Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cooking Update Before the Big Spring Break Post

I've got a post in the works that will chronicle my Spring Break cooking adventures, but first I want to catch up with some meals I never posted.  

First, before I get into the real purpose of this post can I just say

I'm a Fry!!!  Exactly 1 year and 1 day after Jason proposed, we now have the same last name.  Tomorrow I will get my new driver's license and from there it's just a matter of changing over my car title...changing my insurance...getting my bank account settled...getting my employer transferred to my new bank account...and letting the school know.  I'm probably forgetting something, please let me know if you think of anything else I need to do.  

Jamaican Chicken
This is actually something Jason made for me on one of my late school nights.  
We bought this sauce at Zest Fest and Jason used it in his marinade

Another Zest Fest item used in the marinade 

Extra special rice jason seasoned and cooked in the rice cooker

Giant Chicken Breasts baked in the oven  (I've recently decided that I only want to by organic chicken breast after eating these.  There's just no reason for the chicken breast to be this big)

Edamame steamed in the rice cooker

Edamame seasoned by Jason 

The finished product! Yum! 
 Result: Jason did a great job.  It was super spicy, but also super flavorful.  

Spicy Mustard Cod
I honestly can't remember what all I marinated the fish in.  I do remember including a mustard we bought from Kroger called "inglehoffer sweet hot pepper mustard"  I then threw on some spices, topped it with a little bit of Gouda cheese, and popped it into our toaster oven.  I also steamed some bell peppers and onions for a vegetable.  

Finished product 
 Come back at the end of the week to see all the yummies Jason and I had during my Spring Break! 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Very good, sir

*Warning: Long covers four years of delicious food.  Okay you've been warned.*
Jason and I love food.  We enjoy critiquing and eating and tasting and learning all about the art of food.  At least once a year (and no more than twice or three times) we treat ourselves to a fine dining experience.  By fine dining I mean throw bank account to the wind, order 5 courses, forget about your diet kind of meal. I like to think our taste has even matured over the years.  Eating at Sambuca is considered a more "casual" nice dinner and Ocean Prime, is well, prime. Through the years we have had some pretty awesome experiences and have gained some fun stories.   
This all started 4.5 years ago when I asked Jason to take me on a romantic date.  We had been dating for a little over half a year and I decided I deserved a nice dinner out.  Okay, really I just wanted an excuse to get dressed up because girls just like to do that sometimes. So one night while I was visiting him in Houston I got all gussied up and he took me to the best restaurant he knew, Sambuca.  I'm 90% sure this is where he went to eat before his high school prom, but I could be wrong.  Compared to our later adventures this was a modest experience.  I think the "not yet 21" thing helped keep our total bill in the reasonable range; 1. because alcohol is expensive and 2) alcohol also makes you happy to spend more money.  On this particular night they placed us in the back of the restaurant.  Some might take it as "hiding us away" but I took it as exclusive and romantic.  Except that we were basically in the kitchen and the chefs were staring at us pretty much all night.  Good times good times.  We had delicious beignets (which we still order today whenever we go there), a cup of lobster bisque, I had zebra pasta (which has been discontinued, and probably a reason I'm not so drawn to Sambuca anymore), Jason had the lobster enchiladas, and for desert berries with a grand marnier sauce.  Oh yes, I could get used to this. 
Our first adventure in fine dining

Zebra Pasta...the dish that sold me on the idea that pricier food is indeed worth the extra money
 3 months later our 1 year anniversary rolled around and I requested that we revisit Sambuca, but this time in Dallas.  I wasn't ready to step out, but was ready to eat that delicious food again.  This time we again started with the beignets and soup, Jason had the Chilean Sea Bass, and I had the Zebra Pasta, we finished off with the same berry desert.  Again, delicious and we were still sold on its style.  Another high point about Sambuca was the live music entertainment, usually a jazz or blues/soul singer.  
Anniversary at Sambuca Dallas...oh yeah also I had maroon hair.  
The following June, Jason and I once again went to Sambuca for his birthday.  This particular time we were lucky enough to have a really awesome entertainer, Adam Estes.  He had an excellent voice and was able to play pretty much any 90s song that we threw at him.  I believe that following our regular appetizer and soup I had a small steak (this was the first time I noticed the lack of Zebra Pasta on the menu) and Jason the seafood integration.
Jason's 21!  He got to have a glass of wine with his dinner...extra fancy 
  Time for our 2 year anniversary!  Where did we go?  Where else but Sambuca of course!  The highlight of this meal was being sat by some kind of basketball/football riding the bench, but still paid enough to wear lots of diamonds guy.  This guy sat on his cell phone the entire dinner while his very beautiful lady friend sat there staring at him.  What a silly man.  This woman was gorgeous and he couldn't pull himself away from his phone long enough to appreciate her.  Jason and I even considered asking her to join us because she looked so bored.  We ordered pretty much the exact same food as our previous visit.  Except this time I got to drink too!  Oh also I had a dessert, adult coffee, very yummy.
Jason's Seafood Integration 
Four months later, April of my Junion year rolled around.  At A&M this is traditionally the time that Aggie couples go to Ring Dance.  I had been getting excited about this dance for a long time.  I had even hunted down a dress on Ebay that I first saw at express and bought it for $100 cheaper.  Awesome!  But come Ring Dance time, most of my friends decided they weren't really into it.  But, I still had this dress so Jason took me out for a night on the town in Austin.  And guess what!  We did not go to Sambuca!  Instead we went to Maria Maira.  So good!  I'm still looking forward to going back here some day. I had the most amazing Seafood Chile Relleno and Jason had Pork Carnitas. 
Our faux ring dance 
We returned to Sambuca for our 3rd Anniversary.  Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of us there nor do I have a recollection of what we ate.  I'm pretty sure this is when I ordered some kind of pasta and was less than impressed.  Good news, the beignets were still delicious!
3rd Year Anniversary...gasp I know!  I wore the same dress as I did for Ring Dance.  
During the summer of 2010 Jason was in Atlanta.  It was a long and painful summer.  But, I did get to visit him!  While I was there we had lots of incredible food.  But one place we made sure to visit was the Atlanta Sambuca...c'mon it was tradition by this time.  I have to say this Sambuca blew the others out of the water.  The entertainment was excellent!  We even got up and danced for a little while.  
Sambuca Atlanta 
Sunny D and the All Stars
Alright alright.  Here's where it starts to get a little more interesting.  For our 4th Anniversary we decided to break out from the norm.  Sambuca has been great to us, but there are so many lovely options in the Dallas area.  After sifting through these options we decided on Eddie V's.  At this point in our relationship I was more than ready to hear Jason say those four words "will you marry me?"  Pretty much every time something out of the ordinary or any kind of special occasion rolled around I immediately assumed he was about to propose. So, the kind host at Eddy V's is walking us to our table and my eyes spot a table that is decorated with rose petals and already has champagne sitting out.  We are headed right towards the table.  Ohmygosh ohmygosh this is it!!!  Annnnd we pass the table.  Fail.  I become upset for about 5-10 minutes until I realize how completely silly it was to be upset.  But man.  What a tease!  
Pics after dinner  In less than a month Jason would decide he was 100% ready to pop the question! 
We have a terrific waiter!  He's personable and oh so willing to make suggestions to us.  We browse the menu and decide on the seafood tower for an appetizer.  This appetizer was listed as Market Price...we figure, this can't mean more than maybe double any other appetizer price.  The waiter puts in this order and returns to suggest we split our entree. You see the seafood tower is quite large so we probably won't need much more food after this.  
Top of the tower
What does the waiter suggest we split but this beauty.  The biggest steak I've ever seen in my life.  C'mon, this is not splitting one entree.  This might qualify as three entrees.  
This was also our first real dabble in appreciating side orders.  Fancy restaurants have the best sides.  No joke, we had the most incredible french fires here and some pretty darn good mac and cheese.  Needless to say we were about to pop by the end of all of this.  However, our waiter wasn't ready for us to be done. He came over to Jason, the two of them whispered for a few moments and next thing you know he's bringing out a desert.
So delicious but so unnecessary! 
Okay, the number one rule of dining at these restaurants is to always at least have a general idea of how much each item costs so when you get the bill you aren't thrown for a total loop.  Let's recap:  we ordered a market price appetizer and a giant steak recommended by the waiter that also was not on the menu.  Market price is code for "if you have to ask you can't afford it." Oh wow!  And tomohawk steak, well let's just say the price was not comparable to the price of the other steaks on the menu.  But, the waiter was kind enough to comp the desert.  I think he may have seen the blood rush from Jason's face and decided to give us a wee bit of a break.  Lesson learned.  No more off the menu items.  

Okay, next up my new favorite place, Ocean Prime!  I fail miserably at taking pictures here, but I think it's because I feel silly taking pictures here.  I guess I have this perception that if I do they will know I don't belong.  We went here for Jason's 24th birthday.  This place is way above our means...we pulled into the valet lot with Jason's 4Runner only to see BMWs, Lexus, Escalades, oh and a Lamborghini.  *Feeling out of place* Let me just start by saying the food here is outstanding.  Worth every bit of money we've spent here.  Again, the sides are outrageous!  Truffle mac and cheese, creamed spinach, jalepeno potatoes au gratin!  Yes, please.  But more than this the service is incomparable.  We had two waiters.  The first guy is nice, very informative, all around a 5 star waiter.  But this other guy is unreal.  When he talks about food it sounds as though he is reciting poetry.  I'm not kidding.  The guy rambles off the specials as if Shakespeare himself cooked and named them.  He tops off his list of suggestions with his choice of side, "creamed spinach" as he gazes into the distance and adds in a soft fist pump. Seriously?!  How do I not order the creamed spinach at this point!?  I'm pretty sure we ordered everything he listed in his sonnet. To top it off, after each of our requests he always responded with "Very good, sir (or madame)".  Which was mostly funny because he was the one who suggested it in the first place.  But the way he said it, it was as if I had just created a new menu item myself. "I'll have the creamed spinach"  "Very good, madame, excellent choice."  We ate 5 courses here just so that we could spend a little extra time with our new best friend.        

So here we are today.  Jason and I decided to go on another fine dining adventure.  The primary reason was to make up for our failed honeymoon dinner; but it just so happens to be about 2 months from our wedding day and 1 year from the day Jason proposed.  We looked at a lot of different options but alas we returned to Ocean Prime.  Mostly because I was craving their Mac and Cheese for about 2 months now.  We sit down and a nice young waiter asks our drink order.  Jason and I start looking at the wine list when out of nowhere I hear "I see the lady will be in charge of the wine selection.  May I offer any assistance?" NO WAY!  It's Steven!  Our poet waiter from last time!  I could not be happier.  Let me just say that when he started his ballad of foods to consider I about jumped up and hugged him.  It was even more beautiful than the first time. I'm certain my face was about as goofy as you can imagine.  I was trying so hard to look like I was a normal amount of interested in what he was saying but really I had this ridiculous smile plastered on my face as he spoke.  And then he said "creamed spinach" with the fist pump in tow and it took everything in me not to laugh with glee.  Luckily I held it in.  We again had delicious food and I finally got my Mac and Cheese.  

So there's our food journey.  I highly recommend everyone take a day off of their tight budget and diet and go splurge once in awhile.  It's fun, you get an excuse to dress up, and as Steven reminded us tonight during one of his shining moments "Variety, I believe it was said it is the spice of life."  Yes, Steven, yes it is.  

The Vrly Fries

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Love story Part II: AIM Chatting and Kevin Fowler

The week after I met Jason I went on enjoying Freshman year of college...studying, dancing, all nighters.  We friended each other on facebook and I immediately went to work on seeing what I could find out about this guy. He was listed as in a relationship...but with Paul, so I wasn't all that concerned about his availability.  Paul actually first got in contact with me on AIM.  We would talk every now and then and at some point I'm pretty sure I made a deal with him that if he would agree that A&M was cool I would go to dinner with him.  Apparently he relayed this to Jason and what do you know, Jason started talking to me on AIM soon after.  
*side note* Paul, I still owe you that dinner.  
It didn't take long before Jason and my chats with one another lasted for hours and hours into the night.  I'm fairly confident that this was about the time my Freshman roommate really started to dislike me.  I guess it may have something to do with the click clacking of keys late into the night and early morning.  We talked about anything and everything: politics, family, friends, faith, school, relationships.  It was the first in a long time I felt comfortable sharing the more personal aspects of my life with a guy...or anyone really.  The base of our relationship was almost entirely built on conversation and getting to know one another.  After about two weeks of chatting he told me he was planning another trip to College Station.  I was so excited. 
Once again Jason made the drive East to College Station to visit Jake on a football weekend.  I wanted so bad to go see him at some point while he was in town.  But, I also hadn't really told any of my close girl friends about our budding AIM relationship.  To be honest, I felt a little silly.  Jake and Jason both text me that night asking if I wanted to come out, but me and my friends were deep in a game of Nertz and had no interest in interrupting this.
*side note* if you have never played nertz immediately stop reading this and go play a round.  It's awesome! 
For some reason, I still cannot recall, we decided not to meet up with Jake that night.  No, instead we took a random road trip to Giddings, TX.  Yes, Giddings.  Jake and many of our dancing buddies were from around there so I suppose we decided we wanted to get to know their hometowns in the middle of the night.  
Totally worth the trip.  Also, we picked up a construction cone on the way home, got way lost, and dropped off the cone at Marmor's house.  It was later turned into a Christmas tree.  Prefect. 
Alas, Jason and I did not meet up that night.  I played hard to get.  I wasn't interested in him...I didn't care...but oh I was and I did!  We resumed chatting on AIM for another week or two when he mentioned he was coming into town again for the Kevin Fowler concert.  I knew this was my chance!  There was no way my friends would pass up a good Texas Country concert at the Hall.  Sure enough we did go to that concert. You might think that Jason and I immediately met up as soon as I arrived at the concert.  But no, instead we spent the whole darn thing texting one another, staying in our own safe group of friends; tossing in hints about where we could find each other.  Finally I decided to go look for him.  Instead of Jason I ran into Jake.  Which I was okay with, Jake is an excellent dancer so we danced to a couple of Kevin Fowler songs.  At some point Jake told me his cousin was in town and told me I should meet him...hmmm yes, yes I should. 
After way too much time had passed I finally found Jason and tapped him on the shoulder.  I felt all happy and nervous to say hi to him again.  It was weird, he knew so much about me, but I still felt like this was only the second time we had met, because it was.  
I asked him to dance, he said he didn't know how, I pulled him to the side of the dance hall off the dance floor and started to teach.  We stayed here until long past Kevin Fowler had finished and up until the Aggie War Hymn.  I then tricked him into doing the War Hymn with me.  That's right, he sawed em off with the rest of us Aggies.  Following the War Hymn at the Hall they always play The Road Goes on Forever.  Jason was all "let's dance to this one"  I was all "ehhh you don't understand this is the longest song ever and goes really fast at some parts"  he was all "that's cool I got this"  I was all "ok sweet!"  So we danced our very first dance together.  It was perfect. I remember getting a few comments after returning to our group about having disappeared for a long time, little did anyone know I was teaching my future husband to dance. 

After Kevin Fowler we all headed back to Jake's house and did what we do best...played Guesstures!  The girls rocked it again.  This time we managed to get "Porpoise" by doing the "awkward turtle" sign.  Yes, girls are basically impressive.  At the end of the night we were saying our goodbyes and hugging everyone.  I very distinctly remember giving Jason an extra long hug and having the very best feeling.  I was literally walking on the clouds.  We piled into Ellie's car and soon enough I got a text from Jason saying "It was really great to see you again.  I had a lot of fun."  I must have blushed or giggled like a little girl because I was then questioned by my car-mates on what that was all about.  So I spilled it.  Jason and I were in an odd and undefined internet relationship.  I think they were part surprised, part excited for me, and part "ummm why is this the first time I'm hearing about this?"  It felt nice to now have people to talk to about all this, and to admit it out loud that I really liked him.  
Screen shot of facebook message I sent to Ellie after one of my wonderful AIM conversations with Jason.  Yes, Ellie he did end up whisking me away into the sunset.  
So our AIM conversations continued.  He called me on my birthday and we had the most awkward conversation ever during which he never mentioned it was my birthday.  About 5 seconds after I hung up he text me saying "By the way Happy Birthday."  It was quite humorous.  Later he told me he was just really nervous about telling me happy birthday on the phone because it was so "relationshipy" and he didn't know if we were there yet.  We had a foundation, I had the approval of my friends, and we had no idea where this was all going to lead or how the logistics would ever work out.  But that didn't matter.  We would find a way.   
Next time come back to hear how Jason agreed to come stay with my parents for a weekend even though we had only officially met two times.  And how we became facebook official.  

That's all for now
The Vrly Fries 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

It's a Love Story, 5 years later baby I said yes

I thought it would be fun to give a brief account of how Jason and I met.  You might be able to find this story elsewhere, or have heard it a time or two before, but it's time it get published on el blog.  
November 4th 2006 was Maroon Out day at A&M and we had just finished playing Oklahoma.  This I point out only because it is the reason I know to the day when I first met Jason.
Earlier that day I spent a couple of hours calling the residents of College Station asking them to vote for Van Taylor...aka "Saving America"
 My friends and I spent about half an hour running around a parking garage looking for Ellie's car.  This was a regular occurrence Freshman year.  We would hit the alarm button on her hey chain in hopes that we would be led straight to the ol Explorer.  Unfortunately, parking garages are cube shaped and made out of concrete...aka an echo box. "It's coming from above below us...wait I think it's on this floor." 
So we eventually find it and make our way towards Boston's Pizza and Grill to fill up our bellies after all that intense yelling and standing.  Yes, Aggies even stand intensely.  About this time I received a text message from my good buddy Jake.  We originally met because we had the same mentor in our biochemistry program.  Yes, Jake and I both started out as biochem majors. That didn't last long for either of us.  Eventually my friends and I started hanging out with his friends every Thursday and hitting up the Hall for some country western dancing.  
His text said (something to the effect), "Hey you wanna come over to Marmor's house?  My cousin and his friend are in town and we need some people to come over."  Well, first priority is my hungry tummy so I tell him I'll see if the girls want to go over after we eat.
We finish eating and it's fairly late...maybe about 10:00pm, but c'mon it's Freshman year of college so really it's not late.  I text Jake telling him we're on our way, but he responds saying he already left because he has to go to Bonfire build at 5am the next morning.  He also encourages me to go ahead and go over because other people are still there. 
I relay this to the girls (Ellie, Sarah, and Priscilla) and we are a little weary of this idea but decided to check it out.  As we pull up to the house we see two guys we've never met before sitting outside playing guitars.  Interest sparked.  We like guys, also we like guitars.  Yes, I think we should stay. 
This is actually what I looked like that night...not sure where the attraction came from on his part :) 
We introduce ourselves and find out that this is Jake's cousin Jason and his friend Paul.  Jason goes to UT, obviously an immediate turn off.  But...he plays guitar, and I managed to convince him to sing for me, so perhaps there's still some potential.  Okay so here was my first move.  "hmmm I want to learn how to play, longhorn guy, teach me."  
Aww the first time our hands touched
   Jason claims this doesn't count, but it obviously worked so go me! The whole group ended up going to Jake's house that night and played Guesstures until about the time Jake got up to leave for bonfire.  The guys were blown away by our ability to get "lame duck" just by making a small facial expression.  **side note: Ellie, in all her awesomeness bought us Guesstures as one of our shower gifts so we could forever and always remember the night we met** And then I realized that I had to meet my parents for church in approximately 4 hours so I had better leave.  We said our goodbyes and I figured it was a fun night but I probably wouldn't ever see him again.  Just a facebook photo with some forgotten crush.  Little did I know that facebook and instant messenger would help usher in a new chapter in my life. 

So there you have it.  The night Jason and I met.  Definitely one I'll never forget.  Later I'll tell the story about our "secret" IM conversations, his next visit to College Station, and finally his visit to Dallas where we became (pretty much) official.