Archive for November 2016
Posted on November 30, 2016 by Ching under Things to Do, Travel.
Here are some pictures from our Boulevard Brewery tour last week.
The gift shop.
Beers available for purchase at the gift shop.
Brian’s favorite Boulevard beer.
The Smokestack Room.
My handsome husband.
The Beer Hall.
Beer Hall selfie.
Beer Hall menu.
Here’s what the pretzel dogs looked like.
Cute little photo both trailer at the Beer Hall.
Our awesome tour guide.
The original brewhouse.
The stuff that beer is made of.
Not much going on. They shut down production early for the holidays.
The iconic Boulevard smokestack.
The have a pretty great outdoor terrace.
Our final stop.
Cheers for free beer.
Tank 7 induced beer happiness.
This pretty much sums it up.
Posted on November 26, 2016 by Ching under Things to Do, Travel.
Since Brian loves coffee, I went ahead and scheduled a tour of the Roasterie factory in Kansas City. A tour of Boulevard was already on the agenda and the Roasterie is conveniently located just down the street from the brewery.
If you’ve never had coffee from the Roasterie, you’re totally missing out. Brian tried it for the first time and he’s convinced that it’s the best coffee ever. I’m not a coffee connoisseur so I honestly can’t tell you the difference. However, I do know that I don’t like drinking coffee (unless it’s like a super sweet latte or mocha or cappuccino of some sort) and I don’t mind drinking Roasterie coffee without any sweetener, creamer or other additives.
The tour went off to a bit of a rocky start. Unlike the brewery tour where you just show up, the Roasterie requires you to reserve your spot for the tour on their web site. I checked the schedule and everything and we made reservations for the 12:30 PM tour. I got an email reminder and everything.
Being the punctual people that we are, Brian and I hit the road early so we could arrive in plenty of time for the tour. We arrived at the factory around noon and we saw that the prior tour was still finishing up. We milled around for a bit, checked out the goodies, and took some selfies and such.
At the end of the other tour, we approached the girl who was doing the coffee brewing demo and asked her where we needed to be for the 12:30 PM tour.
She was like, “There isn’t a 12:30 PM tour. We switched to our holiday hours so the next one is at 1:00 PM.”
This obviously made me more than a little cranky because I received an email that clearly said 12:30 PM. She offered to get the manager but I was like “Don’t bother.” I’m just going to tweet you jerks and blog about your ineptitude. I’m kind of passive-aggressive like that. LOL.
Kidding aside, it’s a free factory tour. So we thought we could do this first and eat lunch after. It’s not their fault that we were getting “hangry” and so I was like, whatever. I asked Brian if he was all right waiting a little bit longer and he was fine so we continued to mill about the store.
Anyway, a few other people showed up after us and I think they received the same wrong information that I received. I thinking that the tour people probably realized that something was amiss because we ended up starting our tour around 12:45 PM instead of 1:00 PM as the girl had previously stated. I’m not sure what happened but I was glad they came to their senses and our wait was cut short by 15 minutes.
The tour starts with a short video (less than ten minutes) about the company’s origins and operation. I couldn’t find the whole video on YouTube but I did find bits and pieces of it. Here’s the bit about how it all began:
Here’s the bit that talks about coffee:
Here’s the bit about air-roasting:
Now for some pictures…
This is a picture of the cafe at the factory. The most important thing to remember is to wait until after the tour to go to the cafe because if you mention that you took the tour then you get a discount on your purchase.
They have this little alcove with a neat backdrop and so naturally we took a selfie.
This is a picture of the previous tour that was finishing up when we got there.
They have this whole airplane theme because of “air-roasting” and so in the retail store, they have an area with an airplane chair and wood backdrop. They also have different hats and props but Brian has this thing about putting hats that other people have worn on his head (he thinks it will give him lice or something) so you don’t really get the full effect here.
The idea is you put on a pilot’s hat or use some other prop (there’s a coat tree with various objects you can use) to make your photo more interesting. Alas, this is Brian we’re talking about so the above photo is all I got.
This is us trying to entertain ourselves while we wait for our tour to commence. You can see the coat tree behind us with the various hats and props to play with for the special photo station. At least that’s what I concluded they are for; there weren’t exactly any instructions.
All of the people from the previous tour are gone now. Brian and I are just milling about while waiting for the 12:30/1:00 tour to begin. I’m taking pictures because that’s what I do to pass the time.
Here’s a view of the factory from the retail store.
If you don’t have time for the whole tour, you can always observe the operation from the retail store area.
I took photos of the various artifacts they had on display.
Can you tell I was bored? LOL. That’s what happens when you arrive for your 12:30 tour and you’re told there isn’t one until 1:00 PM.
We managed to occupy ourselves, though. There were plenty of interesting things to see like old coffee-related items in the cupboard.
And just various objects on display around the open space next to the store.
Finally, it was time to tour. They gave each of us hairnets. They also had beard nets for the bearded fellas.
This was one of our tour guides.
He was wearing an interesting outfit, which led me to the conclusion that being a hipster was one of the qualifications for being a Roasterie tour guide.
I wish I had a more to say about these photos but I really wasn’t paying that much attention to what he was saying.
I was too distracted by his outfit. Just kidding!
It’s actually really noisy in there so it’s hard to have conversations or hear anything.
I do know that the hole in the coffee bag is not actually a hole. It’s a one-way valve that allows carbon dioxide to escape the bag because freshly roasted coffee needs to de-gas. It’s so the coffee bag doesn’t explode.
Here’s some helpful information for brewing the perfect cup of coffee at home.
At the conclusion of the tour, we got to watch (and also taste) the same coffee, Ethiopian Natural (pictured above), brewed using two different brewing methods: French press and pour over.
It was all very interesting and we learned a lot. One of my key takeaways is that I actually don’t mind drinking coffee as long as it’s good coffee. LOL.
Also, Brian likes the pour over method for this coffee blend. The thing to remember is different methods lend themselves well to different blends you’re probably going to prefer different methods for the each.
Once you’ve found the blend of coffee you like, from whichever region, then you’ll want to brew it using different methods to see which method you like best. We tried the same coffee and it really did taste different.
Just between us, both methods seemed like a lot of work to me for a single cup of coffee. She said that after doing it a few times, you actually get used it. It becomes so easy you can even do it half asleep; which is good because if you’re like Brian then you’re not really fully awake until after you drink your first cup.
Anyway, here are pictures of some of the goodies and gift sets available at the store.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to drive to the Kansas City factory store to purchase these gifts. Many of them available on their web site. Although, visiting the factory store does have the added perk of a free factory tour.
And, for those who have everything, they also offer “coffee experiences,” which can be arranged for a fee by calling the office.
Before I go, I’m going to leave you with this short film about the Roasterie that I found on YouTube. I think this might have been the old video they used to show before they switched to the new version. Anyway, it’s super informative. Enjoy!
Posted on November 25, 2016 by Ching under Things to Do, Travel.
Brian finally got to experience riding the Kansas City Streetcar this week. The streetcar runs up and down River Market and Union Station seven days a week.
I’d been using it to load up on Pokemon balls and to hunt for Pokemon after work some nights. It’s cool because you can hit several stops as the streetcar moves along, sort of like when we hired that party bus specifically for Pokemon hunting.
I’d ridden the streetcar several times before and the operator never says anything. You don’t even realize they’re there. Except for Brian’s first ride. The operator was like, “How’s everyone doing?” And she goaded us all to cheer. She was like a tour bus driver, all enthusiastic and stuff. It was quite unusual.
“They’re not all like that,” I told Brian.
When we got to Union Station, where the ride ends and you have to wait a few minutes for the streetcar to change direction, the operator emerged from the booth to move to the other end of the streetcar. That’s when we realized we met “Streetcar Sandy,” the jolliest streetcar operator of them all.
I had to get a selfie with her because she’s a bit of a celebrity. She was featured in an article about the KC Streetcar in the Kansas City Star back in May. Feel free to click on the link to read the article.
There’s also this short informational video:
I really love the KC Streetcar. It doesn’t go a long distance right now. It only spans about two miles. But I’m excited for when the streetcar actually gets extended all the way to Country Club Plaza and UMKC. That will be awesome.
Posted on November 25, 2016 by Ching under Events, Food and Drink.
Brian and I took the week off (well, most of the week – Brian actually has to work today) for Thanksgiving and so we started our celebration on Friday evening. We wanted to celebrate the fact that we wouldn’t have to go back to work for a week. And we decided to take our celebration Carrabba’s.
Neither of us had been to Carrabba’s in years. Brian and I figured it’s because we no longer live on that side of town. Besides that though, the restaurant is on a really busy street and we, like most people, like to stick within a few miles of our comfort zone. Whatever the reason, Carrabba’s ended up not making the restaurant rotation. But that changed last Friday.
When we ran into Joe at Brew Ha-Ha a few weeks ago, he talked up their new apple cider sangria. And you know me. Sangria is synonymous with celebration so I talked Brian into going their for our first meal of officially being on vacation.
It doesn’t look like much but this is the most delicious sangria I’ve had in a really long time. You all know how much I love the blackberry sangria at Carrabba’s. I drink pitchers of it at a time. This recipe is even better than that. You all will have to try it. You won’t be disappointed. I promise.
Another thing I like about Carrabba’s is their fresh bread and flavorful dipping oil. I had to get a picture of our bread basket and the oil and herbs.
Then we started with a couple of small plates. Joe really talked up their small plates too, so we had to try some of them. Naturally.
This is the arancini. They’re crispy risotto balls. Brian loved these so much that he wanted to order a few more and make a meal out of them.
We also ordered the meatballs and ricotta. Now this, I could have made a meal out of! The meatballs were so good and I love who the ricotta and romano cheese worked with the pomodoro sauce. Incidentally, the pomodoro sauce is my favorite type of sauce at Carrabba’s. I always get it on my pasta.
Anyway, this is the small plate that keeps on giving. Even after you finish eating the two meatballs, you can still enjoy the sauce by dipping your bread in it.
One of the servers tried to take it away and we told him no. I wanted to enjoy every last drop. Our server confessed that the sauce is her favorite part as well and she makes a meal out of this on some days.
Brian and I agreed that on our next visit, we’re just going to get several small plates and dessert. And maybe a pitcher of that apple cider sangria for me. LOL.
For our meal we decided to go back to our old standby, the Chicken Bryan. We like not not because it shares Brian’s name but we really do like the flavors. You can’t beat wood-grilled chicken and goat cheese.
I always ask for capellini pomodoro (angel hair pasta in their pomodoro sauce) because the pomodoro sauce is my favorite. And then Brian and I usually just split that. We also split a Caesar salad before the entree so between that and the appetizers we are usually too stuffed to each get our own meal. Doing it this way ensures we don’t have to take home any leftovers. It works perfect.
We finished our celebratory meal with the sogno di cioccolata (chocolate dream). It’s my favorite dessert there. I liked the dessert Rosa also, which was a light, fruity cake but I think they quit making it years ago.
Anyway, Brian was like, “This is amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever had this before.”
I was like, “Yes, you have! You’ve had it several times and you like it so much that we ordered an entire pan of it for my birthday one year.”
It was my 35th birthday and we bought dessert for everyone. Thus, we ordered the entire pan. Anyway, I searched and searched my Flickr albums for a picture of that pan of the dessert but the next set of pictures were all I could find.
It was 2011 and I had just started losing weight so I guess I was more concerned with getting pictures of myself than pictures of food in those days. LOL.
Speaking of birthday celebrations, we’re coming back to present day now.
We went to Margarita’s (another place we haven’t been in a long time) to celebrate Andrea’s 30th birthday on Saturday night. Margarita’s is a popular place for celebrations. I think there must have been a dozen different birthday celebrations going on there that evening.
Here are a few more pictures from that evening.
Missy took her shoes off to get down on the dance floor. Naturally, I took a picture with it. They were some cute boots.
Here’s Missy and Charis together.
This photobomb by the guy at the next table (found out his name is Corbin) was by far the funniest. I think everyone at their table tried to be part of our picture. LOL.
And then Brian and I didn’t make the group photo because we had already left by then. We are old and, after dancing a few times, were pretty much done.
We gave Andrea her birthday present and card, and had a wonderful dinner with friends, and we danced a few times, and then we were pooped. I guess that’s what happens when you get old.
Oh, to be young and 30 again! I miss those days.
That’s pretty much how our vacation started. Come back soon for more of our time off adventures. I have lots to share!
Posted on November 24, 2016 by Ching under Confessions, Life.
So I got some boxes from work to help with grandma’s move to the new place. Brian got some boxes from the basement. OUR basement.
This is filed under #confessions because yes, we buy wine by the case (at least once, sometimes twice a month). That’s not even the saddest part. The saddest part is that our alcohol budget sometimes surpasses our food budget.
But hey, it works great when someone has to move. We have boxes!