Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rainy Saturday Shopper-tainment: Patriot Place

How do you get a man to go to Bed Bath and Beyond? Put it right next to Gillette Stadium! Yesterday it was rainy and miserable and we had a list of non-fun errands to accomplish. E hates going to shopping establishments on Saturdays when they are mobbed with mothers with children in tow, tweens and arguing couples. We inevitably become one of those arguing couples on Shopping Saturdays because we hate dodging the crowds and shopping makes me tired and hungry. So we have traditionally avoided it at all costs. But we may have found an acceptable solution: Patriot Place! Their very fitting slogan for us is "Everyone wins!"

As it is about a 30-40 minute drive from our place depending on traffic I was already peckish once we got there. There look like there will be many options, but so far, only Skipjack's, Dunkin Donut's and CBS Scene are open.

So of course we had to check out CBS Scene. This place was not good for my ADHD-like tendencies with screens all over the place and buttons to push at the table. I had trouble figuring out what to focus on which distracted me from checking out the menu. I was too busy trying to find a CBS TV show that I wanted to watch on our personal TV!

Thankfully our waiter saw how frantic I looked and suggested the fish and chips special. Fresh Haddock that day only. We went for the fish and chips, a baby spinach salad and a side of mac and cheese. E ordered the food and I ordered a very boozy coffee drink, which prompted the waiter to say, "... and what will you be having for food?". I responded that we would be sharing all aforementioned food which he seemed puzzled by. I guess most people tend to overeat when they go here because let me tell you we were pretty darn stuffed after we finished our food and had I eaten more I would have felt oogy.

The fish and chips was probably the best I've ever had, and I've eaten a lot of fish and chips. For a time I ate them almost every Friday because the university cafeteria always had it and I had one of those deadly meal plan cards. Now I realize that I likely had a mild fried fish addiction during 1st and 2nd year university. The CBS Scene fish were very light on the batter and very crispy thin chips, so now that I'm older I don't feel guilty eating this as it doesn't feel like the dish is immediately coating my arteries.

The mac and cheese was also spectacularly cheesy and extremely hot because of the skillety thing they put it in.

Spinach salad was also very fresh. Not floppy at all, which is a big spinach salad risk when too much dressing is applied. I wasn't expecting good food at all because when I think of football and food it's almost always greasy and heart burn inducing.

I think they are trying to appeal to the XX and the XY with this place because it had a pretty good view of the stadium, huge TVs everywhere, yet fancy pants drink menus, nice place mats and pretty darned good food. See... everyone wins!

After we were well-fed. We bought some of that foamy soap that all girls love at Bath and Body Works and then headed to the chichi movie theatre. The theater reminded me of the ones in Canada and Amsterdam. Much bigger open spaces in the lobby and it had nice plushy semi-reclinable seats and even a special "lux level", which from what I could tell from our "economy" seats just had bigger, leather seats. They also had that shaker seasoning for your popcorn that I used to love getting in Canada, although I'm told it is now not as readily available due to messiness issues. My only negative experience of they day at Patriot Place was the movie that we picked, "Eagle Eye". Avoid at all costs unless you enjoy ridiculous plots lines and lots of breaking glass.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Not too sweet" = a good dessert to me

This is probably a gross generalization, but most of the people that I know who are Asian are much more about the salty than the sweet. I find this is especially true of those of the older generation who did not grow up in the US or Canada. My possibly unfounded generalization has been anecdotally tested only in my friends or family who are Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese, so maybe this is not true of people who are of Korean, Cambodian, Filipino etc descent. If you knew me, my pet peeve is believing that all Asians look a like so we must like, do, behave the same way... uh oh, here I am falling into my own trap! Best I shut up now about this.

When I have cravings they are generally for salty snacks -- I could eat pickles and salami all day, which does not bode well for my future blood pressure. Usually if I am paying a dessert or a compliment I say, "mmmm... that was yummy because it was, "not too sweet". A lot of people think that is dessert and "not too sweet" sounds silly, but then again I'm silly so maybe that's why it works.

This place, "Bouchon Bakery" in the Time Warner Building, is for the people who like me, like their desserts, "not too sweet".

They even had a "not too sweet" beverage option! I like how they describe this as the "Grown Up Soda", because me choosing this soda is probably the only grown up thing about me.

Here is the the grown up Oreo type cookie, called the "TKO", that was not too sweet.

And an outstanding Wagyu beef sandwich which I shared so that I would have space for aforementioned grown up cookie. By the way, I got a lesson on Japanese beef terminology from my Japanese friend. Wagyu beef, generally refers to a type of cattle in Japan that has that nice marbled flesh (ie fat) that makes it taste good; whereas Kobe beef is a particular kind of Wagyu cattle that is farmed in Kobe, Japan. So all Kobe beef is Wagyu beef, but not all Wagyu beef is Kobe. And that is our lesson in sweetness and logic for the day.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Vietnamese Sour Soup - Canh Chua

This is hands down my favourite kind of soup. Lots of flavour, lots of veggies, lots of crunch and pretty healthy! What more could you ask for? I also find it refreshing, yet comforting all at the same time. Somewhat a feat for a soup if you ask me!

I must admit that I don't really make it from scratch because the soup base packages or cubes that you can get at the local Asian grocery store are pretty darn tasty and since tamarinds aren't really locally available here in New England, I don't really want to go through all that effort. I guess I could get the tamarind paste and play around with that, but I guess I'm too lazy.

One of my favourite parts of this soup is being able to use this weird vegetable that's hard to describe. In Vietnamese, it is called 'Bac Ha' and in English it is referred to by many names -- taro stem, elephant ear. See here for a much better explanation than I can give. My favourite part about putting this veggie in this soup is that the little holes take up a bunch of the soup broth so then when you crunch into a piece there is sour soup flavour explosion in your mouth! Careful if it's hot though!

I made mine with catfish, bean sprouts, tomatoes and sprinkled some fresh chopped cilantro and Thai basil on top. I think that traditionally this soup is eaten over white rice, but I had run out, so it was vermicelli noodles this time. Some people also like to eat it with pineapple, but I think canned pineapple leaves something to be desired and didn't have any fresh pineapple on hand, so left that out this time. Still tasted great!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

U.S. Open Offerings

From my last couple few posts, you may get the impression that all I do is gallivant and eat. This is not technically true as I usually prefer to cook and eat at home, but the last few weeks have been a bit of an anomaly. I'd like to chalk it up to spontaneity, but I think it's more of poor calendar manipulation techniques enforced upon me by the Y chromosome in my life (oops he may read this, but oh well...).

It was E's mom's birthday present to go to the U.S. Open and being curious about the tennis and of course the celebrities I thought it would be fun to go. Who knew they would have such great food too!

My first Flushing treat was a morning crepe! This was followed by a discussion about why North Americans do not embrace the crepe concept as much as Europeans. In Boston, there have been several crepe establishments that I have loved to frequent, but subsequently go out of business. Very sad for my belly.

Crepe Express had it down. The crepe was really easy to eat not only because of its deliciousness but also because of the nesting technique of the wrappings: sno-cone paper inside of larger outer cardboard. I can never resist getting one savory and one sweet so that it feels like meal and then dessert!

La Grand Bouffe - marinated chicken, spinach, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese. I think its names translates roughly into English as, "the big bite".

La Gourmande - Bananas and Nutella. Nutella makes everything better. I'm technically allergic to hazelnuts but I like to take risks for the sake of chocolate spread!

I washed it all down with a U.S. Open smoothie. All their smoothies had cutesy tennis names. This one was called a Strawberry Smash I think.

And here is a demonstration of what my abdominal circumference was approaching after a weekend of eating through Flushing and NYC!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

In Search of Fish Tacos in San Francisco

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon in San Francisco and I thought I should eat some less creamy and puffy than Beard Papa, so it was suggested by Eric's twin brother that we go check out the Ferry Building since it would have many different options for our fickle party of five.

He mentioned a Mexican place he had been wanting to try and we all made a B-line for Mijita Cocina Mexicana. People in Boston often complain about the lack of good Mexican fare. I am a fan of the fish taco so I'm always thinking of my lightly battered deep fried friend whenever I approach a Mexican place and this one was definitely not disappointing.

The carnitas was also filled with porky goodness.

I wanted to wash it all down with a Mexican Squirt, which sounds really nasty, but I think it is just Sprite? They were out of Squirt, so I had to settle for a Mexican Coke, which tasted a lot like "American" Coke, but I think it had a different sweetener. Who knows...

Then we went to mall and watched this paper mache Godzilla chow down on this poor mannequin. He looks like he enjoyed this almost as much as I enjoyed my fish taco!