28 August 2009

Airplane food: Northwest Airlines

When I fly from home, I usually take some spam musubis with me so I can last the flight. On this occasion, however, I didn't have that opportunity and ended up buying some food on the plane. I was very wary since the prices are so high, but some of it turned out to be pretty good.

First, I bought the fruit and yogurt, which I think was $3. I think they advertised it as Greek yogurt and it was definitely better than the stuff I usually get at the grocery store. The problem was the fruits though--blueberries and strawberries. I think the blueberries were fresh, the strawberries may have been frozen, and there was juice in the cup that did not look very appetizing. In addition, I didn't find this very filling.

Ended up buying the fruit and cheese plate a few hours later. (This was a Seattle to Honolulu flight.) I was really happy with this item. It was about $6, I think. It came with three kinds of cheese. One was on the softer side, about the consistency of brie. The next, a little harder, was smoky. And the third was hard enough that it would crumble. It had veins in it and tasted like a Thanksgiving herb--maybe sage or thyme. Each piece was about 1-1.5" squared. I looked at it and knew it would be filling. The plate also came with a few pecans, a small bunch of grapes, a couple of dried apricots, and two kinds of crackers. It was heaven--for airplane food.

The photos show something similar to the fruit and cheese plate I had.

20 August 2009

Rosepepper in Nashville

We had planned to go to the Family Wash, which, from what I gather is a hip ex-laundromat that specializes in Shepherd's pie--with the vegetarian version even better than the meat. Unfortunately, they were closed on Monday. :(

So we ended up at the nearby Rosepepper instead. One friend had previously been unimpressed with it so we were nervous. It turned out to be a good place to hang out and for my friend Stacey to catch up with her old friends. The restaurant was not busy (although we couldn't get an outdoor table) and we were able to hang out after we finished eating. First, drinks: margaritas and mojitos were strong! The mojito was a bit on the sweet side, but I guess that's typical. Chips and salsa were complimentary and the three salsas were great. I liked the hotter red one best and was a fan of the green one as well.

For appetizers, we had a cheese dip and avocado fries. The avocado was like tempura--it was a little strange, but the dipping sauce was good. As strange as it was, I kept eating it anyway. The cheese dip was also good.

I ordered tamales which were not good. I haven't had many tamales but I think the meal for this one was over processed or something; it was almost clay-like. For what it's worth, I did prefer the pork tamale to the chicken; the chicken was too dry and the pork had more flavor. Stacey had some kind of sizzling steak thing--she didn't love her dish either. Our other friend won--he got enchiladas with chile verde and a fried egg on it. I didn't try it but apparently it had a nice heat and he and Stacey really liked it.

P.M. in Nashville

We had a late-night dinner at P.M. It seemed like that was one of its strengths--that it stayed open late. Another plus was the outdoor seating. It reminded me of being in Thailand. Is outdoor seating a tourist thing?

Anyway, I guess they are an Asian fusion restaurant. I really enjoyed the lettuce wraps. Also liked the summer rolls; to be honest, I've had better, but this is Tennessee, after all. The P.M. roll, which had peanut sauce, was also okay. I really really did not like the raw fish here. I suppose I should've known better. One of my friends also ordered the fried rice; based on the one bite I had, I was not impressed. I really hope my friends get to visit me in Hawai'i. I'd love to take them to have Vietnamese food and sushi in Hawai'i.

Tennessee Coffee Adventures

Cornersville: A town without espresso
Spent a few days in my friend's hometown of Cornersville, Tennessee--where there is no espresso. Seriously, no Starbucks. Based on that, I've concluded that Cornersville is smaller than Kamuela, Hawai'i. Over the past few days, I've learned that I can drink weak coffee (Biggby's and Sparty's in East Lansing and old-school drip I guess) black. When I put soy, it gets that soy taste so fast. Anyways, this is a handy discovery--especially for those times when soy is not available.

Daily Starbucks runs

After Cornersville, we spent several nights with another friend's parents in Murfreesboro. These are like those kind of parents that keep up with current music. They also make Starbucks runs every morning--and not for the cheap stuff either. On the plus side, they've gotten to know the emmployees and will sometimes get their drinks comp'd. It happened once when we were there--between the five of us, almost $20 worth of free drinks!

I was also persuaded to try an iced mocha since that was the drink of choice of my friend and his mom. I learned/remembered that soy is much better in iced than hot drinks. And the mocha was not as sweet as I'd thought/remembered. Still got to be a little too much for me about half way through the tall. Maybe try one less pump next time.

Also learned that requesting a "teeny tiny splash of soy" for my Americanos gets me what I want.

Bongo Java and Fido in Nashville

Given the parental preference for (and treating to) Starbucks, I wondered whether there were other great places for espresso in Tennessee. We did also visit Bongo Java and Fido, which are related. They had some specialty drinks with cute names and their Americano was nice and strong also.

17 August 2009

Cracker Barrel

There are Cracker Barrels in Michigan but the first thing I heard about it was that it was the favorite restaurant of a friend's husband who I thought had awful taste. We ended up eating here on the drive to Tennessee. I think the Southern expatriates I was with saw it as my initiation or something.

Anyway, I loved it. I love the side dishes in Southern food. I had meatloaf with fried okra and hash brown casserole. The meatloaf was meh. It was okay, but very ketchup-y. It was the least favorite thing I had. The fried okra was awesome. The hash brown casserole was great but I might try mac and cheese next time cuz I'm a huge mac and cheese fan. I also wanted to try the greens.

I also got to try both the biscuits and cornbread. I think I prefer the biscuits just because you can eat them with jam and I liked having a bit of sweet fruitiness with that meal.

10 August 2009

Cold Peanut Noodles at Udon Sushi Bakery in East Lansing, MI

I've been here many times. It's the best udon in East Lansing which is really not saying much. Really, the udon is not that great, but if you can't get to Ajishin, it'll do. As it's summer though, I tried one of their cold dishes, the Cold Peanut Noodles. It was so awesome. Perhaps it's that I've never had cold peanut noodles before, but the sauce was awesome and the extras (cucumber, chicken, aburage) were perfect. I liked the cucumber cuz veggies are always good and the rest for protein. There was shrimp too but I picked it out. The shrimp at this place is small and really a waste of time. I guess I'm not that big of a fan of shrimp anyway. They also had two other cold noodle dishes; I think one was udon and one was soba.

Golden Harvest in Lansing, MI

I'd heard many stories about Golden Harvest but never had the chance to go until now. Apparently, a local coffee shop, Gone Wired bills itself online as "Proudly serving the second best breakfast in Lansing" because everyone knows Golden Harvest is the best.

Pre-eating: We knew we'd have to wait. Got there at about 11 am on a Saturday. The chairs outside were full and there were others sitting on the curb as well. My friend Stacey said it was the most crowded she'd ever seen it. Still yet, I think we waited less than an hour. I know there were times when we thought we wouldn't make it, but we held on!

Also, people went in and out grabbing coffee and other drinks while they waited. So apparently that is acceptable.

The other funny thing is that the waiting line is all honor system. I was all like, "Why don't they have a list?" But apparently you just have to pay attention and know when it is your turn. And the system worked while we were there.

Eating: It's pretty crowded inside. There are a several tables (mostly four-tops I think) and a bar. Between Stacey and I, we shared the omelette special with basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella with potatoes and two blueberry pancakes. The omelette was so amazing. There were red, yellow, and purple tomatoes. I've never had yellow and purple tomatoes before. It was just heavenly. The basil was fresh and the potatoes were also awesome. I love omelettes but toward the end, as I get full, they are always too eggy for me. I really liked the nice, fresh tomatoes and basil in this one to balance that heavy egg and cheese though.

The pancakes were magical. They were the fluffiest pancakes I've ever had and had a nice texture--almost like a crust--too. And a nice amount of salt. These pancakes were so fat that the blueberries were whole and solid inside rather than smashed. I ate it without syrup. Seriously. Just ate them plain. Pancakes are usually not my favorite thing, but this one was something else. Stacey suspects that their pancake and biscuit batter are the same.

Of course we ordered too much food. We each took home about half a pancake. It made a great snack later in the day--even cold.

More about atmosphere: Also, they played M.I.A. while they were there. What restaurant ever plays M.I.A? And about 3-4 employees asked Stacey about her tattoo.