Strictly Food

I have been a very bad blogger and haven’t updated for a loooong time, so I decided that I needed to change that.

I haven’t been out to see very many movies lately, so I’m going to skip the movie reviews for a little while, because I plan to see Spiderman 3 and Shrek the Third very soon. I have been out to eat a lot lately, since the past two weekends I’ve had a graduation and a wedding, so people like to take me out. Any time I can have a meal for free, I’m all over it. The problem is, I can’t remember them all, but I’m going to review All Fired Up Pizzeria in Barre, VT, Waterbury Wings in Waterbury, VT, Joe’s American Bar and Grill in Woburn, MA, and Brother’s Restaurant and Deli in Wakefield, MA.

We’ll start with the food since I’m hungry and they tend to have a larger impact on my opinion.

All Fired Up Pizzeria: A-

Oh, if only there were more space for bigger parties and quicker service. I’m not usually a huge pizza fan, so I was a little hesitant at first to go with a bunch of Dan’s friends before a ball a few weeks ago. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. The Meat Lover’s Pizza had just the right balance of meat, cheese and sauce so that it was hearty but still easy to manage. The pizzas come in one size, and it’s perfect to split with another person, or eat by yourself if you have a larger appetite. We went back with another large party- Dan’s friend’s family from Colorado- two weekends ago, and I was even more impressed. I split an All Fired Up pizza with Dan, and now wish I had found it sooner! The All Fired Up pizza features a thin crust, white sauce, fontinella cheese, caramelized onions, and prosciutto. It may sound a little “gourmet,” and I would normally stray away from “designer” pizzas, but I can’t recommend this pie enough. I’m going to have to figure out the recipe so I can make it at home. If you’re in the central Vermont area, I definitely recommend heading over to Barre’s Depot Square and grabbing a pizza and locally-brewed Vermont beer– All Fired Up features Long Trail and Magic Hat, both great beer brands. I enjoy Long Trail’s Black Beary Wheat, but I’m not 100% positive they serve it at All Fired Up. I first had it at Waterbury Wings, our next location.

Waterbury Wings: A

The bartender and waitstaff was extraordinarily friendly, the food was excellent, and the prices were perfect. My only gripe is that it isn’t closer to home. Waterbury Wings also features Vermont beers, and has 30 different types on tap. If that’s not enough variety for you, check out the 20 different types of wing sauces! The bartender and waitstaff were really friendly and helped our large party (again, I know… maybe I should try going out in a smaller group sometime) figure out which were the best and even gave our friend Will a friendly warning on the Fire sauce, coming back to check on his progress– he’ll tell you that they’re probably the hottest wings he’s had. I had the 5 oz. boneless chicken chunks with mild sauce since I’m a bit of a chicken- no pun intended- and don’t like to fuss with the bones. They were perfect bite-sized pieces, and absolutely fantastic. I also had the Black Beary Wheat Long Trail, as I mentioned earlier, and was looking forward to trying the Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, but one of the kegs wasn’t quite finished, so it wasn’t ready. The guys I was with sampled the Switchback and Magic Hat Singlechair, both of which earned rave reviews. We also had plenty of Medium sauce on the wings, which was apparently very tasty, and a roast beef sandwich that disappeared before I could ask how it was, so my guess is that it was good. If you’re in the area, definitely check it out, and if you’re not in the area, check out www.waterburywings.com for the full menu and other information.

Joe’s American Bar and Grill: C-

I have only been to Joe’s one other time, and I remember it being bland. That was a few years ago, so when my family proposed dinner there with my visiting grandparents, I mentioned the iffy food, but only in passing. I should have been more vocal. Generally, I can tell how good the food will be at a restaurant by the quality of the bread it serves. Joe’s bread was delicious. The food was not, so I might have to reevaluate. I had the Angel Hair Primavera with Shrimp, which looked delicious, and was all right, but it was lacking something. It needed more garlic and less lemon, I think. I’m going to try to replicate the recipe at home with the same ingredients- angel hair pasta, shrimp and matchstick veggies- but tweak it for more flavor. My clam chowder was good, but nothing to rave about. My iced tea was very tasty, but I only ordered it because I was trying to find a list of beers on tap in the menu- there wasn’t one. No one in my party of 7 was particularly impressed with his/her meal, ensuring me that it’s not my prejudice against the restaurant from the first go-round. We were all squeezed in at a table that normally sits 4 comfortably, but had wings to expand to make room for 8. Let me tell you, there is no way that 8 adults could comfortably sit at that table and eat dinner. If you’re in that area, skip Joe’s. TGI Friday’s up the street is tastier, from what I remember… looks like we have another location to review!

Brother’s Restaurant and Deli: B+

Brother’s is a Wakefield staple. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all in the same line-up-decide-what-you-want-and-tell-the-man-behind-the-counter-what-you-want-ASAP-type format. The minute you step up to the counter, the same man will ask “What can I do for you today?” in his friendly tone, but make sure you know what you want, because he’ll skip over you if you take too long. Those who have been to Brother’s know the drill, but it’s daunting for newcomers. It just takes some getting used to. The food is great, the prices are reasonable, and the service is always friendly. Just don’t go if you’re hungry on a Sunday morning for brunch, since you’ll be waiting in line for at least 15 minutes, usually more. It’s worth the wait for bunch, though. the French toast, eggs, hash browns, bacon, omelets, sausage, and on and on are all excellent. I haven’t been for lunch or dinner in years, but I remember a chicken or turkey club also being delicious. If you’re in Wakefield and you’re looking for brunch, head straight to Brother’s. Just be prepared to rattle off your order once you hit the counter.

Check back next time, where I’ll review a few movies to balance things out!

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Seafood again?

Yes, that’s right. I had seafood again. Forgive me, the only time I really go out to eat is on the weekends, and it’s Lent. Until tomorrow, that is, so I’ll back on the red meat (and white meat, too) on Fridays in a hurry.

Liberty Bell Roast Beef (Melrose, MA)

C+

Last night was not a good night for Liberty Bell. In general, I’m a fan, but last night was just not good, with the exception of my clam chowder. I got a small chowder and a scallop roll, which I was really excited about to order, because that’s my usual. The chowder was good, but the scallop roll (which came with fries) was probably the worst I’ve had in a while.

Usually, Liberty Bell is of great quality and a reasonable price, and the staff is friendly and helpful. I rarely have an issue with the food there, and we order from there with a degree of frequency. On other occasions, I would have rated them a B+ or an A-.

It must have been a bad night last night. Like I said, the chowder was good- super-creamy with tons of potatoes, clams, and just the right amount of onions. I had just enough oyster crackers to keep me satisfied- perfect. Everything went wrong with the scallop roll, though. The fries were cold, the roll was cold, and the scallops were lukewarm at best. I bit into one and thought it was a fried ball of sand. It was painful! The only redeeming quality about it was that I wasn’t hungry anymore after I ate the scallops and the roll, which was extraordinarily disappointing, as the roll is my favorite part. Dan ate my cold fries, and wasn’t happy with his tuna sub, either. It was overstuffed and just wasn’t right.

I should have just ordered a large chowder. I think I will next time.

300

B+

Apparently, only sexy people lived in Sparta. They were all supermodel bodybuilders with perfect teeth. Boy, did I have the wrong impression when we learned about them in 6th grade!

I was entertained by this movie, but I won’t go so far as to say that I really enjoyed it. Well, I have to admit that the perfectly-sculpted physiques of the Spartan warriors weren’t so bad. The leather undies were a fantastic fashion statement. I liked the costumes so much that I plan to buy a few sheets and leather belts and make myself a sexy toga for next Halloween.

The Persians were definitely not as sexy as the Spartans. Poor things- then maybe they wouldn’t worship the effeminate Xerxes, who had more bling than Lil Jon. I liked his eye makeup, though- those cat eyes were sexy.

Even the battle scenes were sexy. How can you not love the beautiful slaying the ugly with swords and spears in slow motion for extended periods of time? I have to applaud the Persians on their choice of surprise weapons: a REALLY ugly dude, a rhinoceros (what??), an elephant, and more ugly dudes (but they had cool masks, so that was good).

The unsexy part? Besides the select super-unsexy people (you know who I mean if you’ve seen the film- everyone’s either drop-dead gorgeous or horribly ugly), all the chatter about honor, duty, and glory. Yes, I know it’s all well and good, but it would have been more effective in moderation, rather than every other word that came out of a Spartan’s mouth. It became annoying after a while.

The visual effects were stunning enough to distract from the mediocre storyline. I enjoyed the scene with the Oracle, which I have heard was shot underwater to achieve the end effect- the blending of her toga with the smoke had an ethereal, mystical feel to it.

A few words to sum up 300: sexy (duh), bloody, sexy, annnnd… bloody.

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Shooter & Co.

Billy’s Roast Beef and Seafood (Melrose, MA)

A

Oh, how I wish Wakefield could claim Billy’s as our own; alas, it belongs to our neighbor Melrose. Growing up in the Greenwood area of Wakefield, you know that Billy’s is the best roast beef and fried seafood in the area, and beats Kelly’s hands-down.

The prices have gone up over the years, like anything else, but they’re still reasonable, especially when considering the quality of the food. On a Friday during Lent, after weeks of pizza, Billy’s is a glorious change of pace. The fried seafood is crispy and hot, the rolls are buttered and grilled golden brown (many argue that the roll itself is the best part of a clam-strip or scallop roll, and I must say, I agree), and the fries and onion rings are flavorful and a perfect accompaniment. Don’t like the bounty of the sea? No problem– Billy’s has plenty of other options, particularly their roast beef sandwiches. The meat is warm and tender and the roll is soft. I like them with ketchup, but I’ve seen people pair the Perfect Roast Beef Sandwich (yes, the capital letters are completely necessary) with barbecue sauce, mustard, mayo, or just plain ‘ol salt and pepper.

Trust me, if you’re in the Melrose-Wakefield area, make a beeline for Billy’s Roast Beef and Seafood, although you may be better off calling ahead, since it’s always hopping.

There are a few tables off to the side of the restaurant for eating there, but most people order for takeout, which is what I would recommend. Dan (my boyfriend, you’ll be hearing a lot about him) and I went on Friday night, and our dinner was graced with the presence of six middle school-aged girls, who were, shall we say, talkative. I prefer a more relaxed environment, so again I recommend taking Billy’s home and watching a good movie while you eat.

Speaking of movie… that brings me to my next point. I love when transisitions work out that well- I swear I didn’t plan it.

Shooter (with Mark Wahlberg and Danny Glover)

$$$$ 1/2

Go see it now. If you even remotely like action or conspiracy theory, this film will be worth your time. Don’t like action? Go anyway. Mark Wahlberg is generally excellent and quite believable in his role of Bob Lee Swagger, retired Marine Corps sniper.

I wasn’t as impressed with Danny Glover, but he made a decent bad guy. I was a little confused by his mouthpiece or whatever it was- it made him sound like he was wearing a retainer, which he might have been. I’m not sure if it was for character development or if it was for personal reasons; nonetheless, it was a bit irritating as it slurred his speech.

The plot moves quickly and carries you along its twisting turns. I love a good bit of conspiracy theory, so I found Shooter fascinating and thought-provoking. Can we really trust the government? I’d say “yes,” on most occasions, that there are enough people in politics who are truly trying to do good in our country, but there are always those who you know you can’t really trust. And I wouldn’t be surprised at how much information is out there but is so classified the American people have no idea anything’s going on.

But that’s a bit of personal rambling and has little to do with the movie, so let’s get back on track, shall we? I heard that Mark Wahlberg went to Army Sniper School as preparation for his role, which did him a whole lot of good. From what I understand about Sniper School, it’s no carnival, nor is it remotely easy. Nor should it be! The training that Wahlberg either witnessed or participated in made him all the more believable in the role, even if some of the situations he finds himself in require a fair amount of suspension of disbelief.

Without a doubt, though, the coolest thing is watching Wahlberg (or his professional sniper stunt stand-in or, most likely, the computer) hit his targets. There’s a whole lot of blood spraying out of backs of heads, so be prepared if that makes you squeamish at all. And a whole lot of Zapruder-type repeated replays of an assassination.

All in all, I would say: GO! If not, definitely rent/buy the DVD as soon as it hits stores. This is a flick I plan to purchase ASAP.

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I’m a very busy girl!

Hi everyone,

I know I’m really far behind with that update I promised, but it’s been a long week. I just read an article, though, http://webworkerdaily.com/2007/04/04/five-steps-to-productive-mood/ that gave me a few ideas to get motivated to work. I have to print them out and hang them on my wall to start using them!

Keep on the lookout for a review of Billy’s Roast Beef and Seafood (Melrose, MA), Cafe Escadrille (Burlington, MA), and the movie Shooter (with Mark Wahlberg and Danny Glover). I’m working on them now, so I’m hoping they’ll be done sometime tomorrow.

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Thanks!

To anyone and everyone who’s taken a look so far and let me know what they think, thanks! I appreciate the feedback and ideas. Here’s my response to a few of them:

1)  I have a tendency to be facetious, so you might see me make a sly reference to the style/dialogue of a movie in my reviews. I try not to swear in general conversation, and the same goes for when I write. However, if the movie is rife with F-bombs, chances are I’ll use it to make a point. Usually, though, I try to keep it clean and professional.

2) I haven’t decided how I’m going to do my ratings quite yet, but I think I might do letter grades, as I can still relate closely to the letter grades as a student. In reality, we get our grades here in numbers (4.0, 3.7, and so on), but since I hate numbers for the most part, I’ll use letters. We’re on better terms.

3) For the time being, since I’m still quite anonymous to most restaurants, I’m going to try to do the rating myself. I am, however, always open to suggestions and ideas for places to visit, and if you have a great/horrible experience in one particular place, maybe I’ll use your feedback in one of my posts!

4) Please, feel free to leave comments! I love them! The link is directly under the post, so if you love or hate what I had to say, let me know! Have recommendations for movies or restaurants or recipes? Let me know! I love exclamation points! Actually, not really. I try to avoid them if I can, but I was being enthusiastic, so there they are.

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The Quick ‘n’ Dirty on Recently-Watched Movies

Here are some of the latest movies I’ve seen, both in the movies and on DVD, and what I think of them. I’m not going to go into major detail on any of them, since I might review them in more depth later, so here’s the “quick ‘n’ dirty.”

The Departed: Excellent, excellent, fucking excellent. This may be because I’m from the Boston area and knew exactly where they were, or at least where they were talking about, most of the time. The psychiatrist (Vera Farmiglia, I think) drove me nuts, though. Her accent was the worst of all the actors, and I felt that she wasn’t necessary to the plot.

Monster-in-Law: I love this movie, even if it’s not exactly quality cinema. Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda are excellent in their battles, particularly Fonda.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room: I watched this film in my Management class when we were discussing ethics, and didn’t really have high hopes for it. I was, however, shockingly surprised at the level of depravity of the upper-echelons of management at Enron. To be honest, I never really paid much attention to what was going on because I was neither interested not affected, but this documentary drew me in and made me understand exactly what happened.

An Inconvenient Truth: I wasn’t as wowed with this film as I had expected to be. Al Gore is wry and convincing, and I was shocked by a few points, but there wasn’t really anything earth-shattering to me here. I think I had heard so many good things that I was expecting an amazing documentary, but I just didn’t have it here.

The Good Shepherd:Very good, and Matt Damon plays an excellent spy, as he’s proven in the Bourne trilogy. I was a bit disappointed, though, because I was expecting a flashier, Bond-type spy movie, and what I got was a carefully-crafted, twisting-turning journey through the early days of the CIA. I think it needs another view, now that I know what to expect.

Tune in next time, when I might actually have a dinner and a movie on which to report!

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It all starts at the beginning…

Hey, all!

I was up until a little past 2 this morning working on a project, and I couldn’t fall asleep. You know, I think some of my best ideas come about right before I fall asleep, and I lose so many of them because I don’t get to write them down. I used to have a pen and paper near my bed, but last night I realized they were missing. Luckily for me, I remembered my brilliant idea in the morning, and here it is.

Why is it brilliant? Well, first, because it’s MY idea. Obviously. Second, it’s brilliant because I think it might have something to do with a potential career. You see, I’m a junior in college, and I’m having a hard time trying to figure out what I want to do when I graduate. I’m a business communication (that’s the short version) major at a mostly-business school, and I’m finding more and more that I’m leaning toward writing and being creative than a PR-related job, which is where most of the “business communication” majors at my school wind up. I think a lot about when I marry and have kids, and want to have a job that I can potentially do from home, allowing me to have some intellectual stimulation while being able to raise my children the way I want them to be raised. Yes, I know, this may not sound very original, but I find myself being surprised at how much more I am pulled towards a family than a career, quite unlike my fellow students.

Anyway, back to the brillant idea. Again, it may not be hugely original, but I plan to make it my own and have fun with it, and pray it turns into something I can make some money doing. The idea? A ‘dinner and a movie’ blog. Each week, or however frequently it turns out to be, I’ll do a combination of two things: eat dinner and watch a movie. I can either make dinner and rent a movie, rating the recipe and the DVD, or I can go out to dinner and catch a movie at the theater, rating the restaurant and the movie. Here’s my rationale behind it: I love to cook and eat food, and I love watching movies. And I love to write and share my experiences. End of story. It’s pretty simple, and I like it that way.

It may turn out to be kind of complicated, though, as I am a college student (read: broke) and I don’t have a kitchen while I’m living at school. Oh yeah, and my DVD player attached to the TV is busted, so I have to watch movies on my laptop. At any rate, I will do my best to update at least once a week, though I can’t tell you how varied the entries will be. The restaurants will all be located in the Boston/Greater Boston area, and I’m always interested in new places to check out. Have a recipe you recommend? Send it over! If I need some ideas, I’ll likely use my daily e-mails from AllRecipes.com for a start- I save the ones that sound the most appealing.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!

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