A woman with curly hair…

…talked me into trying pizza funghi at Ciao Pizza in Boston.

We’re at a different location for the layover here, and I’m loving it! It’s near a TJ Maxx and Home Goods, a grocery store, a brewery, and most importantly, a pizza spot where everyone seems to be happy.

Being the only flight attendant on your aircraft is lonely sometimes; so when one of my pilots said he was going out for pizza, I jumped at the opportunity. I had eaten only a couple of hours ago, but who doesn’t have room for pizza? Said pilot also introduced me to using Yelp. This shall be my new best friend, as it is how we came to discover this unique pizza place.

It’s a small joint with a counter along the window that faces out, and another counter that faces into the open kitchen. I’ve never seen so many kitchen workers with smiling faces, and I used to work in food service. If the atmosphere at any of the places I’ve worked at was like this, I probably would’ve never left. Sometimes it’s not the pay that keeps you somewhere; it’s the people you work with and the passion they all have for the job. This is what surprised and impressed me about this pizza shop. What also caught our attention was the fact that it has many Yelp reviews, yet still has a 5 star rating.

The only way to explain it is how the place makes you feel upon entry, and if you’re lucky enough to have the time to sit in.

A woman was sitting next to us waiting on her order. She is a well-traveled woman that knows my beloved Philly, and swears that this is the best pizza she’s ever come across. The pizza funghi was her favourite, which is one of the pies that I was thinking of trying. Her rave about it made the decision for me. I started to order it just as she did, with an extra crispy crust; instead, I decided to order it just the way they would make it.

Here is what appeared in front of me (not to mention that I had it in about 5 minutes after ordering it):

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The crust was soft, arugula was peppery and crisp, and the mushrooms along with the roasted garlic cloves was savory, satisfying, and rich along with that cheese. The texture of the cheese was soft and gooey, and I like that the arugula was there for a crisp component. However, just because of my personal taste, I may order it with a crisper crust. It was delicious and satisfying with red wine.

I finished up with two mini-sized cannolis and an espresso.

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These people went beyond just being happy; they were singing to the songs on the radio. To take it a step further, they broke out instruments! First it started with the woman at the counter breaking out a mini tambourine. Next thing I know, a guy in the back was playing a triangle. On yet another song, another kitchen worker snatched up a wooden flute or recorder from one of the shelves. Never in my life have I seen such fun in a kitchen. It was also a joy to watch these people at their duties; there was passion put into the work, even down to washing the dishes, and respect flowed amongst everyone. Even the owner of the store was there and chatted with us and other patrons.

That personal care is something that would have me eagerly hopping a flight back to this location. Let’s face it, I can’t count on my job to give me another overnight at this spot; sometimes, you gotta make things happen.

It would’ve been so cool if you all could’ve met this woman. She was worldly, and obviously has really experienced life. In some ways, I felt like I connected with her; she looks like a glimpse of what I may be like when I’m older. I hope to be like that when I’m older: well traveled, experienced in life, happy with where I am, and still looking forward to more.

Once her order was ready, she bid us adieu, welcomed us to the area, and stepped out into the chill of the night.

Diner Run

Nothing beats a good ol’ diner run late at night.

When the munchies hit you around the time that everything closes and there isn’t much food in the house, or if you need to clear your head, a run to a 24-hour diner is always what the doctor ordered. These can be fun to do with friends, but can also be just as enjoyable alone. My favourite places to hit up for such a run are Tom Jones and Denny’s.

One night about 3 night ago, it was the end of a work day. I was tired and hadn’t eaten anything. The only thing close by my layover spot was Denny’s. I decided to eat in tonight, and was given a table near the door in a corner. The solitude was appreciated since it was a long day and I was getting sleepy, but wanted something to eat so I didn’t wake up late because of hunger.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with the same idea. There were 3 or 4 people settled in the far corner of the restaurant. Then, in trickled a part of about 4 or 5 people, the youngest of them appeared to be middle aged. The staff greeted them warmly. “Hey mama! I haven’t seen you in a while! How are you?” These people that were strangers to me had to be regulars to be greeted like this.

Shortly after them came a party of 10 people, THEN a pair of people eating out, and about 4 younger gentlemen thereafter! Who knew that so many people would be hitting up Denny’s on a Tuesday at 10:45pm? I quickly regretted not ordering out, but I was ready to go shortly thereafter. No one was disorderly, but it was more crowded than I had anticipated.

Maybe they were looking for the same solace and a bite to eat that I search for when I drive out to the diner late at night. My fondest memories were of going to a Denny’s near me for breakfast. I was acting in a play at the time, and would always be hungry afterward. I was also looking to be alone for a bit. I always seemed to find my way to this Denny’s since the other late night diner only takes cash. Sometimes, a girl just doesn’t have enough money to remove anything from her bank account.

The staff got to know me very well, and the pancakes served at night always seemed to be bigger. I enjoyed a good cup o’ joe along with a stack of 3 buttermilk pancakes, hash browns, a biscuit and bacon. I don’t always order the same thing at restaurants, but breakfast was my mainstay at Denny’s, and I liked ordering it the same way. It was most disappointing when that Denny’s was closed down and replaced with another diner. The food was not as good; I ended up having the rare occasion on which I sent something back. I hadn’t returned since.

Now if I want to go to Denny’s, I go to one a bit further out than the old one, which is what I did Wednesday night. Instead of ordering breakfast (which I was wont to do), this time, I had nachos.

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They were delicious, considering they were ordered from a diner! It was a different location (one closer to home, unlike the night previous), but it was just as busy! That familiar solitude and peace that I receive from a Denny’s, however, was still there.

Late night diner runs are good for the soul, and those college student memories and cravings. Besides, who doesn’t want breakfast for dinner?

Cheers!

Addictive Thai BBQ & Good Company

In this segment of “SBF Seeks Asian Food”, I traveled no further than my hometown and hit up La Na Thai French Cuisine. Today was a special lunch. I had the privilege of catching up with a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while. Said friend was actually the same friend that introduced me to La Na. She is also most of the reason I’m an SBF seeking Asian food.

At restaurants, I’m not one to have a usual. I do have favourites, I’m not wont to getting the same thing. La Na is no exception, though there are two entrées that I like to change between. Today has changed that.

Today mixed old and new; I rekindled a friendship with an old friend, and tried something new to eat, which was highly recommended by the waitress. I ordered jasmine soup, and went with a thai bbq chicken that came with sticky rice and a small salad. The chicken was a thigh that had a barbecue style sauce on it.

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It wasn’t a thick smoky sauce like American bbq, but it was sweet and had a very slight kick to it, and maybe a little smokiness. Rice wine or rice wine vinegar was what I smelled and tasted. The flavors that had play in my mouth brought me to one conclusion: I want more. I must have more. Next time I go back, I’m going to break my own rule: I’m having the same thing twice in a row. And maybe a third time. In that first taste and moment, I understand why the waitress kept telling me how good it was.

Afterwards, K and I walked to Starbucks, then back to our cars because she had some work to get done before the school year starts. She loves her current job and I’m happy for her. She also lives back in the area now, so we can see each other more. This is great as I don’t have many friends that I get to see as often as I’d like. My job isn’t kind as far as keeping relationships going, but it’s nice to rekindle one even in the midst of it all.

I’m also grateful to have a new love. Honestly, I had given up on chicken and was considering relinquishing it from my diet. This has rekindled my love and hope for chicken. As I eat quesadillas for dinner tonight, I’ll be dreaming of the next time I can have that thai bbq again.

 

 

And a bunny hopped by…

…on the day that I was in Ottowa trying pho for the first time. The SBF found Asian food in Canada.

Regrettably, I lack photographic evidence of what I ate, but I was more than relieved to relinquish my cell phone. Besides, without access to hotel wifi and no international plan, it was little more than an expensive alarm clock.

What I love about the Ottowa layover is that nearly everything is accessible by foot. There are promenades, shops, and lots of restaurants. Upon first visiting Ottowa, one of the first things I noticed was that it has a lot of Asian restaurants. Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, Japanese and Chinese are the main ones that can be found in downtown Ottowa. It was interesting because it’s the last place one would think to find Asian food.

Okay, Canada is the last place that would think of to find Asian food. It probably shouldn’t surprise me because whenever I work flights to and from there, the passengers are a reflection of the food you find. Honestly, that could be true of any place if you pay close attention to who is around you.

As I walked around trying to figure out where to settle and eat (which was mostly dictated by my wallet), a place called iPho is where I chose. The O in the name was a bowl of pho with chopsticks coming out of it. I’ve never had pho before, and today seemed like the day to try something new.

It was a rough day in the sky office. The trash can fell out of its cart and spilled contents on me and the floor. No one was hurt except for me & my pride. The trash can didn’t hurt me, though; the ice tray was the culprit. I got one nick on my right hand, and the other on my right foot. The foot was red enough that I could see it without glasses. Ironically, though, the left foot ended up hurting more than the right. I may need to see a doctor.

After all of that, solitude was much needed, and this seemed to be the place to get that. It was quiet; so quiet that I and the young lady cleaning glasses were the only two there. When she saw me, I sat myself and ordered a curried tofu vermicelli with vegetables. The cool of the air on my skin from the open door calmed my senses, and peace was flooding my brain. Part of that surely came from knowing that food was coming.

Assuming that this would be akin to a Vietnamese version of ramen, it was a surprise to see just a big bowl of noodles with the aforementioned ingredients. Even more surprising was the fact that my order was ready in around 5 minutes.

Vermicelli rice noodles were the base with long slices of tofu, some carrot, a green that looked like bok choy, and cauliflower. All of this was tinged yellow by the curry. Overall, it was filling, and the texture of the tofu was delightful; it had a rough tongue-feel which you would think should be crunchy, but it was soft when chewed. There were condiments on the table, and I chose some sambal oelek to spice it up. It paired well with the flavors of this dish.

While I ended up spending more than I would’ve preferred, I at least enjoyed what I ate as well as the quiet that went with my dinner.

On those days when I have a good layover, I should really have a camera. I’ll work on that. If anything, I would’ve loved to show you the bunny. It was small, brown, and very cute. I haven’t seen one in a while; I’m glad it hopped across the walkway and into the grass so I could see. Then it hopped down the hill and out of sight.

Fifty Hours, Tipsy Posts, Uber and Fried Chicken

Please forgive me if my spelling is a little off; my latest venture left me a bit snockered, and very friendly with the Uber driver… and singing Latin-flavor songs in my hotel room in the worst voice ever.

One of my pilots tipped me off on a place called the Great Lakes Brewing Co. This sounded like a place that I just had to visit. There are brewery tours, but my suggestion is to schedule one as far in advance as possible. Walk-ins are accepted, but it doesn’t mean you’ll get to experience the tour if you drop in; the preferred method of scheduling a tour is online. Since I didn’t know in advance that I would have a 50-hr layaway in Cleveland, it wasn’t possible to plan accordingly… but since YOU will know whether or not you’re going to Cleveland, add this to your itinerary if you like a good brew, good food, or like food tours.

After a short Uber ride to my destination, I checked on the wait to get a table for myself. It was a short 15-25 minute wait, and there was a downstairs bar where I could grab libations while waiting. One unique thing about this place is that they will text you when a table is ready for you. Keep that phone charged and ready!

By time my table was ready, I managed to get a glass of Conway’s Irish Ale. It had a slight syrup/molasses flavor to me. In general, it was a light and enjoyable beer. I also tasted the Christmas Blend and the Burning River Pale Ale. The former had a similar flavor composition to Conway’s Irish Ale; the major difference was the nose. The Christmas blend had a clove-like aroma to it, which may have been due to the cinnamon and ginger used in it. Burning River Pale Ale, however, was altogether different. The pine note was strong with that one, and it had a bitter finish in comparison to the first two.

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The food is also quite good; this place has chef’s specials. I tried the entree special, which was a ravioli with black beans and spinach, I believe. Forgive me for not knowing the specifics; at the time the waitress explained it to me, I was too tipsy to follow along. I heard bacon, ravioli, spinach and black beans, and was instantly on board. The ravioli was crisp instead of the usual texture that is expected of a boiled ravioli; I believe it was fried. In my very tipsy drunken state, I compared it to an amazing grilled cheese (I’m such a flyweight when drinking alcohol; it’s sad).

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I also ordered bread pudding for dessert. It was nutty, which may have had to do with the bourbon-butter. Said bread pudding was also formed into a square, and topped with a blob of house made whipped cream. One can never go wrong with a crap ton of whipped cream on something.

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Finally, I took my check, and carefully walked my tipsy self out of the restaurant to get an Uber ride. The car smelled like fried chicken. Even after having eaten, this was a welcoming aroma; it was as welcoming as my Uber driver was to my incessant chatter.

I am so grateful to have had such a long layover; otherwise, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience what is in this city. Even so, there are still a couple of things that I’d like to keep on my list. The one Uber driver was nice enough to inform me of a few other places that I’d like to visit here.

I look forward to my next long overnight here, or anywhere else. Who knows what I might find?

Food For Celebrating

This weekend in food for Miss Ray was crazy! Friday and Saturday were really good food days.

Friday was a great food evening. A friend and I went out, and we were in the mood for Riesling. After taking some things to her house and checking in with her mom, we were out for the night. After much debate, we decided to go to the movies.

Since we had an hour to kill before the movie started and we live close to the theater, we made one stop to pick up the wine, and another stop to hit up La Na, our favourite Thai food place. While waiting for the food to cook, we requested glasses to start in on that delightful bottle of wine. Once the food was ready, we were about 1/3 of the way through. I was already giggling.

We rode to the theater with a good 2o minutes to spare. We ate and finished off that bottle together, and life was good. Interesting factoid: Riesling apparently goes well with Asian cuisine! After trying it myself, I agree with this assessment. I tell you, there’s nothing better than take out and movies, even if you go to the theater to see said movie.

I didn’t get home until 12:30 am that night, but my food adventures merged into the next day.

One of my friends is celebrating her birthday today, but the girls and I went out with her yesterday for brunch. C planned everything, and picked out the place. I’ve never visited this restaurant, so I was excited. I like going to a restaurant I’ve never visited that someone else has discovered. I’m used to being the one to expose people to new eateries; it was nice to be introduced this time. I didn’t look up info on the place before going, and I’m glad that I didn’t. The first impression is more raw and real if you know nothing beforehand. In fact, it was the first time any of us were eating there.

The location was in Northern Liberties, which I didn’t know much about. We got there at around 3ish, and had to walk a couple of blocks to the restaurant from where we parked. There was an outdoor deck adorned with Christmas type lights for seating, but we sat inside because of the rain. There were dark wood finished floors throughout the space, and dark wooden beams on the ceiling. We were seated in less than 5 minutes since there weren’t many guests at that time.

Everything on the menu looked appetizing; there are things that I want to try on my next visit. Now that I know where this place is (as well as other places that looked good), I’ll have to come back. There were a few versions of eggs benedict on the menu, but the one I ordered was the crab cake benny.

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We also ordered an apple streusel flatbread that tasted like an apple pie with nuts. It had pecans on it, and I liked the additional crunch and flavor of the pecans.

After brunch, we hit up Cold Stone Creamery to spend a little more time together. The weather may have been bad, but we were all in good spirits, and the birthday girl enjoyed herself. This is all that matters.

It was a great weekend with great food; now that’s living the dream! Normally, I don’t eat out that much, nor do I aspire to. However, I enjoyed everything that I ate this weekend. Truly enjoyed it. I also enjoyed those with whom I was eating, which I’m sure made the food taste even better. Does anyone relate to that?

Now it’s Sunday, and my only souvenirs from this weekend are: good memories, some food pictures, and leftover drunken noodles from Friday night. I’m sure I’ll eat that this evening and watch a movie, which is the best way to enjoy Asian take out.

Hope you all had a good weekend, and enjoy your week! Live life and eat well… and please do so with good company!