Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chicken Cutlet Sandwich c/o Primo Hoagies

I decided to give Primo's chicken sandwiches another go round for another lunch. Pesto and bruchetta and a cutlet, maybe with long hots, I forget. The dragon came across a foe, but its strength and possessiveness of all food that passes my lips in the office rendered its combatant ineffective.

Ziti Black hole

Another day, some ziti. This dish had a black hole quality to it. I ate one of the noodles and got sucked into a cheese vortex. It was tough, but I powered through.

Sushi Snacks c/o Umai Umai

On the same day as the Korean lunch, Mr. Ass contacted me and asked if I wanted to have dinner and see a movie with him and one of his friends. I said yes. We ended up eating at Umai Umai. This was my third or fourth time at the establishment, and this visit didn't really change my basic sense about the place: it's good, but maybe not as good as everyone seems to think? I went with the Kaki Oyster appetizer (Crispy panko crusted kumamoto oysters, blueberry balsamic reduction, cherry wasabi tartare, arugula), which had a lot of nice flavors and was satisfying though at $12 for three fried oysters, I don't know, I thought an extra oyster would have been a nice touch.
I also tried their tuna bruchetta (Sashimi tuna, piquillo salsa, dill aioli). My relationship with dill ebbs and flows and in this instance I liked the overall flavor profiles working their way to my tastebuds, but might have been happier with just a little less dill and just a little more bruchetta. So, perhaps it's fair to say that my issue with the place is portions and pricing, as well as simply not experiencing the same 'wow factor' effect that others seem to strongly feel at Umai Umai. Mr Ass had a soup and one roll and wasn't terribly impressed either, if I recall correctly.
After dinner we played some Scrabble before meeting up with Mr. Ass' friend S. and going to see Rare Exports. I hadn't read a thing about this movie, and Mr. Ass' description of it didn't really prepare me for what the movie was, but in a good way. It was like one part 'indie' foreign film, one part American action movie and one part heartwarming Disney film, but with blood and naked zombie santa type men running around. Mr. Ass and S. seemed to have more issues with holes in the plot, but when the premise is that Santa Claus is buried inside a mountain because he's not up to any good, I figure plot holes are bound to spring up.
I should also mention that in one game of Scrabble Mr. Ass had two bingos in a row; elixirs and feathers respectively. I was remiss in not photographing the board.

Korean c/o Koja Grille

Another day the office branched out and tried a completely new place for our lunch: Koja Grille. I ordered the Kimchi Chigae. I liked it, but it wasn't as spicy as I had expected, nor did it have quite as much beef as I might have preferred. Because our order came in over $100, we also received complimentary fried shrimp and dumplings, which managed to stay crispy even with the time between being fried and being delivered.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Breakfast Sandwich for Lunch c/o Rybread

Lunch on another day was Rybread. I went with sausage, egg and cheese on an everything bagel.
They really make a mean sandwich. Really. A few weeks after this I was in dire need of such a sandwich and went to their storefront to do so, but sadly learned that they stop serving egg sandwiches after one. So be warned.

Beers and Buds at City Tap House

Ak was back from Utah for the holidays. We had met briefly earlier in her vacation, but when she realized she was running out of time to see a good number of people, she organized a meet-up at City Tap House to consolidate as many people into one night. Though it was a bit chilly, I walked there, which was a good 2.5 miles. And once I arrived, a little hot from my exertions, I promptly enjoyed a nice beer, the name of which I forget...but after that first beer I went with the Founder's Breakfast Stout. A fine beer indeed.
This was, rather embarrassingly, the farthest west I've gone in Philadelphia. The restaurant/bar is big and comes decked out with a patio area with multiple fires, as you can see here.
Another Breakfast Stout. I didn't try any of their food, but it seemed to be of a good overall quality.
Then some photographs of Ak, L. and I were taken.

And then pictures from another camera and no flash.
I think this is me pretending to be some sort of beer whale.
It was good to see Ak again and a fun night. I took a cab home, don't judge me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sandwich oh Sandwich

Back to work, back to Primo's hoagies. This one was a good one, ham and cheese with long hots and love. The delivery man who usually drops off our sandwiches was always so enthusiastic and friendly. If the dragon could talk, it would certainly say good things about the business and that guy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Onion Soup and More Catan

So, because we had a rather late lunch, dinner was a smaller deal, but just as tasty. M. and A. put their minds and efforts together and made a lovely onion soup, which was served with toasty bread and cheese. Mmmm, yes. Then, if you can believe it, we played some more Catan. This time I don't know who won. I was blue and I may have won...or someone else did as a result of a large number of victory points. Can't remember. For the sake of it, let's say I won. Ha ha.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Catan, Champagne and Smoked Salmon

A.'s brother C. and I spent a good amount of time constructing an original Catan board. It resulted in a good game, which I lost. I forget whether M. or C. won.
We all had a particularly hard time opening a certain bottle of wine. C. tried. A. tried. M. tried by leveraging the bottle against the floor, and then I succeeded. Yes, yes, all their efforts resulted in it being very easy for me ... or I am exceptionally strong. Believe what you want to believe.
I really should have taken the time to color balance these.
Throughout the weekend many would sit down at the nine million pieced (hyperbole) Monet puzzle that M. gave A. for Christmas. Ugh. I think I put two pieces together. I'm not an abstract, really hard puzzle-piecer-togetherer. As the soup M. and A. made was coming together, we snacked on a generous platter of smoked salmon with gluten and gluten-free bread, eggs, onions and creme fraiche.

And champagne.

Duck Lunch and Flattering Angles

I finished most of my work for the day at the same time that lunch came together. S. relinquished her kitchen to T.'s hands and he did quite nice things with duck. There were also green beans, long grain rice and squash. And something else. I really should have taken better notes on the wine. Though I think in this bunch there were some unhappy corks, so it became a test of our palates to explain why the wines were bad, and which were the absolute worst. At dinner, in fact, we did a blind tasting of the questionable wines. I think it was almost unanimous. Anyways.
Back in another era I experienced (and by that I mean consumed) duck that had been shot out of the sky. I wish I had photographic evidence of the radical, radical difference between this duck and that duck. The difference between wild and farm raised/different breed. Its meat was very, very dark, and its preparation left it still quite bloody, which was partially explained by the fact that wild birds are actually flying extremely long distances and make more use of their veins/circular systems. Or, I just made that up. It sounds possible, don't you think? Either way. I just can't get over the difference. This meat was more along the color spectrum of chicken or turkey (at least the dark meat). And the skin was nice and had a little crisp. Isn't that the thing about duck? It's a very fat-laden bird.
After lunch I went out and paced along the snow drift and took photographs of myself. It continues to be a good angle for me.
Note the chicken earrings that she-J. made for me.

Birds and Breakfast

It was a late night, full of borrowing big shoes and tromping in the snow and girl talk. And though I didn't go to sleep until 3 or 4 in the morning, I still awoke by 8 or 9 because I had work to do. The parentals of the party were all assembled in the kitchen and quickly plied me with coffee and properly sympathized with me over my whiplashed neck (seriously that fall into the snow bank made it literally impossible for me to raise my head if I was lying I had to take both hands and manually lift my head up and support it). The birds were digging on S.'s holiday and regular feed. This flicker was quite a sight. I won't ever get tired of black, red and white birds.
As mean as bluejays may be, I still like their look. I also like that other bird on top of the snowman. There's something nice about this photograph is all I'm saying.
S. cooked sausage and eggs, which I gratefully tucked into before disappearing for the rest of the morning and a good portion of the afternoon to get work done. It was kind of nice to be surrounded by others doing all sorts of other activities, whether prepping for lunch, reading by the fire or still sleeping (M.) while I was anchored to my computer just hearing the faint murmur of others. If that makes sense. Like, I knew that once I got all my work done there was a group of fun just waiting for me.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Welcoming in 2011 with Champagne and Catan

After dinner M. and I, at one point, thought it would be fun to fall backwards into the snow drift outside the house. Turns out that's not a good idea. If we could stand on it, why did we think it would be a soft landing spot for our bodies? Man it hurt my head. But the drift was still really neat. I walked along its tippy top.

While we waited for the midnight hour we played Catan, and then the time came and more champagne was poured.

A.'s dad collects pocket knives. He said I could choose from any of these as a gift. There were so many nice pocket knives. The last pocket knife I had was a Swiss Army Knife. But early after the 9/11 stuff it was confiscated in the Nashville Airport. Guess which one I chose.
We played Seafarers with the island hexes face down, so where you were going was a mystery until you got there. A.'s brother was red. He won. I was blue.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Year's Dinner 2011

My past few new years haven't been very exciting. I stayed home so I could get up early the next day and do work. This year I went out to see M. and A. and S. and the extended G. family. I left after work and made pretty good time until I got off the turnpike. I've done the drive often enough that I should really know the way, and yet I don't. Plus it was dark and those roads are twisty. I made good time until I got lost for 45 minutes or so. Maybe an hour. But! When I finally did arrive, dinner was just being dug into and I was hungry. I hope no one waited long on my account, eating-wise.
The steak wrapped in bacon was really just very good. Mashed potatoes were also delightful. I think I need to work on my overall appreciation of creamed spinach, but this was definitely a good rendition of the dish.
I liked the dressing on this salad.
Nothing is complete without a cheese course. A.'s father, T., is an avid cook-type. I've been able to enjoy his culinary style on two other occasions (Easter and while in the Adirondacks) and it appeals to the glutton in me.
There were also desserts, but the photographs I took didn't do them justice. Then a small glass of Scotch to round out the meal.
Just a great welcome after a rather silly and delayed run around the countryside in the dark.

Renovating My Brain

Last year, around the time I flew out to Seattle, I was feeling like I was at some sort of tipping point in my life, and I decided that I was going to start doing things differently. I was going to start saying 'yes' to things I would usually disregard. I was going to pursue latent interests. I was going to make my life more 'full.' By the time I got back to my apartment after that week in Seattle, I knew that my life was taking an unexpected turn. It's funny, sort of, that on my flight back from Seattle - with no reason to think anything was awry - I had a sudden desire, over some large snow-capped mountain range in the west, for the plane to crash; for all the questions of my life, all the possible futures - whether good or bad - to suddenly cease, but not of my own volition. It wasn't that I wanted to kill myself, it was that I wanted to be killed. That was March 31st. By April 1st I knew that my mother had leukemia. When I try to structure a narrative to my life, I give myself second sight when it comes to this set of feelings. It was that I felt that I was going to experience a significant loss and that I would rather disappear myself than go through it. On November 4th she died. That really is a spectacularly short amount of time when you think about it.

The point is that I was telling L. about that sense of commitment to change I felt. My life has changed in a few key ways this year, but none of them were a result of any commitment on my part. I have certainly made choices over the last seven months, and they certainly changed my life; but none of those choices were made in pursuit of any of my initial goals. These initial goals weren't even big! They were about dating more. They were about knitting and cheese and Scrabble and summer trips to Canada. Small ways I could make my life bigger and more dynamic. Small ways that I could make myself happier. Since I learned of my mother's illness I haven't stopped pursuing these goals; to say that the urges for change ceased would be a lie. While I was in Nashville during my mother's month-long hospital stay I went on dates and got laid. Well, not often. Only a few dates in total. Laid only in one instance, but satisfyingly so. I also was determined to enjoy my summer, after my mother was given a temporary reprieve from imminent death. At one point we were told that she only had 1-3 months to live and then things got more hopeful, so that seemed like it was no longer the case. Thing of it is we should have still been thinking that way. I spent my summer determined to have a good time; to enjoy the experiences available to me and have no regrets. But I didn't spend my summer with my mother and that is definitely what I should have done.

The last time my mother was in the hospital, she really shouldn't have gotten so weak that she ended up dying. Science is science and things can be explained, but basically my mother died because she went into the hospital with pneumonia and just as it was actually getting better, she suddenly had too little sodium in her body. I arrived on a Sunday and my mother was my mother; she was herself. Tired, yes. But totally 'with it' and capable of calling me on my bullshit or telling me about a nurse's engagement. By Wednesday she was trying admirably to pretend that she had any idea about what year it was or who most anyone, including myself, was. This was a sodium thing that, from the faces of a few doctors or nurses, should have been avoided relatively easily in the first place, and was also extremely bad for the patient. Though it was reversed, and my mother released from the hospital after nearly two weeks (maybe more?), the effects of that additional wrong turn in her health were insurmountable. While hospice care was held off during her discharge, it was clearly on the horizon. My mother's expressed feelings in this respect were good: she wouldn't die without a fight, but if the fight was all in the hospital, fuck it and let her go home.

Among the last written statements my mother ever made to me were "have no regrets," and "stop smoking." It's strange that I don't struggle too terribly with the regrets question, but I continue to smoke. I could have been in Tennessee the last week of my mother's life. I could have seen her get weaker and more confused. And perhaps my presence would have staved off this natural progression because my mother loved me and wouldn't want me to see her in such a compromised state. But that's the thing about dying - those who love you will see some part of it. I left and the worst fell to my father.

Since my mother's death I have continued to live a life. A life still adjusting to the lack of her life. I am a practical girl in a number of ways. When it comes to my mother's death, I write what I feel, hope relevant people read it, and continue on. I cry when I drive. Or when I make a bed. I cry. But I don't cry on anyone's shoulder on the whole. I grin. I bear it. I accept life as it comes at me.

So I was telling L. about this loss of connection with my more go-to-it-and-change-your-life self and she sent me this graphic made by someone connected with her own work place....
I have made this my desktop, changing it from a combined image I made of my mother and her brother, on separate occasions, giving the camera a middle finger. In each instance the impetus was giving cancer the finger. Unfortunately, as much as cancer could be fucked in someone else's case, cancer won our own family's finger competition.

I actually have more to say about the graphic, because I don't actually agree to all of its directives. But perhaps part of my recommitted effort to saying yes and changing my perspective is actually finding a dream or passion to live or wear. Those who know me in real life know that the chances of my being able to rein in my self-analysis will probably be futile, but perhaps the attempt will be worth it.

Work Lunches

So, leading up to the new year, work was fast and furious, as were the company-sponsored lunches. One day I shared a Fresca pizza with some folks from Luigi's. It was weighed down with all sorts of veggies and entirely pleasing to me and the dragon.
Another day, another Primo's Hoagie. This one was a little heavy on the mayo if I recall correctly.
And yet another day I ended up ordering an eggplant dish from King of Tandoor along with garlic naan and a mango lassi. Those mango lassis really will make most things in your life a tad bit better, at least momentarily.

Snow and Dinner c/o Kite and Key

As we left Chinatown the snow storm we were promised began to gather itself up and release its effects on Philadelphia. I went into the office to do some work for a good portion of the afternoon but by the time I left, got myself together for the nice dinner Dad and I were going to have at The Fountain and met up with him at his hotel, the snow was falling heavily and cabs were not easily found. This, sadly, meant that actually getting to the restaurant became rather impossible, as my father didn't have proper footware and it was just a little too far for walking.
So, instead, we went to Kite and Key. It was loud, we were put in a back corner with terrible light. We split a Caesar salad and hummus plate, which were both fine int taste, but nothing revolutionary.
The steak in my steak sandwich was pretty tasty.