Soap Box

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Archive for April, 2011

Earth Day Rant

Posted by eemilla on April 22, 2011

In honor of Earth Day, I’m hopping on my soapbox and giving my Earth Day Rant about three things that drive me crazy.

My largest pet peeve related to shopping is when my husband buys a beer or a box of beer that comes with a convenient handle, and he has to literally argue with the cashier that he doesn’t need a bag; many cashiers claim it is illegal to allow him to carry the beer outside of the store without a bag (I’ve worked as a cashier in a few different stores, and I was never required to do this).  I also get irked at the assumption that regardless of the number of groceries or items one might have a bag is requisite; nevermind that I walked through the store carrying everything I am buying without the assistance of a bag or a basket or a cart.

Earth Fare both irritated and cheered me for changing their bag donation policy; for the longest time, if you brought your own bag OR didn’t use a bag, Earth Fare would either donate $0.10 to the charity of the month or give you a $0.10 discount.  I believe it was around a year ago, they reduced the donation to $0.05, and it is only applicable if you have a reusable grocery bag (not your purse or backpack).  I don’t mind losing the discount as I always donated it, but I do hate that Earth Fare won’t give up the donation unless I put my half pound of mozzarella in a reusable bag.  They cheered me when they began requiring a donation for paper bags and eliminated plastic bags altogether (thewebsite says the donation is voluntary, but it also says if you chose not to donate the $0.05 then they give you a cardboard box not a bag).  They also sell reusable bags near the check out and at most of the checkout lines at the South Asheville location.

Along with the annoyances I have to also applaud Target for giving a $0.05 discount for reusing a bag as well as selling cheap $0.99 bags at the front of the store and at every checkout lane.  My favorite grocery store, the French Broad Food Co-op, charges for the plastic containers in the bulk room as well as selling heavy duty cotton bags and more light weight less expensive bags like those at Target.

I wish all stores would encourage customers to bring their own bags and containers either by giving a discount or by charging a fee for the bag; I also want the Coop and Earth Fare to stop providing the really thin plastic containers that are not dishwasher safe.  One of my resolutions was to stop using to-go containers for leftovers at restaurants, but unfortunately, I have failed miserably.  On the upside, we are not using new bags in the produce or bulk department when we go shopping.  Following the example set my mother and my step mother in law, we are washing out sandwich bags and  the green bags we use for produce (which purportedly keep produce fresher longer, but I like because they are strong enough to be washed unlike the freebies in the produce isle).

Secondly, I don’t want to hear one more word about how much gas costs.  I, too, hate paying almost fifty dollars to fill up the gas tank; however, we pay much lower gas rates than the rest of the world, and we generally have a choice in which vehicle we drive.  There are also many well published tips to reduce your fuel consumption (combine trips, drive less aggressively, fill up after the sun is down, carpool, or don’t drive).

Before my pregnancy we were a one car household even though we both work full time jobs with different hours.  We were able to make this work because neither of us mind walking along a busy road without sidewalks or even much of a shoulder; we live about a 1.25 walk from the bus line; and my work commute is a less than two mile walk.  Sadly, the bus runs every 1.5 hours between about 6:30a (1st run out of downtown) and 5:30p (last run out of downtown), which means we couldn’t even use it for an early night out much less a night shift commute.  I should note that there is a night route but the closest stop is about five miles from the bus stop that is 1.25 miles from our house, but again most of the five mile walk is along a five lane road with several hundred feet of sidewalks interspersed with parking lots and grassy stretches (some of which are steep banks that are difficult to traverse).  While I could walk the almost two miles from my work to my home, much of the walk is along the same five lane heavily travelled road, but this stretch contains not one sidewalk.  Fortunately much of that stretch is through parking lots, but there is a stretch that is like a goat trail which leads to a vacant lot.  Neither are generally cut so the weeds can and do hide broken bottles and various other trash (I never encountered any used condoms!)  Please note that both stretches of road mentioned above have been a part of the city for years, but sidewalk construction hasn’t been anywhere near a priority for this part of the city.

We decided that having a little one and not moving precluded us from remaining a one car household.  In the two and half years of being a one car household I can only recall a handful of times the bus was critically late, and at a cost of $0.75 per ride (if you buy the ticket book, but only $1 per ride if you pay singly), it is certainly cheaper than gas or parking.  Maybe one day we’ll return to being regular bus riders, but I cannot imagine hauling a stroller and all those baby accoutrements to the bus stop then on the bus then off the bus then all around town then repeat for the return ride.  Then again we never thought we could make do with one car for as long as we did.  Unfortunately, this will be the first Strive Not to Drive that I will not join in the past few years because it coincides with my 38th week of pregnancy.  I can only hope that you might decide to participate.

Rather than subsidize multi national companies that don’t even pay taxes on their billions in annual profits to begin with, we need a New Deal type program that gets the unemployed constructing sidewalks, repairing bridges, and building rail.  Public transit eases congestion, and for those of us that like to go out and knock a few back, it provides a much cheaper alternative to a taxi (which allows us to spend more money knocking a few back and eating a good meal).  Transit jobs cannot be outsourced, and public transit encourages private investment along its corridors much like roads.

Happy Earth Day.


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Cinnamon Kitchen

Posted by eemilla on April 22, 2011

I believe Cinnamon Kitchen is the final new addition to the south end that I was interested in trying so a few nights ago we headed over.  They have a corner spot in Gerber Village with roadside frontage, and fortunately for everyone Five Guys has turned down the volume on their noise pollution, which should make dining on either one of the two patios a bit more pleasant (although the noise from Hendersonville Rd or fumes from the parking lot might not be anymore pleasant).  The interior is warm, and the tables are moderately spaced.  We sat on the opposite side of the bar divided by a five foot wall; unfortunately, this put us in hearing distance of the server stand behind the bar and in good view of the flat screen for the bar patrons.

After we were sat, we were served by two servers although the hostess advised Nick would be taking care of us.  This did nothing to improve service.  For the most part it also did nothing to really impair service either; however at one point our waters were removed to be refilled rather than just use the pitcher that was used later.  We received our appetizers from a food runner, and halfway through the server who had removed the waters returned to inquire about the appetizers at which point we reminded her about our missing waters.  She returned with only one, but my husband had his beer so we just let it go.  The other issue occurred at the end of the meal when our check arrived before we were finished (with about an hour of service remaining), so we ordered dessert then after finishing and having the plates cleared and having enough time to run to the ladies’ room we had to request the check.  Both servers were friendly if less than professional, but again overall it was mediocre not terrible service.

We ordered liberally because I’m almost always hungry these days, and overall the food was fine but not impressive.  I felt the opener and the closer were the best parts of the meal; I ordered some garlic naan, and it was really garlicky and not overly greasy as well as being a fair portion.  We also ordered two additional appetizers, which were less than stellar.  My hara bara kabob (wasn’t actually a kabob although the menu description does indicate it is a patty) was overworked potatoes formed into cakes with spinach and served with a huge chuck of icky looking lettuce and two sauces (tamarind and a green spicy mix); while the cake was gummy, the flavor was fine.  My honey had two large veggie samosas, and as I only had one bit I don’t recall if the potato was overworked.

My husband ordered the tandoori lamb, and the portion was generous.  It was served with again huge chunks of vegetables in the center with the lamb chops arranged in a circle around the plate.  The center vegetables were not seasoned but they had been cooked; although one could cut them at the table, it is just odd to be served such large pieces of vegetables.  The chops were served with sauce in a separate dish that my honey really enjoyed.  For my entree I replicated my Mela dining experience and ordered the bangan bhar.  Although my vegetables were much more bite sized, the eggplant was cooked down much more than the peppers or onions, and the tomatoes looked like the whole canned tomatoes we use at home to make red sauce.  The flavor and portion were fine, and it was also served with white rice and frozen peas on the side.  For dessert I went with the mango kulfi, and at less than four dollars I must endorse this as one of the best dessert options on this end of town.  The presentation did detract a bit from the dessert;  five or six cubes of mango kulfi were surrounded by two clouds of canned whipped topping that had been drizzled with chocolate syrup.  On the plus side, the chocolate syrup and whipped topping were off to side and could be avoided.

The beer selection might be considered impressive outside of Asheville, but nary a local brewery was represented on draft (Gaelic by the bottle).  While neither our food nor the service were outright bad, I feel Chai Pani offers much better food for much less money, and we both agreed that there is no reason to return to Cinnamon Kitchen (although thinking about that mango kulfi I might return to assuage my sweet tooth).

Cinnamon Kitchen on Urban Spoon

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