MOT HAI BA

April 19, 2018


một hai baNorth Vietnamese Cuisine

Mot Hai Ba is located in the Lakewood Neighborhood of Dallas at 6047 Lewis Street and is one of the many gourmet restaurants in the city of Dallas.  When I think of Dallas I think of brisket, BBQ, ribs, flank steak, etc. I do NOT think of North Vietnamese cuisine—at all. Not at all. Quite frankly, I’m not too sure I have ever eaten Vietnamese food and I do not think we have Vietnamese in our “neck of the woods”.  When I saw the “North Vietnamese Cuisine” sign on the door I was a little concerned about finding a plate I could eat without calling the fire department.

Our daughter-in-law took my wife and me to Mot Hai Ba last night for dinner.  It was a marvelous surprise.   As you walk down Lewis Street to the restaurant, you first see a fairly small terrace that can accommodate four tables and about twelve or fifteen people.  Fortunately, the weather last night was sixty-one degrees with a cloudless blue sky.  We sat outside.

I went inside to take a look and discovered the area you see in the following photograph.  Once again, not too large but certainly a very cozy atmosphere.

I was very interested in the table settings.  As you can see, at each place was properly positioned chop sticks, small plate, napkin and one water glass.  No chairs, just padded stools.

Very small bar area with minimal seating for customers.  This is a place you eat and not hang out and drink. That fact became very obvious at first glance.

Now for the food.  I have copied the menu below from their web site due to my inability to capture the entire menu and provide readability.  Please forgive the segmented portrayal.

I had braised scallops on an eggplant sauce that was out of sight.  I love scallops but not a real fan of eggplant but this was absolutely marvelous.  Truly a great meal.  I don’t know if you travel to Dallas but if you do, please check out một hai ba. You will not regret this one.

 

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MOST HATED COMPANIES

February 3, 2018


The list of the “most hated American companies” was provided by KATE GIBSON in the MONEYWATCH web site, February 1, 2018, 2:20 PM.  The text and narrative is this author’s.

Corporate America is sometimes, but not always, blamed for a number of misdeeds, swindles, “let’s bash the little guy”, etc. behavior.  Many times, those charges are warranted.   You get the picture.   Given below, is a very quick list of the twenty (20) most hated U.S. companies.  This list is according to 24/7 Wall St., which took customer surveys, employee reviews and news events into account in devising its list: ( I might mention the list is in descending order so the most-egregious offender is at the bottom.

  • The Weinstein Company. I think we can all understand this one but I strongly believe most of the employees of The Weinstein Company are honest hard-working individuals who do their job on a daily basis.  One big problem—you CANNOT tell me the word did not get around relative to Weinstein’s activities.  Those who knew are definitely complicit and should be ashamed of themselves.  This includes those holier-than-thou- actresses and actors pretending not-to-know.
  • United Airlines. The Chicago-based carrier is still in the dog housewith customers after a video of a passenger being forcibly removed from his seat on an overbooked flight went viral last year. You simply do NOT treat individuals, much less customers, in the manner in which this guy was treated.  I wonder how much money United has lost due to the video?
  • Fake news, deceptive ads, invasion of privacy.  You get the picture and YET millions subscribe.  This post will be hyperlinked to Facebook to improve readership.  That’s about the only reason I use the website.
  • I don’t really know these birds but apparently the telecom, one of the nation’s biggest internet and telephone service providers, reportedly gets poor reviews from customers and employees alike. I think that just might be said for many of the telecoms.
  • This one baffles me to a great extent but the chemical company has drawn public ire at a lengthy list of harmful products, including DDT, PCBs and Agent Orange. Most recently, it’s accused of causing cancer in hundreds exposed to its weed killer, Roundup.
  • I’m a Comcast subscriber and let me tell you their customer service is the WORST. They are terrible.  Enough said.
  • I have taken Uber multiple times with great success but there are individuals who have been harassed.  Hit by complaints of sexual harassment at the company and a video of its then-CEO Travis Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver, the company last year faced a slew of lawsuit and saw 13 executives resign, including Kalanick.
  • Sears Holdings. Sears plans to close more than one hundred (100) additional stores through the spring of 2018, with the count of Sears and Kmart stores already down to under 1,300 from 3,467 in 2007. Apparently, customer satisfaction is a huge problem also.  The retail giant needs a facelift and considerable management help to stay viable in this digital on-line-ordering world.
  • Trump Organization.  At this point in time, Donald Trumpis the least popular president in U.S. history, with a thirty-five (35) percent approval rating at the end of December. That disapproval extends to the Trump brand, which includes golf courses, a hotel chain and real estate holdings around the globe. One again, I suspect that most of the employees working for “the Donald” are honest hard-working individuals.
  • Wells Fargo. At one time, I had a Wells Fargo business account. NEVER AGAIN. I won’t go into detail.
  • The insurance industry is not exactly beloved, and allegations of fraud have not helped Cigna’s case. Multiple lawsuits allege the company inflated medical costs and overcharged customers.
  • Spirit Airlines. I’ve flown Spirit Airlines and you get what you pay for. I do not know why customers do not know that but it is always the case.  You want to be treated fairly, fly with other carriers.
  • Vice Media The media organization has lately been roiled by allegations of systemic sexual harassment, dating back to 2003. One of these day some bright individual in the corporate offices will understand you must value your employees.
  • The telecom gets knocked for poor customer experiences that could in part be due to service, with Sprint getting low grades for speed and data, as well as calling, texting and overall reliability.
  • Foxconn Technology Group. Once again, I’m not that familiar with Foxconn Technology Group. The company makes and assembles consumer electronics for entities including Apple and Nintendo. It’s also caught attention for poor working and living conditions after a series of employee suicides at a compound in China. It recently drew negative press for a planned complex in Wisconsin.
  • Electronic Arts. The video-game maker known for its successful franchises is also viewed poorly by gamers for buying smaller studios or operations for a specific game and then taking away its originality.
  • University of Phoenix. I would expect every potential student wishing to go on-line for training courses do their homework relative to the most-desirable provider. The University of Phoenix does a commendable job in advertising but apparently there are multiple complaints concerning the quality of services.
  • I’m a little burned out with the NFL right now. My Falcons and Titans have had a rough year and I’m ready to move on to baseball. Each club sets their own spring training reporting dates each year, though all camps open the same week. Pitchers and catchers always arrive first. The position players don’t have to show up until a few days later. Here are this year’s reporting dates for the 15 Cactus League teams, the teams that hold spring training in Arizona.
  • Fox Entertainment Group. If you do not like the channel—do something else.  I bounce back and forth across the various schedules to find something I really obtain value-added from.  The Food Network, the History Channel, SEC Network.  You choose.  There are hundreds of channels to take a look at.
  • The consumer credit reporting was hit by a massive hack last year, exposing the personal data of more than 145 million Americans and putting them at risk of identity theft. Arguably worse, the company sat on the information for a month before letting the public know.

CONCLUSIONS:  In looking at this survey, there are companies that deserve their most-hated-status and, in my opinion, some that do not.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  As always, I welcome your comments.

PINK

January 28, 2018


On Saturday January 27, 2018 the City of Chattanooga held the thirteenth annual Pink Gala.  This remarkable event is held to benefit the MaryEllen Locher Breast Cancer Center at Chattanooga Memorial Hospital.  Pink, honors the legacy of Mary Ellen, and remembers all of those who have lost their battle with cancer, and celebrates those survivors that continue after their illness is cured.   This event provides additional funding to maintain the most comprehensive breast cancer center in the region and in the state of Tennessee.

Breast cancer has affected each of us in some manner.  The American Cancer Society estimates that breast cancer in men in the United States for 2018 estimates are:  approximately 2,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed.  About 480 men will die from breast cancer.  The lifetime risk for women:   Women in the U.S. have a “1 in 8” (or about 12 percent) lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. This means for every eight (8) women in the U.S., one (1) will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime.  HUGE NUMBERS.  The diagnosis of cancer affects not only the individual’s health but every aspect of family life.  As a comprehensive breast cancer center, the MaryEllen Center receives patients and provides state-of-the-art treatment while supporting then with nurse navigators, social workers, genetic counselors, and dieticians.  The Pink event has raised over $3.4 million dollars since its inception in 2006.  All money raised is used locally and directly affects impacted families in the Chattanooga Community.

We are going to take a pictorial visit to the event last night starting with the program.  As you can see, the theme for this year’s event was “A Night in Old Havana”.  I have to believe the day after the 2017 Pink Gala the organizers started working on the 2018 event.  The planning was absolutely flawless with every detail covered.  There were one hundred and thirty-seven (137) tables with ten (10) chairs per table.  Every chair was filled.  Each table had a “captain” responsible for inviting guests.  There were no empty chairs that I could see.

The program for the evening is given below.   As you can see, included was a remarkably great dinner including a delicious Cuban sandwich offered as appetizer.  It was GOOD.

As we entered the Chattanooga Convention Center we heard the Cuban band playing loud and clear.  No mistaken the origin of the music.  Accomplished musicians doing what they do best—warming up the attendees.

You can see from the digital picture below, the auditorium was decorated remarkably well with table cloths and napkins, obviously, PINK.  The size of the auditorium easily accommodated the fourteen hundred (1400) people in attendance.

The two best words any party-goer can hear, “open bar”.  There were no fewer that four bars open for business that night with no charge to the party-goers.

After a GREAT dinner, a silent auction was held to raise additional funds for the Center.

I want to give you an idea as to what items were offered for the auction.

  • A painting of the auditorium by noted Chattanooga painter Liz Lindstrom. The value of that painting was set at $3,500. Lindstrom was painting when we arrived so the finished work is not shown below but you can get some idea as to the quality of the piece.

  • QUARK Sculpture—Value, $30,000. (NOTE:  The final bid was approximately $38,000.)
  • Diamond necklace valued at $6,500.00
  • Hammerstein Highland Lodge in Jamaica. Six nights–$15,500.00. This is a gated community with every amenity you can think of.  Great place to escape—but with a price.
  • EPB (Electric Power Board) of Chattanooga Small Business Advertising Package—Valued at $9,000.00
  • Custom Men’s Suit by Bruce Baird—Valued at $1,000.00
  • Whirlpool Stainless Steel Refrigerator—Valued at $2,200.00
  • Porsche Driving Experience—Valued at $500.00.
  • Black Cashmere Cape with Fox Trim—Valued at $3,000.00
  • BMW Baby Racer—Valued at $129.00
  • Wine Cellar with Cooler—Valued at $1,550.00
  • Alabama Football Tickets—Valued at $600.00
  • Destin Condo at Breakers East—Valued at $3,400.00
  • Personal Jet Experience—Valued at $3,700.00

There were eighty items auctioned off that night during the benefit.  All items were sold. Nothing left.

After the auction, a terrific band called dancing to Party on the Moon.  I have no idea as to where this band came from but they were not local.  Eight members banging it out.

All-in-all, great event for a GREAT cause.  Everyone had a marvelous time.  We left at 10:45 which is later than I stay up 364 days each year but that’s ok.  None the worse for the wear.

IROCO RESTURANTE

October 27, 2017


Is there anyone out there who does NOT like to eat?  Anyone who would turn down a wonderful gourmet meal?  OK, I don’t think so.

A few years ago, my wife and I cashed in a few Delta frequent flyer points and flew to Madrid for our anniversary.  Just the two of us!!!!  The city was in the process of making repairs due to an Olympic bid so there was construction on many of the main streets, including the one you see below.   Calle Vasquez was located in Central Madrid and in walking distance from our hotel.  The IROCO Resturante was recommended by the hotel staff as being one destination that would give us a taste of authentic Spanish cuisine.  This turned out to be the case.  (You do NOT eat “American” when you visit Spain.)  As you can see, orange barrels and construction signs on Calle Vasquez marking repairs and construction for the entire length of the street.  That did not stop the determined from making the trip.

The logo for IROCO is given below.  This placard was positioned prominently on both sides of the main entrance.

As we entered the building and what I thought was the main dining hall, I was NOT impressed.  I discovered after a few steps that we were being directed to a marvelous garden adjoining the kitchen. Wonderfully lighted with tables and umbrellas well-positioned throughout the garden.  The digital photograph will indicate the basic layout of the garden.

 

It’s hard to tell which is leafier—the dining room walls covered with botanical prints or the back-garden terrace where tables sit among potted trees and shrubs. Either is a good place to enjoy contemporary Spanish cooking that sometimes roams the globe for ingredients. The delicious plate of paella-style rice with cilantro and crisply fried squid is stained black with huitalacoche (corn smut) to make a lighter and more original version of a Catalan arròs negre, or black rice. Iroco’s slow-roasted, boneless kid glazed with honey and served with a turnip purée makes goat a revelation. Garden service carries a ten percent (10%) surcharge but worth the price.

Even though we ate in the garden, the “cave” was really intriguing.  This was a below-ground annex to the garden with additional tables, a wine cellar and a fully-stocked bar with just about any liquor you would ask for.

As you can see from the digital below, there is seating in the “cave”.  You can enjoy a drink or order from the full menu.  We chose the garden because it was a beautiful clear night with not-to-hot temperature and a very soft breeze blowing.

We went all out on this one including desert and were not in the least disappointed with the offerings or the service.  I can certainly recommend this restaurant to you if and when you are ever in Madrid.  As always, my recommendation does not mean that much so I want to indicate what others are saying about IROCO.

As always, I welcome your comments

BELA LISBOA

October 21, 2017


My wife and I heard rave reviews about a new restaurant in Chattanooga called Bela Lisboa so we decided to visit very early this past Friday afternoon.  (When I say early I mean early.  It was just past five o’clock as they were opening the doors.)  We were their first customers so please do not be put off by the vacant tables.  Bela Lisboa has been open for approximately three (3) months.  Our server, YaYa indicated their busiest hours were from seven to nine in the evening.  One very important note:  there is “free” parking in the back.  The location is 417 Frazier Avenue in the North Shore area and parking can be a real problem during the evening hours.  Park in back.

It was a MARVELOUS experience and an unexpected surprise. The food was excellent, the service was flawless—every dish was extremely well-repaired.  If I may, let me give you a digital tour of the evening.

As I mentioned, we were their first customers although people began entering as we were finishing our meal.  You can get a feel for the seating arrangement and decorations from above.  There are additional tables to the left of the photograph and tables positioned towards the front of the establishment.  There is also a bar which is not shown in the picture.

Our server was a young lady named YaYa.  She was very knowledgeable regarding the menu items and the specials for the evening and very attentive and yet not “hovering”.  (We don’t like hovering!) Not a native of Chattanooga but resident for ten (10) years and was one of the first employees of Bela Lisboa.

OK, let’s go to the food.  We decided that since we had not been there before, we would order multiple dishes from the “starter” menu.  That turned out to be the best thing we could have done.

Let me state emphatically—I do not like HUMMUS—never have for some reason.  This dish was the first served and it was wonderfully well prepared.  I am now a believer—at least in the hummus served by Bela Lisboa.  As you can see, the bread served was based with olive oil.

Breaded Calamari Rings with House Spicy Marinara. Notice the yellow pepper added to the dish.  I do love calamari which is one of the favorite dishes in Portugal.  The spicy sauce was great but not “three alarm”.  It was delicious on top of the rings.

Fig-infused Goat Cheese with Honey, Walnut, and Balsamic Reduction.  OK, this is a mouth full.  Once again, I’m not really a fan of goat cheese but this was truly good with a capital “G”.  This could have been my meal alone.

Poached Shrimp in Garlic & Olive Oil. Who does not like shrimp? Served in a skillet and piping hot.

Salmon Tartare With Red Onion, Mango, Coriander, Olive Oil. In years past, I had a bad experience with steak tartare so I was a little nervous about this one also but it was fabulous.  I mean really fabulous.

The owner and chef of Bela Lisboa is David Filippini.  He is from Portugal and has owned restaurants in Portugal prior to coming to the United States. We did not meet him this evening but we meet the manager during dinner and had a conversation with him as we were leaving.  We certainly indicated what a great experience this was.  Bela Lisboa is the only restaurant serving Portuguese food in Chattanooga even though our city is becoming much more oriented to food from other parts of the world.

Now, I would like to show you reviews from others who have enjoyed the experience.  Take a look at the several given below.

CONCLUSIONS:

The good news is—Bela Lisboa is in Chattanooga.  The bad news is-Bela Lisboa is in Chattanooga and most of you reading this post are not in Chattanooga.  One good reason to make the visit to the “sunny south”.  Also, I want to portray the fact that Chattanooga is a marvelous town and one which has become a “destination city” simply due to the great scenery, the wonderful and welcoming people, marvelous restaurants such as Bela Lisboa, and just plenty of “stuff” to do.  When visiting, you MUST try Bela Lisboa!  Please come take a look for yourself.

CONSIDER THE COSTS

July 7, 2017


I’m pretty sure most people, like me, ALWAYS consider the costs of purchased items.  I do NOT buy a pack of bubble gum without asking “how much” nor do I envy those who have enough money to purchase without consideration of “how much”.   The list below is totally random but does represent the fact year after year things we need and want increase at an alarming rate. (At least in my opinion.)

  • One dozen organic eggs- $3.50.
  • Hatsan Nova 0.22 Air Rifle–$749.00
  • IRS estimated value of Michael Jackson’s estate– $434.00 million
  • Average cost of one American wedding–$26,700.00. (I’m blown away by this one. Happy I have all boys.)
  • Wedding statistics released in 2017 by The Knot show the price brides are willing to pay for their gowns has gone up. The 2016 national average spent was $1,564, and the year before it was $1,469. Apart from venue, photographer, and planner, the wedding dress was one of the costliest items of the whole event.
  • According to Cost Helper, traditional metal dental braces cost between $3,000and $7,500. The duration of treatment ranges from one to three years depending on the how severe the problem is for the patient.
  • Estimated costs to decommission a nuclear reactor in France–$322.00 million
  • Stock bonus given to Glenn Kellow, coal executive who led Peabody Energy through bankruptcy-$15.00 million.
  • Amtrak locomotive–$6.50 million.
  • One WWII B-17 in 1945–$238,329.00
  • Apple i-phone 6–$549.00
  • Month of fitness classes in Ohio-$129.00
  • One barrel of Brent Crude Oil as of 7 July 2017–$49.15
  • A 2008 prediction of one gallon of gasoline in 2015–$9.15.
  • The cost of one day in the hospital.
    • State/local government hospitals–$1,878
    • Nonprofit hospitals–$2,289
    • For-profit hospitals–$1791
  • Each university online course cost around $300 or $400 per credit hour. On top of that, several classes had application fees in the $30-$50 range.
  • Investments in US wind projects over the past ten years–$128.00 billion.
  • Global airport security market by 2023-$12.72 billion.
  • Cost of rumored purchase of home in LA for Beyoncé and JayZ– $93 million for 30,000 square feet, 10 bedrooms, 20 bathrooms.
  • Next generation wind technology for R&D through 2026–$36.90 billion.
  • Johnny Depp’s yacht–$33.00
  • The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan is $3,895, according to the January 2015 Citi habitat market report.

Seventy-one percent (71%) of the world’s population remain low-income or poor, living off  ten ($10) or less a day, according to a new Pew Research Center report that looked at changes in income for 111 countries between 2001 and 2011.  On July 4, 1776, we claimed our independence from Britain and Democracy was born. Every day thousands leave their homeland to come to the “land of the free and the home of the brave” so they can begin their American Dream.  That American Dream has allowed our people to succeed, fail, and try again.  Without our system of government, even with all of its flaws and shortcomings, we just might be one of those third-world countries in which ten dollars per day is the norm.  Happy Birthday America.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG

April 13, 2017


Each year the Brainerd Baptist Church of Chattanooga sponsors a “Spring Garden Party”.  As you might expect, this event determines Spring is not only here but winter will NOT come again for several months.  It is a marvelous event for their church and serves to get everyone together celebrating the beginning of the season.  Anyone living in Chattanooga can only look at the pollen count to know that bushes, shrubs, flowers, trees, etc. are in full bloom.  One great thing about the event is the marvelous creativity shown by table settings individually “constructed” for each table.  Brainerd Baptist facility is called the BX, and houses two basketball floors, weight room, in-door track, meeting rooms, and small diner.  It really is the meeting place for not only members of the Brainerd Baptists Church but the neighborhood in general.  We are going to take a pictorial look at several striking examples of the creativity demonstrated for each table. Not much narrative with this post—only digital photographs.  One thing I’m going to ask—please notice the great variety in table settings themselves.  Plates, utensils, napkins, etc.  They are unique for each table and definitely complement the overall theme for each table. I’m going to apologize up front for the photographic quality of several JPEGs.  I used the camera in my phone. Sometimes a hit and sometimes a miss.  Let’s take a look.

Above the stage was a three-panel sign announcing the event and welcoming the participants.

As you can see, the floor is immense and obviously large enough to accommodate approximately fifty (50) tables seating eight (8) individuals.  The efforts expended by the church members occurs over an entire week.  Each table is numbered with occupants of each table being asked by the host of that table to join the event.  A roster of table numbers and names if provided at the entry.

The Table 6 host has place settings that look like cabbage leaves.  Please note the purple cabbage leaves wrapped around the glasses.  Really unique.

You might have to look, but there are three (3) crosses displayed in the planter for this table arrangement. Notice the intricate design on the plates.

We all love popcorn.  This table represents an afternoon at the movies.

Table 21 is the jelly bean table.  The colors do not show up that much but there are beans in each jar.

Table 20

Table 13 is decorated with typical spring flowers called forsythia found in the Southeastern portion of our country.

The host for this table has gone international.  Beautiful centerpiece representing clothes worn in other countries.

The center piece displays white tulips.  I have no idea as to where the host found these beautiful flowers. Please note the napkins and utensils.

Table 4 shows a lamb as the centerpiece. Definitely a religions theme. Again, please note the salad plates showing a picture of a lamb.

We all love Easter bunnies.  The eggs are real hard-boiled eggs.

Table 17—Tea Cups

This table setting was by far the tallest with sunflowers or daisies gracing the centerpiece. You cannot really tell from this JPEG but each individual plate has the name of the person that will be sitting in that position. Really creative.

While walking the indoor track, I took a picture of tallest center piece from above.

This table featured the plate shown above at each of the eight positions. The color of the place mats varied from chair to chair.

Table 36 shows hot air balloons floating away.

The photo of Table 35 is a bit washed out but the colors were striking with this one.

Table 38 shows a vase with coffee beans as the center piece.  Really creative and colors were contrasting which gave a distinctive appearance.  If you look very carefully, you will notice individual Frappuccino “offerings” as favors.

You cannot imagine the beautiful spring flowers created by the host of table 30.

I certainly hope you enjoyed the tour.  Not much text—just beautiful and creative displays.

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