sylvar: (Default)
In In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, Michael Pollan urges us to "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." One of the points he makes is that since every plant has evolved its own chemical defenses (including antioxidants), the more species you eat, the better-protected you can be against various kinds of free radicals.

Just to give y'all an idea of how many non-animal species one can eat in a single day:
  1. Button mushrooms (in an omelet)
  2. Black plum (snack)
  3. Red Anjou pear (snack)
  4. Potato (in a potato-based "nachos")
  5. Black beans (nachos)
  6. Jalapeño peppers (nachos)
  7. Wheat (tortilla in a wrap)
  8. Portobello mushrooms (wrap)
  9. Iceberg lettuce (wrap)
  10. Tomato (wrap)
  11. Red onion (wrap)
  12. Broccoli (side of veggies)
  13. Zucchini (veggies)
  14. Yellow squash (veggies)
  15. Cauliflower (veggies)
  16. Carrot (veggies)
  17. Cucumber (pickle spear)
  18. Lime (with water)
  19. Lemon (with water)
  20. Pineapple (core, after I chopped up the rest of it)
Undoubtedly there were herbal infinitesimals and some sort of soybean or rapeseed oil in the vinaigrette, but these were all in quantities large enough for the average person to identify.

Probably I don't do nearly as well most days, but I'm pleasantly surprised at how many poor defenseless plants I'm murdering.  (And big ups to the anonymous cows and chickens whose milk and eggs, respectively, were involved.)

sylvar: (Alton Brown: What Would Alton Do?)
Thomasville Tomme, a cow's-milk cheese produced in southern Georgia, is available on the dairy's site for $7.50 per half-pound.

The Food Network sells it too... for $16.99 per half pound.

Seriously, guys? More than 100% markup on something you almost certainly drop-ship anyway? Man, I'm in the wrong business...



It's tasty though—I've had some at local markets.
sylvar: (Default)
Oof, I thought I might get 10 out of 10 on the Credo Reference Friday Brainteaser since it's on food and cooking. I did get 8 of 10, though. Let's see how y'all/yinz/you guys do.

Questions:
1. The Brussels sprout is a type of cabbage: true or false?

2. Venison is the flesh of which animal?

3. What kind of food is "Danish blue"?

4. What is the meaning of the phrase "au gratin"?

5. Who wrote a famous book called "The Book of Household Management" containing 4000 recipes, published in 1861?

6. Which dessert consisting of a meringue base or shell filled with whipped cream and fruit was created as a compliment to a Russian ballerina during her visit to Australia and New Zealand in 1926?

7. Is taramasalata made from meat, fish, or cereals?

8. Michelin stars are awarded for impressive culinary endeavour. What is the highest number of stars ever awarded: three, four or five?

9. What is the usual North American word for a courgette?

10. Which fiery sauce gets its name from a word meaning "damp earth"?

Answers here.

What I got wrong... )
sylvar: (B5: Ivanova: In Love)
"We'll have one of everything," we told our server. Thus began a meal that was, in the words of Barney Stinson, legendary.

We'd arrived at Farm 255 an hour after it opened for the night. Every time we come here, the menu is different; it changes daily based on what's been harvested at the farm that morning. What we didn't expect was that on Sunday night, Farm 255 serves "Sunday Night Small Plates".

So I did a bit of arithmetic. 13 dishes, most around $4-5. It would be expensive, but as a treat for our anniversary and my wife's birthday -- and as a feat we'd likely never get another chance at -- we decided to put ourselves in the good hands of Farm 255's kitchen and try one of everything. And besides, my dad told us to go out and have a great meal at his expense. Thanks, Dad! Here's what you bought us.

DEVILED EGGS: Smoked paprika, fleur de sel [ 3 ]

Impossibly creamy, topped with fresh dill. I wanted to rush out and buy a proper deviled-egg plate for my next party, but then I remembered I'd never had deviled eggs this good anywhere else, and probably would never be able to make them this good. For $3, we got three halves. As with nearly everything else, it was a very good value.

SPICY NUTS [ 4 ]

Around one cup of walnut pieces, roasted with spices. The least impressive of the night's dishes, and still tasty. I didn't finish them all mainly because my wife is allergic and I'd rather kiss her.

PINK-EYE PEA HUMMUS: lavash [ 4 ]

Warm flatbread fingers, sturdy and crisp, to dip into a hummus not accented by but made primarily of pink-eye peas. The hummus had a light grassy flavor, and our server asked us later what we thought of this dish particularly. It hasn't been selling well. I offered that most people would expect a bit of tahini in a hummus, even if there's no chickpeas, and that I thought a bit of salt would bring the flavor out of its shell.

MARINATED OLIVES: mint & orange [ 3 ]

Hands down, THE best value at Farm 255. For three bucks, you get about a cup of mixed olives glistening in their marinade of olive oil, mint, and orange zest. Every bite sings. I miss this dish terribly when it isn't available, and I was thrilled to see that fresh mint had been available to put it on the menu this night.

FRITES: rosemary aioli [ 4 ]

I've never understood why anyone would combine french fries with mayonnaise. Now that I've tried their upscale cousin, I sort of understand. I liked the frites just fine on their own. If anything, the portion was too generous; by the time we got to the bottom of it, steaming had undone the work of the fryer. The frites function best as a sop to traditionalists who can't bear to have dinner without a pile of fries; I'd skip them next time and save room for other treats.

GAZPACHO: Full Moon cucumbers & green tomatoes, Marcona almonds [ 6 ]

A large bowl brimming with freshly minced zingy veggies, enough for two to share. We did. But we were distracted by...

FULL MOON SQUASH & ZUCCHINI SALAD: almonds, olive oil [ 5 ]

That's the recipe, folks. Tender squash and zucchini, harvested at its peak, then julienned before it had time to register shock. My wife hates zucchini and squash -- they usually taste bitter to her. On this occasion, I was lucky to get a few forkfuls, and grateful for every bite. This dish, like many of Farm 255's best, reminds you where your food comes from -- and reminds you, by contrast, of the tradeoffs inherent in global agriculture. This dish could never have succeeded with zucchini picked far away and trucked in. We tasted it while it still remembered feeling that morning's sunrise on its leaves, so to speak.

GRILLED CORN: Boo & Becky's grilled corn, cumin, smoked butter [ 3 ]

I can't eat corn, so my wife got this all to herself. Then again, she can't eat nuts, so I got those all to myself. What I can say about this dish, though, is that she enjoyed the ear of corn, split into two pieces, with indecent enthusiasm. I like that in a wife. I can also say that I got to taste the smoked butter, which was served with brown malty bread, and was astonished by its flavor. I kid you not: I looked around to see if something was on fire.

TOMATO PLATE: local tomatoes, fleur de sel, olive oil, balsamico [ 4 ]

The menu sells this dish short. "Balsamico" was a smoky reduction of an already cask-reduced vinegar, rendered so sweet that if I were ever fortunate to own a bottle of it, I'd sip it on its own. The tomato slices were half-inch slabs, five inches across. I began to understand why some tomatoes are referred to as "beefsteak".

WATERMELON SALAD: Boo & Becky's tomatoes, chevre, basil [ 7 ]

Pardon me, I seem to be drooling on the keyboard. It's just that I have never in my life tasted watermelon so inexpressibly sweet. Paired with plump slices of tomato, and given a creamy umami kick by the chevre, I absolutely could not get enough. At the end of the evening, when we were asked about desserts, our #1 pick would have been another plate of watermelon salad, only we didn't have any room left over. This was the best dish I've ever had at Farm 255, and that's really saying something.

CAST IRON RACLETTE: cornichons, toast [ 9 ]

"Raclette" is French for "searing hot metal meets innocent cheese, legs get all wobbly, and fingertip burns become a pleasure to risk". It's like cheese fondue in the sense that the watermelon salad was like a Chick-fil-A fruit cup. The cornichons (French for "jailbait pickles"), were savory and crunchy. We raced to the bottom of this dish and were sad when we'd finally sopped up the last toasted bits of cheese. When Ben Gunn says in TREASURE ISLAND, "Many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese -- toasted, mostly", it is only this cast-iron raclette of which he could be dreaming.

POACHED DARIEN SHRIMP: fried green tomato, carrot vinaigrette [ 7 ]

I left most of this dish to my sweetie the omnivore, though she insisted that I try a bit of fried green tomato in carrot vinaigrette. She's so good to me. It was tasty indeed, and I'd gladly have eaten this with more fried green tomato in place of the shrimp, even if it did have a local pedigree from the Georgia coast.

PULLED PORK: Full Moon pork, cornbread, Full Moon smoked cherry tomatoes [ 8 ]

By this point, I was happy to let my sweetie do the gustatory heavy lifting. I did help her with the smoked cherry tomatoes, roasted almost to the point of bursting, which they finally did in my mouth -- oh my.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:

The chef was so honored by our epic four-hour feat that he sent out a complimentary plate of what our server said was among the best prosciuttos of the world -- an item that never even appeared on the menu. In turn, I was so honored by this gift that I suspended my vegetarianism of nearly 20 years to try a piece, and told the chef so. I was not disappointed; it didn't so much melt in my mouth as dissipate like a salty morning fog. I don't regret the choice, but it solidified my personal opinion that meat isn't worth it for me. I'm confident that I've tasted some of the very finest flesh that carnivory can offer, and I'd rather have another watermelon salad, squash and zucchini salad, bowl of marinated olives, or plate of deviled eggs any day.

THE PRICE:

Our bill was a little under $80, and we tipped $20 for the excellent service that made our experience so wonderful. So, in the end, we enjoyed a culinary orgy of pleasures for less than we'd have spent on a day at Disney. We sure can't afford to do this on our own -- it was for our anniversary in June, and her birthday in late July, and I'm retroactively declaring it my birthday dinner (in late August) as well. But if you've got a hundy stick burning a hole in your pocket, or you've been so inspired by our enjoyment that you want to try it yourself, just go.

Go to Farm 255 on a Sunday night and order one of everything.

(This review appeared in a shorter, under-5000-characters, version on Yelp.)
sylvar: (Default)
What I bought:
1 lb organic cottage cheese
2 six-ounce servings of organic yogurt
A decent-sized wedge of pecorino pepato cheese for grating
A package of soy hot dogs
A pint of blueberries
An Ida Red apple
Paid $10.81.  The first three items on the list were 50% off.  Yum!
sylvar: (Default)
TWO free Threadless t-shirts!

[livejournal.com profile] sexandsoup is deeply #1 and awesome. She sent me a gift certificate for this shirt:



I combined it with my Street Team points and a previously sent coupon (because something was out of stock), and I ended up with TWO shirts at no cost to me. The other one is "Tasty Table", also perfect for a science-loving foodie:



In other good news, I'm actually going to get paid soon.
sylvar: (Alton Brown: What Would Alton Do?)
Since Heathrita asked, here's the dirt on Penzey's:

There are two store in Jacksonville; we went to the one further east.  Its hours are ludicrously short (they're never open past 5:30), but we had over an hour to browse, and used almost all of it.

The store is difficult to find; it's in a strip mall.  But it's worth the hassle.  It's not the smallest store in the strip, and it's not an anchor either.  The interior is structured like a small but airy bookstore, with small "rooms" pocketed off by shelving.  The shelving looks like crates and old furniture; the spices are organized by themes (there's a curry section, a pepper section, an upended-rowboat shelf stocked with everything from coarse fleur de sel to ordinary fine sea salt).  There's also a section that's strictly alphabetical and has no other unifying theme.

Spices are priced just as on the website and in the catalog, but there are three major reasons why going to the store is functionally better. 

Most importantly, there are square jars with silicone gaskets on the lid (apothecary jars) with a sample of pretty much every spice, so you can smell everything in the store.  We even got to taste a sample of the grey sea salt to help convince Jodi that it's worth having around, but this may have been unusual; they replace the open samples every six months to keep them fresh, and we visited at the beginning of the cycle, so there was no reason for them not to open a fresh bag.  Still, I suspect they'd be willing to do that for others if you asked nicely.  I was also fangirling the place pretty hard, and they knew it was a special treat for me to be there.

Another important advantage of the store is that their employees truly love the place and know the spices fairly well.  We're not talking about master-sommelier expertise, but they're enthusiastic and informed, and will offer photocopied recipes using the spices you like, even though they're not generally on display.  They can tell you what ingredient makes "Sunny Paris" so expensive (purple shallots) or whether Dutch-process or natural cocoa is better for baking (Dutch-process).

And finally, there's the advantage of not having to pay shipping costs, which can be a nice advantage when you get about $50 worth of spices (about half of which were a wedding gift).  And you can buy little empty jars at very reasonable prices, too.
sylvar: (Randomness: On mange avec plaisir et san)
Following a comment in TBLC's internal blog, I checked out Semper Pi Pizza (map) in Brandon.

If the website doesn't convince you, the decor will: SgtMaj Juan Carranza is a Marine (retired) and he's damn proud of it, by Jingo.


Photo resized as a courtesy to readers, without permission.
Original picture, © Semper Pi Pizza, available here.

In my opinion, he can also be proud of his pizza. I took advantage of the "second pizza half off" special to try two pies, the Marine (ricotta, mozzarella, American, provolone, and cheddar) and the Leatherneck (refried beans, ground beef, onions, black olives, and cheddar, with lettuce and tomato on top after baking, and salsa and corn chips on the side).

"The Marine" is sloppy in a way that SgtMaj would never have tolerated in his days as a drill instructor, though that's to be expected with five cheeses piled on top of each other. The crust does a laudable job of supporting the filling, which is the cheesiest thing I've seen since 1987's "I Learned It From Watching You" PSA. It's well-balanced and enjoyable (the crust, not the PSA).

The same crust does a bang-up job holding up a creamy layer of refried pinto beans and assorted nacho-type yummies in "The Leatherneck". The pizza is also known as a "Tijuana Taco" (don't search for that phrase in Google Images unless you've got SafeSearch turned on), though I think it's more like a nacho pie. Since I can't eat corn, I skipped the chips and enjoyed the closest thing to all-the-way nachos I'm likely to have outside of the A1A Ale Works' boniachos.

I'm looking forward to the leftovers.

And SSgt [profile] whispersessions, if you're ever in Tampa, let me know and we'll go over there together.  I think you'd get a kick out of it.
sylvar: (Default)
I am so happy that I got to go to Farm 255 tonight with a bunch of cool people from code4lib.

The mixed olives (house-marinated with fennel and orange) and pickled eggs (with wild onion chives) were, collectively, the best $5 I've spent on food. Yes, the bowl of olive was $3 and the bowl of pickled eggs (two, split in half) was $2.

Jodi's orecchiette with hedgehog and shiitake mushrooms in a roasted garlic and cream sauce ($13) was, dollar for dollar, almost that good, and that's like saying that having the second-best orgasm in history is almost as good as having the best.

My 'veg plate' ($14) was a sampling of five things, presented in a meter-long trough as if it were a deconstruction. From left to right:
  • Spicy vegetable slaw: they're not kidding, this tasted like cabbage and onions pickled in jalapeño, but in a good way.
  • Braised collards: a good-sized serving, cooked thoroughly but not to steam-table extremes, salted just enough to bring out the flavor.
  • Sautéed mushrooms: a bit dry, a bit chewy, not as flavorful as I'd have hoped.
  • Steamed creamer potatoes: unremarkable, mostly flavorless.
  • Petite salad: immaculate greens with pickled onion slivers.
We shared our olives with the table, and they shared with us a taste of two red wines (I don't remember which) and five delicious cheeses:
  • Nellie Bell's feta with pickled onion: this may be the only onion dish Jodi has ever enjoyed.
  • Luna's fresh chevre with lambrusco jelly: delicious, though a sesame bagel with cream cheese and peach jam this morning was very good in the same way.
  • Truffle sottocenere [redundant for emphasis, I'd imagine] with local honey: Jodi had the last bit of this; I think we've had it at Wild Oats and could probably find it again.  She loved it.
  • Nevat with fresh thyme: I don't remember tasting this, actually.
  • Tilston Point blue with raisin chutney: very tasty, well paired.
We also shared a molten chocolate cake (really a souffle of eggs, butter, and cocoa -- and perhaps a speck of flour) with crème fraîche, and had some delicious coffee.

The bill was somewhat sinful, but the experience (two to three hours of excellent food, drink, and conversation) was worth it.

And, as a bonus, after I put a couple of bucks into the guitarist's case and asked him if the song he'd been playing was by Eliades Ochoa (it wasn't originally, but he thought Ochoa's recording was the best he'd heard), he played guajiro music all night.
sylvar: (Default)
Three things I accomplished today:
  • Got up at 6:30am for a brief workout (and actually did a brief workout).
  • Managed, finally, to get connected to the worst wi-fi network ever.
  • Spent the afternoon being the volunteer technical liaison to the hotel's IT department in an effort to resolve technical problems that had been plaguing the entire conference.  (See previous item.)
Three things that made me happy today:
  • Seeing that lots of people had taken me up on my recommendation of The Grit for dinner (hey, guys, they have a cookbook too...)
  • Spending the evening with Jodi
  • Learning that a friend's husband may soon be pain-free and living a happy life
sylvar: (Default)
Three things I accomplished today:
  • Taught big boss how to use WordPress
  • Learned how to write interactive fiction with Inform 7 (it's a lot easier than you'd think)
  • Successfully navigated a dinner party hosted by someone I didn't know very well yet
Three things that made me happy today:
  • Vegetarian abenkwan (Ghanaian palm-nut soup)
  • Talking with a coworker about "How I Met Your Mother" (there are finally some good episodes again)
  • Jodi offered to watch a Star Trek movie with me soon, not because she likes Star Trek, just because she wants to watch things with me.  (Though if she's going to make that sacrifice, I think we should at least wait until Amanda's back at home so she can enjoy it too.
sylvar: (What Would Alton Do?)


Hershey's chief US marketing officer says: "The With Love and Kisses stamp reinforces the passion and emotional connection consumers have with the Hershey's Kisses brand. What a great way to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hershey's Kisses."

Dunno why this bothers me but cartoon brands don't. Maybe it's because Hershey's Kisses are bad chocolate. I might stand for Dark Chocolate Cranberry Kisses, but plain milk chocolate? Feh.
sylvar: (Randomness: On mange avec plaisir et san)

We got to the Columbia Restaurant at noon on Sunday. I waited in line for about half an hour to get a number (#100), and we were advised that it would be about two hours before we'd be seated. So we went off to have 'first lunch' at Centro Ybor and saved room for 'second lunch' at the Columbia.

Here's how the check looked. (Hold the cursor over any item to see a description.)

1 BWL-BLK BEAN - 1905 DAY          0.75
3 1905 SALAD - HOLIDAY             5.85
1 SANGRIA-GLASS - 1905 DAY         0.95
2 AMER COFFEE - HOLIDAY            0.10
3 FLAN - 1905 DAY                  1.05
                      Sub Total:   8.70
                            Tax:   0.62
                            FLS:   0.10
                      Sub Total:   9.42
I'm only realizing now that our server neglected to charge us for Jodi's 10¢ iced tea and my 10¢ diet Coke. Well, they were all quite busy, and among the three of us, we tipped more than 100% of the bill (as the menu gently reminded guests, Your server is not living at yesterday's prices and their service should be compensated accordingly), so I think it turned out all right. But perhaps next time I'm there I'll insist on paying the 22cent; we should have been charged. For the curious, the complete 1905-prices menu also included:
Pitcher of sangria                 4.95
Cup of black bean soup             0.50
Chicken and yellow rice "Ybor"     2.75
Merluza "Russian Style"            2.95
Boliche                            2.95
Despite the huge crowds, our server was both professional and personable. Thanks, David M. (and your army of fellow Columbia staff members), for making it a memorable day!
sylvar: (Me: Bemused)
According to the FDA, if a food product contains 1% of the recommended daily intake of a vitamin, the Nutrition Facts label may claim that it contains 2% of that vitamin. The same label may also, instead, claim that it contains none of the vitamin.

I already knew that ConAgra-friendly labeling laws were gambling with my health. I just didn't know it was double or nothing.
sylvar: (Default)
  • Free dinner at Trang Viet Cuisine.

  • Watched a Babylon 5 episode ("Sic Transit Vir") with Jodi, who rarely has any interest in it, but put up with it for my birthday -- and Amanda, who is watching the whole series with me (we're on S5E02 next, which I think has the Declaration of Principles).

  • Will watch an episode of Buffy (S2E01, whatever that turns out to be) soon.


  • A bit of drama, but that's how LJ is sometimes. I might should have put my birthday stuff into a different post. Ah well. I know y'all wish only the best for us, and I love you for it.

    For the record, Jodi is quite capable of handling graduate work; she's taken many graduate seminars and been graded as a graduate student (and earned good grades even by grad-student standards), and the organizer of the PIKSI all-expenses-paid trip told her that her references are glowing. And we do regularly discuss the job prospects available in this area that don't involve four hours a day waiting for hourly bus routes to connect. But she's gung-ho on GRE prep, to which the thousands of filed index cards for vocabulary study will attest. And that's going to not only get her into graduate school, but get her fully funded somewhere. She's not as dumb as I look. ;)

    I didn't like the idea of selling the camera. At first, I downright hated the idea. But it gradually dawned on me that it was the single most powerful thing I can do to move in the right direction, and now I think it's a darned good idea. A bit humbling, but wise. When I have enough free time, I'll write some more crossword puzzles or sell some articles, and I'll use the proceeds to get a decent digital with some sort of optical zoom. I really don't need pro-am gear, I just 'shiny' it.

    The road trip is still on; Dad's paying for gasoline and we're gonna use CouchSurfing.com to find places to sleep. (If you know someone in Nashville, St. Louis, DeKalb, Milwaukee, Kalamazoo, Oxford OH, Cleveland, Kent OH, Boston, Blacksburg VA, or Atlanta who would like some polite houseguests who plan to bring a gift like some key lime juice or other Floridiana, let me know!) So it's basically just food for an expense, and we were planning to eat some of that anyway. (Though not necessarily the likes of R. Thomas, Giordano's, or equivalent legendary foodstuffs of the cities we're visiting. For that matter, if you know a must-eat food along the way, speak up! We're already planning to have some frozen custard, too.)

    And by the way, we DO have air conditioning in the car; it was my dad's graduation present to Jodi and his birthday present to me, and a very generous present at that. So it's all good.

    We should really have some sort of get-together so people can hear more about our lives than I have time to post. Who's interested?
    sylvar: (Default)


    Printed to the right of the chopsticks: Translation: I can't use chopsticks. Because of this, MY FACE BURNS WITH SHAME!!... can I please have a fork?
    sylvar: (Star Trek: TNG: Rocking Out In Car)
    I'm getting pretty good at coded crossword puzzles -- I finished this one in 1m17s after about 32oz of beer (Double Chocolate Stout and organic weissbier, both from Wild Oats).

    I've been looking forward all week to The Pirates of Penzance. I got it on tape from the library. But since Jodi didn't watch it with me last night or tonight (which I'd been looking forward to), and says she'll watch it Sunday, I may have a chance to get the DVD version from another library -- if we can manage to get to Casa Tina during lunchtime, the only time their food is affordable for us. (It's still WORTH what they charge at dinner, but we don't have it.)

    The week has gone fairly well, I think. Last night I went all ninja in the kitchen and made stuffed mushrooms (stuffed with spinach and tofu, baked in tamari and topped with mozzarella), insalata caprese, and an apple-cranberry tart/cake/pie thingy from the Penzeys catalog. Only a fraction of the dessert remains. The rest has been devoured, and I'm looking forward to doing it again. Perhaps stuffed zucchini tomorrow...
    sylvar: (HIMYM: Gay Pirate)
    As soon as I got home, I saw that the Sears repairman had come and fixed the dryer. The labor charge was $120, and the parts (a genuine factory-approved drum belt) cost $20. That didn't include hooking the dryer up to the exhaust vent properly, as I had chosen a vinyl hose a year or two ago, and he said it'd be illegal for him to work on it.

    Then ...click here for the full story. )

    So good night, LJ readers. I'm sure I'll be complaining/bragging again tomorrow.
    sylvar: (Default)
    Does anyone sell alphabet pasta in individual letters? (Let's say I wanted to buy a pound of Q, or a few ounces each of B, J, and S.)

    Is alphabet soup available in different alphabets? Could I buy a pound of Greek or Russian or Cherokee letters? (I'm pretty sure Braille wouldn't work. Sorry, [livejournal.com profile] tregoweth, you needn't suggest that.)

    Do different brands of alphabet pasta have different frequency distributions? Do some have a Scrabble-like distribution that's useful for spelling out words, while others have about as many Es as Qs?

    And yes, I'm totally serious.
    sylvar: (Polyamory Heart)
    Yesterday, following a trip to Safety Harbor for business purposes, I went to the airport to pick up Cat. I had a little time, so I parked on the top of the garage and took some photos of birds, construction, and occasionally the airport itself. I've included a few recent photos here, but check [livejournal.com profile] sylvarphotos or http://www.flickr.com/photos/sylvar/ for all my most recent images.

    We went to International Plaza and browsed through the hideously bright 75%-off rack at Dillard's. At Build-A-Bear, we watched as a helpless teddy bear was impaled on the largest needle I've ever seen and injected with fluff from a huge scary machine. I have no idea how kids don't get scarred for life by this process. But we also discovered that they're going to be selling a Hello Kitty stuffed toy soon, so I'm sure I'll be taking Jodi there at some point.

    Teavana had some interesting samples, and I eventually chose an iced Strawberry Kiwi/Rooibos Peach with German Rock Cane Sugar. (I could ignore the sugar because the chocolate and cappuccino gelato from Gelateria del Duomo had been sugar-free, and the cappuccino gelato was fat-free. Go them. Go me.) As Cat was paying for her looseleaf tea (the same thing I had, only dry instead of wet), Katie arrived.

    We headed over to TooJay's for dinner, and each of us ended up taking home some delicious leftovers. Since Jodi wanted to see Katie again and meet Cat, we headed up to my place, which I quickly gave a superficial cleaning. Sadly, Katie had to duck out early, and Jodi arrived just as Cat and I were coming back from walking Katie to her car. But we did get to spend some more time with Cat, since we decided to drive her to her hotel in St. Petersburg. We all got along famously, and around midnight I got back home with Jodi. I collapsed into bed shortly after we played a 10-card round of Skip-Bo and slept soundly.

    And then I spent 45 minutes typing this up on a T-less keyboard while munching cheese and crackers, so that will have to suffice for details of the evening as well as for my breakfast. What a shame there's no TooJay's in Brandon. Where else will $6 buy you a huge spinach and feta omelet, sliced tomatoes, and a bagel and cream cheese? (It was dinner for me, and the leftovers were dinner for Jodi, if that gives you any idea of the size.)

    Oh well -- I've been having fun. And I can't wait to see Katie again! (I'll have to wait to see Cat again, since she lives in Tallahassee, but I don't want to wait for that either.)



    UPDATE: I've added a few images here.

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