Monday, January 23, 2012

Testing...1...2...3...

fffff...fffffffff...is this thing still on?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Not a good day to crap on my lawn

I'm tired of cleaning up other people's dog crap from my lawn. I clean up after my dog, yet had to pick up several foreign deuces yesterday when I mowed.

I had a bad day today, and I was in a foul mood to begin with, when I happened to see a woman walking her dog by my house during the middle of the day. I work from home, so I'm nearly always around. How unfortunate for this person.

I watched as she let her tiny dog do its tiny business, then walked on. I thought she'd come back, as I've seen her walking before. After she was a few blocks down the street, I went out and cleaned up her leavings with a Target-bagged hand. Then I came back in and waited.

She came by on her return trip about 5 minutes later. I had a feeling she was from the apartment building just down the street. I followed her the 6 or so houses with the Target bag in my hand. As she was about 20 feet in front of me, she turned to go towards the front door of the building. There happened to be a line of cars with their windows open just to my left, waiting for the light to turn green. I said in a loud, commanding, yet trying-to-be-polite voice "Excuse me, Miss, but your dog left this in my yard. I'm getting quite tired of cleaning up dog faeces from my lawn, and if I see you let your dog do this again I will be notifying the police."

Note: Yes, "faeces." I thought that if I typed it in the British way you'd understand how commanding, yet non-intimidating I was trying to be. Confrontational, possibly, but I really wasn't trying to intimidate her. Plus, "faeces" looks cooler, and everything sounds better with a British accent anyways.

She offered a completely shocked look, and an terribly ashamed "I'm very sorry about that," took the bag and quickly turned away.

As I turned and walked back home I thought I heard the faint sound of clapping from the cars as they drove off.

My wife shook her head as I recounted the story, as I often do things that embarrass the family, such as saying "You're welcome" to cashiers that fail to say "Thank you."

I was just not in the mood for this crap today. Literally.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My One (And Only) Visit to Denny’s

My family and I were heading out of town last Friday, on our way to the Twin Cities, ethnic food, museums, World Market, and Trader Joe’s. Since we were leaving during breakfast hours, we decided that it would be the perfect time to try out the new Denny’s.

The exterior of the building drives me nuts. The signs are off-center wherever they are mounted. It looks like the installer made a mistake on one sign, and instead of fixing it, just installed the rest of them like the first.

We arrived approximately 10 am, thinking that we were after the morning rush, and since there were few cars in the parking lot, we could be in, out, and on the road in short order.

After being showed to our tables, we ordered two cups of coffee and a glass of milk. My wife took one sip of coffee, then her face took on a look of revulsion. “I know you’ve spoiled me on coffee forever, but have you tasted this? It’s terrible!” she said. She’s usually more forgiving when it comes to coffee, so with that in mind, I took my sip and, although it was not the worst coffee I’ve had in Grand Forks (that designation belongs to the coffee at Gramma Butterwicks), it was definitely really, really bad. It tasted like ultra-low grade robusta beans, and the jitters I got soon after told me I was correct. I just looked online to see if I could find information about their coffee, and I see that this is their Special Blend that was introduced late last year. I’d hate to have tried the old version if this is supposed to be an improvement. I didn’t find any reference to the question “special blend of what?” That’s always a bad sign. If people use only good arabica beans they usually make sure to tell the public so.

We selected our breakfasts, my kid choosing the alien-shaped pancakes, my wife some form of “slam,” and since she doesn’t eat eggs she asked for extra hash browns instead. I ordered the Heartland Scramble. I usually look for an egg substitute option, but I didn’t see it listed. It may have been there, but it wasn’t in an obvious place.

Time goes by. A lot of time.

We see the waitress go in for our food, hear her say something about “This was supposed to be no eggs, extra hash browns.” Right then we knew we were in trouble.

More time goes by.

We finally get our food 45 minutes after we sat down, and my food was cold. I flag down the waitress, tell her of the problem, and she tells me that they will prepare me a new plate right away. They microwaved my plate, which is OK from a time standpoint, but microwaved eggs can become rubbery. Oh well, this was Denny’s, after all. My expectations were not that high to begin with.

All was going well at this point. We were eating, discussing the drive ahead, laughing (sort of) at the breakfast thus far, when I parted some eggs on the plate. That’s when I saw it: The Hair.

Fork down. Breakfast over.

We went up to pay the bill, waited about 5 minutes at the register until somebody came over to ring us up, and were asked “How was everything?” I’m not one to hold back much. I try to be honest in these situations, but also I try to be fair and tactful. I respond “Well, for starters, after spending 45 minutes in the restaurant my food came out cold…” No response. Not even an “I’m sorry to hear that.” Nothing but the working of the register. I looked over at my wife and said “Or not.” We had a small chuckle, knowing that customer service means so much more than just taking orders and bringing out food, and that we’ll never go to Denny’s again.


Addendum: So far for breakfast I’ve tried Darcy’s (decent food, but doesn’t take credit cards, and we were stared at the entire time we were there. I don’t think we’re that funny looking, but maybe we are) and Perkins (A much better experience than the one above, plus they have corned beef hash, waffles, and Egg Beaters). That’s where we’ll be heading next time. My wife has been to Seasons in EGF, as well, and said it was good, having Belgian Waffles.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's Not Not OK to Drink!


I was driving on Demers Ave. in GF, when I noticed a huge billboard informing minors that "It's Not Not OK" to drink. How are people going to take this campaign seriously when the sign, though its use of a double negative, is actually telling minors that it is, in fact, OK to drink alcohol?

I wonder who comes up with this stuff, and how much of our tax money was wasted because of a pretty obvious error. Yes, I know the meaning and intent of the campaign, and it's a good idea. Hell, I'm all for reducing underage drinking. However, I can just imagine the drinking games that will be created due to this effort ("I have an idea! We all take a shot whenever somebody in the room say 'OK'!")

It reminds me of the sign I used to pass every day in Silver Spring, MD, informing teenagers that there is "No No Skateboarding" allowed, all due to word "No" that was intentionally crossed out by the team that designed the sign.

This sign, combined with the glaring "it's/its" error on the mayor's "Welcome to Grand Forks" sign over the luggage carousel at the airport, makes me wonder how much drinking is taking place in town hall.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ground Broken for Denny's

Two posts in one day? It must be that extra cup of Sumatran I had this morning. I did throw in some high grade robusta, for that extra caffeine kick. Yup, that must be it!

I drove by the site of the new Denny's today, and the ground has been broken. This location is just west of Wendy's on 32nd, in front of the Menards strip. I wonder how long it will take to erect the building. Not that I'm a huge fan of Denny's, having only eaten there once (and not by choice), but an all-night diner seems like a decent addition to the GF restaurant scene.

Another Coffee Thread


We started to talk about coffee on the sushi thread, so here's a fresh, new thread for our favorite morning brew.

I'm waiting on an order of 14 pounds of greens, but I'm just as excited to get the weird chicken t-shirt I ordered. Yes, I have a very patient wife.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sushi and Kebobs


I'll be in DC for a week starting Thursday, and I plan to eat my body weight in sushi and Afghan kebobs. I really miss those foods the most. OK, Vietnamese, too. And Indian. Did I mention Ethiopian? A good churrascaria always satisfies, as well.

*sigh*

That is all.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Welcome, nice weather!

You sure took your sweet time getting here. What was the holdup? Did you make a wrong turn at Albuquerque? This has not been the best year so far. Waaaaaaaay too much sadness, right up through this past week. I'm hoping your warmth lightens our mood, lifts our spirits, and heals our hearts.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

In Town Recommendations

EDIT: I got the scoop on Martinizing. They ARE NOT owned by C&R Cleaners, and never have been. They are part of a small cluster of Martinizing stores owned by a pediatrician (from Bismark, I think). EXCELLENT service? Not part of C&R? Owned by a baby doctor? All the more reasons to give them your business!


Here's a place where you can recommend, or ask for a recommendation, for a service here in Grand Forks.

I'll start: I recommend Martinizing Cleaners over C&R Dry Cleaners. The latter really messed up an order, and had a "blame the customer" approach. If the person taking in my order had put down the personal call she was taking on the phone and served me properly, then my order might not been so messed up. Additionally, the people at C&R were always grumpy to me when I did business there. Never again.

Thankfully, I found Martinizing. They are always happy to see me, pay attention to me, and have never messed up a cleaning order.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hockeyland

Since moving to North Dakota, I've gotten back into hockey. I used to see a lot of hockey back in NY (RPI and Union were the big locals). My wife likes hockey as well, but probably not as much as me. She went to Colgate U., a small school with a big hockey team, and she saw her fair share, including the 1990 team that lost to Wisconsin for the national championship.

However, the attention hockey gets in NY is nothing compared to here in ND. This is ridiculous! And I mean that in a good way. I can't think of any high schools growing up that had hockey teams. Certainly not the one I attended, and we had fairly large (300ish?) students in each class. Here, it seems like even the elementary schools have teams.

I've seen a bunch of UND games via the telly, and I'll probably watch as many playoff games as they are in, but for me it's been the Minnesota Wild that has drawn my attention. (As I type this, I'm listening to the Wild play the Oilers, and Marian Gaborik just scored!) Nice.

I'm trying to get my seven year old son to watch the Wild games with me, but he doesn't seem to "get" the game when watching on the TV. He's seen some hockey live, however, and he does a decent job watching and trying to follow the game. The other night he expressed interest in playing. I think a used pair of skates might be in order for next winter.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

My Coffee Supplier

This is going to be free advertisement for Tom and Maria (congrats on the new baby!) of Sweet Marias Home Coffee Roasting Supplies. This is a "mom and pop" shop. Literally, now.

Don't be scared off by the mid-1990s look of the website. The site holds so much incredible information that the serious and not-so-serious home roaster really doesn't care what it looks. Sure, there are bigger and fancier websites to buy raw beans, but this one is the best.

THE. BEST.

Tom travels the globe in search of the beans. He buys, and sells the finest beans on the planet. As a small shop, he often has to join up with a few other small shops just to compete in the bidding process against the big boys (like $tarbucks).

Have a look around. There's a ton of information, and a lot of helpful suggestions on brewing methods.

And don't be afraid to buy some beans and try roasting them yourself. Do you have an oven? Then you're all set!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Got a Coffee Question?


Thanks to anonymous for the prompt to create this post. It's been way too long since I've posted anything. The holidays, work, and a major death in the family have all taken me away from this place. I'll try to post more often.

Try.

I'm an amateur coffee roaster, not a professional, and I've been roasting for 1.5 years. In that time, my knowledge of the bean has grown far beyond my own expectations. It's amazing how much there is to learn about coffee. However, some days I feel as though I've only scratched the surface. Isn't that like any hobby? OK, passion.

I'm always willing to share a cup and some advice, so let this be your forum. Ask questions, give recommendations, whatever as long as it's related to coffee, even tenuously.

Aaaaaaand...GO!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Website of the Day

Today's website is one that you might not want to visit while you are eating, or up to 2 hours post-mealtime. I'm talking, of course, about Celebrities Eating Dot Com. This journey through voyeurism of the oft gormandizing beautiful (and not so beautiful) people is best experienced on an empty stomach, and can only be truly appreciated when you read the comments sections.

Or I just have a sick sense of humor. I'll go with that, as well.

Belly laughs (and aches) all around!


Friday, October 20, 2006

Capone's is no more


I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. Capone's is now closed. I got the tip from Legal Chick that there are two large trailers in front of the building, ladders inside, the lights were off, and I just called the number, and it has been disconnected.

I (originally anonymous, but you might recognize my posting style in the above link, and certainly my complaints about Paolo's), called it: "
I can see them closing within the year. They're just too expensive for what they are: An expensive gimmick restaurant across from the Simplot plant."

It's a shame, since the food was actually decent, and they are a locally owned. But again, it goes to show that local owners do not always listen. If you are going to spend that kind of money, you'll go to Sanders, or even The Toasted Frog, which took up that #2 fancy spot in our restaurant market.

Now, when is that Olive Garden coming?

EDIT: Thanks to GrandForksGuy for pointing out that this could all be the result of a fire they sustained earlier in the month. If this is just a temporary closure, then I wish them luck when they reopen. I also wish them luck in finding the Italian food niche that we all hoped they would fill, but haven't so far.

I'm still sticking by my prediction of them closing unless they make significant changes.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Pita Pit Has Opened

The Pita Pit on South Washington is now open. I took Coffee Kid there yesterday. Well, after I talked him out of the McDonalds next door, that is.

The sandwiches are pretty good, and certainly better than typical fast food options. I went out on a limb and had the chicken souvlaki, and The Kid had a gyro.

The chicken souvlaki was OK, considering this isn't a Middle Eastern restaurant. But, I've had worse in far better places. The gyro meat, although obviously the pre-formed and frozen SYSCO variety, was actually pretty tasty (OK, maybe it's been almost a month since I've had Christos in the Twin Cities and I'm somewhat desperate for Greek food.) No, this is not freshly carved from the rotisserie, but again, it is not repellant. The tzatziki was pretty pasty (not a typo) and was missing that expected ZING! The veggie options are typical Subway fare, with the exception of the hummus and babaghanoush, which are an extra charge. As for the actual pita, it was fresh and had a slight sweetness. Or was that the tzatziki making its presence known? I’ll have to go back and find out for sure.

The price for 2 sandwiches, 2 bags of chips, and a soda to share was just under $15.

On the minus side, none of the counter people seemed to know what they are doing. I was asked my order repeatedly, but I’ll give them a break—and another chance—since they just opened a few days earlier. I’ll also cut them slack since this is obviously the first job for many, if not most, of them, as most everyone employed there appeared to be about 16 years old. I have to admit that I found their youthful confusion somewhat cute, but I probably won’t find it so in a few months.

The sandwich board features a “Local” special, but this place is so new that they don’t even have any ideas for that one yet.

The d├ęcor is nothing special, but the veggie characters on the walls had names that seemed to keep the seven year old Coffee Kid amused for a few minutes.

I didn’t notice the napkins.

Stop in, repeat your order a few times, and give them a few suggestions for The Local. All in all, I find The Pita Pit to be a welcome addition to Grand Forks.

ADDENDUM: For our "Eat In" order, the sandwiches were just handed to us half-unwrapped (ready to eat.) Some sort of plate or tray would be a big help to the customers.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Has Paulo's Closed?

Dear Stanley,

Do you remember that new Mexican restaurant, Paulo’s, that I told you about? You know, the one in East Grand Forks that I mentioned was run by migrant farm workers (I guess in hindsight I should have called them “restaurateurs,” but I’m not that familiar with post-WWII terminology.) The place that I reviewed for you twice within the span of one year (I honestly don’t know if I was that excited, or if I just couldn’t remember that I had already written about it. In either case, they kept the same quality napkins for the entire year that they were open. Sometimes I use three nice sturdy ones. You need that with chips and salsa that drips and with most Mexican food.)

In any event, despite my glowing comments for this quality establishment (I really did like it! If I had not, I would’ve used the “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything” brand of muckraking criticism. Do people really think that there is any power in words? HA HA! Oh, those sillies!), it looks like the place has closed. I, Coffee Guy (CG) stopped by there today with BFD and WTF, and we found the place closed, with the doors locked and a note indicating that the locks have been changed per the building owner’s request! Not only that, Stanley, but I looked through the windows (they always had nice, eye-level windows to look out) and saw that all the tables, chairs, decorations, service areas, chip machine, those nice, sturdy napkins, everything was gone!

I’m not sure how that could be, as I just gave them a nice review, and I have such high standards when it comes to food quality, service, and such. There must be more to the story. Trust me, I’ll get to the bottom of this.

OK, maybe I forgot to mention a few things in my review. Such as how, under the new and improved management, the wait staff never wrote anything down, and consequently got things wrong with our orders every single time we went there. That must’ve been at least a half dozen times, and they got things wrong each time. I even had to beg and plead with the 6 year old in our group that his chicken burrito, which came out as a beef burrito, despite us ordering a chicken burrito, tastes just as good as his chicken burrito would have, if he would just try to imagine chicken whenever he tasted beef in his burrito.

And I didn’t want to mention how the waiter for each of our last few visits looked like he might have spent a few years on Rikers Island. I never knew just how detailed you could make a tattoo with a walkman motor, guitar string, a straw, and the ink from a bic pen. You learn something new everyday, Stanley. There might have even been a few neck tattoos, always a sign of class, but I don’t remember.

I wonder what that weird looking, long haired, too-skinny, tattooed, tattered fellow was doing running in and out of the place so many times and in such a hurry that everyone at our table was too distracted to eat. Let me tell you this, Stanley, the methamphetamine addict look might be hip with all the kids, but I don’t like it.

One time at Paulo’s, we got more on our table than we ordered. The somewhat grumpy waitress, the one I told you used to throw the food onto the table with an audible “CLANG!” put her exposed, pregnant belly onto our table about three times during our visit! Now, I’m not sure if I should start to say negative things in the other pieces I write or not, but this event got me thinking. I’m glad we got “Little Miss Surly,” rather than that skinny guy, because you never know what he might place on our table. People on drugs do some pretty weird things.

Despite this service...oh, I do hate to say negative things...let’s just call it a “steep learning curve,” I found the food to be mostly up to the standards of the past management’s. The chicken fajitas, in particular, were yummy, tasty, and good.

Well, Stanley, I think I’ll wrap up this letter with a word of encouragement to our neighbors. There is a new place opening up soon. It is called the Pita Pit. I’ll let you know all about it after it opens. I’ll give you a complete rundown on everything they offer, the thickness of the padded cushions on the bench seating, the presence and location of handy coat hooks, and if I have time I’ll even comment of the quality and taste of the food.

Your brother,
Coffee Guy

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Smoking or non-smoking?
ESPN or ESPN2?


It seems like more and more restaurants in the Grand Forks area have a slew of televisions on the walls, all showing different channels, but almost exclusively on sports (I even saw dominos, if you can really call that a sport). I can understand TVs in a sports bar, or if you have a sports bar adjacent to the restaurant, but does that idea have to flow over to the restaurant portion of the establishment? As much as I try not to look, there is just something in my brain that makes me turn in the direction of the flashing images. It probably goes back to the primitive hunter’s peripheral vision spotting movement in a bush, but that's just the science junkie in me talking.

It’s to the point where I don’t want to go these places just because of the damn TVs! However, part of me thinks that it's to help restaurants cover up for bad or slow service. If you distract the customer, maybe they won't notice that their mediocre dinner has taken 45 minutes to arrive. Not that I like to keep picking on Boston's, but...

I know that there are more and more places that are setting up tableside TVs, and families that like them say they generate discussion, but I'm a traditionalist when it comes to dining out. I like good service, good food, and good conversation based on our lives, not some athlete's. Besides, we don't allow our kid to watch TV at home all that much. I guess the more I think about it, the more I'm going to start to make my dining decisions based on this fact, which is a shame.

Here’s my list of waitstaffed places with and w/o TVs. Please help me fill out this by adding a message, and I'll add them to the list. This should be an interesting exercise.

Has TVs:

  1. Suite 49
  2. Boston’s
  3. Paradiso
  4. Ground Round
  5. The Blue Moose
  6. Grizzly's
  7. Green Mill
  8. Buffalo Wild Wings

No TVs, or TVs not easily visible from the restaurant:

  1. Sanders
  2. Paolo’s
  3. Bronze Boot
  4. Panda Buffet
  5. Toasted Frog

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Oh where, oh where has my little blog gone? Oh where, oh where can it be?

Until I figure this out, we shall continue.

The last post, I think, I mentioned the possibility of an Olive Garden coming to Grand Forks. This story came from a dinner conversation I had with somebody whose friend (or whatever) has seen some schematics for an Olive Garden that might go in the strip in front of Kohl’s. I, for one, am in favor of an Olive Garden coming to town. At least I know I can get a somewhat decent pizza, which is head and shoulders above Boston's. Olive Garden also serves one of the better cups of coffee I've had in a restaurant. Their Caffe la Toscana (from S&D Coffee), is a new line for them, and along with their new brewing system, makes a very nice cup...for a restaurant, that is.

We went to Boston's the other day. Man, could the service be any slower? Not slow in a "let the guests enjoy their meal" sort of way, but slow in a "Has our waiter quit?" sort of way. At least they didn't screw up the order this time the way they seem to every other time we've been there. I've just about had it with them. However, they make some of the best Buffalo wings in town. So, what's a guy to do? Go to Ground Round, I guess.

Speaking of Kohl’s, I wish I could figure out why Grand Forks needs one. I would have thought that Sears/JC Penney/Target/Wal-Mart/Gordmans/etc. would've cornered all of those markets by now. It isn't like Kohl’s is more upscale or anything. Macy's, I can see, but not Kohl’s. I guess I'll see when it opens.