Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

Last Friday we went to the Pirates game. There seemed to be as many Cubs fans as Pirates fans at the game - boo. The Pirates blew it in the 9th inning, but we did get to enjoy this as the game was starting:
Pulled Pork & Pierogie Sandwich. Yum. It was a little difficult to eat, but we managed. After the sandwich we were still a little hungry so we shared this:
Pizza from Slice on Broadway. Yum.

Saturday we went to see Wonder Woman - finally! We both really enjoyed the movie. I remember watching Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman on TV when I was a kid. It must have aired on Friday or Saturday nights because I remember being at sleepovers and all of us settling down in our sleeping bags to watch the show. My neighborhood friends and I used to make tiaras and bracelets out of aluminum foil or yellow colored paper and we used our jump ropes as lassos. I am sure that nowadays you can buy realistic tiaras and bracelets/cuffs and a real lasso, but back then, well, you had to get a little creative and raid mom's foil cupboard when she wasn't looking.

Anyway, I was really excited to see the movie and it didn't disappoint. I may have even gotten a little teary. 
What We're Eating This Week:

  • Ribs, Potato Salad, Grilled Zucchini
  • Grilled Flank Steak, Grilled Mushrooms, Tomatoes on tortillas
  • Fruit salad - so much fruit: watermelon, cantaloupe, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, grapes
  • Dessert: Madeleines

What We're Watching:
  • We watched the 2 hour finale of Genius. We both really enjoyed season 1, which chronicled Einstein's life. There's supposed to be a season 2, but not sure who will be profiled.
  • The finale of Fargo Season 3 was last night. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. It didn't leave me with a sense of satisfaction, but maybe that was the point.
  • We started watching OITNB Season 5 on Netflix. So far we've watched 5 episodes. 
What I'm Reading:
  • I read The Killing Bay by Chris Ould. It's Book #2 in the Faroes series. I think I read somewhere that the series is a trilogy, so there's one more book. I enjoyed the second one as much as the first.
  • My magazine pile is holding steady at 3 unread (3 new issues arrived, but I read 3).

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Papa J's

Last weekend, SP's family gathered on Saturday evening for a belated birthday/day early Father's Day dinner for his dad. His dad chose Papa J's in Carnegie. I had never dined there before but when I lived down the street, I had take out a few times. Mostly I remember the time I ate a spinach ravioli dish that was very garlicky and I had my usual horrible garlic reaction. This time, I was careful to avoid garlic.

I thought the entrance was on East Main Street/the corner, but it's actually on the side, on Broadway. When you walk in (there's one step to get in but they have a ramp they'll put out if you need it), you're confronted by a deli counter of breads and desserts (which I think are made by Mediterra). I thought we were again trying to enter the wrong way! But, no, the hostess area is around the corner. There is a dining area up a step in a bright room overlooking Broadway and a dining area through a doorway into a large area. There were several large tables set up, so it seems that Papa J's can easily accommodate large groups. I think of Papa J's as old school, white tablecloth Italian.
SP & I chose Fried Zucchini to start. I forgot to take a photo until the planks were gone. They were tasty. I didn't eat the marinara, just squeezed lemon over them, but sometimes I prefer that to marinara.
SP's dad ordered Fresh Black Mussels (steamed & tossed in garlic butter or marinara). He chose marinara. Everyone really liked these. They looked pretty garlicky to me. I didn't try any for that reason and because I don't like mussels.
For my entree, I chose Chicken Romano (dipped into fresh egg, pecorino & parsley, pan-fried, served with lemon). There were 3 pieces of thin chicken. I would have liked more pecorino flavor, but maybe I just don't understand what this dish should taste like. I've only made it once and that was years ago. I took half the chicken home for lunch. The veggies were a little too firm for me.
For his entree, SP chose Eggplant Rollatini (fried eggplant filled with herbed ricotta, baked). He said it was delicious. I tried a bit of the herbed ricotta and it was yummy.
For dessert we shared Cannoli. A nice crisp shell and creamy filling. I could have done without the chocolate sauce swirled on the plate.

Everyone enjoyed their food. While we ordered drinks, we were served baskets of Mediterra bread with an olive oil/balsamic dipping sauce. The kids ordered spaghetti & meatballs and ravioli. SP's dad ordered a special of the day, lobster and crab ravioli in a red pepper cream sauce. Papa J's also offers a whole wheat linguine and gluten free thin spaghetti. Our server was friendly enough. We'd go back.

Papa J's - Carnegie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, June 19, 2017

Kamuela Provision Company

We spent our last 3 days in Hawaii in the Kohala Coast area of the Big Island. We stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. I'm not sure how I feel about this resort. On the one hand, it was probably the nicest wheelchair accessible room we've ever had. On the other hand, our "water view" room was a ground level view of a sliver of the lagoon & a walking path from which people walking could see into our room. Also, from the lobby, it was a 6-7 minute walk to our room in the Lagoon Tower (walking at SP's quick pace). The first 2/3 of the walk was on flagstone, so it was very bumpy & uncomfortable for me, plus hot because it wasn't inside/air conditioned. The last 1/3, the carpet part, it was very plush carpet, so the wheelchair really sank into it and SP had a hard time pushing me and I swear the hallway wasn't air conditioned. It was stuffy and we always ended up extra sweaty. I have no idea why the building/rooms were so far from the lobby. Or why they put a mobility accessible room the entire length of the Lagoon Tower away from the elevators. Basically, we had to backtrack to get to our room because the genius architect only put elevators on the far end of the building, not in the middle or on both ends. The walk was awful & we hated it.

The day we arrived, we had spent 7-8 hours traveling from Hilo to Kohala, stopping at the Botanical Gardens and some other sights. Check in took a while & then we were very unhappy with our room view since we were paying extra for a water view, so we tried to change rooms, but that didn't work out because the genius front desk clerks didn't seem to grasp that we needed a wheelchair room, so we went to our room, then another, then back to the original. It was hot and we were annoyed. So it's a good thing we had made dinner reservations for 6:30 pm at one of the resort restaurants because we weren't settled in our room until nearly 6 pm, we had to freshen up, and we had to figure out where exactly the restaurant was. I would not have been happy if we had to get back in the car, drive somewhere, and find a place to dine on Saturday night.

We had decided to try Kamuela Provision Company because of the view. We made reservations for 6:30 so that we would be there for sunset.
Definitely a spectacular view. We each ordered white wines and munched on bread while we studied the menu. Here's what we enjoyed:
The bread basket. I especially liked the crisp, crunchy, cracker like thing in the front/left part of the photo.
Neither of us remembers what this is. It doesn't look like any of the menu appetizer descriptions. SP thinks it was a special but he doesn't remember what other than probably fish. I don't have a receipt for the meal. So, let's go with some kind of special fish appetizer.
We shared Keala’ola Farm Organic Local Greens (baby field greens, cucumber, radish, carrot ribbons, Hamakua cherry tomatoes, Big Island heart of palm, kalamansi vinaigrette). This was a good salad. I rememebr really liking the dressing.
SP's entree: Pacific Seafood Bouillabaisse (grilled Kona kampachi, mussels, clams, Kauai prawns, saffron fennel broth, herb crostini).
Beer & Wine Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs (roasted vegetables, creamy cavatappi and cheese,
red wine beer jus, Italian parsley, lemon vinaigrette). This was really good, especially the pasta.
Kona coffee, the only kona coffee we enjoyed when we were in Hawaii.
For dessert we shared Ka’u Orange Ginger Brulee (caramelized raw Maui Sugar, seasonal fruits). This was very good, too.

We were a little skeptical going into dinner because it seems as if a lot of resort restaurants do not review very well. We were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed our food. It was definitely pricey, but it's Hawaii and it was right along the ocean with a fantastic view. Our server was terrific and definitely didn't rush us but let us sit and enjoy everything. He even offered to take a photo of us, which was nice. We'd go back.

  Kamuela Provision Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, June 16, 2017

Roasted Ratatouille with Creamy Parmesan Polenta

A couple weekends ago, we made Ina Garten's Roasted Ratatouille with Creamy Parmesan Polenta for dinner. It's from her cookbook Cooking For Jeffrey.  It's super easy and there are lots of veggies: zucchini, red & yellow pepper, eggplant, onion, and tomatoes. Just chop all the vegetables (except the cherry tomatoes) about the same size, season with salt and pepper, toss with olive oil, spread out on a large baking sheet, and roast at 450 until tender and browned. Lower the oven to 425 and add the tomatoes. Cook another 15 minutes. Serve over polenta.

This is the best polenta we've ever made. Maybe because we bought a pricier polenta: Bob's Red Mill medium grind stone-ground cornmeal. It's what Ina says she uses. Maybe because of the cheese, creme fraiche, and butter (we used sour cream instead of creme fraiche). It's really tasty. We kept scraping it up off our plates.  
This meal gets added to our favorites list. Really good. All those yummy veggies and creamy, cheesy polenta. So. Good.

*Apologies for having only these 2 cell phone photos. Something was off with the good camera and all the photos turned out blurry.

Roasted Ratatouille recipe here.
*we used half a leftover white onion, omitted the garlic, and skipped the basil because our basil plant wasn't large enough yet
Creamy Parmesan Polenta recipe here.
*we used sour cream instead of creme fraiche & omitted the garlic

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

Last weekend I got my hair cut. It's pretty short. Even though I told her to take an inch off and lighten it up, I was surprised how much was gone when she was all done. That's OK. Summer = hot weather so I like shorter hair. Plus, it'll grow.

Last weekend we also got to visit with my CA aunt & uncle. They were in town for a visit. I don't know them very well because my whole life they've lived in CA and I grew up in PA, but it was nice to visit with them.

The vacation car rental issue is still not resolved. We've told them that they need to go after the people who hit us & that we filed a report with them the day of the accident & that we requested the accident report from the park police & will send it as soon as we get it but they still call/email/snail mail nearly every day asking for payment on the repair. Then we noticed a case # discrepancy - like on some papers it's one number and on others it's a different number. I don't think we'll use this rental company again. So far, completely inept. When we were rear ended in Oregon, Enterprise was excellent and we had no problems. This company? Clueless. Annoying. Lazy. Inept.

What We're Eating This Week:

What We're Watching:

  • We watched the Pens win the Stanley Cup. Then we stayed up watching the celebrating and all the interviews so Monday we both were pretty tired.
  • We are caught up on Fargo and enjoying it quite a bit.
  • We started watching Genius. It jumps between younger Einstein and older Einstein. So far, it's quite interesting.
  • The final season of Orphan Black started last weekend. The first episode was decent, but I hope they move things along and resolve some issues/answer some questions/mysteries.
  • Catching up on Netflix movies: I watched Miss Sloane, which I enjoyed a lot, and Live By Night, which was decent.

What I'm Reading:
My magazine pile is at 3. My book stack is at 4.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Liko Lehua Cafe

Our last night in Hilo we decided to try Liko Lehua for dinner. They take reservations, so we made a reservation. We were seated at a booth which surprised me because usually since I am in a wheelchair, we are seated at tables instead of booths. I didn't want to sit on the end of the booth, sticking out, so we scooted me into the booth. The seat was uncomfortable for me and I felt like the table was way too high/I was seated way too low, so we had to scoot me back out and I sat on the end. I felt like I was sticking out into everything, but it was much more comfortable for me.
After all that scooting and settling in, we ordered iced teas and SP also ordered a cocktail, I think it was cucumber and gin. Here's what we ate:
There was a snack of pretzels with a guava butter dipping sauce.
We shared an appetizer of Arancini (panko crusted crispy risotto with goat cheese and pesto aioli). Apologies for the blurry photo. I only took one photo and this is it. These were yummy. Crispy exterior. Cheesy interior.
SP chose Taegu Salad (strawberries, tomato, feta, and fish with Oriental dressing). I don't remember what kind of fish it was. He liked this a lot and since it was fish & salad he was able to help me with my dinner:
Chicken Risotto (herb roasted chicken, creamy risotto, feta, balsamic drizzle). This was really tasty. Herby chicken, creamy risotto, salty feta, the sweet balsamic tang. So good. It also was a large portion for me. Even with SP's help, I couldn't finish it. I took the leftovers back to the hotel since we had a microwave. I think we ate it cold the next morning.

We were too full for dessert even though a couple of options were appealing (apple crisp, s'more, bread pudding).

We both enjoyed our food. Our server was terrific and made sure there wasn't any garlic in my meal. It was relaxing and casual, a nice way to unwind after a busy day of driving around seeing the sights. There was a wait when we left so I'd suggest making a reservation. If we're ever again in Hilo, we'd dine here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hilo Town Tavern

The day we spent at Volcanoes National Park was a very long day. It's about a 45-50 minute drive from our hotel in Hilo. We went on a park ranger led walk/hike to a crater overlook and it rained during the entire 45 minute walk. Our rental car was parked when some foreign tourists rammed crashed into it. And we hadn't figured out dinner. So on the drive back, around 6 pm, we were trying to figure it out. We finally decided to order take out from Hilo Town Tavern. It's a bar so they serve bar food. Bar food + long day = mozzarella sticks. Yum.
I tried to be healthy with a Cobb Salad (with grilled chicken strips, romaine, boiled egg, bacon bits, blue cheese crumble, onion, cucumber, tomato with creamy honey mustard dressing). It was good, large, and as usual, I got bored eating a big salad.
SP surprised me by choosing Sloppy Sliders (3 Sliders on Hawaiian sweet bread). He said they were really good. They use grass fed beef for the burgers and sliders.
He also got a side salad and helped finish my salad.

It was good for a quick dinner after a long day. I was almost too tired to eat, so I don't remember the salad, I just remember sitting on the hotel balcony enjoying cheesesticks and guzzling bottled water before being attacked by these annoying little bugs and moving back inside. Hilo Town Tavern has live music and after he ran in to get our food, SP said he was glad we weren't eating in the restaurant because it was loud. We were too tired for a loud bar!

Hilo Town Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hilo Bay Cafe

After a week in Waikiki, we flew to Kona on the Big Island and drove 2 hours across the island to Hilo. The islands are very different. I definitely felt more isolated and "out there" on the Big Island.
Our first meal in Hilo was at Hilo Bay Cafe, which was walking distance from our hotel. We had made reservations and were seated right away at our table with a bowl of popcorn awaiting us. The restaurant used to be in a strip mall by the Walmart but now it's next to Liliuokalani Park along the water. There is an elevator in back.
SP ordered iced tea, as did I, plus I decided to finally indulge in a fruity, vacationy cocktail: Strawberry Guava Mojito. It was good, fruity and minty. Here's what we ate:
Sashimi Salad (fresh catch sashimi, mixed greens, shaved daikon radish, julienned cucumber, nasturtium petals, citrus-ponzu vinaigrette). I think the fresh catch was ahi. SP enjoyed this salad.
From the Nigiri & Sashimi part of the menu, SP enjoyed Ikura (salmon roe), Uni (sea urchin), and Hamachi (yellowtail).
I chose the Scallop entree, served with pasta, asparagus, crispy prosciutto, a cranberry-macadamia sauce. It was good and very filling.
Of course it was not so filling that I couldn't help SP with a donut dessert: Dipping Donuts with a salted caramel sauce, creme anglaise and raspberry sauce, and a vanilla bean sauce (I think those were the 3 sauces when we were there). These were delicious and we both liked the middle dipping sauce best.

This was a great choice for our first night in Hilo. We were able to walk through a park to get to and from the restaurant. Our server was very friendly. The food was tasty. It was relaxing and casual inside. We'd go back.

Hilo Bay Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, June 9, 2017

Uncle Clay's House of Pure Aloha

I don't remember how I found out about Uncle Clay's House of Pure Aloha. I just knew I wanted to try their shaved ice. We marked the location on our map and despite a few turnarounds and a few SP sighs of frustration, we found it (and the La Tour Cafe, where we ate lunch).
Snow cone, Italian ice, Hawaiian ice, I don't know the difference but I do know that Uncle Clay's shaved ice is by far my favorite ice treat. There are lots of flavors, toppings, too, and ordering was a bit overwhelming. We were newbies and everyone else seemed to know exactly what to get and how to order. It was sort of like how I feel when I'm in a coffeeshop trying to order a coffee drink - latte/cappuccino/Americano/cortado/macchiato - what the heck is the difference and why can't it just be small-medium-large?
We settled on guava and mango.  It was so good. Really good. The shaved ice was like light, fluffy snow.

One vacation regret: we didn't make it back. But this will be the benchmark against which I measure all future shaved ice treats.

Uncle Clay's House of Pure Aloha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

We're on the 8th day of June and here's what we have not yet accomplished:

  • A resolution to the rental car incident
  • A new cell phone for SP
  • A response from the yard guy

What we did accomplish:

  • A new washing machine. Then we did 6 loads of laundry over the weekend.

Tuesday I was terrorized by a giant bug. At first I thought it was a stinky, but nope, too big to be a stinky. It was up on the crown molding near my comfy chair so I couldn't reach it. Nor could I sit in my chair because there was no way I was turning my back on that monster. Or taking a nap. I thought about using the Swiffer floor duster to try to knock it off but I was afraid I'd knock it into my hair or my lap. I thought about calling my dad but I could hear the disbelief. "You want me to come get a bug off your wall?!!!!!!!" I thought about begging SP to come home from work right away and save me but that would get the same response. So I hid in my office. And then in the sun room. Finally SP got home from work and he killed the monster.

New on the To Do List: Spray for bugs. Again.

What We're Eating This Week:

What We're Watching:

  • We finished watching Bloodline Season 3 on Netflix. I think I enjoyed Season 3. It left some things dangling, and at times I was a little confused, and some characters didn't seem to get a satisfactory resolution to their story line in the final season, but overall, I enjoyed the 3 seasons of Bloodline.
  • I watched the first episode of Animal Kingdom Season 2. I'm willing to see where it goes but I hope it progresses and isn't simply more of the same.
  • Ugh the team I despise won Amazing Race. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
  • We started watching Fargo. So far, so good.
  • We also started Kimmy Schmidt Season 3. The show is like Animal Kingdom for me. Just when I think I'm going to quit, it reels me back in.
  • I finally watched the movie La La Land. I didn't like it. I was bored. I think I'm the only person who didn't like it.

What I'm Reading:
I'm still buried under a magazine pile. But I went ahead and requested some library books so I'll have that pile up & going soon!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

La Tour Cafe

On the day we took a scenic drive along the east coast of Oahu, we happened upon a tasty lunch spot while we were looking for another place: La Tour Cafe. According to their site, they are a family owned, locally operated restaurant offering fresh, quality fare in a comfortable fast-casual environment.
We decided to share a Ham & Gruyere Panini (Blackforest Ham, Roasted Tomatoes, Gruyere, Bechamel, Add Fried Egg). We added the egg, on the side. It was a yummy panini with a small salad on the side. Just right for us to share, especially since were going to find a Hawaiian shaved ice place nearby and since we also got this treat:
Kouign Amann. I had heard of these, but never tried one. We ate it a few hours later while gazing at a beach and the ocean. Yum! I am going to start searching for these in Pittsburgh (Gaby et Jules? La Gourmandine?).

If you're doing this scenic drive, or at Diamond Head, this is a good lunch place (the location at Aina Haina Shopping Center).

La Tour Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato