Monday, December 20, 2010

Armadillo Willy's - Barbecue Time!

Jim, JB, and I felt like barbecue for lunch, and we drove over to a local place. However, it was about 2:30pm on a Saturday, and as soon as we got out of the car, a restaurant employee came out to let us know that they were closed (and would be closed the next day, too). Apparently they close at 2:30pm on Saturdays... which seems really odd (they don't re-open for dinner or anything, either). So we'll have to go back there some other time. We drove over to a place that JB and Jim (whose initials are also JB, LoL) have lunch sometimes: Armadillo Willy's.

They claim to be Texas-style, but I'm not 100% sure. I didn't really like it at all, but I'd go back anyway. To start with, apparently they have a special everyday, but it's not clear on the menu, and we didn't see them until we were at the table, which was too late. This is because you order when you walk in, then you carry a buzzer until your order is ready, when you go to a window to pick it up.

I was feeling pretty confident in my (Memphis) pulled pork sandwich selection, which turned out to be pretty blah. I didn't like the sauce (I got "original" or "mild," whatever you want to call it), and wasn't thrilled with the meat. In fact, Jonathan had ordered the chopped brisket (with the hotter sauce), and we couldn't tell our sandwiches apart. Chopped versus pulled, beef versus pork, hot versus mild... the differences were not apparent. We could tell that the sauces differed slightly, but it seemed to be a vinegar-type difference rather than a spiciness difference, so it didn't help. He wasn't in love with his either, but he finished it, LoL. Jim liked his, tho I forget what he ordered. We all enjoyed the fries, and I'd go back just for the them! Plus, I'd like to try their burgers, and apparently their milkshakes (another item that we didn't notice on the menu until we were seated).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dish Dash - Mediterranean Cuisine

It was an off-Friday for the guys (and, in this case, I mean JB and all of his LM friends), so a bunch of us did lunch in downtown Sunnyvale. We went to DishDash, which everyone had been to before except me. It's a Mediterranean place, with an emphasis on Greek.

We started out with the hummus, which was garlicky and good. We did need to ask for more pita, but it was delivered post-haste. Most of us ordered wraps, and I think everyone went lamb but me; I went with the chicken. The shawarma wraps came with cucumber, onions, tomatoes, and parsley with a garlic tzaziki sauce. They were served with delicious fries (I think one person went with the salad instead, which was good). It was a little pricey for lunch (the shawarma wraps start at $10), but I can see why the place was so packed! It was very good, and I only ate half of my wrap there, leaving me with another day's deliciousness.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

San Jose Museum of Art

There was a corporate night going on at the San Jose Museum of Art, so a few of us went to see Leo Villareal's exhibit and enjoy the rest of the museum and some snacks.

The food was pretty good for snacks and appetizers - our favorite was the grilled cheese and tomato soup! I was actually too full to even try the churros bar, which was the dessert. The only disappointment in this area was the spiced apple cider - which was awful.

It's not a very large museum, and we were able to make it through the entire thing in like an hour (though we weren't being uber-thorough, LoL). Leo Villareal's exhibit was really fascinating, and I'm glad that we had the opportunity to check it out. He works with LEDs and has come up with some pretty interesting stuff. It's hard to explain, and it's a very fleeting art form, so photos don't really do it justice (tho I imagine video might work to a certain extent).

I realize that this post wasn't actually all that informative, but should you have the chance to check out some Villareal artwork, go for it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

P. F. Chang's

P. F. Chang's is a Chinese restaurant where the dishes are mostly served family-style. It's pretty popular and it's a chain, so you may have been before. Jonathan has been a few times, but I never had, so we went with our friends, Jim & Vivian. We have one here in town, so it was very easy to plan this outing.

I gotta start by saying that I just wasn't thrilled with anything. The flavors were all average and not unique, and the price was high for what you got. I don't really care if I go back, since I don't get the vibe that this was an unusual visit - everyone else seemed to enjoy the place pretty well.

We started with crispy pork wontons. Now, to be fair, I prefer steamed to fried, so maybe I'm not the best judge on this one. We ordered three dishes for the table: double pan-fried noodles with shrimp, the crispy honey chicken, and the mu shu pork. The noodles were okay, they just didn't stand out in any way. The crispy honey chicken was not crispy at all, and kinda bland in the sweetness department. The mu shu pork was kinda neat in presentation, since they make the pancake-packages at your table. But I'm not in love with hoisin sauce so the overall flavor didn't blow me away.

Overall, it's probably one of those places that you should go to once (like Hard Rock), but if it's not for you, I think you'll know.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend 2010

We flew to Florida for Thanksgiving, as many of you may have guessed, since there was a large lull in postings, hehe. It was a six-day trip, and it just flew by.

I was pretty excited when we decided to take the Caltrain and BART to the San Francisco airport. We had a 9:30am or so flight, and the traffic into the city would have been rough, plus it would keep any of our friends from getting to work on-time. Jim dropped us off at the Mountain View train station on his way to work, and the tickets were printing as the train arrived. It was an express, so we made it to Millbrae pretty quickly. We got off and double-checked the rest of our plan before getting on the BART. We went up a stop to San Bruno, then transferred to a train that went to the airport (the options for how to get to the airport change depending on the time of day). We would have taken the AirBART from there, but we were flying Virgin and they fly from the International Terminal, so we were able to skip that step. The flight went quickly enough, and it was pretty good overall.

Thanksgiving was a two-day celebration for us this year, but it worked out pretty well. For the first time in about ten years I didn't start Black Friday shopping before daylight. My brother was taking part in the ritual for the first time on his own (he, my sister, and I have all been together a time or two), and since he started at 10pm the night before, he handled the one big-ticket item on my list. So, Jonathan and I took our time and hit up only seven or eight stores, starting at 8:30am. No, we didn't get everything we wanted, but we still did fine. We did pick up our Walgreens items on Thanksgiving night, but otherwise we had all of our Black Friday shopping done in three hours. We grabbed a bite to eat and began the drive to Sopchoppy.

Since we were going to be in Tallahassee for the Florida-Florida State football game on Saturday, we agreed to go camping with Joe that weekend in Sopchoppy, which is a little under an hour from the stadium. Just four of us went, and we had a good time, all things considered. It rained pretty heavily for a while the first night, but we had plenty of firewood. It was pretty cold both nights (low 40s the first night, mid-to-upper 30s the second), but we made do. We used leftover turkey to make fajitas for dinner the first night, and I hadn't realized that you can cook sausage biscuits over a fire, so breakfasts were also rather interesting. We drove out to Wakulla Springs on Saturday morning and saw eight or ten manatees before Jonathan and I took off for Tallahassee, leaving Joe and Rita to take the boat tour. (Which reminds me... apparently they don't do the glass-bottom boat tours there anymore... the water's been too dark for 19 months now!)

The game was AMAZING. This was the fourth time I've been to the annual game against the Gators, and since we haven't won in six years, winning was absolutely AWESOME. Our seats this year were amazing, and we were able to see some great angles on many of the plays. It was a bit intense when the Gators scored on their opening drive, but the fact that they never even got a field goal after that was kinda cool. The fake punt caught me by surprise (it was early in the game for that!), and I also never expected us to win by such a margin! Everyone stayed until the end, and there were fireworks when we won and everything! Plus, while our game was going on, the Maryland-NCState game was also taking place... and our coach specifically requested that score updates not be given for that game (which determined our ACC division outcome). Very few people in our area were able to get a cellular signal, but I had fortunate enough to have a friend text me whenever something happened. This was especially exciting because I felt like the "cool kid" in our section, since I verbally passed on the updated scores whenever I heard something. In the end, not only did we beat the Gators, but the team is also going to the ACC Championship game tonight in Charlotte against Virginia Tech.
an hour before the game, we went to watch the Chiefs head to the stadium
the excitement when we won the game! and the accompanying fireworks below...
Like I said, our trip went by pretty quickly, and before we knew it, we were on our way back to California. Fortunately, we flew "main cabin select" so we had access to unlimited food, drinks, and movies to keep us busy. That, combined with the extra legroom and priority boarding totally made for a nice return, hehe.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pho Garden

Another day another pho place. This is a place that opened in downtown Mountain View since we last lived here. We were there specifically for a scouting mission, since they have a challenge that Jonathan and our friend Andy (not Florida-Andy) want to do. It's a giant bowl of pho, which (for our newer readers) is a Vietnamese soup.

So this time, Jonathan and Andy both got the XL (the challenge uses a 3XL) pho and timed themselves on that. They weren't really eating it for the flavor (Jonathan did not spend nearly his usual amount of time seasoning, LoL), but they seemed to like it well enough. I, on the other hand, went for the Spicy Chicken with Garlic Noodles. I thought this would be pho as well, but it turned out to be a broth-free dish. The chicken was plentiful, but the skin was still on it, so it took a bit of work to separate that. The noodles were heavy on the garlic, but that was to be expected. Cucumber and tomato garnished the dish, but didn't really add anything. I added a bunch of lime (having mistakenly ordered "extra lime" since I thought I was being served a pho), which gave the spicy chicken a great flavor, so I'm glad I did.

The guys both decided that they could handle the challenge, and a week later we went back for that! Kathy and Cody joined me in cheering them on, but unfortunately there were a few snags in the plans...

In investigating the challenge, we had found out that you were permitted to remove two of the six or so kinda of meat that was in the gigantic bowl. So, Jonathan and Andy both chose to remove the tendon and the tripe, since those are harder to get down (strange textures and such). However, when the bowls came out, those meats were present. They were promptly sent back. BUT, instead of bringing out completely new bowls of pho, they apparently just tried to remove those meats and added more of others instead. Well, this failed miserably because there was some tendon and a fair bit of tripe that remained in the bowl. PLUS, the time elapsed allowed the noodles to expand quite a bit, which removed the strategy of gobbling down those first. About twenty minutes in, they knew it was a bit of a stretch to attempt to finish off the challenge, so the pace slowed quite a bit. Andy had more optimism than Jonathan about it, and he continued to wolf it down for another ten or fifteen minutes, until he also knew that their efforts were fruitless. They did receive t-shirts for attempting the feat, and I took notes from each of them as to how they'd approach it next time, LoL.

Meanwhile, by the way, I had the chicken pho on that trip... and it was some of the worst pho that I have ever had. I'd never order it again. Pho Hoa is just so much better, LoL. Here are a few photos of the guys eating the gigantic bowls...