Friday, May 20, 2016


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Don't try to find this in a local grocery store.  You can search high and low in Greensboro, Reidsville, Eden, and Danville.  It probably won't help.  I'm guessing it can't be found anywhere.  You will have to persuade a wizard to wave a wand or something to get a jar.  This is Tomato Spice Medley.  Good luck in your quest.

In this 8-oz. elixir is dried tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt, vinegar, onion, and 11 secret herbs and spices.  It sounds simple, but mix all the ingredients together and you get MAGIC.

The MAGIC makes a great pasta sauce all by itself or when mixed with fresh store bought tomatoes. Add it to your cheese and crackers for a fabulous treat.

Or try this...

Slice up some French or Italian bread.

Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on the slices.

Add a dollop or two of the Magic Concoction to each slice.

Put some goat cheese on top of the Magic Concoction.

Put the slices into you oven for just a couple of minutes to warm up the bread.  Careful...don't overcook it.  The Magic Concoction burns easily and so will your bread.

When the bread is warmed, enjoy the Magic Concoction with a glass of wine and a towel on you shoulder.  Magnifique!

Assuming your quest for a jar will be futile and you are unable to conjure up a wizard, there is one other option...order a case of the MAGIC from the manufacturer in Santa Rosa, CA.  Be prepared to pay more than $7 per jar.  The shipping cost is horrible.  MAGIC does not land on your French bread cheaply.  If you find a jar (or a wizard), let me know.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016


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Yes, we know P.F. Chang's is a big chain restaurant with more 200 locations in the United States and more than 50 internationally.  Yes, we know P.F. Chang's is so pervasive that you can buy its products in Reidsville grocery stores. And, yes, we know its not on the list of 15 best places to eat in Greensboro.  But, I love Chinese food (even the Americanized version) and I had a gift certificate to P.F. Chang's leftover from Christmas.  All that adds up to let's go to P.F. Chang's for dinner.

P.F. Chang's is located in Greensboro's Friendly Shopping Center.  Click here to see its location.  Don't leave a comment asking "Where is this place?"  Just click the damned link and it will show you and give you the phone number if you'd like to make reservations.

We had a 5:00 PM Sunday reservation.  We could have walked right in and gotten a seat at that hour.  The restaurant was only about half full, but guests were beginning to stream in by the time we left.  By 7:00 PM the place would have been cookin'.  So, reservations is probably a good idea if you decide you want Chinese for dinner and you don't expect an early bird special.

Spokemodel Debbie looks over P.F. Chang's wine and beer list.  

When I went to the restroom, I noticed a bar area on the left side of the restaurant as you enter.  There were some people at a few tables and plenty of empty bar stools.  I never did see a bartender, but I admit I didn't spend much time looking.  I was in a bit of a hurry.  

I'm thinking it might have been a transgender bathroom, but there was a sign clearly labeled "Men" on the exterior wall.  I noticed two feet facing out of the stall beside me.  Clearly someone was sitting on a toilet in a men's room.  That's not a good sign.  It was probably one of those LGBTQ weirdos that our Governor is supposedly protecting us from.

Spokesmodel Debbie selected an Alexander Valley Gewurztraminer (pictured on the left) for herself.  She ordered a glass and a half, which means it was an actual glass of wine.  I think the extra half glass cost about $3.00 more.  Gewurztraminer is an excellent wine for Chinese food, especially if the food is a bit spicy.

Oddly, I ordered a Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier (in the center with the bottle).  The beer is German and the wine is American, but with German grape origins.  I was congratulated by the waitress for pronouncing the beer name correctly.  Actually I botched the pronunciation, but I was close enough that she bought it or at least she pretended that I said the name correctly

If you are observant, you noticed my beer glass is full, but the beer bottle is unopened.  How is this, you might ask?  The waitress got extra points for bringing out an unopened bottle to pose for the photo.  She would later lose some points, but then earn some back.  I'll explain later at the end of this review.

Here is what I ordered.  Actually it's two main entrees. On the left and right is Kung Pao Shrimp.  Kung Pao is chili sauce tossed with celery, scallions, peanuts, red chili peppers, and shrimp.  I know it sounds really spicy, but it wasn't.  I was hoping for "really" spicy, but I had to settle for mildly spicy.

The dish was loaded with red chili peppers and peanuts.  And, the shrimp were medium sized and very plentiful.  It was quite tasty.  It went well with the Hefeweissbier.

I think the plate on the left contains some of Spokesmodel Debbie's dish in the front center.  It's located just to the left of the little red ball, which was a tomato.

The second entree is at the top of the photo.  It is Garlic Noodles.  These are egg noodles with garlic and chili pepper flakes.  There were thin slices of cucumber and cilantro with the noodles.

It's a good thing that I ordered a second entree because the noodles went really well with the Kung Pao Shrimp and Spokemodel Debbie's dish.  This will be made perfectly clear near the end of the review.

Be sure to check out an enlarged view of these two dishes by clicking the image.  The Kung Pao Shrimp looks really wicked hot.  Sadly, it wasn't as wicked as it looked.

Here's Spokemodel Debbie's dish.  It's Chengdu Spiced Lamb with cumin, mint, onions and little tomatoes.  That's it at the top of the front plate.  The lamb was unexpectedly good.  I thought lamb was not the right dish to order in a Chinese restaurant, but I was wrong.  Garlic Noodles are at the front of the plate.  They also paired well with the lamb.

Spokemodel Debbie's prepares to receive a mouthful of Garlic Noodles.  On the upper left side of her plate is some green stuff.  There is more of it on the smaller plate at the top.  This is Seared Spinach with Garlic.  I had thought about ordering it.  I'm glad I didn't.  It didn't have much flavor.  Spokemodel Debbie said it needed salt.  I tried it with and without Soy Sauce.  It still didn't have much flavor.  I guess searing robs the spinach flavor.

There were no salt and pepper shakers to be seen anywhere in the entire restaurant.  If salt and pepper shakers or spinach with flavor are your thing, stay away from P.F. Chang's.  Soy Sauce they got, but no salt or pepper or spinach with flavor.

The couple seated near us ordered a fried green bean appetizer.  They did not finish it.  I don't know why, but maybe a third of the appetizer was left untouched.

Note at no time did we ask for chopsticks nor did we see anyone using them.  I can't say whether P.F. Chang's offers the chopstick option.  You'll have to ask if you're into the chopsticks thing.

This is plain white, steamed rice.  There was a matching bowl of plain brown, steamed rice.  These two rices were supposed to be part of the Kung Pao Shrimp and Chengdu Lamb dishes.  Unfortunately, they came to our table more than 20 minutes after we were served out Shrimp and Lamb.  In fact, we were nearly done eating when the rices arrived.  We had to ask our waitress where were our rices.  Oh, gosh, I forgot!  Smacks her head and disappears into the kitchen and then returns to serve us bowls of plain, steamed rice...for dessert...I guess.  It's a good thing I ordered the Garlic Noodles.

We did taste a spoonful of the rices.  They tasted much like the spinach - no flavor.

This is our waitress.  I'm sorry I don't remember her name.

The "deer caught in the headlights" look is not because she had to be reminded to bring us our rice.  It's because I asked about the weird pricing on P.F. Chang's dessert menu.  They do have a dessert menu and it contains more than plain white and brown rice.  Like many other restaurants, P,F. Chang's has decided to possibly save ink by not printing ending zeroes on a price.  If a cup of tea costs $3.50, it's printed as "3.5".  You sorta have to wonder what "3.5" means.  Is it the alcohol content?  What the hell is "3.5"?  Who is the marketing genius that thought of "3.5"?  Does it just sound cool?  Is it supposed to trick the customer into thinking the price is lower because there is no zero at the end?  A can of dog food doesn't cost "3.5".  It costs $3.50.  So, why does a cup of tea cost "3.5"?

I had to know the answer, so I decided to break the ice and ask.  Our waitress didn't know and said she had wondered the same thing when she took the P.F. Chang's job.  She previously worked at Cracker Barrel where they can apparently afford the extraneous zero at the end of a price.

She went and asked her manager.  Guess what?  The manager didn't know either.  Our waitress said she would have to ask the General Manager when he comes in the next day.

If you decide to try P.F. Chang's, be sure to ask about the "3.5".  Maybe you'll get lucky and find somebody who knows the answer.

Anyway, the waitress got her points back for admitting she had wondered about the strange prices and for posing for this photo of her.

It is now been more than four hours since we ate and I'm still stuffed.  The old adage about Chinese food has been proven untrue.  You eat enough of it then you don't feel hungry.

The meal was about $75 for two people (who ordered three dishes) with the tip. The price indicated does not include the credit for my gift certificate.

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