Monday, October 16, 2017

College Park MD: Pho D'Lite

We had a great lunchtime meeting with the students at Pho D'Lite. It is located across from the University of Maryland campus and does a brisk lunch business.

This is my tofu pho with chicken broth. The chicken broth was very rich and flavorful. The noodles had a great texture. The tofu was nicely cooked with a good toothy texture.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Columbia MD: Jesse Wong's Asean Bistro

Shuvra introduced me to Asean Bistro, a family favorite. The menu and d├ęcor are both pan-Asian. The overall ambiance is upscale and they offer a nice selection of wines.

I ordered the dan dan noodles, something that I really like but rarely get the chance to order. The noodles had great tooth and the sauce was very satisfying. Everyone else reported that their meals were similarly enjoyable.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Asheville NC: Little Pigs

I passed Little Pigs on an earlier trip to Asheville. That night, I was headed to one of the trendy BBQ spots, but I knew that one day I would visit these cute plastic piggies. Tonight was the night and I enjoyed a very satisfying meal. This is a very traditional Southern restaurant: order at the counter, pull up a table, wait for your platter to appear back at the counter. (Their motto is "We are as full service as you need.") The staff was very friendly and clearly proud of their food.

This is my BBQ and ribs platter. BBQ in this neck of the woods means, of course, chopped pork. My BBQ was quite good and sufficiently moist to not really need sauce. I did try both of their sauces, one brown and the other tomato/vinegar; both were good. I've never seen the ribs presented in quite this way. They were sloppy and fall apart tender. The hush puppies were excellent in both taste and texture. The cole slaw was similarly of high caliber. The beans were fine but not the highlight of the meal.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Westwood: Stan's Donuts

Stan's Donuts has been in Westwood near UCLA for 50 years. I had noticed it on earlier visits but never at a time of day conducive to donut consumption. An early morning constitutional gave me the perfect opportunity to try their wares. The shop is impressively small but that just adds to the atmosphere.

I couldn't resist an apple fritter. It was delicious, soft and about as delicate as a piece of fried dough can be. It was sweet but not overpoweringly so; I could taste the apple. The coffee was relatively mild, which I think is exactly what is called for with a donut. An assertive coffee would detract from the fried goodness. Stan's coffee helps refresh the mouth for another bite.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

UCLA: Wolfgang Puck Express

Mani mentioned that UCLA's campus has excellent food choices. After our visit to the Student Center, I have to agree. We enjoyed a very nice meal at Wolfgang Puck's. I started with these potato chips, which I really enjoyed. They were thicker than factory potato chips but still very crunchy; I enjoyed their heft.

I had never before tried Chef Puck's signature pizzas, so I ordered a margherita. I found it to be very satisfying comfort food. The sauce and the cheese were of very high quality. My only quibble is that the crust could have used just a little more chew.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Delta's Unreliable Food Service

Delta advertises wonderful food available on its flights. Unfortunately, that food isn't always available. I'm not talking about the short flights under two hours---they state they don't offer food on those flights. On several occasions, I and many other passengers have not been able to purchase food on our flight. Today, the food ran out extremely early; a flight attendant told me that they loaded very little food. On another flight, the flight attendant told me that they didn't load any food at all.

Delta doesn't tell you before you board whether food will actually be available, although they very easily could do so. My travel agency tells me that they can't figure out in advance how much food will be available on a flight. I suspect that they load food based on the weight of the air plane, making the food supply essentially a random function.

Once you are 35,000 feet in the air, it's way too late to buy some food. I recommend that when you fly Delta, you plan on bringing any food you plan to eat: either buy it at the airport or bring it with you. Not only can you not count on their advertised food service, but giving them revenue for an unreliable service only encourages more poor service. Using alternate suppliers is the good, old fashioned capitalist solution. And making something that is both tasty and travel-proof is a fun challenge for someone who likes to cook.

UCLA: Plateia Restaurant at Luskin Conference Center

I kicked off my visit to UCLA with breakfast at Plateia, the restaurant at the Luskin Conference Center. The Luskin center is pretty new and conveniently located in the center of campus. Everything about my breakfast---the veggie omelet, the potatoes, the seven-grain bread---was expertly prepared. The service was gracious and unobtrusive enough to allow us to talk. And the coffee kept coming.