Friday, September 26, 2014

Will You Be My Chip Buddy? The Queens Head, St. Petersburg Florida

Happy Friday, LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers!

I am extremely happy that the weekend is here.  If you know me or are a regular reader of; you may know that I love, love, love breakfast foods and brunch!  So with the weekend upon us, I thought it would be a good time to have a Sunday brunch restaurant review!

Today's post is about The Queens Head Restaurant and Euro Bar in St. Petersburg, Florida.  I have no clue what a "Euro Bar" is.  I was hoping it meant 1) Hot Europeans hitting on me at the Bar, 2) a bar full of Euros that I can spend at my will or 3) a fancy European candy bar.  

When I walked in to The Queens Head, there were only Floridian locals sitting at the bar.  There were no big bowls of free European currency.  And while I received some flirty looks, no one looked like they were going to hand me any free chocolate bars.  So still no clue what a Euro Bar is, but I was hungry and thirsty and I wanted brunch!

For this brunch at The Queens Head, I was accompanied by Miss Kentucky and her friend Sassy Ms. S.  Although The Queens Head is an Anglophile's dream (check out the Brit tabloid-wall papered bathroom!), I spotted the French "Croque Madame" on the Brunch Menu.  Unlike a traditional Croque Madame sandwich, this one was served on raisin toast.  I was intrigued.

Miss Kentucky and Sassy Ms. S ordered a breakfast sandwich with chips (French fries) in it, called a Chip Buddy.  Now I love a good breakfast sandwich, so I was hoping their Chip Buddy wasn't better than my Croque Madame.  No one likes a heaping side of BRUNCH REMORSE in the morning!

My Croque Madame arrived and I was even more intrigued.

Unlike a traditional Croque Madame where the sandwich of sliced cheese, sliced ham and béchamel sauce is in one piece and topped with a fried egg.  This raisin bread sandwich had diced ham, cheese and pickled onions.  It was cut into fourths, topped with an egg on a plate that had drizzled berry syrup on it.  

Now I love sweet and savory when it comes to breakfast.  I am the girl who wants the eggs and the pancakes.  I don't like just one or the other.  I felt the diced ham on this Croque Madame was somewhat skimpy.  Charge me an extra $1 and give me a slice of ham, please.  However other than that, I was in love with this non-traditional version of the Croque Madame.  The raisin toast with the cheese, ham, pickled onions and the sweet berry syrup with the lush richness of the fried egg ... well it was just a heavenly combination and one I ate up with vigor.

The ladies also ate their chip buddy breakfast sandwiches just as fast as I inhaled my Croque Madame.  Sunday Brunch at The Queens Head was a hit!

Also to note - the service was prompt and very friendly.  The atmosphere was relaxed.  The patrons were extremely social.  It felt warm, homey and very "neighborhood hangout."  I would definitely come back to The Queens Head, especially to check out their wonderful sounding dinner menu       

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

It's A Triangular World and I Am A Triangular Girl - My Snack Obsession (Day Two)

Happy Wednesday LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers!

It's New Product Wednesday!  Reviews of products that are new or new to me!

The other week I wrote about my new favorite snack food, a.k.a. MY SNACK OBSESSION.  In keeping with the theme, I am going to write about another snack that I find crazy tasty.

I was on a Jet Blue flight to New York City and the flight attendant had a gigantic snack basket as big as the plane itself.  God bless an airline with a wide variety of snacks!  Now normally when I fly Jet Blue, I feel obligated to get the Terra Blue potato chips which are the first snack the airline ever offered.  (Little flight snack trivia for you, darlings!)  But on this particular flight I was feeling like throwing off the chains of convention and snacking recklessly!  I selected ...

Pop Corners White Cheddar Popped Corn Chips.  Now normally I don't like white cheddar-flavored snack bites because the "cheese dust" tastes way too artificial for me.  But I have to say these Pop Corners white cheddar chips were the exception to the rule - the cheese flavoring tasted authentic, real and non-chemical.  The chips had a satisfying crunch without a greasy taste.  I was a happy flyer with this lovely snack.

Later on the flight, the suave male flight attendant came back and offered me a second bag.  I didn't want to appear gluttonous - I mean you never know who you're going to meet on a plane.  What if my Prince Charming was on the flight?  What if he said "It was love at first sight until I saw you take a SECOND bag of Pop Corners!"  Instant trauma, people!  

But I have to say when the flight landed, I wish I had had a second free bag from JetBlue.  My life is full of triangular regrets! 

Sadly I don't think I would buy these, but only because I know I could NOT STOP EATING THEM.  They are delicious and definitely would be on my Snack Obsession list!  Thanks a lot JetBlue for giving me one more snack to add to my obsession list!  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

On Communication and Ego ...

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

I read an interesting article entitled "75 Nice Things People Say To Shut Up Your Feelings."  I'd argue that not everything on the list of seventy-five is actually "nice" but it makes for a catchy title - or at least it caught my eye.  

I recently was trying to express how I was feeling disappointed and upset and the person I was talking to kept telling me my comments were illogical.  (Um yeah, as if that will somehow change the way I feel?!)  I read the article afterward and started ticking off all the statements that were made during the course of the conversation ... #27, 43, 51, a variation of 52.  The person I was talking with was - consciously or unconsciously - on overdrive to negate and/or minimize my feelings.

In grad school, I spent a lot of time reading about and discussing the notion of "intent" as it relates to Criminal Law. For example, the difference between first degree murder and manslaughter in the eyes of the law (in the United States) revolves around a type of intention called "malice aforethought."  Which by the way, if I ever decide to become a drag queen, Malice Aforethought would TOTALLY be my drag name.  

Other than a kick ass drag queen name, malice aforethought means a conscious intent to cause death or grave bodily harm.  I find that when people are trying to justify causing hurt feelings, the notion of intent usually comes into play as some sort of excuse.  One "Classic Lilyism" - a catchphrase I use when talking about emotions and feelings - is "If I run you over with my car, but didn't intend/mean to do it - do you hurt less?"    

I have a huge pet peeve when someone tries to negate what I am feeling by playing the "intent" card.  Suddenly I am pushed from a position of expressing my feelings to having to defend how I feel.  If someone didn't intend to hurt me, suddenly I have to explain why I still am hurt "sans intent."  When I am forced into conversations such as this, I visualize if I were laying under a car bleeding and having to defend why I am hurt!  "Just because you think my bleeding is illogical, doesn't mean I am not bleeding!"  

The Tony Gaskins' quote "You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop and what you reinforce" comes to mind as well when I feel someone is minimizing how I am feeling.   

I think it can be difficult to have a conversation about feelings because it can be easy to listen from a place of ego or defensiveness instead of empathy.  Here is an interesting article called "Getting Defensive: Get Over Yourself" which talks about getting rid of the ego when listening.  

In my new job, I spend a good part of my day feeling stupid as I am learning one billion and one new things.  I hate feeling stupid.  I wish I could just open a box and know it all.  I know there is joy in learning and surprising yourself blah blah blah, but I really hate the struggle.  Lucky for me, each day I find I am learning more and more and I look forward to the day (please be soon!) where I go an entire work day without feeling stupid.  

But until then when I find myself getting stressed, overwhelmed and feeling completely "stupid,"  I say to myself "Let go of your ego.  Embrace the discomfort."  It is a mental reminder that if I set aside my ego about feeling like I should know everything RIGHT NOW ... or having a bruised ego because I don't know everything RIGHT NOW.  

If I set my ego aside and stop thinking about what I think I should know or how much I still don't know; I am trying to focus on the moment, understand what is behind my feelings of being overwhelmed and then work through it without letting the emotion or fear of it sweep me away.  Sometimes it works to calm me down, sometimes it does not. 

I wanted to insert a good quote about the benefit of trying and never giving up, but when I did a Google images search for "always try" - one of the images that came up was a sandwich with the description "Grilled Pepperjack cheese sandwich with apple slices, avocado and spinach."  

So while I wanted to say you (and I) should always try - I guess Google Images would like to amend that to "You should always try ... different types of grilled cheese sandwiches."  At the very least your stomach will be happy ... unless you're lactose intolerant.  And if so, then perhaps Google Images is sadistic.  

This blog post has taken a cheesy turn (get it? Cheesy - ha ha!)  I guess in conclusion, if I were giving advice I would say:

1)  Listen with empathy not ego - do not try to shut up someone's feelings (or negate them or minimize them or pooh-poohing all over them) when they are trying to express how they feel

2)  Whether someone intends to hurt you or not, doesn't necessarily evaporate or mitigate the hurt.  

3)  Always try ... whether it is to be a better listener, more empathetic person, a better you or just trying a new grilled cheese recipe ...  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Great Quotes To Live By

Happy Friday, LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

This is my 128th blog post this year, which officially makes this year - 2014 - the year of the most LilyOnTheLam blog posts.  (Suck it, 2012!  Your record is broken!)  For those of you who regularly read - thank you for your interest/support/morbid curiosity!  And click some ads while you're here, baby needs to make some money!

As Ferris Bueller says in the classic John Hughes movie, "Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."  I feel like my life is moving at 500 miles per hour and recently I have been telling myself to slow down and remember a certain moment - how it made me feel, what I liked, what I disliked ... and truly enjoy what I can when I can.  I've been trying to keep a journal (yes, on top of already writing on LilyOnTheLam - what can I say?), but I have not been making it as much of a priority as I should.

I have been having a lot of adventures and have another whirlwind month of adventures coming up.  It's exciting and hectic and sometimes scary, but it is the chaos that is my life. 

I stumbled upon a quote on Thursday that very much summarized how I feel - I had never heard it before, have no idea where it came from other than an annotation of "Pinterest" (um is that an acceptable crediting in the MLA Style Guide??)  So I have no idea who first uttered this quote, but whomever you are - it's a good one.

"If you can't stand for me, 
then don't lean on me."

Ooof!  That is sooooo good!  I consider myself loyal and emotionally generous.  Sadly I have encountered those who wouldn't stand on my behalf but yet have no issue asking me for help.  The line between emotionally generous (and generous with time, money, friendship, etc.) and doormat gets hazy!  I have to remind myself the adage "surround yourself with people who have your best interests in mind."  

I am too fickle to get a tattoo - I can't think of anything I would want on my body forever.  However, "If you can't stand for me, then don't lean on me" is something I would strongly consider if I ever did get a tattoo.  

The quote is SO TRUE!  TOO TRUE!  

So on this Friday before entering what is probably a well-deserved weekend, I hope you make yourself a top priority - and surround yourself with people who will stand for you when needed.  Life is short, follow your heart! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Excuse Me, Is That A Sandwich In Your Drink or Are You Just Happy To See Me? Hash House A Go Go, Orlando Florida

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers!

I hope this day is finding you the best and brightest that you can possibly be!

If you are a regular reader of LilyOnTheLam, you will know that I have recently spent some time in Orlando Florida with a one Mr. Cardamom Monroe, internationally renown Hello Kitty fan, looking for homes for sale.  Mr. CM is being relocated to Florida and needs surroundings suitably lush to be called "Lily East."  As I have always been good at spending other people's money, I was more than happy to accompany Mr. CM on his house hunting expedition.

Mr. CM's Realtor had told us that the Las Vegas restaurant Hash House A Go Go had opened a location in Orlando.  The restaurant bills itself as having "Twisted Farm Food."  Now if you want to fully understand who LilyOnTheLam is as a person, you need to know the following things:

1)  LilyOnTheLam likes breakfast - and all things in hash form.

2)  LilyOnTheLam likes houses.

3)  LilyOnTheLam likes anything and everything "a go go."

4)  LilyOnTheLam is pretty twisted.

So I insisted that Mr. CM take me to Hash House A Go Go for Sunday brunch.  

The food itself was scary.  I thought the Cheesecake Factory had large portions.  This place makes Cheesecake Factory look like a starvation camp diet plate.  Mr. CM and I were served these gargantuan platters of food, covered in sauces and gravies.

I had the entree best known for its appearance on the TV show "Man Vs. Food":  The Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict.

It is sage fried chicken with fresh spinach, bacon, tomato, griddled mozzarella, chipotle cream and scrambled eggs on grilled mashed potatoes - all on a fresh split biscuit.  With a gigantic steak knife (a.k.a. dagger) stuck in the middle of it.  Since I'm not currently planning on engaging in a killing spree, I was a bit amiss as to what to do with this weaponry.

The fried chicken eggs benedict might as well have been a bowl of mashed potatoes drowning in very hot chipotle cream gravy because that is all I tasted.  The spicy factor seared my tastebuds and the rest just tasted like one note incredibly fatty, heavy blandness.  

If you like massive portions of overly spiced, doughy tasting food covered in gravy, you'll love this fried chicken benedict (which is not a traditional eggs benedict whatsoever).  But I was unhappy.  I ate about 1/6th of this monstrosity and felt sick to my stomach.  (And trust me, my stomach is used to eating some heavy duty fatty foods.)

This was a "Hash House A No No."

Mr. Cardamom Monroe went with some egg thing - if I remember correctly this is the Farm Scramble.  But I could be wrong, I was too busy wishing I had ordered a waffle instead.

Mr. CM was not impressed with his meal either.  We looked sadly at the table of waffles and pancakes next to us.  WHY, WHY, WHY didn't I just order a pancake as big as my head?  I had to go "all fancy" and get the "as seen on TV" entree.  

I would definitely go back to Hash House A Go Go to try one of their monster pancakes but I will steer clear of the eggs on potatoes on biscuit dishes - no flavor!

But there is one bright spot of my brunch at Hash House A Go Go.  I wanted to start my meal with a Bloody Mary.  The server asked "a regular Bloody Mary or a BLT Bloody Mary?" What?  I was intrigued!  What is a BLT Bloody Mary?  The server said "It's like a Bloody Mary with a BLT on the side."  Mr. Cardamom Monroe and I looked at each other, still not comprehending what this cocktail was supposed to be.  But we decided in this land of twisted farm food, it's either "Go big or go home!" so I ordered the BLT Bloody Mary.

Out comes a spicy bloody mary with a large romaine leaf submerged in the drink, a piece of beefsteak tomato and a cold piece of bacon.  At the base of the drink is a square of sandwich bread-looking melba toast and a packet of mayonnaise.  An interactive cocktail!

I slathered the melba toast with mayo and then began the assembly.  I pulled out the wet piece of romaine lettuce and placed it on the mayo-ed toast, then the tomato and then the bacon.  I really liked the flavor of the lettuce since it had a generous soaking of my spicy Bloody Mary on it.  The tomato was tasty.  

The bacon however was too cold from sitting in the icy drink.  It had a heavy congealed fat taste to it.  Perhaps they could have given me a skewer and a candle so I could have warmed up the bacon table side?  The melba toast was nice but I would have preferred a slice of lightly toasted white bread as a BLT to me both has the crunch but also the softness of the bread.  Melba toast just has the crunch.

As far as restaurant gimmicks go, this was a cute one.  But probably not one I'd try often.  Because my entree was already food for 12, to have a drink with a side sandwich was just waaaaaay overboard.  I could hear my arteries hardening and my thighs expanding as our coffee cups were refilled.

I'd like to go back to Hash House A Go Go to have a pancake as big as my head.  They have them in traditional flavors (Banana, Brown Sugar, Apple Cinnamon) and non-traditional ones like Snickers, Strawberry Frosted Flake, Mango Coconut and Blackberry Granola.  They also have bacon waffles and sausage waffles.  I definitely need to go back to try a bacon waffle.  But I'll definitely pass on their non-traditional eggs Benedict platters.  I am not a fan of those! 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New Product Wednesday: Lean Cuisine Monterey Jack Jalapeño Stuffed Pretzels

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

If you've been reading my posts this past week, you'll know that I have declared an anarchist state and have been posting "New Product Wednesday" reviews (reviews of products that are new or new to me) every day OTHER THAN WEDNESDAY.  Stop the madness and get this girl a calendar!

But TODAY is WEDNESDAY - and I have decided to honor "New Product Wednesday" on a Wednesday.  After all, I can be a traditionalist too.  As part of my sad and unhealthy "Summer of Processed Food" and search for comfort food while starting a new, stressful job; my eye spotted these little bad boys in my frozen food section!  Lean Cuisine Monterey Jack Jalapeño Stuffed Pretzels.

Now first check out the writing in the purple circle.  This small box has TWO servings of the 190 calorie pretzel bites each.  You get 4-5 pretzel bites per serving.  

I love a good pretzel.  I am an obsessed fan of jalapeños.  And I have been the President of the Cheese fan club since 1823.  I thought these pretzel bites would be amazing ... 

The verdict?  They're OK.  If I were on a strict diet and having a really intense comfort food craving, these pretzel bites might get me over the hump.  But in the taste and satisfaction department, ehhhh.  The pretzel crust was somewhat pretzel like. The cheese was a little spicy but didn't really taste like cheese.  It was bland and tasted watered down.  I ate four bites - 190 calories - and felt like I hadn't eaten anything.

I think I would have been more satisfied if I went to the mall, got an Auntie Anne's pretzel (340 calories each) and ate half of it with a half ounce slice of Pepper Jack cheese.  It'd be about 30 calories more than the Lean Cuisine pretzel bites, but I think my tastebuds and my stomach would be more satisfied.

Now that being said, if it's late at night and you want some lower calorie food that feels like higher calorie junk food; having a box of these in the freezer might be your answer.  But for me, it's just not bringing it in the taste department.  I most likely would not buy these again.