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Food

Delivery and Curbside Pickup

I know exactly how many times we had food delivered to our house when I was growing up: zero. We lived so far out of town that it wasn’t even an option. That has carried on into adulthood and I’ll rarely pay the extra money to have something delivered.

With the lockdown this year, we’ve gotten a lot more used to doing delivery and curbside pickup. The gig economy-style services (Grubhub, DoorDash, and UberEats) seem fairly indistinguishable, but here are my reviews of various delivery and curbside pickups that I’ve attempted:

Losers:

  • Home Depot – I’ve attempted curbside pickup twice. The first time, I called twice and let the phone ring probably 40 times total but never got an answer. So I went into the store and waited for quite a while before finally someone went to get my order. The second time, the curbside pickup spots were clearly being used by random customers going into the store and it was so crowded that it took forever to find a spot near the designated area. It was so busy that I felt dirty participating in shopping there at all. Since there are some projects at home that really need to get done, my only recourse is to try and order as much as I can online or at least let my order pile up so I can make as few trips as possible.
  • Qdoba – Qdoba is a staple at work. It’s within walking distance and is a favorite of our team on Fridays. We ordered burritos delivered for lunch one day and honestly, I didn’t feel like they held up. I ordered the same thing I always get but it didn’t pack the same punch. I’d definitely skip the lettuce next time because it just gets soggy and maybe I’d zap it in the microwave for a few seconds?

Winners:

  • Tres Hermanos – AMAZING. They win the takeout championship. I did have to go inside to pick it up, but every single person working there had a mask on and they had two cups of pens (used and unused). And even after the drive back home, the food was still fantastic. The only slight ding I’ll give them is that it’s hard to find their menu online but honestly, it’s Mexican. What combination of rice, meat and tortillas do you want to order? And if you do need the menu, you can find it in Yelp photos.
  • Good Brewing Co – I know I’m biased, but Kevin’s beer is amazing. He started up a delivery service and I’ve used it many times. He even sells his pizzas as kits that you can make yourself at home for a fun family activity. If there’s one local business that I want to support, this is the one.
  • Pizza Coop – There is no better pizza and I’m happy to say their curbside pickup worked wonderfully. When I pulled up there was a number to call but an employee stepped out of the building quickly to ask my name and then brought my pizza over. The pizza wasn’t quite as good as it is fresh in the restaurant, but they’re so far ahead of the game that it was still a big hit.
  • Red Robin – We don’t eat here much anymore, but they had a good deal on pickup orders so we went for it and honestly, I think I liked their food better at home than in the restaurant! When I went there, it was easy to pick up the food without interacting with any other customers. Everything was outside.
  • Total Wine – Buying booze at Total Wine is a lot cheaper than getting it from Safeway and they have a bigger selection of beer too. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t pick beer singles from their website, but otherwise this was a great experience. when you get there, you text them what spot number you’re parked in. They come out, check your id through the window and then load directly into the trunk!

Honorable mention:

  • Chipotle – In contrast to Qdoba, Chipotle hit a home run. The burrito I had delivered was delicious.
  • Mod Pizza – After a mixup on my first order attempt (somehow they thought I asked to have it delivered to the Mod Pizza where it was made?!), our second attempt went well. I don’t have a lot to say. Mod Pizza is good and it tasted about the same as it does in the store.
  • Hollywood Tavern – If you want a Woodinville dining experience, you need to eat here. We don’t go there a ton but we decided to try their takeout. Their menu is smaller than normal and beware that there aren’t any sides with the entrees, but the food was good and the pickup experience was great (text when you arrive and they bring it out.) They do get a ding for getting Tyla’s meal wrong but they were very nice about the mixup and cleared it up for us.

Prior to all this lockdown mess, we enjoyed eating out a few times a month and it’s nice to keep that going even if we’re eating the food at home. It still means that I have a day where I’m not cooking dinner!

Hello Fresh Review

When I bought my computer, one of the components came with a coupon for Hello Fresh. It was a weird pairing, but it worked. I figured I would just keep the service for the heavily discounted first ~4 weeks and then drop it, but I have yet to cancel. We used to eat out about once a week, but with the lockdown, we’re not doing that. Hello Fresh has helped keep dinner time a bit different on a couple nights a week.

We’ve had the service for six weeks now and here are some of my thoughts:

  • It’s expensive. We pay $51.95 for two meals a week. Each “two person meal” is enough to feed all three of us because Elijah isn’t a huge eater yet. I guess if you are someone who eats out all the time, this will seem like a bargain, but I generally make our meals for a way less than $26/night. In fairness, if you were to buy more meals or get bigger servings, the cost per meal does go down.
  • The food is good! There are a plenty of options to pick from every week and I don’t think we’ve had any real duds. The food is generally a little bit fancier than my normal recipes so it’s a nice change of pace.
  • Those fancier recipes mean quite a bit more work too. It’s always takes a bit of extra concentration when I do a new recipe for the first time, but there are a lot of moving parts in these recipes. They generally have a main dish and two side dishes so it’s a lot to coordinate and time out. The instructions are thorough and do a good job, but they would all be easier the second time around. As it is, it feels a bit like I’m on a cooking show being given a test to see if I can get everything on the table around the normal dinner time.
  • The time estimates are bogus. I feel like after cooking dinner for the last ~20 years, I’m fairly good at it, but I don’t understand how anyone can make most of those recipes in the time specified on the recipe. At the very least I need to preheat my oven much sooner. I learned early on to read the recipe early in the day to build my own time estimate of when I should start making it. I generally expect 30-45 minutes to make dinner. The shorter ones MIGHT fit in on a normal weeknight if I got home from work a little early, but generally those are too long to fit into our schedule. But since I’m working from home right now, it’s fine.

So yes, we’re happy with it. It’s fun to explore and I am saving all the recipes. I expect we’ll put some of them into our regular rotation but once this lockdown dwindles off, I can’t imagine we’ll keep paying for the service. It’s neat for what it is, but it doesn’t fit into our budget.

Barbacoa Beef

I enjoy a Chipotle burrito every now and then, and I always get their barbacoa beef. For the Super Bowl party, I finally got around to attempting to make something like it myself. I picked up 6.5 pounds of chuck roast from the butcher and plopped it in the slow cooker for about 8 hours. It was so good! This one is going into our regular rotation. Below you’ll find the recipe that I used from Genius Kitchen, modified just a little bit:

Ingredients

  • 1⁄3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic cloves
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 dried chipotle chiles
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3⁄4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 -5 lbs chuck roast

Directions

  1. To make the adobo sauce combine vinegar, lime juice, chipotles, garlic, cumin, oregano, black pepper and salt in a blender or processor on high speed until smooth.
  2. Remove most of the fat from the roast and then cut into large chunks.
  3. Pour oil into a frying pan and sear all sides of roast on medium-high heat until browned.
  4. Place meat into slow cooker and pour adobo sauce over meat.
  5. Pour in the chicken broth and add bay leaves.
  6. Cook on high heat 6 hours or on low all day.
  7. While still in the Crockpot, shred the meat with two forks and turn the heat to warm. Serve with hard or soft tortilla shells when ready.

 

 

500 Unique Beers

I’m two months behind Luke, but I just had my 500th different kind of beer. Oddly enough, it was a bottled beer from Red Hook. Living just a couple miles from the brewery, I regularly have bottles of their beers and I’ve been through most of the stuff they have on tap too. But I was at Tim’s house and had their American Pale Ale for the first time. It was launched last summer.

I still enjoy trying new beers, but I think the next 500 will take longer, not because of a shortage of new beers, but because I want to enjoy some of the best ones that I’ve found along the way to 500.

And if you like trying new beers too, feel free to send me a friend request on untappd.

Easy Shepherd’s Pie

I love shepherd’s pie, but mostly I love the idea of it because I rarely make it. The other weekend, I finally decided to look up an easy version of the recipe and I found this one from Food.com. I cheated and used packaged mashed potatoes and it worked fine. Real would be better but that’s a lot of work.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes, hot (packaged will work if time is tight)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
  • 1 cup beef gravy

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F Brown meat in skillet and drain.
  2. Mix potatoes, cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese and the garlic until well blended.
  3. Stir vegetables and gravy into meat.
  4. Spoon into 9-inch square baking dish.
  5. Cover with potato mixture. Don’t worry about it being perfectly even, the more rustic it looks, the better.
  6. Sprinkle with remain 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.