Monday, August 29, 2011

Potbelly Midtown

When we lived in Chicago, A and I used to go to Potbelly fairly often. There was more than one branch in our neighborhood. I would grab a sandwich every time I flew out of Midway Airport. Their simple sandwiches were reliably good.

Since we left Chicago, we went to Potbelly once in DC, but after that, have been living without Potbelly (or Jimmy Johns, sigh).

Until now. Recently Potbelly started expanding into NYC, opening up store after store. The lines have been long. Clearly people have been missing Potbelly as much as we have (or have been hearing by word of mouth how it's good (and inexpensive, by NYC standards)). The weather today was absolutely gorgeous, and I thought maybe the line would be shorter since not everyone could make it into the city after the storm.

The line was still out the door. But by the time I got there, I was so set on Potbelly that I actually waited. (I really hate waiting in line.) Despite being out the door, it wasn't so bad. The person in front of me said that last week the staff said that when the line is outside the door it's about 10 minutes and when it curls down the street, it's about 15. That was fairly accurate. Even though the line was long, it moved fairly quickly. The free wifi also helped.

At this Potbelly, they take your order while you're in line and the sandwich is ready by the time you get to the toppings section. It was all very efficient. I think this is one place where I won't mind waiting in line (mostly because it moves and the wifi helps pass the time). I went to the one over on the east side (to take advantage of the nice weather) on 44th between Lexington and 3rd, but their other midtown branch is also open now in Rockefeller Center. Hopefully there will be another one soon, further west, so A can go too.

My go-to sandwiches at Potbelly were always the turkey and the tuna salad. Today I went with the turkey as I always got it before:

Turkey breast, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard and Italian seasoning. It came on white bread even though I ordered it on wheat, but that's fine since I like the texture of their regular bread too. I think next time maybe I'll get it with everything but mayo. Definitely going back!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


One thing we really wanted to do during our day in Saint John was to try poutine. Poutine is a Canadian snack (from Quebec I think, but we couldn't get there) - french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. Kind of like disco fries, but better.

We researched online and found a couple of places in Saint John that were supposed to have good poutine. One was Deluxe French Fries, located in the food court of the Brunswick Square shopping centre:

Sure enough, when we got there, there was poutine on the menu!

After a short wait, our poutine was ready:

It was really good. Our favorite part was the gravy, which was so full of flavor. It's probably not the best poutine ever as the cheese was packaged (and not fresh from that day) and it was in a food court, but it was good and we were satisfied with our snack. Canada is the first country on our world eats project so we will be investigating some other places here that serve poutine. It was nice to be able to try it in Canada to see how it should taste!

Deluxe French Fries is located in the Brunswick Square Shopping Centre on King Street in Uptown Saint John. If you're in Saint John for a cruise, it is a very short walk from the ship terminal and connects to both Market Square and City Market by pedway. The food court is on the lower level.

Second Glory Breakfast

Our second breakfast on the cruise was while we were docked in Saint John. It wasn't that different from the first breakfast.

There were plates of toasted bagels with smoked salmon, bowls of cereal, cups of yogurt and glasses of juice:

There was corned beef hash (this time, ditching the less-good potatoes and chicken sausages):

And in A's case, there was turkey bacon (something new!):

The breakfast posts are not going to be that exciting as they are all fairly similar, but that was our breakfast pit stop before heading out into Saint John!

Second Glory Dinner

Our second dinner on the Glory was "formal night." Actually, it is now called "cruise elegant" night, so I guess it's slightly less formal, but it's still the night when you're supposed to dress up and sit for lots of photos. On many cruises, it's also the night where they serve the "fancy" food (read: lobster).

A and I both started with two appetizers. The first were the squid fritters, another appetizer from the "didja" section:

The squid fritters were supposed to be spicy and served on a "tropical tomato salsa." There was a tomato-based sauce, but the fritters were definitely not spicy. They didn't actually have much flavor at all and were kind of boring. It came with some fried onion straws and potato chips or something similar. On a 5 scale, I would give this a 2.5 and A would give this a 2.

We also got the black tiger shrimp cocktail:

On our launch day, I had been reading online about "shrimpgate" on Carnival cruises. Apparently, Carnival used to have shrimp cocktail as a menu option every day, but recently, in an attempt to cut costs, began offering it more sparingly. I like shrimp cocktail because it's one of the healthier options for appetizers, but if they're not going to offer it everyday, that's their choice (and it allows us to try more).

The shrimp was fine, although it was less "tiger shrimp" and more "these could have come out of the frozen shrimp bag at Costco" shrimp. It also came with a salad. It was odd that they put the salad on top of the cocktail sauce, so it soaked that up, not leaving a lot of cocktail sauce for the shrimp. On a 5 scale, I would give this a 3 and A would give it a 2.5.

I also got a Greek salad:

We love Greek salads. This one was supposed to be iceberg lettuce (prefer romaine), cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, black olives and feta cheese, tossed with vinaigrette. It was ok, but a little salty, and definitely not as good or as fresh as in Greece. This gets a 2.5 from me and a 2 from A.

For his first entree, A went with the "duet of broiled Maine lobster tail and grilled jumbo shrimp," as did most of the people in our group (and probably the dining room, although not me, as I don't like lobster enough to get it):

The lobster/shrimp duet came with some broccoli (also, not for me) with parmesan topping and mashed potatoes. A was pleasantly surprised by the lobster tail - it was cooked well, not overly chewy and had good flavor. A would give this a 4.

A also got the "tender roasted prime rib of American beef au jus" which was to be "cooked to perfection" (he ordered rare) and accompanied by a baked potato:

A was happy to see that at least half the prime rib was rare and bloody as he requested. The other half was closer to medium rare, which wasn't bad. A would also give the prime rib a 4, mostly because of the horseradish.

Onto the horseradish. Instead of the usual sauce, A asked for horseradish. They told us it would be about 5 minutes, which was fine, as he still had the lobster to eat, but neither of us expected this to arrive a few minutes later:

That horseradish dish is the size of my hand. That's a lot of horseradish!

I got the "martini braised basa fillet with tomato, chili and fennel":

It was to be served on a "sundried tomato, chive and potato gallete," and was the winning recipe from the Italian category of some cruise competition. I like fish and if this was award winning, I was going to try it! The fish itself was very good, as were the vegetables it came with (not sure what qualified as "chili"). I could have done without the potato gallete in favor of some regular potatoes, but it did come as described. I would give this a 3.5 or 4.

For dessert, we couldn't decide between the cherries jubilee and the pudding, so we got both. The cherries jubilee was just vanilla ice cream with dark cherries in sauce & flamed with cherry brandy:

I thought this was fine, but nothing special. A liked it but thought there were not enough cherries. (If not already expressed here, A loves cherries.) I would give it a 3 and A would give it a 3.5.

The pudding, called bitter and blanc, was much better. We imagined that it would be like a pudding cup, half white chocolate pudding and half dark chocolate pudding, since that's what the menu said. But that's not what came:

It was a dark and white chocolate bread pudding and we love bread pudding! This was really good. We give it a 4.5.

The waiter also brought out some fruit plates that we hadn't ordered but were much appreciated:

I guess the fruit plate is always the same, tropical or not.

My favorite items from dinner were the bitter and blanc, and I guess my fish. Outside of the appetizers, A thought the dinner was really good. He liked all of our entrees and desserts.

Our dinners on the Glory were already half over. The next day, it was time to explore Saint John!

California Whopper

Burger King has been advertising their "new" California Whopper lately. We laugh when we see the ads, since, when we were in Amsterdam last year, we already tried this. It was nothing special - just a Whopper with sauce. Not worth a special trip, in our opinion.

Jerk Pan

I got lunch today from Jerk Pan, a Jamaican truck on the east side. (I have no idea where my usual go-to Jamaican food, the Dutchy, is right now.) Since the stewed chicken had bones (unlike the Dutchy), I first tried to get the curry chicken. Unfortunately, they were out of that, so I decided to try the stewed chicken.

The stewed chicken was described as "tender fried chicken smothered in a tasty brown sauce of spices and carrot." It also seemed to have peas.

I like the stewed chicken. The sauce had an excellent flavor, and they gave enough of it that it soaked the rice and beans underneath. It came with about 4 pieces of chicken, including a drumstick. The chicken fell off the bone fairly easily, although I didn't clean them as well as A would have. Although Jerk Pan has been around for awhile, this was my first chance to try it and I would definitely go back. A lot of people around me in line ordered the patties. Maybe I'll try that next time!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Parthenon Hotel Breakfast

M and I woke up on our first full day in Greece full of excitement. We had an aggressive day planned full of sightseeing and a whole lot of hiking/walking. To prepare, we knew we needed a hearty breakfast to provide the initial burst of energy to power us through the day.

Luckily most hotels we chose for this trip offered a free continental breakfast. We both figured it might be something similar to an American hotel offering since that's what the hotel website seemed to describe. We were both pleasantly surprised when we finally dragged ourselves out of bed and wandered downstairs to the dining room.

Along with the standard oatmeal, cereals, eggs, bacon, and pastries was a bounty of Greek treats. Greek salad, dolmades, and Greek yogurt with fruit, honey, and nuts. They even had a simple olive oil poached hot dog dish that we both loved.

M's first plate of food

Each of our first plates was similar. We loaded up on the sliced hot dogs, dolmades, and Greek salad. M got a multigrain roll as well. Other plates were all slight variations on this plate with varying levels of hot dogs, dolmades, and salad.

My first bowl of Greek yogurt smothered in honey

I love Greek yogurt with honey. Coming to Greece M and I were sure of exactly 1 thing. I would eat as much yogurt and honey as I physically could. This was only the beginning of my yogurt and honey gluttony.

M's first bowl of yogurt with fruit

M doesn't like Greek yogurt as much as I do, and she doesn't like honey like I do either. This was her first bowl of yogurt on the trip. She loves piling on chopped fruit.

Walnut cake

The last thing we ate was this walnut cake. At first we thought it was chocolate cake, but when we bit into it we knew for a fact that it was not. That's not to say it was bad, but it was definitely a different flavor than what we expected. It was very moist and delicious, though, and I liked it more than M. Added to this meal was a lot of fresh squeezed orange juice for both of us and lots of coffee for me.

Overall, we were very pleased with our first meal in Greece, and we were ready to push through the day and wander around Athens.

First Glory Lunch

You would think, after such a big breakfast, we wouldn't be hungry for lunch... but it's a cruise and somehow you can eat all day, so the family met up for lunch in the dining room.

A and I both got the California roll:

It was described on the menu as "Japanese rice, avocado, crab meat and cream cheese, rolled in dried seaweed, served with wasabi horseradish and a light soy dip." We were dismayed about the cream cheese, since we're not huge fans of cream cheese rolls and California rolls don't usually have cream cheese, but we got it anyway. It was ok, but nothing special. We have had better California rolls before. On a 5 scale, I would give it a 3 and A would give it a 2.5.

We both also got salads, but they came at different times in the meal. (The order in which the dishes were delivered didn't have much rhyme or reason.) A got his salad with Italian dressing:

Turns out Italian dressing means "creamy Italian" dressing on the ship. A was disappointed because he was hoping for the regular Italian dressing. He would give this a 3.5.

We both also got the Caribbean pepper pot soup:

This was an "island flavored soup with yams, okra, pepper, coconut and cilantro." This soup was pretty good and probably our favorite lunch dish (although not very photogenic). We both give this a 4.

My salad came with "oriental dressing":

It's not a salad dressing you can normally get on the ship but I saw that it was offered with the Mongolian steak salad on the lunch menu, and asked for that dressing. It was a really good dressing, so I give the salad a 4.

A didn't get an entree because he wasn't that hungry. I wanted just the pico de gallo from the vegetable fajita dish, but the waiter told me that the pico de gallo was combined with everything else in the fajita (that sounded bizarre to me) so he would have to bring me the whole dish. I gave in, but asked for it with no tortilla and no sour cream (they forgot that second part), and they were fine with that:

It was pretty good, and I think that by getting it without the tortilla, I got even more veggies than the fajita (which came rolled up like a burrito). The fajita was basically onions and peppers, with sides of pico de gallo and guacamole/sour cream. I shared it with A and we liked it. A gave this a 3.5 and I give it a 4.

After lunch in the dining room we went up to the Lido deck for dessert. Instead, A and I investigated the fish and chips place on the second floor of the buffet. It was closing so there weren't any fish and chips to be had but they were giving away ceviche:

The ceviche was pretty good. The seafood was a little chewy at times, but not too bad.

We much preferred the open seating in the dining room (so relaxed!) to the chaos of the Lido deck buffets. We had two lunches on the ship during our trip and we spent both in the dining room. Much better!

First Glory Breakfast

Breakfast in the dining room of the Glory was the same menu each day. The menu included juices, breads, pastries, cereal, oatmeal, eggs, pancakes, waffles, and various sides, including potatoes and sausages.

I got peach yogurt with cheerios:

A also got peach yogurt but got oatmeal, which came with brown sugar and raisins:

We both ordered a few sides - hash-browned potatoes (which were like big circular tater tots), chicken sausages (they were ok) and corned beef hash (one of our favorites):

We both also got toasted bagels with cream cheese, smoked salmon, onion and tomato (big breakfasts on cruises!):

Since I don't react well to eggs or super-oily potatoes in the morning, the things I was hoping for at breakfast were bagels and lox, corned beef hash and yogurt, so the breakfast was exactly what I needed. Quality-wise, it was all pretty good, evidenced by the fact that we ordered almost the same thing every day. A nice hearty start to the day.

Glory's Late Night Snacks

On cruise ships, food is available 24-7, whether it's room service, buffet or all day snacks. On the Glory, your 24 hour options include ice cream and drinks on the Lido deck, along with a 24 hour pizza place. We never tried the pizza, since we were never hungry enough and there was always a line for the huge slices. Lots of people got pizza. Then again, people on cruises eat like it's their job.

We did, however, check out the late night snacks. On 3 of the 4 nights, the Glory offered a non-descriptive "late night snack" on the Lido deck. (On the other night, it was a Mexican buffet, which made me quite happy.) A lot of cruise lines will have some form of midnight buffet. On our last cruise, the midnight buffet changed cuisines each night, which kept it interesting. The Glory's late night snacks were all from the grille.

We only ate the late night snacks on the first night. There were hot dogs which you could top with sauerkraut:

Or you could make chili dogs:

Or you could just add mustard.

There were also cheeseburgers and assorted toppings including grilled onions and mushrooms. (They gave it to you with the lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion.) They also had french fries in the buffet, but I am trying to avoid non-special french fries.

Something about cruises makes me hungry and I eat more than normal. Is it something in the air? Anyway, people lined up for the late night snacks starting half an hour before the start time, when the buffet line started to get set up. There was a bit of wait for the cheeseburgers to be ready and a few guys monopolized the food area, so that people who just wanted hot dogs had difficulty grabbing their food to go. That wasn't very nice. (They also snacked on fries as they stood there.)

The hot dogs and cheeseburgers from the grille were pretty good. If we hadn't eaten so much food every day throughout the day, we might have gone up for late night snacks at the grille more often. Much better than the sushi!

First Glory Dinner

For many people, their first meal on a cruise is the opening day "lunch" buffet. Many cruise lines open the buffet when boarding starts and leave it open until shortly before sail away. (In our case, the Glory buffet was open until about 4 pm.) However, A and I had both indulged in the awesome Katchkie turkey sandwich for lunch, so we weren't really hungry. The family had also chosen the early dinner seating which meant dinner at 6. Unlike the majority of the ship (or so it would seem, looking at people with 5 buffet plates piled high at 3:30 pm), we chose to forego the buffet (just eating a little bit of fruit) so that we wouldn't be too full for dinner.

If you've never been on a cruise before, you can order as many appetizers, entrees and desserts as you want. I remember the old days when we would order one per course, maybe two. After our last indulgent cruise, we just order whatever we like. No wonder the fitness group says the average weight gain on a cruise is 2 lbs per day (sickening).

For appetizer, A and I decided to be good (still weren't that hungry) and we each ordered 1 appetizer and split a second. The one we split was the marinated fruit with mango coulis:

It sounded like it would be a nice light appetizer and it was. The dish consisted of watermelon balls, pieces of kiwi, a strawberry, some blueberries, a slice of canteloupe, and oddly, a few celery spears. There was also the promised mango coulis. Generally, we liked the fruit plate, but it wasn't really very marinated (other than the celery). On a 5 scale, A would give it a 2.5 and I would give it a 3. (I don't generally do numerical scales, but since all these dishes are made from the same kitchen, might as well do a comparison.)

The appetizer which we both ordered was the escargots bourguignonne ("burgundy snails in garlic butter with an infusion of chablis and pernod"):

The snails also came with a piece of garlic bread. I'm not sure I've ever had bad escargots. It's always so buttery and garlicky that it's good. On a 5 scale, A and I would both give this a 4. (On a side note, Carnival has this section of the appetizers called "didja (as in did you ever...)" for food you wanted to try but didn't dare try. This ended up there, even though escargots seems (to us) to be fairly common on cruises.)

For entrees, I got the pan seared fillet of tilapia:

It came with a green pea fondue, vichy carrots and mac n' cheese, according to the menu. It was also topped with onions (never a bad thing) and some watercress. Many at our table wondered how well mac and cheese would go with tilapia, as it seemed to be an odd combination. It was ok. The mac and cheese was less cheesy, and more creamy. It came in a little dish on the side and seemed a little disjointed. The fish itself was good - light, soft and flaky - and a good mix with the vegetables. On a 5 scale, I would give this a 3.5 (without the mac and cheese) and drop it to a 2.5 or 3 if you included the mac and cheese (as it seemed unnecessary).

A got the lasagna bolognese:

The menu described the lasagna as "baked casserole with layers of pasta, lean ground beef, tomatoes, spinach and mozzarella cheese, served on a lake of pomodoro sauce." The lasagna was very rich and flavorful, and we both enjoyed it. On a 5 scale, A would give it a 4. Even though it wasn't my dish, I really liked the bites that I had, and would agree with A's rating. It was yummy, but being lasagna and bolognese, how can you go wrong?

For dessert, I got the "tropical fruit plate":

This, for some reason, really annoyed me. When I hear "tropical fruit," I think pineapples, papayas, mangoes, guavas, star fruit, etc. Maybe I've been brainwashed by the Dole tropical fruit jars, but that's what I think of (and I'm not alone). The "tropical fruit plate" (I have to put it in quotes) arrived and I was so confused. It was just a regular fruit plate with canteloupe, honeydew, watermelon, pineapples (ok, that's tropical), strawberries, grapes and a piece of kiwi (that one piece could be tropical too). The fruit was fine, but didn't quite meet my expectations. I would give it a 2 for that reason. I also got the pineapple sherbet, forgetting that I don't really like sherbet and prefer sorbet, which was creamy but didn't have much flavor, so I give that a 1.5.

A got the black forest gateau, which was a chocolate cake filled with bing cherries, heavy cream and Kirschwasser:

It was creamy, chocolatey and overall ok. I liked it better than my misnamed dessert. A would give it a 3.

After dinner, we ventured out onto the "Kaleidoscope Boulevard" (the main thoroughfare on deck 5) to check out the sushi bar to find out if the sushi was free (it was). There were sushi and sashimi options and the sushi chef offered us a sampler plate:

It was one piece of spicy tuna roll, one piece of a veggie sushi roll topped with a piece of salmon sashimi, and some shrimp thing on top of a block of rice in scallion mayo. It was very disappointing and we never returned to the sushi bar. I am not even going to bother rating it, as I think that says a lot about our group's satisfaction with the sampler plate.

In general, the food from the first dinner was ok. We didn't have high expectations for the food on Carnival, and were expecting good food (but nothing special). Our last cruise was on Holland America and the food was fantastic, so it's a completely different world. Our favorite dishes were probably the lasagna and the escargots, with my fish (without the mac and cheese) as runner-up. I guess A picked well that night!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Carnival Glory

We've spent the last 4 days at sea and/or in Canada, so we now have another trip to recap. We're going to try to post about this trip first since it's fresh in our minds, and because it's relatively easy to talk about the meals we ate on board and in Saint John. Stay tuned!

Our ship docked in Saint John, our only stop

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Our second honeymoon flight was from Geneva to Athens on Swiss. (As we mentioned earlier, we took 5 flights total during this trip.) We had a good experience on Swiss. It wasn't a very long flight, but after the tight quarters on Continental, the seating on Swiss felt so spacious. And the food was so much better.

It was a night flight (leaving just before 8 pm), so we weren't sure if there would be food served. Shortly after takeoff, they announced dinner boxes would be distributed. Due to the current state of US airline meals for short flights (i.e., none), we're used to eating at the airport before the flight and are always pleasantly surprised when the airlines announce they're serving a meal.

The boxes were very simple meals - risotto and cake - but it was the right amount of food for the time of night and the short flight.

The main part of the meal was a tomato risotto. (It was clearly labeled on the foil top that it had "no pork." The foil top also said "enjoy your meal." I liked that.)

We liked the risotto. It was served piping hot, so that was good. If you don't like tomatoes though, you would be out of luck, because it was quite tomatoey. The cheese melted well into the risotto but it wasn't overwhelming. It was so much better than my meal on Continental.

The dessert was a cake, which was fine. I'm not a huge dessert person, but it was pretty good. It was something like a carrot cake.

And then to close the meal, they gave everyone some Swiss chocolate. That, of course, was excellent.

In a few hours, we were in Athens and ready to start our Greek adventure!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Geneva Airport Eats

By the time we got back to Geneva airport, we were exhausted. After a long flight and a day of sightseeing, we were looking forward to resting on the plane. Before an easy trip through security, we grabbed a snack at Le Pret-a-Manger (which did not seem to be related to the Pret we have back home):

We opted for some healthy pineapples and coconut water. After all, it hadn't been too long since we went for our rotisserie chicken lunch.

After the snack, I promptly passed out in the dining area and A got a Swiss beer which a lot of people near us seemed to be buying:

Since I was passed out, I don't really know much about the beer, but maybe I'll add some of A's insights later.

After security, there was a really expensive food court. If we think our $10 airport entrees are expensive, how about fried rice that cost 25 francs (~USD34) or spring rolls that cost 13 francs (~USD18)? Forget about the prices at the caviar house.

We opted for the "picnic bag" at the Swiss Sandwich Bar for a pre-flight meal. (We were at the airport for awhile to make sure we didn't miss our flight.)

It consisted of a bottle of water, a bag of chips (we got paprika - a flavor we can't get at home) and a ham and cheese triangle sandwich.

If you're used to deli sandwiches in the US, you're probably used to meat and cheese being piled on to sandwiches (unless it's a thin Subway sandwich) and also some toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc. Many triangle sandwiches in Europe are on the thinner side like the one we got from the Swiss Sandwich Bar and don't have vegetables:

Ham, cheese and butter. Lots of butter. A very rich sandwich. Personally, I prefer my sandwiches not lined with butter... but for 10 francs (~USD14), the meal combo was the best deal in the departure area of the airport, so we went for it. Our last meal in Switzerland!