Soap Box

My very own cute little soap box!

Archive for April, 2009

Nona Mia

Posted by eemilla on April 30, 2009

Our first experience at Nona Mia was so quaint; they hadn’t been open too long, and their tables were an eclectic collection of old office and patio furniture.  We had a few different servers, including a kid who asked if everything was okay.  The food was good, filling, and (best of all) cheap.  However, their hours fit their schedule.  The next time we attempted to visit, they were not offering any weekend hours.  

After a grueling day of traveling the interstate highway system, we headed straight for a late lunch at Nona Mia’s.  Even though it was a weird time of day, around 2:30 pm, there were three or four other tables and a fairly steady stream of to-go and dine customers continued throughout our meal.  Our service was handled by three (mostly two) servers, and it was attentive without being overbearing.  We had a Caesar salad (including an anchovy) and bruschetta for appetizers; the salad was dressed well, and the dressing is delicious.  I would prefer smaller croutons, but they were in proper portion to the greens.  I chickened out and gave my anchovy to my honey; he reported it was a good quality specimen.  My entree, the Farmhouse pizza, was ordered with dinner in mind, and my husband ordered the meatball sandwich in order to compare it to Frank’s NY Deli.  The pizza is well topped, and oh the focaccia crust is so good.  Unlike one of the major pizza chains, it is tasty without being grease soaked.  I was able to get two lunches and dinner out of the pie (I shared two slices with my husband and two of the meals were supplemented with good sized salads).  The meatball sandwich was serviced on normal sized sandwich bread with a side of pasta salad.  According to my honey, the meatballs were not overworked and fell apart in his mouth.  Like everything we have tried, no single ingredient overpowered the rest.  I tried the pasta salad which had firm lentils, mini-shells, tomatoes, and a balsamic vinaigrette, and it was good enough for it to be an appetizer not just a side.  By the way, his comparison to Frank’s ended up with neither sandwich winning outright.  Both have good taste, price ($7.95), and sides; Nona Mia wins on the delectability of the  meatballs and the balance between the other ingredients.  Frank’s wins with size and cheesy, tomato-y comfort food goodness.  I enjoyed a glass of the house prosecco (I believe it is Lunetta, although my memory does fail frequently).  It wasn’t overly dry, and I thought the stemless flute glass was a generous portion (although looking at the cost per bottle of about $10 compared to the $6.50 I paid for the glass it should be a heavy pour).

On our way out we noticed that Saturday dinner service is back, but please don’t except to show up and sit down.  Nona Mia has a following without much square feet, although they have added a few tables to their front sidewalk.


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Belated Earth Day

Posted by eemilla on April 25, 2009



In homage to Earth Day, I wanted to remind everyone about one of the easiest and cheapest ways to save electricity: the humble clothesline.  I dried three loads of laundry within a couple of hours.  Although I don’t like the way the my clothes smell after drying outside, I adore the way towels react: super absorbent and long lasting freshness.  The sunshine works wonders as a whitener, and the wind will substitute for starch and the iron (thus adding another energy savings!)

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I hate hospitals

Posted by eemilla on April 25, 2009

Earlier this week my husband received a call from his step-father that his mother was in the hospital on a ventilator.  For the past several years she struggled with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and on Thursday morning she took her last breath.  It seems so strange to think that she will never make another smart ass comment with her dry sense of humor, or open her arms to hug my neck (or tell my husband to hug my neck for her as her normal phone ending).  She was a strong willed and highly opinionated woman, and when her symptoms first arose a year or so before our wedding she promised she would be there with us in Key West and would be walking.  She did just that, and it really seemed that she had kicked its ass.  However, it wasn’t finished (nor is there a cure) so we leave again to attend her funeral and say good bye for now.  Barbara, I’m sorry that you didn’t get to hold any grandchildren, and I hate that I won’t be able to enlist your painting skills on our next round of home improvement.  

I cannot stress enough the importance of a living will or an advance medical directive.  Barbara was about ten years from retirement age, and shit happens indiscriminate of age.  It is heart-wrenching to see someone on life support; with all the stress everyone is under in these situations it just make sense to have the patient make the decision for how they want to treated ahead of time.

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Asheville Earth Day

Posted by eemilla on April 19, 2009

I arrived at the park sometime near the end of Sol Driven Train’s set; we couldn’t decide if our last encounter with them had been overly influenced by alcohol until their final song.  We will see them again in a couple of weeks so that I can sort out whether I like them sober or how many beers I have to have before I like them.  Laura Reed is pregnant, so as the MC stated she is embodying the goddess all over the place.  The performance was enjoyable, but it didn’t compel me to my feet and get my hips shaking.  Laura is the energy for the band, and rightfully so her energy is focused elsewhere; it could also be that most of the crowd seemed to have been there all day chasing toddlers, so it wasn’t like we were sending her back a bunch of energy either.  Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe started about an hour after Laura Reed and Deep Pocket departed (thirty minutes late), but I was too tired and hungry to stay even though I did get up and wiggle my booty for a few minutes. 

Sadly enough, with the departure of the parents and daylight, the amount of litter seemed to grow exponentially.  The organizers had plenty of receptacles for trash, recycling, and compost.  All of the beverages were served in compost-able corn plastic cups, but due to health regulations vendors cannot reuse your cup.  However, at Brewgrass you are issued a taster cup, and all of your beer goes into that one cup all day long.  I guess I need to read up on the food service regulations.

I enjoyed the festival, and although I arrived later in the day I had expected to see more environmental action groups.  I look forward to next year!

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Green Tea

Posted by eemilla on April 19, 2009

After our extravagant spending at the beach, we decided to close the weekend with a stop into Green Tea.  It looks like they are finally going to open up the area to the right of the front door, and they have added a patio area.  The booths are large and comfortable, and the service was attentive.  I was dismayed to see my Buncombe Roll no longer on the menu, but I still enjoyed the Kani Naruto, Joy, and Dynamite Roll as well as some Caterpillar Roll.  For an appetizer, we split some edamame, and it was just what my body had been craving.   In addition to the Caterpillar Roll, my honey had the Orange Dragon and an Eel and Avocado Roll.  I loved all of mine, but I thought the sauce for the Caterpillar was much saltier than normal.  With the increased seating, I am interested to see how the service will be affected (as I have not noticed an increase in the sushi chef’s space).



Green Tea

Green Tea

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Beach Vacation

Posted by eemilla on April 15, 2009

Thanks to our lovely neighbors, we were able to take our three day weekend to the beach.  The best part was getting to take our dog on his first trip to the ocean.  He loved it, and he wasn’t in the least scared of the waves (unlike beer bottles, golf club bags, vacuum cleaners, and heights among others).  The only issue was his perseverance in the search for potable ocean water.  We paid twenty-five dollars for his beach license, and the beach is only open from 5am to 10am for dogs, but at least there is long stretch of beach for off lead doggie freedom.  He romped in the sand and the waves, chasing his girlfriend the entire time.  He didn’t try to eat any jelly fish, and he didn’t chase any birds; oh how he loved the massive expanse of water, though.  I can’t wait to take him when the water is warm enough for me to brave it so hopefully he will swim a bit more and learn to body surf.  We really didn’t do much touristy stuff other than eat out and take the dogs to the beach.  My husband played golf, and I shopped a bit with one of our hosts in the Market and grabbed my first hot stone massage in downtown Charleston.  We assumed everything would be more walkable, but everything is sprawled out.  While there is a skinny little bike lane to Sullivan’s Island, it terminates at the draw bridge.  The raised concrete on the side of the bridge is too narrow for me to feel comfortable walking the dog or walking it myself anything less than one hundred percent sober.  On the next trip we plan on researching CARTA or renting bicycles; we checked into getting a cab to Folly Beach, but it was going to run about forty dollars without tip one way.  Its about eleven miles from Charleston to Mt Pleasant so that probably would have been a forty dollar round trip in a cab, too.  The vibe was much like Key West, but Key West is definitely better for walking or riding a bike.

We ate at a bunch of bars and tourist traps, and I have mixed feelings about the food scene.  Although I hear Charleston has a great food scene, I had a difficult time finding it.  Has Asheville spoiled me and raised my expectations higher than reasonable?  Maybe I discounted the food because I was annoyed at being served all my drinks in plastic cups (not to mention it seemed impossible to get Malibu . . . no coconut rum at the beach . . . WTF).  The pernicious plastic cup followed us from bar to bar, and even at the one spot were the food was good, I drink my $14 sparkling wine out of a plastic (albeit much nicer and thicker plastic) flute.  I wrote reviews for almost all of my experiences on Urban Spoon, but then I decided I wanted them here too so I have added the big spoonbacks.  However, one restaurant was so memorable that I couldn’t refrain from hoping on the soapbox.

Poe’s Tavern in Sullivan’s Island serves some of the best hamburgers anywhere according to my partners in dine (including my foodie/chef husband); I did not partake because alas I don’t care if the meat is ground on site, I am not eating ground beef.  I was also told that the fish tacos were to die for, and they looked much more sizable that I would have anticipated.  I do eat fish; I really cannot refrain, but keeping in mind the best way to reduce your impact on the environment is to go veg, I try to save it for special occasions, like beach vacations or celebrations.  I was so pissed and tired of the most uncaring service I have received in recent memory that I was determined not to spend anymore money than absolutely necessary.  Our party of four arrived around six, which on our part probably wasn’t the best idea.  The situation is seat yourself, and the floor plan is an old house maybe twelve hundred square feet or so, with some of that occupied by the door way and bar areas.  Trying to wrangle a seat was cut throat, and honestly without some liquor in me, I am pretty meek and mild.  I sat down at a table as it was being bussed only to be told my a single woman that her party of six would be arriving shortly and she had beaten me to the table.  I am not certain if she did indeed beat me to the table, but her party took about thirty minutes to arrive.  On our second table, the departing party checked an overzealous group of five from snatching it by backing us up on how long we had been staking it out.  While the staff had no problem with a single woman taking up an entire ten top table, they were right on top of us to be sure that our party of four crammed into a two top so the party of five could have the larger ten top table.  Of course it was the reasonable move on the part of the staff, but I was pissed that the solitary woman with her absent party couldn’t have been asked to move.  In such a busy place I was shocked to see seat yourself service.  My husband explained that it made sense for the restaurant to save on the labor cost of a host because of the difficulty of wrangling parties in such a cramped space, and with the volume the servers were going to make money regardless.  However, a manager or someone needed to supervise.  The night we stopped in it didn’t appear that there were any bussers either, and it also appeared that the servers had sections so there wasn’t any team effort.  While the poor service can be partially chalked up to the mind numbing volume of tables, it still sucked to watch the five top and the two top beside us have two rounds of drinks before we even received our first.  To add to the insult, thirty or so minutes after placing our order for our first round of drinks, one of our party walked to the bar and got it herself; when she returned with our order, our server, Abby, decided to arrive and blame the tardiness of our drinks on the bar.  In a normal circumstance that could have been a reasonable excuse, but she never made up for it by stopping back by more frequently.  I described the volume as mind numbingly busy, because our server seemed to give up on us.  Even in the cramped quarters, she would avoid eye contact while dropping off food or drinks at our neighbors’ tables.  Unfortunately for my husband and me, our partners in dine were determined to make the best of it so we didn’t leave for another spot.  The hand cut fries were okay, but Laughing Seed Cafe in Asheville puts them to utter shame.  After two long hours, we paid our bill of almost $100 before tip (I only drank water, we had one order of fries between the table, one fish taco, four burgers, and I lost count of how many rounds my companions drank), and I was none to happy that my husband gave her a much too generous fifteen percent for the abominable service we received.   Maybe half the staff was out sick so there wasn’t a host, busser, manager, or food runner to help the overwhelmed servers out, but really an apology would have been nice.  We will try it again so my honey can enjoy another burger, but we will be sure to do it in the off season.

Coconut Joes

Coconut Joe's

Waters Edge Cabana

Water's Edge Cabana




Grill 225/Pavilion Bar

Grill 225/Pavilion Bar


Noisy Oyster

Noisy Oyster

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