Monday, July 31, 2017

Malasadas

While researching our Hawaii trip, I discovered malasadas. A malasada is a Portuguese doughnut, in my mind, the Portuguese version of a Polish paczki: balls of yeast dough deep-fried in oil and coated with granulated sugar. Traditional malasadas contain neither holes nor fillings, but some are filled. They are eaten especially on Mardi Gras - the day before Ash Wednesday, but are available year round in HI. Of course I had to try malasadas. Our fist stop: Leonard's Bakery on Oahu.
We got there just as a fresh, hot batch was finishing. There were a lot of people there, buying malasadas and then standing outside, eating freshly made doughnuts. We got 4 filled malasadas: dobash (chocolate), custard, haupia (coconut) and a special (I think it was mango).
We didn't attack the hot doughnuts in the car, nor as soon as we got back to the hotel because we had to rush to freshen up and get to our dinner reservation. After dinner, back in the hotel room, I ate the chocolate one. Honestly, I wasn't impressed. Maybe because I was so full from dinner and I felt obligated to eat one of the malasadas we bought on the day we bought it. Mostly, I wasn't a fan of the dobash flavor. The next morning I ate the custard one and it was so darn good. I scarfed it up and then moved on to the special one despite SP's disapproving look and comment about too much doughnut for breakfast. Whatever, it was vacation!
All the goodies at Leonard's.

Our next malasadas were from Tex Drive-In in Honoka'a on the Big Island. While they made some fresh, hot malasadas, we shared a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich because we were hungry. Then our doughnuts were ready: Bavarian, chocolate, mango, apple.
I ate the Bavarian right away. Oh. My. Gosh. Yes, I had sugar all over my face, my shirt, the car, but it was so worth it for this hot malasada. I wished I had eaten a Leonard's malasada while still hot just for comparison.
I'm not sure which malasadas were tastier. Thankfully, they're on different islands so you don't have to choose, location chooses for you. Are they tastier than my beloved paczki? Thankfully, I don't need to decide because malasada = Hawaii and paczki = Pittsburgh. Location determines my doughnut. Both are sugar coated, custard filled, pillowy, fried dough delights.

We definitely suggest trying malasadas from these places if you're in Hawaii.


Leonard's Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Tex Drive In Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Blue Room

For our last meal in Hawaii, after a disappointing day of heat, mugginess, lots of heavy downpours, thinking we were lost (on a road that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere with no place to turn around because it was one of those terrific HI roads wide enough for only 1.5 cars), and general ugh, it's time to head home, we headed back to Mauna Lani Resort and The Blue Room. It's a French restaurant reminiscent of a Parisian brasserie with Hawaiian influence in both food and culture (so says the website!).
It was casual, friendly, TVs above the bar showing basketball (we asked but but they couldn't get the Pens playoff hockey game, we had to settle for the highlights at the end of our meal). We both ordered fresh brewed iced teas and SP also tried a beer:
Sounded disgusting to me, but he liked it.
I chose Croque Monsieur (grilled ham, gruyere, bechamel, dijon). It was good, very good, but huge! I needed SP's help to finish it all. Also, it kind of felt like I was eating a French bread pizza (or open face hoagie?!) but it was really cheesy and the bechamel was creamy, both good things.
Of course while I was stuffing my face with bread, ham, melty cheese, and cream sauce with fries on the side, SP was all healthy: Coconut Prawn Salad (mixed greens, mango, coconut, sun-dried tomato, cucumber, coconut-lime vinaigrette). He got it without the blue cheese. He said it was very good.
My side salad, The fries were a mistake, but they left them for us to munch on. After the huge sandwich, I was too full to eat more than a lettuce leaf and half a tomato, so SP helped and finished this salad, too.

Overall we were happy with our meals, The server was very friendly. We were there around 4:30 since we wanted to get back to the hotel, pack, and get to bed for our early flight and it wasn't very crowded. It was kind of nice, being the only ones for a while. I do think it was a tad pricey but that's Hawaii and Hawaiian resorts.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

Last Friday we met friends at Morcilla for dinner. As usual, the meal was yummy. We ordered the usual: serrano ham, jamon croquetas, tortilla espanola, and oxtail montadito.

We also ordered Pork Belly & Peaches a la Plancha (smoked brioche soubise, blueberry mustard, basil) - this might be my new favorite dish at Morcilla. Really, really yummy. Sadly, I didn't take any photos.

SP ordered Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho (heirloom tomato, cucumber, serrano chili, black olive oil, chervil) and Octopus a la Plancha (sesame yogurt, crispy pickled chickpeas, merguez spice, cucumber, dill). I like, but don't love, octopus, but I really loved the crispy chickpeas.

And of course the churros for dessert.

My July-August allergies are giving me a hard time right now. My nose is drippy, or stuffed, and last Friday before we left for Morcilla I got a nosebleed. Ick. My eyes are puffy and watery and I have a constant sinus headache. They seem worse than last year.

What We're Eating:


What We're Watching:

  • We watched Mars, a show that aired last December on National Geographic. I thought it was going to be a documentary but it's a fictional story set in the future with the first humans on Mars. I didn't really enjoy it. I was often bored. Everyone was so serious and talked in these super hushed, so serious tones. I felt like I saw it all before, like in Matt Damon's The Martian. SP, however, loved the show. I read there is going to be a Season 2. I have a feeling we'll be watching. Or at least he will be.
  • After Mars, we went back to Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. Only 3 episodes into season 3. I am still not sure I really like the show but it has its moments.
  • Last Saturday when SP was at Kennywood, I entertained myself by watching movies: Why Him (horrible), My Life as a Zucchini (cute) and Keeping Up with the Joneses (so-so).
  • We're really enjoying 3 of our favorite shows: Orphan Black (yikes, Rachel's martini glass scene!), Game of Thrones (no spoilers but so good!), and Broadchurch.

What I'm Reading:
No books. A couple magazines, but the pile got stacked up again.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Shiono at Mauna Lani

I realized when looking in drafts that I never finished posting from our Hawaii trip. It seems so long ago now! We had a lot of good meals, including this one at Shiono at Mauna Lani.
Once again, I felt transported back to Japan. We were seated inside, but next to open shutter doors, gazing out over the golf course at palm trees, the Pacific, and a gorgeous sunset.

I tea while SP had sake. Here's what we ordered:
Gyoza. Fried dumplings done right.
I had an upset stomach that day so I ordered small and "boring" Japanese food! Tempura and a Rice Set (miso, pickles, salad, and rice). I knew SP would eat the miso soup and pickles. The rice was for my stomach. The salad because I needed a wee bit of vegetable.
And a small order of tempura because I didn't want a lot of food and I love tempura done right (it's not always done the way it should be). I loved the presentation and enjoyed my food.
Sunomono (cucumber and seaweed dressed with lightly sweetened vinegar).
Ika (squid), Toro (tuna), Anago (sea eel).
Saba (mackerel).
Hamachi (Yellowtail).

We both were happy with our meals and service. We'd go back if we're ever again visiting the Big Island.


Sushi Shiono Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, July 24, 2017

Red Oak Cafe

Last Friday morning I had a doctor appointment in Oakland. It was not a pleasant or efficient experience. We were there 15 minutes early but I didn't get called back until 40 minutes past my appointment time. After that exam, I was sent off to another area for a test/exam. Another 25 minute wait. Two machines and two women later (and a lot of discomfort) there was still not a successful result so I got angry because the last time this was done there was no problem. So I told them I refused to try again. Back to the waiting room. Another 20 minute wait until someone asked if I was waiting for the next test/exam and I said yes. It was still going to be 20+ minutes before that one. At this point, we had been at the hospital for 3 hours. It was well past lunch, we were really hungry, and I was in a foul mood. So I asked for my 2 exam/test prescriptions back and said I'd make arrangements to get them done elsewhere. We left and went to get lunch. (Note: I did not have the 2 tests scheduled, just the initial exam, but my doctor wanted me to have them done so of course they shuttled me off; had I known how much time would be spent waiting and waiting and waiting I never would have agreed to have the tests done, I would have just scheduled them myself for another time).
We walked to Red Oak Cafe, a place we've driven/walked past many times but we've never eaten there. It's a cute cafe. It was crowded. You order at the counter, they give you a number, you find a table and place your number on your table, and they bring your food to you.  They serve breakfast all day and I love breakfast sandwiches so I was happy. Nothing like some bacon to improve your mood.

SP chose Galileo (egg, bacon, provolone, seared tomato, wheat toast) - pictured above. He said it was yummy.
 
I created my own breakfast sandwich: egg, cheddar, bacon, tomato on croissant. It was tasty. It was a good size for me, almost more than I could eat. I think SP was a little sad I didn't share!

They also serve egg scramblers, breakfast burritos, pancakes, salads, sandwiches, smoothies and have a lot of vegetarian options that can also be made vegan options.

A plus: fresh brewed iced tea.

Definitely a nice, casual, not too expensive cafe in Oakland worth stopping by and grabbing a bite. The person who took our order was very friendly and helpful. It's in Oakland so I imagine it's super busy in the fall/spring when there are a lot more students on campus.


Red Oak Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

This past weekend we finally used the dried pasta we bought at Il Corvo in Seattle last September. Sometimes we're not so great at using food we buy on vacation. I think there might still be a bit of Stumptown coffee in the pantry - that'd be 3 years old now (from the Portland, OR trip).

We went to see Spiderman Homecoming. We enjoyed the movie. I always say it's a good movie if I don't glance at my watch to see just how much more there is. I didn't look at my watch at all.

My parents are in Las Vegas. They were not looking forward to the heat but were happy to escape the rain we've been having here. Of course when I turned on one of the weather channels, I saw a flash flood warning for Las Vegas and the radar showed yellow-orange-red storms over the area!

What We're Eating:


What We're Watching:

  • We watched the 8-episode Feud: Bette & Joan, finally. It's been on the DVR since it aired in March. I never had a favorable opinion of Joan Crawford but now, after seeing this show on FX, wow was she ever an insecure, scheming, witch! Of course by the end of the last episode, I was a little teary and almost felt bad for her. I've always been more of a Bette Davis fan. 
  • Game of Thrones is back! That opening scene! That ending scene! I think SP is turning me into a nerd. Soon I'll be reading the books and complaining that George RR Martin hasn't finished writing book #6 and that the HBO series has passed the books.
  • While many seem to be freaking out that Jodie Whittaker is the next Doctor Who (oh no! a woman!), we're enjoying her work in the third season of Broadchurch. It's nice to have the new crime to investigate while also seeing how everyone from the first season is moving on (or not) from the crime in season one. (I don't watch Doctor Who so I don't care who the next doctor is. SP watches and is fine with the new Doctor Who and thinks people should get a grip.)

What I'm Reading:
House of Spies, the latest from Daniel Silva, became available. I made SP pick it up the day I found out it was ready for pick up (Thursday) and I finished the book on Sunday. I would have finished it earlier if we hadn't had weekend plans, like seeing a movie and dinner with friends. Many authors whose series I read seem to phone it in after a while, but Silva doesn't. Can't wait for the next one (hopefully the Allon books aren't finished).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Crab Salad

It's summer and we haven't wanted to spend much time in the kitchen. Last week we made a super easy meal for dinner: Crab Salad.
Easy to make. Super easy leftover night (just open the container of crab salad). And yummy. Light & cool on a hot summer evening.
Crab Salad


  • 1 16-oz can lump crab meat (we use Great Blue Crab Meat)
  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced
  • bunch of fresh chives, chopped (or you could use a finely chopped onion, or both chives & onion)
  • as much/little Old Bay Seasoning as you like (we like it, but not too much of it)
  • as much/little mayo as you like (we don't like too much mayo, but that means our crab salad might be "drier" than what you like)
  • fresh parsley, chopped (if desired)

Open the can of crab and pick out any bits of shell that might be in with the crab. Transfer crab to a mixing bowl. Add the diced celery, chives, Old Bay, parsley, and mayonnaise. Gently mix together. Enjoy with grilled bread, crackers, or greens/salad.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fresh Fruit Tart

We love fruit tarts but only make them when we have guests to share the tart. Otherwise, it gets too wet and/or spoils before we can eat it all. In the past, our go-to fruit tart was this one. A shortbread crust and a vanilla pastry filling from Joy of Cooking. The most recent issue of Cook's Illustrated had a Modern Fresh Fruit Tart recipe and it sounded yummy. Plus, it uses mascarpone and it just so happened we had a container of mascarpone that my mom gave us (she bought it by mistake, don't ask, she had a huge brain fart that day!).
The tart shell is super easy. No rolling pin required, just pat it into the tart pan and bake. It didn't even call for pricking the crust with a fork before baking (but we did anyway).
The filling is mascarpone, heavy cream, white chocolate chips, lime zest, & lime juice.
I love how it looks, studded with all that lime zest. Plus the filling doesn't ooze all over like pastry cream sometimes does. It's also very tasty.
Our guests commented that it made them think of key lime pie. I can see that. The recipe says to let the tart sit at room temperature for an hour before serving, but we forgot/didn't have the time the first night. It was still tasty. However, we did let it warm up on leftover-tart-for-dessert nights. The filling was much smoother/creamier. We both liked it better after it sat out and warmed up a bit.
The official recipe calls for raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries plus peaches. I am of the opinion a fruit tart can have pretty much any fruit on it. We used blueberries, strawberries, and peaches.

Recipe here and/or here.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Blueberry Lemon Mint Popsicles

Last summer I saw lots and lots of blog posts about homemade popsicles. We also enjoyed some homemade popsicles from Stickler's. So of course I started wanting to make my own. As if we really need more kitchen gadget stuff. I felt guilty buying them. So I put popsicle molds on my Amazon Wish List. PghSIL and her family got us the molds for Christmas. Yay! I've been patiently waiting for warm weather since I don't like cold desserts in cold weather. Then of course there was always a reason we couldn't make popsicles (travel, going somewhere and making another dessert, having people over and making another dessert). Finally, in late June, we had a weekend that was warm and with no other dessert plans so we made Blueberry Lemon Mint Popsicles.
Of course then I forgot to take photos until the very last popsicle. These are simple. Puree blueberries, mint, and lemon syrup together. Pour into molds and freeze. They were tasty. I like the bit of tart lemon taste and bright, refreshing mint with the blueberry flavor.

Blueberry Lemon Mint Popsicles

1/2 c blueberries, plus extra for in the molds
fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups water
3/8 cup sugar

In a sauce pan, heat on low the lemon juice, water, and sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Let cool a bit. In a blender, blend together the lemon syrup, mint, and 1/2 cup blueberries. Strain to remove chunks of mint or blueberry. If desired, place 3-4 berries in the bottom of each popsicle mold. Pour in the strained blueberry puree. Freeze.

Makes 7 (we kept the leftover in the refrigerator and after eating 1 popsicle, refilled the mold with the remaining puree)




Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

It's been one of those weeks where adulting stinks. On the bright side, after some serious rage last week over the Hawaii Car Incident, I can finally report that it is resolved as far as we are concerned. I can't figure out where things got twisted and miscommunicated (or something like that), but we were under the impression from our day-of-accident calls to the car rental company (CRC) that they would handle it since we were not at fault. CRC did not, in fact, handle it. Instead, a FL CRC office started calling us repeatedly in May/June for payment while a rep in a HI CRC office tried to resolve the case and said she didn't know why CRC FL was badgering us to pay or why they weren't in contact with the car rental company at fault, etc. It took 2 months for them to tell us that because we didn't purchase one of their insurance/waiver options (because we know our regular car insurance covers rentals), they are not responsible for doing anything but making us pay for the damage.

We were all sorts of confused because when we got rear ended in Portland, the CRC (different CRC) handled everything, we never had to contact our insurance, and we hadn't bought any of that CRC's insurance because we knew ours covered rental cars.

Meanwhile, we still didn't have the FOIA from the Park Service (the accident report taken by the park police). It took 5 weeks for the requested document to get from Hawaii to Pittsburgh via certified mail. Even then, it wasn't even delivered to our house. It sat in a post office with the USPS site saying "In Transit." After 9 days of checking the tracking number and seeing it was still "In Transit" we tried to call USPS. But the wait time was 45-60 minutes every time we called. And of course we had no idea which post office had it because our zip code is part of the township we live in but also the same zip code as the town down the road but the post office we usually need to go to to collect mail is in a 3rd town. Makes sense, right?  I'm trying to be not too specific and name the actual locations. Anyway, one day before work SP stopped at neighborhood share zip code PO and they confirmed it was at the 3rd town PO and they had no idea why it had been "In Transit" for over a week. So then SP had to leave work early to go to 3rd town PO to pick it up and never received an explanation for why it sat there, other than it required a signature, but we never received any notice to go pick it up or that delivery had been attempted but no one was home to sign. Incompetent CRC, incompetent PO.

Then the debate of whether or not to bother filing a claim began. We'd be responsible for the deductible, the total damage wasn't that much over the deductible, our rates might go up, etc. At this point I was royally **ssed because  of all the miscommunication and incompetence and because I had a feeling all along that those shifty Germans were going to get off free and we'd get screwed. Our car insurance didn't even know if they'd be able to get the people at fault to pay (or their CRC) because they were foreigners renting a car in the US and didn't provide any insurance information other than their CRC information. I assume that as foreigners they had to buy the CRC insurance, but, who knows. As I said before, they acted kind of shifty on giving up any info to us and the park ranger. Not to mention on the official report they filed they said they "bumped" our car. Meanwhile, the witnesses who found us in the museum referred to it as "creamed" and "slammed."

Anyway, to end the story, we next found out that not only does our car insurance cover car rentals but there is no deductible on rental car accidents. I am not sure how this is the case, and I'm not asking for any details, but I guess we did something right somewhere with the insurance.

We are NEVER again renting from the CRC we used in HI.

Thank goodness that issue is resolved. I was so sick of having it on The List for the past 2 months.

What We're Eating:

  • Crab Salad with grilled bread and grilled asparagus
  • Fattoush with grilled bread instead of pita
  • Dessert: Chex Mix, finishing up ice cream/popsicles/cookies lurking in the pantry/freezer

What We're Watching:

  • We spent 3 nights watching GLOW on Netflix. I didn't think I would like it because I cannot stand wrestling but after the first 2 episodes, I was hooked. We both enjoyed it a lot.
  • Sunday night we watched the History channel's special Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence. We were curious. What we enjoy about these shows is the science stuff, like the analysis of the photo, etc. It's worth a watch, keeping an open mind and a questioning mind.
  • We finally watched The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (HBO). It was quite good. I knew the story behind the HeLa cells, but not so much about the Lacks family. 
  • We also watched Moana and we both enjoyed it a lot. Much better than Frozen. Yes, that's right, we didn't think Frozen was all that great. 
  • Game of Thrones! This Sunday! We both are excited. Probably too excited.
What I'm Reading:

  • I read Racing the Devil by Charles Todd. it took me a while to really get into this book, to reach the "can't put it down" stage, but I'm glad I stuck with it.
  • I also read The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel. I read it quickly, so I guess it held my attention, but I knew exactly how it all would play out from about page 2. 
  • Only 1 magazine in the magazine pile.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Industry Public House - North Fayette

Last weekend we decided to give Industry Public House in North Fayette another try. It had been 14 months since we last tried to go and had a not-good experience that ended in us not eating there (No Wait said come on in but when we did, we were told there was a 45 minute wait plus they had the curb cuts blocked off and SP had to get me up the high curb). This time, No Wait said come on in, but SP went in first to check before getting me out & in the wheelchair. Happily, they could seat us right away. Sadly, while the curb cuts were not blocked, they stink. I'm not even sure they're completely ADA compliant. There's no way I can go forward over the uneven bumps/levels of concrete to get to the curb cut itself, so SP had to take me backwards, and at the top of the one curb cut, there is no space for the wheelchair to be level because the outdoor dining railing comes all the way out to the top of the curb cut slope. So then I have to be turned sideways on a slope and pushed while tilted to the side to get to the flat part. Sigh. No idea why there is not a curb cut right in front of the restaurant entrance.
Anyway, Industry inside doesn't look like the Don Pablo Mexican Restaurant it used to be. As the name suggests, there is an industrial feel (wood/brick). We were seated off to right of the entrance in an area near the outdoor dining area. There are lots of large windows, so lots of natural light. We both ordered fresh iced teas - points for fresh iced teas and not that fake fountain crap. SP ordered a cocktail: Smokestack, their signature cocktail (choose your favorite whiskey, drizzle in some maple syrup & a few dashes of bitters, then torch some wood (cherry, mesquite, apple, hickory, maple, or pecan) to lightly infuse a fresh smoke to the bourbon).
He chose Buffalo Trace and cherry wood. He really liked it. I had a wee sip and rediscovered that I hate smoke flavor in a beverage.
We started with Deep Fried Pickles (house made pickles / beer batter / ranch dip). These were spears, not rounds, and were really hot. I burned the roof of my mouth. But they were yummy. I loved the breading.
For his meal, SP chose 9th Ward Salad (salmon / kale / blackberry / green apple / goat cheese / barley / ginger vinaigrette). It was a lot of kale. It looked way to rabbit-y for me but SP said it was delicious and he ate every last kale leaf.
I chose the Smoke Stack sandwich (shaved ribeye / aged white cheddar / arugula / horseradish / sourdough). This was yummy and I really liked it.
While I liked the sandwich, I didn't care for the fries. I'm not much of a fries person anyway and these weren't very crisp, just kind of soft/limp and tasteless. Disappointing. SP didn't even scarf them up.
I didn't really want dessert, but SP did, so I said OK. What really appealed to me was a Leona's ice cream sandwich, but I couldn't believe they were selling them at $8/sandwich. Everywhere else we've gotten them, it's been $5/sandwich. Same for the Stickler's popsicles - the truck sells them for $3 but here they were $5. I couldn't quite grasp the lemon sugar nacho concept and even after asking our server about them, I still couldn't get it, so I left it up to SP because I didn't much want dessert anyway. He chose the Fresh Fruit Cobbler.
It was disappointing. I don't like oats, and oats were in the crumble topping. SP likes that. I don't. The fruit was just one fruit, cherries, and they didn't look/taste fresh. They looked/tasted like canned cherry pie filling. Definitely won't be ordering the cobbler again.

It's nice to have a non-chain option in this area (Robinson/North Fayette). I liked the iced tea, pickles, and sandwich, but next time I'd ask about ordering a side besides fries and skip dessert. The crappy curb cut access still bugs me. Our server was fine. She seemed a little thrown by a couple questions I asked and didn't ask SP if he wanted a second cocktail, but she was pleasant and kept his iced tea filled (no small feat - I have no idea how he can drink so much!). We'll go back.


  Industry Public House - North Fayette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato