Sunday, December 9, 2007

Saturday's travels

It's been a hectic past few weeks. Between the Thanksgiving week prep and being on-call at work, time has just flown by. Since we finally had a weekend where we didn't have to do anything special, other than my being on-call, we slept in. When we finally dragged ourselves out of bed, Tara cooked up the last of our Vonhanson's bacon and mixed some of it with scrambled eggs. It came out really good. Since we were out of bacon and hot dogs, we decided to go to VH. We also wanted to check out one of the new Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Markets that are starting to sprout up in the Valley. Also added to the itinerary was a trip to the new EJ's Meat Market in Mesa we've seen mentioned on Chowhound. So we grabbed our largest rolling cooler, some ice packs, and headed out.

EJ's was first up. It's at 5606 E McKellips in Mesa. We took the 202 to Higley and then hit McKellips. It's a small market adjoining their steakhouse restaurant. They had a pretty good selection and it looked to be good quality. Since it's been unseasonably wet lately and we need to get a refill for our propane tank, we didn't get any steaks to grill. Instead we opted for a half pound each of thick-cup Applewood-smoked bacon and fresh breakfast sausage. We had the bacon for breakfast this morning, and it's outstanding. Tara ranked it second to VH bacon. I need to try some side-by-side with Midwestern Meat's bacon to judge which is better. VH is still my favorite, but this an exceptional value at only $4.99/lb. For comparison, both MM and VH are $5.99/lb, but more than worth it.

Since we were close to MM, we thought about stopping by, but Tara didn't feel like it. So we headed back west on the 202 to Alma School and south to University to the Fresh and Easy. It was an interesting little market. Absolutely no ambiance whatsoever, but we did see some interesting items. We grabbed a bag of garlic naan that smelled wonderful. They have pre-made pizza dough, so I grabbed a bag each of white and wheat to give it a try. Tara needed a snack so she grabbed some seasoned croutons. We haven't tried anything other than the croutons yet, but they were good. VERY crunchy.

We headed south on Alma School to Vonhanson's. At the Alma School/Elliot intersection we saw another F&E. As we were stopped in traffic, a rolling billboard truck was beside us with a huge denouncement of F&E about how their parent company has been penalized for selling spoiled/rotten goods in the past. I'm sure it's not sponsored by any of the larger supermarkets in the area who are fearing the new competition. Gotta love scare tactics.

When we arrived at VH, we were disappointed to see that they had no bacon in their display case. When we asked about it, we were told that their supplier called them to have them pull it, as there were some concerns about it. So while it's being tested, they weren't going to sell it. We were very disappointed, but at least they weren't taking any chances. We grabbed a couple packages of their maple country sausage and some hot dogs. Needless to say, we were very happy we got some of the EJ's bacon after that. Now we wish we'd gotten more. Oh well.

With all of our planned stops done, we decided to head to an AJ's to look for some bread to make the breakfast casserole Tara made last week again. We found some three-cheese bread at the AJ's that worked out great. We also grabbed a couple chocolate croissants from the pastry counter for a pre-dinner snack. We thought about dinner and Tara suggested Osha. Since we were in the neighborhood, I suggested Yupha Thai, since it was just up the 10 from where we were. We'd tried to go on Thanksgiving weekend, but they were closed. Tara had no objections.

We stopped at Joann's for Tara to get some craft supplies and then headed to Yupha's. We got a shumai-like appetizer, chicken panang for me and chicken on spinach with a peanut sauce for Tara. The food was all great, but service wasn't as good as our last visit. The restaurant was less than half full this time, but our drinks stayed empty for long periods of time despite us being right next to the soda machine and servers passing our table whenever they left the kitchen. On our first visit, the place was packed but our drinks never had a chance to get empty. Still we'll go back because the food is so good and they have some items that Osha doesn't.

After dinner, Tara needed to go to a Michaels for some ribbons for her project. We decided to head back up the 51 and go to the one at Tatum and Cactus. After that, we went to the Bed Bath and Beyond at Tatum and Shea. It's one of the larger stores in the area and sometimes has stuff others don't. I was looking at hot water pots, as my tea kettle is starting to die. On my way there, I noticed the new Cuisinart SM-70/SM-55 stand mixers. I'm a long-time KitchenAid mixer fan, but these babies definitely caught my eye. Countdown timers, interesting accessories, massive power, and larger bowls. My KitchenAid is a 10-year old 250watt/ 4.5-quart bowl model I got as a birthday present. It's starting to show some age an the bowl is a bit small for some of the things I make. So now there's another player in the heavy-duty stand mixer area and I'm definitely intrigued.

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