Monday, December 31, 2012

M&M Cookie from Bob Evans

At Bob Evans bakery last year, if you'll recall, was where I finally clued in to the fact that the recipe for 7-layer bars isn't a closely guarded secret known only to elite chefs.

This year (I only go to that particular Bob Evans once a year when I'm in Ohio for Christmas), Bob Evans did not have any 7-layer bars to tempt me, but they did have a chocolate candy cookie marked down to half off. I bought it for cookie-reviewing purposes.

I like to call this kind of cookie an M&M cookie, even though I assume the candy-coated chocolate pieces are the generic kind. They taste just as good. I love any cookie with M&M doppelgangers in it. This cookie did not disappoint.

Nor, however, did it amaze.

I was obliged to eat the cookie in a state of pleasant enjoyment and not the euphoria that I crave when eating Giant Cookies.

It had a softish texture and a bit of crisp. It was thin, when I usually prefer thick.

The flavor was quite good. Unfortunately, nothing about it stood out to me as particularly impressive. For all my indifference, I still must rate this cookie highly, because there was nothing bad about it either!

Even the price was middle of the road, equaling $1.31 per gram (if I had gotten it at full price. The 50¢ I paid was a steal!)

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 4 stars
Texture: 4 stars
Price: 3 stars

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cookies from Panera

Christmas is the season for cookies. And traveling is the best opportunity to find new sources of Giant Cookies. Traveling for Christmas means a bonanza of Giant Cookies...but not as many as I acquired during my trip to San Francisco! While visiting Ohio this lovely winter holiday, I purchased just 3 Giant Cookies, the last of which I ate being the first of which I will review.

That was a Peanut Butter Dream cookie from Panera.

Peanut butter cookies are always a gamble, because sometimes they're delicious, and sometimes they're just meh. This one was more on the meh end of the scale, because it was just a little too sweet and not enough salty. Peanut butter is salty—so should be peanut butter cookies—that's what my finely honed sense of logic says, anyway.

It did, however, have little bits of peanut butter chips in it, which are always a treat, and the texture was nice and chewy. The sugar sprinkled on the top was a nice touch, though messy. I think I would have enjoyed the cookie just as much without it.

All the Panera cookies cost exactly $1.99 and weigh almost exactly 100g (their portion control department must have an iron fist!), and some easy math reveals them to cost 1.99¢ per gram. In other words, not the cheapest cookie in the box.

The Bottom Line:
Taste:2 stars
Texture:4 stars
Price: 2 stars

On the same visit to Panera, I picked up a Red Velvet Crinkle cookie, which was an impulse purchase fueled by curiosity. I don't eat a lot of red velvet anything, though it seems to be quite the trendy flavor at present. In fact, I didn't even know what red velvet tastes like, but I figured there's no better time to learn than while doing a Giant Cookie Review!

Turns out red velvet tastes a little like chocolate. But less chocolatey than chocolate, and more...something else. Thank goodness I'm not a chef. I did detect a note of cream cheese, because there were little chunks of it (or something that tastes like it) scattered throughout the cookie! Interesting flavor! I like it, but don't think I love it.

The texture, on the other hand, was nearly perfect: soft inside, slightly crunchy inside, and coated with a dusting of powdered sugar just to get my fingers messy (you're probably figuring out that I'm not a huge fan of sugar dusting. Maybe if I could eat these cookies with a fork...).

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 3stars
Texture: 5 stars
Price: 2 stars

Thursday, December 13, 2012

That's a tooth decision.

Today I hit myself in the tooth with my earring. You might be wondering how I managed to hit myself in the tooth with my earring, but I believe all will be explained when you see the earring, with its heavy glass bead at the end of its long flexible chain.
Imagine what happens when I turn my head while wearing these earrings and smiling! This is one of my favorite earrings, and I talk about it all the time on my Unfashion blog, but I never knew it could be hazardous to my health!

I only bring this up because it reminded me of some upcoming dental work I have, and I'm only going to talk about that because I've been a little short on Things to Blog About lately.

Next Tuesday, I get my first cavity filled. Oh, the shame.

When I went to the dentist for my cleaning last Tuesday, I can't say I was surprised when she told me she'd found a cavity. After all, it was my first cleaning since 2005 or so, and up until early this year, I had never flossed in my life! In defense of my oral hygiene, she did say my mouth looked great for someone who hadn't been to the dentist in 7 years.

I had resisted flossing for my whole life for a number of reasons--namely, the inconvenience, the discomfort, and the bloody mess that it would inevitably make of my mouth. Who wants to subject themselves to that, especially if they've never had a cavity and don't see a compelling reason to!? In more recent years, I'd developed the rationale that my teeth were so tightly packed that all flossing would do is open up gaps between them, making them more susceptible to tartar and bacteria, and I actually began to honestly worry that flossing would be the end of my teeth!

My boyfriend, upon finding I was a non-flosser, was just horrified (his mother was a dentist). He tried so many times to persuade me to come around to his side, but I always expressed my trepidations and refused. However, last year, when my gums started bleeding every time I brushed, I realized something had to change. I began flossing sort-of nightly (I only did one row of teeth per night, to give my gums a chance to heal between assaults, and I forgot frequently), but my mouth eventually stopped bleeding.

Sadly, it was too late for my teeth. There is one particularly rough spot between two of my teeth that shreds the floss every time. That's where they found the cavity.

Another thing the dentist found was some exposed roots on three of my teeth. Well, she didn't have to tell me that. My tooth tells me every time I accidentally stick my toothbrush bristles into it.

The last thing the dentist said, which did come as a shock, was that I should put a crown on the front tooth that had a root canal. What? I've been to so many dentists since that root canal, and none of them mentioned anything about a crown. They mentioned whitening oodles of times (since it's discolored compared to my other teeth) but never a crown. But my new dentist said the root canal makes the tooth extra brittle, and the filling they put over the hole was porous and susceptible to infiltration! I looked online, and sure enough, everything I read about "root canal and crown" said, "Do it!" Or else the tooth is highly likely to break. It happened to "me" and "me" and "me" (various people on forums). So apparently my front tooth is a ticking time bomb.

However, I am not getting the crown done at Tuesday's appointment, because it is going to cost me 970 dollars (and that's after insurance!). That's not the only reason, though. For a few years (actually, ever since a dentist suggested it when I visited his office for some mysterious pain), I've been contemplating whitening my teeth. I've held off because it costs money and effort and I've heard it makes your teeth sensitive, and I'm pretty sure my teeth have always been pretty yellow and I don't know if it will work that well on me. But sooner or later, some day, I want to try.

And I don't want to get a 970-dollar crown to match my lovely yellow teeth, only to actually succeed in making them pearly white, and then have to recolor the crown to match them again. What a pain that would be! Presumably, less of a pain than having my tooth shatter in my mouth and having to get a permanent bridge, but (insert breezy gesture here) that's a distant possibility!

The moral of this story is: I made a bad decision by choosing not to floss, and I hope I haven't made a bad decision by choosing to postpone the crowning of my front tooth.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie from Harris Teeter

Shopping at Harris Teeter (not one of my usual haunts) I ran across some individually wrapped giant cookies, one of which I obligingly took to review for this blog. And then I ran across the same cookies in a 4-pack. The 4-pack cost $4.99, or $1.25 a cookie, or 1.13¢ a gram, so I bought all 4. It was money well spent.

The cookies were substantial, but not crunchy, with that little hint of sugar grit I love so well. They made only a bit of a mess during the crumble test.

They tasted, like most white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, heavenly, and that's all I have to say.

I would certainly buy another box if I happened to find myself in Harris Teeter again.

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 5 stars
Texture: 4 stars
Price: 4 stars

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie from Cherry Hill Diner

Last weekend, my mom and stepdad were kind enough to come to Maryland all the way from Ohio, to bring me a chocolate chip cookie from the Cherry Hill Diner in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Well, they also came to celebrate Thanksgiving, but mainly it was to bring me a cookie.

This cookie was a gorgeous lump of golden goodness studded with mini chocolate chips. I had to hide it in my room to keep my boyfriend from eating it, which is what he does to most food items in his line of sight.

Upon giving it a good solid thump with my forefinger, I expected it to be a dense, crunchy consistency. But it fooled me, because. while it was a bit crunchy, it was a bit flakey too, rather like shortbread with a little more sugar than usual.

It tasted like a chocolate chip cookie, but not like any old chocolate chip cookie, because the shortbread-like consistency carried over to the flavor as well. Interesting! But not interesting enough for me to drive all the way to New Jersey to try it again!

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 3.5 stars
Texture: 3 stars

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cross your T's and X your C's.

I learned something today. (I'm sorry to anyone who has noticed I'm overusing that sentence; I imagine I'll grow tired of it soon.)

While whiling away the hours of my evening (I got an extra 4 and a half of them after our dean was kind enough to call for an early dismissal today—those words exactly—I love working for a school; it's almost like being in school!), I browsed over to one of my favorite time-waster sites, "Throw Grammar from the Train"—and what it says about me that reading an English usage blog is my preferred form of evening entertainment, I hate to guess—obviously it has done nothing to curb my affection for the long and winding run-on sentence—but digressions aside, that was where I learned the thing that I learned today: (No, no, wait, allow me to put this revelation in a new paragraph, so you can easily distinguish it from the dross above...)

The proper way to pronounce the word flaccid is FLAX-id!

No fooling? Many years ago, I read this word in a book and assumed, as any red-blooded English speaker would, that it was pronounced FLAX-id. And then I heard someone say it. A couple times. And no matter who was speaking, they always pronounced it FLAS-id. And I, never bothering to actually look it up, because more than 2 people can't be wrong, hung my head and resigned myself to an unintuitive pronunciation.

Except, apparently, I didn't have to. According to this blog post, I gather that FLAS-id is a secondary pronunciation that evolved from FLAX-id—and upon looking it up, I learned that FLAX-id is still an accepted pronunciation for this word.

It makes me sad when pronunciation deteriorates into something less logical than the original, but at least I can console myself with the knowledge that I was never really wrong.

Funny enough, in one of the comments on the post, a user asked, "I wonder if "coccyx" will ever be pronounced "cossicks". Apparently the commenter hasn't noticed that it already is! In conversations regarding the tailbone (which I get into a lot—don't we all), I have frequently wondered if I've got something wrong for thinking it should be pronounced COX-ix, when other partners in the conversation don't say it that way..

What about you? Have you ever heard "flaccid" pronounced with a K sound? What's your preferred way to say "coccyx?" Do you think, if we try hard enough, we can turn the tides of popular stupidity, and get words to stay pronounced the way they're spelled?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Well, shoot.

Before I cause any unnecessary panic, let me begin by stating that no animals were harmed in the making of this blog post. And that animals is a group that includes myself and other humans.

I fired a gun for the first time on Saturday. My boyfriend, ex-military man and expert marksman (in Battlefield: Bad Company 2) decided he wanted to have some real-world practice and invited me to come along. A bit curious, and wanting to be able to defend myself in the event of an apocalypse (as long as it's not a zombie one—I am boycotting the whole zombie mania!), I did just that.

We were totally clueless when we arrived at Gilbert's Indoor Range, and we stood around at the counter feeling awkward for what felt like ever! Rico kept asking me which gun I wanted to try, which was an overwhelming question considering the racks and racks of firearms that I had to choose from. But once we sat down with our safety quizzes in hand and began watching the orientation video, I relaxed. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's taking quizzes.

Back at the counter, Rico asked for a bolt-action rifle (which he'd never tried) and told the clerk, "I think she'd like to try a revolver." I hadn't known I wanted to try a revolver (actually, I'd always thought I'd prefer a rifle myself, but I wasn't about to start an argument in a gun shop!). However, out of all the weapons in the case, I'd been most drawn to (or perhaps I should say least intimidated by) a wood-handled revolver, which looked exactly like what was given to me. So I guess Rico knew what he was talking about.

When it was time to be the firing squad, I was terrified the gun was going to blow up in my hand. So I bravely let my boyfriend try it first. Once I was confident that it was loaded correctly, I gave it a shot. Literally.

It's not at all like the movies. In the movies, they're always handing out guns to complete newbies, and the newbies are like, what? A gun? But then they shoot it and they do fine—and they never grip the gun too high and get whacked in the hand when it reloads itself or get hit in the face with spent cartridges—both of which were things I fortunately didn't experience with my old-school revolver, but which I was told about in orientation or witnessed happening to other people with semi-automatic weapons.

And in the movies, even the newbies' aim is spot on, but in reality, your hand shakes so much, you can't even keep the gun steady on the target when you're not trying to fire, and just pulling the trigger (you really have to put some muscle into it) is enough to throw off whatever aim you've managed to achieve—and all this is with a two-handed grip! I can't imagine ever holding a gun in just one hand and being able to hit anything smaller than the broad side of a barn. When I was trying to shoot, in order to hit the target, I had to spend several seconds trying to get my wildly wobbling weapon under control. I definitely would be totally useless (dead) in an apocalypse.

And it turns out, I didn't prefer the rifle, either. When I fired the handgun, it went "pop." When I fired the rifle, it went "boom." Everyone in the place jumped—or at least looked around. The movies don't tell you these things either—when you shoot a large-caliber rifle, you feel like you've just shot yourself. The recoil was so intense that Rico kept knocking himself in the glasses with the scope (does this sound like a certain Christmas Story or what?).

When we were done, the entire outing had cost us around 100$ to rent the firearms and purchase the ammunition and 15$ each for a guest membership, and was followed up with a warning to wash our hands and faces so we didn't bring lead poisoning home with us.

So I think I can safely say I'll never become a card carrying member of the NRA, but I'm glad for that learning experience. I was able to finally confirm that I'm not a natural-born marksman, and I'll probably be one of the first to die in the looting following a global disaster. Knowledge is power, right?

P.S. There's another thing they don't tell you, and that's how loud a bunch of guns sound when they're going off all around you! At one point, I took off my ear protection because I needed to adjust it, and within 2 seconds, I thought I would go deaf.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Monster Cookie from Target

Target, for all their low prices, always produces store brand food products that are even better than the brand name equivalent. Their sweetened condensed milk is always thicker than other brands (though always out of stock). Their mozzarella cheese sticks are chewier and tastier. And now I've found that their giant cookies to be superior as well.

I was about to pass them right by. My boyfriend and I were shopping there and we were on the way out when we passed the snack stand. I saw the giant cookies, but, feeling lazy and kinda full from breakfast, I wasn't inclined to buy one. My boyfriend persuaded me to give them a try, and I'm glad I did!

There were several choices—chocolate chip, plain sugar, but I went right for the mother lode. It was covered in chocolate chunks and candy bits. I noticed a couple of peanuts. It looked like it might have coconut inside (though I later determined that to be oats). "I'll have that one, with all the stuff on it," I told the cashier. "I'm not sure what it's called, but I'll take it!" "It's a Monster Cookie," said the cashier.

Well, it was (to be totally cheesy) monstrously good. When I got it, it was still warm from the oven. It was so soft, it would have folded in half if I hadn't cared for it as if it were my own child. I ate it long after it had cooled off, but it retained its ridiculously soft texture. It was almost like eating straight-up cookie dough!

Not only was it soft, sweet, chocolatey, and full of interesting textures, the flavor had an unexpected hint of peanut butter, which just about sent me over the moon! I can't think of a single complaint about this cookie.

Even the price, at $1.29 for 127 grams, was a steal. And so, as usual, Target wins the day in the price department as well as the taste department.

The Bottom Line
Taste: 5 stars
Texture: 5 stars
Price: 5 stars

I hereby declare this cookie the first to win 5 stars in all departments!

I once told a friend that if I ever ate an all-5-star cookie, I'd probably die because my life would be complete. So if you don't see any more blog posts from me in a while, you'll know why!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

How to Love Going to the Gym

They say exercise is a mood booster. If that's so, why does finding a reason to skip the gym always make me so happy?

You know, there was a time when I didn't mind working out. In college, I would walk 2 minutes from my dorm to the Student Center fitness room, ride 15 minutes on an exercise bike, follow that with 10 minutes walking (pretty fast) on a treadmill, and then top it all off with a few lat pull downs, situps, and (if I was feeling reeeeaally wild) some bicep curls. I did this every day without fail (except sometimes when I was sick) for 3.5 years (the first semester of my freshman year, I only did it 4 days a week), and I never minded. I had good books to read while biking, decent TV to watch while walking, and the leisure to completely zone out and daydream if that's what I preferred. I never left the gym feeling like I was at death's door. I rarely even broke a sweat. Working out was just a part of my routine, like brushing my teeth.

Nowadays, that idyllic workout scene is but a fond memory. These days, I can only make it to the gym after a hard day at work when all I really want to do is go home. I have to cross the entire campus to get there, which would take 12 minutes walking, but which I do in 4 minutes biking, getting stuck behind annoyingly slow pedestrians and cars that actually have to stop at stop signs the whole way. I have to lug my non-workout clothes with me and stuff them in a locker, which also necessitates carrying a lock. I have to carry my ID rather than just sign in on faith. Because I'm older and I eat more these days, I have to work out harder to achieve the same effect as I did back then. This means I actually have to run on the treadmill and actually have to lift heavy weights. I sweat like a horse. I can no longer read while working out because I am bouncing too much to see the words, and besides, the effort of getting enough air kind of takes all my concentration. My gastroenterologist says I have a hiatal hernia, which may explain why, every time I breathe too deeply, I feel like my stomach has migrated up into my throat. Working out is just not fun. To be blunt, I have begun to feel like working out is pure torture.

I've been considering the possibility of just not going to the gym any more. But I have to! If I want to support my Giant Cookie habit, I must counteract it with exercise!

So I've been trying to think of ways to make the gym less of an ordeal, and here's what I've come up with:

1. Entertainment

Running is probably the most painfully boring activity on the planet. Now, there are TVs at the gym, but they are too high up to see when I'm on the treadmill. If I watch them, I will fall off. So, why not play music? Well, how about because every time I take a step, my earbuds fall out of my ears. I've always liked the earplug-like silicone variety of earbuds, but only lately, they've been very loose—and with all the flapping around that my cord does when I run, they barely stay in for a few steps. (What, do people's ear canals get bigger over time?) I read all sorts of suggestions for how to keep your earbuds in your ears, but none of them worked for me. I even tried to enlarge them by wrapping a rubber band around one several times, but all that did was hurt. It still fell out after a few flaps of the cord. Then I lit on a solution.

Since I've become a sweat monster, I've taken to wearing a headband to keep my hair off my forehead. Today, I just lowered the headband over my ears, and voila! Mega music! No breaks for readjustment! And my Skullcandy earbuds are great! I was hearing all sorts of nuances in my music I'd never noticed before! And this is how cool I looked!

(Now, you might be asking why, if I'm wearing a big old headband anyway, I don't just use regular headphones? Mostly it's a matter of space. I can fit a pair of earbuds in a small dental floss case in my purse. But headphones would add too much bulk, since I already resent the amount of stuff I have to carry.)

I was pretty happy with this new musical strategy, until Default by Virtual Vault (Dave 202 Remix) came on while I was doing my abs. And I realized I love that song waaaay too much to sully it by lifting weights while it's playing! It deserves my full attention! I can't ruin it by counting reps at the same time!

And then there was the problem of my earbuds blocking out all the external noise. It makes me nervous to be that unaware of my surroundings.

So, some other ideas I'll have to try:
  • Wearing an earbud in one ear only (but what to do with the other one?)
  • Audiobooks (I probably won't be able to concentrate enough while in the agony that is running) 
  • Turning off the music for the strength training portion of my workout

2. Style

At least part of the reason I hate working out is I know my gym clothes make me look like a complete loser (yeah, and wearing a big headband over your ears doesn't have this effect). I usually wear longish shorts so my legs don't stick to the equipment but can still get some air, and loose old T-shirts because I get them free all the time, and again because of the airflow. Together, they have the effect of making me look outright hideous. Last workout, I decided to sacrifice a tiny bit of comfort for the sake of vanity, and I traded in my ratty old promotional T-shirt for a slightly fitted one. I felt so much better. Not wanting to cringe in disgust every time you look in the mirror is always a good way to make your workouts more tolerable.

I did make it through my last workout without feeling the burning desire to quit. But as I was walking in the door to my home, exhausted beyond measure, the thought still slipped out: "I hate going to the gym."

So I was really kidding when I titled this post "How to Love Going to the Gym," because I haven't figured it out yet. Maybe I should just resign myself to a life of obesity and death by diabetes.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookie from Crumbs

Notice there appear to be Reese's Cups in this cookie,
which I also didn't taste.
There was one other cookie I picked up in New York City, and it came from Crumbs Bake Shop. Although there is now a location in DC, which is actually the location where I had my first encounter with Crumbs, this bakery is a Manhattan original.

Which is why I felt truly authentic while on my trip, purchasing a cookie...from their Brooklyn location.

Well, all right, now that we've established I have no respect for authenticity, let's move on to how much respect I have for the cookie. Today, I'll give it to you straight from the notes I jotted down between mouthfuls:

Texture: Very good though crumbly. I don't think I liked the creaminess of the chocolate dipped part. Little bits of peanuts (but not too many of them) were a kind of fun addition.

Taste: I couldn't detect the peanut butter, maybe because it was overpowered by the chocolate coating. The chocolate chunks inside the cookie were great, and blended well with the taste of the dough, but the chocolate coating for some reason had the consistency and flavor of cheap Easter chocolate, and was a tad too thick.

Weight: ~182 g. I forgot to weigh it until I was approximately 60% of the way through it, so this is an estimate. A conservative one.

Price: $3.25. Doing the math, I calculate this confection to cost 1.76¢ per gram, putting it right smack dab in the middle of the road.

The Bottom Line:
Taste: 3 stars
Texture: 4 stars
Price: 3 stars

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

2 Macs from Mac Shack

After I picked up my black and white cookie in Manhattan, my boyfriend and I made our way to Brooklyn to stay the night. As we walked to the hotel, a passing promoter pressed a flyer into my hands. I glanced at it. "Mac Shack," it said. I read the menu. It was all macaroni and cheese dishes, every one! And they hadn't even known I was a macaroni reviewer! It was like a sign from the gods. That night, we went significantly out of our way to pick up some macaroni at the Mac Shack.

I got the veggie mac. Normally I prefer my macaroni plain and my veggies on the side, but we were having trouble finding a source for vegetables that were not a six-dollar salad, so I made do.

I admit, it tasted better than it looks.

The macaroni was a little more upscale than your typical side dish, what with the 4 different cheeses and whatever that green stuff was on top. The vegetables mixed in did not ruin the flavor as I had thought.

However, perhaps the flavor was just a little too exotic for my taste. Mine was not salty enough (a common complaint I have) and so I traded with Rico, because he liked mine better, and his was saltier--he got the Brooklyn South, with "queso blanco, fontina, emmenthal, and gouda." But in Rico's macaroni, there was a sour flavor that I didn't detect until I'd already committed to eating it. Probably we would have done better to just order the classic variety and save the fancy stuff for the gourmands.

One happy noodle for all macaroni all the time!
One happy noodle for perfectly cooked macaroni!
One sad noodle for some weird flavors.

1 happy noodle 1 happy noodle 1sad noodle

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Black and White Cookie from Zaro

In all the years I've been eating Giant Cookies, I've seen a lot of "black and white" cookies. But never ever have I felt interested enough in them to buy one.

All that changed this past weekend when, while buying lunch at Zaro in New York's Grand Central Station, I chose it. Out of all the giant cookies in the display case – and there were several varieties – black and white won the day. Partly it was because I'd never tried one. Partly it was because they were sitting out where I could pick them up, and I was able to confirm that they were soft and hefty—two of the Giant Cookie traits I like the most.

I ate the first portion of it that very night and found it to be just as soft as my fingers had already experienced. If I'd had my choice, it would have been a little more substantial and a little less cakey, but it was almost perfect, texture-wise. The frosting on top was also soft, with just a thin glaze keeping it from being too gooey. As one might guess, the black portion was chocolate flavored while the white portion was vanilla. I couldn't decide which one I liked better, because the former was just too chocolatey, and the latter was just too bland. Eventually I concluded that black and white cookies are not the ideal cookie for me. Even the cookie beneath the frosting seemed a little on the bland side.

I wasn't wholly impressed, but, in the right mood, I might buy this cookie again.

The bottom line:
Taste: 3 stars
Texture: 4 stars

Price: The receipt wasn't itemized!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Riding in style

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I traveled to the city of New York for a scintillating 1-and-a-half-day treat (a treat for New York, that is, to be graced with our presence!). Always on the cutting edge of cool, he and I blazed our way through the city like conquering heroes, riding high on the backs of our magnificent kick-scooters.

That's right, dear readers! The toy that you lovingly abandoned in your garage at the age of 10 and neglected forevermore has become our new, stylin' adult mode of urban transport. Here's the story.

Do you remember when the Razor scooter first came out, and it was such a big deal that it was right up there on the Cool-o-Meter with Heely shoes (even though they came later), but only among those who had not yet reached puberty? Well apparently at that time, my boyfriend had reached puberty, and in fact surpassed it, but still coveted one of the slick silver rides, ever since his tobacco-peddling, scooter-riding classmate at college had let him try out his delivery "vehicle."

Fast forward to 10 years later. He has 3 motorcycles and a car, but still hasn't gotten his hands on the simple self-propelled transportation equipment of his dreams. Four days before we were supposed to leave on our trip to New York, he called me and said he wanted to get us scooters to ride around the city. He launched into a discourse on the varying benefits of different brands and models of scooters, thoroughly overwhelming me with possibilities, and then said, in a voice filled with urgency, "Go try one out." He was contemplating ordering a pair online, right then and there, and getting 2-day shipping, but he didn't want to spend his money on something I might not like.

Unsurprisingly, I was unable to find one to try out within the next 2 days (although my story of trying to accomplish this task at Target during a power failure is worthy of a post all its own), but Rico cleverly located a store in New York that carries a wide selection of kick scooters, so we decided to stop there on our incredibly busy first day and try them out.

We did. Rico had been so anxious I wouldn't like them, that I wasn't sure what to expect. Would I be falling over every 5 seconds? I wasn't. Although I was a bit wobbly on my first try, I got the hang of it pretty quickly. The only problem was...the price. We tried out all 3 adult models, which I liked to varying degrees, but Rico was really only interested in the Razor A-5, a larger stunt model technically designed for kids, but big enough for your average sized adult who just wants to get around cheaply—it was half the cost of the adult scooters. The store wouldn't let us try that one out, and I was still kind of concerned about whether I could comfortably ride a kid's scooter, so we left and trudged our way back to the subway.

By the next day, though, Rico had commented so many times on how much faster we'd be getting around on a scooter, that I knew he wasn't going to let it go. He found a toy shop that carried it, and off we went. They did let us try one out, and it was quite suitable for me, although the price wasn't as good as it would have been online—or at the other store. I would have probably encouraged Rico to wait and just buy it cheap, except the storekeeper had been forced to mutilate the box in order to take the scooter out for testing, so I felt kind of guilty and we just bought 2 on the spot. Then we underwent our conversion from our usual plodding pace to ridiculous speed!

With emphasis on the ridiculous. If you've ever disrupted a sophisticated metropolitan scene by weaving at high speeds around the more sedate pedestrians on a child's toy, you will understand how I felt. If you have ever walked around in public in a dinosaur suit on any day other than Halloween, you will understand how I felt. If you have done neither, you need to loosen up a little! What are you, sane?

Just in case you are, I'll say it simply: I felt conspicuous.

But...conspicuous is good! We were the vanguard! Our Razors are on the razor edge of transportation innovation! We made the 3-mile trip from our hotel in Brooklyn to lunch in lower Manhattan in a little under 40 minutes! I am in awe of the efficiency! Travel twice as fast as you can on foot, with half the bulk of a bike, half the danger of a skateboard, and none of the shoe-changing of rollerblades! Scooter commuting seems like the best of all worlds! It's the next big thing, and Rico and I are at the forefront of the wave!

We are not the only ones who have chosen to commute around New York City on kick scooters (in fact, after we bought them, I saw several other full-grown adults with them). But we were still the oddball minority. Not that that's a big concern. To be honest, I'll secretly be a little proud if the rest of the world never gets in on this game, since then the joys of scootering will be forever my own "in thing."

But you, dear readers, are not part of that clueless "rest of the world." I want you to join me as a member of the elite few.  Get yourself a scooter and become as me and Rico, gliding effortlessly on the wheels of wisdom.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

San Francisco by the Cookies, a little for everyone!

If you haven't had enough of San Francisco yet, now's your opportunity to go ahead and visit my Picasa album, where I've uploaded the rest of the photos that didn't make it into this blog. If you were itching for more San Francisco tales, today's your lucky day, because my intro to these last 2 cookie reviews ended up rambling on a bit! And if, perchance, you're looking for some Giant Cookie recommendations, skip past the next paragraph, and search for the word "Biscoff." Forward, ho!

San Francisco is supposedly known for its good food, but I wouldn't know. I'm a picky eater by nature, and something about eating garlicky, cheesy lunches and walking all day was taking away my appetite (for anything but ice cream), which made it hard to get excited about expensive restaurants where everything on the menu was, well, not ice cream. We ended up eating mostly at national chains the whole trip. The first night it was Cheesecake Factory, just for cheesecake, though I later picked up some beans & cheese at an authentic California chain—Del Taco, which was a dead ringer for Taco Bell. Sunday night was California Pizza Kitchen--At least that one has California in its name. Lunch at In & Out burger, while a slightly more novel experience, was hardly what I'd call a San Francisco gourmet treat. Monday night, we actually ate someplace I've never heard of before, called The Mango, or something like that. But they messed up my order so bad I refused to eat it and ended up having Ben & Jerry's to fill the void. Tuesday's lunch was probably the closest I came to having a San Francisco food experience, and that was when I had soup at Boudin Sourdough. I love sourdough, so that was a great way to do lunch, although as a vegetarian, I was unable to fill my bread bowl with clam chowder, but instead chose the boring roasted tomato soup (I'm also not a fan of roasted tomato, but at least I could eat it). For dinner on our last evening, I had a Ghirardelli sundae—yes, that was my dinner. What can I say, I only had eyes for ice cream.

And, of course, Giant Cookies. With no more days to describe and 2 more Giant Cookies to review, it's time to get crumbling!

The two cookies being reviewed today are the ones on the bottom center and bottom right. The others were reviewed in previous posts.

Biscoff Cookie

Rico had good things to say about Biscoff, but the cookie didn't do much for me. It looked like it was going to be great, but I was disappointed as soon as I broke into it, by the unbelievably hard edges, which managed to be both tough and crumbly at the same time! However, the middle of the cookie was a much more pleasant texture, and the big ol' chunks of chocolate were like chunks of heaven itself. I'll wager this cookie, with its tough exterior, was what we in the foodie field call an overcookie, and it's too bad that my only experience with Biscoff had to be an accident.
The Bottom Line:
Taste: 4 stars
Texture: 2 stars
Price: 2 stars (at 2.12¢ per gram)

Bristol Farms Peanut Butter Chocolate cookie

Sometimes you know as soon as you look at a cookie that it's going to be delicious. Such was the case when I ran across this Giant Cookie while killing time at Bristol Farms (which struck us as a lot like Whole Foods) before our flight. It was heavy and substantial, and looked to be overflowing with chocolate. I couldn't wait to devour (I mean review) it, but I responsibly saved it until last. And then I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

There are times when I get tired of peanut butter cookies, but I don't think I'd ever get tired of this one. It tasted scrumptious! And although it did crumble everywhere, it was the sort of doughy crumble that is born of not having too much egg in the batter (in other words, a good crumble). It was almost like eating straight-up cookie dough, except with a bit of crunch. And, as I ascertained just from looking, they didn't skimp on the chocolate. My only regret is that there are no Bristol Farms stores in my area, or I would try their chocolate chip cookie!

Now, I paid $3.49 for this cookie, which I think is some kind of a Giant Cookie record. But that $3.49 was divided up into 180 grams, for a price of 1.93¢ a gram. They won't be winning any cheapness awards, but with this cookie, every 1.93¢ is well spent.
The Bottom Line:
Taste:5 stars
Texture: 5 stars
Price: 4 stars

Sunday, September 9, 2012

San Francisco by the Cookies, Day 4

Our fourth and final day in San Francisco, we had pretty much exhausted our CityPasses. The only attraction left in them was the Aquarium of the Bay. We decided to see that as soon as it opened in the morning, see Coit Tower, and then go back to Golden Gate Park to see the Japanese Tea Garden and the Botanical Garden.

The Aquarium of the Bay proved quite interesting, although small. We walked through two enormous glass tunnels with fish and sharks floating on the other side. I had a blast petting the sharks, rays, skates, and sea cucumbers in the touch pools, but alas, it was over too soon!

A school of Sardines

We amused ourselves until lunchtime by buying one more giant cookie at Biscoff and strolling around the marina, where I saw the world's cutest seagull, played at being Rosie the Riveter in front of various historic sailing vessels, and took lots of pictures of pigeons.

the world's cutest seagull, sitting on a piece of wood.

Valerie sticking her face through a Rosie the Riveter poster, with ships in the background

A pigeon on a dirty windowsill

Having been spoiled by free admissions with CityPass, we then spent the rest of the afternoon going to attractions but refusing to pay the fee required to actually get in. We saw Coit Tower from its base, the Japanese Tea Garden from its gate, and the San Francisco Botanical Garden from its ticket counter.

Coit Tower
 Fortunately, the rest of Golden Gate Park was free, so we got unspoiled views of the top of Butterfly Hill and what might have been an "abandoned observatory," although I didn't see any signs explaining what it was and this awesome turkey-duck!

Duck with red around its face like a turkey

Well, I don't know what it is, but it is undebatably awesome! Sadly, I was too cold and worn out to take pictures of anything I saw after the turkey-duck, and really, I didn't see much.

We were just trying to kill time until our flight at 11-something that night, so our last few hours in San Francisco basically consisted of walking around the mall and various shops downtown, acquiring snacks for later, one of which was my last Giant Cookie of the trip.

Since we've got some time, let's review some cookies! But let's do it really fast, since I have lost most of the pertinent information, they are not very interesting cookies anyway, and you'll probably never have the opportunity to try them yourself.

The white chocolate macadamia nut cookie I picked up at the De Young Museum was ok, but too crunchy, and I couldn't detect much flavor (though that's probably a fault of my nose rather than the cookie). The gigantic nut-covered cookie I got in Chinatown was OK, but too crunchy, and I actually could detect some flavor, and it was pretty good, though it was not nutty as I expected but rather what seemed to be a plain sugar cookie with nuts on top. [Correction: It was almond.]

The Bottom Line:

De Young Cookie - Taste:3 stars, Texture:2 stars, Price: I don't even know.
Chinese Cookie - Taste:4 stars, Texture: 2 stars, Price: I lost my receipt.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

San Francisco but no Cookies, Day 3

Day 3 (Labor Day) dawned dark and foggy. The boyfriend was slowly adjusting to Pacific Time, but not fast enough for me! That morning, he went down to the pool by himself. I was planning to go, but I'd had enough of being cold, and at the last moment I decided I didn't want to walk through the chilly hotel all wet again. So I had a nice warm shower and sat down to eat yesterday's leftover key lime pie for breakfast.

Monday's plans were as follows:
  • Explore the Presidio park
  • Rent bikes and take them across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Ride the bikes all over town and, most importantly, see "that wind-y street" that is apparently famous, although I'd forgotten I'd ever heard of it until someone asked me about it.
  • Umm, go shopping in the Marina district?

Tha plans for the afternoon were somewhat hazy—fitting, because so was the Golden Gate Bridge! We got to it in the late morning, having found that the Presidio is not so much a park as a neighborhood. We got our bikes at the cheapest bike rental in town at Sports Basement, which was, to my delight, a converted supermarket which still sported "Frozen Foods" and other incongruous signage. To get onto the bridge, we had to pedal the bikes up the world's biggest hill, which made me so hot I had to remove my jacket even though it was ridiculously cold out. I left it off when we were crossing the flat bridge, which proved to be a huge mistake as I cooled off and the icy fog settled on my bare arms. Here is a typical view as seen from the bridge.
Once on the other side, we were rewarded with intermittent views of the bridge unobscured by fog! There didn't seem to be anything but highway on the other side—at least, not within sight, and the person who'd rented us the bikes had warned us that most people don't have time to bike across the bridge and have lunch in the opposite city, so after the obligatory photographs, we just turned back. 

The entire trip barely took us an hour, so we had plenty of time for lunch, which we took at In & Out Burger back at Fisherman's Wharf. Our 3 hours were running low, but I still wanted to see that winding street - which I'd learned was better known as Lombard Street - so we made a break for it. Unfortunately, a misinterpretation of the map made that impossible, so we returned our bikes, sightseeing cravings still unassuaged.

One mistake wiser, we then took the bus to Lombard Street in confidence that we were going the right place. There, due to another misinterpretation of the map, we found ourselves at the foot of the steep portion and were obligated to walk up the street, rather than down, which would have been the sensible way to explore it. Unfortunately, I could not get any photos of the street, because I could not get high enough off the ground to see anything more than the bushes surrounding it. So instead, I will reward you with pictures of the Painted Ladies (yes, that's those houses), and even more pictures of all the people taking pictures of them. Frankly, I couldn't see what the big deal was about, which might explain why I completely forgot to mention them in my post about Day 2, which is when we actually saw them.

Then it was back to the wharf for us, where we decided rather spontaneously to take our cruise of the harbor, courtesy of CityPass. We saw sea lions on the docks, Alcatraz from the outside, the city from afar, and lots of fog. Angel Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, and in fact pretty much half the sights on the cruise were invisible.

After the cruise, although some shopping ensued, I did not buy any Giant Cookies, and that was basically the culmination of our day.

By the end of Monday, I had learned 2 more truths about San Francisco:
1) In order to see anything cool in this city, you must always climb up a huge hill first.
2) People who live in atrocious climates (like anywhere in the Northwest United States) think 60 degrees is the perfect temperature to throw the windows wide and let in the frigid air. Also to be eating outside. Brr.

Friday, September 7, 2012

San Francisco by the Cookies, Day 2

I found my missing blog post! Fortunately, I recovered it from my work computer before Evernote synced to the server and lost it forever. Here it is!

On Sunday, the day of rest, my boyfriend woke me up at the ungodly hour of 5 AM (are we sensing a pattern here?) because it was "really" 8 AM. I argued that we were in California, we should be on California time, and besides, none of the attractions would be open until around 10. After a few go-rounds, he finally let me sleep, while he went for a swim in the hotel pool. He came back shortly thereafter because the pool wasn't open yet. I had not been able to go back to sleep because all the discussion had woken me up anyway, so I crawled out of bed.

Following a discussion of our plans for the day, a swim in the hotel pool (which was open by this time) and breakfast at the hotel we'd considered but hadn't stayed at, it was time for our sightseeing marathon, courtesy of CityPass! CityPass is a neat invention that contains discounted tickets for several local attractions and offers unlimited free rides on the local transit system. It ended up being a hassle-free way to see the city, and if you are going to San Francisco (or several other participating cities), I totally recommend it. You just have to find it first.

Here's how we got our CityPasses. Weeks before the trip, we discovered the existence of CityPass and debated whether it was the choice for us. Was it really worth the 69 dollars? Yes, we concluded, but was it worth it to buy it in advance? You could buy online and have it delivered by mail. You could buy online and pick it up at any CityPass attraction. You could buy at any CityPass attraction. By the time we'd decided to buy, it was too late to have it mailed, so we chose to just purchase it onsite.

Now, when we arrived at the hotel, in addition to advising us about where to have lunch, the desk clerk also told us we could buy a CityPass at the Concierge desk, or the Visitor Center, which she nicely pointed out on the map. Once we had made our winding way to the Visitor Center, we had second thoughts about buying the CityPass there, thinking maybe we could get it cheaper back at the hotel. When we got back to the hotel, we found that they were not selling the CityPass there—guess we had misunderstood something. On our way back to the Visitor Center, we passed the Museum of Modern Art, which was one of the CityPass locations. We could buy the CityPass there and see the museum at the same time! But I had second thoughts about buying it there too, since I was suddenly afraid that some of the attractions might be closed for Labor Day or have conflicting hours and we wouldn't be able to get our money's worth. I wanted to ask bunches of questions, and I figured I wouldn't get the best answers from a harried museum ticket seller with a line out to the next block! So we walked on to the Visitor Center. By now it was so late that the sales desk had no one at it except this one dude counting his cash. I made him answer all my questions, and finally—finally—I bought the two CityPasses.

And we still had time to see the SF MoMA before it closed, happily bypassing the block-long lines with our pre-paid tickets in hand! But that, in case you were confused by my wanton disregard of traditional chronology, was still Saturday.

Since I've spent too much time digressing about Saturday, I'll try to keep Sunday's tale short and sweet. After breakfast (at the other hotel, the one we'd considered but decided not to stay at) we made a morning trek, via bus, free with CityPass, to Golden Gate Park, which, contrary to what you might expect, was not near the Golden Gate Bridge. There we visited the De Young Museum (more art) and the California Academy of Sciences (science) right across the way. The De Young Museum was where I picked up Giant Cookie #2, which I shall review at a later date, since I have a backlog of Giant Cookies to gnaw through, and I have already gone on too long in this post). The two museums kept us busy until late afternoon, when we took the bus down to the shore, to explore the most arctic, foggy beach I have ever set foot on. Unsurprisingly, we didn't stay there long.

The boyfriend was having a craving for steamed buns, and we needed to check out Chinatown anyway, so that's where we headed next. I myself have a mild obsession with the Chinese pastries known as moon cakes, but I haven't been able to find any for probably two years. I had pretty much given up on ever eating a moon cake again, and thus I was delighted with surprise when we stopped in a bakery and found the mother lode of moon cakes, with every kind of filling under the sun! I limited myself to just two. I also bought the biggest Giant Cookie of the entire trip—some kind of peanut/almond thing which I haven't tasted yet. Chinatown, unfortunately, rolled up its sidewalks shortly after we arrived, so we left and completely forgot to even go looking for the big fancy gate that's supposedly around there somewhere.

By the time we got back to the room, I was so sleepy I couldn't even eat my dessert, and you know if I'm skipping dessert, I'm really sleepy!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

It's Gone

I spent hours - really, hours - composing today's post on my second day in San Francisco. However, it is not there in my Evernote account where I saved it earlier. Ugh. There is no way I'm rewriting that. Here are some photos instead.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

San Francisco by the Cookies, Day 1

If you were reading back in June, you will recall that my boyfriend was job hunting and was contemplating leaving me for a state named California. He ultimately chose to stay here ...for now... but in the last week of freedom before starting his new job in DC, he wanted to take a trip out to the West Coast to see what he was giving up. Well, I thought that was a terrible idea (right up there with moving away from me!) but I came with him to see what I might have to face if he changed his mind later.

While I was in San Francisco, I really outdid myself in the Giant Cookie department, buying 5 whoppers throughout the 4-day trip. And so, in keeping with my concerns aired in last post, I think this is a lovely opportunity to tell you a good old-fashioned narrative while still satisfying my compulsion to blog about giant cookies. It may have to happen in installments, because 4 days and 5 Giant Cookie Reviews are a lot to digest (get it!?) at once.

Day 1

On Saturday, my boyfriend cruelly dragged me out of bed shortly after 5 AM in order to catch our 7:05 flight. Even with this obscenely early wake-up, we still almost missed our plane; thus, my record of harrowing near-misses (and complete misses) every trip I take by air remains unbroken. I also lost yet another pocket knife to the sticky fingers of the TSA. It's a good thing I don't look like a terrorist, because I sure do carry around a lot of weaponry.

Thanks to the magic of time zones, we arrived in San Francisco only 2 hours after we left DC, leaving us with an entire day to entertain ourselves! And we weren't sure how to do it, especially since we were starving to death and incapable of coherent thought. Our hotel check-in clerk suggested we rectify this at a local establishment called The Grove, where we found a cute coffee-shop-like atmosphere, a really good grilled cheese sandwich, and Giant Cookie #1!

Giant Cookie from the Grove

Having eaten this cookie under the influence of a stuffy nose, I'm not sure how good it actually tasted, but the texture wasn't anything to jump up and down over. Cute and gigantic though it was (I wish I had gotten a picture of all the cookies sitting in the case, cause they looked pretty picturesque!), it was just any other cookie once it reached my mouth. It tasted like your standard Tollhouse cookie with just a little bit of softness and a little bit of crunch and a sort of chewy, sort of cakey texture. In other words, not really distinctive in any way. It weighed 120 grams, but I forgot to check the price, so I can't speak to its value. But as for the other criteria...
The Bottom Line:
Taste: 3 stars
Texture: 3 stars

The rest of Day 1 passed in sort of a haze of exploring and shopping, during which we discovered 2 truths about San Francisco:
  1. All the streets smell like pee (Ok, maybe just the streets downtown, but that was all we'd seen of SF so far, so it didn't make for a very good first impression)
  2. It has the worst climate imaginable.
Do you want to try to imagine it? I'll help.

San Francisco has no summer. I'm not even going to bother with the infamous quote about summer in San Francisco, because if you haven't heard it, you will, and shortly thereafter, you will have heard it enough times to never want to hear it again. I had heard the aforementioned quote years back, so I was somewhat prepared, and, like any responsible traveler, I had also read the weather forecasts before departing.

But no second-hand account by hyperbolizing writers nor thorough academic study of meteorology (which reveals, in case you were curious, that, at the warmest part of the year - right now in fact - the average highs in San Francisco are something like 74 F - barely warm enough to keep my nose from running - and the lows are a miserable upper 50's) could prepare me for the dreadful weather that I was about to experience

When we arrived at the city shortly after 9 am, the air was so cold, all I could do was complain about it. In a slightly more proactive gesture, I also donned my arm warmers, and soon followed them with my jacket. By the time we left our room for the second time, after lunch, it was warm enough that I left my jacket there. At some points during the day (lasting about 5 minutes each, while walking in the direct sun), it was even warm enough that I could take off my arm warmers and wear just my T-shirt! But come sunset, the bitter cold set in, and me without my jacket was a pitiful sight indeed. The next day, having learned my lesson, I wore my jacket, and my arm warmers, and added to the collection a winter headband, all of which I was then forced to carry around in my arms throughout the warm part of the afternoon. What kind of a place requires you to dress for winter in the morning and summer in the afternoon, every day? For the entire year!? Not the kind of place I'd want to live, that's for sure! Count me among the ranks of the hyperbolizing writers!

In summary, by Day 1, I had acquired one Giant Cookie and firmly made up my mind as to the (un)desirability of San Francisco as a permanent home.

Stay tuned for more Giant Cookies and more touristic adventures!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

More is Less? No, more is just somewhere else.

I don't know if you've noticed, but I've noticed, I blog less and less these days. My last three blog posts were food reviews, which are just not the same off-the-cuff thrilling content that I used to churn out like ice cream... Mmm, maybe I should start doing ice cream reviews!

I think I know the reason for my silence. It's that the short thinking points I used to have to invent a whole blog entry around, I can now say in just a few sentences on Facebook or Twitter! As I just said to a friend today, if you can learn whatever you need to learn in 5 seconds, why do it in 10?

The result of this is, when I have the chance to say it short and sweet, I probably won't bother saying it again long and syrupy. The more places I have in which to say things, the less I say in any single place—and my blog seems to be the place that always gets cut. Now don't get me wrong; I love blogging. Get me started and I'll be just as long-winded as I ever was!

That's why I'm thinking – just pondering, mind you – of taking all the things that I currently tweet about (for example, spinning in office chairs, or the joys of eating chocolate), and putting them back on my blog instead. Then I shall convert my Twitter into an exclusively work-related update mechanism–something that I can use to communicate with my clients and maybe occasionally say something profound and follow-worthy regarding Web design.

My Facebook is full of even more interesting story fodder—for example, my encounter with the shark in Ocean City, the tale of all the stuff I won within one lucky week in July, and the marvelously productive things I do on my Me-Time days!

I could, of course, post stuff in both places, or even use cross-posts to hype my blog to my Facebook friends (who, for the most part, probably don't know it exists), but at the same time, I kind of like knowing my blog is only ready by people who really care—and of course, the occasional random stranger. I also tend to find it annoying when I read the same thing from the same source in two or three different communication channels, and I prefer not to do the same. But maybe it's time to change my policy.

It's just something I've been thinking about. I probably won't take action for a while—at least until I roll out my website redesign, which is going slower than moles in cryo-freeze....but mainly I wanted to apologize to all my loyal readers who might not find endless cookie reviews as delectable as I do, and offer the glimmer of a brighter future.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tortoise & Hare Macaroni

I like going to bars for lunch because they are so often so quiet at that time of day. At Tortoise & Hare in Arlington, my boyfriend and I had the entire restaurant to ourselves, but for a few hardcore patrons sitting at the bar. The ambience of the restaurant, however, is neither here nor there, as I am here to write about the macaroni.

I ordered a sandwich with a side of macaroni and saved my side of macaroni for another day.

I did try a few bites while at the restaurant to ensure an accurate review, and my impression was, "pretty but bland." The plate was sprinkled with parsley, which I loved, and the pasta with shredded cheese, which I loved even more, but the flavor was less up my alley. It was sort of mild but slightly tangy, and, as is a frequent complaint of mine, not quite salty enough. The shredded cheese on top was, however, and you can always add salt, which is probably a better way to do things than put in too much salt from the get-go.

I guess my least favorite thing about this macaroni was the texture. I found the noodles a tad too soft, and with no breadcrumbs or anything to perk it up, it proved to be a pretty unexciting eat.

One happy noodle for not making me sad, One sad noodle for not making me happy.

1 happy noodle  1sad noodle