The Great American Ride

So I’ve been neglecting this wonderful world of word wizardry for the past month, but I’m back and you can expect some wicked updates, hopefully consistently. I went back to Montreal for a month-long visit. I’ve got some school orientation activities to attend for the next few days and then officially begin university! Exciting. Terrifying. New. Amazing.

Today’s story took place just this past wondrous Tuesday. I love food. I love adventures. I love doing things that make me happy. So, Mixa and I decided to make an impromptu mini-road trip to the great state of New York and hit up some restaurants that have been featured on the show, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives from the Food Network. The tentative itinerary had been to leave at 8am to get breakfast from Sophia’s Restaurant in Buffalo, do some light shopping in a couple of malls, snack at the Cheesecake Factory (not a Triple D stop), fill up my tank with some cheap cheap American fuel, and then head to Grover’s for dinner before going back home to London Tap House for some nachos.

The day started out not as planned with us just rousing ourselves from sleep at 8:30, which meant we only actually got out of bed at 9:30. Having just gotten to Toronto from Montreal the night before at 2:00am, I think it was justified that we were dragging our feet a bit, no matter how excited we were for the day. We left the house with a leftover sandwich from Tim Hortons to tie us over till breakfast while running errands before crossing the border.

We got to Sophia’s Restaurant at about 12:30, in time for lunch. There were just a few tables seated, but that was understandable since we were there in the middle of a weekday. Apparently the place gets very packed on weekends and dinner and breakfast time, I’d believe it.

The area was very unassuming. Sitting on a road that might as well have been gravel, in the middle of a podunk industrial region, with sketchy gas stations and autoshops on either side stood the little wooden house-turned-restaurant. As you can see above, the poster of Guy Fieri stood front and centre of the diner’s kitchen. Sophia’s Restaurant is a little diner specializing in greek food but also conventional American breakfast. They make their own bread, and get all their ingredients fresh from local farmers. I ordered an open face chicken souvlaki sandwich, and Mixa ordered an open gyro. They gave us a free order of french fries and potatoes because we were pretty. Ahem, well they said that they “didn’t want to waste them” but we knew what they meant.

This is Mixa with her order and the restaurant's manager, Sophia's younger son.

And my plate. Don't be fooled by how it looks!

I can’t vouch for Mixa’s plate (though she says it was delicious), but my plate was phenomenal. Atop a freshly baked, golden and crispy toasted slice of bread was a mountain of marinated chicken souvlaki, fresh tomatoes, spinach and melted feta cheese, accompanied by a nice pickle. Now, the chicken was tender, juicy, and so much flavour it hurt my taste buds. Spinach was soft and moist, the tomatoes were sweet, and the creamy feta just mixed perfectly with everything it came in contact with. The best part though, was the bread. A thick slice of it, hidden under the extravagant gastronomic orgy, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and miraculously not soggy through out. A slight hint of butter with bit of a tang of oil. It was so very very delicious.

The free potatoes were very good too. The home fries were soft, flavourful. Not too thick, and there were some that were crunchy because of their thinness. The fries were surprising. Delicious when they first came out and even after we finished our meal an hour later, they retained their crispy exterior!

At the end of it all, our two gigantic plates, the fries/potatoes, and two drinks came up to a whopping… $18. Are you serious? I love America.

We even met the restaurant's original owner, Sophia, and got a horrible picture with her!

After our amazing lunch, my gas light came on so we headed out to fill up the tank. Now, depending on the day and how much gas stations love me, it’ll take me about $40 to fill up my tank from empty. It’s gone as high as $46.  How much did it cost me in Buffalo? $30 flat. It was beautiful.

While getting ready to head to the mall, we were approached by a guy in about his 20’s asking if we were going to UB. “…Sorry.. what?” It might have been the Itis setting in, but I couldn’t make out what he was saying clearly, even though I detected no accent.

“University of Buffalo. Are you going to the concert tonight? Do you know what time it starts at?”

“Sorry, we weren’t aware there was a concert.”

“It’s a free Kid Cudi concert, everyone’s going but I don’t know when it starts.”

Free? That’s our favourite word. To the Google machine, where he is quickly given his answer and we are given another stop for the day.

We spent the next few hours racing up and down the state, passing toll booth after toll booth, this island and that. Hit up the Fashion Outlet Mall and the Walden Galleria. Spent a bunch of money. Nothing terribly interesting. Picked up a cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory to bring back home.

At around 6, we head to East Amherst to dine at Grovers Bar & Grill, apparently President Grover’s old hunting lodge. Grovers won the local “Best Burger” three years running and when you walk in, you can tell. The place was packed with people either eating or waiting to eat. When you walk in, you have to sign yourself up on the blackboard to be seated. Mixa and I ended up sitting at the bar to eat. We chatted with some locals around us who were waiting to be seated, sipping on iced tea and cola because we are not yet 21. Unable to order alcohol is a strange feeling.

Our guide on the wall

Still a bit full from lunch, we decided to skip out on the Cheeseburger soup, which I really wanted to try and instead each got a burger and shared a single order of wings. We got the “Honey Parmesan” chicken wings. I ordered the “Bruiser” and Mixa got the “Bacon Blue.”


The chicken wings were delightfully crispy and wonderfully seasoned. Piping hot, but it was nothing compared to these burgers. 12 oz. 12 OUNCES of burger. On top of these wonderful buns. I could hardly get it into my mouth. Mixa’s Bacon Blue is nearly self explanatory. Burger. Toppings. Bacon. Blue Cheese.

I’m pretty sure this was the best burger I’ve ever had. Ever. In my life. I ordered my burger medium rare and it came out just so, steaming hot. This gigantic burger sat in front of me and it was all mine. The meat was fresh, juicy, and slightly pink on the inside. The bun that it sat on could barely contain it. I cannot stress how juicy it was. The Bruiser: burger, lettuce, tomatoes, fresh onion, grilled onions, cajun spice, and blue cheese. I love onions. I could hardly pick it up to shove into my mouth but when I did, that first bite was the closest I’ve ever been to heaven.

There is no clean way to eat this burger. You forget what your momma taught you, you forget you’re in a crowded restaurant, and you just scarf it down. The juices run down your hand, there’s cheese on your fingers, and ketchup all over your face, but you know what? No one gives a shit. Not you, not anyone, because they are all engrossed in their own burger. MMMF, so good. I could only stuff down half the burger, but as I’m writing this, I wish I ate it all. I boxed the other half and gave it to my brother when I got home, and even cold, it was one of the best tasting things in the world (that I’ve eaten so far in my life).

Unable to bask in the afterglow of great food, we had to rush over to University At Buffalo for the Kid Cudi show. The internet said that it was to start at 7:00, while gates opened at 6:30. We left Grover’s at 7:30, but not being gigantic Cudi fans, we weren’t too miffed about not being very close to the stage.

Walking onto campus, we felt immediately as if we stood out. It was as if they knew we didn’t go to the school, or even lived in the country. The population was very nearly completely caucasian. Were they staring at us because we were Asian or because Mixa was wearing a stupid coat? Hahaha.

Part of the crowd and Mixa's hand

Cudi came on at around 8/8:15 and performed for about an hour. It was a fun show full of energy, and everyone was having fun. At one point, there was a guy swinging from high up in a tree.

Cudiii!!!

We left a bit before the end of the concert because we had previous engagements back in Canada. As we were walking away, we heard him say that it was the last song, so it was alright, we weren’t missing anything. Walking across the parking lot to Pursuit of Happiness, beating the end of concert traffic jam, and not getting questioned at the border brought a perfect end to our stay in the USA.

From the back of the crowd

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What is this?

This is a new blog, to update you, cher(e) reader about my life because it is oh-so-brilliantly exciting. And because you love me so.

Along with moving away from the Montreal area that’s been my home for just about six years, I’ve also vacated blog posts from my tumblr account. Though, I will still be posting random photos and videos over there.

June 29, 2010

Dan Potthast, the Wonder Years, the Supervillains, and Streetlight Manifesto. We went to see them at the Metropolis.

Taking a Photo

This was my second time seeing Dan Potthast in concert. Clad with his black glasses acoustic guitar, he stood on the stage, solo, interacting with the crowd, and with not a bit of uncertainty or nervousness. None that I could see anyway. He sang ‘Fan’. First time I saw him, he introduced that song by saying it was written when he locked himself in his room for a couple weeks, and eventually ran out of things to write about. The song is about a ceiling fan. I think. He also took out a camera in the middle of the performance and took a picture of the crowd. And then of himself and the crowd. Glorious.

The Wonder Years were nothing special in my eyes. The lead singer danced oddly. More punk rock, less ska.

I had heard a couple of songs from the Supervillains and they are so ska it hurts. A beautiful blend of ska and chills reggae beats. Wonderful energy on stage. Mr. Saxophone player (google tells me his name is Jonathan Cestero aka Smally) was wearing a Spain jersey because Spain had beaten Paraguay that day in the semi-finals? Quarter finals? The one where there are eight teams left. I had worn mine too, but left it in the car because I didn’t want to ruin it. I was still wearing red though. I shouted, “Españaaaa!!!!” but he didn’t hear me, seeing as he was on stage and playing songs and whatnot. But after the show, on our way out, we passed the Supervillains table and he was standing there. I shouted for Spain again, and THEN I HUGGED HIM. OH MY GOD AN ACTUAL (kind of ) CELEBRITY HUG. WOOOO. I thought that was the highlight of my night. But moving on…

Partial group photo - Too many members to fit into one shot

Backtracking to Streetlight Manifesto’s set: They were headlining yet again, and this was my fourth time seeing them. As always, right up front, pressed against the gate. Beautiful. Of course, the biggest name in third wave ska, aka punk ska, etc etc. They always put on an amazing and energetic show. The security were very friendly, spraying us with water. My hair got caught on a crowdsurfer’s something and I was nearly decapitated. It was fun. Hohoho. After the show, Adrienne got a set list and because she loves me, she gave it to me to keep and it was wonderful. After the show, we said goodbye to Claire, and went for a beer. The new Station Sports at Berri is huuuge.

Here is the best part of the story though, on our way back to the car, we passed Streetlight’s tour bus. I saw people. I jumped and waved. It was awesome. And then Adrienne and Andrew convinced me to go ask for an autograph. I hesitated, but then I went. Luckily, before the concert, my overactive imagination convinced me to bring a sharpie, and that I did. I went up to the bus (those things are mighty tall), jumped up and down to get their attention, and then I think it was Mike Brown (Mr. Saxophone) who came out and they brought out Tomas Kalnoky (holy crap I’m still freaking out) and he signed my setlist.

[Insert mega freak out]

I tried to play it cool. It didn’t work. It was Judy gone into hyper fangirl mode. I talked very fast and I don’t remember what I said, but it was the greatest moment of my life. Andrew, I want that video. And then I walked to my car.

And while driving them home, I started crying of joy. I was not my most gracious moment, I’ll admit.

June 30, 2010

My entire life fit into the whole of my little Honda Civic. Well, save for a bookshelf and my books. How I miss them, but there just wasn’t enough room in the car. I will be going back in a couple of weeks to pick that up and a few other knick-knacks that I left behind. I drove down to my new home. It took about 7 hours because we were stuck in Montreal traffic for a while. Half of the way was in the dark, and I have learned that I do not enjoy driving in the dark. Not one bit. Well, long distances anyway.

July 1, 2010

I went to a barbecue for my cousin’s birthday. I was hot.

July 2, 2010

Errands

July 4, 2010

Beach times

July 5, 2010

OCAD orientation, where I met up with another Montrealer whom I went to college with for three years. And then met another Montrealer who knew this other person that I went to college with for three years. It was a long day. I was there from 10:30 till about 5 pm. A fun day, but a long day. First day by myself since I got to Toronto, and I was talked into signing up for a new credit card. Woo!

I was making my way back to Sauga from OCAD and was driving through downtown Toronto in rush hour. As I passed the traffic lights however, I noticed that none of them were on. For some reason, I just thought that Toronto turned off their traffic lights during that time (wtf?). And then I passed by an intersection and a business type man was directing traffic. That’s when I realized there was a power outage. Didn’t know it was so big though. Anyway, as the man was directing traffic, people standing on the corners and in the cars were smiling and taking pictures of him as if it was so weird for someone to be doing such a nice thing. I’ve seen a few minor black outs in QC and this just always seemed like the norm for me to have someone there directing traffic. Oh Toronto, that’s discovery number 1.

July 6, 2010

Uruguay vs Netherlands game

Tiny sofa... or giant lamp?

Claire and Adrienne came to  visit me for the day from Montreal. What wonderful friends I’ve got. We went through antique shops in Parkdale to look for furniture for Claire’s new apartment. I bought this delicious hot pepper sauce from one of the stores. I tried it on some chicken, and also with korean bbq. It is so delicious. Can’t wait to try it on my burger at this Saturday’s barbecue. It was a very pleasant visit, and we walked a lot. It was HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT.

July 7, 2010

VIVA ESPAÑA

Claire and Adrienne left. I watched the Spain vs. Germany game. SPAIN WON. It was glorious. Too many German fans were smack talking me for being a Spain supporter, so I guess we showed them eh. Thank you to Puyol for this game. Woo.

Nachos and Stella

And then I went to the London Tap House, I think it’s called, in downtown Hamilton with my cousin to celebrate the win, where we had beer and nachos. The nachos were amazing. Like SO amazing. With cuts of medium rare steak cubes and freshly made guacamole. So freshly made, that when we asked for some on the side, the server told us that we had to wait a few minutes while they made some more.

July 8, 2010

I did chores. And wrote this post. Later on, CV+Jobs. :D