Archive for the ‘Meals & Deals’ Category

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Breakfast at Denny’s: An American ritual

October 10, 2007

Dodgy was soon heading east again through the beautiful foothills that surround Seattle, towards Yakima. We reached the meeting spot with Holly half an hour early and decided to treat ourselves to a full Denny’s breakfast (Denny’s is one of the better chain restaurants). The menu looked inviting. We ordered one breakfast between the two of us.

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– Fruit juice, a pancake stack with the butter and maple syrup, a Spanish omelet with bacon and sausages, and a pile of hash browns washed down with a bottomless cup of coffee.

Half an hour later we staggered from the restaurant full to the gills with pancakes and omelets, and carrying the half of the breakfast we could not finish in one of the ubiquitous polystyrene “boxes” that seem to be offered as part of the service. We continue to be astonished by the amount of food in each serve when eating out.

 

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A few comments about ‘on the road’ food and diet seem warranted at this point;

 

 

· Main courses are invariably preceded by a ‘garden’ salad. It seems that most gardens here grow only lettuce, a few onions, single slices of tomato and a peculiarly tasteless type of feta cheese (or it could be a white granulated bug killer that has been rinsed off the lettuce).

 

· We quickly learned to choose ‘Ranch’ dressing, – any other choice ie Italian or French, is likely to be on the back shelf of the restaurant and rancid. We did try asking for ‘Paul Newman’ but from the searching looks we got we think he’s considered a little pink these days.

 

· American Cheese, a bright orange, chewy sliced cheddar, seems to meld its way into most main courses. It serves as a tasteless glue, holding the burger, sandwich, sliced meat or taco together. It also cools and congeals on your teeth, making conversation difficult and leading to facial contortions when you try to remove it. It is actually quite comforting to me, everyone else in the restaurant appears to have Parkinson’s disease and I don’t feel so conspicuous.

 

· The servings are enormous, – Jules and I often order one main course between and sometimes fail to finish it.

 

· The quality of foodstuffs is high, but our general impression is that the diet is overwhelmingly unhealthy. Massive amounts of fatty foods, carbohydrates and sweetened drinks are consumed. All of the supermarket food and bread seems to be sweetened. The ‘diabesity’ epidemic is underway. (I heard a report yesterday that this generation of North Americans will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, the first time in history this has occurred).

 

· A huge pile of French fries (large potato chips) comes with all main courses. If you request potato chips, a packet of thin packet crisps arrive. If you dare to ask not to have either form of chips, the waitress (or waiter) takes two steps backwards, cocks her head to the side, raises her eyebrows and asks quizzically, ‘No fries?’. On being reassured that that was the request, she walks away muttering to herself, shaking her head from side to side. Ten minutes later the meal arrives with a huge pile of fries on the plate.

 

Waiters and waitresses are friendly, helpful and polite. They are poorly paid (I spoke to one waitress who was paid $2.50 per hour) and depend on tips for their income. The custom is to add a 15-20% tip to the bill. Some mobile phones come with an inbuilt calculator for tipping. The result is that the service is generally spectacular.

 

· Food is cheap. Both restaurant and supermarket food is much cheaper than in Oz. Main courses in reasonable restaurants are $15 -$20.

 

· On the road the choice is grilled steak or fried chicken and occasionally battered fish. All come with French fries and ranch dressing.

 

· If you want to eat foreign its Mexican. It doesn’t matter what Mexican you order, burritos, tortillas, nachos, its generally the same pale grey sludge served up in a different wrap, and usually accompanied by heaps of lettuce, a few slices of onion and a sliver of tomato (and ranch dressing). The closer to Mexico you get, the worse it gets. Most Mexicans have moved to California. The other international cuisines we love in Oz don’t seem to get a look in once you are out of the major cities. If we are to believe the Seattle Post, the Vietnamese are out of restaurants and into cultivating Marijuana, the Greeks and Italians seem to be lying low as they look a little middle eastern and the Thai’s don’t seem to be around. The odd Chinese restaurant can be found off the main drag, but having sampled one or two meals, I suspect that they have the same supplier as the Mexican restaurants. Middle eastern food is totally out of the question, even with ranch dressing.

 

· There is a growing movement of young conservationist here, who, bored with hugging trees and recycling bottles and beer cans (and take away food restaurants), descend on the back alleys behind restaurants in groups and feed themselves from the garbage cans. (I’m serious; reports say the movement is spreading across the US). They claim that they are ideologically committed to recycling discarded food. I suspect that the taste of restaurant food improves after a few days in the garbage bin. It’s like the good old days when there was a Chinese restaurant on every corner.

 

· Ironically, the best ‘to go’ foods we have been able to find are the fresh salads offered by McDonalds. Not many people seem to be buying them, but they are healthy and delicious with an array of dressings (including ranch)!

 

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A few of my favourite things…that I miss

August 24, 2007

I’d like to just comment on a few things that we have in Oz, that I can’t get here: Yes I do have a jar of vegimite, so that’s not on the list BUT these are:

1) pump spray deodorant, they only have icky roll on or pressure can, NOT HAPPY as they confiscated my new bottle of pump spray in Perth- it was too big to pass through custons.

2) bread that is not sweet, everything here is sweet, (high rate of diabetes is no surprise!) no savoury, so Pete’s happy.

3) yellow label strong tea bags PLEASE!!! they have iced tea (sweetened of course) and don’t drink it hot or strong.

4) some other foods beside, mexican and Denny’s…which is the up market side of the cheap eatery houses – some one did warm us about the lack of variety.

5) a feed of fresh ocean snapper- oh just the thought of it -makes me realise how lucky I am to live near the ocean.

6) family and friends who speak like us!!

A comment on how we eat, apparently we are quite a spectikl, as we chop and hack with knife and fork -here, they cut up the food and just use a fork… thank goodness the food here is so forkable!!

love Pete & Julie

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Tucson meeting

July 17, 2007

Well, here I am in Tucson, missions, mexican buildings, mountains, universities and lots of amazing indian people to talk to.  Pete is swelting in Phoenix 115 last I heard.  I’ve got a few trivia items for you to consider.

1.    light switch has to be switched up – to come on!

2.    museli bars are known as power bars!

3.    you can turn right on a red lights anytime if its clear

4.    all paper money is the same colour and size, so you really have to check out the notes, They still have pennies, five, nickels quarters, dime coins, so the bag feels heavy.

5.   

I’ve got more, but have to return to the Town Hall – not a building, a meeting place name!

6.   Everyone says we have an accent – they have, we don’t! also we are easier to understand then the Brits!

7.  Over a hundred channels on t.v.(great for my surfing finger) but nothing to watch.

8. Everyone is  sooo polite that its sometimes quite embarrassing.

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More meals

June 20, 2007

Wednesday night we choose Greek, Pete had suvalaki, I had garlic prawns, (no big surprise hey family?) had a red Aussie wine and Pete is going to try all Canadian beers so had his third for the week. (7/10 $60CAN)

Thursday we walked down to the main drag and picked Thai – stir fry pork for Pete and stir fry prawns for me, (6/10 $40CAN)

Friday we were on the bus tour and Pete had a Ribs & I had Southern Fried Chicken (just pub food,) 5/10 $40 CAN.

Saturday in Bamff, we had bought food for lunch and finished it for dinner, grain rolls, smoked chicken, salad and juice.  ($30CAN for four serves)

 Sunday in Lake Louise at the Alpine Resturant Pete had a 6 oz steak and I had terriyki chicken. ($70CAN ) ripped off 6/10

Monday in Calgary first home cooked meal at Lorne’s house – chicken salad with crusty bread.

Tuesday, second home cooked meal pasta!

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Meals & Deals

June 13, 2007

I’ve decided to write a daily comment on meals and where we had them plus the costs. Hope its not too boring. I’ll rate them out of 10 as we go. 10 being the most yummiest.

Saturday on plane, quite bland and unimpressive. 3/10

Sunday morning Dim Sum on the Hong Kong Waterfront in a very flash place. Trilby & David paid for us. Lots of spicy yummy food to settle our stomachs for the long flight to Vancouver. 8/10 We had breakfasts at the Hotel and lunches at the convention centre.

Sunday night in Vancouver at Portavillas in Gastown, pizza, soup, salad and squid done really well 9/10 ($55CA).

Monday night ate traditonal food at Cultural museum, followed by, prawn & papaya salad, squid. 8/10 ($35CA).

Tuesday night crossed road to eat at the very famous (Pete’s happy!) BHAGDAD CAFE, turkish chicken /lamb with rice, dips, tabeuli. 6/10 ($30CA)