an mcu journey: latin flavors & a new hero

as we gathered for marvel night last week, i realized we had started this journey one year ago. i do not know which stuns me more: that another year has passed or that we are now just two movies away from the end of the infinity saga! both are pretty unbelievable, and it’s incredible what you can accomplish in 12 months’ time. i mean, i promise i did more in 2021 than just watch a bunch of superhero movies, but even that is time well spent!

we all were glowing with that new year energy and excitedly gathered around the table for cuban. i was pretty unsure what i was in the mood for, but trusty yelp suggested sandwiches and then directed us to tortugas cuban grill. jenn and i both went for the media noche, and i scarfed that thing down with minimal hesitation and even less manners. i mean, i’m not sure i was taking a breath between bites, only pausing to declare how delicious my dinner was. it had the right amount of zippy mustard with crunchy, briny pickles, all atop perfectly soft, fresh sweet cuban bread. i usually have leftovers during marvel night but left nothing in my box this time. even phillip was jealous of my meal, and that hardly ever happens! that’s not to say his pan con bistec sandwich wasn’t good, too, but this media noche really was a step above.

i also ordered a side of tostones for the group and will say it was a huge serving for only $4.25. the tostones were big (there were about 12 of them), and that green dressing/sauce that came on the side was heavenly. i only wish there had been more of that to go around!

dave was craving something a little more substantial and tried the pescado a la tortuga. to be honest, i’m still not sure how he felt about it, lol. the fish portion was generous, and there were lots of shrimp hiding in the secret sauce, but it seems it was a little underwhelming. perhaps it needed more flavor? perhaps it would be better in the restaurant? we may never know. all i will say is that if you said, “hey, kelsey, let’s meet at tortugas,” i’d be in the car before even replying to your message.

after washing up and refilling our drinks, we settled into our regular spots, this time to watch captain marvel. before i get into the details, i’ll say i thought this movie was fine and hope that marvel is going to play a key role in endgame, otherwise, what was the point? even before we clicked play, it confused me that they would introduce a new character so late in the game. but hey, what do i know?

well, for starters i know what i liked about this film, which includes…

  • all the 90s references
  • learning more about nick fury
  • getting to see agent coulson again (if you don’t love agent coulson, i’m uncertain if we can be friends)
  • goose the cat
  • the soundtrack (i’m always happy when no doubt comes on)

and there are the things i didn’t so much care for, like…

  • the fact that it took me a while to unravel exactly what was going on and who was really who (that may be more on me, but perhaps it is due to confusing storytelling)
  • all of the unclear flashbacks with lawson
  • that they found lawson’s space lab so quickly
  • how fury loses his eye (really, they couldn’t think of anything else?)

all feelings aside, though, we are somehow just about done! will i be emotional when we watch endgame next week? will our next meal dethrone tortugas? will i wonder what to do with myself now that we are done? how will 2022 possibly live up to all i saw in 2021? we are only one 3-hour movie away from finding out, and i am excited to see how things end.


  1. tortugas
  2. trader joe’s
  3. sweet octopus
  4. alessio’s
  5. gordo’s pizza
  6. alebrije mexican restaurant
  7. jim’n’nick’s
  8. burger 21
  9. masterpiece
  10. jerusalem bakery
  11. armando’s caribe
  12. honeypig
  13. sonny’s bbq
  14. cue barbecue
  15. lon u
  16. rose and olive
  17. wayback burger
  18. 2 nyers pizza
  19. tokyo shokudo


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

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!

february 14th – nyc

sunday morning started much like saturday morning, three lazy almost late-twentysomethings bumming around indoors because the outdoors were still harsh.  it should come as no surprise that we proceeded to order more hot & crusty from their lexington location, except this time we opted for bagels with cream cheese and butter.  mm, how new york!  there really wasn’t anything on the to-do list this valentine’s day except a late lunch/early dinner, so we napped on and off until the early afternoon.

now, on our trek up to new york last friday phillip and i both agreed that he needed a new suitcase.  his old rollerboard was a bit beat up and the handle was stuck inside the suitcase, meaning that phillip had to literally carry his carry-on wherever he went.  we all know what that meant:  it was time to go shopping!

natalie, phillip, and i finally peeled ourselves out of bed, petted wyatt goodbye, and quickly grabbed a cab uptown to the local harlem marshall’s.  we figured this place would be a good bet for some new luggage and we were right.  phillip found himself a very stylish black samsonite, four-wheel suitcase.  it looks smart and sharp and expertly suited to him – it’s like it was made just for phillip!  he rolled that bad boy out of the store with a grin on his face.  nothing makes a day great like the perfect find!

we had just enough time to drop off the suitcase and then get back in a big yellow taxi to make our 4:30 reservation at the smith over in the east village.  the hostess took our name, grabbed some menus, and promptly showed us to our table.  this restaurant is, without question, a quintessential new york bistro and, if i do say so myself, quite spacious!  they have a long bar where you can rub elbows with other locals and travelers, large tables for family gatherings, and two- and three-seaters for intimate meals.  we were cozied up with one another at a smaller round table, right in the middle of it all.  although there weren’t many folks around us at the start of the meal, it wasn’t too long before the restaurant filled up with the early dinner crowd.


now, we were originally under the impression that we’d be doing a late brunch together, especially considering that the table right inside the door was covered with plates full of french toast and egg scrambles.  unfortunately, though, we somehow hit a strange half hour of time between sunday brunch and actual dinner.  the waitress informed us we’d be dining off the twilight menu, so we just had to roll with it.  i’ll say, though, that the people around us who ordered dinner looked spoiled with their huge bowls overflowing with pasta and chicken pot pie.  although we ended up enjoying what we ordered (which i’ll describe next), i’d be lying if i said we weren’t slightly disappointed.  i guess we’ll just have to come back!


we each put in a drink order and then natalie insisted we have a mound of the hot potato chips, homemade potato chips slathered in bleu cheese fondue.  oh my gosh, you guys, i’m not joking when i say i could have eaten the entire order of them and died happy right then and there.  this starter is a massive portion and can easily satisfy a group of three to five people.  the deep bowl means there are a lot of layers, but the kitchen does right by you to dress nearly every single chip with the fondue.  i don’t doubt that i could write a whole blog about just these chips.  mm!


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boston – day 3

okay, day three, it is my last day in boston, so i need to make the most of it.  monday, do you think you can deliver?  good!  it sounds like you are up to the challenge.  the day’s not getting any longer, so let’s get started!

after a solid night of sleep, the city was ours for the taking.  as we strolled to the fields corner metro stop, we munched on homemade egg rolls that vinh’s mother had given us before we dashed out the door.  those things were crispy and warm and gone in no time.  the perfect snack to get our metabolisms going.

we grabbed our charlie tickets and stepped aboard the redline, northbound to alewife.  when i take public transportation in other cities, i always wonder if i look like a tourist.  was i blending in because i was being accompanied (well, more like chaperoned, let’s be honest) by a local?  um, probably not, especially since i was so chatty and upbeat for a monday.  something i noticed very quickly about bostonians is that while they are not necessarily rude, they aren’t really pleasant either, at least to strangers.  i found that my polite “excuse me’s” and “pardon me’s” went unnoticed and seemed to not be appreciated one bit.  this much is true of pedestrians and even more severe for drivers.  i’m convinced no one’s blinkers work and that lane stripes are more like guidelines than actual restrictions.  cars seem to have no regard for those on foot, and the reverse seems to be quite the same.  there was more than just once when i thought i might be nudged into an intersection and made to fear for my life.  as they say, you can take the girl out of the south, but you cannot take the southern hospitality out of the girl.  okay, so maybe it isn’t an actual saying, but right here from yours truly is a first-hand testimony.  tell me it counts for something!

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the market – norcross, ga

the market, affectionately known by us old-timers as bleu house market, is one of our favorite lunch spots in downtown norcross.  john and maureen adams have been bringing southern food and barbecue (with a welcome twist, of course!) to the area since 2010.  they’ve gained a strong following from the locals; some of the staff even know our employees by name!

bank, liz, kyle, vinh, and i went there today for some grub, and after the renovations, the market might be better than ever.  the décor has been brightened up and looks a little more organized than it did in the past.  there’s a brand new patio with lots of comfortable seating, covered by the awning and big, colorful umbrellas.

bank and his lady.

bank and his lady.

the menu has changed a bit, which at first caught me offguard, but everything we had today was wonderful.  i’m almost glad i got so full, because i get to have my leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

i was extra hungry this afternoon since i’d worked out this morning, so lots of delectable dishes were in order.  i started with the pimiento (which, by the way, can be spelled with the second ‘i’ – an alternative spelling to pimento, who knew?!) deviled eggs because, well, because they sounded simply irresistible.  i have a somewhat unhealthy love for pimento cheese, i’ll admit it, but i couldn’t pass up these little guys.  i mean, don’t they just look scrumptious?

pimiento deviled eggs.

pimiento deviled eggs.

they didn’t just look it, they tasted it, too.  there was a heaping spoonful of pimento cheese atop each egg, so much so that i looked quite ladylike while taking each bite.  ha, not really.  those eggs were so stuffed, i’m sure i looked like a cave woman while eating them.  either way, i don’t quite care because they were so delicious.  i’d tell you more about their flavor profile, but i inhaled them so quickly that all i really remember is saying, over and over again actually, “oh my gosh.  these eggs are amazing.”  you’ll just have to take my word for it.



the entrée plates arrived, and everyone dug in immediately.  we’ll start with miss liz.  she had the sautéed portobello naan-wich, which (ha, “wich”, “which”, it’s funny!) was bursting at the seams with pimento cheese, house greens, and olives.  whether it was out of hunger or love, or perhaps both, she ate the whole thing.  on the side she had the squash casserole that, although boasting a vegetable as its main ingredient, looked quite sinful with all that butter and cheese.  oh, baby.  kyle and vinh had the squash casserole as their sides, too, and liked it just as much as liz did.

sautéed portobello naan-wich and squash casserole.

sautéed portobello naan-wich and squash casserole.

bank went with a naan-wich as well but instead tried the one with smoked turkey.  my goodness, did that thing look intense!  the turkey clearly had been carved off the bone that day.  i almost wished i had ordered it myself!  but, maybe more so than the sandwich, the mac’n’cheese looked and smelled unbelievable.  you can bet that penne pasta was oozing with rich cheese and cream.  i know which side i’ll be ordering the next time i’m here!

smoked turkey naan-wich and mac'n'cheese.

smoked turkey naan-wich and mac’n’cheese.

per the cashier’s suggestion, i had the broccoli salad for my side.  it was tasty and cool on this hot summer day, but i think i’d order something else before i got it again.

broccoli salad.

broccoli salad.

but what about my actual meal?  kyle, vinh, and i all got the brisket naan-wich, and i have no regrets about my choice.  before i even bit into the thing, a couple nubs of brisket had fallen out and onto the plate.  i grabbed them with my fork and was in brisket heaven.  it was so tender and juicy.  it wasn’t overspiced.  without really knowing what my perfect brisket would be, this stuff was it.  don’t believe me?  get on up here and try it yourself.

brisket naan-wich and squash casserole.

brisket naan-wich and squash casserole.

i finally got to the naan-wich, being careful not to let too much fall out as i picked it up for my first taste.  i wasn’t shy and took quite a large bite.  i could hardly believe such a thing existed!  brisket and bacon and coleslaw, oh my!  with each bite, i exclaimed, “man, this is delicious.”  considering vinh and kyle ate all of theirs, i think they’d say the same.

brisket naan-wich.

brisket naan-wich.

although a bit otp, the market is, without a doubt, one of my favorite restaurants.  i’ve never had a meal here that i didn’t care for, and i can probably say the same for my friends.  if you don’t mind going on a little stroll through a cute and charming downtown, come on out to norcross.  you’ll get to find out what the fuss is about, and you, too, might have a new favorite restaurant in town.