Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bad Frozen Food

It’s a great feeling to walk into my apartment, spent from a long day of work, and go into the kitchen and pick something out for a meal.  The sheer convenience and relatively cheap prices of frozen foods make them a good option, especially since I’m lacking in culinary skills.  But, more and more, I’m finding frozen foods to be foes and not friends.  Last month as I was knee-deep in momentum from the site’s re-launch, I literally took pictures of every food item I ate, hoping to eventually get around to reviewing them all.  While most of the pictures will likely sit idle on my hard drive, I’ve rounded up a few to demonstrate my increasing disappointment towards frozen foods.

From Michelina’s Signature series comes this edible entry into the world of frozen food.  My impression from the box was of a quick, yet savory meal that had both meat and potatoes, thus I rationalized it’d be a suitable and satisfying snack.  The verbiage used to describe the food within suggests a party for your palette, tossing around words like “seasoned potatoes”, “creamy gravy”, and my favorite, “white chicken fritter.”

Looking at our meal in its unthawed, frozen form makes the whole thing seem a little less appetizing.  But at this point I still held on to some hope, as everything advertised was there, albeit it hard and icy.

Oh, now come on, what the hell is this?  You’ve got to be kidding me!  I spent a couple bucks on this putrid pile of pestilence?  Looking like something The Toxic Avenger would leave behind in a bathroom, this was the final result of my frozen fantasy being turned into a dinner debacle.

All right, this one seems to be playing it a bit safer, also from Michelina’s I tried their take on Stuffed Cheese Rigatoni.  Seems pretty inconspicuous, right?

Is this some kind of a joke?  It’s a pretty surreal feeling effortlessly holding your Italian dinner in your hand.

Well, before starting the cooking process, things weren’t looking too bright on this outing either.  I tossed my frozen cube into a pan and sent it on its way.

Now this looks a little more like it!  The sauce is bright and appears hearty, the pasta presumably puffy and full of delicate and delicious cheese, what could possibly go wrong?

Good grief!  It all got stuck to the pan, the final result being a bowl of clumpy slop posed as haute cuisine.  I think I need to start learning how to really cook for myself.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Day at a Flea Market

Yesterday I went to Traders World flea market with Amanda, a place neither of us go to frequently, but we both recall with a hint of nostalgia from childhood.  As a kid, I'd root for comic books or NBA trading cards, and now as an adult not much has changed as I spent the majority of my time rooting through bins of loose G.I. Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures.

The latest trend is charms for your shoes, specifically Crocs, and while I'm not fashionable or hip, unless late-night Ice Hockey indulgences on the NES are in-style, I couldn't resist a couple of these.  There's thousands of varieties, mostly generic but harmless, and then there's some right down my alley, like the Swedish Chef charm above.  One of our favorite attractions at Walt Disney World is Jim Henson's Muppet*Vision 3D at Disney Hollywood Studios, every trip down, we make an effort to check it out a couple times.  Also, we're currently in the midst of watching the first season of The Muppet Show on DVD.  Personally, outside of mainstays like Rowlf the Dog and Fozzie Bear, I tend to dig the more obscure characters, like the gigantic Sweetums, the crotchety critics Statler and Waldorf, and stern taskmaster Sam the Eagle.  Swedish Chef is always a riot, though, from his outrageous cooking seminars like making doughnuts using a shotgun, to his one-of-a-kind speech that's often emulated and never unfunny.

Sonic the Hedgehog was my second choice, especially since the vendor claimed they were completely out of Super Mario.  My affinity for the little blue guy has grown in recent years, stirred up by Saturday mornings watching Sonic X, fueled by Sonic's comic books' rich continuity and history, and my recent procurement of the entire Sonic Underground animated series on DVD.

For the unaware, this is what the charms look like on shoes, shown above in my Sage-colored Crocs.  Crocs, while goofy in general appearance and somewhat of a trend themselves, I've found to be ideal shoes for me, especially during these warm summer months.  I've worn mine at theme parks, on long outdoors walks, to work, etc.

Now we're talking!  Double Dragon is one of my all-time favorite video games.  The animated series, while certainly not as beloved, still holds a place in my heart.  I scored the above VHS for a measly $1.  While doing research I discovered one curious customer review on a major retailer website, the enthused review said, "This is a really great movie. No question,you gotta have this movie. Try to rent this cool vedio. I gave it 5 stars! If you hate this movie,you`ll pay!"  We'll pay?  What kind of threat is that!  Seriously?  Expect a full review on this gem in the future.

Last but certainly not least, my greatest (and most expensive find at $3) is this bendable King Mabel figure!  Mabel is from a dark period in WWE wrestling lore where all of the characters were monstrous stereotypes, i.e. garbage men, race car drivers, voodoo shaman, etc.  Mabel was one-half of a team called Men On a Mission (or M.O.M.) that were also billed as rappers living a hip-hop lifestyle.

King Mabel: Yes, tell them more, plebeian!

Alright, yes sir!  So, what else?  I'm sorry Mabel, but the real reason I got you was because you were the most ludicrous wrestling figure in all of the giant bins... and trust me, there were some pretty heinous ones in there!  Your purple suspenders speak to me in a way I can't quite articulate I must admit.  Your mohawk looks a bit chopped up in the front, perhaps a visit to the local barber shop is in order?  Even my kitten Tomo wanted to get acquainted with the newest member of our household.

King Mabel:  I'll jump on your face!  Don't disrespect me, son, you got it?  Take me back to the flea market, the girl hocking the denim jackets was about to slip me those digits, boy.  Word!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Izzy's Famous Corned Beef - Forest Park, OH

Opening its first location in downtown Cincinnati in 1901, Izzy’s remains a local delicatessen that’s still fresh and well loved today.  Most well known for their corned beef (their Reuben is legendary), other popular favorites are their homemade soups (including the delicious “Sweet-N-Sour Cabbage”) and potato pancakes.

My favorite location is the Forest Park store and I generally try to visit it no less than once per month.  While other, more familiar sandwich chains like Subway, Quiznos, etc. have certain positive qualities; Izzy’s is by far a better all around experience time and time again.  Seen above is the majority of the dining area, not shown is the two sections alongside windows where I always sit to enjoy the view, which can sometimes be bustling with regulars.  One neat thing about their set-up is you don’t get a bill, after you finish eating, simply walk up to the counter and tell an employee what you ate to get rung up on the register.  I also have to compliment the waitresses, as they’re very accommodating and well informed, there’s one that I frequently have that’s especially kind and remembers me from past visits which is a nice feeling.

Now onto the food, while I love all of their scrumptious deli sandwiches, after having their signature Izzy Burger once, I haven’t been able to order anything else.  Now wait… before you start questioning my eating a hamburger at such a nice delicatessen, allow me to explain.  This ain’t your everyday burger!  For starters it’s baked, not fried or grilled, the end product being the most tender, delectable, uniquely delicious burger I’ve ever had anywhere.  Plus, the ingredients are so fresh; I always opt for a Kaiser roll and Swiss cheese, as well as the usual fixings, red onions, tomato, and lettuce.  As much as I adore the sandwich, the meal’s not complete without a famous Izzy’s potato pancake.  Not only do they taste incredible (I use a little brown mustard for dipping purposes) but I also find them a lot of fun to eat.  Also, at every table are containers of the best pickles around, so you can help yourself to as many as your heart desires.

In closing, out of all the local restaurants I frequent, I’d have to say Izzy’s is among my absolute favorite lunch destinations.  I can’t quite articulate the simple joy of washing down an Izzy Burger with a Pepsi, reading a few pages from a book, and starring out the window as the world operates outside oblivious to my wonderment and I.

Overall Grade: A 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

On the Road w/ RtW - Sharonville & Evendale, OH

"On the Road w/ RtW" debuts season two with a new look, new music, and the first-ever double shot episode! 

In this episode, we take a peek at the fabulous cities of Sharonville and Evendale, Ohio. We take a look at the fabulous parks, the historic depot square section of Sharonville, Sports Plus in Evendale, and even squeeze in a bonus food and drink review!

A Day at Brookville Lake

It’s not very often that my wife Amanda and I get a day off together, so when it does happen, we’ll usually try to plan something relatively big or at least go out for a couple hours.  On a hot summer day this past June we were allotted that very opportunity to spend a day however we pleased.  Would we walk around a mall and eat ice cream?  Maybe go see a movie at the local theater?  Nope!  Amanda suggested we trek to Brookville, Indiana, a place close to her heart in regards to nostalgia as she’d spent time camping there as a kid with family.  So, that sets the scene, innocent enough, right?  Well, read on, as this wasn’t any ordinary day!

Is this an innocuous start to our journey, or, the entrance to our impending doom?  I wasn’t so sure.  My horror movie riddled brain began calling up images of The Blair Witch Project as we begin our hike.

Early on we were presented with our first option but choose to bypass the easier Wildlife Wander Trail for a more adventurous route.

You can start making Friday the 13th references at your leisure.  This portion of the path is comparatively clear; later on we’d be pushing our way through thick brush, spider webs, and feeling like true adventures.

We thought about turning back several times but preserved, finally stumbling upon a creek.  The trail had been pretty extreme so we considered crossing the creek as on the other side was one of the park’s paved roads which we assumed would be an easier route.

It was so cold!  But wow, what an exhilarating moment, as I opted to cross barefoot and carefully made my way across the rushing, freezing water and over the slippery smooth rocks.

We were pretty content and happy about ourselves after that perilous journey.  We stopped momentarily to reflect, relax, and snap a couple pictures in our premature celebration.

But we were totally wrong about discovering an easier route!  The road we imagined to be our salvation ended up being a gigantic hill.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, not because it’s still somewhat blurry even after digital correction, but because it was snapped not even halfway up the beast so it doesn’t even begin to display the grueling uphill walk we barely survived.  Once we got to the top we still had a ways to go before making it back to Amanda’s car.  She drove us to a little supplies shack she remembered getting candy at as a kid so we could score some drinks.  While she was purchasing our liquid relief I stumbled upon something that cemented this day as being truly epic…

Freddy’s A Nightmare on Elm Street Pinball?  Holy shit!

Released in 1991 by Gottlieb (sounds like the last name of a Wisconsin prostitute) this seriously deranged pinball game is the holy grail of Freddy fandom.  Just look at it!  While you’re trying to play Freddy’s head is staring at you menacingly and Krueger’s talking shit to you continuously while you try to keep your ball alive.  I’d easily trade a limb to have one of these machines in my own future house.

After our long journey and my run-in with Freddy we sat outside and cooled down with some drinks.  I opted to try the pomegranate and blackberry variety of the new Dasani Plus Cleanse + Restore Vitamin Enriched Flavored Water Beverage and decided to randomly shoot a bonus video review in true Review the World fashion.

In the end it was a great day.  We went to the lake the park’s named after and swam in the murky water.  After spending so much time at work, which is indoors at a mall, shut off from the world, and cooped up in our apartment watching DVDs and playing board games (I’m currently the resident Parcheesi champion) it’s really nice to get outside under the sun.  I recommend every one take at least a couple adventures themselves this summer.  Just keep your eyes out for Freddy!