Monday, February 23, 2009

Remember the 80s?

At work today I went a couple aisles down from my cube to my old cube. My old cube is located where my old team sits. Even though I am not on their team anymore, I still feel like I am still one of them so I go for a visit now and then. One of the women brought in her old CD's she was cleaning out of her house. So everyone was talking about what they used to listen to back in the day when they were in high school. One of the girls said she listened to Debbie Gibson. The rest of my team said, "Who's that? I've never heard of her. What did she sing?" I was like, are you kidding? She was awesome! She sang "Only in My Dreams" and "Shake Your Love." I saw her in concert. OK, I just totally dated and outed myself as a former teen pop star fan... But still, Debbie Gibson brings back great memories... The 80's!

After that little conversation I went back to my desk, took out my iPhone and queued up Pandora. Pandora is a sweet little application that streams music based on an artist you key in (Oh, BTW apps for the iPhone like Pandora makes reason #1369 for getting one). It selects genres of songs based on who you pick. So I keyed in "Debbie Gibson" and I spent the rest of my work day with background music of some old friends:

Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam
Richard Marx
The Bangles
Belinda Carlisle
Naked Eyes
The Motels

It is pretty amazing how listening to all of that just takes you back to another time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wasabi, A Little Goes a Long Way

I went out to lunch with my team today. We were celebrating a woman's birthday on my team. She initially wanted Thai food, but fortunately the Thai restaurant was closed for a private party today. Yeah, I really do not like Thai food. I have never craved Thai food or even thought, "Hey you know what sounds good, a nice Pad Thai!" Nah, no, not... Fortunately for me, my favorite Japanese restaurant is right next to the Thai restaurant, and everyone (yes, I used the Jedi mind trick on all of them) thought Japanese sounded good.

We went in, I said a big "Hi!" to the owner and received the warm, happy greeting (favorite restaurant means JP frequents the place quite a bit). We all ordered lunch. I sat next to the Birthday girl who ordered sushi for the first time ever. Brave girl. Of course, she was sitting next to the master... I was explaining all the in's and out's of the different types of sushi you can get. She went with a raw, spicy salmon roll and the "standard" California roll. I went with my standard selection of spicy tuna roll and an Alaskan roll. The sushi came, and she asked me what the green stuff was. I told her it was the "heat," the stuff of legends, and the main reason why a lot of people eat sushi -- WASABI!! I told her some people mix it with soy sauce, while purists like myself take it straight up on the sushi. She picked a little wasabi with her chopsticks and before I could warn her, stuck it in her mouth...

So after the paramedics left after having revived her, and her normal facial color returned, she said she could not believe how hot it was. I told her she should be one of the soy mixing people to start her sushi eating adventures. That worked out pretty well and she was lovin' the raw fish and was looking forward to trying it again. She said she really liked the colors of the food and was almost disappointed to eat it, because it was so pretty. Another satisfied customer.

Today's incident reminded me of $10 I spent in high school. My friend and I were at a sushi bar and he kept saying that the wasabi wasn't that hot. I bet him $10 he couldn't take the 1x1 inch of wasabi and down it all at once. He took the bet. He just about died. He turned bright, bright red, his eyes shot out of his head and he pounded his fists on the table and afterwards chased after his sinuses which unmercifully shot out of his head and went screaming away into the night. It was the best $10 I had ever spent!!! Yeah, that's right. That's how JP ROLLS!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Clearwater Here We Come

and I are putting together our vacation plans for the end of March. We determined we are headed south. We are going to road trip it. We were batting around the ideas of Las Vegas, the Caribbean, a cruise, and Florida for vacation and to celebrate Sharkey's:


Well, with all the planes going down all over the world and more frequently in the North East, the statistics of safely flying is becoming a bit troubling. And even though the "spendulous" package passed through congress this week and is going to give us a whopping $15 more dollars a week, we thought we'd try to conserve a bit, while still having fun. So here's what we are looking at:

Day 1: Reston, VA

There's a restaurant there called Big Bowl.

Sharkey and I used to frequent Big Bowl in Minneapolis, and this is the closest one and on the way south to our final destination.

Day 2: The Carolina's

Lunch in Raleigh, NC to meet with friends, possibly a nephew and then on to Charleston, SC.

Day 3: Florida Land of Oranges and Mickey

On to Florida. Cross the border, drink some fresh orange juice and then explore some coastal towns. We could use some help with this leg of the trip. I wonder if someone who lived in Florida has any ideas (cough, William, cough, cough) for us?

Days 4-6 : Clearwater, Phillies vs. Astros, beach / umbrella drink time

Clearwater, Florida. We are taking in a preseason game for the 2008 World Series Champions, Philadelphia Phillies:

We also thought we could hang out in Clearwater for a few nights and do some days at the beach and just relax.

Day 7: On the road again

Back up the coast to the Carolina's

Day 8: The Keystone State

Home sweet home in PA

Day 9: Recuperation, it's not just for breakfast anymore...

Crash out at home from the trip

We are hoping to see more of the things you would typically miss when you fly over them in an airplane. I'm sure Sharkey will take lots and lots of pictures and I'm hoping we can find some off the path places and little food places. This trip reminds us both when we were kids on vacation with our families in the car on the road. Do you remember? Let me take you there. It was the time when the cars on the road were all metal, no one wore seat belts, and you would hang on the front seat from the back, cause front seats were not separate, but were like couches. And you'd hear some familiar tunes on the AM/FM radio while Dad drove all over the place with the window down and his left arm out the window.

Yeah, those times. Great times...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Mac N' Cheese

I have been on a quest for the past two days. I have been trying to make homemade Mac N' Cheese. And I am trying to find a "great" recipe. I am talking about something better than the Kraft box kind. I am talking something like S'MAC in NYC:


I was driving home from work the other night and it was cold, blustery and overcast. It was one of those nights you want to curl up by the fire and have some "comfort" type food. You know what I mean? Something like a great soup with some crusty bread, or meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy, or some really good mac n' cheese. That's when something inside my head clicked. Mind you this is a different type of clicking from when JP has a revelation. There's less smoke, bells, and lights flashing...

So last night I tried to reproduce the S'MAC gooey goodness. I tried to make their Napoletana dish. It was pretty good, but it fell short of what I had in mind. Sharkey liked it too, but said I needed to tweak it a bit.

Tonight was round 2. I felt that the mozzarella cheese really wasn't a good cheese for mac n' cheese, so I went to the traditional sharp cheddar. I have used recipes of Alton Brown before, so I figured I would give another one of his creations a try. So I made the Stove top Mac & Cheese. This dish was picture perfect. I thought it had the right texture and it looked yummy. Unfortunately, the dry mustard gave it a weird taste and Sharkey thought it was a bit salty. GGGGGGGGRRRRRRR... Alton you let me down brother!!!! I also felt really unsatisfied after eating it, so I filed it under "T."

My next attempt with be to modify the S'MAC recipe and replace the mozzarella and muenster with other cheeses. Maybe American/Cheddar? Or perhaps a Gruyere? I will get it right. I need to get it right. Anyone have a good recipe I can try?