Monday, March 28, 2011

Philadelphia Part 2: The Food

I have a confession. I think Philly Cheese steaks are gross. Seriously.  Uber greasy shredded meat in a crusty hard to eat bun is not my bag. 

But I'm such a pro, you'd never know it.

Bret was equally iffy about the greasy mess. We got one with provolone and one with cheez whiz (or as the locals call it, 'a whiz with'). Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, hands down the better of the two was the artificial grossly awesome cheese. 

I'm not crazy about it either.
In other news, it seemed to me that there were french restaurants and cafes everywhere. We took advantage of a beautiful one around the corner from our hotel that overlooked the lovely Rittenhouse Square park.  The Parc restaurant served a lovely onion tart, otherwise known as a Pissaladière

Sidebar. I could care less about how graceful and lady-like I am when I'm dining with my brother (sorry Bret, you get gross belly scratching Lauren).  However despite my attempts at proper etiquette around other people I am SO MESSY. Seriously, once when I was eating an Asian salad I spotted soy sauce at least three feet away on the floor.  How the heck does that happen?  Or like the time I didn't know you weren't supposed to eat ALL of the artichoke leaf (what? I've only ever had the hearts) and chewed it like rubber for several minutes before trying to slyly transfer it to my napkin.  And then I sat on it the rest of the meal.  My napkin. I didn't know what else to do with it. Inside I am panicky and feel all barefoot and toothless.  Outside there is low lighting, classic music, tablecloths, and grown up conversation. What am I getting at? Well at this very restaurant, Parc, not with my brother but with several work colleagues from around the country, I added another slaps-head-on-forehead moment to my ridiculously messy shaky hands dining self.  There was a charcuterie platter of meats, etc.  I had unsuccessfully tried to stab the prosciutto spirals with my fork and they were slinging around the table slapping into things.  Sigh. I had also been having some trouble scooping up some of the fresh honeycomb on the platter (that was seriously really delicious).  However then I attempted to take a chunk of the pâté with my knife and transfer it a mere four inches to my plate.  It was crumbly, and my knife was relying on the steadiness of my hand.  Doomed. It gets to my plate and the knife slips out and slides off my plate, scooping with it the pâté, which then falls to the bench were I was seated (half the table had chairs, half the table shared an upholstered bench. I was bench side, middle), and then ricochets down into my purse, which was sitting at my feet.  Super super classy. Only the guy next to me noticed. I acted cool. I am a professional. Even if on the inside I was feeling gross. The inside of my purse that is. ZING.

But seriously. How much trouble am I going to be in if I have a fancy mother in law someday?  It's not like I don't know which fork to use (I've come a long way since the artichoke leaf debacle), I just really am that messy/clumsy.  Le Sigh.

Oh yes, and Philadelphia is also where I fell in love with crepes.  As breakfast pastries go, I prefer to have a strongish nutritional profile to start my day if I can help it.  So once I started looking at them as dessert instead of breakfast, I could see them for the gloriously delicious things they are.  My other food epiphany? They are like toaster strudel. A very fancy less processed junk toaster strudel. I am sold.

Don't put me in your toaster!

Lamb of some sort.  Ridiculously soft and buttery.  mmmmmmmmmmm


One of my all time favorite breakfasts, Lox and Bagel.

And mimosas, obviously.

2,109,831,209,830,928,309,283,091,283 excuses to order dessert during Birthday week.

I taste like fancy pudding cup
Stone fired pizza.

The cause

The effect.

So I have been wanting a juicer forever.  I love the idea of liquefying fruits and vegetables to make fun new concoctions.  I read about these things on the Internet and imagine a glorious and lovely taste.  So across from the convention center was an amazing place called Reading Terminal Market. It's like an indoor farmer's market meets food court.  There are all these little stands and local vendors, all of whom take credit cards and have access to electricity.  Imagine the possibilities! Anyway I got a carrot/beet/celery/parsley smoothie.  It. was. disgusting.  I even have a pretty high tolerance for flavorless health food for the sake of adventurousness and feeling purposeful.  It tasted like celery, but not the kind I will eat plain (or with PB or cream cheese because let's face it that's delicious too) but it was SERIOUSLY disgusting.  I kept trying to think WWRD? (rocky, in Philadelphia after all), and pictured myself running to the top of the art museum steps and then sucking down this disgusting celery juice.  It made me want to puke.  And I hadn't even been running.  Fail. Epic fail.  I still want a juicer though. 

Don't drink me.

On the menu for a restaurant in my hotel's hood had this "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well" - Virginia Woolf.  I love that.

I did not love that I sat there for twenty minutes without service.  The place was half empty (The only people that like dinner at 5pm are me and the elderly).  Three people that worked there walked past me chatting with each other and generally doing bored non-working things.  It was one of those obnoxious places that is all swanky and has velvet ottomans instead of enough actual chairs.  However, what is the normal wait time to make a drink order? Don't get me wrong, I love service people. I understand the plight of the proletariat! However customer service is not like what it used to be.  Youngsters with their rap music.  Harumph.  I finally got up and went to the restaurant next door to the Devon restaurant, where I had these guys:

Lobster Bisque

Hello lover.....

And Sea Scallops

get in my belly

When I travel for work, I try to load up on seafood.  In the Midwest we are kings of steak and BBQ, and it seems foolish for me to order those on the coasts.  However while the company is sponsoring my fancy meals, I usually try to order new things whenever possible.  Sometimes this backfires, like when I got Branzino, which is sea bass.  To my knowledge I've only had sea bass one other time.  I went to New Orleans with girlfriends several years ago and we had a big dinner at Commander's Palace.  Rosley got the sea bass and it had 'Xs' for eyes and the bones were still in it.  It was hard to eat and a little horrifying to look at its eye sockets while doing so.  The turtle soup made up for it (sorry my beloved DZ turtles!) I digress.  I couldn't remember what the bass tasted like but it had a sassy name on this menu that would have made a great scrabble word so I went for it.  The verdict? Kinda fishy.  Not my favorite. 

However the next work dinner adventurous dish I had was DEE LISH.  Instead of going for the recommended lobster ravioli (drool!), I went for the Pappardelle Pasta al la rabbit.

don't worry, be hoppy

Now let me just say, this was flipping awesome.  I don't know how much of that was a happy full belly from appetizers and beautiful bread and dipping oils.. or the wine. This had TONS of flavor, which very likely had very little to do with the rabbit itself and more with the tomatoes, herbs and homemade pasta.

However I still couldn't help thinking of this guy:

Or worse, this guy: 

I tried to convince myself it was this guy:
(did anybody else read these books in elementary school?)

My guilt was tempered by the reactions of other carnivores:

Well.. you can't win 'em all. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Philadelphia Part 1: Fanny Pack Style Tourism

How great is it that fanny packs are supposedly coming back in style? Unfortunately for the people of Philly, Bret and I were not sporting them, but we did do plenty of touristy things along that vein.  Including but not limited to taking this style bus:

Oh yes we did!

We walked from the hotel to the beauteous city hall that actually kind of looks like Versailles (or as we say in Missouri: Ver Sails, I'm not kidding, that's a town here).  Bret had to stop at Starbucks, you know, because he's hip.  I made him buy me the cake pop that was 'Birthday Cake' Hello! Appropriate! It was delicious.

Me eating a cake pop in front of the most glorious city hall on the planet. 

As we learned with my attempts at self portrait during Brother and I's spontaneous Arkansas trip of destiny, I'm not so hot with the camera.

Here is Betsy Ross's House, or, if you will, a picture of a guy taking a picture of Betsy Ross's house.

Nice Jacket dude

Get back in your phone booth!

Ben's grave where people throw pennies. The crazy lady in front of us told us it was haunted. She did not appreciate our laughter. 

Did you know that PHL chinatown is the third largest in the country?

The Statue of Will Penn on city hall is so big in real life his eyeballs are one foot long each. eeeeeeeeeeew
 This was supposed to be a picture of the Art Museum's gold statue of Joan of Arc and her horse.  You get gold horse feet and partial boob of a guy on the other side of the bus.
And now... the main event.


We mumbled incoherently the whole time, and not just because we are out of shape.

So then we decided to head to Paddy's Pub from one of our favorite hilarious and off putting shows, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Except that even though Paddy's was just a few streets away, we opted for the next door Mac's Tavern, which is owned by one of the characters (slash creators slash actors slash writers)

That's when things went downhill.

We went home ten hours later.  

I totally got this guy's number

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Philly where I eat a loveable creature and accidentally elbow a chunk of pâté into my purse.  Oh yes, 28 is pretty sophisticated so far.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Breakfast of Champions

The cupcake is compliments of my pal Emily (as was the sushi/movie musical date last night too). Twenty eight is going to be great!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My new favorite corner of the internet

It is a hoot.

Family Birthdays

My aunt/godmother/birthday twin Sheila and her husband Greg came to KC last weekend so we (along with my parents) could celebrate the three St Paddies Birthdays.  In the hizzouse.

Greg is a train guru, so first stop was Union Station for some shameless tourism.

BTW twizzlers dipped in chocolate is in my top ten list of things that are better with candy coating.  Seriously, try this.  It tastes like slumber party. 

Not like I went on and on about it or anything.

Happy Birthday to us!  (especially Sheila who is 50 now, and mom who celebrated with plastic surgery)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Guess What I Just Got

If you guessed Princess Diana royal dresses paper dolls then you are correct!

I am now 20% ready for Wills and Kate's wedding.