Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Review: Belly Shack

Kudos to Bill Kim for getting this place opened with lightening speed. The laid back attitude and quick service are just exactly what the neighborhood likes, and while I'm really happy they're here, it isn't amazing yet. Innovative and interesting, definitely. But not amazing. We've just been once so far, early on an already-busy Saturday night. We sat at the big communal table in the middle of the space to compare notes with other patrons, and the consensus was surprisingly consistent: good and interesting, but not great.

My boricua sandwich got all of its flavor from a great sauce served on the side, rather from the plantains (which I couldn't taste), marinated tofu (totally blank soy flavor), or rice. In fact, the rice on the sandwich wasn't successful at all - there's a reason rice sandwiches are rare - it tastes too starchy with the bread and falls out. My husband's lemongrass chicken sandwich was okay, but again, not all that flavorful.

Our generous neighbors offered us wine from their BYOB bottles, something the entire restaurant seemed to be loving too. I passed in favor of dessert - a decent mint soft serve ice cream with chocolate brownie chunks. I had higher hopes for my husband's Vietnamese cinnamon caramel version, but the cinnamon was just barely detectable.

Belly Shack on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Come to Mama

So, I'm pregnant. Thirteen weeks to be exact, which brings me to the glorious, grateful close of my puke-y first trimester. I'll tell you, nothing else I can think of can screw with your appetite so drastically for so long. Some new lessons I've learned on life as a fertile woman:

1. Life without wine really blows. I took an itsy sip of the hubbles' prosecco about a month back and nearly started bawling in my stupid club soda it was so good. Incidentally, my Italian-American mother drank a small glass of wine at Sunday dinners when she was pregnant with me, and I was born a perfectly healthy mostacholi, as she still relishes recalling. Those days are long gone, mi amici. Try this in America now, and well-intentioned people will accost your person for being a brazenly psychotic baby-killer... including my husband.

2. Nausea is straight from hell. The cruel joke is that it's at its absolute worst when you're at your hungriest. It's God's official way of getting back at me for sass-talking to my mother.

3. Sneak attack food aversions are real. I can't pass within 20 feet of a sushi restaurant without shuddering. Pre-pregs, I could eat it daily. My other forms of kryptonite have been any form of raw fish, coffee, peanut butter, meat smells, sometimes chocolate and God help me, my usual endorphin-source of choice, truffle oil.

4. Random and sudden hunger pangs - also real. My husband knows I'm having one when all of a sudden I'm laying on the car horn in the driveway 60 seconds after announcing it's time to mobilize for Chipotle. How LONG does it take him to find pants anyway?

5. Heelllooo, Chipotle.... and Potbelly's. I'm not proud of it, but these are the things I crave when I go out to eat lately. I'll also settle for pretty much any form of pasta, risotto, mac and cheese, or other comfort food. And Jimmy John's? Their scrappy little delivery guys can seriously have a sandwich in your paws (with that guac spread) less than 12 minutes from right now. Imagine the possibilities.

6. Waiters at good restaurants get bitchy when I pass on the alcohol. It ranges from mild puzzlement to openly expressed disapproval. I'm not showing yet, so they don't know what's up, especially since I always urge my husband to order the martini or the split of pinot for himself. I've been thinking maybe I should hand out a pre-printed card with: "In first trimester. Back the f*** off."

7. The joy of a fresh fruit or veggie smoothie never tasted so good. Ahhh....sweet, sweet cool, creamy deliciousness, I love you.

8. Yep, I can justify almost anything I do want to eat. Fish and chips? Giddy up. Mayo on the veggie sub? So much better. Pancakes at brunch? Sha - yes. Four bananas in succession? Try to stop me. With so much out there making me cringe, I'm not about to pass up something that's screaming my name.

9. I will go code blue for the bread basket. Now that I'm in my hormone-induced irritability phase, waiters need to be forewarned that if the bread doesn't hit the table within two minutes of seating, there could be some serious hell to pay. I barely used to even touch the stuff. Now I'm homicidal for it when I show up at a restaurant hungry. And guess what the odds of that are?

10. Fake drinking is an art. My options were to a) suspiciously avoid my horde of wine-chugging friends for three entire months or b) enlist the help of one trustworthy soul to help me fake them out at dinner. How? You and your partner in crime order the same drinks and sit next to each other. You pretend to drink, but swap glasses after a little bit when no one's looking. Your friend, the trooper, will need to consume twice the amount they order. And, yes, you'll need to buy her a really nice Christmas gift to apologize for that hangover.