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    Lays Flavored Chips: Southern Biscuits and Gravy + West Coast Truffle Fries

    Do us a flavor and vote for your favorite

    Lays Flavored Chips

    If you haven’t heard yet, Lays potato chips does this crazy thing called “Do Us a Flavor” where they ask people to come up with outrageous flavors which are later voted on by the community. In podcast Episode 98: One Armed Ninja we briefly discuss some of these peculiar flavors. In an effort to take things one step further (and gross Marcia out at the same time), John and I decided to make a tasting video of the two flavors we purchased. Said video is featured below. The review itself is about 4 minutes long and the rest is… well, you’ll see. Enjoy!

    Namco’s Level 257 Goes Beyond the Kill Screen

    “Fun” Dining for Classic Game Lovers

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    Those of us in the Chicago area, gamers or not, have been excited about the possibilities of Level 257 for some time now. The construction has been hard to miss, if you go out to Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg with any regularity. Level 257, on the side of the mall that already sports Sears and Rainforest Café, is a sprawling and sleek black matte storefront housing a bowling alley, a small but well-stocked arcade, surprisingly well-thought-out eats, and a great Pac-Man theme. It’s now in its soft opening stage.

    Because it still isn’t “officially” open, managers and wait staff were totally excited to offer up all kinds of information about this place. Let’s be clear.  While Level 257 is family-friendly, it’s truly a place for adults. Specifically, it’s for people like me. People who grew up with games, and who love them – but who usually act like grown-ups now and are interested in enjoying real food and handcrafted cocktails in a fine-dining environment.

    Pac-Man Fever

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    Here, you can see some of the Pac-Man detail in one of the bowling lanes.

    Oh sure, there’s a geeky undertow to this place. The Lost and Found arcade lounge has all the cool games I played as a kid – including, and I love this part – Dragon’s Lair, which I remember so well because of all the hype when it was released (back then, it cost two tokens per game so I never got too far into the story).  Frogger, Defender, Centipede, Space Invaders, air hockey, Mario Kart, basketball, and many more, are all there, all restored perfectly, available as standing arcade games and installed flat into wooden tables with booth seating. A library with tabletop games is also available, if you don’t want to shell out $15 for 60 minutes of gameplay (other time increments are available also). The arcade also includes “battle pods” – I’m not sure if this is the official name, but that’s what David Bishop, Chief Pac-Man Evangelist, called them when he visited our table, so I’m repeating it. They’re basically step-inside games with a giant concave screen that surrounds and immerses you. I absolutely loved it, even though I left the pod with vertigo. I’m assured by the staff that these pods came off the assembly line pretty much the week previous, and are currently the only ones outside of Japan.

    There’s also a giant Pac-Man game, one of the largest in the world, and an arcade machine that has been set up to start Pac-Man at Level 255 – just before the kill screen. And, if you look closer at the décor of Level 257, which was unfinished at the time of my visit, you’ll see lots of great Pac-Man-inspired detail as well. For example, in the bowling alley there are mirrored disco balls, one of which is painted yellow to invoke our pellet-eating friend. Yellow lines and tiny Pac-Man shapes are found everywhere. One temporary wall was covered with Level 256 kill screen graphics. And it isn’t just the décor that’s geeky, either. If you ask around, you might find a server who holds something like 22 world gaming records.

    The Noms

    But all this is all almost an aside. The fact is, Level 257 is a theme restaurant created to leverage Namco’s high-profile properties. And the dining here is the focus. The managers here, who have been working on putting Level 257 together for four and a half years, looked at places like Main Event and Dave & Busters and decided they wanted to target an older, more upscale clientele. As a result, they went all out in terms of the food. Chefs from all around the world work here – yes, there’s sushi. The steaks are USDA Prime, the food is organically sourced, the water is filtered on site (both still and sparkling are complimentary), the pizza is tossed within sight of diners, the cocktails are handcrafted on site, and almost everything is made from scratch, with a few exceptions.

    Power Pellets - beignets with bittersweet chocolate filling and Pop Rocks on top.

    Chocolate Power Pellets – beignets with projectile bittersweet chocolate filling and Pop Rocks on top.

    The menu’s most popular dishes include lobster mac and cheese, seared trout, “Filet Mig-nom” and the bacon apple pork chop. Appetizers include homemade Italian gnocchi and Tiki Rumaki, bacon-wrapped beef and pork meatballs with pepper jack cheese and a pineapple jalapeno glaze. And, please save room for dessert because the Chocolate Power Pellets are my favorite new thing ever. They’re described as “bittersweet chocolate filled doughnut holes, coffee anglaise, powdered sugar” but this does not adequately describe them at all. You have to eat them in one bite; cut them, and the chocolate squirts out at you like blood from a particularly gory horror film. That’s actually what I thought of. And they’re topped with Pop Rocks.

    Coming Up

    If the Level 257 concept works in Schaumburg (and there were over 400 reservations on the Friday night that I went, cluelessly not making advance plans and causing us to get to know the gaming lounge quite well for an hour before our table was ready), another Level 257 will eventually open in London. The Schaumburg location will celebrate a ribbon-cutting and grand opening on April 25 and will be the headquarters of Pac-Man’s 35th anniversary sometime around May 23; rumors abound of appearances by championship Bears players and a person who has actually beat Pac-Man’s highest level.

    Quick Verdict

    I loved the place more than my kid, who remains a staunch Main Event fan – although here the gaming room isn’t much smaller, and it’s packed with actual games rather than ticket-spewing contraptions. The food was excellent, with entrees in the $20-$30 range and desserts between $6-$8 . The service was very attentive – probably more than will be the norm once the kinks are worked out. We had maybe three people refreshing our drinks, two of which took our order, and we had at least two others come by to check upon our service, one of whom showed up even before we’d taken a bite. The service overlapped a bit, but it was nice of them to come and talk to us about the place and its vision.

    The games were all working well and the battle pods were fantastic. Bowling costs $40 a game after 5 p.m., so we skipped that, as there was a waiting list anyway. If you like classic games and enjoy fine dining, I’d definitely recommend a stop here. Check it out at www.level257.com.

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    I Ain’t Scared of no Ghost…Busters Doughnut!

    Donughts Make Me Feel Good

    What do you get when Krispy Kreme and Sony Pictures get together to celebrate the Blu-Ray release of the 30th anniversary edition of Ghostbusters? Ectoplasm on your doughnuts! Or if you want to be accurate, Psychomagnotheric Slime. The second version allows pastry lovers to bite into a delicious cream filled icing covered Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, complete with a sugar hat.

    We are truly excited to collaborate with Sony Pictures in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the iconic ‘Ghostbusters’ brand, said Dwayne Chambers, Krispy Kreme’s chief marketing and innovations officer. And we are delighted to bring our fans two delicious, limited-edition treats that are as unique, creative and joyful as this beloved film franchise.”

    Hop into your Ecto 1 from Sept. 29 through Oct. 31 and visit U.S. and Canada Krispy Kreme locations, while supplies last. If you’re worried they may sell out before you can get to them, customers can pre-order five dozen or more at their local store beginning Tuesday.

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    Food & Drink, Geekery
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    Progressive Reviews: Club W

    ClubW-wine-pour
    Has life become tedious and exhausting for you? Do you find you’re spending too much time doing mundane tasks such as cooking, laundry and going to the store to buy wine? As a busy adult I can see the benefit in having wine delivered directly to my front door. That’s why I am checking out Club W.

    Club W delivers monthly shipments of wine based on your personalized recommendations. Not much of a wine connoisseur? Not a problem. Club W will walk you through a “Palate Profile”, asking you six questions regarding flavors you prefer. All you have to do after that is decide which three of the recommended wines you would like to try first. The wines aren’t the typical name brands you’ll find on a grocery store shelf either. They all come from small production wineries, which appeals to me personally because I feel like I may try things I wouldn’t have normally known about.

    If you would like to check out Club W, you can use this link and get a free bottle of wine in your first order! If the link doesn’t work, just try using the promo code 682793 at checkout. Or if you want to wait and see how I like my first bottles, just check back on this blog regularly.

    *This blog post is titled as a “Progressive Review.” These are a new type of post I am experimenting with. I’ll continue to update this post as I receive my wine, and maybe even do a video or three of me sampling the bottles I chose. We have a special Pinterest Board for these, and you can also stay up to date by “liking” us on Facebook.

    [box type=”info”]DISCLAIMER: Club W is a service I signed up for on my own, with my own money. This is not an advertisement, and I am not getting paid to post this. I just really like wine…a lot.[/box]

    Clean Your Refrigerator Day – November 15th

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    What better way to kick off your weekend of fun than by cleaning out your refrigerator? November 15th marks an especially odd obscure “holiday”, Clean Your Refrigerator Day.  With Thanksgiving looming right around the corner, you’re going to need to clean out…whatever that is you’ve shoved in the back of your fridge. This way on turkey day, you won’t have to worry about if you have enough room for all those leftovers, or if you’re going to have to force your friends and family to loosen their belts one more notch and go back for seconds, or fourths.

    Normally I like to go with the old saying “When in doubt, toss it out”, but if you are like me and don’t enjoy wasting food, check out the website StillTasty.  They have an easy search system so that you can look up questionable food items.  November 15th is also America Recycles Day, so make sure to recycle as much as you can.

    So say TGIF, by burying yourself in your refrigerator for a few hours, finish off those half bottles of wine, and create interesting snacks out of smaller leftover items.  If you decide to do a major overhaul, feel free to take some before and after pictures and share them with us on Facebook.  We promise we won’t judge you…much.

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    Food & Drink, Mommies
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    Cards Against Humanity – PAX Prime 2013

    Cards Against Humanity Fortune Cookies

    Cards Against Humanity Fortune Cookies

    What happens when you sneak in the exit of the Cards Against Humanity booth at PAX Prime? A random interview!

    I stuck my head in their booth, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive Bigger Blacker Box, and maybe grab some swag. What I ended up with was an interview with Ben Hantoot, one of the eight co-creators of Cards Against Humanity. Ben was a good sport and didn’t seem to mind being kidnapped at all.

    Desirai (Mommy Gamers co-host, co-owner, and Evil Genius) and I are huge fans of Cards Against Humanity. We’ve mentioned CAH in many of our podcast episodes,  Episode 22: Deep Dark Hole (12:35) and Episode 27: Sparkle Pukes, to name a few. Also, last year when I attended PAX Prime, I was covering the convention for The Married Gamers.  I experienced Cards Against Humanity for the first time and even wrote a little something about what has now become my favorite card game of all time.  You can read that article by clicking here.

    Sadly, I missed out on the Bigger, Blacker Box. By the time I got around to going to purchase one, they were sold out. I plan to keep an eye on their website though, where I’ve signed up to be notified when they are available to purchase.

    However, I did come back with something awesome. The exclusive Cards Against Humanity themed fortune cookies that were being handed out at PAX Prime 2013. I have FOUR of these to give away, and to win you just have to do one thing for us…harass the people at Cards Against Humanity. I’m sure they won’t mind at all.

    Cards Against Humanity Cookie
    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    If you win one of the fortune cookies, please visit our Facebook page and share your fortune with us once you receive it. Desirai really wants to know what’s inside of these things. A fortune cookie opening video would really make her day.

    *Ben Hantoon was not actually kidnapped by The Mommy Gamers, and was safely returned to his booth after finishing the interview. I think he might have actually run away…hmmm.

    National Cheese Pizza Day – September 5th

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    Do you like cheese pizza? Have you been looking for a good excuse to cheat on your diet and have a gooey, greasy slice? If so, then today is your day! September 5th is National Cheese Pizza Day!

    Pizza made its way to the United States along with the arrival of Italian immigrants in the late 19th century.  Since then pizzas have been made in a variety of different ways, and are a common Friday night treat in our household. Sometimes we make our own, but for the most of the time it’s just easier to let the local pizza place bring it to our door.

    It’s not too late to scrap whatever healthy dinner plans you had for your family this evening, and call out for a pizza.  Don’t forget to ask for paper plates too, making your evening even more simple by cancelling out any arguing over who has to do the dishes. Make sure to do some searching on the internet as there are a few places out there offering special deals to celebrate.

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    Dairy Queen Miracle Treat Day

    MiracleTreatDay_001 Imagine if the simple, enjoyable act of eating ice cream could provide hope and healing to sick children in your community. On Thursday, August 8th, 2013 Dairy Queen stores across the globe will be making your dreams of cold ice cream with a size of warm fuzzies come true!

    On Miracle Treat Day, $1 or more from every Blizzard®Treat purchased at participating Dairy Queen stores will be donated to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

    In addition to that, for the second year in a row, if you RSVP to Miracle Treat day on Facebook your RSVP will be matched with a $1 donation – up to $50,000.  Get out there and make miracles happen everyone. Eat ice cream, enjoy yourselves…do it for the children!

     

    Visit MiracleTreatDay.com for the nearest participating Dairy Queen location and RSVP to Miracle Treat Day on their Dairy Queen Facebook page.

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