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: 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

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: the jericho and an american cheeseburger

so, i’m pretty sure this next mcu night goes out of any suggested order the internet would advise, but we decided iron man was next up, and you didn’t hear me complaining.

food was up first, though, and dave decided he was in the mood for burgers. so, he and phillip picked up dinner from burger 21. it was a new spot for all of us, and we all loved what we ordered. dave scarfed down the entire tex-mex haystack, jenn was very pleased with her bacon cheesy, and i didn’t make too big of a mess with the garlicky ‘shroom burger. and even though this was a burger spot, phillip went for the 101 combo, two hot dogs served on new england rolls. he kindly let me steal a bite, and i almost liked the hot dogs more than my burger! i think that buttery roll was the perfect finishing touch, and i don’t doubt we’ll be eating here again. and to top it all off, we of course had a few orders of fries and tried the cookies’n’cream milkshake and chocolate peanut butter milkshake. none of them lasted long.

now, let’s get to more good stuff: the movie! i have actually seen iron man several times before this mcu journey but loved it this time around just as much as before. why do i like this movie so much? let me count all the reasons. tony stark’s character is reprehensible but then redeeming while being charming and comical all along the way. the technology throughout, albeit quite fictional, is also quite badass, including jarvis the robot. and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love terrence howard?

i promised i would rank the movies and the food, and even though i feel like it was not a fair fight between the first couple evenings, here are the standings after two weeks:

EATS

  1. burger 21
  2. jerusalem bakery

MOVIES

  1. iron man
  2. captain america: the first avenger

can’t wait to see what’s up next!

an mcu journey: chris evans’ pecks and a side of shawarma

several weeks ago, i was on a zoom chat with some friends who were discussing mcu. shamelessly, i interrupted the conversation to ask, “what is mcu?” some of them held their heads in their hands in disappointment, others had their mouths open, aghast. “kelsey, it’s the marvel cinematic universe.”

“ah, of course it is!” was my response. i’ve heard good things, i’ve heard bad things, and then i decided that 2021 would be the year i would journey through the mcu. this week was week one of our journey, and we went over to our neighbors’ dave and jenn house to start with captain america: the first avenger. we also decided that this ritual would be the prime opportunity to pair the new movie viewing with some new eats. so, each movie will go along with a nearby restaurant we haven’t yet tried, and as the journey progresses, i’ll rank them all. let’s go!

we’ll start with dinner, since we ate before we pressed play. jenn raved about and recommended we try jerusalem bakery, about 15 minutes away from our neighborhood. as far as i am concerned, it’s hard to go wrong with fresh ingredients and shaved meat, so it was easy to like the food. i had the falafel entree and have decided regardless of restaurant i now need to stop ordering falafel to-go. don’t get me wrong, it was good, but by the time it is prepped and you drive home, it loses that richness and moist bite. on the other hand, phillip had to fight me for his chicken shawarma platter. it was good the first time and even still delicious when the leftovers were reheated this weekend. so far, so good! (p.s. i promise to take pictures next time 🙂 )

as for the movie, there was more to be desired. generally, i didn’t totally despise the storyline, and yes, i understand that super powers are not a thing. i also grasp that strength-enhancing serum is unreal. further, i realize that these movies involve supernatural characters and plotlines. nonetheless, the scale of just how unreal some of the things were in captain america: the first avenger had me rolling my eyes almost all night long! i mean, that big plane at the end. did it need to be that big? probably not. does there always have to be a love story between the hero and some gorgeous someone? apparently so. is that zipline scene really that believable? not in our world, so what i understand i must come to terms with if i am going to get through 20+ movies is that i need to simply appreciate them for what they are: entertainment.

now, i do look forward to how all the back stories and characters will intertwine in later movies, and some of the films have some of my favorite actors in the cast. and, let’s be honest, their bodies are positively ripped, and it’s hard to argue with that. perhaps most importantly, though, i’ll actually be able to talk about it when mcu comes up in conversation! and that is nearly priceless. well, for us it’ll cost us a bunch of dinners, but that is a price i am willing to pay.

check back as our mcu journey continues and come at me with your suggestions, whether it’s the proper viewing order or restaurants in our area we just must try. if nothing else, we should all be entertained!

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

stuffed cheez-it pizza for the win

earlier this week my older brother kyle sent kari and me a link to a story about pizza hut’s new stuffed cheez-it pizza with the comment “another marketing campaign tailor made for kels!”  well, it couldn’t be more true.  after rapid-reading the article, i fired back the message “i know what i’m having for dinner on tuesday!”  so, when tuesday night did roll around, phillip and i parked in the exclusive pizza hut parking spots to give into the hype.

we enthusiastically ordered the pepperoni stuffed cheez-it pizza and were thankful the cashier was kind and did not laugh too much at the unusual amount of excitement we were showing.  i mean, just look at this face!  cheez-its and pizza – what more could we want?!

phillip and i patiently waited in those bright red chairs, our expectations nearly through the roof.  we had just finished a tornado class at orangetheory and were eager to undo our workout.  about ten minutes later, our order was up, and i squeaked when i saw how cute the box was.  i guess sometimes in life it’s good that simple things can excite us so much.  🙂

we sat down and opened the box to reveal four fresh, piping hot cheez-it pockets.  don’t they look just like the crackers themselves?  the answer is “yes.”

the cheez-its were honestly a little smaller than i expected them to be, and a single order like this is really more of a snack or a side item probably meant to be ordered with something else.  these pictures give you an idea of the scale/size.

phillip and i each started with a bite of just the square, no marinara dipping sauce quite yet.  we chomped, we chewed, we thoughtfully savored, and in the end we decided that pizza hut had truly capture the cheez-it essence.  it isn’t too much cheez-it, it isn’t too much pizza.  it’s an excellent combination of the two.  the edges were crispy but not burned, and bites closer to the center were warm and gooey.

although quite delicious on their own, they are even better with a dollop of the marinara sauce.  it really completes the bite and brings everything together.  as we finished up, we were extremely tempted to order more, as i easily could have eaten a whole box on my own.  somehow we refrained, which was difficult seeing as how i do not know how i’ve been living up until now without these stuffed cheez-it pizza bites in my life.  the good news is that i can definitely have them again.  the bad news it they’re only around for a limited time, so you better hurry and order yourself some before we beat you to it!

the impossible whopper

as many of you know, i am a sucker for a good marketing campaign, especially when it comes to food.  i mean, i tried the pizza hut p’zone because of a good commercial they were running, and although not the topic of this post, i’ll save you the trouble now and encourage you not to order the p’zone.  it was bad the first time it came out and is still bad on this re-release.  too much dough and not enough filling!

anyway, i digress slightly.  this post is about the impossible whopper by burger king.  i kid you not when i tell you that, as i am typing, a commercial for the impossible whopper just aired.  it’s like it was fate.  because i did not want to miss out on the alternative-patty craze that seems to be gripping the nation, i asked phillip to stop at burger king on his way home from work last week and pick up a couple of impossible whoppers for us to try now that they are available nationwide.

we unpacked our bag of grub, snapped a few photos, and then started chomping away.

i’ll cut straight to the chase and keep it real with you all.  the look of an impossible whopper is just like that of a regular whopper.  a complete bite (bun, patty, toppings, and all) really tastes just like a burger.  i broke off a little hunk of the patty itself to see how it tasted on its own, and it wasn’t too bad.  it definitely had that flame-grilled taste on the outside, but a plant-based patty just doesn’t have that juicy, savory element that a meat patty has when perfectly cooked.  some things just cannot be recreated.

i’d say if you are interested in the impossible whopper, go get yourself one.  i’m not certain i’ll have it again, but it was fun to give something new a try, and i think it’s pretty cool that a big, popular chain like burger king has a trendy, meatless option for customers who crave it.  up next on my list of things to try include the beyond meat patty this week in our blue apron meal kit and then, if i like that, maybe the beyond meatball marina sub at subway.

doughnut dollies – atlanta, ga

hi, readers!  phillip davis back at it as a guest blogger on my lovely wife’s website.  it is with great pleasure that i yes, introduce you all to another unique doughnut spot that we visited yesterday for a breakfast treat called doughnut dollies!  i love the more traditional spelling of the word doughnut, so i will keep this consistent across the remainder of the blog.

it was a lovely sunday morning down here in atlanta, and kelsey and i were en-route to orangetheory fitness (otf for short) to get our workout groove on.  now, if you haven’t heard of or tried otf, it is a 60 minute high-intensity interval training cardio-based workout that seeks to get folks to experience epoc (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption).  essentially, the workout gets you out of breath and recovers you during the duration of the class so that your body burns more calories during and approximately 36 hours after the 1-hour workout.  kudos to our coaches, taylor, mike, obi, draya, and kat, for pushing us on a weekly basis.  i highly recommend trying a class if you haven’t already (hint hint, you can try your 1st class for FREE)!  ok, so i got carried away there, but had to mention otf since kelsey and i definitely have the “otf bug.”

anyway, we were on the way to otf when kelsey, out of the corner of her eye, saw a pretty unique logo to our right with what looked to be no other than an american red cross on it that had the words “doughnut dollies” above the iconic symbol.  now, i am sure that she saw the red cross instantly because she donates blood on a regular basis.  i, for one, initially thought the building was some kind of medical center, so i believed it wasn’t anything food-related until she told me, “oh, phillip!?  there’s a new doughnut place over there!”  without hesitation, i got the car to a complete stop at the red traffic light, turned to look at the logo, then told kelsey, “oh, we’re definitely going there after our workout!”

cool logo stamped on carry-out box!

once our 1-hour otf strength workout came to a close (thanks for a good class, obi), we got in the car and drove roughly 1 minute away off howell mill road to go see what the cute, little doughnut shop was all about.  we entered the cafe, which by the way, was clean and tidy, and noticed the incredibly large doughnuts staring right in front of our faces inside the clear glass counter.  now, the howell mill location is doughnut dollies’ 2nd location in georgia, and silly enough, this particular store was celebrating its 1 month anniversary since they opened last month in june.  what a fun way to celebrate a very special occasion by trying and enjoying some doughnuts ourselves!  time was on our side, for sure.

kelsey and i looked at the different types of doughnuts (the store calls them tiers, or levels, since they have a variety of basic and specialty doughnuts that customers can order) and decided to order a strawberry doughnut and a smores doughnut.  at first glance, we felt the tiers were a little confusing since they had 4 different price levels depending on what kind of doughnut you order, and the doughnuts were not clearly sorted by tier in the glass window display.  we got over this pretty quickly and selected our doughnut choices shortly thereafter.  we also noticed that the store served jittery joe’s coffee, so naturally, we decided to order 1 small coffee with cream and sugar to split (i didn’t want to get over-caffeinated).

Continue reading

Coming to America – Day 2

June 20th

Our mission today was to travel to Cheswick, PA to find Deer Creek Cemetery and the graves of our Grandfather George and Uncle Felix.  We had breakfast at the hotel and set off with an overcast sky.  The scenery was beautiful, so green and so different from the Los Angeles area!  We found the very old cemetery and set out looking for the graves.  Gary had looked up the information, and we knew which sections they were in, or so we thought.  We all got a lot of steps in as we went back and forth, row after row looking at gravestones.

deer creek cemetery.

I personally find old cemeteries very interesting and can wander for hours looking at the headstones and wondering who these people were, what their lives were like, etc.  A lot of the people buried here were born in the mid- to late 1800s.

Kyle and Clark found George Despot’s headstone (1888-1941), and we gathered around.  He died of black lung from working in the coal mines.  It was emotional for Gary and I, remembering our mother had told us and knowing that she had been here when he was buried.

It started lightly raining as we looked for Felix’s grave.  Back and forth, up and down we went in the grass.  We couldn’t find the grave, but our shoes sure got wet!  We finally went to the office, and the groundskeeper looked it up right away, so we followed him in his vehicle to the correct section.  We found Felix’s headstone (1916-1947), who died of a burst appendix, and that of this daughter Judith.  We thought of the stories our mother had told us of her big brother.

Our mother had a younger brother who also came to America; his name was Albert, or Uncle Al as we all called him.  He joined the Navy and ended up settling in San Pedro, CA to work as a fisherman.  After our mother’s dad and brother Felix passed away, she moved out to Long Beach, CA to be near her brother Al.  Our next stop was in memory of him.  We climbed into the van and headed to Oakmont Country Club where Uncle Al had worked as a caddie when he was a kid.  Gary fondly remembers Uncle Al telling stories of working at Oakmont.  A little history for those who don’t follow golf:  the course at Oakmont Country Club, designed in 1903, is one of the most difficult in North America.  It has hosted more combined USGA and PGA championships than any other course in the United States.  We arrived at the guard shack and explained that we just wanted to go to the pro shop and pick up a few souvenirs because Uncle Al had worked here many, many years ago.  The gentleman gave us the once over (being sure we were properly dressed because golf courses can have dress codes) and said we could go in.  What we could see of the golf course was absolutely beautiful as well as the buildings.  We picked up some gifts to take back home and set off.

Continue reading