Saturday, December 27, 2008
Supposedly, the hand-crafted card lost some glue adhesion in trasit, but I think we all know what it means.
Thanks for the warning, Corpsekitten...
I can’t even tell you what all is on this burger. Check that, I looked it up. It’s three 6 oz steaks, two ½ lb burgers, a half-pound of Italian beef, a half pound of Gyro meat, 3 slices of swiss cheese, 3 slices of American cheese, tzaziki/cucumber sauce, and whatever garnish you want (lettuce, mayo, ketchup, onions, etc.) And when I say it’s heaped, I mean it’s heaped – it actually takes two people to make it (I don’t mean cook it, I mean assemble the thing into a tower). It’s probably close to a 4 pound burger. It’s incredible.
And of course, let’s not forget the fries. The Gangsta Fries are a heap of crinkle fries smothered (seriously swimming) in gyro meat and tzaziki sauce. I ate a crap ton of these on the way home, since it was easier to eat in the car than the burger was going to be.
The place has no inside seating. In fact, it’s in a gas station (Reemco Gas Stop). Also, the burger isn’t cheap, but the rest of the menu items seem very reasonable. The burger and fries cost me $25. Yes, twenty-five US dollars (but they throw in a couple of sodas for free if you’re stupid enough to try this thing). But I gladly paid the price and it was worth it since I’ll be eating it for the next three days.
The Gangsta Burger can be eaten as a challenge – if you finish it, they give it to you for free (you won’t finish it). You have to eat it there, I’m assuming while pacing through the aisles of the gas station, but whatever. And despite the fact that I’m a die-hard card-carrying carnivore, I finally found my meat overload threshold. You win, Gangsta Burger. You win.
Top 5 things about Rice Street Deli
1. Gangsta Burger - duh
2. Gangsta Fries
3. Chef Jason invited me around into the kitchen to take a photo of the thing
4. Mustafa – cool guy working the counter of the gas station, he might even own the place
5. Everything on the menu looks delicious
Bottom 5 things
1. Meat Overload – I NEVER thought I’d write that
2. Only $25 burger I’ve ever purchased
3. Not in a great part of town – not dangerous, but not fantastic
4. No inside seating
5. I now feel like I’m going to die and I have enough meat for three sandwiches left
Monday, December 22, 2008
First off, I dropped off Gerd at the door (it’s negative degrees here) and went to find a parking spot. 20 minutes later and about a quarter mile, I found one. She thought I had died in the snow when I walked in the restaurant.
I sat down and she informed me she had already ordered spring rolls for us. She rules. Just then, the waiter came back and asked me if I wanted anything to drink. I was sticking with water. Gerd asked for a diet coke and he walked away. About ten minutes later, he came back with the spring rolls. Dropped them off and left. He didn’t take our order or anything (the menu was huge, but it didn’t take us that long to decide, really). We finished our spring rolls, then waited an additional 15-20 minutes until he came back to take our order. Are you serious?
Gerd ordered the Yellow Curry and I ordered the Amazing Curry (apparently, we had a hankerin’ for curry). This took considerably less time to receive our order, but Gerd’s coke came out just before the meal, so about a half hour after she ordered it. The Yellow Curry had all kinds of beef and potatoes in it and was really good. Gerd said it was “just alright” at the beginning but with each subsequent bite, she raved about it more and more. It did however come with these giant fried wonton skins dipped in something red, so Gerd referred to them as the Thai Doritos. Nice. She agreed she would order this dish again at a future visit.
My Amazing Curry was actually quite amazing. It was a thick gravy-like peanut curry (remember 2008 is the year of gravy for me). The curry hid a substantial layer of chicken and was garnished with broccoli. Sounds simple, but it was really great. I’m glad I got it. No wonder it’s the most popular curry dish there (so says the slow waiter).
We will definitely go here again, but only if we’re in a patient mood. We’re convinced it was the waiter and not the restaurant, so we didn’t get too upset at the place. It was maybe just an off night for him or something. We’re pretty lenient, I guess.
Top 5 things about Amazing Thailand
1. Amazing Curry
2. Fresh spring rolls
3. Yellow Curry
4. Décor is pretty slick
5. Perfect amount of spice
Bottom 5 things
1. Slow waiter (all the other waiters seemed normal speed)
2. Thai Dorito shells
3. Parking blows
4. The outside has so much neon, you think it’s a strip club or something, but it’s much nicer inside
5. We missed the Thai Dance Show (Fridays and Saturday only)
Friday, December 19, 2008
We decided to go all out and try several things on the menu. I have never had sake before and as Chao mentioned before, this place brews their own. Chao ordered his favorite from his first visit and I tried some. It was good but I prefer wine so I ordered a glass of that. We ordered several small plates including a Hoisin Pork Bun, a Hen Bun, Kaarage, and Rangoon. We also ordered the Yakiudon and the Coconut Green Curry with chicken. The small plates were fabulous. I would give a special shout out to the Hoisin Pork bun and the Rangoon as my favorites. The buns are very unique. I have to use my most hated word of all time to describe them. Moist. Aaack! [Chao: The bun wasn't aaack, just using the word. The bun was awesome. Just clarifying.] The Rangoon were made with smoked salmon which is a bit different than the crab normally found and it was a super good change. The Kaarage was like a popcorn chicken which was good and the Hen Bun had a nice spice to it. The Yukiudon was excellent. The noodles were SOO good and the sauce was fabulous. The Green Curry, which was technically MY main dish, was super good but a bit spicy for me after awhile so I stole the rest of Chao's Yukiudon. I don't think he minded too much.
We had a great time here and will be back for sure.
1. Small plates are really fun and super good
2. Yukiudon noodles are fabulous
3. Sake is great here
4. They have Malbec wine
5. I want to bring all sort of friends and family to this place because it is so fun
1. I had to use my hated word in this post
2. I am a wimp and the Green Curry ended up being too spicy for me
3. It was really quiet in there so very little people watching happened
4. I am not good at using chopsticks
5. Chao lost his main dish to me! Wa ha ha ha!
The Edina Cinema is a four-screen theater showing a lot of non-mainstream films. Some independent and some foreign. It’s an awesome place to see quality films. It’s standard theater concession stand had what Gerd considers one of the best popcorns in the industry – meaning LOADs and loads of butter. The theater itself was plenty spacious and had lots of room for people – very clean – no sticky floors or smell of urine/vomit.
So Millionaire Slumdog is an independent film from India about a kid (a chai walla – aka office coffee boy) (also my new favorite word) from the slums who gets onto “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” in India. He’s one question from the huge 20 million rupee prize when the police arrest him for cheating. The cops show him the film of the show and he explains how his life taught him the answer to each one of the questions they asked him. Really kind of slick. Also the game show host is like an Indian version of Dennis Miller. I chuckled every time the guy said “millionaire” – I’m 5.
It’s not a nice view of India, either then or now, but it seems to be pretty non-hollywood and raw. There’s a love story behind the whole thing with the main character and a girl he and his brother grew up with. I would recommend this film to anyone who likes foreign films. Even though it’s not really a Bollywood film, the dancing and singing has been stripped out (I’m assuming for the US release). It’s a very quality film. [Chao: I'll amend this to say I know Danny Boyle directed this so it's not Bollywood at all. I'm still not convinced it's not showing in India with a Westwisde-Story-esque dance seen for every transition though...]
Hilarious thing happened. The end of the movie came and they started rolling the credits. And no one in the theater moved. I looked around and no one was packing up their things to go. There was standard issue Bollywood singing and dancing during the credits, but the crowd was riveted. Seriously, I thought maybe the Rapture had happened and everyone was dead. As soon as the standard US credits (the ones with white writing on black background) started, then people got up to leave. Weirdest thing ever. Had NOONE ever seen a foreign/Bollywood film before? Weird.
Top 5 things about Edina Theater/Slumdog Millionaire
1. Great acting
2. Was more dramatic than I thought it might be given the topic
3. Super awesome popcorn (so says Gerd)
4. Really clean theater
5. Pretty close parking in the garage behind the theater
Bottom 5 things
1. Reaffirms my vow to never go to India
2. Crowd unswerving interest in dancing during the credits
3. Bathrooms only on the half-floor (like Being John Malkovich) between first and second floor
4. Eerie blue lighting in the lobbies of the theater
5. Severe lack of boobs for a foreign film
Gerd walked us into a wine bar we had driven past a couple of times and mentioned we should go there. The place was Beaujo’s (I’m assuming pronounced Bo-Joe’s – only Frenchified). We found a nice table and got waited on right away. Decent wine menu, so we picked out something we would both drink and set about deciding on dinner.
The place is really nice inside. Mirrors behind the bar set in a cool pattern and low lighting with yellow sponge painted walls set a classy and intimate atmosphere. Attentive wait staff offered recommendations and explanations for things.
We got a Cloudline Pinot Gris which was light and fruity and had a sweet after taste, not dry (sorry all you dry drinkers out there). We’ll get this again, for sure. Very tasty. We referred to it as a “chug” wine, since you could go through it pretty darn fast and not realize it (yes we finished the entire bottle).
Gerd got the Steak salad and I got the short ribs (the special for the evening). Gerd steak salad had a ton of things in it – all appropriate for salads, so no complaints. Lots of chunks of steak floated throughout this salad which was covered in blue cheese dressing. I had a couple bites of hers and it was really excellent.
My short ribs were perfectly cooked. The rib bones slid right out of the meat and despite not being fork tender, the meat was excellent. A very appropriate portion as well. Nough so that I got good and full, but not enough that I had to gorge myself. Lots of meat on the plate. I got some green beans with the meat and everything was sitting on a bed of smashed Yukon gold potatoes. Brilliant meal.
We’ll eat here again, for sure. They have a mini-happy hour, so in 2009, we’ll be back to test it out.
Top 5 things about Beaujo’s
1. Cloudline Pinot Gris
2. Short Ribs
3. Steak salad
5. Super attentive staff
Bottom 5 things
1. Wine list isn’t huge, but we found what we needed
2. Small menu, but we found what we needed (both big and small plates available)
3. I’m guessing it could get crowded on a weekend or theater night
4. Handful of pretentious people, but you get that at wine bars…
5. Not sure if that’s how you pronounce the name
Sunday, December 14, 2008
We had no idea what to expect, but when we walked in, it seemed very close to what we’ve been used to at quality meskin places. Tables, chairs, decorations all seemed to indicate we were in for a treat. The menu was really extensive and had some authentic dishes on it.
The chips and salsa were really good. We’ve had better, but it was above average so we still had high hopes. We also had to sample the margaritas – and you can’t sample with a small size, you have to get the large size – which we did…
Gerd got the Enchiladas Rancheras which were a couple of chicken enchiladas with rancheros sauce on them. She was REALLY pleased with this dish. She kept raving about it. I got a couple of bites from it and it was ultra cheesy. I’d get this anytime and I’m not a huge fan of enchiladas.
I can’t remember the name of what I got, but it was in the “hot” section. Something Maria Diablo Pollo – which I think translates as “Hail Mary, Chicken of Satan” as it was really spicy. Not bad spicy either. It had awesome flavor. I’m not one of those people who will sacrifice flavor for heat. For me, it has to taste good, and this did. I will tell you this dish is really spicy though. And of course, I would get it again and recommend it to anyone who can handle the spice.
Bottom line – we will visit this place numerous times in the next couple of years and we are no longer embarrassed by Twin Cities Mexican food.
Top 5 things about Morelos
1. Maria Diablo Chicken
2. Enchiladas Rancheras
3. LARGE margaritas
4. Really large portions
5. The staff was super nice and helpful
Bottom 5 things
1. We didn’t find it sooner
2. No menus-to-go. You can get to-go orders, but you can’t bring a menu with for your car
3. In a strip mall, but still awesome
We arrived and were seated right away. People in there, but not crowded at all. The menu is actually quite large, so be prepared to have some idea of what you want before you go there. They have fresh spring rolls, so we were excited about those. And we weren’t let down at all. They were great.
Gerd got the Curry Shrimp which looked super good on the menu. I got the Triple Crown. The Curry Shrimp is a Vietnamese curry which isn’t terribly spicy, but still has some zip to it. Gerd was bummed at the sheer tonnage of onions that were in it and wished there were more pieces of shrimp in it. However when she was finished, she said she was stuffed, so she took it back – she liked it a lot. The Triple Crown had beef, chicken, and shrimp in a bunch of vegetables and a brown gravy (you know I have to get in as much gravy as I can in 2008). It was perfect. I only had to pick out a couple of onions and I wolfed everything else down. Great food, despite not being “authentic.”
Staff were super helpful. I asked our waiter what a dish was on someone else’s plate and he told me without question. All of the food looked super good there, so I have no complaints about mine nor anyone else's. They also have a large vegetarian selection, and many dishes can be made vegan, if that’s your thing.
Top 5 things about Kinh-Do
1. Spring rolls
2. Triple Crown
3. Curry Shrimp
4. Super staff
5. Really large menu
Bottom 5 things
1. They love their onions
2. If you’re Asian, you won’t think it’s authentic. If you’re Caucasian, you won’t care
3. Word on the street is only one free refill on sodas – not confirmed
4. Not much parking
5. Small portion of rice with dinner, though the waiter did ask if he could bring more for us
You sit and they point to the pictures of burgers on the wall and ask “single, double, triple, or quadruple?” They only have cheese burgers in various sizes. The beef patties are half pounders and they are called bypasses – yes, as in quadruple bypass. They don’t have diet soda and Gerd got mocked for asking for it. They have coke (in bottles from mexico), sprite, beer, and shots of hard liquor.
I ordered a triple bypass and Gerd ordered a double bypass. We also got fries, which are deep fried in lard, are unlimited, and are sort of self-serve next to a nacho cheese pump. Gerd pushed down on the pump thingy and completely missed her fries, spraying cheese all over the bottom of the machine. Hilarious.
I picked up our sammiches and the guy told me “if you finish the triple, you get a ride from the waitress.” The burgers were enormous. Seriously, we had to get forks and knives to eat them. I wouldn’t have been able to fit it in my mouth. When I got back to our spot at the counter, the waitress said, “if you finish that, I’ll give you a dance and ride out to your car.” I was half tempted to leave just one tiny bite so it wouldn’t happen, but come on, I had to have the whole experience, right? Then she jumped up on the counter next to us while we were eating and started talking to us. Gerd later questioned how many OSHA regulations were violated by having nearly exposed stripper bits on our counter.
I destroyed my burger. I impressed myself a little bit. I also found out later that the burger alone was about 6000 calories (seriously), and that didn’t include all the cheese covered fries I ate. The burger was honestly delicious. I would have been impressed by the size, but the flavor was actually good too. Quality meat and very juicy, so not overcooked like a lot of burgers. I would go here again and maybe get a single or a double.
There are also pictures on the wall of people who have finished the quadruple bypass, listed with their time of completion. Now THAT is a serious burger. Apparently the record is 1:47. As in under TWO minutes. And he didn’t look like Kobiachi either. I would be impressed (and horrified) to see someone do that.
So when the waitress noticed I finished the whole thing, she clapped all stripper like and then began to look nervous. I didn’t mention the dance or the ride to the car, and neither did she. I started to get worried. Was it going to happen? Was it a hoax? Apparently, either she had some previous bad experience or was new enough to the routine that she blew me off. We were almost out the door when I stopped and said, “hey can I get my ride now?” (How many times have I said that?). She nervously said, “To your car?” “Yes, I thought if I finished my triple, then I got a ride.” (I didn’t bring up the aforementioned “dance.”) Again, she seemed nervous as she turned to her fellow waitresses and gave some sort of weird signal and whispered, “This guy wants a ride in the wheel chair.”
Clearly this was something that didn’t happen regularly, so I said, “hey look, if this isn’t something that usually happens, maybe I can just get a photo in the wheelchair.” This apparently eased whatever fear she had about Gerd and I tag teaming her out in the Jeep Commander. So Gerd and I got a photo in front of the menu. Gerd in front of the Double Bypass she ate, and me in front of the Triple Bypass I ate.
Then I got my photo in the wheel chair. Notice the cheese pump in the background and the SIGN that says I get a ride to my car if I finish the triple bypass
Here is the artwork in the bathroom. I almost didn't notice it, but it's hilarious.
We both left completely stuffed. It was a good decision to go here and not the healthier decision that was our backup. I would recommend this place not just for the experience, but for the actual food. It was really good.
Top 5 things about the Heart Attack Grill
1. Triple Bypass
2. Naughty Nurses
3. Unlimited fries cooked in lard covered in pump cheese
4. No diet soda
5. Naughty Nurses (how did that get on here twice?)
Bottom 5 things
1. Standard issue stripper perfume (from what I hear… er… smell…)
2. Conversational sitting on the counter next to you while you’re trying to eat
3. Bathroom was separated into stripper and non-stripper stalls
4. Gerd told me to put “no diet pop” – seriously?
5. Bald-faced lies about dancing and wheelchair rides out to the car for finishing a 6000 burger
Heart Attack Grill
We did a quick tour of Show Low for Gerd, so she could see it in the daylight. It was bigger than she thought it would be, but still wasn’t impressed enough to look through the real estate ads. The drive out of town to the west was much less winding, but was also more snow covered. Not dangerous, but still a lot of snow and ice on the road.
We got into Phoenix with about an hour to spare before we had to return the rental car and check in for our flight. We had three different restaurants Gerd had researched for us, but we could only do one of them. We picked the Heart Attack Grill.
I will do a separate review of the heart attack grill – there are soooo many things to talk about there, so it deserves its own entry (TWSS).
We left the Heart Attack Grill completely stuffed and headed to Phoenix International Sky Harbor Airport. The rental area is really well layed out with each rental company having it’s own corridor of cones and cement tunnels to follow. The guy met us outside the thrifty booth and since he had his computer thingy read our license plate number, he said, “Mr. Jansen, right?” (I changed Gerd’s last name to protect her privacy/integrity/whatever). I said “nope.” He had a bizarre accent and it sounded nothing like Gerd’s last name. Gerd shouted, “Yes, actually that IS us.” Apparently she’s had her commonplace name butchered enough times, she recognized it. The Thrifty guy looked at me funny and then opened my door for me to get out of his car (which he now thought was stolen, I’m sure).
We whipped through checkin, then we whipped through security, then we whipped through the concourse to our gate. We sat next to these people hawking credit card applications who were really pushy. Gerd was mocking them openly (and loudly, I might add) and steering people away from those people. It was actually pretty funny. She wanted to set up a competing booth and give away starbursts or something to keep those credit card people’s clutches off of unsuspecting travelers.
We eventually made it onto the plane and home to Minneapolis. While waiting for our luggage there was a guy doing the most hilarious stretching exercises in the baggage area. He was making these hilarious grandiose movements and we were cracking up. Then another guy (who was only there to pick up his wife - not actually sitting on the plane for 3 hours like the rest of us) stood near him and also started stretching. Apparently they were in the stretching zone of the baggage area. Again, hilarious. No problems getting our luggage or grabbing a taxi home. However, when we did get home, we had to shovel 4 inches of snow off of our sidewalks. Let’s see, the last 24 hours: 32 degrees in Show Low, 70 degrees in Phoenix, and then 18 degrees in Minneapolis. Serious fluctuations in temperature…
Great vacation, then back to work the following day… sigh…
Top 5 things about vacation day 8
1. Heart Attack Grill
2. Super fast airport experience
3. Rental car area of airport
4. Much less winding drive going west FROM Show Low
5. Stretching guys
Bottom 5 things
1. Vacation was over
2. No disc golf
3. Snow on the ground to shovel
4. Credit card folks at airport
5. D-bag on the plane next to Gerd
Friday, December 12, 2008
I drove back and picked up Gerd and hit the road for Show Low. But on the way out of town, Gerd suggested we stop at Brundog’s Zy-De-Que, a Cajun barbeque place we kept driving past that looked closed, but wasn’t. Seriously, it looked closed and partially under construction. Amazing BBQ at this place. We’ll be back for sure. If you drive past it, stop in, even if it looks like it’s closed. Awesome ribs, pulled pork, and brisket. I got something called the Sandwich of the Future. I had to order it because it came with gravy – and 2008 is the year of gravy (only in my book)(next year’s is even better). Awesome pork loin sammich with a peppery gravy on it.
Up into the winding mountains we went. We saw a sign saying there were daytime delays in Globe where we would have gone through to continue on to Show Low. We kept driving and saw another one, even bigger. We took the detour and headed into mining country. Superior and Miami are beat up mining towns. Seriously beat-ass mining towns. But the hillsides were multi-colored from the processed materials they spit out. Copper, Silver, and Gold mining country. Neat to see, despite the 45-minute detour. And now, Gerd and I are thinking of making it a point to visit every city in the country named Superior. Might be fun.
Got to Show Low right at dark, called the family and arranged for the dinner hookup – Did I mention there were 4 inches of snow? We dropped by my aunt and uncle’s house and met my other cousin there – I haven’t seen him in like 15 years. We got caught up and made introduction of Gerd and also their dogs. We headed to one of like 4 restaurants in the town (there’s probably more than that, but Show Low is a pretty small town). It was a Mexican restaurant with scarily few Mexicans working the floor. Licano’s Mexican food and steakhouse. We got great service and actually the food was pretty good (much better than most places in Minneapolis). I had a chimichanga and Gerd had an enchilada and a taco. Everything was great. We sat around and told stories. Then when we shut the place down (they close early up in those parts), we headed back to the relatives’ house to tell even more stories.
We got to see my aunt spoil her dogs by warming up their food in the microwave and then giving them half a million treats. Gerd was loving it (and probably thinking “see, I’m don’t spoil my dog THAT bad”). We had to leave because I was rather tired from all the driving. We headed back to our hotel room and realized I had forgotten to give my aunt all of the bags of randomness my cousin had me bring up from Tucson. I called my aunt and told her we were headed back. Classic Chao forgetfulness.
Once we got back to the hotel we decided to hit the hot tub (did we mention there were like 6 other cars in the parking lot when we got back?). Really nice hot tub and not at all creepy. We were the only ones for miles. We took a quick dip and headed back to the room to crash with the TV on. Ha ha. We were seriously beat.
Top 5 things
2. Got to see even more relatives around the holidays!
3. Hot tub wind-down
4. Licano’s Mexican food and steakhouse
5. Marana Rock Park disc golf course
Bottom 5 things
1. Detour through mining country
2. Windy cliff-face roads don’t get along with my extreme motion sickness, even when driving
3. Forgot the packages in my car and had to drive back
4. 4 inches of snow
5. It’s a pretty long drive to Show Low to begin with… from ANYWHERE
Marana Rock DGC
Thursday, December 11, 2008
We woke up too late to eat breakfast, so I avoided that bullet. Ha ha ha. I was also told I would not be playing disc golf, so she avoided a bullet herself. Well played, friend.
We headed to downtown Tucson to check it out. We heard the 4th Avenue area of downtown has some cool shopping and food places. We also heard it may not be as happening on a Monday as a lot of the places use that day as a day off of working. Most places were open though. It wasn’t a thriving metropolis of shopping, but it was interesting to walk around there. We already knew we were going to El Charro, so we were only walking around trying to get hungry for this lunch-time adventure.
Gerd found this place online and found about a billion reviews all saying it was the best. And they weren’t lying. El Charro claims to have invented the chimichanga and I won’t dispute it. It was amazing. Their claim to fame is some sort of beef which they dry on the roof of the building and then shred. It’s called Carne Seca, and you NEED to get this if you go there. Best chimichanga I’ve ever had. I also got a sampler kind of thing called Enchiladas Banderas and discovered the best shredded chicken enchilada I’ve ever eaten. This place is incredible. We had their special margaritas complete with a Grand Marnier float which were amazing. I apologize for the bluriness of the photos, but you should get the point.
We had heard about this steak place called McMahon’s while researching restaurants on line. Gerd likes to eat steak on her birthday, so we needed to find someplace classy for her. We overheard some random guy in El Charro talking to the waitress about McMahan's Steakhouse, so Gerd turns around and starts talking to him about it. Apparently, it was one of the VPs of the company that owns McMahon’s. Really nice guy. He even offered to make a reservation for us. We politely declined, but when Gerd mentioned it was her birthday, he bought her some birthday flan. It was also awesome and neither of us really like flan that much. We’re converted flan fans.
We drove to the Foothills Mall and checked things out there. We did some light window shopping and bought Gerd a couple of things. She had recently seen Twilight, but wanted to see it again, so we dropped in and caught a matinee. Great vampire film and it’s no wonder she wanted to see it a second time. I’d recommend it. We then drove to La Encantada – a really fancy mall. It was pretty classy. We didn’t buy anything there, except gelato, but it was fun to walk around. We were killing time until our reservation at 8pm at McMahon’s.
We tried to kill time by finding a minigolf place. However, this one was super scary and super closed forever. The internet says people loved the scary tackiness of it, but I was bummed it was closed.
We drove home to change into nicer clothes and then headed out to McMcahons. It was really classy. The waitress however told us that Rodney, the sommelier, would help us pick out a bottle of wine. However, she pronounced it like salmonelliay – as if he was some harbinger of disease. Hilarious. Rodney was awesome and very down to earth. We knew what we wanted, we just wanted him to decide for us. Besides, they had a 70+ page wine list - THAT's serious. Gerd had a Bone-In Filet Mignon and I had a full rack of lamb. Both were incredible. Super tasty and flavorful. The potato Gerd had was perfect as were the Scalloped potatoes I got. We got a nice Malbec to accompany dinner and thanked Rodney for his recommendation. The place was louder than a lot of restaurants we’ve been in but there were a lot of large groups there. We would both heartily recommend McMahon’s Prime Steakhouse.
We drove home to partake in some boat drinks with the cousin. Her boyfriend calls girly drinks boat drinks. I think girly drinks is a more descriptive term, but whatever. They’re both fruity and tasty. Gerd fell asleep before she finished hers, so the cousin and I made sure her drink got disposed of properly… heh heh heh.
Top 5 things
1. Best Mexican food ever – El Charro
2. My cousin had a birthday cake for Gerd
3. Got to see Twilight
4. Got some new Wii games
5. Awesome Malbec from Argentina
Bottom 5 things
2. Scary mini-golf place was closed
3. Gerd is another year closer to being old like Chao
4. No cool shirts in our sizes at El Charro
5. Downtown Tucson
On the way out to the car, we saw a McDonalds. Both Gerd and I love McDonalds breakfast, so even though we had just gotten road donuts, we swung through McDonalds for our Sausage and Egg McMuffins. We also noticed on their regular menu, they had ANGUS burgers, which looked amazing. Hey Mickey D’s, I don’t see that top notch stuff in Minneapolis! What gives?
Gerd needed to stop at In and Out Burger in Arizona, so we planned a stop in Yuma, AZ. I wasn’t impressed, but the concept is cool. The only thing they have is burgers, fries, cokes, and shakes. Gerd thought it was awesome though. Go Gerd.
We saw some dune buggies and four wheelers out in the desert sand dunes which was pretty sweet. But the nicest part about the Arizona stretch is that the speed limit is 75mph. Wurd.
We made a quick stop in Oro Valley on our way to Tucson. My friend from San Diego’s mother lives there and I hadn’t seen her in years. She’s the most wonderful lady. Seriously, I miss her a lot. Her new house is beautiful and I wish we could have stayed longer. But my cousin in Tucson had made us dinner. Next time.
We arrived at my cousin’s house, whom I haven’t seen in like 5 years, so after shoveling food into our maws, we sat around and got caught up with my cousin, her boyfriend, and her daughter. It’s so nice to get caught up with family you haven’t seen in a while. Especially when they’re as fun as my cousin is. She rules. All kinds of family crap talking, gossip, catching up, hilarious stories about who’s mom beat who more, etc. Awesome. We stayed up late, but since some people staying there had to work (aka NOT us), we hit the sack for a full day of Gerd’s birthday.
Top 5 things about vacation day 5
1. Bristol Farms
2. Seeing my cousin
3. Seeing my friend’s mom
4. Speed limit 75
5. Gerd says In and Out Burgers
Bottom 5 things
1. Seemingly endless drive including a time change
2. No angus burgers at McDonalds in Minnesota
3. Whole lot of nuthin in many places along this route
4. Periodic random border patrol stops along the way
5. Wished I could have spent more time with my friend’s mom
We hopped in the Commander and drove to some cross on a hill. I don’t remember what it was or what it stood for, but I knew mom would be happy we did it. Then we drove to some really cool and open public park with a view. People were barbequing and it smelled awesome.
Gerd and I then drove to Encinitas to my friend Jill’s house. I got Encinitas Mixed up with Escondido – not a smart move, dingleberry. On the way, Gerd and I had the continuation of the pee-wee golf challenge, this time at Pelly’s Mini-golf at the Del Mar Golf Center. It was supposed to be a super cool miniature golf course, but it ended up being kind of lame. Although, I did win by a LARGE margin after dropping a couple holes-in-one.
Jill’s got a LARGE American bulldog who drools and talks. He’ll make the most hilarious talking noises and we all kept laughing. Apparently Jill’s BF doesn’t like it when he talks, but we kept doing it anyway since it was funny. The dog is also allergic to everything – lamb, chicken, rice, skittles, small children. So he got a healthy dose of hamburger and carrots for dinner. Looked kind of tasty actually.
Jill is in a band, so we went to go see her practice in Oceanside. She plays in a warehouse behind a sports bar – the Tremont Street Grill, so we ate there. I had a Cajun burger and some Cajun fries and Gerd ended up with a salad of some sort. The food was pretty good for bar food, but I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to eat there. Gerd mentioned the bartender had a nice rack (I TOLD you I was putting that in here) – I of course didn’t notice (wink, wink).
We watched band practice for a couple of hours – they were working in a new drummer (who was hilarious). They played mostly covers and couple of originals. It was a long day and Gerd was falling asleep – as was Jill’s BF. The band is a great bunch of guys – just need a couple more practices under their belt before they hit the big time. The best part was they were older guys and they were drinking drinks that made MY drinks look manly. Like Mandarin Vodka and Raspberry Mike’s Lemonade. Ha ha ha.
We took the scenic route home on Pacific Coast Highway, even though it was dark. It was still a beautiful drive home. Quaint little beach towns and some neat shopping areas interspersed with areas with LOTS of money.
Top 5 things
2. I rule at mini golf
3. Pacific Coach Highway – even in the dark
4. Got to see Jill
5. Jill’s band’s drummer is hilarious
Bottom 5 things
1. Still the sand thing
2. Peewee golf place
3. Gerd’s Dew freakout
4. Didn’t get to eat breakfast on the water
5. Encinitas is not just a mispronunciation of Escondido
There were tons and tons of people out practicing the course for the tournament the following day (which we didn’t know anything about). It must have been a pretty large tournament since I saw like 5 TOP pro players out there I recognized. Val and Avery, Burl, and a couple of other who looked familiar (those of you who golf know who I’m talking about). I think it was their yearly team tournament they have out there for top players who qualify. I played about average for my current game, so I can’t complain. A couple of good shots, a couple of stupid shots, but mostly average shots.
We left the course, came home and showered, and then headed to El Indio for some awesome Mexican food. Gerd had done considerable food research before we left Minnesota, and this restaurant kept rising to the surface. You order at the counter and get a buzzer and go find your table. We got some chips which were fried (of course), but also had some sort of magic dust on them which was awesome. It almost seemed like a enchilada red sauce, but in powder form.
I got the Mortiditas, which are taquitos cut up for you and then layered with cheese. Unfortunately, it was pump nacho cheese, not real shredded cheese, but it was still good. I also got a carne asada burrito and a chicken taco. Gerd had a couple of carne asada enchiladas. Truly, this place was worth going to. It makes us want to spit on Minnesota Mexican food (figuratively, not literally).
We then headed to the lighthouse on the small strip of land between the bay and the ocean. It was beautiful out (a tad windy though). We checked out the light house and then went down to the cliff edge and walked near the tidepools. It was high tide, so we couldn’t see much in the way of ocean creatures, but it was still awesome.
While we were there, a group of people came to the edge of the rocks and I wasn’t paying attention to them. I looked over at them because my friend had a weird expression on her face when she saw them. I looked over at them just in time to see one of them dumping a REALLY large bag of ashes into the water – or more correctly, watch the ashes catch the breeze and go straight into my eyes!!! Gerd didn’t see any of it until we were walking back up the rocks and my eyes were watering. She thought I meant cigarette ashes in my eyes, but I told her, “No. It was pure Columbian Grandma in my eyes.” We were all cracking up at my inappropriateness. And my friend said, “I think it was more than just grandma – might have been a few cousins in that bag. My dad’s ashes were way smaller than that bag.” Again, we’re all going to hell.
We finished the night at a party thrown by my friend. She invited a ton of people including hanging flyers on every door in her apartment building. We had a blast. We went through 12 bottles of wine. Gerd fell asleep on the couch, but I stuck it out through the whole night, including through many hours of Jerry Garcia on the DVD player. Sigh… On a good note, I now have a ton of new wine I need to buy for our house!
Top 5 things
1. El Indio
2. Lighthouse point and tidepools
3. Pinotage and Malbec wines
4. Party in my honor
5. Got to play with nationally ranked disc golfers (and didn’t embarrass myself)
Bottom 5 things
1. Jerry Garcia
2. Grandma’s ashes in my eye
3. Morley Field
4. Gerd crashed early, like a pansy
5. Explaining to people that there are famous disc golfers
Friday, December 5, 2008
We wanted to check out the beach, so we took the dog to the dog beach. Apparently, dogs aren’t allowed on most beaches, so there’s a designated one. It ruled. There were tons of dog splaying fetch and playing in the ocean and sniffing each others’ butts and digging in the sand. Super awesome environment if you’ve got a dog in San Diego.
Our friend wanted to show us the sunset cliffs which we were glad we saw. Sheer cliffs with multi-million dollar houses on the other side of the street. It was really a classy place. The cliffs were super cool and because it was high tide, there were places completely covered in water which usually aren’t and there were surfers all over the place hopping off the cliffs into the water to go out and find waves. Really cool.
Then the dog fell asleep with his head against the back seat. This guy can fall asleep anywhere - as demonstrated here:
We headed back home after a tour of the neighborhoods. Really quaint area and really classy in most spots. We got home, got a tour of the apartment pool, garage, and Jacuzzi, grabbed a change of clothes and headed to the zoo – after we found lunch.
We stopped by a Der Weinerschnitzel. We used to have one back in Illinois where I’m from and a lot of my friends still talk about it regularly. It’s basically a hot dog/corn dog/chili-cheese-fry joint, but it always had awesome and weird combinations. I ended up with a pastrami cheese dog and chili-cheese fries, and Gerd got a corn dog, a bacon-cheese dog, and a root beer float. Great food, and the photos I sent back to my friends angered them sufficiently.
We hit the zoo and had a blast of a day. I won’t even get into some of the awesome animals we saw, bu we saw everything. All of the zoo staff were friendly and patient and helpful. We saw some animals we were familiar with (pandas, tigers, giraffes, monkeys) and some that we are now fans of (Fossas, Dik Diks, and Okapis). Cool tour bus ride around the park, cool animal shows, and habitats made for the perfect day. Gerd had some of the most hilarious lines. I’ll put one of the cleaner ones (and even that one isn’t that clean): Something about not being able to lactate Rum (although that would make for an awesome pirate adult film).
We headed home to meet the friends and to grab some dinner. They met us at the door with glasses of wine, which is how every trip away from someone’s house should result. They recommended a fantastic wine bar which sounded great to us. We walked what they assured me was within walking distance, but ended up being multiple miles. And they walk REALLY fast. After a hard day of walking at the zoo, we were moving much slower. They would stop and let us catch up occasionally, but since we had multiple miles to walk, we had plenty of chances to do so.
The wine bar was awesome. 3rd Street Corner is a great place to both grab some food and some great wine. They let me pick out a bottle from the cellar and I got great kudos for picking out a nice white wine from Santa Barbara. Not too sweet and not to dry. Everyone seemed pleased. We got some olives and a really nice fancy artisan cheese plate. Gerd got a nice Mahi Mahi and I got a roasted chicken pasta. Gerd’s Mahi tasted great and was on a bed of awesome vegetables. Gerd was torn between that and the NY Strip, but being this close to the coast, she went with the better option. Well played, lady. The chicken pasta was really good – not the best I’ve had, but really good nonetheless. And yes, thanks for asking, it DID have bacon in it! I would get it again. Actually, I’d get something different and go back to the chicken pasta eventually. We finished with some dessert and cognac, which was a great finish to dinner.
We headed home to drink another bottle or two of wine and watched some tv before hitting the sack. Now THAT was a vacation day to remember. Perfect day.
Top 5 things about vacation day 2
2. Lots of wine
3. Dog beach
4. Sunset Cliffs
5. Der Weinerschnitzel (aka angering friends)
Bottom 5 things
1. Wish I was rich enough to own a home on Sunset Cliffs
2. Miles of walking after miles of walking
3. We totally shut down the zoo – last ones there. Bummer.
4. Only got to see the panda for like 60 seconds
5. Shower handle issue
Well, mostly. When we showed up at the gate, there weren't any airport staff to meet us at the SD airport. The pilots got on the PA and said we’re here on time, but no one is here. Literally, we waited like 10 minutes for someone to show up on the skyway. It took three people to figure out how to move the thing. Apparently they were all new or “it wasn’t their job.” In fact, when they did, they didn’t know how to stop it once started and it rammed the side of the plane. Classic.
We hopped on the rental car shuttle. As Gerd is getting on the shuttle, the driver yells at her, "Break it down! Break it down! Break it down!" I turned around to see if she was egging on some of Gerd's famous dance moves, but apparently, Gerd was getting the riot act for not putting her handle on her rolling luggage down before getting on the shuttle. Chill out lady shuttle driver!
We grabbed a rental car from Thirty and they didn’t have a compact (the cheapest) available that we could drop off in Phoenix on the 10th. So we ended up with a Jeep Commander for the week. Awesome!!! It took us a while at the rental place due to some computer glitches and then issues with me trying to find the window button and then the door handle when we went to check out. But it was dark, right?
We used the GPS feature on my new Blackberry Storm to find our friends house. I hadn’t met my friend’s new husband, but we missed their wedding in August, so this was part of why we planned the trip in the first place – guilt. We made it to the house and met the new husband. Great guy. I would have liked him no matter what since he married my friend, but I actually really like the guy. We talked and got caught up and played with the dog – in general a fantastic start to the vacation.
We stayed up way too late talking and drinking wine, but it was a good thing, since I’m a bad sleeper anyway. We had a full day planned for Thursday, so we needed our beauty sleep.
Top 5 things about vacation day 1
1. No work!
2. Jeep Commander at a compact car price
3. GPS finding our way for us
4. Wine at the end of vacation day 1
5. My friends RULE!
Bottom 5 things
1. Super hot flight
2. Long delay at rental car place
3. My ineptitude of opening windows or doors of vehicles
4. Airport workers ineptitude at driving a skyway
5. Time changes make us sleepy at odd times
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I knew straight off from scoping out other people’s food I had to get some American fries. I ordered a scramble of American fries, eggs, cheese, and ham. It was fairly basic but REALLY good. It was served with toast with the smallest amount of butter possible. Maybe the toast butterer was having a bad day. I, of course, located additional butter and remedied the situation. Chao ordered one of the specials consisting of two pork chops, eggs, American fries and toast. His pork (ha ha ha) was a tiny bit spicy and really good. He was picking something green out of his fries, maybe chives? Other than that his breakfast was really good as well.
This place is affordable and the food is excellent. We will most likely return - after the rest of our list is complete, of course. There is another location of this restaurant in Brooklyn Park.
1.American fries were fantastic.
2.Lots of cheese in the scramble thing.
3.Pork chops were super good.
5.The staff was super friendly and our waitress was awesome.
1.Little to no butter on toast.
2.Whatever green things Chao was picking out of his taters.
3.Décor could be snazzier but I am not complaining.
4.Not a lot of room when waiting for your table.
5.Location is a bit out of the way for us.
Monday, December 1, 2008
The place is decorated really nicely. The tables are seemingly hand painted then lacquered, so they all had a unique feel to them. The walls are painted like large stones and had big pillars in the doorways so it could easily be converted into a sort of greek restaurant if they needed to. We got seated right behind this guy with a hilariously terrible mullet in a pony tail. It was like a train wreck – I couldn’t look away.
The staff were super nice and helpful and we decided to eat light so we didn’t fall asleep on the rest of the drive back home. We got a cheese crisp and a chimichanga. The cheese crisp was really big and had multiple kinds of cheeses on it. It was one of the best we’ve ever had (also they don’t have cheese crisps in the Twin Cities – weird). The chimichanga was filled with shredded beef which was cooked in some awesome sauce. REALLY flavorful and one of the better shredded beef concoctions I’ve had. The beans and rice were fairly standard, but were good.
We would eat here again, fo sure. The menu was really large and had some good combinations on it. And since know they have Dew, it’s moved up the ladder of restaurants in Waterloo.
Top 5 things about Chapala
1. Cheese crisp
2. Shredded beef
4. Staff were awesome
5. Large menu
Bottom 5 things
1. Lots of poorly dressed (and hairstyled) gringos
2. Salsa had a weird flavor (not bad but weird)
3. Girly drink menu was limited
4. Guacamole had a lot of onions
5. The restroom was oddly poltergeist-like, tall and skinny and bigger than it needed to be
We intended to hang out with the Giants the previous evening and then go home and make our food for reheating the next morning. Instead, we got involved in an epic battle of Rockband for the Wii for multiple hours and got home closer to 11pm. This was also when I found out we had to be back at the Giant’s house at 11am. Not sure why I was thinking in the 5pm range, but apparently that was faulty thinking on my part.
So at the crack of dawn, we set out making the cheesey potatoes (double batch as requested by Trash) and corn casserole for the lunch-ish thanksgiving meal. Actually, I slept until about 9, and then made my corn casserole – ha ha ha. Our kitchen now looks like something with batter innards blew up in it, but whatever, we made brilliant cheese-infused food for many people to enjoy.
Before lunch/dinner, I kept mis-hearing the word "corn" and hearing "porn" instead. Subsequently, I was required to run interference with M. Edium in the den. We colored space shuttles (I haven’t colored in over 25 years), and then cut them out (my cutting skills still rule – it’s like riding a bike). Then we built launch pads for said rockets out of blocks. Then we built a wall to the den, which Bitter’s boyfriend knocked over like Godzilla, much to M. Edium’s chagrin. Who knew kids that young even had chagrin?!
Eventually, we had a great time eating copious amounts of food, including an awesome turkey made by a recently-converted former-vegetarian. We all sat around the table, except for trash who sat by herself (apparently on time-out) at the bar/island. It was an awesome time. Everyone spoke plain English (a rarity when your family comes from Alabama like mine), only one roll was thrown (nice shot, Bitter), and I didn’t take my pants off because I ate too much – all in all, a winner of a holiday for everyone.
We then retired to the basement for some follow-up Wii action. A LOT of Wii action, including Rockband, and two pointless games – Cooking Mama and Order Up. Both cooking games. Both steeped in moronitude. Then when Bitter’s boyfriend returned we watched Noah’s Ark with John Voight. It’s the worst movie ever made, and Trash forces MANY people to watch it. (So you know, the writers of the movie took “poetic license” with the Bible – clearly, they’ll burn in some sort of fabricated CGI Hell for so many reasons.) Gerd hadn’t seen it, so she sulked through the entire thing. We tried to make it enjoyable for her, but she wasn’t having it.
We ended up going home quite late which kind of bit since we had to work the next day. But alas, we survived and came home with hilarious stories.
Top 5 things about Orphan Thanksgiving
1. Best hosts and friends EVER
2. Watching Trash’s face when she touched turkey (she’s a vegetarian)
3. First Thanksgiving in 30 years I wasn’t forced to watch football
4. First Thanksgiving in 15 years I wasn’t required to be at multiple houses and eat full meals at each one
5. Hearing people wax poetic about their usual distaste for southern Californian wine but sudden change of heart
Bottom 5 things
1. I did miss my family, and I KNOW Gerd did as well
2. There wasn’t a “bad kids” table – where I usually sit
3. The Halloween candy bucket was severely depleted…
4. Bitter had to go to work that afternoon, so she had to leave early
5. Ate too much, as usual
2 hot dogs, a brat, random chips, nachos, and 2 sodas later, we were in our seats chowing down. We were in the 4th row from the back in the uppermost deck of the dome. Even though we were up fairly high, we could see the field pretty well. We watched all of the pregame stuff including the Vikings entrance through an inflatable Viking ship which was funny to watch.
I won't talk much about the game because I am reviewing the experience of being at the game rather than revisiting the unpleasantness of losing. We had several Bears fans in our section and on the rare occasions when we did do something well, it was fun to be cheering alongside fellow fans. There were Bears fans in front of us, and I had my Bears sweatshirt on so I think they identified us both as Bears fans. One of the guys in the group turned around in excitement and prepared to high-five Chao, but Chao, not rooting for a specific team, and wearing a nondescript metal hoodie, and hating high-fives, glared at him to shoot down the upcoming display of camaraderie. On the couple of occasions the Bears did score, choruses of the Bears fight song could be heard throughout the dome. All sung by those who know the words of course. The Vikings had their fight song too, which included the word "skol." We didn't know what this meant so I hopped on my new Blackberry and read all about the fight song from Wikipedia. Skol is like a toast, and the song was written in 1961. We would have guessed 1891 though as it sounds VERY old.
A serious highlight of the game for us was one of the beer vendors in our section. He was the best game vendor of all time. He greeted fans with unique salutations such as, "Does anyone else need a beer besides me?" and "Who else is drinking tonight?" and our personal favorite, "Overpriced beer here!" He was also handing cards to random people purchasing beer. Chao said they were his business card so I don't know what that was all about, but I was intrigued.
There were several points during the game when Chao caught me in a state of confusion about something the cheerleaders were doing. There were some off on their own doing a different dance at times as if they were their own renegade cheerleading faction. One of their big dances between quarters was a girl-singer cover of Sharp Dressed Man originally by ZZ Top and the mascot had changed into a tux and danced with them. I couldn't figure out how this related to football, or getting the crowd excited. It just weirded me out.
Best overheard fan comment of the night was a guy singing, "Save a horse, ride a Bears fan." SOO pathetic yet it made me giggle.
1. Getting to cheer for the Bears when they aren't the home team is really fun.
2. Best beer vendor of all time.
3. Lots of other Bear fans.
4. Game hot dogs (Wrigley's are better though...)!
5. After the game the song, "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace played over the speakers and even though it was meant to rub in the loss, I love that song so I got to sing along as we left.
1. The Bears lost.
2. I couldn't hear what any of the penalties were for and was confused several times.
3. Every time the Vikings did something well, the "Vikings horn" sounds and that was annoying. I could understand if it went off after scoring, but even first downs would require the horn.
4. The large scoreboard would sometimes go away so random families and large groups could be thanked for coming in that space. I would look over there if I forgot what down it was and get super pissed off because we were all welcoming the fricking Jacobs Family which is NOT as important as knowing if it was the 2nd or 3rd down. Seriously! Send them a damn thank you card!
5. Hot dogs and brats come with a bag of chips and this is the only way they are offered. Unless you get the cheap hot dog which is half the size of the bun. Also, I had to drink out of a Vikings cup. Next time I will bring a Bears cup from home or a cover to hide the Vikings crap.