Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kabuto Field Trips

Chop sticks do not make it Japanese. 

So Ren (my daughter) went on her official Kabuto field trip. Chance (my son) did his in third grade too. I think it's a part of North Carolina core curriculum, as even ancient me, remembers field trips to the Japanese Steak House. Since Kabuto has created some asinine rule where only one parent can chaperon per child, I was left attending my medical appointment to be poked and prodded naked, while my daughter and my spouse chowed down on their delicious steak dinner. Except, another one of Kabuto's silly rules is that their "steakhouse" only offers chicken on the field trip. I accept that this could be the school making decisions and off-loading the blame on to the restaurant, but I find it completely silly that a field trip to a Japanese steakhouse doesn't have steak on the menu.

The thing is, I love Kabuto. In fact, after Chance's little field-trip a few years back, Ren felt so left out, she asked for her birthday to go to Kabuto. We gladly agreed, and enjoyed a wonderful meal. It's fun, and the food tastes great. I was expecting, that upon my arrival home from my medical nightmare of anal probing and genital manipulation, that I'd have a lovely take-home-box of sorts to  find gastronomic peace with the day. I was looking forward to my Japanese doggy bag. However, when Shannon and Ren came home they brought a tiny little box of rice. I proceeded to quiz them why their field trip bounty was lacking, because, after-all, we had planned this out. They were going to sit at the end of the table, so that they, being the last in the line of food delivery would receive any excess that happened to befall upon them. It worked last year, this year, not so much. In fact, Shannon insists there was no "soup", no vegetables, and the "performer" barely spoke. What happened?

I of course understand. In North Carolina kids are brought up on bologna and macaroni salad. Our schools attempts to enculture them results in picky, non-eating whiners who likely would normally waste the meal. Apparently this new menu attempts to make the food more acceptable to annoying children and their accommodating parents  who shovel and grunt with their forks, and who refuse to encourage a broader palette in themselves and their children.  What you end up with is a so-called "Japanese" meal that is nothing more than chicken and rice, and parents who complain chop-sticks take to long to consume their feed.


This is not culture, especially if you're not trying anything new. It's a waste of gas, and money. You'd be better off taking them to McDonald's and calling it Scottish food than to pretend like this is actually culture. Get real. I'd like to see these kids eat shell-fish, kashuri, chocolate covered cock-roaches. Hell I'd settle for a baguette and Gruyere cheese. The Kabuto field trip is only valid for educational purposes if they're actually eating something Japanese. Otherwise you're just playing pretend, and this isn't Kindergarten anymore.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Loaf Bakery | "Eating Bread & Honey"

There is a bit of toilet humor here, but I will keep it to myself.

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.

Rewind about twelve months ago and I had just written my second review of Simple Kneads Bakery in Greensboro. It was stark. I very rarely do second reviews, but my original which criticized the little back-alley bakery for its lack of service, and more importantly horrific baguettes (among other baked goods) created a firestorm of comments from tree-hugging, woodchucks who adored their bark laden breads. I jest but I think the primary problem was their bread was for a niche group of individuals who embraced conspiracy theories of bread allergies and who have a general phobia of yeast. (Really, I have no idea what puts me in these moods?)  So I went back, gave Simple Kneads a second go, and was forced into dental surgery after eating their baguette. That night, I wrote a review along the lines of "I tried, and I almost died", but the next day they went out of business and out of respect for the fan-base, never published the final review. Despite the protests from the pasty white zombie organic loving fans of this abomination of bread, Simple Kneads went bankrupt and was evicted. I felt horrible. It of course didn't help, that most of you blamed me for single-handedly putting them out of business. (I doubt I have that much of an effect.) Despite the fact that there was real people, and real jobs behind this fiasco, I kept repeating to everyone that this is a good thing. Bad things go away leaving a place for better things to happen, and they did.
Downside? No blueberry

Yesterday, we dropped by Loaf Bakery. Same great location, much better bread. No seriously. Even though it looks exactly the same when you walk in, the staff is friendly (rather than looking stoned), and they actually knew the difference between a rustic and a traditional baguette. We ordered three things: a baguette, a walnut-currant-Gruyere loaf (amazing), and a blondie (ooh la la). I can honestly say, Greensboro has finally arrived in bread. (That's right.) Let me be clear here. This isn't the best bakery I've ever been to, but it's pretty darn good. For Greensboro, it's amazing, and considering its evolutionary history, this place is likely- only to get better.

Alleyways are cool. They're even
better with French music. Hint.
Don't confuse my criticism for any reason not to go. The breads are really, really good. Far better than anything you'll find at even the higher-end grocers. The baguette crunched and was soft in the middle, just like it should. The Gruyere bread impressed me, because they actually use a real French cheese,  and the blondie was superb with its dark chocolate overtones. While there are some techniques which I use, which might produce a slightly better baguette, (I'm a baguette Nazi, forgive me.) it's probably one of the best commercially available baguettes I've seen, and that's a compliment coming from me.

...and this is the result. One Loaf Bakery baguette covered in butter, sausage, mozzarella
cheese, grilled onions and marinara. It was fantastic!

Loaf Bakery met, and exceeded all my expectations. It's finally nice to have a real bakery in Greensboro. Now if we can convince them to start offering croque madams in that alley-way, I won't have to drive to Raleigh anymore.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Greensboro Pollen Problems? Make your own Hepa filter system for $30

So I'm sick of the cats. The allergens are horrible, and lately I thought I was going to die from sneezing, watery eyes, and runny nose. I had enough. Interestingly, I came up with a plan. A single HEPA air-filter, duct-taped to a cheap $17 fan from Wal-Mart. The results are better than I could have ever imagined. Almost instantly I stopped having problems. I took it in our room last night and slept solid for 9.5 hours straight. I was a bit worried it was placebo, so I shut it off, and within a few hours, my symptoms came back. With the two cats and a dog, I just think our HVAC system is incapable of filtering out the fine particulates, even with a HEPA filter installed in it. This is home-made HEPA filtration system will filter out 95% of the bad stuff from the air. (According to a youtube video with some academic who did the test.) It does a similar job to these $800 dollar air filter systems, except it costs only $30, and you can buy it all at Wal-Mart. Even if you don't have allergies, but want awesome air... this seems like a no-brainer.It's real simple:

1 $17 20" box fan
1 HEPA filter (note there are different grades, get the one that filters SMOG) $10

1 roll of colored duct-tape. (teal goes well with anything) $3

1) Tape filter in the proper direction (arrows on filter show direction) to the back (intake) side of fan. Seal all the edges.
2) Turn on low, and enjoy the fresh clean air.

3) Wonder how the heck it filters smog.

4) I wonder if it really does filter smog then why don't they have a million of these in L.A.

Seriously this is like the best freaking thing ever if you have allergies. Almost instantaneous results, and now I can scrap my plans to "accidentally" leave the cats at some random off-ramp when Shan isn't home.