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Month: May 2013

Sam’s Birthday

Sam’s Birthday

On Friday night Sam and I went to Providence for her birthday.  She’d picked out the restaurant from yelp a few weeks earlier.  We parked down the street and noted that for such a nice restaurant it was in a bit of an iffy part of town.  Inside the place appeared like a modern caricature of a hipster high class restaurant.  A man at another table wore a pinstriped suit and a mullet mohawk.  As the sun set and the atmosphere changed, our waiter appeared and helped us choose our dinner.  When the menu came it started with “happy birthday sam.”

The photos that follow are cell-phone camera photos taken in a very dark room, except for the few that Sam turned on her bright flash for (and was too embarrassed to do it many more times).

We chose the prefixed menu (appetizer+main course+dessert).  Before our appetizers came the waiter brought a surprise from the chef: two strips of baked salmon skin (yes!) and a lobster cream paste to dip them in.  In addition to this we were given a tiny piece of bread with some kind of Parmesan sauce on top.  They also mixed some kind of milky fruity hibiscus drink in a shot glass in front of us to wash the very salty salmon skin down with.

Next up was the bread.  We were offered regular bread, bacon bread and seaweed bread.  They were all good, but the best part was the cylinder of butter, just warm enough to spread perfectly on the bread, but just cold enough to not melt on the plate.

For my appetizer I’d picked the “chowda.”  Out came a bowl with leeks and other things sitting in it.  After a few seconds of confusion the waiter brought out a flask and began pouring in the soup.  The resulting chowder was probably the best either of us has ever tasted.  It had too many different little vegetables and spices to count.

Sam had ordered the crab appetizer, which was very good too, but a little too sweet and not nearly as good as the chowder.

For my main course I’d picked the ginger salmon.  The best thing about this dish for Sam was the flower arrangement of the vegetables on the plate.  The best thing for me was the delicious sweet ginger sauce and the sweet salmon, baked on the outside and still sashimi-like on the inside.

Sam’s main course was a very sweet lobster tail.  The presentation was great and it tasted good, albeit a bit too sweet for either of our tastes.  I suspect if it was paired with rice or pasta the sweetness would have been diluted just a tad and it would have been more palatable.

The last bit was dessert.  And you already know, Sam picked the chocolate.

The chocolate was light on the ice cream and heavy on the salted caramel.  I like caramel more than Sam, but neither of us likes salted caramel that much.  The dessert would have been perfect if they downplayed the caramel and just put more of the chocolate cookies and ice cream in there.

Although we dredged up a few complaints, all the food was delicious, the wait staff was more than pleasant, and the presentation of the food was immaculate.   I’m used to complaining about not getting what you pay for with places like this (three digits per person), but this one I would recommend for special occasions for anyone that wants something unique, filling and tasty.

On Sunday one of Sam’s friends from Thailand took us (and three other friends) out to dinner at Mozza.    The polenta: not so good.  The Inky squid thing, short ribs and linguine (at least I think it was linguine) were all very good.  Sam ordered the chocolate cake for dessert (you saw that coming), but I actually enjoyed the mini doughnuts with berry sauce and ice cream more (you probably saw that coming as well).  It was a weekend full of good eating.




Universal Studios Hollywood KP Day

Universal Studios Hollywood KP Day

On Saturday Sam and I attended an event at Universal Studios Hollywood for Kaiser Permanente employees in honor of the Permanente Group’s 60th anniversary.  The park was open to the public until 8pm, and for four hours after that it was open to Kaiser employees and their guests only.  We came early to watch Iron Man 3 at the theater.  When we walked into the theater the movie was already playing.  It was only then that we noticed the time on our tickets said 11:10 PM instead of AM.  I’d already gone through a bit of trouble getting the tickets as the showing I originally purchased said it was assigned seating, but never offered me a chance to pick a seat.  I had to call and cancel that showing and get the one that did have assigned seating.  What nobody noticed (including me) was that they’d given me the night show instead of morning show for the replacement tickets.  Luckily there was another show starting in a few minutes that wasn’t well attended, so we waltzed in and ended up seeing the same movie five minutes later than we thought (and without assigned seats).  If you recall, this is the same AMC Universal that had a projector break 30 minutes into Prometheus last July.  At this point I’m willing to say that this movie theater is cursed and we’ll avoid it as much as possible.

Luckily the rest of the Universal complex isn’t cursed.

Sammy had her picture taken with two giant cartoon pills.

Our first ride was the studio tour.  I’ve been on the tour many times but this was Sam’s first time.  The only photos I took on the tour were of the War of the Worlds crash set.  No matter how I fiddle with the settings in RAW processing, it all still looks too much like a movie set, except for the very last picture I took.  This is the edge of the set with the tail of the plane broken off and separated from the rest of the mess.

After seeing him in action, Sam wanted to get closer to Bruce.

We went to haunted house and then Waterworld.


Next we watched the Shrek short movie and then headed down the escalators, stopping halfway to take some photos of the sunset.

We rode Jurassic Park, the Mummy and Transformers before going back up to the top of the park to eat some fried chicken and pizza.  Before going back, though, we stopped by the Transformers photo opp.  Don’t ask me what Bumblebee was trying to do, I didn’t find out until I looked at the photo later.

After eating we took pictures with the simpsons kids before getting on their ride.  The ride replaced the Back to the Future ride and already almost feels as dated.  The projector needs a new bulb, and there’s no real reason why this ride always had the longest wait (except perhaps it’s centralized location in the park).

After the Simpsons we had two hours left in the park, so we decided to go back downstairs, where we rode Jurassic Park again, Transformers three times (there was no wait) and Mummy once more.

After exiting Transformers for the last time we stopped by the little museum and looked at some original movie props on display.

After going back upstairs we watched the animal show and the special effects show before leaving the park at midnight.