Atlantic City Getaway Recap! Part 1

WARNING: Long winded and picture filled post ahead!  Settle down and get comfy…its gonna be a long read!

This might be a new record of the time between getting the pictures up from when they were taken!
Here goes our little vacation recap!

I had it all planned out.  Neatly mapped on an excel sheet like I always do for our trips – activities, meals, plans and alternate ideas all plotted and color coded (its the PMP in me I can’t help it!).  Only this time I had a slight hunch that things just MIGHT be different…

Our original plan was to leave early on Saturday morning and get to the condo around noon to drop our luggage off and then get right back on the road to head down to Cape May for lunch, sightseeing and dinner…That plan quickly went into the crapper.  :(  The day we left the region got a record snowfall for the month of October!   That made driving down to Jersey quite a trip.  At some points it was blizzard like conditions with little visibility.  By the time we were half way there most of the snow was just rain.  But we decided that even if it was just raining, continuing onto Cape May would be a waste since a lot of the things I wanted to see/do were outdoors.  Our plan was to reschedule that for another day during the week.   It ended up being a good decision since we were able to take our time unpacking our luggage and organizing the place to our liking for the week.  I also like to wash all of the sheets and towels on the first day since the apartment only gets used a few times a year…I think the last time my aunt was there was Easter!

We settled in and cooked dinner.  Since the weather was crappy, some comfort food was in order. String beans with ground pork, steamed spare ribs and melon/pork bone soup.


Since the boy had the nerve to complain that whenever I cook, I always make the same thing…so I thought up some new dishes to make this time around.  There were some definite hits and misses. Recipes to follow!

I must say that I am most proud of my soup!  Its my first pot of ‘Chinese soup’ that I’ve ever made!  *pats self on back!*  Although its a pretty simple one, I still think its delish!  I remember my grams always making this with her bounty of melon from the garden in the summer.    And it couldn’t be simpler…bring some pork bones, a few slices of ginger, and a few slices of Chinese salted turnip to a boil.  Let it boil for about 15-20 minutes and reduce to a low simmer for 2-2.5 hours.  During the last 30 minutes throw in some dried shrimp and your melon.  Let the melon cook until tender and add salt to taste.  TA DA!  :)  I actually didn’t need to add much salt because of the turnips!

After dinner the boy helped me clean up and we settled down and watched Cars 2…a nice eding to a long day.

The agenda for our second day was to go running on the boardwalk and then hit up  Hooters for lunch since the boy had to watch the Giants game.  Running was important for us because we didn’t want to be complete sloths all week.  :)  The morning runs were gorgeous!  We headed out about 10am each day.  Its so peaceful and scenic on the boardwalk in the off season!

picture of the beach snapped from my phone before our run

Lunch was pretty uneventful…Hooters wings were good as usual.  Hooters has the DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket package so they play every game every Sunday.  It was pretty crowded in there and plenty of people were in their jerseys cheering on their teams.   The waitress we had was slightly over attentive and would ask us every 15 minutes if we needed anything so we decided to pack it up and leave.  The boy ended up watching the end of the game on the 2nd floor of the condo where they have a big tv in the common area.

Also on the plan today was to check out Steel Pier.  I haven’t been there in years and during the off season they are open on the weekends.  Instead of driving we decided to walk (I just mapped it out and its 1.5 miles each way!) that way we could snap some nice pictures on the way.  They had a giant Monopoly board in front of Caesars so of course we had to stop and horse around a bit!  Did you know that the board game was based on places in or around Atlantic City?  :)

As we got closer to the pier the boy and I noticed that it didn’t look open…no flashing lights…no rides were on…we got to the gate and there was a sign kindly notifying us that it was closed for a private party!  BOO!!!

Since we walked all the way down to the end of the boardwalk we went into Trump Taj Mahal for a bathroom break and to wander around a little bit.  After a little froyo stop we were pleasantly surprised to see a  White House Sub Shop had opened there!  It worked out nicely since we had planned on going there once during our visit anyway!  The boy had the bright idea of getting enough for two meals – he wanted to try the hot sandwiches as well as the original.  These babies are enormous!  We got 2 halves of the hot variety and one whole of the original.  This probably would have lasted me a week but the boy can eat like a linebacker so it was a good amount for two meals for us.

On our way back we passed by an arcade that had the boy’s absolute favorite…CRANE GAMES!  A row of at least 15 games lined both sides of the place.  It wasn’t a question.  We WERE going in!  They had everything from domos to smurfs to care bears…to our favorite – angry birds!   He ended up winning two – the yellow one and the black one.

Camera and sandwiches in tow, back to the boardwalk for the 1.5 mile trek back to the condo!

When we got back we parked our asses in front of the TV and spent the next few hours watching Fringe as we munched on our sandwiches. :)

We thought that it would be a good idea to avoid the outlets on the weekends so we saved it for Monday!  Leftover sandwiches for lunch and then off to The Walk we went!  We got some pretty good deals…but the best of the day was by the boy – he got a pair of cashmere lined gloves from Coach for $48!  I was able to pick up some air freshener refills from Bath and Body Works and some sweaters from Banana Republic.  Overall we got what we needed and not too much impulse buying!  :)

Since we did a lot of walking I decided that I wasn’t in the mood to cook dinner so we decided to take the car out and drive to Harrah’s to hit up the Waterfront Buffet.  So far this is my favorite one that I’ve been to.  They have a huge variety of food and more importantly its CLEAN!

Fast forward to Tuesday…we woke up for another morning run.  The agenda for the day was to check out the AC light house, aquarium and The Pier Shops at Caesars.  After our run the lazy bug bit us.  Hard.  We decided to skip the light house and aquarium.  I cooked a quickie lunch of instant noodles and wontons and then we parked ourselves on the couch for another few hours of Fringe!

 Before we knew it, the sun had set and our tummies were rumbling again!  I had mapped out 4 Viet restaurants near the condo that we could try.  The first one we walked to was closed for renovations!  So off to our second choice.  Our hopes weren’t that high since our favorite Viet restaurant in Brooklyn still hasn’t been matched!

The boy got the equivalent of what would be a #1 at most restaurants.  He said that there was a little more tendon in there than he would like and he also found some meatballs in there which we’ve never seen in a #1!  I tried the broth and it tasted very herbal as opposed to the usual mix of spices in pho broth.

I wanted something on the lighter side so I ordered the ban xeo which was actually much better than the one I get from our fav spot at home!

The springrolls were a fail.  They used regular egg roll wrappers instead of the rice paper wrappers that is normally used.  The insides were a bit flavorless and they were pretty greasy.

The summer rolls on the other hand were yummy!  Freshly made (wrappers were still slightly warm!) and the ingredients inside were at their prime!

After dinner we walked back to the boardwalk and back to the condo to watch more…you guessed it Fringe!

Wednesday marked the half way point of our vacation….we went for another morning run and then stopped into Starbucks so I could FINALLY get my first red cup drink of the season!  I made another quickie lunch of snow cabbage, pork and bamboo shoot soup noodles (I’m getting good at this!) and we watched a few more episodes of Fringe before heading out to The Pier Shops.  No picture of lunch because as delicious as it is…this dish was horrifically un-photogenic!

I’m a bit of a MAC junkie so I collected all of my empty containers and brought them with me since I knew there was a MAC inside The Pier.  I had enough to get 4 free lipsticks with their recycling program!  I probably could have found enough empty containers to get 5 lipsticks if I really tried!   I decided on just two lipsticks for now.  :)

We walked into Caesars from The Pier and found that they had a video roulette table there!  The type where its a live dealer spinning the wheel and dropping the ball, but instead of the table with everyone reaching over one another to put their chips down and such, you sit at your individual screen and place your bets there instead!  Just my style!  No one to invade my personal space!  No dirty chips!  Too bad about half the screens had “out of service” flashing on them!

Dinner this night was Cornish hens and pasta.  Big FAIL here… :(  And I was so excited about cooking my little hens too! :(   Flavor wise it was fine…it is just that the oven at the condo wasn’t accurate and I didn’t have an oven thermometer to check the temp.  In the end, two little hens took over 90 minutes to cook!  Resulting in overcooked pasta as well.

I cleaned and dried the hens…put a little butter under the skin and sprinkled the top with Mrs. Dash salt free seasoning.   I stuffed 1/4 of an onion into the cavity, placed a slice of pancetta on top and laid them down on some carrots and potatoes in the pan. After an hour in the oven the juices were still not running clear!   So back in they went.  In the meantime I had made some pasta – just an olive oil and garlic sauce.  Here comes the fatal mistake…I hadn’t timed it out well….so the pasta had gotten cold by the time the hens were ready.  So I put the pan back on the heat so it could heat up….but since it was an oil based sauce it made the pasta super crispy!  FAIL! :(

The pancetta was probably the best part of the meal….like a porky potato chip!

 

eyes tired from reading yet?
stomach growling from all the food pics yet?
…to be continued
:)

 

 

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New Tu Do {restaurant review}

Greetings!

A few months back after some retail therapy at Bloomingdales, E and I decided to head over to chinatown for a quick dinner.

In my search to find a restaurant that serves banh beo in the city, Tu Do came up several times and had great reviews overall (on yelp). We got there pretty late (slightly after 9…and the restaurant closes at 10 on weekdays) and quickly placed our orders. Two bowls of pho, an order of spring rolls (I’m a firm believer that the spring roll will determine how good or bad the rest of the food will be!), and an order of banh beo.

The spring rolls were standard. Nothing spectacular…a little lacking in the flavor department. The texture was a lot softer than I’m used to as well…perhaps too much vermicelli and veggies in it and not enough pork…definitely not enough seasoning!

E got her pho with sliced beef and I got mine with grilled chicken.  Upon inspection of the bowl of noodles I wasn’t sure what I was getting into…it seemed as if there was an oil spill on top of both bowls! :-( And it turns out, I have never had an oilier bowl of pho before! It was rather unpleasant. If the broth had some umami it would have made up for the oil slick. But unfortunately, that was not the case either. At least the noodles had decent texture…

Now onto the banh beo…I wasn’t sure what to expect since I’ve never had it before. From wiki: “small steamed rice cake or rice pancake in Vietnamese cuisine. It is white in color and typically features a dimple in the center, which is filled with savory ingredients including chopped dried or fresh shrimp, scallions, mung bean paste, crispy fried shallots, fish sauce, rice vinegar, and oil.”

Not sure if this was supposed to be served warm or not?? But ours was cold.  The rice cakes were smooth in texture and not too dense. The toppings were fried garlic, mung bean paste (unbelievably dry and crumbly!), scallions and dried shrimp.  Like the others, this dish also lacked flavor but was saved by splashing some of nuoc nam on it. I would give it another shot..maybe just not at this restaurant.

Overall the whole meal was pretty lacking and I was quite disappointed.  Maybe it was because we were there close to closing time?  But then again, that is no excuse to serve sub par food! E was there in the past and said that the food was never this bad.  I’d give the restaurant another try and chalk it up to an off day.

Thumbs down!

New Tu Do
102 Bowery St
New York, NY 10013

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