Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!

So here I am, 40 years old...crazy. :) But so far, it's GREAT. Ted threw me an AMAZING party at Massimo's Restaurant last night, and so many friends and family were there. It was truly great. Having a birthday right after Christmas means often that people are broke and partied out by the time your birthday comes around...Having a birthday on New Years Eve means that if you want to go out to celebrate, there is a bigger expectation that it be amazing and fun and crazy and expensive. So my birthday has always been kind of quiet and nice, but not that amazing, with the exception of a few parties back in the 80's, which were even then more about New Years than my birthday. Well, this birthday was GREAT, and all about me, and let me tell you, I sucked it up. I'm turning 40 EVERY year if it means attention like that. :) I had friends that I see often, and love dearly, there....I had friends that I see once a year at the very most, that I love dearly, there...I had family and friends surrounding me, all wonderful and lovely.

For the brief restaurant review, it was yummy. :) The cake was from Alpine Bakery, the food was banquet style from Massimo's, and everything was perfect and lovely.

Everyone who was there, thank you so much for giving me such an amazing time. Everyone who couldn't be there, you were sorely missed, and I did think of you...especially my family in the Pacific Northwest/Alaska/en route to India. And of course, Rosemary, who I would have loved to have there, but she is having surgery this week in PA. I think she would have preferred partying in WC, too. :)

One word of warning...the gifts and cards got mixed up in the huge torrential downpour, and I'm not completely clear on who gave me if I mess it up, please forgive me.

Again, a wonderful time. Thanks to everyone, and of course, mostly to my beloved Q for giving me such a wonderful party and making me feel so wonderful and special. :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Who's Spoiled???

Maya, for getting her doll?

Me, for getting a nice 'dock' for my iPod?

Or Ted, for getting his DVDs that he requested?

I'm thinking, ME. Most spoiled. That's as it SHOULD be. :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Chloe and her Christmas Pig

This is my niece, Chloe, and her wooden pig that she got for Christmas. Maya made the pig in carpentry class, and we tied a ribbon around its neck so Chloe can pull it around. Apparantly it was a big hit, as my sister Maya said that they had to stop opening gifts for quite awhile while Chloe played. :) Nice.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Comfort Food / Breakfast

So our latest excursion into Restaurant Land (I'm getting the idea we eat in restaurants WAY too often...) was Sunday morning, at the Alamo Cafe. It's been there FOREVER...Ted grew up in Danville, and remembers driving by it for years and years. Anyway, it's a TINY little greasy spoon place, with one waitress, one cook, one grill, and a guy who does the other stuff, like clean tables and such. Maybe he's a dishwasher/bus boy, who knows. We went for breakfast, and I got something I've never had before...pork chops and eggs. I don't think I would go for that again...the pork chops were OK, but kind of tough. The eggs I ordered over-medium, and they were a little bit runnier than I would have liked, though the whites WERE cooked through, so that's good. Ted got the vegetarian omlette, which he seemed to enjoy quite a bit. Maya got french toast, which looked a bit undercooked to me. Mine and Ted's both came with country fried potatoes, which were tasty. The service was pretty good, but it wasn't the CLEANEST place in the world. I think it's a good antidote to the super yuppy/over gentrified climate in which we find ourselves, esp in Walnut Creek, Danville, Alamo, etc. They had biscuits and gravy on the menu, too...I don't like biscuits and gravy, so I didn't order it, but I know some people LOVE it, so here's your chance to get greasy food in a tiny place. Wasn't cheap or terribly expensive. Seemed like it should have been cheap. Uh oh...I have a cold and I'm starting to lose it again...guess that's it for now...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

De Afghanan Restaurant

Yesterday we were out finishing up some Christmas shopping, and we decided to try a newish Afghani restaurant on Newall Ave., in the same shopping complex as Tuesday Morning and Casper's Hot Dogs, in Downtown Walnut Creek. It's a tiny little place, maybe 10 tables. The service was good, though the food took quite awihle to come. Ted had a lamb dish that he thought was going to be ground, but was actually little lamb chops that I thought was delicious...very flavorful with nice spices and a good texture. It was served with rice and salad. Maya ordered a dish of what were described as dumplings with leeks and potatoes inside, but really were more like thin potato pancakes. Also very flavorful and yummy. I ordered a stewed eggplant and tomato dish that was perhaps the best of all, served with some yogurt and cucumber. It was delicious and had a very nice texture. We'll definately go back, as the price was fair, the service was friendly, the food was very good, and it was very close to good bargain shopping at Tuesday Morning! (I got a waffle iron, so don't be surprised if there's a waffle party in the future...)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

War on Christmas?

So this whole "War on Christmas" thing has gotten a lot of stupid press this year...and it's just lame. I'll put in my two cents, and then we can all forget it, OK? Please? Who in hell REALLY thinks that Christmas is in danger in this country? The religious holiday may be in danger of being overrun by rabid secular (and religious, to be fair) shoppers, but how does wishing someone "Happy Holidays" threaten anyone? Seriously, have you been overwhelmed by Pagan Winter Solstice songs on the radio? Hannukah specials on TV? Or is it Christmas Christmas Christmas everywhere you look, with Santa and lights and trees and wreaths, candy and imploring shops asking you to buy buy buy? Get real. Christmas is safe from the PC Police, who are a bit annoying (peace tree? Whatever.), but basically harmless and (I assume) just trying to show compassion for the non-Christian among us, who celebrate other holidays (or don't), and would like a tiny break from the Christmas deluge. OK, that's it. I'm done. And if you're DYING to know the story behind this picture, you can find it here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I think we have a new favorite sushi place...

We tried a new (to us) sushi restaurant a few weeks ago, and it was VERY tasty. :) Nama Sushi & Teriyaki on Sunnyvale Ave (Where? What? Who? Sunnyvale is the side street off of North Main in Walnut Creek, next to Pasta Primavera Too). The Miso Soup was yummy and soothing. The Teriyaki Salmon was SO GOOD. The tempura was prepared perfectly. The teriyaki sauce is not as sweet as it can be at some other places, so it's tastier to me. Maya had some deep fried yam thing that she loved. Ted got the chef's special rolls, and wasn't is an assortment of different rolls, and he liked some much more than others. He might be more specific in his ordering next time...we'll definately be going back to see if the Teriyaki is consistant, and if he can find rolls that make him as happy as Maya and I were. Ted doesn't usually like Teriyaki, and even he loved it. :) That's a rave review.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Happy Anniversary!

So 18 years ago tonight, Ted and I went on our first official "date". We had pizza once before, but we never counted that as a date, because it was just an after school thing and we didn't really hit it off too much....

Anyway, 18 years ago, Ted came to my house on Fulton Street in SF, and we went to a party at his friend's house....I don't know who the friend was, or if I actually ever met him/her, because another friend, whom we'll call....Tim....because his name was Tim, came out and told us the party was pretty much over and we should go get a drink. So we went to drink at Yancy's (on Irving Street), which is a cool place right accross the street from PJ's oyster bed, a tasty place in its own right, but we didn't eat there that night, so I'll ignore PJs for now. At Yancy's we drank and I abused Tim verbally, which he apparantly liked because he asked Ted if he could have my number, should things not work out. I hope he's not waiting.

After drinks at Yancy's, we went back to my house (sans Tim) and drank tea and chatted until some ridiculous hour, like 3 or 4am, and then he went home and I went to catch a few hours of snooze. A GREAT first date. Anytime you stay up talking so long, and have so much to say, and can laugh, it's a great date. And yes, he kissed me. Sigh. Nice.

My American Dilemma....

So Maya has decided that this doll looks like her. She wants her. She is hoping to get her for Christmas. So here's the dilemma:

1. Doll is $87, plus tax and shipping.
2. She already has 3 American Girl dolls.

One of the dolls that she already has is supposed to look like her, too, but this one is NEW, and Maya thinks she looks MORE like her than the other one. She got the first one (named Abby) from a very good friend of mine who lives near NYC, and was overcome by the fun of going to American Girl Place and shopping while she was there. The second doll, Kaya, she got for her birthday, instead of a birthday party. The third doll, Nellie, she actually saved her money and bought for herself.

So I feel like one of those cartoons with a devil on one shoulder, and an angel on the other. The angel is saying, "She has 3 already, she certainly does NOT need another. If she TRULY wants the doll, she will save her own money to buy it."

The devil is saying, "It's Christmas, and you've bought her clothes and books. Boring! Yawn. Wake me up when you get her something interesting. And oh, by the way, you buy Ted what HE wants, and he buys you what YOU want (hello Nano in my pocket as we speak), so why are you so hesitant to buy her what SHE wants, when it is one of the few things she has truly expressed interest in?" The devil also tells me that the American Girl company is pretty you can read about here...forgive the christian right source...

The angel reminds me that she hasn't mentioned the doll since I put the catalog away...the devil knows she truly wants it, and would be thrilled to get it on Christmas. Sigh.

Friday I came home from the company Christmas party with 2 glasses of Chardonnay under my belt, and I wanted to buy it for her. I WANTED HER TO HAVE IT ON CHRISTMAS MORNING. But my angel called in reinforcements...I called Dorothy and Cherry, and they talked me down, off of the "order now" page at American Whew. I don't know about this Christmas thing. Maya's not giving me any pressure, but I sure do give it to myself!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Interesting? Probably not.

So I tried this blogging thing a couple of years ago, for one day, then forgot that I had ever done it. I made one post. It was August of 2002. Couldn't think of anything else to say until now. Now all of my friends are blogging, and like the lemming I am, I had to jump on the bandwagon. Anyway, here's the text of my first post, from when I first heard about blogging, in 2002:

I'm mostly thinking about the day camp where my daughter goes right now...they make me mad, because they give the kids crap to eat all day. I mean, popsicles and pop tarts and cookies. Ugh. No wonder so many kids are fat. Plus they watch movies at lunchtime every day. I tried talking to the director about this, but she just told me that I could pack healthy snacks for my daughter. Like any normal 6 year old is going to eat carrot sticks when there are poptarts in the room. Give me a break. She said that no other parents have complained at all. Why am I the only person who cares about this stuff? I mean, when she was a baby we had her in a home-care situation, and they wouldn't wipe her up properly, and she would come home with crap in her diaper. Like they changed it, and wiped, but not well. Once the waistband of her pants was covered in it. It was gross. Needless to say, I pulled her out of there pretty quickly. I also reported the daycare provider to the county licensing agency, and they investigated the situation. Not one other parent, current or former, had any complaints to make in this area. So, was my child the only one to not get cleaned up properly? Or did the other parents not change their kids' diapers until the next BM? Or did they just not care? I don't know. Anyway, regarding her day camp, I'll leave her there because they do take the kids swimming three days a week, which she loves, and it is only for 2 more weeks. Sigh.

Lafayette Circle Cafe

This last Sunday, Ted said he would like to go to lunch, and he would like to go somewhere that we had never tried before. Maybe it's all part of his 2005 New Year's Resolution to eat new things...that's a good resolution, and so much easier to keep than flossing regularly (sorry Dr. Ochikubo!). So he threw down the gauntlet and said we would go to downtown Lafayette, and find a new place to eat. Well, I wasn't in the mood for Chinese or Mexican food, and we had eaten everywhere else...or had we? We found ourselves walking toward Chow, which is mighty tasty and probably worth it's own review, when we spotted a house about 1/2 block further down the road, with a sign in front that said "Lafayette Circle Cafe and Tea Room". We thought we'd give it a try. When you come through the door, you find a restaurant that is obviously a renovated house, with little rooms of two or three tables each. It was that time of day when we could choose to order off of the brunch menu, or the lunch menu. We chose brunch. Ted ordered a crab benedict, which he said was very tasty, and came with crispy hash browns and fruit. Maya and I chose omlettes. Maya's was chedder cheese and bacon, and her only complaint was that the cheese was only on the outside of the omlette, not on the inside. That didn't seem to slow her down much. My omlette was bacon, green onions, and wild mushrooms. Very tasty, and all of my ingredients were INSIDE the omlette. The omlettes were fluffy and tasty, and I also were served with hash browns and fruit. I would have liked a bit more fruit on my plate, more of a side than a garnish, but they probably end up throwing a lot of fruit away, as the omlettes are pretty big.

The service was friendly and effecient. The table next to us apparantly had to wait quite awhile for their food, because the waitress came and explained to them that they had two parties of 15 that were just before them, and as it is a small kitchen, it really slowed things down for everyone else. They people at the table didn't mind, they were enjoying their lazy Sunday afternoon. Then a few minutes later the owner also came over to apologise to them for their wait. So it seems that they really do take the time to make sure you are happy.

The only downside was that Ted said his coffee wasn't very good. It had a burnt flavor to it that he suspected was the type of coffee they use rather than the coffee actually being burnt.

If you're ever looking for a place to "Do Tea", this might just be the place. I haven't seen any others this far out in the East Bay, but the Tea menu includes all of the requirements, like cucumber sandwiches, chicken salad, smoked salmon, quiche, tarts, and scones served with Devonshire Cream and Strawberry Preserves. Not inexpensive at $23 per person, but it might be a fun way to spend an afternoon. They have a 'teddy bear' tea for kids that is $25 per child and includes a teddy bear. Might be a fun birthday sometime. Hmmmm.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Pretty Good Deal in Walnut Creek?

Looking for some tasty food in Walnut Creek at a decent price? Downtown no less? What if I told you it's actually in Broadway Plaza? Would you keel over? Try Stanford's Restaurant & Bar. Here's the have to go during Happy Hour, which is from 3-6pm. You also have to eat in the bar (but they do allow kids in the bar area). Where else are you going to get Crab & Seafood Cakes for $3.95, or Penne Pasta & Roma Tomatoes for $2.95? None of the items are big enough for a whole meal, but you could have BBQ Chicken Quesadillas ($2.95) and a Southwest Chopped Salad ($1.95), and a drink ($1.95 for soft drinks, but I'm pretty sure refills are free), and you're out the door for about $8.50, INCLUDING tax and tip. Sweet deal. And the food is pretty good, too. :) You're welcome.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Singing to my baby

It's a rainy, blustery day today, which for some reason puts me in the mood for mellow, quietish music. So I was walking the dog this morning, listening to Simon and Garfunkel on my iPod (yay!), and this song came on, "For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her". That's one of the songs I used to sing to Maya when she was a baby. That and "Kathy's Song". She used to sing along with me, in her sweet little toddler voice, well before she knew what the words meant. Then I would tuck her into her crib. I kind of miss those days sometimes. Such sweet memories. I wonder if I tried to sing to her these days, if she would let me? Maybe if she had a fever or something, I could get away with it. :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mmmmm....Rib Eye!

Back in my misspent youth, I worked for two years at a fancy steak place called "Mr. Steak" (This is not the Mr. Steak I worked at, but it looks remarkably similar...get me drunk sometime and ask me to pronounce "petite cut" for you!). Please, not "Happy Steak". "Mr. Steak". While there, I actually learned a thing or two (and that's about all) about the different cuts of steak. For instance, I learned that a Filet Mignon is the most tender cut of steak because it has very little connective tissue (just learned that part...thanks Cherry!). Alas, it also has very little marbeling (aka, fat), and the fat is what gives the meat its flavor, so while a Filet can be incredibly tender (people go on and on about how you can cut them with a fork), it doesn't have a ton of flavor. If you like tender, get the filet. However, if you want flavor, try a New York Strip or a Rib Eye. A NY cut is part of a T-Bone, with the other part being the Filet. A Rib Eye is the same cut as a slice of Prime Rib, just cooked differently. I LOVE a good Rib Eye. Mmmmm. Lots of fat to cut away, yes, but SO much yummy flavor, and the meat is actually pretty tender if you cut the fat away and don't overcook it.

So, in the last few months I have had the opportunity to try Rib Eyes at three different restaurants, and I thought I might compare them for you. They are, in order of my visits, McNamera's Steak and Chop House in Dublin, Ruth's Chris Steak House in Walnut Creek, and the
Big Horn Grill in San Ramon.

McNamera's Steak and Chop House is a Chicago type steak house, with dark wood and big, cozy booths. We went pretty early in the evening (5:00), so it was pretty slow. The service was efficient and friendly. The wine list was pretty extensive, and we splurged on a bottle of Clos Pegase '01 Cabernet. Mmmm. Tasty. We started with a bowl of Lobster and Shrimp Bisque, which was good, but not my favorite soup in the world. Then we moved on to our steaks. The steaks are Mid Western, corn fed, aged 21 To 28 days, and cooked In a 1600-degree broiler, which is key, because it sears in the yummy juices. I had the Rib Eye, of course, which was the BEST steak I had ever had in my life. It was perfectly prepared, excellent quality, expertly seasoned. My friend had the Filet Mignon. To be fair, I SHOULD have tasted hers, so I could tell you whether the Filet had flavor or not. I was too busy scarfing mine down. The meat was melting in my mouth, though I DID use a knife to cut it. ;) Flavor like this doesn't come cheap, tho. We paid $27.95 for my "petite" rib eye, and $32.95 for Neva's Filet. The meal comes with veggies, potatoes, and bread. Great meal.

Ruth's Chris Steak House is fairly new to Walnut Creek, and it's located downtown, upstairs near Andronicos. The atmosphere was more to my taste than McNamera's, with sage green walls hung with pretty pictures. Ted was in a spendy mood, so he ordered a VERY nice bottle of wine. Unfortunately, I don't remember what it was, but I do remember that it was very yummy. Ted and I both ordered Rib Eyes, which came out perfectly cooked and again, THE BEST STEAK I HAD EVER TASTED. They ALSO use corn fed, aged beef, though they sear it in an 1800-degree oven, not 1600-degree like McNamera's. Was there a 200 degree in taste? Not really. My only problem with Ruth's Chris is that you have to pay extra for your veggie and your potato. I think when I'm paying this much for a steak (prices aren't on the website menu, but it was up there, maybe $37 each for the steaks?), they can throw in some veggies and a potato. Nope. The Broiled Tomatoes were simply delicious to a tomato lover like myself, but really, $7? The potato could have fed a family of 4 dinner, and was fluffy and tasty and everything that an Idaho potato SHOULD be. But $7? That's $14 between the potato and the tomato. (A song is coming to mind...can you guess which one?) Anyway, it was a LOVELY evening, with delicious food, and as I knew ahead of time that they charge extra for the sides, I wasn't blindsided or shocked. I'll go back, definately.

The third steak restaurant is the little known Big Horn Grill, which is owned by the same people who own Girasole Grill. Take a pass on Girasole, it sucks. Just accept that. Don't go. Please. Instead, get thee to Big Horn for tasty appitizers and steak. They (and Girasole, to be fair) have a yummy appitizer called Scoozzi, which is gorgonzola & green onion pocket bread, rubbed with fresh garlic, and served with fresh tomato basil fresco. People who plan on kissing each other later should imbibe together, as it is pretty garlicky. The steaks are, again, pretty darned good stuff. Midwestern beef, corn fed, aged 21 to 28 days. They don't say how hot their oven is, but the steak came out with a lovely sear, and it was delicious and juicy inside. Again, however, it is ala carte, so you pay extra for your side dishes. The side dishes aren't quite as good (or as expensive) as at Ruth's Chris, but there's really nothing wrong with them. Maybe it's just me and the tomato. We love each other, really. Mmmm. Anyway, the steak was wonderful, and the service was fine, though not as good as the other two restaurants. The steak was $28 at Big Horn, about the same as McNamara's, and less than Ruth's Chris.

So, which would I reccomend? That's hard. All three had really, really tasty steak. All three were nice, all three were friendly. I guess I would qualify it. I would bring Maya to Big Horn (we did, actually), and I wouldn't to the other two places. The atmosphere was nicest (to my taste) at Ruth's Chris. it was the most elegant, the most romantic of the three. The best deal was at McNamera's, because you didn't pay extra for sides. None of them were cheap, but GOOD steak rarely is. (Get it, RARELY? Ha.) So, go eat BEEF.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


The best meal of my almost middle-aged life was, hands down, the fancy dinner we had in Paris on our honeymoon. Take my advice. If you're ever in a city that is known for its food, like say, Paris, scrimp and save but at least ONCE, eat at the BEST restaurant you can possibly afford. You will not regret it. So, we ate mostly at chinese delis and pubs, sometimes getting duck and wine from the shops and taking it back to our hotel to eat, and we saved our money for one big dinner. We asked our hotel staff where we could go for a really nice dinner, but we could get in that same evening. They made us a reservation at a restaurant named Laperouse. We arrived at a restaurant that looked like it used to be a house. We arrived at the ungodly hour of 8pm, and we were the first people there, which may have been why we could get a reservation at such short notice. The waiter was just putting on his jacket as we arrived, so I think they were just opening for dinner.

We were seated in a small room that held a buffet table, our table, and one or two others. That's it. The maitre d' informed us that the special dessert that evening was a peach tart, and if we would like to have it, we should order it now, as it is prepared fresh to order. Of course, who can say no to a peach tart? Not us. We ordered a drink, vodka tonic, and they brought us a glass of ice and vodka, and filled it about 1/2 way with tonic water, then left us with the tonic bottle. Very nice. Ted could have his drink stronger, and I could have mine with more tonic, and we were both happy. We ordered a bottle of wine, which the waiter brought to us, opened, then set on the buffet to let it breathe. Very nice. We ordered lobster salad and escargot ravioli for appitizers. We ordered lamb for dinner. (Maybe Ted had duck? It's been so long...) I didn't know the french word for lamb, so when the waiter took my order, I pointed at the one item that I knew wasn't veal (veu), beef (beuf), duck (canard) or chicken (poulet) and asked, "Qu'est que c'est?" (What is this?) The waiter didn't speak English, so he said, "um....C'est petite 'baaahhh'". Perfect. J'ai voudrais sil vous plait. (I'll take it!) Turns out that our meal also came with small appitizers that they brought out. I think it was canetelope wrapped in prochuto or something very similar. Very yummy. Then our salad and ravioli came. Oh. My. God. So good. Melt in your mouth, creamy, rich, but not so rich that you couldn't enjoy it. Then our wine and lamb (duck? Maybe not...Ted? Do you remember?). Again, SO GOOD. The lamb was prepared perfectly, very nice medium rare, very tasty. The veggies were crisp and yummy. After we practically licked our plates from that, they brought us our peach tarts. They were huge. We thought, "oh no, we should have shared one!" Good thing we didn't, because one of us would have lost a hand if we had tried to take it from the other. It was amazing. The pastry was light and airey and delicate and flaky. The peaches were ripe and juicy and delicious. Again, we had to stop ourselves from licking the plates. Another couple had been seated in our room by this point (9:30 or so, probably), and they might have frowned on that. Then, it turns out that there was a little dessert that came with our meal. The waiter brought out a little tray with tiny chocolates and fruit tarts. No way. Too full. Couldn't eat another bite. What happened to our desserts? Oh. We ate them. SO. GOOD. Every single bite of that meal was FLAWLESS. The atmosphere was lovely and romantic. The service was friendly and professional. We left after paying with our funny looking francs that made it seem like monopoly money, and walked back to our hotel along the Seine. Reminded me of a scene in "Babette's Feast", walking home, feeling SO good, full but somehow not painfully stuffed.

Again, I cannot stress strongly enough. If you can, eat like this once in awhile. It's truly wonderful. Truly an art. Worth EVERY penny. (or franc...)

Monday, November 28, 2005

In the Mood for British Pub Food?

Have you ever found yourself thinking, "I could sure go for a good Steak & Kidney Pie"? No, me neither, but once in awhile I DO find myself thinking a good cottege pie or lamb stew would be nice, and then I start thinking, "Mr. Pickwick's!"

Mr. Pickwick's used to be our friendly neighborhood pub, but then they tore the building down for apartments or condos or whatever, and Mr. Pickwick's relocated to its "new" location in Concord, which is where the old CC Ole's used to be. The menu hasn't changed in the new location, though I do miss the fireplaces.

The food at Mr. Pickwick's is hit or miss, in my opinion. The lamb stew (Named Mr. Brownlow on the menu) is a good bet. The lamb is tender and flavorful, the veggies are fresh tasting, and the sauce is yummy. It is served over a nice bed of rice. On our most recent visit, however, Ted tried the Shephard's Pie (named Bill Sykes on the menu), and he found it fairly tasteless. Very unhappy. In fact, the solution was for me to make some Shephard's pie for dinner last night. Good thing I know how. :) Maya had the Cornish Chicken Pie (named Tiny Tim, it's basically a chicken pot pie), which was very nice...the crust was tender, the chicken flavorful, and the veggies had a nice texture and taste. My only question was, why serve it with mashed potatoes? Strange. You can choose your side dishes for these meals...carrots, peas, or mushy peas, and either chips (steak fries) or mashed potatoes. I've never tried the mushy peas, but all of the other options have proven to be quite good. I overheard someone at the next table saying that the "bangers and mash" is quite good, though I've never tried it.

If you are looking for a good English Beer to drink with your meal, or while you play darts or watch the game, Mr. Pickwicks is a great place to come. They have Bass and Guiness on tap, as well as many others with which I am not familiar. I don't drink beer. The wine list is limited, which is about what you would expect from a pub. Overall, this is a fine, family friendly pub, with some good dishes. I still miss the old atmosphere, though.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I think that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday now...interesting because I used to hate it. When I was a teen, Thanksgiving meant going to my grandparents' house. My grandfather would criticize everyone, scold, and generally be mean. My grandmother believes that anything you cook should come from a box or a can, so the only things that were fresh and homemade were the turkey and the fruit salad. My grandma makes a mean fruit salad, and mostly that's what I lived off of. Her turkey was SO dry, your teeth would stick together trying to chew it. The bones of the turkey would fall apart. I kid you not. The yams came from a can, with yucky marshmallows on top. The gravy was from a packet (beef) to go on the potatoes, from a box. You get the picture. The food was bad. The atmosphere was tense, what with the criticism and all. Then add the fact that most of my family is on a never ending diet, so there's guilt involved in eating anything at all, and tons of guilt involved in the kind of meal that we have on Thanksgiving.

Now, however, I'm grown. We have Thanksgiving at my in-law's house. The house is always decorated and happy. There is music and laughter. Everyone brings a few things, so it's a group effort, and not one person doing all of the work to feed 12 people. The food is delicious. We all make our favorites, and we talk about the things that make us feel truly thankful. One of mine is my in-laws. :)