I CANNOT BELIEVE WE FINALLY DID IT. I’M SO AMPED UP THAT I THINK I’LL DO THIS POST IN ALL UPPERCASE, IT’S THAT EXCITING! IT’S SO UNBELIEVABLE I ALMOST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF.
just kidding. i know exactly what to do with myself, give you all the final mcu review you’ve been waiting to read for MONTHS. and i mean months. you guys have held on through the good, the bad, and the ugly, and we now get to wrap things up with my review of avengers: endgame. but first, for one time more, let’s talk food.
i saw this final night as a celebration, and we deserved to do it up big. sure, we could have easily gone to a fancy steakhouse for dinner, but since we had a few special guests joining us for the evening, we decided to stay in and go all out on ultimate charcuterie. i mean, it was just perfect. we had hard cheeses, soft cheeses, salamis, prosciuttos, olives, nuts, fruits, gherkins, crackers, baguette slices, thor hammers, infinity stones, hummus, spreads, and champagne, of course! it was a roaring success, and i’m not sure anything can top cheese and champagne. except perhaps cheetos and champagne. 🙂
we all loaded up our plates and settled into our spots. i mentioned we had some special guests joining us, and it was so great having kyle, kyle, liz, and dom with us for the big finale. even grace and gwen didn’t mind their company. so, with the lights dimmed and everyone set with food and drink, dave clicked play.
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!
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!
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!
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!
our next movie was our first sequel of the mcu with iron man 2. dave and jenn had declared ahead of time their disdain of this sequel, and even before seeing it myself i could partly understand where they were coming from. i mean, hardly ever is the second in a series as good as the original. having seen iron man 2 now, though, what is my review? generally speaking it certainly was not as good as the first but definitely could have been worse. ah, see that little rhyme-y rhyme i did for you there?
was that opening scene with the scantily-clad iron man dancers super extra? oh yeah. was tony stark’s vomit-inducing ego even more disgusting in the second movie than the first? i’d say so. and was pepper potts a little whiny? i’ll give you all of that. but did things like don cheadle and tony’s vulnerable humanity and that pretty parrot make up for it all? almost. i liked that in this film there were two villains looking to take down iron man, and they increased the thrill and suspense, even if just a little bit.
as for dinner that evening, i’d say it was solidly mediocre, kind of like the movie. we ordered delivery from lon u. i actually didn’t mind my sesame chicken, white rice, and broccoli, but the rest of the group seemed underwhelmed with this go round of asian american. phillip ordered the chicken fried rice, one of his favorite dishes, and he barely put a dent in it. in fact, he was sneaking bites from my bowl instead! i did try his and agree it was pretty flavorless. but guess what? later that weekend i reheated some of it, and somehow it tasted better than before. strange, yes? do you think there’s some science behind why some dishes taste better the next day? maybe that’s lon u’s secret and we just don’t know it…
we are close to finishing up phase one of the mcu and are on a roll with these reviews! here is how the rankings shake out five movies and restaurants in.
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!