273 Kitchen, take 1

During the week we sometimes just want to be outside of the home, and do less dishes. 🙂  So usually once a week we go out to any place we fancy, within reason. We got a Groupon and it was for Mediterranean Food.

We had our mind set or some good Mediterranean food. For some reason we were not  foodies that night.  We for the life of us could not find anything we wanted-I guess since we had eaten out and had parties etc, we were looking for something unique or probably just tired of eating but wanted to go through the motions..They had burgers and fish and chips on the menu as well. I was not impressed by that.  The Mediterranean part of the meal we had was the appetizer which had dips including roasted eggplants( baba ganoush), Tzatziki, avocado dip (aka guacamole) and some others. So there were only two people there that night. They did not announce anything special and we opted for the burger and fish and chips. Inside I died with quiet laughter when they bought in out. Jeez, what happened to curb appeal! What happened to being original. 1/2 …. on bread with burger and some creamy sauce and they could not find a way to make that Mediterranean. Some fries strewn about, what a mess!! The fish and chips-rolled fish with two giant (maybe hand made) tater tots, who is cooking here-a bunch of teens. I never pretended to be a better cook because I went to culinary school, eat out a few times a month and throw my own parties BUT I think I could have done a better with my “simple” skills.

So in retrospect, I cannot bust this place wholly for being devoid of food, as we truly did not even try anything that was remotely Med Food on the menu so in order to give a true review I need to revisit.  yup–our bad! However, what we did have was sad on taste and presentation levels. So until next time.

 

 

 

 

ChaiMaMa’s Noodles House, Queens NY

I liked the place  immediately because of the wooden furniture and walls (bright colored wood).  I am not about wood cabins but just this nice clean soft and bright wood.  There was a lot of sun beaming into the restaurant that day but it was shaded.  The restaurant was simple but clean.  I would say it could hold about 12-16 people.  They used real utensils–metal chopsticks.  At the end you were to clean up after yourself as they have a station, which they point out, for storing the dishes.

I had soup with noodles and then on the side, fried pork chops.  Yum but the chops were rather salty.  I was drinking up the soup to neutralize the salt.  I mentioned to the owner and he said that it was meant to be like that.   I mean the soup was rather bland.  He was nice about it and did not try to stop me from commenting as he asked several times how I thought the meal was.

Would I go back probably–I might choose a different dish but if I am in the mood for salty I could get the dish again.  It was not so bad just a little too salty.

 

Bazin Family Owned Restaurant VA

So recently I visited a friend  in Northern Virginia and and we visited a place called Bazin on Church for a late brunch.  We arrived around 2 ish so we were at the tail end.  There were only about 4 other people and then another person came in while we were there but for drinks.

What I observed:

nice sized plates, nice atmosphere, bar when walk in, step up–was remembering if handicapped accessible-not sure, sizable drinks

Food

Like the appearance of two plates, the third (french toast a little messy)

comfort food for me for breakfast

We had:

Chicken & Waffles
buttermilk fried chicken breast,

Bananas Foster French Toast
maple syrup, smoked bacon

Mustard Seed Crusted
Salmon Salad
romaine lettuce, chickpeas, green beans,
carrots, ginger-mustard vinaigrette

-chicken had a little bit of a kick, was a little addictive actually along with the syrup (sweet and salt combination)

-the plates were already filled with syrup (one less thing to do)

-french toasted coated in panko and served with friend sweet plantains

-salmon over a salad that had chickpeas and maybe chopped up tiny olives and red peppersIMG_5046

Good Host–asked if we needed anything.  Also the prices were decent.  We would return.  Parking is underneath the building and a few choice spots in the back.  Hummers need not apply downstairs or in the back.

Overall I give an 8 on my 1-10 scale.

China Hotel Stories

Oh so where do I start!!!!💆🏾‍♀️

We stayed in Beijing at the Ramada hotel. It was about an hour by train outside of Beijing.   The hotel was older but a normal comfort level.  It had  floor to ceiling windows and then it had a lounge chair and foot stool as well as above chair and desk large tv, and a fridge.  It had a bathroom with a tub and a shower, and marble fixtures.  So I do not care what people say, it is still a step up in terms of materials from what I have at home.  We liked the breakfast and it was varied. There were people (hotel staff) making omlettes and noodles as well a regular Chinese foods.

Not far from the hotel was a street of local food.  Most people did not venture that way but we did.  It even had a tradtional alley where people were selling meat, fresh made bread, pastry snacks and fruits and veggies.  The place we decided to eat had the pictures on the walls so it was really point and click for us.  We did want to know the ingredients inside so we played on our phones translating details.  We have come a long way since I first travelled to China.  Now we can somewhat understand each other in certain situations.

Hotel 2 was in Suzhou.  We flew from the airport in Beijing and went south to Suzhou at some late hour.  We arrived and then jumped on a bus for about an hour to drive and arrived at a Holiday Inn Express .  It was a smaller room but modern in a hipster kind of way so like a college kid who thinks his decoration is cool.  The room again had floor to ceiling windows.  There were  bedroom slippers (I wondered how many of those get thrown away every day. ) So it was pretty late and we all showed and just jumped into the kind sized bed. I must however note the following things. There were tons of accessories in the bathroom-combs, ear cleaners, brushes, sanitary bags and the normal soap, shampoo, and conditioner.  I grabbed everything from the room.  Oh, the bathroom wall was made of glass bricks,  so partially visible to the bedroom but no worries, you could not see through them. It was all asthetics.  I just wondered what happened if there was a leak.  Also a cool thing was that the bathroom door also doubled as the shower door.  Either you were peeing and had privacy that way or you were in the shower and someone else could be at the sink. The room was all brick and unfinished concrete.  It was cold but modern (in a different way than the room.)

The breakfast here was negligible.  There  was cereal, some bread, some meat and some fruit.  There were maybe dumplings  and sausage but that was it.  We ate up but were not amused.

The next hotel we stayed at was in Wuxi at the Days Hotel Baile Wuxi. It was a regular hotel room with a decent sized bed and a little bit more trimmings on the bed linens.  The bathroom was small but all the space was used well.  The closets had glass.  I think I remember almost leaving my and my kids jacket in the closet. I came back to the room while waiting for my ride.

Next was the Liang’an International Hotel.  So this hotel had a mall downstairs. I did not get to walk around as my kid was asleep and I volunteered to stay inside while my husband went out for food.  We had a great view as it was like the 20th floor.  However there were cigarette buts in the carpet and the bathroom was like a dancing pulpit and it was floor to ceiling glass.  There was a curtain that could be opened for privacy.  Yay.  The bathroom was tight with the door opening in such a way that no one else could be in that area.  Also there was some unused space and the space in general was ill placed.   The food here was on the 27th folor and there was tons of variety.

The food cafeteria wrapped around the top of the building.  You could get a seat along the window.  Unfortunately it was too early and foggy for us that morning to see anything.  There were lots of pastries and waffles and the like, so we ate our bellies full.

The next hotel we stayed at was the Lian’gan International Hotel.  It was a small hotel and the breaskfast room was downstairs.  We ate  in a cafe of sorts and there were lounge chairs.  There was a small but decent selection.  I think we grabbed a tad much so we threw  out some stuff.  We ate quickly as we were to be on our way soon to drive for most of the day.

The last hotel was the Venus International Hotel Shanghai Wild Animal Park.  So this one was a smaller room and barely any room for our bags.  I made use  of the cabinets for my book bag.  Our room was right across from another room.  No joke–open the curtain and you could see the other people in their bed.  Yeah that flipping close.  So we closed the curtains.  The bathroom was no frills but had a shower, toilet and sink.  It was okay and though tight, did not have an ick feeling.  We were to be there two nights.  In the morning we were getting ready and guess what–the fuse blew so it got dark immediately and I opened the curtains, and got the cell phone lights on.  I was like, really, really.  So we called down to the front  desk and using a translation program tried to communicate that our electricity was gone and that we needed someone to come and fix it now.  That took a while so we went to breakfast and in the mean time,  my husband dealt with them and eventually they gave another room.  He had to move everything.  Luckily we are not used to spreading out.  We never unpack and we only take out what we need and store the rest.

The breakfast here was non existent almost beyond negligible.  There was only some bread, some dumplings and fried bread and I cannot even remember–maybe cereal.  That night for dinner we brought home pizza.  So the following morning we ate cold pizzza.  That was infinitely better than the stuff they were serving for breakfast downstairs.

 

hotel adventures

food shortages

fun times

When can we do it again!!!

 

 

 

 

Fish Cheeks–New York, NY

So I am writing way after the fact.  We went to this Thai place not far from NYU housing on the East Side.  It was in a narrow place with bright colors and a somewhat open kitchen.  (aside–I saw an open kitchen concept in Lisbon and it actually was nice up against wooden planks.  The back wall opened so you could view all the kitchen staff working.  It was a sleek aluminum wall and I could not remember if the opening was used as a pass through though.  It was a nice touch.)

We ordered a few dishes, (a large fish included) though I was almost nervous when they said small dishes.  In the end it was enough and it kept room for dessert.  There was a lot of coconut milk, spice, curry, and fish.  It was a good time.  So it was 7 of us and it was a family meal.

We will need to visit again.  Since our other find Pok Pok is Brooklyn is now closed we only have one Thai on the roster.

 

Until then, have a spicy time filled with coconut milk dreams!!

 

Twirl Crepe -White Plains, NY

I recently visited Twirl Crepe with an old colleague of mine.

It seems like it could be fun and I think that they can make it something really good.   It is on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains, NY.  It is reminiscent of Japanese food stores which have the plastic mock up of the offerings in the window.  So they managed to show 15 molds.

My friend had the Chicken Teriyaki.  I had the Thai Chicken w/ wasabi on the side.  They also had an orange sauce which in the end, I did not like as well as my daughter who refused to eat.  I also bought a banana and strawberry crepe for my daughter.  She ended up eating half and my husband ate the balance later.

So my Thai crepe was crunchy, had lettuce and was somewhat tasty but was not my favorite.  The Strawberry/banana crepe was great.  I think I will do that again or try anther one.  I accidentally ordered the regular instead of the mini.  So my total cost was 16 bucks.  I am a low budget person so I was hurting on the inside.

 

 

Look of place–

dark maroon interior (what is it with these dark colors for everything-dark wall, ceiling and tables (kind of old school))

 

There is seating for about 20 or so and there is an extremely small counter which they serve, take money and try to sell POS items.  It is an open kitchen and there are about 5 or 6 people working there-small space as well.  I mean it could be great hang out place and the food can be taken with you.  Walk while you eat! I dare not say drive while you eat, but it can be eaten by passengers in the car like a sandwich.  The bags are fun and make sense for food transport.  I will have to take my hubby there next time.

It is fun for a group of people, not too old, but people looking for something light on the run.  Lets see how long its lasts!!

 

I like it even though it felt dark and was not crowded.

Halstead Ave Taqueria

Laughter in our heads is what happened a few weeks ago.  So my husband asked for Mexican food. We yelped one in Harrison, NY while on the highway.  We only saw a few pictures and saw the many reviews.  They seemed positive and well it had many reviews.

We almost missed it. We got there and it was a parlor if you have traveled to developing countries and some developed who run things the old school way you know what a parlor is), with some 20 somethings working the counter.  They were not Mexican.  The kitchen workers were all Latin-yeah.

So we ordered and on two occasions they messed up.  Our food was very gentrified Mexican food-small portions and slightly deconstructed.  I had the special-cheese flautas.  They came in a small bowl.  It looked petite .  My husbands taco combo with guacamole and salsa looked a little shy. I got my daughter an asado taco which she ate like an animal-with her hand the shell then picked at the meat.

 

My husband kept eyeing a watermelon cooler.  He got a a ball jar full of juice.  They gave us the jar to go home with-lol.  Really guys!   I told my husband that I would have taken the jar money in food.  It was at least 50 cents and at most 1 dollar.  I told him that they might have gotten a good deal on the glass and had way too much so they just decided to give them away.

We concluded that this was an upscale super casual Mexican joint with decent food if you have not really dabbled in Mexican food made by Mexicans in a place where Mexicans eat. We cannot totally bust it as it was pleasant enough. Needless to say we kind of felt cheated and a little hungry.  So we had gelato later and I made homemade brownies.

The only sobering factor was that the portion was probably the proper one if you want to have your fast food and watch your weight/health.  It fits the demographic they were serving-just saying!!

Yeah it’s back to Latin heavy areas for us.  We will find one where we can take home a doggie bag and there are families chomping down making us feel like we are getting what we pay for.

Until next time–Greedy Northerners!

 

 

Little Dumpling, Queens NY

Queens

So my small venture in life for the next year might involve being over the bridge in Queens.  With that said, it looks like a harrowing thing but it may have some small benefits.  One is that I have access to all the Asian cuisine I want.

So on a recent trip to scope out the new venture, we realized that we would be ridiculously hungry if we went straight home, so we decided to eat locally.  Given that we chose a place called Little Dumpling.  It was small but neat and quick.  There was a woman in the kitchen and I hope she was in some kind of power position as she was the only one and I can imagine how that can be.

So what to order.  Well we ordered a large sweet and sour fish that had some beans in the sauces.  It was quite a site to see actually and almost scary.  We also ordered some vegetable rice and dumplings as appetizers.  The dumplings were hot and great.  I miss having dumplings whenever I want.  When I was overseas I would just grab dumplings at the store whenever I wanted them or just eat them for lunch in the school cafeteria.

Little Dumpling (cute little steamed bun logo)

corner of Springfield Blvd and Horrace Harding Expressway

 

There is another location on Northern Blvd.

 

The food and service was good.  We even got some bubble tea on the way out but were too full to try any of the deserts.  I love a good dish and one that totally satisfies.

 

Will I go back?  I will if in that specific area again.  I still have more to try.

Yay Queens!

 

Frank Pepe’s Yonkers NY

Fran Pepe’s

So recently we visited Frank Pepes which is a chain, a small one at that, which is supposedly one of the Neapolitan pizza makers.  Hmmm.  Well it was on TV and the original one was in Connecticut.  This one is in NY, Yonkers to be exact and we had to see what the big deal was.  We gave up swimming—a healthier option, to try it out, on a Friday no less.

So I must gripe about Yonkers first.  Why are parts of Yonkers like NJ?  This no UTURN business and having special roads to make U-turns thing is crazy.  I guess.  Also there is a side road when coming from 87 and in order to get on it, you have to use the side street to have access—you go up, come back down and you make that hard right.  Yeah, what planet am I on.

Let’s get back to the pizza discussion. I had to gripe a little first.  So right next to the shop is a Kia dealer and by the way, we have a plug in Kia—hybrid not full.  We got excited when we say the Kia dealer right next door.  However it was not going to be.  We read reviews and guides and it seemed that there would be this wild charge and there was also some barrier to getting that as the manager on duty could make the call and sometimes there was the thought that it was a waste of electricity.  So with all that hoopla, my husband decided not to even go up to the front door.

The parking right in front of the shop is metered.   DAMM.  We were lucky to find the spot in front of Kia a few spaces down that was not metered.

So we got in and we were seated in like 30 seconds.

When we got in, there were two seating areas and this large production area with white tiles and counter space.  To the back left side I could see them making dough or at least fiddling with food stock and it was in full view.  In the main part there was one or two guys working the large oven with these large 9 foot plus pizza sticks.  It would push the pizzas way back in the oven.  I mean it makes sense.  The pizzas are also made to order so it takes about 15 or so minutes for the pies to get done and well If you are hungry that is like an eternity.  They also only provide salad in addition to the pizza so if you need more than that, you have to pre-game but not too much as you want to eat all the pizza.

They bring the finished pies out on these sheet trays.  It’s crazy, Utopian in a way, but it is easy to clean, stack and it assures that all are uniform and a bunch of other things you can say about that. Man I was so hungry just waiting.  We had to keep my 4 year old busy.  Ever try that in a place where there is no sound barrier and everyone is in everyone’s business and it seems like a civilized pizza parlor.

So at this time people were pouring into the place.  A few people came at a time every few minutes.  Parking is a little hellish so you have to really wait till someone leaves.  So I ordered the mushroom, Gorgonzola and spinach pie and my husband ordered the Margherita.  I was like-wtf.  In all fairness, if that pie is not made well, then all the other stuff would be crap.  I believe you might need to always have a good base and add on from there but the original must always be great.

So we managed to polish off 95% and I took one more slice and remembered that I could not fit into my black pants so yeah, I took the last two slices homes.

Would I go back, probably?  It’s kind of far so it would not make sense.  However if I knew that I could always find a good pizza there, then I could go back.  We will have to try the Connecticut one as well to really see if there is a difference.

 

Okay, I am done pizzaing.