I wanted to like it…

… but quickly found out that I don’t. It ended up being the reason that I didn’t enjoy dinner that night. This is the most frustrating thing that can happen when you don’t have much to lose concerning food.

It was a normal night at my apartment, where I was figuring out what I should eat. Nothing unusual, right? I decided to try a recipe that I had seen online, and was very excited about it. It looked delicious, and now I had the freedom to make this dish without worrying about who wouldn’t like it.

or so I thought.

I followed all the instructions, making sure to follow everything precisely. The apartment smelled amazing, and I was already salivating. When it came out looking like nothing short of something you’d see in newsprint, I was all too excite to pile some of the rice on my plate, and top it with a perfectly golden chicken thigh.

I excitedly tore off a piece of the chicken with a fork and popped it in my mouth.

Well… it wasn’t what I expected. In fact, it was a little underwhelming. I cautiously put another piece in my mouth and ate some rice with it this time. Flavorful rice makes things better…

…but it surely didn’t this time. In fact, my stomach turned a little.

What on earth happened?! I followed the directions and even made sure the thighs were cooked through! This wasn’t right; how can something so beautiful not match up in taste?? This is when I made a discovery. The cool thing about living on my own is that I’ve been discovering a lot about myself, including the things that I do and don’t like.

I don’t know why I decided to smell the smoked paprika that I bought, but I did. I took a good whiff, and immediately turned my nose up. All in one moment, I immediately saw where I went wrong and figured out why I loathe bbq chips! I had no idea bbq chips had smoked paprika in them until I smelled the spice, which smells exactly like bbq chips.

I had never tasted smoked paprika before then, and assumed in my head that it would be like chili powder; I couldn’t have been more wrong. I thought it would have the same heat, and it doesn’t, and the last thing I expected was that it would smell like one of the few things that I hate eating.

I finally found a spice that I don’t like, and it upsets me a little that I don’t… partially because that’s leftovers that I now have to waste! I don’t want to give it to someone else because it didn’t agree with my stomach, so the only place for it now will be with the squirrels that frequent the dumpsters outside.

Smoked paprika, I’m so sorry. I wanted to like you, but apparently I never did.

The moral of the story is: if something has smoked paprika in it, I’m going to do an about face and look for something else. Also, it’s okay to admit to not liking something as long as you admit it to yourself.

Now let me go out and feed the squirrels. This entry is dedicated to you guys; bon appétit!

A burned thumb, smoke alarm, and a broken blind

And now, welcome to my adventures in apartment cookery. This is the beginning of what is shaping up to be an interesting start to my life living alone and to my first year living alone in my own apartment.

I’m prefacing this story thusly: The first time that I cooked a true meal in my apartment was last week. Although it’s my first experience using an electric stove, all proceeded with little incident. The rice was well cooked and didn’t stick to the bottom of the dutch oven, the chicken wings that I made were cooked through and browned well after a shot under the broiler, and the Sriracha glaze… let me tell you. The Sriracha glaze was perfect. The most I had to worry about was cleaning the sheet tray used to bake the wings, and wiping the glaze off the refrigerator that had splatter while it was being made.

This time, however, was altogether different. I wonder if it went down like this because I was tired… but let me tell you. It was the perfect apartment cookery disaster. Luckily, there was no fire and the food didn’t burn, but let’s recount this incident, shall we?

  • the rice ended up sticking to the bottom of the dutch oven. Not the biggest deal, but it’s annoying.
  • While trying to check on the chicken, I burned my thumb WHILE USING OVEN MITTS, and dropped the tray! Thankfully, the chicken stayed on. In fact, it stayed on a little too well as I had forgotten to oil the tray so it wouldn’t stick as much.
  • I go to make the sauce… and bullocks! I’ve forgotten the soy sauce at my mom’s house. Part of me wanted to go get it, but I stayed. I thought I could recover it… ha! I should’ve gotten the soy sauce.
  • the fire alarm goes off. I frantically drop all that is in my hands, and try desperately to shut it off, as I am cooking at almost 10pm on a Wednesday. In a caveman-like rage, I rip it from the wall and leave it dangling mercilessly.
  • I try to check on the chicken, and it goes off again! I don’t know what I did this time, but it goes off completely. I run to the sliding door that goes to the balcony (which really took all of 3 steps), fight the blinds, and open the door completely. Blessed silence.

In the aftermath of the incident, my thumb is under cool running water to try to stop the tingling sensation. A pot holder is somehow on the floor next to the door, where the fire alarm is located. The spatula that I used for the chicken was tossed onto a pile of something on the floor, and yet another pot holder was in the middle of my bedroom/living room. Although the food didn’t burn, that sauce that I mentioned earlier looked more like a chunky tomato sauce than the glaze I made last week… and it didn’t get on all of the pieces of chicken!

Admitting defeat, I take my plate of food and sit on the floor on my “picnic blanket”. It was then that I noticed something long and white lying across the floor. In my frenzy, I had knocked off one of the long blinds. *sigh* Why me?

I sit and try to eat with my non-dominant hand since the thumb that I burned is, of course, on the dominant hand. I’ve stuck it into a measuring cup with ice water as I eat, hoping that it will stop tingling. I hate that sensation.

Maybe one day, I’ll be a capable adult. Or have the sense to get a frozen pizza next time…

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.

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.

SBF Seeks Asian Food

SBF with adventurous personality and lust for travel is seeking Asian food to have great meals with. Thai, Indian and Chinese are favourites, but I’m willing to consider all types. Chilies and heat fuel my reveries, but non-spicy dishes are also appreciated. I have a car and passport, and am willing to travel to find what I like. Bonus points if ingredients can be procured for creating Asian-inspired dishes at home.

I look forward to that next Asian dish to spice up my life, and hope to meet with you and eat soon!

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!