Monday, October 31, 2011

One more


Boston style.

I forgot to buy candy today. I'll have to see what's on sale tomorrow.

Slider Week Monday: Mahi Mahi

Why is it slider week? Because I decided it was going to be.  Yes, I know that sliders are overrated and not cool anymore.  I don't care. I want to eat tiny cute sandwiches.  Therefore, it's a theme week.

Today is mahi mahi slider day.  My first step was to dress the buns:

Toasted bun with some green onion slices and macadamia nut "butter" and red pepper flakes.  My idea with this was to take the concept of macadamia crusted mahi mahi, and convert it.  I had intended to toast the nuts before running them through the food processor, but completely forgot to do that.  That probably would have enhanced the butter's flavor.  In any case, I made the butter by taking a handful of nuts, pulsing them in the processor, and adding in a bit of olive oil and honey to sweeten and bind it all together.  It has a dry texture, not really being smooth like peanut butter.  It's very good though, and I kept eating bits of it from the dish.  

Adding the fish.  The portions aren't even because the filet I got wasn't symmetric around the center line.  Also: slanty fish + rolly green onions = slide-y top buns. I guess that covers the "slider" aspect of things.

Plated.  Handful of chips and a quick salad of romaine + spouts in a super simple dressing of apple cider vinegar and olive oil.  I have tomatoes, but didn't feel like slicing one up.

The sliders were good, but again, the macadamia butter wasn't really strong enough to match the fish.  I guess I could have put the buns under the broiler for a bit to simulate toasting, but I didn't think of it at the time.  Still, when I did get butter to come through (the one with the smaller fish worked better at this), it did exactly what I wanted.  The fish gave an oily base, with the butter balancing with a sweet nuttiness.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday: finally home

Details on the long journey home tomorrow. I'm too tired to type it all up right now.  I'll also edit the remaining posts so they actually have words that make sense.

I stole the Panda idea since I was too tired to try to think up what else sounded good.  The fortune:

Pandas aren't terribly good at physiology, I think.

Sunday: Things get worse

Morning in Phoenix:
Quick scan of the hotel room:
Western style lamp.
This guy was on the wall. I think he's playing a flute? Sure. Why not.
I have never seen a toilet not be square against the wall. Maybe Arizona has different building codes than sane people the rest of the country?

While searching my luggage for clean clothes, I discovered this:
A TSA inspection notice next to the bottle of BBQ sauce I was bringing back to Hawaii. I guess BBQ sauce looks like a bomb? At this point, I thought that the TSA people had stolen my only clean shirt, as I thought that I'd packed it. I actually found it at home when I returned, so I guess I have to apologize to the TSA for suggesting that they'd stolen it.  They may be bad at their stated goals, and largely useless at everything, but they aren't thieves. At least not of my stuff.

Side note on that point: if you tuck a note into your bag that says, "Dear TSA, please don't steal my shirt like the people in Austin did. Thanks!" you just get the TSA inspection card placed on top of your clothes, and they don't seem to inspect anything.

The hotel has a free breakfast buffet for people that USAir has screwed over, so I took advantage of it:
Southwest potatoes (with a bit of tasty salsa), sausage, bacon, "sticky bun", ham, apple-filled pancakes, pineapple, watermelon, strawberry, coffee, and juice.  I like breakfast food, I just hate making it.

Back at the airport, I opted out at security, which confused them, and they had to find someone to do the check.  While waiting, I had a quick conversation with the girl at the gate ("sorry it's taking so long, we're really understaffed this morning"), and watched as they attempted to get two 80-90 year old ladies to go through the radiation box one at a time.  Eventually (like five minutes later), they decided that they probably weren't terrorists (given that they could really hardly walk), and so they let them go through the magnetometer.

The flight to OGG wasn't as empty as the aborted flight the day before, but it was sufficiently empty that I could switch around to get a window seat:
 West Maui.
 Molokai? I think we're too far away for that to be Oahu.
West Maui again.  It was kind of annoying to listen to the loud guy one row up tell his wife(?) that we were flying over the big island when we clearly weren't.  The approach to OGG is kind of cool, as you fly over Kahului, cross through the central plain out over Kihei, back over the ocean to turn around, and then back over the plain back to the airport.  The flights from HNL just land normally, without the cool aerial tour.

Once I got off the plane, I realized that I'd been lied to. There were no United agents anywhere. I went down to where the United gates are, but they were abandoned.  The Hawaiian agent suggested that I had to go out to the check in counter, and ask there.  She tried to find my reservation, but wasn't able to.  Out through security again, and down to the opposite end of the airport to the United counter.

"We don't fly to Honolulu from here, so you must be mistaken. Go talk to Hawaiian."
"We don't have your reservation, but it looks like your bag is flying to HNL on Island Air. Go see them?"
"Yeah, we have your bag, but your reservation wasn't done correctly, so you can't join it. Go talk to the USAir baggage lady?"
"I know nothing at all, and only handle bag claims.  Since this is a destination airport, I rarely have to do anything except hold bags that people forgot to pick up. Maybe call the USAir phone representative?"
"Wow, that's a terrible trip, let's see what I can do.  Yeah, it looks like the reservation wasn't done correctly, so that's why no one knows who you are. I'd like to magically fix this, but you'll have to fly home on Hawaiian, and I don't have direct access to their reservations.  Usually we have a 24-hour wait period for these flights, and that's probably why your other reservation didn't go through. Go talk to the counter people and give them your phone."
Back and forth with the phone rep, the Hawaiian counter rep, the Hawaiian manager in back, and me getting frustrated that everyone agrees I should be allowed to go back home, and USAir is totally willing to pay for it, but no one knows how to make this happen.
Phone rep: "I'm going to hang up and try some things here, and call you back when I sort it out."
Me: "Ok." Email: "Probably going to miss work tomorrow."
One minute later: "Here's your boarding pass! Everything is magically fixed!"
Me: "Sigh. Thank you."

So in the end, I was able to get home, and it only took 27 hours longer than my original plan.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday: Returning home?

This is mostly just all the crap I ate this day. First up: breakfast pizza from Mangia's at Austin Airport.
It's "breakfast" because I'm eating it in the morning.
I wanted to get Cinnabon in Denver, but they don't have Cinnabon there. How an airport can exist without a Cinnabon, I don't know. Instead, I had to get a knockoff from the Sara Lee coffee shop (yes, Sara Lee. Coffee. Denver is a crazy airport.)
This did give me a chance to make a T.J. Hooker joke on twitter.
 I mean, look at this:
That's a sad looking "cinnamon roll." Where's the gooey? Where's the transparent bottom of the box due to buttery goodness?

Anyway, Denver was followed by a flight to Phoenix, which isn't a very well planned airport. In order to transfer from United to USAir, you have to leave security, get on a bus, go through baggage check to the check-in area, and then back through security.  I've had to do this at LAX, and it's one of the reasons why LAX is my least favorite airport ever. It's dumb. Given all the bullshit they do "for security," it's kind of just a big waste of time.  I don't recall having to opt out here, so I think I just went through the regular metal detector.  Great consistency, TSA.

While I'm thinking about it: One in four travelers smuggle liquids through TSA checkpoints. Yes. Yes we do. I didn't bother mentioning that I had a tube of cream in my bags. I didn't mention it any of the five times I went through security on this trip.  No one said anything, and clearly didn't find it.  Does this mean that we're expecting future terrorists to politely inform the TSA agents that they have bombs and poisons? That seems really likely, doesn't it?

Also, if I have opt out of the radiation box in HNL and PHX, but not at AUS, why would I be a terrorist flying out of HNL or PHX?  I'd just choose an airport that doesn't use those expensive pieces of shit.  Boom, either I'm some sort of genius terrorist mastermind, or the TSA is run by people dumber than the moron who designed PHX.

Ok, rant over, back to the trip.  I boarded the plane to HNL in PHX, and it looked like it'd be a decent enough flight.  Even though I didn't have a great window:
There weren't very many people on the plane at all:
I counted nine people in the thirty seats around me, making this one of the most empty flights I've ever been on.  I guess tourism to Hawaii really is down.

Unfortunately, about a half hour into the flight, the captain came on and mentioned that of the six fuel pumps they have on the plane, only five were operational.  Since "having fuel where you want it" is kind of an essential part of "not crashing," we turned around and returned to PHX.  I kind of got the "they're taking us back to Germany" feeling (sorry, I couldn't find a youtube clip), but there wasn't much to do.  We returned to the gate, and despite the assurances that they had a plane right there ready to go, and we'd just have to wait a minute to reboard that, I went to get lunch:
Quiznos is my airport savior, it seems.  In any case, an hour later, they told us that due to pilot regulations, the crew we'd started with didn't have enough time left for the day to make the trip to Hawaii, and so they'd have to find a different crew to drive.  Ok. This is turning into a mess, isn't it?  They did try to appease everyone with bottled water and snacks:
Granola bar, raisins, shortbread cookie, three crackers, and cheese spread.
This wasn't really a meal, so I was glad that I was the first person to have gotten Quiznos (the line was crazy at this point).  They kept speaking quieter and quieter, and so when the next announcement came on, I got up to listen closer.  They'd found a pilot, but despite PHX being USAir's hub, they couldn't come up with a first officer. WTF? In any case, they were cancelling the flight, and would be rebooking people and providing hotel arrangements at gate 11 and 13.  I looked to my right, and realized that I was standing right in front of gate 13.
To use the meme.
The girl at the counter (Maria S.) fought with her computer, and said that my new flight would be the next day, PHX-OGG, and that once I arrived in Maui, I would have to find a United agent who would give me my boarding pass for my flight from OGG-HNL.  Since I figured that Maui is closer to home than Arizona, I agreed, and picked up my food voucher and hotel voucher.

I will not say much more about PHX other than the fact that at this point, I needed to get my luggage, and then escape from the baggage claim area. For some reason, the idiot who thought that taking buses between terminals was a great idea enclosed the baggage claim area in a fence that has two small exits.  There's no security there, so it's not like it's to keep people from stealing unclaimed bags. I think it's just to annoy people.

Hotel shuttle to the Hilton: Airport, easy check in with hotel voucher, stretch out and relax for a bit after a day stuck in planes and airports.  "Hey, let's go get dinner!"

I go down, and sit down at the restaurant.  I get a drink, and then have an ample forty minutes to browse the menu:

So yeah, that breaks down to ten minutes a page.  The selection was pretty crappy, and when someone finally came over to ask if I was ready to order (I did my best to not rip her head off and shout something like, "I'M NOT READY YET! I HAVEN'T COMMITTED THE MENU TO MEMORY!"), I ordered something I thought would be simple:

Chicken fingers. Not terrible, but despite the menu claiming it came with bbq or honey mustard, it came with ranch. No one likes ranch, it's a terrible flavor. Why would you put that on chicken fingers? Also steak fries. Guess what? Those are always soggy. They're ok when they're under something that drips juices onto them, so the soggy isn't a problem. Like, say, a steak.  I asked the girl when she returned if I could get the bbq sauce, and then continued eating, with the bbq sauce finally arriving as I was starting the final finger.  The sauce was cold, like it'd just come out of the fridge, further illustrating that no one at this restaurant had any clue how to do anything.  I guess I shouldn't complain, since it was free (well, mostly, as stingy Mr USAir only provides a $10 food voucher when they fuck shit up), but I really just wanted something fast and easy to eat so I could get back to my room and relax.  I didn't want to sit and wait for someone to remember to take my order.  I don't remember the last time that I left no tip, but this is now the most recent occasion.

I figured that things couldn't get worse.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday: Last vacation day

Another day of working while on vacation, trying to fix more problems in the spectra fitting code I'm working on with Julie.  It's reasonably close to finished, with only a few things left to do (mostly because I can't figure out a good algorithm yet. It'll come one day, and I'll finish it up).  Lunch was across from campus at Sao Paulo's. Tasty Brazilian/Texmex place with really big portions.  

Also, parallel parking is hard.  Doubly so it seems if the car in front of you (who I may or may not know the driver of) isn't very close to the curb.  In any case, it was unexpectedly hilarious to come out to see that someone else was even worse at parking their car.

Cupcakes for dinner snack!

Cuprimo has excellent cupcakes, far better than the cupcakes we got earlier in the week.  Also, Cuprimo has workers that I expect to see in a cupcakery (slightly hipster girls), not "potential ex-con murderer" (like the other place).

Original image by Julie
Dinner (for real this time) was Little Caesars, mostly because no one wanted to cook, and pizza is always the answer.  I believe this was also the 20th meal in a row that "grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup" was skipped for being "too hard."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday: The Noble Pig

Lunch today was at the Noble Pig:
 I'm really sad that Honolulu doesn't have a place like this (or Zingerman's, but that's even rarer).  I want tasty sandwiches made from meat that isn't the same crap I can buy at the grocery store.  One of the sandwich places by work actually advertises exactly which manufacturer they get their meat from.  Why would I pay them $9 to get a sandwich that I could make myself from stuff I buy at WF for $3?  If you want to set yourself up as a gourmet sandwich place, you need to do more than just buy stuff.

I got their namesake sandwich, but if I were to go again, I would probably try to get two half sandwiches of something. One of those halves would still probably be the NP.  Pulled pork + ham + bacon? Three kinds of delicious pig between two slices of bread.  Add in a cup of "coconut curry pork" soup (which tasted not very coconut-y or curry-y, but was more like a pulled pork and chili soup), and you reach a nice daily allowance for pork consumption.

Dinner was a rotisserie chicken + salad + tasty polenta, but I again forgot to take pictures.  Julie commented that the polenta tasted like it maybe didn't have enough liquid in it, and given that it was still better than what I usually make, I think that means that I seriously never put in enough liquid.  Maybe it's time to do my polenta and mushrooms with gruyere dish when I get back, and give it another shot.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday: I never remember to take pictures

This is the first of my edits on posts that I've forgotten things for.  I have no recollection of what I had for lunch.  Sushi? That kind of sounds right. It was at the one place I've been before that had nice lunch sets.  Also, the girl waiting tables has shiny silver sneakers.  Can't remember the name of the place though.

After lunch, we returned home for a nap and some work.  Seen above is a very sad puppy who wonders why we returned without her bestest friend ever.

Dinner was at Al Sur, which has this guy on the wall:
I was going to take my own picture when we arrived, but by the time my phone camera had gotten ready, Dan (who doesn't have a blog) had arrived, and I forgot.  It was good to catch up somewhat, even if it's a bit odd that a large fraction of people I know now live in Austin.

The food at Al Sur was good, especially the empanadas.  My fish dish had delicious plantain chips, and I could probably have eaten just those and been happy. Unfortunately, despite it being dinner time on a Wednesday, we were basically the only people in the restaurant.  That doesn't really bode well for their continued prospects.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday dinner: Pizza

Little Deli was the pizza of choice.  Big slices, and a nice crispy crust.  Pizza is never the wrong answer.

Tuesday lunch: Kolache Factory

I don't think that I've had kolaches before, but this place was a good introduction.  The basic idea is the same as a hundred other foods: take a bread of some sort, stuff it with sweet or savory fillings, and then cook and serve.  This one was a ham and cheese kolache, and I'd already eaten a pepperoni mushroom one.

On the subject of "hundred other foods," these are basically the same as the manapua I can get near work (oddly enough, also produced in a factory.  Apparently this kind of food is easily adaptable to industrialization.).  I've avoided them for awhile, since last time I went there, the food wasn't fully cooked.  However, this was the Chinese food that I was eating, and not the manapua.  I think I'm going to have to give them another chance, and try the manapua this time.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday dinner: Noodles and Co.

Since when did noodles have gyoza?

I mostly miss Noodles because there isn't a place that I've found in Hawaii that satisfies the "I want pasta, and I don't want to put any effort into it."  Fazoli's also fell into this category.  Noodles is definitely a better option than Fazoli's, as Noodles actually tastes like they've used identifiable ingredients.

Monday Lunch: Qdoba!

I really miss being able to get chicken queso burritos whenever I feel like it.

Also, due to a weird quirk of fate, the burrito I bought in Boston in May qualified this one to be a free burrito.  Burritos taste even better when you don't really have to pay for them.  I seem to think that the ten burritos I bought to get this one started back in like 2007 or 2008.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday dinner: chicken and 40 cloves

I'll fix the date when I edit this text.

Ok, so it's now two weeks later, and I'm finally getting around to editing this entry.

Chicken with 40 cloves.  I think we've done this one before at Julie's, mostly because I remember cutting up the chicken for that dinner as well.  I'm getting pretty good at it, although I'd never be able to be a chicken part-er for a full time job. I'm just not fast enough.

The recipe is pretty simple, working from memory:

  1. Cut the whole chicken into pieces. Breast x2, thigh x2, legs x2, wings x2, carcass for stock to freezer.
  2. Salt, pepper, sear the crap out of them in some oil.
  3. Dump in more oil, all the garlic, and sage, then cover and put into the oven for like an hour.
  4. Toss it around a bit to make sure that everything cooks fully while cooking, then serve with bread so you can mush the garlic into the bread, and nom nom nom.
My memory is crappy, so I don't remember what the other side was. The first side was roasted brussel sprouts, which I tried, and ate a decent portion of. Still, I don't like brussel sprouts, although they were better than I expected roasted.  I think if they'd been roasted even more, and had more salt, I might have liked them more as well.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday: sad laser hot dog is sad

Saturday: Part 2

Because I'm terrible at remembering things, I forgot to take a picture of the Austin Farmer's Market.  I don't think it's really that much bigger than the Honolulu KCC one, in terms of the number of booths attending.  However, it does seem to be using a much larger space, and separates the prepared foods from the fresh ingredients.  Whatever the reason, it's far easier to navigate the market with all the people, even when you have a dog that wants to look at everything.

I did get a jar of apple butter, since this is something that simply doesn't exist in Hawaii:

The aforementioned dog, all tired out from a long day of playing:

Dinner was a simple yet delicious fried potato/farmer's market pan sausage/egg scramble, with sriracha on the side.  I never realized that I like sriracha as much as I apparently do.  Luckily, that's super easy to find at home.  You'll notice the apple butter on a piece of toast, and some apple cider to drink.  I really miss the wonders of having an actual autumn.