Friday, January 31, 2014

AmericanWiener, Tampa

Since the daily food truck placement at work began, we have seen about a dozen regular participants with a new option here and there. Kudos to Tampa Bay Food Trucks, who coordinates all of this with USF, for starting to mix things up. This week and next, it seems that we're starting to see a 'veteran' truck paired with a new to USF option. It's smart marketing, giving us a familiar name to get us out there if the new guy's offerings aren't appealing that day.

Another thing that has changed is that the original schedule was one truck Monday through Thursday, then things got so busy that they quickly realized two would be better. The most recent modification has been to add one truck on Friday. As two of the four colleges of the medical school either offer morning classes or no classes, it makes sense to plan for less traffic. And so it was that a new contender arrived today, AmericanWiener.

They're old school, simple looking van, big graphic that reminds me of the vintage drive in concession stand commercial, and a simple menu. They take Alton Brown's rule of 'keep it simple, offer few items' and actually improve upon it. Hot dogs and fries. That's it-and a bunch of cool toppings.

Ed was kind of surprised I didn't go for the Cincy chili dog, but considering I'd just sent a friend a link to a site with crock pot recipes for vegetarians, I had pickled cabbages on the brain. The New York Dog sounded perfect. It very nearly was, ample kraut, tasty grilled onions and a good spicy brown mustard. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if the skin on the dog popped.

The fries, oh my, the fries. Something changed when I hit my 40s, in that I typically can consume less than a dozen and leave the rest untouched. However, fresh cut fries that are just the slightest bit overdone, lightly salted, and I will eat those suckers cold. Bonus for having a bottle of malt vinegar available. I ate them all. (Just as well, the coworkers I'd usually pawn off excess fries to aren't eating them nowadays!)

I did suggest another option for those fries and if they do it, it'll make me happy. Those amazing fries from Dimitri's in Daytona Beach are a must add. (Feta, garlic, parsley and olive oil. Yum)

What's cool is that I was prepared to microwave a meal because I wasn't sure what I'd find-and this ended up being really good. Sad to say, for less than I'd pay at Mel's Hot Dogs just over a mile away, I had a far superior hot dog and fries.

Americanwiener on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 30, 2014

LizzieCakes, Tampa

Today's food truck offerings were two that I hadn't tried before, Yukon Mike's Fry Bread and LizzieCakes. I wasn't sure if fry bread was going to end up being lunch (I was in the mood for veggies), but I assumed that LizzieCakes was desserts. Thankfully, I was wrong.

I wanted fresh, I wanted veggies, and they had several options that sounded good. I went for the Chicken salad croissant with a side salad. Why not, it's croissant day. I debated the Greek salad, but also had a trip to Wawa for their chicken salad hoagie on my to do list for the coming week. (Yeah, Wawa. Good sandwiches, with my current fave being the chicken salad on whole wheat, pressed with cheddar. Yum.)

The menu did have some tempting dessert offerings, but I just went for the lunch. Maybe next time I'll get one, like the coworker who got the bacon caramel brownie.

The ladies were super friendly and quick. I had my food in under three minutes, though the weather really kept the crowds down today. At least they park under a canopy when they're here, everyone gets to stay dry.

The salad was a good balance of mixed greens, cucumber, tomato chunks and and a sprinkle of shredded cheese on top. I got balsamic vinaigrette. It was a good salad, cold and crispy.

The chicken salad croissant had plenty of the salad, which was fresh shredded chicken with some sliced grapes in in and mayonnaise. No fillers or odd things, but it was short on seasoning. I actually did something I rarely do, and opened the pepper packet that came in the utensil bag they gave me. I didn't want to use the salt, but it needed a little more seasoning, maybe some onion powder or a bit of curry. Just a touch, but that's probably just me. It had great texture and my portion was all white meat. The croissant was fresh and buttery.

I'd get it again, but I think I'll have some alternative seasonings ready. One of my coworkers already has dubbed me 'Walgreens' because any time she needs something, such as bandaids, cough drops, analgesics or a utensil, I have it. Heck, the Cholula sits out on my desk. If I add some seasonings, she'll need a new name!

All in all, a respectable effort on the food, and I'll give it another try. Dessert is a definite must have for next time. Based on this meal, it won't be a drop everything and get their lunch (a la I Wanna Wok or Cajun in a Truck), but definitely one that I would choose long before resorting to a microwave meal out of the freezer!

Lizziecakes on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I crafted a blog post tonight that I will not publish. Oh, some people will get to read it and we can discuss what it means, but something I've come to learn in my years since I've returned to school is that sometimes it is far better to refrain from saying something that needs to be said because the act of composing it allowed me to find my peace with the story.

Honestly, I found my peace with it a while ago, and that was reaffirmed with my recent trip. A lot of time alone in the car is a recipe for a clot, but it gives you ample opportunities to ponder life's happenings. That trip prompted one further action on my part, a step I needed to take. Sometimes it is better to say nothing.

I'm doing a lot more of that in many areas of my life. Hitting the back button, writing, then deleting. Having something to say in real life that needs to be said, but isn't. The message may have value, but I'm learning that if the other person doesn't find the value in it, then there's no sense in sharing it.

Instead of being stifling, it's rather freeing. It is an exercise in zen, realizing that maybe the opportunity to say it will come later. Maybe it won't. There was a time when this would have really bothered me.

Now? Not so much.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Renny's Oki Doki-Tampa

Renny's Oki Doki has been to USF several times, but I either was off campus or was flat broke (thanks, cars). Today, I finally got to sample the Okinawan fusion they're known for serving.

Even before trying Renny's really fine food, I have to give them major props for something important: curb appeal. He got a Disney animator to do the graphics on the truck and I love them. Now, that shouldn't matter, as food is king. However, when you're a truck at an event with 15 others plying the trade, having a sharp looking vehicle is going to get them lining up quicker than a nondescript one.

If you're a big fan of Disney animation, you probably looked at the truck and said the guy reminded you of the characters in Lilo and Stitch. There's a good reason, Ruben animated on that film, as well as many others.

You really want to know about the food, as did I. Today's menu was chock full of plenty of appealing things. The last time they were here, I was thinking Gyoza sounded good if I'd had the money. Today, I saw that Teriyaki steak rice bowl and was set on it. Heck, they offer a lunch special for $10 that includes 2 of those gyoza and a soda, but I knew I wasn't hungry enough for that as well. Steak it was.

Two of my coworkers are doing a 30 day diet thing where it's like Paleo, but more intense. They aren't having any grains at all, no added sugars, everything needs to be unprocessed. I feel bad walking back into the office with my temptations, but today's really was the first one where both of them asked 'What IS that?' and were trying to determine if they could work around it. (They'd have to remove about half of the ingredients, so it was determined to be a waste.)

The flavor? Fantastic. The steak tasted like it had been marinated long enough to infuse the teriyaki flavor, the napa cabbage cold and crunchy, jasmine rice was not sticky at all. It is a huge portion and I finished about half of it right away, then picked at it for the next hour or so because I was determined to finish the meal. You definitely get your money's worth. Next time, those gyoza are mine...

Renny's Oki Doki on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pasta Bowl-Tampa

Another food truck not currently on Urban Spoon. We need to fix this, people need to read the reviews on these awesome eats.

Today's lunch choices at work included the really good 'Que of Just Smokin', but I hadn't tried the Pasta Bowl yet. In the interests of sharing feedback on these places, I opted for pasta today.

There was a good variety of items on the menu, split evenly between sandwiches and pasta.

Pesto was calling my name, so I went with the Pesto Pasta. It is served on rotini, with some sun dried tomatoes and an ample topping of fresh parmesan. The bread was soft on the inside, had crust with tooth and was a nice complement to the pasta.

Too much pesto is not enough in my book, so I would have loved more pesto. That said, there was some great flavor in this fresh made pesto, and ample tomatoes. I'd get it again, but I think I might try that caprese sandwich next time.

Pasta Bowl on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cajun In a Truck

It has been great having food trucks just outside my office for the past couple of months. Some of the owners have become friends on Facebook, and it has been fun to interact with the trucks that come back several times a month.

A few weeks ago, a truck showed up, but had the wrong date. They were really nice and very outgoing. I'd suggested a place they could set up shop, as they prepped some amazing-smelling cajun food. Not sure if they did, but I finally got to try some of their food the other day.

Here's the thing, it is Cajun food, and honestly, there isn't anything Cajun I won't eat. This made it difficult to narrow down my choices, but they sell a lovely lunch box for 10 bucks, and I ended up with a Shrimp PoBoy and Crawfish-Corn Bisque.

This was expertly seasoned food, fresh, and delicious. They know their cuisine, and I will definitely make an effort to visit this truck when it's here.

Cajun In a Truck on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 25, 2014

New Nail Tech

It's a first, my hands look so bad, I won't be sharing many pictures. I'm still dealing with the dry and cracked skin from the trip to NJ last week.

That said, today I met Mandi, who is working at the salon where I'd see Katie. She's starting back in the nail business after many years away, raising her children. We talked about how much nail products have changed in that time, and I'm happy for the changes. She is, too, but it means getting new products and building up her colors. In time, I think she'll have a few of my favorites.

For now, her shellac assortment is mostly pinks, but I opted for this:

There were lots of laughs. I like her. No, she's not Katie, but that's okay.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ticked One Off the ToDo List

We went for our passports today.

Our trip is in April, so when I stayed home from work because of my leg, Ed suggested going and taking care of them. Around us, the only in-person place is the local post office. The postal employee who helped us took us between other appointments, mainly because I'd called to make an appointment.

Walk-ins got turned away because the man's afternoon was booked solid, so it was a relief that we were helped in spurts between the others who had made appointments before us.

Our passports are expected to be in hand by the end of February. While we could do our trip without them and opt to bring our driver's license and birth certificates, it'll be nicer to leave those at home and have one document.

I suppose we should really look into more international travel...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Another Day, Another Doctor

Today, I met a rheumatologist. Nice guy, really liked him.

He was kind of confused why I was sent to him, but he and the med student with him did a great job with running me through a few basic tests. The upshot is that they don't think my hand issues are skeletal (which I honestly didn't think, either.) and gave a possible diagnosis-small bundle neuropathy. That's often too small to show up on a nerve conduction study, so maybe.

Alas, in an effort to make sure there isn't anything else going on, I've been referred to an orthopedist to check for an issue. Based on the one named, my Google-Fu for medical things brings up information about the named disorder that rule it out in my case. No pain, no rash, no other major symptoms. However, this is yet another 'diagnosis of exclusion' case. Yippee.

Meanwhile, I'd like to go to work in the morning, but if I had to leave in five minutes, I wouldn't even consider it. Why do I keep pushing myself?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Twenty Three Hours

In a car, driving solo.

For the average person, it's not a big deal. Heck, I had a soundtrack of Tim Minchin keeping me company for most of the first six hours, and I didn't mind at all. My traveling companions were in another car and there were plans for rotating spots. I planned to do as I had on the drive up-prop up my leg when I wasn't driving.

Well, there were problems. The alignment on my van went wonky, and a left front shimmy that could have been something as simple as a weight falling of the tire or as bad as wheel bearings failing (or worse, a CV joint or tie rod issue, but I ruled those out since my mechanic had the car last week for a tune up and look at everything.)

So, I spent about 4.5 hours driving and stressing and got way behind the other vehicle. They offered to drive back up, but that wasn't a good idea, not with a dog and a toddler. I sent them ahead.

Stress and lack of ability to prop up My Stupid Leg is the recipe for something bad.

Another clot.

This one is on the same site as the October clot, but it is much bigger. I left a voice mail for Nurse M today, but she called me at work 20 minutes after I'd left (and my cell phone was sitting on my desk at home). When you spend 10 years in the patient/practitioner relationship, you get a good rapport. For us, it means we use a lot of gallows humor, even when I have a clot, we're laughing on the phone.

The tone was serious in that message. She didn't really say much, except that she'd called work too late to reach me, but would call me again in the morning. No 'don't worry about it, just do what you usually do.'

I can read between the lines.

I think I used up my last strike.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Long Journey, Part Two

Finally home!

I left around noon yesterday, and finally got here about 9:30 tonight-way too much time in the car, and I'm feeling it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dispatches From the Road

I uploaded a post via my phone around 10pm, and it hasn't shown up. Sooooo, here's some pictures from my journey back home.

The van is giving me trouble, so I'm not even close to being home yet!

You can count some cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, I just took the picture for you to do so. :)

Didn't catch the Welcome to Delaware sign, but this sign is all I need to see to know that I'm in the First State:

Maryland sign. FYI, it seems that if you want to be the Governor of Maryland, you stand a much better chance if you've spent some time as the Mayor of Baltimore! ;)

The Susquehanna River, which leads to the Chesapeake Bay, not far from this locale.

Maryland House rest stop. Sometime in the past four years, this has had a major revamp. It provided me with yet another delicious Phillip's seafood meal.

In the DC rush hour, I snapped this picture near Fort Meade, Maryland.

The blurry Virginia sign, because like most of the other pictures, I just point the camera in the general direction and shoot while driving about a dozen times, hoping to get something decent!

Same deal for North Carolina:

And I have not exited the state yet. The left front tire either lost a weight or needs to be realigned. Yay.