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Food

Hunger games in the COVID-19 kitchen

Hunger games in the COVID-19 kitchen

— Thanks be to God, we here in Arizona are not yet subject to any mandatory orders to shelter-in-place or remain confined in our homes during the current coronavirus pandemic. However, many of us — if not most of us — are voluntarily limiting our contact with others. In particular, I’ve been avoiding the most chaotic place in town, which is every supermarket. My last trip to the supermarket was Friday last week, at which time I made sure to buy enough beer to last me two weeks.
Another hour to kill at the airport in Mexico City

Another hour to kill at the airport in Mexico City

— After nearly four weeks in Mexico City, I checked out of my room at 3 am in anticipation of my 6 am flight. I figured I’d need about 15 minutes to wait for an Uber, a half-hour for the ride to the airport, and another half-hour for check-in and security, putting me at the gate an hour before the 5:15 am boarding time — a comfortable cushion. Instead, it took two minutes for the Uber, 20 minutes for the ride, and less than ten minutes for check-in and security, putting me at the gate about 45 minutes earlier than planned.
Street food in Mexico City

Street food in Mexico City

— The first time I was in Mexico City, back in 2018, I had some pretty amazing food. However, I never got a chance to experience the street food for which Mexico City is so rightly famous. On this trip, I may have overcorrected. Lunchtime torta. I forget which meat I ordered. The chipotle Fritos were a personal touch I added when I got back to the house. Almost everywhere I’ve been in Mexico City, I’ve been intoxicated by the delightful smell of food cooking.

I just posted a new YouTube video about making breakfast

— Earlier this morning, I posted a new video on my YouTube channel. Since this is my first time creating an edited video, I chose a rather mundane topic: making breakfast. Since a lot of folks have asked me about dietary changes I’ve made over the past eighteen months, showing off my typical breakfast may provide at least a partial answer.I started with about 20 minutes of footage that I recorded on my phone last week, and last night I edited it down to about six minutes.
In Paris, waiting for our flight to Montpellier

In Paris, waiting for our flight to Montpellier

— I planned to write a brief status update as we took our seats on the flight from Detroit to Paris, but somehow we ended up in an AT&T dead zone, so I had no access to the internet. The flight was uneventful, other than a bit of turbulence leaving Detroit. Kathryn and I both got a reasonable amount of sleep. The food was edible, a feature of flying Air France. Dinner was chicken with a cream sauce served with polenta something or other.

Cookies and our breaking points

— If you’re reading this, we’ve safely landed in Detroit. I’ve never been to this airport before, but I hear it’s nice. I’ll report back when I’ve had a chance to look around. In the past, I’ve had a difficult time sleeping on airplanes. However, on the flight from Phoenix, I was asleep before we pushed back from the gate. I slept for well over an hour. I woke up feeling great, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the two tall beers I had at the airport.
Trying something new, Mexican coffee at Tres Leches Café in Phoenix

Trying something new, Mexican coffee at Tres Leches Café in Phoenix

— Every once in a while, I find myself trying something at a place that’s been right under my nose for years. Earlier this week, I had a meeting at my church to go over some volunteer paperwork. The time between leaving work and my appointment was about an hour, which is about 40 minutes longer than the drive. I got on Google Maps and searched for coffee shops near the church, and one of the most highly rated was about two blocks from the church.

A tasty first order with GrubHub at Caveman Burgers in Phoenix

— Last weekend I tried GrubHub for the first time. I thought I’d share some initial impressions. You may wonder why a guy like me who literally never has food delivered to his home would go through the trouble of installing the GrubHub app on his phone, creating an account, and so on. Well, during a review of my American Express account last week, I was reminded that one of my card benefits is a $10 monthly dining credit.
Sunday brunch at Peddler’s Daughter in Nashua, New Hampshire

Sunday brunch at Peddler’s Daughter in Nashua, New Hampshire

— For the second Sunday in a row, we traveled to Nashua, New Hampshire, for Mass at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church. By the time Mass was over, we were quite hungry, so we decided to find someplace to eat near the church. There was an Irish pub a couple minutes away called Peddler’s Daughter, and we found some decent reviews online. Since there’s only so many clam plates and roast beef sandwiches one can eat in a week, we decided an Irish pub was a good way to break up the monotony.
A lobster roll with fries at Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery, Maine

A lobster roll with fries at Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery, Maine

— After a few days of rather dreary weather here in New England, yesterday was delightfully sunny with a light breeze and a high around 60 degrees. Kathryn and I used this as an excuse to take a drive up the seacoast. We started in Salisbury, Massachusetts, and made stops in Hampton, North Hampton, and Rye, New Hampshire. By the time we got as far north as Rye, we realized we weren’t far away from Kittery, Maine, where Bob’s Clam Hut is famous for its lobster rolls.
Remembering the hot chicken cutlet sub at Salisbury House of Pizza

Remembering the hot chicken cutlet sub at Salisbury House of Pizza

— Kathryn’s sister traveled with us for the first few days of our trip to the East Coast, and this morning we brought her to the airport in Manchester so she could fly back to Phoenix. After the drop-off, Kathryn and I thought it would be fun to visit Salisbury Beach for a walk on the boardwalk in the light drizzle followed by a slice of beach pizza. However, by the time we got to the beach, the drizzle had turned into a downpour, so we had to come up with another plan.
Today I learned the word tempura is not Japanese

Today I learned the word tempura is not Japanese

— Today I learned the word tempura is not of Japanese origin. It turns out it’s a loan word from Latin, and it’s connected to a centuries-old Catholic tradition called Ember Days. This morning, I was up and out of the house early enough to get to Mass before work. I went to the traditionalist Catholic church Kathryn and I have been attending for the past couple months. At first I was a bit surprised to see the priest approach the altar in violet vestments.
A chill evening at Banger Brewing on Fremont Street in Las Vegas

A chill evening at Banger Brewing on Fremont Street in Las Vegas

— Most of our weekend road trips to Las Vegas end with us heading back to Phoenix after lunch on Sunday. On our last trip, however, we had some business we needed to attend to Monday morning. After our huge lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen early Sunday afternoon, we weren’t in any mood for a big dinner. We decided instead to take a Lyft from our hotel to Fremont Street and try Banger Brewing, a brewpub that had gotten some decent reviews online.
A beer keg urinal in the men’s room of Virgil’s Real BBQ, Las Vegas

A beer keg urinal in the men’s room of Virgil’s Real BBQ, Las Vegas

— It doesn’t happen often, but on rare occasions beer can open up opportunities that may have otherwise passed us by. For example, if I hadn’t had a second pint of beer at Virgil’s Real BBQ on the Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, I wouldn’t have had to make a visit to the men’s room, and I would’ve missed one of the most interesting urinals I’ve seen anywhere. Kudos to whoever thought up a urinal designed to resemble a beer keg!
Eating our way through a busy first day in New England

Eating our way through a busy first day in New England

— Considering the only real sleep we got Friday night was on the flight from Phoenix to Boston, we stayed quite busy yesterday. After waiting what seemed like forever for our checked bags, we took the airport shuttle bus to the rental car center, which didn’t exist last time I rented a car at Boston Logan. Getting our rental car from Avis, a Subaru Forester, was no trouble at all. However, shortly after leaving the airport, a sensor indicated we were low on windshield washer fluid.
More Chinese food in Mexicali at Restaurante Dragon

More Chinese food in Mexicali at Restaurante Dragon

— We couldn’t miss a chance for more Chinese food during our trip to Mexicali over Thanksgiving weekend. Our baseball game Saturday night and our early departure Sunday morning left us only one chance, at lunchtime Saturday. We were staying at Hotel Araiza on Boulevard Bénito Juárez, so we chose Restaurante Dragon, which was just a few minutes up the street on foot. Compared to the two other Chinese restaurants we’ve visited in Mexicali, Dragon is huge even before you get in the place.
Patiently mingling with the unwashed masses in Miami

Patiently mingling with the unwashed masses in Miami

— We’re at Miami International Airport, waiting for our flight back to Phoenix. What a shithole. For once, TSA wasn’t the problem at the security checkpoint; it was totally clueless passengers. I mean, signs were posted in nine languages, and it seems like half of traveling public here can’t read any of them. Ugh. On the plus side, we just finished an Asian fast-food dinner that made Panda Express seem upscale, and I’m looking forward to a Cuban coffee.
Lunchtime protein orgy at the Montevideo Port Market

Lunchtime protein orgy at the Montevideo Port Market

— Earlier today we ventured a short walk from the guest house to the Montevideo Port Market, which has been referred to as “Disneyland for carnivores.” Once inside, we spent perhaps a half-hour walking from stall to stall, watching the masters work their grills and attempting to gauge how happy their customers appeared. The wood smoke filled the air all the way up to the rafters, so much so that several hours later we can still smell the smoke in our clothes.
Pizzeria Bocce, our Saturday dinner ritual in Cottonwood

Pizzeria Bocce, our Saturday dinner ritual in Cottonwood

— Saturday dinner at Pizzeria Bocce has become something of a ritual for Kathryn and me when we camp in Cottonwood. It started as an accident. On one camping trip, we mishandled some of the food we brought along and decided to toss it and go out to eat. We ended up at Pizzeria Bocce, and we’ve been going there ever since. Dining at a slightly pretentious pizzeria with a wine bar may not seem much like camping, but we’ve had an enjoyable meal every time we’ve eaten here.

Why Mexicali?

— While we were eating lunch last Sunday, Kathryn caught me off guard by asking how I learned about the Cantonese restaurants in Mexicali. She had been looking at her Instagram account and was prompted by a comment she received on a photo of the previous day’s lunch. The commenter apparently felt eating Chinese food in Mexico was a sketchy undertaking. To be honest, after more than a year of talking about it, at that moment I’d forgotten exactly why I started looking into Mexicali.
El Rincón de Panchito, Mexicali

El Rincón de Panchito, Mexicali

— Earlier today we enjoyed our first ever Mexican Cantonese meal. We had pollo mongol — a chicken dish with peppers and peanuts — and pork chow mein. No complaints about the food, except that we could have ordered half as much food and still have stuffed ourselves. The service was friendly. Between the server’s broken English and my dozen or so words in Spanish, the only real miscommunication was Kathryn got a regular Coke instead of Diet Coke.

Enjoying sushi in Las Vegas, at Takashi in Chinatown

— Here in Las Vegas, Kathryn and I are staying with a grad-school buddy of mine who’s in town for an academic conference. The three of us went out for sushi last night at a Japanese restaurant called Sushi Takashi, located in Chinatown. Some people are surprised to learn Las Vegas has a Chinatown. It does, and it’s not insignificant. I’m not a big fan of raw fish, but my wife is, and you can only say no to your spouse so many times before, in the interest of marital harmony, you relent and say yes.
Don Camillo, my new favorite pizzeria in Montpellier

Don Camillo, my new favorite pizzeria in Montpellier

— I once had a favorite pizza place in Montpellier, but it closed years ago. I also had a second favorite pizzeria, but it closed too. I didn’t have a third favorite, so I had to start all over again. Now, Kathryn and I have been to Don Camillo three times in the last two years, which means by default it’s my new favorite pizzeria in Montpellier. In fact, it was where we had the first dinner and, roughly two weeks later, the last dinner of our recent stay in Montpellier.
Friday in the City of Lights

Friday in the City of Lights

— We arrived safely in Paris yesterday in the early afternoon. We found the Gare de l’Est train station with no problem, but there were multiple parking garages at the station and it wasn’t obvious which one was for returning rental cars. After about fifteen minutes in the wrong garage we found the right one, completed the paperwork, and were in a taxi to our hotel. Since our anniversary is right around the corner, we decided to book the Hotel Regina.
Cassoulet languedocien, enjoying a hearty lunch in Carcassonne

Cassoulet languedocien, enjoying a hearty lunch in Carcassonne

— One of the things you’re supposed to do when you visit Carcassonne is to try the cassoulet, a dish made with meat and white beans, served like a stew. Kathryn got a photo of hers before she dug in. (Photo by KG7NRB) Our cassoulet was made with a pork sausage and had a roasted duck thigh too. The menu called it cassoulet languedocien, the latter word referring to the Languedoc region where both Carcassonne and Montpellier are located.
Golden Nugget, Las Vegas

Golden Nugget, Las Vegas

— On our last trip to Las Vegas, we decided to stay on Fremont Street for the first time. After exploring our options, we chose Golden Nugget, which is sometimes described as the most Strip-like hotel in the Downtown area. Whether you’d agree depends, I suppose, on what you like or don’t like about the Strip. The good My first impression of Golden Nugget was positive when we set our bags down in what was certainly the nicest room I’ve had in all my trips to Vegas, including rooms that cost twice as much.
Weird dinner experience at Gordon Ramsay Steak, Las Vegas

Weird dinner experience at Gordon Ramsay Steak, Las Vegas

— Our beef Wellington, now completely cooked but neither carved nor garnished, was brought out to us in a frying pan lined with what appeared to be coarse salt and a handful of peppercorns. Basically we were teased with our dinner, only to have it taken away again. I’ve decided to call this the proof-of-life phase of our meal. They showed us our dinner just long enough to let us know it existed, and then quickly returned it to hiding for another eight to ten minutes.
How to order coffee at McDonald’s in Phoenix

How to order coffee at McDonald’s in Phoenix

— I like drinking coffee. I enjoy eating fast food. I live in Phoenix. You might be inclined to think I’d be a master at ordering a cup of coffee in a local McDonald’s. You’d be mistaken. Years ago, it wasn’t such a challenge. I’d visit a McDonald’s and ask for a small coffee. I’d get a Styrofoam cup with brewed coffee. I’d then turn around and find the condiment station, which would have the creamers and sweeteners and those cool plastic stirrers with the arches on the handles.
Dazzo’s in Wikieup, Chicago hot dogs halfway from Phoenix to Las Vegas

Dazzo’s in Wikieup, Chicago hot dogs halfway from Phoenix to Las Vegas

— Roughly halfway between Phoenix and Las Vegas is a place — I hesitate to call it a town — called Wikieup. It’s a perfect spot to stop for a bathroom break and a bite to eat. On previous trips, we’ve often stopped at the Wikieup Trading Post. They make a pretty mean patty melt. The problem is that it became played out for us, stopping the same place every time. That, and the fact their bathrooms are beyond disgusting.