Category Archives: movies

Birthdays, weekends, and eating

Ahh… birthdays are funny things. I don’t mind getting older (I mean, really, I’m not that old) but it’s weird that in one day your age changes. I do like the celebrating that comes with birthdays, though. And I liked having breakfast cooked for me on Sunday.

I had a lovely birthday weekend. It probably won’t sound like a birthday weekend, but we were out of the house, running errands (fun errands), and being productive, which are all things I like. We dropped Travis’ motorcycled off early to get fixed, grabbed a juice smoothie for a light breakfast, and then ran into the restaurant supply store on Clairemont Mesa. Found a chinois and looked at all sorts of cool dishes, glasses, strainers, scoops, and other gadgets. Then we ran up to Dick’s Sporting Goods to spend the $150 card we got when we bought the treadmill. It’s harder than it sounds to buy $150 worth of stuff when you’re not really looking for anything. While we were there, we noticed the treadmill was on sale for $100 less than last month’s “sale” price, and we got the difference refunded! So, that was a pretty cool shopping trip.

Filipino food for lunch (I really wanted the lechon, but Travis wasn’t into a pile of that) and then we started our multi-stop furniture store browsing. We’re thinking of putting a bar unit in our front living room, but it needs to fit the existing furniture (leather couch, dark wood bookcases and cabinets) while also fitting into a hunting lodge type of décor (due to the various deer heads and stuffed raccoons hanging on the walls). And we don’t want to spend $1,000. We found a bar we like, at a decent price (for a new bar) and now we’re just trying to see if we can find it in a different wood finish. I feel like we’re getting close.

We finally hit the end of the furniture stops and went to pick up Travis’ motorcycle. Some puttering around at home, some time spent on the elliptical and treadmill, a quick dinner (prepared short ribs, broccoli, and a sweet potato) and then off to see Avatar. I’m sure all the movie popcorn completely negated the treadmill running, but you can’t see a movie without popcorn. Avatar was a very enjoyable movie… there’s one scene halfway through where you go, “Huh. Now I know how the rest of the movie is going to play out exactly” but it doesn’t make it any less fun to watch. I only had a slight headache after watching it in 3D for so long… kind of how I feel if I try to read in a car. But, the 3D filming gives a whole new depth (literally) to the movie.

Sunday was breakfast (waffles and bacon) and DVR catching-up (oh, Jersey Shore, why must you end?) and more house puttering. The grass was cut, sprinklers turned off (in preparation for the Storm of the Century), and then more treadmill running (I think I watched the end of Dollhouse, but I’m not really sure). And then it was off to our SDRW dinner at Nobu.

I told Travis that you know you’re too old for the Gaslamp District when you realize you no longer have suitable clubbing outfits. All part of growing up, I guess.

Sometimes SDRW is a chance for a good deal at an expensive restaurant. Sometimes it’s just an excuse to finally go try an expensive restaurant. Our dinner at Nobu was more of the latter… although, I think the $40 menu was a good deal compared to their regular menu prices. But compared to real-world what-do-I-want-to-spend-my-money-on prices, I think you’re paying for the Hard Rock Hotel experience and dining at Nobu.

The food at Nobu was very good. We were served a “bite” from the chef – a slice of yellowtail sashimi rolled up with a jalapeno and speared on a bamboo skewer, served in a ponzu-like sauce. Tasty bite. The first course was seared salmon sashimi salad (three pieces of salmon, greens, and a cilantro-based dressing) or rock shrimp tempura (also served on greens). I think the third choice was oysters. I love oysters, but I love good salmon more. The salmon was good, even though it was slightly seared and the dressing was (as Cami noted) too salty. I would have preferred 4 good-sized slices instead of the 3 smaller pieces, but it was good-quality salmon. Nothing I haven’t found at Poway Sushi Lounge, though. Travis had the rock shrimp, which were tender, crispy, and well-dressed. They reminded me of the shrimp appetizer at Suite & Tender – also a good dish.

Entrees were next: sliced ribeye or jalapeno-glazed black cod; no one chose the sushi plate. Why choose a $20 sushi plate (6 pieces, plus a salmon-avocado roll) when there are more interesting dishes on the menu? The ribeye was sliced so you could eat it with chopsticks. Served with two sauces and a mound of avocado/guacamole, it was good. Tender, beefy, and the sauces were bright (and not Asian). The ribeye goes for $36 on the regular menu. I don’t know if portions are normally larger (we were told that Nobu does tapas-style plates and each plate serves 2-3 people when shared), but it did not look like $36 worth of ribeye, even with the big bowl of rice it came with. Now, the cod was amazing. Flaky and moist, with this delicious sweet glaze that got crispy on the edges of the fish. Also not really looking like $26 worth of fish. But really, really good. There is a regular miso-glazed halibut on the menu for $22, so maybe the markup is due to black cod being more expensive than halibut.

Desserts were a green tea ice cream parfait, passionfruit and banana mousse, or pistachio and strawberry-chocolate mocha ice cream. All good, but I wouldn’t call any of them outstanding. For me, a good dessert is something I would specifically return for. The chocolate decadence at Avenue 5 would be one, the red velvet cupcake at Luc’s Bistro would be another. Or any cake at Extraordinary Desserts (as overpriced as they are).

Expensive dinner, but none of use left hungry and we were celebrating SDRW AND my birthday. So it was fun. Birthday celebrations continue tonight at Alchemy with a slightly-modified group.

One of the reasons I had wanted to go to Nobu was because of the miso-glazed fish. We had a really good one recently that triggered this craving, but neither of us can remember where it was. Travis thinks it was in New York, I feel like it was somewhere here. Anyone know of a place that serves a good miso-glazed seafood that doesn’t cost and arm and a leg?

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Still a new year

Is it too late to say Happy New Year?  It’s still a pretty new year…

We spent our holidays at home, laying low, and generally enjoying the down time.  Especially considering we’ll be hopping on and off of planes and taking various road trips in the next couple of months. 

I’ve been taking advantage of my Blockbuster by Mail subscriptions lately, renting various workout DVDs and then exchanging them in-store for a new release.  So, we’ve gone through quite a few movies during our long weekends.  We watched Angels & Demons (I think I was too busy wondering what Ewan McGreggor would do as a priest to see the ending coming), Twilight (yes, we watched it; mainly to see what the fuss is about and to find out what vampires look like when they glitter – Spoiler: they look like glitter), Inglourious Basterds (entertaining and quirky, and then we figured out it was a Quentin Tarantino movie and it all made more sense), District 9 (I didn’t like and really wanted the main guy to just die already), and Four Christmases (I like Reese Witherspoon, Travis likes Vince Vaughn, it was pretty much a win/win movie).  The funniest thing about Four Christmases was the baby puking.  Because it’s exactly like that in real life (I suppose Vince Vaughn’s reaction is pretty spot-on, too).  If you’ve ever had a baby throw up on you, you’ll appreciate those parts of the movie.

I haven’t committed to any New Year’s resolutions, nor have I signed up for the 10 in 10 challenge, but I am still on that never-ending quest to get a little fitter and a little lighter.  Also, because I started months ago, I consider it a continuing and ongoing habit and not just something to start once January hits.  I was doing pretty well before Christmas, then kind of hit a snag, and now hopefully I’m back on track.

We’ve been eating pretty well lately.  I managed to not cook on both Christmas Day AND New Year’s Eve, but I did cook most of the meals around those days, so I think that’s a good trade-off.  Since we both worked on New Year’s Eve, we just went for an early dinner at Luc’s Bistro (still my favorite place to eat in Poway).  The next night I cooked up some lobster tails I snagged at Henry’s, and then I made Shrimp Fra Diavolo using Rao’s arrabbiata sauce and fusilli pasta (also found at Henry’s).  I dusted the shrimp with a mixture of flour and cornstarch, though, instead of just flour and it made the shrimp light and crispy.  It was actually a really good meal.  We still have half a bottle of the sauce left, so I might pick up more shrimp and do it again.

Then it was a meal at Indigo Grill ($20.10 Anniversary Week through the 8th!) and it was good enough to make me want to go back, which I think is a sign of a successful promotion.  There are a lot of Cohn Restaurant Group haters in San Diego, and I do agree that some of their places are overpriced and underwhelming (like Mister Tiki), but I have also enjoyed meals at Thee Bungalow and the Gaslamp Strip Club (more for the fun of it than anything else) and now Indigo Grill, so I think sweeping them all under the rug is a little uncalled for.

In chicken news, they are getting so big and heavy, but no eggs yet.  Granted, they’re still too young to be laying eggs (maybe next month?) , but I keep hoping they’re overachievers or something.  Lexi got into the coop one morning when I was bringing them treats, got a mouthful of Bunny, and now they’re all wary when I let them out in the morning.  They used to run right out to see what treats I brought; now they sit in their coop and give everything a big stinkeye and only when I show them something enticing will they come down.

Bunny is definitely top chicken in her coop

Buffy is a big girl!

So far, 2010 (twenty-ten, if you’re tallying votes) looks like it will be a good year.

what she said

Tigers & Strawberries has pretty much summed up how I felt about the Julie & Julia movie perfectly.

Cami gave me both Julie Powell’s book and Mastering the Art of French Cooking as a gift and, while I read through the blog-turned-book fairly quickly, I never really got around to making fantastic French food.  I just couldn’t get in the mood for food that required technique or time, even if it was all laid out simply for “servantless American cooks”.

Then my mom and I went to see the movie, which was adorable and makes you love Meryl-Streep-as-Julia-Child more than you think is possible.  It also confirmed that, even though I like Amy Adams, I don’t like Amy-Adams-as-Julie-Powell.  Julie Powell just seems whiny and unappreciative and so woe-is-me.  I haven’t really read her blog, but it’s the impression I get from her book. 

I also didn’t like how her husband looks like a total pig every time they sit down to eat.  I understand that sometimes they didn’t eat until after 10 pm because she was cooking after she got home from work and they were probably starving, but for the sake of visual pleasantness, couldn’t they give him a fork and tell him to chew with his mouth closed?  Sheesh.

I agree that Julia Child’s life and story would have been infinitely more interesting to follow than this parallel between Julia and Julie.  But, I also understand that the movie was created due to the popularity of the book and blog.

After watching the movie and watching them eat all this luscious French food (except for the scenes in present day because they’re wolfing food down and that’s unappetizing to watch), it certainly made me want to come home and make Julia’s quintessential Boeuf Bourguignon. 

Which I did.  And it was fabulous the first night and even better the next night.  I took no pictures because it was kind of all one color and we dove into it pretty quickly, although with proper utensils and closed mouths.  I highly recommend making the dish.  You’ll feel a tiny bit closer to Julia Child.

I’ve since made hollandaise sauce, which was served with steamed cauliflower because artichokes were too expensive, and that was decadent and lovely, too.  And quite buttery.

At the very least, Julie & Julia inspired me to finally break into that volume of a cookbook, even if I attribute that inspiration more to Julia and less to Julie.

books aren’t always good

T wonders how I have time to sit and read books when there are so many other things to do at home. He doesn’t even mean fun things, like sitting in the hammock or running around with the dogs. He’s talking about bill paying, checkbook balancing, laundry, putting dishes away, brushing the dogs, vacuuming… stuff like that. Sometimes, I put off laundry for a day. Sometimes I just take the dogs outside and pet them vigorously and hope their fur lands in a neighbor’s pool. Sometimes I cheat and just suck up the visible stuff off the floor with the hand vacuum. Usually, though, I read while I’m waiting for T to finish brushing his teeth. Or instead of taking a nap with him. Or while he’s puttering around doing something that doesn’t require me.

I love books. Total fiction, not-learning-anything books. I like having a few on the bookshelf so when I feel like reading, one’s available. Otherwise, I would consider getting them from the library. Instead, I go to Costco and browse their new arrivals. Now, books on things like building a chicken coop or how to raise chickens, those I request from the library and wait for them to show up. Sometimes, the books I read are coming out in movie form, but I don’t want to wait for the movie, so I go read the book. My Sister’s Keeper is coming out soon, with Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin. It looks like a sappy movie, so I figured I’d read the book and not have to wait for the movie to come out on DVD. It’s written by Jodi Picoult, who also wrote Handle With Care. Two books about a family with a really sick kid. Apparently, they also have a crazy one-track-mind mother, too. It’s almost like she wrote the same story twice (using the same one-chapter-per-character rotation) but with a different illness. Really, that’s the only difference I could see. There’s a kid; she’s sick. The mom is so focused on caring for/curing the sick kid that she kind of overlooks the other kid(s). Other kid(s) feel like they deserve some individual attention, but also guilt because, you know, they’re not sick. Dad kind of just works to a) try to get away from the mom-crazy and b) try and keep up with the huge medical bills. At some point, there is a lawsuit. Household erupts in more emotional craziness (with mom trying to keep it all from the sick kid) and then mom and not-sick kid are on opposite sides of the lawsuit. Just when you think the not-sick kid will cave into the mom’s dominating pressure, Dad decides that Mom is not thinking clearly and perhaps not-sick kid has a point. Now the parents are on opposite sides of the lawsuit, each wondering how they got to this point and missing the easy, loving relationship they once had. Lots of emotional back and forth happens, then the lawsuit ends. And then, when the lawsuit ends and the family comes back together and they all love each other and are now looking forward to moving on with their happy lives, Jodi Picoult decides that the only way to write a really good book novel is to take the ending and slam it into your heart while laughing fiendly. Ha ha! You thought you might get a nice ending but real life isn’t nice and so I have thrown your emotions into the garbage disposal and now you can tell people that I write really touching and heart-wrenching stories novels.

So, my recommendation to you is to stay away from her books. Or, if you’ve read one, you’ve probably read them all. Unless you like reading about the same story with different character (names) and thinking the story will wrap up nicely but then having the tragedy shoved in your face all of a sudden.

While we’re talking about similarities, let me also tell you that we went to see The Proposal on our “date night”. And it was cute. It was a total romantic comedy, but we like Ryan Reynolds and think he’s funny and there was a really cute puppy in the movie that made us think of Cassie. So, I was enjoying watching this silly movie, eating my overpriced Reese’s Pieces (because you should always buy your date expensive theater candy if you want to show her how cool you are), and then Sandra Bullock starts her I-love-you-all-so-much-I-can’t-lie-anymore speech. And, if you’ve seen While You Were Sleeping, you will recognize this speech and marvel how she managed to do two separate movies that have such similar speeches! What luck!

In all honesty, though, it was a cute movie. Maybe not theater-price worthy, but definitely rentable.

I suppose if I want to be thorough in my warnings and/or announcements, I should also tell you that Luc’s Bistro is not open on Sundays. Don’t forget this! They have very good food (my mom thinks they don’t give you enough food for the money; I say it’s plenty of food and along the lines of Urban Solace in portion size, if that helps you) and delicious cupcakes and you should definitely go there so they can pay their rent and not get evicted like Miami Grille. But don’t go on Sunday. If you go on Sunday when you are hungry and looking forward to some braised chicken or gooey mac ‘n cheese or perfectly moist salmon and a cupcake, you will be sorely disappointed and then you’ll have to go to Poway Sushi Lounge and spend more money than you ever planned on spending at Luc’s Bistro. I’m just saying. Continue reading