Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Relatively Awesome 3-Day Weekend...

You know, I heard it's not where you're from but where you pay rent... (Then I heard it's not what you make but how much you spend...) With this in mind I couldn't resist throwing down $9.99 at the local drug store on Saturday to pick up this totally fantastic Waltham hooded sweatshirt so that I could represent. Watch City, baby! Better recognize... or something...
Thanks to a commitment to all things patriotic, this was a 3-day weekend around these parts in honor of Patriots' Day. This turned out to be a very good thing, as I'm sure I would not have achieved anything whatsoever at work on Monday after staying up past my bedtime on Sunday... but I'll hold off on that part for a minute in the interest of chronology... (and I'll go ahead and apologize now for the epic length of this post...) Saturday tends to be my Domestic Goddess day (i.e. the day I take care of the bulk of the grocery-shopping, cooking, and cleaning)... I like to get up early and head out to Russo's for my supply of groceries for the week (and for the bunnies' fresh pile of cilantro, spinach, dandelion greens, carrots, and (if they're lucky) arugula).
After groceries I usually hang out in the kitchen for a few hours doing some basic prep work while blasting music and drinking espresso. I probably spend over 30 minutes every Saturday chopping up veggies for the buns (since Pedro doesn't have front teeth with which to tear into big pieces of veggies), but my Saturday kitchen time also involves getting things marinating that need to sit overnight and doing any time-consuming prep (spice pastes, chicken stocks, etc.) of components that I'll need later so that things can go more smoothly when it comes time to cook more seriously on Sunday. This weekend that prep involved my first attempt at making my own Masssaman Curry Paste. The curries in Thailand were amazing, and they made me realize that I'm never going to have an awesome enough Massaman curry at home if I keep using store-bought curry pastes. It's actually pretty easy to throw together your own curry paste once you source the ingredients, but I'm going to have to keep playing with the mix until it's exactly what I'm craving...
Spring is mostly here, so I picked up some nice reclining patio chairs to better enjoy the warmer weather and to make it more likely that I will sit outside in the sun with a good book rather than sitting inside in the dark with a bad TV show... My friend Joe came by on Sunday to help me test the chairs, and they are quite possibly the most comfortable seats on the premises (including my living room set, which short people tend to slide off of when the coefficient of friction between their pants and the leather isn't high enough... not to mention that my couches aren't outside in the sunshine...).
We headed out to try what it supposedly the best "authentic" (which I always hope means "trashy") Mexican food in Waltham. When we first walked through the door at Taqueria el Amigo, the place seemed to have just the right amount of hole-in-the-wall "charm." Joe tried a carne asada burrito (not pictured... it looked like a burrito...) while I decided to check out the carnitas (in taco form; below, right) and the chile rellenos (below, left). The rellenos were probably a mistake (they had an odd pickled flavor to them even though they appeared to be made with fresh roasted chiles... and the rice in the "rice and beans" was just plain, un-seasoned white rice, which is pretty lame), but the carnitas were pretty tasty so I'm not going to pass my final judgment just yet... I'll have to go back (they're on my way home from Russo's) to try the tortas and a couple other taco options (while avoiding anything "complicated" like rellenos and anything involving that bland rice). The sad thing is that this quite possibly could still be the best Mexican restaurant in Waltham... Sigh. I miss Super Cucas.
After lunch and a bit more time sitting in the sun, we headed down to the BU area where we would be seeing a concert that night. After parking at the venue we went in search of pre-show refreshments. I have since learned that we could have found them just across the street if we'd turned left instead of right, but as it was we ended up a couple blocks away at a Japanese restaurant (with a "Cocktails!" sign in the window). This was a definite step up from our lunch at the Mexican place (no real stand-outs, but everything across the board was tasty), and was a nice way to pass the time while we waited for the show.
So... the concert. It shows how out of touch I am with the kids these days that, when I saw "Kings of Leon with The Walkmen" listed, I assumed The Walkmen were sub-headliners (and thus would follow a less awesome opening act) rather than being the opening act themselves. Nope. It's apparently a quirk of Boston that you can only play until a certain hour, as well, so while I read the 7:30pm time on the ticket to mean "doors at 7:30pm, music starting some time after 8pm" it actually meant "The Walkmen will start playing at 7:31pm." I felt bad for them because the place was pretty empty when they started the show. It can't feel very awesome to be playing to all those empty seats... They were absolutely fantastic, though, and I wished it was possible to scream loud enough to get an encore from the opening act. This post is already getting too long so I won't get into every detail of their awesomeness here... I'll just leave it at vague, seemingly-excessive (but totally accurate) praise of how totally and completely amazing they are...
The Kings of Leon were the headliners, and I found their set a bit underwhelming. They rocked a couple songs pretty hard, but there were a lot of little things that bugged me about their show which, taken together, made the overall experience sub-awesome. These things included:
  1. Excessive use of the jumbo-tron for random pictures and bright flashing colors.
  2. Mic levels seeming to be a little off, such that you could barely hear the vocals on the first couple songs and you could just hear a general din on some of the later songs.
  3. Excessive use of smoke machine and colored spotlights.
  4. Wearing of skinny jeans by everyone but the drummer.
  5. Playing the exact same set with the exact same encore as they had the night before (according to the strange man who was possibly a security guard who hung around us and gave us gum during the show).
  6. Making me and Joe feel like old fuddy-duddies.
  7. Failing to rock nearly as hard as The Walkmen.
Nonetheless, I was glad to have gone to the show, if only so that my love of The Walkmen could continue to grow. (If you haven't checked out their most recent album, "You & Me," I highly recommend it... even though nobody else seems to love it quite as much as I do...)
After a late (for me, anyway) Sunday night, Monday was spent lounging around, re-watching a bit of the first season of The Wire (so good to see those guys again... I'd almost forgot how very cool Omar is and how much love I have in my heart for Bodie...), and hanging out in the kitchen prepping lunches for the week (my favorite lunch being some variation of "a grilled marinated chicken breast next to a pile of some type of vegetable"):
and somehow turning these ingredients (note the little dish of homemade curry paste at the bottom left... woohoo!):
into like 12 servings (!) of Massaman Chicken Curry:
The curry was really really tasty, but it wasn't exactly how I wanted it to be... Definitely going to have to keep working on that, but I'll go ahead chalk this up as a fine start.

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