Monday, November 29, 2010

Quan Ba 9

The Friday after Thanksgiving was grey, rainy and cold. Roommate Lynn and I had already planned to get pedicures, but decided to add on a trip to get Pho as well. The weather practically insisted on it for us.

Our regular nail place couldn't take us, and that solidified our plan to hit Buford Highway for Vietnamese nails and eats. It was harder then we thought to find a nail salon-every place we stopped was either closed, had no nail people or was a "spa". The kind of spa that has blacked out windows and specializes in massage.

We were lucky to find Nail and Spa, on Chamblee Tucker in the same shopping center as the Wal-Mart. Big and clean, with a wonderful staff and awesome Vietnamese/French versions of 1980s pop songs. The guy who did my toes sang along to a female, French version of "Last Christmas" and mentioned what a handsome man George Michael is. A pedicure was only $18.50 and worth every penny.

I had never been to Quan Ba 9, but Roommate Lynn had, and reported that it had the best pork noodles with egg roll that she has ever had (her favorite).

Then for Pho! We have a tradition of going for pho when it is cold and rainy. We try to rotate the spots. I am a particular fan of Pho Dai Loi. I do draw a line between pho joints and Vietnamese restaurants. For a more extensive menu, we both prefer the awesome Chateau Saigon.

I wanted to order spring rolls, but the waiter pointed out that they were wrapped in pork skin. I was all ready to jam them down the old salted pork hole, but RL (who has never eaten cracklin'!), demurred. Instead the waiter offered to make us non-shrimp summer rolls (she don't eat shrimp neither!). Next time I'll make her get her own egg rolls and I'll nosh on some Babe flesh.

But, oh, the pho! I got Pho Tom (shrimp), and RL stuck with the basic beef (round, flank). The broth was some of the best I've ever tasted! Rich and meaty, I could have eaten it with no additions. In fact, I ate half of it before adding in a little Sirancha and hoison, which I just do because I like the taste of both. The greens, sprouts, and herbs for adding were all fresh, and I was especially pleased that I got a large portion of shrimp; some places do skimp. (On shrimp. It rhymes so it's true).

When we went to Quan Ba 9, I was both getting over a cold and a little hungover from the eating and drinking of Thanksgiving Day. Their pho was exactly what the doctor ordered. It cleared my head and my nose. My only complaint was with the service. After being quite attentive at first, our waiter disappeared and never refilled my water! That's a requirement for me when it comes to spicy, delicious pho.

For a review with photos, check out Creative Loafing's.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wine, Women and Song!

Roommate Lynn and I recently returned from a vacation to California wine country. This was our first wine buying trip. We are talking seriously about doing multiple domestic trips over the next few years, then branching out internationally. First stop: South America. That way I can either drink myself to death with Malbecs and Carmeneres, or just shut the fuck up about them.

I was a terrible tourist for wine country. I barely took and photographs (the survivors did make it onto Facebook) and took no notes on the vineyards we visited. I bought three bottles of wine (to Roommate Lynn's seven), but two of them got drunk before we even left town.

I do want to make note of a few great surprises/misses.

Hotel: The Flamingo in Santa Rosa, CA. I loved the pink and turquoise, but dislike the chintzy amenities. But an excellent location for the routes we took, and located in town near a handful of good restaurants, coffee shops, a Safeway and a CVS. Clean and cheap. I wold stay there again, but would remember to bring a lot extra, including a cooler and some kind of plastic bottle, for taking wine out into the patio/pool/hot tub area.

Food on the Way: We stopped for the most glorious of all Northern California cuisines, Indian pizza. I had been introduced to Golden Gate Pizza previously, and it was enough on our way from the airport to hotel that we stopped for a Vegetarian: Special Spinach Curry Sauce, ginger, tomatoes, red onions, garlic, cauliflower and eggplant bhartha with mozzarella on a traditional pizza crust. God's own recipe.

Day 1: We decided to do Pinot Noirs and used a combination of an online PN tour and recommendations from locals. The star of that day was Hook & Ladder. Their Pinot is actually on the by the glass list at Bone's in Atlanta, so I was already prepared to love all of their wine. The basic tasting was free (awesome), and the reserve tasting was only $10. Since we bought three bottles based on the reserve tasting, we did get a little discount. The wines have an unbelievably rich taste across the board. Very reasonably priced.

After a day of rough tasting, we drove out to the ocean for a look at the Pacific, which I realized I had never seen before. We then drove back past the Applewood Inn, for my first meal in a restaurant with a Michelin star. It's a gorgeous place, and I would love to stay there one day. The food was excellent, but the service was poor. We went without a reservation, and instead of the staff telling us they did not take walk ins, they seated us and treated us like dirt. It was extremely disappointing.

Day 2: Massive hangover due to not enough sleep, not enough water, too much Pinot, and boiling alive in the world's hottest hot tub (while drinking, natch). We ate breakfast at a dim sum place in Santa Rosa, Hang Ah. God Bless those wonderful people. I threw up in the bathroom before the dim sum, from the one leftover piece of Indian pizza I insisted on eating as soon as I got up. The dim sum was excellent and is truly great hangover food.

We tried to stick to whites on Day 2, and did until my head and our stomachs went back to normal. We drove into downtown Sonoma, which is pretty lame if you aren't a serious tourist or rich. We did find one really great tasting room, the name of which I cannot remember, where they fed us homemade Cheddar and spinach ravioli. The pourer also directed us to Imagery, which was the stand out of the day. We both bought bottles there; I got a bottle of "Code Blue", which has a high percentage of blueberries, and I'm planning to drink with a lot of goat cheese. It will be the perfect pairing.

We took it easy in the afternoon, just eating goat cheese and sourdough in the hotel room, then went out for sushi in Santa Rosa. There was no way I could leave the West Coast without some fresh fish.

Day 3: I had to get Roommate Lynn to the airport fairly early for a flight back to Washington, so I ended up with a day to kill on my own in San Francisco. I went to the Zoo and the SFMOMA, just grabbing Trader Joe's for lunch, then headed across the bridge to Oakland for dinner with Berkeley archivists at Pizzaiolo, which is definitely some of the best pizza and pasta I've ever eaten. Excellent cocktails too.

The trip ended for me with a red eye back to Atlanta. For once, I slept on a plane! It was a rough trip home to a grey, rainy city, after a long weekend in 72 degree wine country sun. I ate some Ramen and slept for hours, which is the best recovery for practically anything. It was a good trip, and I learned some important lessons about hydration, regular snacks/meals, and not eating 2-day-old Indian pizza for breakfast when you are hungover.

Next trip for me: a long weekend in Chicago. It will definitely include a breakfast trip to Hot Doug's.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Amuse

 
560 Dutch Valley Road Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30324

I'm in love with Amuse! Until a voucher came across my email on My Daily Thread, I had never heard of this Midtown bistro. It fits all of my requirements for an entry into my regular restaurant rotation, save being walking distance from my house. Since I will never be able to afford to live in Midtown, I'll have to be satisfied with just driving there.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Village Pizza

186 Carroll Street
Atlanta, GA 30312

Village Pizza is near my house in Cabbagetown, and it's a part of the Diem restaurant group that includes Apres Diem, Carpe Diem and Amuse. It's our go-to place for great pizza near the house. I've never had anything there that wasn't delicious. The ingredients are always fresh and the price is absolutely right for enormous portions. Take a look at my slice of the Village Deluxe, topped with Pepperoni, Italian sausage, ground beef, ham, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, black olives, and extra cheese. For only $4.50, it's a great bargain.


The menu includes specialty pizzas, like the Deluxe, as well as build-your-own pizza, pastas and sandwiches. The salads are also a personal favorite: they are enormous and full of fresh vegetables. I give them extra points for using raw mushrooms in the house salad, as well as just a touch of shredded mozzarella. It's enough that you get a good taste, but not so much that it turns a good green salad into a fatty mess.

For right around $10, you can get a slice and a big salad. That's a deal that's hard to beat. Roommate Lynn likes to build her own slice, especially with ham and pineapple. Notice how big a half eaten slice is in relation to her hands.



Village also has a gelato counter, with 4-8 homemade flavors available in 3 sizes. We like to grab gelato to go and pretend that walking and eating balances out the sugar. My favorites are Black Cherry and Tahitian Vanilla. Delicious!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Farm Burger

410b W. Ponce de Leon
Decatur, GA 30030

I didn't think there would ever be a burger joint that wasn't for me, but I've found it in Decatur's Farm Burger. I'm a fan of 100% grass-fed, local beef, unless the taste of it is purposely masked with crap and over-cooking.

I had a Burger Banh Mi, beef with salami, pate, mayo, and the traditional banh mi pickled vegetables. Friends Traci and Russell both built their own burgers, and we shared fries and onion rings. Out of everything, only the onion rings were a stand out.

The menu is pretty cheap, and they do have beer and wine, although the selection is pretty poor. I love Miller High Life, but in a can? That's a little to self-consciously hip for me.

The space is nice, and certainly popular. Unfortunately, it was filled with the kind of Decatur crowd that I don't care for: soccer moms and hippies gone to seed.

The staff was lovely and sweet. They get my highest marks out of the experience. Overall, I give Farm Burger a bog "Whatevs". Go to the Earl instead.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

King of Pops

If you live in Atlanta and haven't heard about King of Pops yet, then get thee to the corner of North Highland and North Avenue now! The King of Pops sells homemade Popsicles out of a cart on the corner in front of the gas station and across the street from Manual's. They're a steal at $2.50 a piece, and come in gourmet flavors like Strawberry with Lavender; Honeydew; Muscadine; and Vanilla with Brownie.

King of Pops also sells his products at Irwin Street Market, Cabbagetown Market and Souper Jenny in Buckhead. Check out the website (with adorable t-shirts) and follow him on Twitter for day-to-day corner hours and flavor updates.

I went yesterday and had a Strawberry with Lavender, which was refreshing and not overly sweet. I forgot to take a photo, and should have, as the King of Pops is pretty hot. It's a nice extra for you $2.50. I lifted the photo below from the awesome Atlanta food blog The Blissful Glutton, which is super fancy and professional compared to me.


How does he keep them from melting?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Serpas True Food

659 Auburn Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30312

Serpas meets every single one of my qualifications for a great restaurant. Amazing food, creative and delicious bar menu, beautiful surroundings, reasonable prices, and, most importantly, walking distance from my house.

I read about Serpas in Atlanta Magazine's 2010 "Cheap Eats" issue. It was listed in the "Restaurant" sidebar of the burger section (as opposed to "Burger Joint"). For $14, Serpas offers an astoundingly delicious double bacon cheeseburger with a side of fries. And unlike some actual Atlanta burger joints, they cook their burgers to order (wait for that rant in my review of Farm Burger in Decatur. Those hippies can kiss my raw-meat loving ass).


Monday, May 10, 2010

Repast

Repast
620 Glen Iris Dr.
Atlanta, GA 30308

I had high hopes for Repast. It's near my house and the menu looks amazing. Plus, Roommate Lynn bought a $55 voucher off of My Daily Thread. We three roommates are always on the lookout for good food near to Cabbagetown, and Repast is within a long walk. Price is not really a restriction for us when it comes to good foods; enough restaurants these days are focused on small plates that you can eat well, share, and not spend a ton of money. I had hoped that Repast would fall into this category.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Week Three: Social and Professional Networking

Thing Six: Social Networking

Hooray for me! I'm already a member of Facebook and LinkedIn, so I'm a little ahead (of in the middle?) of this assignment. I was even a Friendster and MySpace user back in the salad days of social networking sites. And boy, did I always hate MySpace. It was an assault on the eyes, and often, the ears. That's one thing that did attract me to Facebook (and Friendster before it): clean lines and standard colors. No clicking on someone's page only to be stunned by hot pink $20 bills and Limp Bizkit. *shudder*

 I've also used Ning before, for a SAA Issues & Advocacy Roundtable project. Unfortunately, it didn't really take off. Ning is a well-designed and practical site for groups; I think it actually has more to offer than Facebook.

So I logged on to Facebook and became a fan of both RAO and SAA. I used to be a fan of SAA, but had quit it when it became obvious that it was just some weirdo pushing his own agenda in SAA's name. When did it become "official" and who is posting to it? A trustworthy source this time?

I am already an administrator for a group page, the Society of Georgia Archivists, which I encourage y'all to check out and become a fan of; we do good work down here.

I have been considering making a FB page for the collection I currently work on, the Voter Edeucation Proejct Organizational Records. We are a grant-funded project (CLIR), and one of our collaborative partners already has a FB page, Archives from Atlanta, the Cradle of the Civil Rights Movement, which I am a little jealous of. The reason I have not made a FB page for the project is that I want to be able to spend a lot of time building it, and make sure that it is appropriate for what we do. Lately, the time has been an issue.

Incidentally, the library that I work for does not have a MySpace of a Facebook page. I would recommend both, since we serve undergraduates, graduate students, and one PhD only institution.We serve four institutions with very different audiences. Oddly, we do use Meebo for reference services, and have a YouTube channel with library instructional videos, so we aren't completely out of the loop on Web 2.0.

Thing Seven: Professional and Career Networking

I like LinkedIn, and I already have lots of good connections and my profile is 100% complete. However, I have never written a recommendation for anyone, or been recommended. What is the etiquette on asking someone to write you a recommendation? I realize that LinkedIn has a default message, and that by signing up for LinkedIn, people are implicitly implying that they would be willing to do such a thing, but it still feels a bit hinky to me. But, in the spirit of this project, I will ask and give. I am going to spend some time thinking about who I will ask.

I will update as there are developments on this.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Week Two: Slideshare and Meebo

I spent some time today goofing off on Slideshare, which is exactly what it sounds like: a site for sharing, among other things, slide shows. I'm actually pretty happy about this website, because I frequently create PPT presentations, and I suffer for a lack of creativity. It's nice to have a place to go to see other people's ideas, and to steal them!

My first issue with the site was that when I created an account, it accepted my information and then sent me to a 404 page. This is really just annoying. Luckily, there "confirm your account" email had just popped up in the old inbox, so I could link back to the site that way. I was also pleased that I could link my Facebook and LinkedIn pages to my slide share account. I have a lot of friends on FB that are other archivists, and who might be interested in any presentations that I make, as well as colleagues and potential employers on LI that might be interested in my presentation talents.

I did not like that there is not an advanced search option on the front page of Slide Share. I understand the timeliness of a Google-type search box (easily recognizable and usable), but I would have liked to see an immediate link to an advanced option. Once I did get to the advanced search, I thought it was brilliant that there is a "Creative Commons" limiter for the search, which makes stealing easier and legal. Excellent!

Just a few returns down was "Using Facebook for Advocacy and Social Change", which is totally in my wheelhouse subject-wise. Unfortunately, it was not an example of making good presentation choices; the text looked atrocious and was hard to read.

I looked at a lot of the presentations on harnessing Web 2.0 for outreach and advocacy purposes, but clearly even my advanced search for "Web 2.0" was just too broad. I tried again using "Web 2.0" and "archives". With all of my filters, there were very few results. Checking the tags on the side bar of each presentation showed me how poorly I was conducting the search. One, with the interesting title "Tragedy Remembered-and Forgotten: The Politics of Memory and Technology"didn't actually have "Web 2.0" and just "archive", and had very little to do with memory in the way that archivists think about it. I tried a couple other searches and went back to the home page for the tour. All of the search tricks that I am used to (ie, "", *) were not getting me good results.

There was no search guide. When I went back to the search box and tried "Archives", I could find no search help, under the basic box or the advanced option. Boo to you, Slide Share!

I was delighted to see a result for "Archives of African American Achievement" (I work in the archives of an HBCU library, so this topic is also close to the heart), but since I needed to find a favorite Web 2.0 presentation, I saved that one for "Courtney Time" and kept searching. I got very, very confused by the search parameters, because I was clearly not searching the tags.

I gave up on the search and tried the browse, choosing "Education" as a category. I was very disappointed to learn that I could not search within the category. Again, I gave up and went to the Help/FAQs. No dice. Damn you Slide Share!

Head hanging low, I went back to the basic search box and took the advice of the site: when I started to type in "archives" it suggested "archives wiki web 2.0". Following that search, I found this delightfully funny presentation from the UK National Archives:


A few more comments: The "share" options on this site are tremendous. So many options! But what was more interesting to me was how old some of the presentations were. Several that I looked at emphasized MySpace over Facebook, and clearly had screenshots of FB several generations ago. Isn't it a current trend that MySpace is losing users to FB? Aren't they very different audiences at this point? How useful are these older presentations?

And now...Meebo!

I've used Meebo before, and will update this space once me and my 23 Things mentor arrange for a time. From experience, it's a good chat solution for folks who have a ton of different email accounts.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Week One: Blogs and RSS Feeds

As mentioned below, I've had a blog before. I also post updates for the Society of Georgia Archivists blog, so I am already pretty familiar with the software and publishing from it. I do think that Blogger (and likely others) are fairly easy to use. I also like that I can follow other blogs and add them to my Google Reader.

I've been using Google Reader for a few months now and I love, love, love it. I subscribe to a lot of blog's and other websites (mainly sports) and I really enjoy being able to see a Table of Contents style list of new posts, as well as not having to navigate to multiple web addresses to see the kind of content that I like. Most of all, I like being able to mark posts as "Keep Unread" so that I can come back to longer articles, or content that I want to revisit, later on. This is very handy at work, where I can sometimes glance around my Reader, but not spend a long time reading.

My subscriptions are pretty broad (all those listed here are SFW). I follow the sports site Deadspin, the Atlanta gossip site Straight from the A, and my friend Loc's blog, Diabetes Can Be Delicious. This is just a few, but it shows some breadth. The sports are because I love sports and need that news with a little humor; the Atlanta gossip because I live there so it is of local interest (and SFTA premieres a lot of hot R&B and Hip-Hop tracks before I see them anywhere else); and I like to keep up with Loc's efforts at controlling diabetes, as well as his to die for pictures of food.

Mmm, food. As you can tell from the blog title, it's always on my mind.

One issue that I have had with Reader is finding things. There have been several times that I have searched for columns that I know are popular, and come up empty. I've even directly copied in web addresses and still not been able to subscribe. A recent example is one of the sports columnists for the Boston Globe. Should have been easy, right?

23 Things for Archivists

I used to have a blog, but I never kept up with it. I'm starting this blog as part of a project for the Society of American Archivists Reference Access and Outreach's "23 Things for Archivists" project. I gave it a silly title, and used my real email address so that maybe I will keep up with blogging after the project is over.

Over the coming weeks, I'll be creating accounts to try out various Web 2.0 technologies that have proven useful for archivists and librarians. Visit the project's blog to learn more.