loki’s series! seriously, that’s most of what i’m living for right now, lol. but, we’ve come this far, and i think i can power through the rest.

like always, let’s start with the food. we went for bbq (yes, again), and when i say it was forgettable, that might be more on me than the food. we did this latest movie night several weeks ago, and since the food was not mind-blowing, it simply has faded to the background for me. we picked up dinner from sonny’s bbq. i feel like i have been on a bowl/casserole kick lately because that night i ordered the loaded tots. i mean, it’s kind of hard to turn down tots and queso and bbq. was it worth the calories? meh. but you know what i would happily order again? the okra. oof, that was especially good because it came with a side of ranch for dipping which only made it better. phillip went for the chopped, marbled beef brisket and definitely had leftovers. because it was so much food? possibly. because it wasn’t that good? also possibly. at the end of the day, i simply have had better bbq.

i don’t know that this week’s movie probably should be categorized as a comedy/funny, however, now that i’ve watched it a few times since, i appreciate all the small jokes and jabs throughout the film. which movie? thor: ragnarok. i understand the overarching story line is pretty perilous with hela’s unmatched strength and seething rage, but didn’t you chuckle when thor was strapped to that chair on his way to meet the grandmaster? i know we were all having flashbacks to that boat scene in willy wonka & the chocolate factory.

the snake story thor tells about loki made me smile, and the valkyrie (scrapper 142) helped keep things light, too. and even i must admit that thor getting his thunder power without his hammer was pretty dope. but let me ask this, does he get his eye back in a later film? please tell me the answer is yes! i’m finding that although my initial reaction to the movie the first time was “it was fine,” the more i watch the movie, the more i like it.

sometimes first impressions aren’t always accurate, but sometimes they are. let’s see how sonny’s and thor stack up to the competition.

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. sonny’s bbq
  11. cue barbecue
  12. lon u
  13. rose and olive
  14. wayback burger
  15. 2 nyers pizza
  16. 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. thor
  11. avengers: age of ultron
  12. captain america: the winter soldier
  13. doctor strange
  14. iron man 3
  15. the avengers
  16. 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

an mcu journey: slurpy ramen & teenage thrills

i’ll come and say it outright: last sunday we had a big ‘ole time with marvel night. the food? a+. the movie? an a+, too! i think this week was just plain fun, which is why i’m excited to tell you all about it.

first, the food. although it was still a 90 degree day in summery georgia, i had a sudden hankering for a big bowl of ramen. there were no objections, so we ordered delivery from a local spot in downtown duluth called sweet octopus. it was a new spot for all four of us (a rarity!), and i’ll tell you all now we were highly impressed. i was secretly jealous of the super poke bowl dave ordered. it looked fresh, salty, and savory all at the same time. i’m only sorry i did not get a picture for you!

we had an order of dumplings for the table, which i feel like are a must with a dinner like this one. jenn’s panko chicken teriyaki chili peanut poke bowl (yes, that is what it is called!) looked like a great choice, and the bite of phillip’s thai fried rice i had was completely satisfying. but what about the ramen, kelsey! well, folks, i ate the. entire. bowl. i had the village classic original ramen and loved every bite of rich broth. the crunchy corn, the sprouts, the soft-boiled egg. i nearly could not get enough! this may be one of the first restaurants we’ve ordered from where i look very forward to going to the restaurant and trying more. sweet octopus, we’ll be coming for you!

so, with such a glowing dinner review, i know you’re just dying to know which movie we saw and what we thought. well, what i thought. 🙂 it was time for spider-man! yes, we watched spider-man: homecoming, and i think i was smiling throughout the entire film. i think i liked this movie so much because it is really its own vibe. younger cast, totally different setting, adolescent fun and dread, what’s not to enjoy? tom holland is 100% precious as peter parker, his sidekick ned is perfectly likeable, and the storyline is not nearly as over the top as some of the other marvel films. can i get a hallelujah? peter’s out there, just trying to help the little guy, and is charming and adorable the whole way through. although the rescue scene in washington, dc felt a little extra, the movie and spider-man redeem themselves with their wholesome message and do-good attitude. i’ll be honest, i cannot wait to see the next movies in the spider-man saga. just gotta get through all these others first!

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. cue barbecue
  9. lon u
  10. rose and olive
  11. wayback burger
  12. 2 nyers pizza
  13. 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. iron man 3
  12. the avengers
  13. iron man 2