Sunday, March 27, 2005

Lhasa Cafe

159 Main St, Northampton, MA

Atmosphere: Damn you, memory!

This was my first time eating Tibetan food. If I remember correctly, which I probably don’t, we didn’t even study it in school. I also know pretty much nothing about Tibet, except that it’s in Asia and the Dalai Lama lives there. So, with the newness of the experience and the (pleasantly) distracting conversation on exposed brick, I’m having a hard time recalling what the inside looked like. I see plants and a handful of tables, that’s about it. Sorry.

What was eaten:
Phing alla
Tse shogok
Tsel Thenthuk
To drink:

Phing alla –Spring roll = good. Vegetarian spring roll = great. These were filled with bean thread, carrot, cabbage, onion and I’m going to go with…stuff. They were hot, but not too hot to eat and they were already cut for us!

Tse shogok – Potatoes, spinach and peppers covered with a mysteriously delicious brown sauce. This was served with a pretty steamed roll. Very good and very filling.

Tsel thenthuk – Pulled pasta, daikon and spinach in another mysterious and even more delicious sauce, almost like a soup. Not knowing how it was meant to be eaten, we just mixed the rice into the dish. I don’t know if this was proper, but it was yummy.

Bocha- Buttered and salted tea with milk. “Wait, don’t you mean popcorn?” While that is what it smelt like, it’s not at all what it tasted like. It was pretty much like drinking watered down, melted butter. Defiantly not yummy.

Chai- Chai tea. I enjoyed this one, but it might have just been the contrast of the Bocha. This, too, smelt better than it tasted, but at least it was drinkable

What would Dionysus say? No alcohol! I really don’t know what to say about this. Not being able to order a drink did force me to try the tea though, which is a lesson I’m glad I learned and can share with others.
Value- I didn’t pay for this, so it was great. The portions were big without being ridiculous.
Veg selection- Mostly vegetarian menu!!! Just about everything sounds good. Hip hip hooray for the Tibetans!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Castle Restaurant and Pub

143 Chase Ave, Waterbury, CT

Atmosphere: What up, tacky?

The front of the restaurant is completely glass. The windows bend to be part of the ceiling, making it look a lot like a green house. “Oh, a green house? That must be pretty?” No. These windows let in beautiful natural light only to be wasted on cheap, fake flowers. “That doesn’t sound that bad.” Well, in the spaces where there weren’t plastic plant sex organs, there were Easter decorations most likely stolen from a kindergarten classroom.

What was eaten:
Bread and salad
Broccoli ravioli
To drink:
Diet coke, no ice

Bread and salad- I usually use the bread and salad as an indicator for the rest of the meal. The bread was good. The salad not so much. No tomatoes! What is that? I prefer cheese instead of dressing, which was an easy enough switch, but I think there was a piece of moldy feta. That is simply the work of Satan.

Broccoli ravioli – Homemade ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and supposedly broccoli. They were quite delicious, but I really hope I was served the cheese by mistake, because the broccoli was nowhere to be found. So very sad. The marinara was also enjoyable; I would wager it was homemade as well.

Diet Coke with no ice- I only mention this because actually getting a soda without ice is a crapshoot at most places. Here, it was delivered without fail.

Kafka’s The Castle- Sadly there was nothing Kafka-esque about this place. I could be wrong though; I only made it about thirty pages into The Castle.
Value- about average for Italian places, roughly $10 a plate, and on par with most Italian places, there was enough left over for lunch the next day.
Veg selection- not great and not horrible. If, like me, you were lost, starving and a vegetarian, you could do a lot worse.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Truck Driver

My father likes to take day trips to places I couldn't find with a sherpa. On his latest adventure he brought back one of life's most precious gifts: cheese!! Fresh, locally made, cheddar cheese. This one was called the Truck Driver (I have no idea) purchased at a place called The Cheese House, which I can only imagine is heaven on earth.

This cheese is incredible. It is so sharp and ooh... It has a flavor that doesn't hit you until it's been on your tongue for a second. I'm honestly at a loss for words.

I heart you, cheese.

*a note on the link: keep scrolling I promise it's there.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Li's Brothers

795 Maple Rd, Longmeadow, MA

Atmosphere: They have coy.

This is one of my favorite restaurants. The food is always yummy, the wait staff rocks, and as far as sushi is concerned, its relatively cheap.

The restaurant is divided into two styles, Japanese (sushi bar and Sapporo supplied decorations) on the left and Chinese (big tables and a Great Wall mural) on the right. You may eat whatever style you like on either side, but the Japanese side is where all the cool kids hang out.

What was eaten:
Miso soup
Vegetable tempura
Avocado roll
Rainbow roll
To drink:
Scorpion bowl
Mai tai

Miso soup – What’s not to love? Dashi? Okay, it is kind of stinky, but you can’t make miso soup without it. (And it’s not really vegetarian either, so maybe there is something not to love.)

Vegetable tempura– Broccoli, carrot, onion, taro, and pepper all battered and fried to the height of their yumminess. It’s served with enough tempura dipping sauce (which I still haven’t figured out how to make, stupid mysteries of the orient) to drown every piece in.

Avocado roll- Simple and wonderful. Another thing that makes Li’s Brothers great is that I order this every time I go and have never been served a bad avocado. A bad avocado just makes me want to cry.

Tamago- Sweet egg custard strapped to a rice bed with a seaweed belt. So freakin good.

Rainbow roll - A California roll covered in fatty tuna, salmon, yellow tail and I think its mackerel (please correct me) and just to make it even better, all that is topped with masago. (The bros never skimps on the masago either.)

Mai Tai and Scorpion bowl – I don’t know what are in either of them, but Goddamn are they good. Scorpion bowl is for two and if you are nice they will set it on fire for you.

God bless the Polynesians- only a culture as advanced as theirs could make something called the suffering bastard taste so good.
Veg selection- while there are few sushi items that are truly vegetarian, there are things like udon, chow fun, and a whole section of vegetarian meat dishes. I have had a few of these (orange pork and something else I can’t remember) and they are wonderful.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

toasted owl

Toasted Owl
Route 9, Northampton

: Confused

Dark wood paneling with high recessed ceilings. I think a touch too upscale for the amount of TVs with sports on them. I have to admit I loved the ceilings, warm but distant like a proper New England family.

If I had to describe this place in one word I would go with pub. A bar with a decent sized menu and quite enough to have a conversation. It's as close as I've found to the English pubs that were the highlight of my last visit to London. (I'm not trying to be like "oh, I've been to London", more like a dig toward the filthy, confusing, quietly condescending city).

What was eaten:
Cheese fries minus the bacon
Caesar salad
Wild mushroom pizza

To drink:
Pabst Blue Ribbon

Cheese fries- Yum! Real cheese that was magically not greasy. The serving is probably enough for three or four.

Caesar salad- Pretty hard to mess up I know, but you would be surprised. Crisp lettuce, just the right amount of dressing and nothing fancy added on. I hate that. You don’t mess with a classic.

Wild mushroom pizza- After I picked the mushrooms off it was pretty tasty. Maybe a little too spicy, but I didn't order it so I can't really complain.

Pabst Blue Ribbon- an ode to PBR, by Carrie
The cheapest of grog
And lighter than fog.
When you call it swill,
I feel the urge to kill.

Beer selection- Great (PBR and The High Life on one menu, fucking awesome).
Value- Huge portions at a decent price. Way to contribute to America's collective weight problem, Toasted Owl.
Veg selection- There were a few different kinds of pizza, salads and sides. Not terribly impressive, but I didn't go hungry. There was no problem changing menu items to make them vegetarian. This is probably not where I would go if I wanted a real vegetarian dinner, but for snack and some beer I would defiantly go back.

A disclaimer of sorts

In an ongoing effort to keep it real, I thought I should share the source of my opinions before I started spewing them forth like the gospel that they are. So, without further ado, I give you a short essay I like to call "Food and Me". Enjoy.

Food is a very personal thing. I can only say for certain what I like (and sometimes I even lie to myself, i.e. beer). I say this because I have a very large bias - I love cheese. I can't get enough of it. If someone served me carpet covered in cheese, I'm ashamed to say I would probably eat it.

I also don't like a few of the vegetarian standards, namely mushrooms and nuts. I don't know why. I believe you when you say they are tasty. (No, I don't. You're just wrong.) Mushrooms - I can't get past the texture to even think about the taste. It's what I imagine putting a slug in my mouth would feel like. No thank you. Nuts - (let's keep it clean kids) it's a mystery. I do like peanuts and pine nuts. I'm not sure they're actually nuts though. Whatever, it's my site, my mouth and I don't like them. Deal mother fucker.

As for food allergies, I have a few non-lethal ones. My allergy to mangos is such that I'm a little bit afraid of them. (If you share this allergy you know exactly why they're scary). Pineapple and kiwi just burn my mouth like acid, so I generally don't eat them. I'll keep you updated. I've heard the list just gets bigger (like my bottom) with age.

Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.