Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kobe - Restaurant Review

Kobe Japanese Grill and Sushi Bar
140 Shops Way
Biddeford, ME 04005

Tuesday was sushi day. After work I went grocery shopping and picked up a ready made container of spicy tuna and salmon sushi at our local Hannaford. Though not as good as Wegman's sushi, it is surprisingly good for coming from the Caucasian wasteland that is Maine. As it turned out, Dave, Tyler and I ended up trying the new Japanese restaurant in Biddeford that evening, so I got some real sushi a few hours later.

Having just received two parking tickets for the 10 minutes I had my car in the UNE lot - a plague on all UNE campus police - I was in a foul mood, and the pina colada - yes ma'am, with alcohol - I got because of it was extremely good. I am a fan of the compulsory pots of tea you find at Chinese establishments, and I wish other Asian restaurants did this as well, but no matter.

Because sushi is delicious and the hibachi fun, we ordered a mixture of both. Unlike many hibachi grills, the sushi at Kobe is actually the superior of the two foods, so I think in the future I will stick to just that. The lobster roll is very good, just watch out for the end piece, which, for some inexplicable reason, has part of the shell embedded in it as a decoration. This 'decoration' almost broke my teeth.

If you like enormous amounts of stir fry though, the hibachi is for you. The chef was very good and kept up a running commentary of terrible jokes (This is a Japanese egg roll! *spins an egg on the surface of the grill*) while making our food. At one point he made sure that we were all 21 and had insurance, and played a 'dangerous game' with us.

A note on the tossing food game: The object is for the chef to toss a piece of piping hot food from his spatula while the patron imitates a freshly hatched bird and attempts to catch the food in their gaping maw. A mushroom is ideal for this trick, or maybe a small piece of broccoli, though the latter tends to retain heat rather too well. A lump of scrambled eggs, however, while flying through the air, is reminiscent of the Columbia shuttle and results only in eggy bits and a stupid look all over one's face. Still, it was entertaining, and our reward for not catching any food was a mouthful of Saki. Dave got a double because he cheated and caught the egg with his hands.

The food was all good, and there was so much of it that I have leftovers for a week of lunches. It is a bit on the expensive side, so I suggest going on 'Crazy Tokyo Tuesday!' when the entire bill is 20% off. Just remember to tip both the chef and the waitress.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Acorn Squash

Here is an easy recipe - a delicious way to get some healthy vegetables into your diet! Who am I kidding, this isn't healthy. Sure tastes good though.

Classic Baked Acorn Squash
1 acorn squash
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp maple syrup (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Using a large (and sturdy) knife, cut the acorn squash in half, lengthwise, from stem to end. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the center of each half. Score the insides of each half several times with a sharp knife. Place each half in a baking pan, cut side up. Add about a 1/2 inch of water to the bottom of the baking pan so that the skins don't burn and the squash doesn't dry out.

Coat the inside of each half with 1/2 a Tbsp of butter. Add a Tbsp of brown sugar to the cavity of each half. Add a teaspoon of maple syrup to each half if desired.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the squash is very soft and the tops are browned. Do not under-cook. Seriously, it will taste like crap. When finished, remove from oven and let cool a little before serving.

*Sorry for the lack of photos with this one - I forgot to take any until after we had already eaten it. Needless to say, it was tasty.*

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This Law Sucks! - The day Lady Gaga came to Portland

At 7:39 pm on Sunday, September 19th, Lady Gaga announced that she would be holding a rally the following day in a park in Portland, Maine for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

By 3:00 pm Monday, there were roughly 5,000 supporters in Deering Oaks Park.

She didn't sing, she didn't wear a crazy dress, and she was only there for about 18 minutes, but the audience loved it. Everyone there not only wanted to see the pop sensation, they also cared about the cause she is fighting for.

To readers who may not know, Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a law passed in 1993 that prevents military service members from being openly gay or bisexual. If someone is outed, voluntarily or not, they are fired without retirement benefits. It is the equivalent of a dishonorable discharge. Since the laws passing, nearly 15,000 service members have been fired for admitting their non-heterosexuality.

When people began speaking at around 4:15pm, the crowd was animated and supportive. I was impressed with the amount of young people there - about 75% of the attendees were in my generation - who really seemed to care about the speakers.

First to speak was Nicholas Mavodones, Jr., the mayor of Portland. A major supporter of gay rights, the democratic mayor is clearly extremely popular with at least the younger crowd in Portland.

A number of former service men and women then spoke about their experiences. Some of them had been fairly new to the military when they were fired for being gay, but most of them had been in service for at least a decade. What struck me most was how much these people want to do their jobs. If they are willing to do so while hiding who they really are, then it seems evident that they truly love what they do. Discrimination in the workplace with regard to sexuality has been illegal for quite some time - why is the military any different?

After the service persons spoke came Maine congresswoman Chellie Pingree, another supporter of gay rights. She, like Mavodones, drew huge cheers. This interest of the youth in their political leaders is heartening.

Finally, to chants of "This Law Sucks!", our keynote speaker arrived. She delivered her already famous Equality is the Prime Rib of America speech amid cheers and storms of applause.

It is wonderful to see that, as a celebrity who got her start because of her gay fan-base, Lady Gaga is really giving back to her supporters.

* * *

Even as I write this post, the senate has refused to debate on the bill including the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The Republican senators, including Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, voted unanimously against the bill, due in large part to the fact that the bill included a number of other controversial issues - like illegal immigration - and that the Democratic senators were attempting to block any amendments to the bill by the Republican senators.

While generally on the Democratic side, I am severely disappointed that this loss may have been solely due to the fact that the Democrats were not willing to give the other side an equal say.

While this loss is extremely disheartening - especially considering that the election in November will almost certainly lose the Democratic majority in the Senate - I have to believe that, like the womens' rights and civil rights movements, sexuality equality will eventually become a reality. Our children will look back on these events and wonder why it took so long for all people to truly be equal, but at least their America will be more accepting than ours is now.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cancun - Restaurant Review

Cancun Mexican Restaurant
11 Adams Street

Biddeford, ME 04005

I work on Sunday mornings, so afterward I met up with Dave, Tyler and Matt and we went to the new Mexican restaurant in Biddeford for lunch. Until now, the only Mexican place has been Bebe's, which barely qualifies as edible. The Cancun Mexican restaurant was a very pleasant surprise.

It is a small restaurant, slightly underground and looks rather like a food cellar. There are some flat screen TVs playing sports, although since this means European futbol rather than hockey or baseball, it added to the atmosphere (and since all present were soccer fans, we enjoyed it).

The wait staff was very friendly, and the fact that everyone there actually was Mexican, unlike Bebe's, gave us some more confidence in the food. Which was fantastic, by the way. There are a number of kinds of options - single dishes, combo plates, lunch and dinner specials - and everything is moderately priced. I got a combo plate of an enchilada and a fajita, which also came with a generous helping of rice and beans. Having that and bits of other people's food, I can informatively say that everything there is fantastic.

Also, they give you huge baskets of chips with salsa, which got refilled about 8 times, considering I was there with three starving male medical students. Tyler got some sort of chorizo dip which was fantastic - i must remember to try that one again. After all the meat and rice and beans, i wanted something sweet, and having seen flan* on the menu, I was itching to try it. I hadn't had good flan since Spain, and my most recent encounter with the dessert was one I bought at Wegman's - the equivalent of a pudding cup, and it was horrendous. The flan at Cancun is amazing, possibly better than some I had in Spain (sorry, Mom!). As we left, some guy outside asked Dave and I if the food was good, and I practically sang the praises of that flan. He didn't know what flan was. *headdesk*

* Flan, for all Mainers and other uncultured people, is a kind of custard made with condensed milk. It is very easy to make bad flan, and almost impossible to find good flan in the US. Another recent encounter I have had with flan was in Allentown, where pairs of men sit atop coolers on the side of the road and shout at passing drivers to by their flan or cheesecake.

No, sir, I do not want your ass-flan. Thank you.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yom Kippur

Friday night meant the start of Yom Kippur, the most depressing holiday in the Jewish faith. The word 'holiday' has come to mean something fun and filled with lots of fattening food, while Yom Kippur hearkens back to the original meaning of the word which is, as it sounds, 'a holy day'.

Yom Kippur is the day in the Jewish faith where you repent for all of your sins. In doing so, you fast from sundown to sundown, around 25 hours. No food, no water. For a full day. I'm not actually Jewish, but Dave is, and as I would feel bad eating in front of my fiance while he fasts, I fast too. And it sucks. That's probably why it is the only holiday I've written about so far, and I've done so twice.

Breaking fast, on the other hand, is a lot of fun.

This year we got together with a couple friends (some Jewish, some not) and had bagels with cream cheese and lox, and I made a noodle kugel. My thanks to a former library colleague for the recipe.

Amazing Noodle Kugel

1 lb medium egg noodles (16 oz)

1 stick butter

6 eggs (1 ½ C eggbeaters)

1 t vanilla

½ C sugar

½ pt sour cream (1 C)

½ pt cottage cheese (1 C)

¼ C milk

2 T lemon juice

½ C sugar

Pre-heat oven to 350ยบ. Boil noodles (8-10 minutes, or until soft), drain and mix with butter, 3 eggs (3/4 C eggbeaters), vanilla, ½ C sugar. Pour into 9x13 pan.

Mix remaining eggs or eggbeaters, sour cream, cottage cheese, milk, lemon juice and remaining sugar, pour over noodles.

Top with cinnamon, bake for 1 hour.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The English Language, and how the persons misspeak her

There is nothing in the world - not crying babies, Scarlett Johansson or Unchained Melody - that I hate more than the mispronunciation of the word 'mispronunciation'. I've heard it. 'Mispronounce-iation' is a fail of epic proportions. I am no English major, I have some truly appalling spelling, but if you can't even speak your native language properly, you don't deserve to talk.

I know I sound like Henry Higgins, but damn it, Eliza needed those lessons and so do a lot of the people that I encounter in the Great Land of the North (Maine).

I'm not sure why mispronunciation bothers me so much, maybe it's the whole child-of-two-teachers thing, but these are some words, all of which I have heard in the past few weeks, that make me want to beat the people who say them around the head with a ping pong paddle.
  • Supposably
  • I could care less (less mispronunciation than it is just not thinking about the phrase)
  • Valentimes (this one literally makes me want to step on kittens)
All of these, actually, were uttered by the same person, an 80 year old woman I was working for. If you have been speaking this language for 80 years, for heaven's sake, do it properly.

*As a completely unrelated aside, to this older woman I worked for who told me that I was a sinner for:
  1. my parents being divorced
  2. for wearing pants
  3. for having tattoos
  4. for ever drinking anything stronger than hot chocolate (this includes tea)
I say this: I may have some ink in me, but at least I am tolerant of people with different lifestyles and ideals than me. If heaven is filled with people like you, I don't want to go there.