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foodzings: October 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Baja Cantina

For my first night in LA, we decided to stay local and walk a few feet to Venice for dinner. There are many places to eat on this small stretch of Washington Blvd, and we ended up walking into Baja Cantina, a mexican joint. The place is pretty casual, with indoor and outdoor dining. We got a spot outside (but inside) far off in the corner. It was pretty cool. Looks like it's big on happy hours too, where you get your own chips and salsa.
We got some chips and salsa and some guacamole. The chips are spicy chips, and they will deceive you. I ate one and almost freaked because there's hidden chili powder on them. The salsa was a bit spicy as well. The guacamole with the little mini mexican flag was spot on and quite delicious. We were big fans of it.
They serve typical mexican fare... you know, tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, and the like. We both ended up getting non-typical stuff. Behold the above carne asada in a skillet. It came with rice and beans and fixins and tortillas so you could make your own little tacos. This was delicious.
I also went with a skillet, and got the muy muy mahi mahi fish tacos. That came in a tomatillo chipotle stew. Also quite delicious, with really big hunks of fish. And I was a big fan of the rice and the beans. Service was ok, nothing spectacular, but not terrible either. It was a nice first night out. The outdoor seating that seemed slightly indoors had good ambiance. It was low key and overall just quite nice. The weather has been nice too. Not hot, but not too cold either. But not exactly beach weather! Boo!

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Changing Coasts Again!

It seems like I was just on the west coast (and in fact I was), but I'm off to the old Pacific Coast again, southern california this time. And I'll be heading off to the bay area for a weekend too. For those of you freezing you buns off in Philadelphia - see ya suckers!

At the good ol philly airport. How about them Phillies? Has the curse finally been undid? Hope y'all enjoyed the ticker tape parade!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jonesin for Dessert

After the comedy show taping, it was a bit cold and we were feeling peckish, so we went to get some dessert at Jones. Oh, and we had an amazing central table for the show, so I'm fairly confident that our goofy mugs will get on comedy central and the dvd. Yey!
It was pretty cold out that night, so we all got some hot chocolate. Just the plain hot chocolate, not the boozy one. It was just what we all needed. But we all wished it had lots of mini marshmallows, and not one big one. That would have made it just right.
R and I split the peanut butter cup ice cream sandwich. I dug it, even though it was cold. Props to Jones for not kicking us out. We were just sitting there gabbing and didn't realize that the place had closed. But they just let us gab. I like that in any restaurant.

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Yes, I Go to Banana Leaf A Lot

During these trying economic times, it's good to find free stuff to do. I'm good at it. Before attending a free comedy special taping at the Trocadero, we ate next door at Banana Leaf. Yes, again! I know, I've been here like 17 times in the past 2 weeks, but really, it is good and always convenient. I didn't pick it either! Everybody likes it!
R got wonton soup again, and lo mein. T, our resident vegetarian, asked for a recommendation from our server. He wanted a noodle dish with vegetables. And with all the options, the server suggested pad thai. Pad thai! Are we in a thai restaurant? I found it strange. I'm not the hugest fan of pad thai, it's too sweet for me. Which seems strange, as I love sweet foods.I went with the captains noodles, which was a wide flat rice noodle with some chicken and shrimp and veggies in a brown gravy. Nice and savory and something everyone can like. Something I noticed on my last trip to Banana Leaf - it is immensely difficult to understand what the servers there are saying. Man, I'm not sure why I didn't notice before, but seriously, their english and their accents are just plain bad.

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Legal Eating

P and I had a veritable shopping spree on saturday. Economic strife my ass. I hadn't seen that many people at the King of Prussia mall in all my life. It was rainy out, so that didn't help. And believe you me, they were buying. Buying like we weren't in a recession. After literally shopping our legs off, we had to get some nourishment. When you're at the mall, your options are either the food court or some chain restaurants. So once again, we did some more chain eating at Legal Sea Foods.

It'd been a long while since I'd been to Legal. I'd gone once before in Washington DC. I remember it being ok. I think I expected something spectacular, then I got something ok. People hype this place up a lot.
We both got some clam chowder. P liked it a lot, but I just thought it was ok. Honestly, it's just not clammy enough. I expect it to taste like clams, and it just tasted like a runny potato chowder.
P got the mediterranean salmon. What makes it so mediterranean? For one, there's hummus dolloped on top and orzo underneath. There's a cucumber yogurt sauce and pita chips. Not really pita chips, but more like one layer of a pita that was toasted until crunchy. It was a sizeable chunk of salmon too. The grill marks were stunning.
I've been on a big scallop kick lately, so I continued it. And seriously yo, these scallops were perfect. Simply grilled to perfection, just cooked enough, and just the right number of scallops. The rice pilaf was just right to go with the scallops.

Our server was kinda hilarious. He was so into his job and so into legal sea foods. He kept going on and on about the wines they had and how sensational the pumpkin ravioli were. I couldn't do anything but snicker behind his back. Loved the scallops, chowder was so so. If P is buying, then I am eating.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mediocre Mantra

R was gracious enough to take T out and show him around our fair city. You'd think his boss would have taken him out, or someone in his department, but no. Somehow, it fell upon R's shoulders, and being the extremely nice and hospitable person that she is, we all agreed to show this Brit around. R wanted to go to Mantra, so we stopped by fairly late for drinks. We ended up eating a little bit too. I've been there a couple of times before and had nice experiences both times. Unfortunately, we didn't have as much luck this time round.
H/A got the pu-pu platter. Some ribs, chicken wings, calimari, pot stickers, and spring roll. The ribs were really blah. They look like they'd be flavorful but they weren't. I enjoyed the pot stickers and the calimari. The spring roll had duck in it but ended up getting too soggy and couldn't be picked up. I didn't try the chicken wings.
T is a vegetarian and he got the buddha's feast veggie lo mein. He said it was alright. It looked alright, but not exciting.
R got a full entree of the ribs. As I said, they were blah and didn't have enough flavor. She enjoyed the sweet potato fries the best. The sweet potato mash was ok too. I will say that the asian red head cocktail still kicks ass, although it was quite sweet that night. The burnt peach was good too, but so strong that it kicked my ass something fierce.

For it being so not crowded, the food came out way too slow. The servers were nice enough, and they were having fun doing shots with H/A, but that really doesn't excuse how long it took for the food. Seriously, we had no idea why anything would take so long. Unless they were still growing the sweet potatoes. All in all, it was quite a mediocre meal. I think Mantra is much better for happy hours with strong cocktails. As for the food, you can do without.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Wegmans and Chain Seafood

I live on the pseudo main line. I'm lucky to have a Trader Joe's very nearby, but aside from that, I can't stand any of the grocery stores around. I hate Super Fresh, it creeps me out. The Genuardi's isn't terrible, but it doesn't do it for me either. The Acme is too tiny and Whole Foods, you know, I can't afford to shop there. I love Giant, but there isn't one close enough to me.

This is why I'm jealous of people who live near Wegmans. Everyone raves about it, but I'd never been. Why? Because they're so damn far away. I made R go on a roadtrip to Wegmans last Sunday, just for kicks. We went to the Downingtown one, because really, they're all equally far. What did I think? It was big. Too big. I was overwhelmed. The aisles are nice and wide. And really, certain things really are cheap. I was surprised. The produce and meats and seafoods looked amazingly fresh. It was pretty deserted when we were there, and it's probably annoying when there's tons of people around. But if I had a Wegmans more near me, I would certainly shop there. Sigh.

Then we were hungry, so we drove around and around for somewhere to eat. And since we were in Downingtown, it was chain restaurant city. And what's with the ended up at Bonefish Grill. I'd never heard of it before, so to me, it was new and exciting, even if it was a chain. Scary thing? R had never been to one either, but just by seeing the little fish log, she knew what restaurant it was. Yes ladies and gents, she is the official queen of chain restaurants!
It's not a casual restaurant, so it's a bit on the swankier side, but not snooty. While every other restaurant seemed deserted, there was actually lots of people there that night. We were both surprised. The servers all wear chef's jackets. It was weird. And our server was so stiff and rehearsed. I felt a little bad for him.
They only have one soup - corn chowder with crab. I am a chowder hound, so I had to try it. It was surprisingly good. And it had nice huge hunks of crab in it.
R got the fontina chop. It was a good sized pork chop with mushroom sauce. R doesn't like mushrooms, but she ate around them, and finished off the chop. She got the garlic mash as a side, and the veggie of the day was a butternut squash.

I got the scallops and shrimp with mango salsa. It was also surprisingly good. I also got the garlic mash, and while good, it wasn't garlicky at all. The squash was alright, nothing great. All in all, a decent meal. Not too pricey, and the service was good. Will I be back? I guess if I only had chain restaurant to pick from, probably. And for a chain, that's pretty much a reigning endorsement from me.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hockey Eats

I won some flyers tickets a few weeks ago from work. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I thought why the hell not. It would probably be my one chance to go to a professional hockey game (since it's not like I would ever choose to go) so I thought I would see what the fuss was all about.

The food choices are plenty, but all terrible for you. Not that I mind. We got some chicken fingers and a chicken sandwich, and of course, some crab fries, from chickie's & pete's. The quality of the food is tons crappier than at the proper chickie's & pete's restaurants. But whatever, you're watching sports, drinking beer, and eating slop. And don't even get me started on how much it all cost. This is why I don't normally do stuff like this. Oh, and the Flyers got their asses whooped.

Sabrina's Brunch

On this fine Columbus Day of 2008 (which just happened to be the day with the highest Dow surge ever, after its ginormous drop) we finally got to go to Sabrina's for brunch. Every time we decide to get brunch on a weekend, we drive right past it because there's tons of many more patient people waiting to get in. We just could never be bothered. It's good to be free on weekdays.

Sabrina's is a pretty darn popular place. On weekends during peak brunch time, don't even think about it. You'll be waiting forever. It seems to be an institution. It's also a BYOB, serving brunch as well as dinner. They have outdoor seating, and we scored a primo spot outside. It's surprisingly large on the inside. There are seemingly 3 separate dining areas. I had no idea how big it was on the inside. Goes to show just how popular they are.
Egg white turkey bacon fritatta. I'd never actually eaten turkey bacon before, but damn, I liked it. There was also spinch and tomato in this, and the tomato made it a bit runny. I really liked these home fries.

I went with the stuffed caramelized french toast with cream cheese and bananas. Ok, so you can't tell in this photo, but this thing is huge. I wish you all could see this french toast in its proper scale. My jaw dropped seeing this monstrosity as soon as the server rounded the corner. It's enough for a small family. This dish is beyond decadent. I love me some challah, and when it's dipped and fried and stuffed and then topped with maple syrup... Damn. I barely ate the half. And I was trying very hard. As we were eating, more and more people started showing up and the place started filling up. And it was only a monday. Were it not for the waits, I would definitely come by for brunch more often.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

More Banana Leaf

Met up with P for dinner the other night to celebrate my early retirement. We met up in chinatown and let P pick the place. He went with Penang, but there was a bunch of people waiting outside. None of us enjoy waiting. So we went to Banana Leaf instead. We all know I prefer it to Penang anyway. I got chicken satay, J got mee goreng, and P got this crazy ginger duck noodle dish. Weird, isn't it? None of us expected such a deep brown gravy to be all over it. How did it taste? Weird. Not bad weird, but just weird, and very different to anything I'd ever eaten.Can't they make duck dishes without the little bones in them? If only...

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Noodle Soup, Anyone?

I'd had this box of organic soy ginger broth from Trader Joe's in my cupboard for awhile. I don't remember why I picked it up, but I certainly don't know why I didn't use it. J wanted some noodle soup the other night, so I whipped up this random noodle soup concoction. What's in it? The broth, obviously. Also, some korean dried udon noodles, some frozen shrimp, some string beans that I had sitting around in my fridge, and some of the dry ingredients packets from some miso soup mix I had. Not to toot my own horn, but it was darn good, if I do say so myself. But on a sad note, I think Trader Joe's doesn't sell this broth anymore. So I guess it was a one time deal.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Good Dog, Burger Time

So when we went back to Good Dog, I promised myself that I wouldn't risk it and just order the darn burger. So that's what I did. I don't like stinky cheese, and that's why I don't get the good dog burger. But I like mine without the stinky cheese and with carmelized onions. Gah, how do they make these so good? And you already know how I feel about these fries. This could be a daily meal to me. I would probably be dead in 6 months, but I could eat this every day.
J got the meatloaf. And he did say that this was some of the best meatloaf he'd ever had. As good as mom makes, or maybe even better. With some delicious looking mashed potatoes I might add. Service at the good dog is typically perfunctory. They're friendly enough, but not too friendly. Attentive, but not overly so. It's a homey neighborhood joint. I heart this place.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Exotic Fruits

Have you ever had a dragon fruit? While produce shopping the other day at an asian market, I came along these beauties. It's such a stunning fruit, such a rich deep pink. And when you cut them open, it's even more stunning, with its white flesh and black little seeds. What does it taste like? It's like a kiwi, but with a little less flavor. They are surprisingly light and refreshing. It's definitely worth trying, at least once.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pre-show Banana Leaf

The other night, I went to see one of my favorite newer bands - Fleet Foxes. I love, love, love them! I saw them a few months ago, but they came through Philly again, playing the Starlight this time. Last time at the FU I almost died from heat exhaustion. This time, it was just plain heavenly.

For some pre-music food, we went to Banana Leaf. Even though B had just eaten there the night before, he picked it again! Yes, it's that good. I got the seafood lo mein soup and B got the thai basil noodle. As usual, the food came out super fast and it was super cheap and super good. I could go here every night. For real.

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