11 Questions, Series, Travel

11 Questions with Trang Hammond of Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream

Trang Hammond - Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream - San Diego, CA #getinmymouf

Whenever it gets cold here on the east coast, we quickly begin to dream of all the warm, sunny fun we’ve had on the west coast. Specifically, San Diego. And it might seem counter-intuitive, but one of the foods we begin to crave the most during the winter is ice cream. But, not just any ice cream. Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream.

Thanks to my buddy, Mike from The Flying Peanut, we were introduced to Hammond’s a few years ago at their first location in North Park. They serve the Hawaiian-made Tropical Dreams ice cream and the flavors range from classics (Butter Pecan and Cookies & Cream) to more unique tastes like Peanut Butter Guava Jelly, White Chocolate Ginger, and Azuki Bean. With a ton of interesting flavors to try, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of their ice cream flights, where you’ll have a chance to try out up to 32 (yes, thirty-two) flavors at once. You don’t believe it’s thirty-two? Fine, check out this proof on Instagram:

You’re booking a ticket to San Diego now, aren’t you? Our personal favorite ice cream flavors include Lychee, Brown Sugar, Toasted Coconut, and Chocolate Orange. Only 28 more flavors to go!

Hammond’s recently opened up a second location in Pacific Beach, so for any one who doesn’t like to travel too far inland, you now have a solid super premium ice cream option near the beach. And a third location is in the works in Point Loma, too!

Pacific Beach - Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream - San Diego, CA #getinmymouf

Photo courtesy of Trang Hammond.

One of the owners, Trang Hammond, was kind enough to take time out from building an ice cream empire to answer 11 questions about ice cream, Hawaii, San Diego, and all the fun stuff that goes into running your own shop.

1.  Hammond’s serves a ton of unique flavors; are there any that have turned out to be more popular than you expected?

Every flavor is unique and has its own fan base, so to speak. I guess the Vanilla Rose, a new flavor we just debuted, is going pretty fast and is really popular. And of course our Ginger Cream, which I think is absolutely amazing–but I was worried it could be too strong–has been such a fan favorite as well since it perfectly captures the ginger taste while maintaining a creamy base.

2.  Your North Park location is a natural extension, since you and the other owners were already North Park residents – Why choose Pacific Beach for your second shop?

The first time my husband moved to San Diego from Georgia, he moved to Pacific Beach (like any twenty-something male would, I guess). But he lived there for many years and naturally I hung out there with him a lot, so we really got to know the community. We like the area and the community and we just wanted to provide it with a gourmet ice cream scoop shop.

Pacific Beach - Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream - San Diego, CA #getinmymouf

Photo courtesy of Trang Hammond.

3.  My first experience at Hammond’s included an ice cream flight (as everyone’s first visit should), which allowed me an opportunity to sample six different flavors. Were the ice cream flights always part of the original plan when you all decided to open up the shop, or was it a happy accident that was realized along the way ?

The ice cream flight was a happy accident. We offer so many different flavors that my husband, Ryan, actually thought it would be a great idea to be able to try a lot in individual, smaller portions just like a beer flight. And so, I did the research on cone sizes, and flight holders and the Hammond’s Flight was born.

4.  If you could go back in time and give yourself and the other owners one piece of advice about opening up Hammond’s first location, what would it be?

It gets easier. Especially the first location–we opened up right in the middle of summer. None of us ever owned a business before, so we thought we were ready, but we definitely had some growing pains. The community was so warm and welcoming and forgiving that it was crazy, but fun. The first few months before and after opening up is always going to be intense, so looking back, I would tell all of us that it gets easier.

5.  What were some of the challenges that you faced when opening up the second location in Pacific Beach? Was it any easier than opening the first store?

The only challenge I would say with the second store, as opposed to the first store, is that because I knew so much more, there was more to do. With the first store, I was still doing start-up things after the Grand Opening, because I was still learning about everything it took to open an ice cream shop. With the second store (and soon third) I started out knowing everything I needed to do and to have, so the list of things to do, make, and buy was enormous.

Pacific Beach - Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream - San Diego, CA #getinmymouf

Photo courtesy of Trang Hammond.

6.  You’ve mentioned in other interviews that Hammond’s is inspired by you and your husband’s vacations to Hawaii in which you discovered this super rich, unique ice cream that you couldn’t find anywhere in San Diego. Are there any other Hawaiian foods that you wish you could find on the mainland?

Yes, pretty much any poke sandwich, nacho wrap, burger, salad, or appetizer I ever ate in Hawaii I wish we had here in the mainland. As for desserts, I just love the Hershey’s Macadamia Nut Kisses you can only get in Hawaii.

7.  Do you have any go-to restaurants that you always visit when you’re in Hawaii?

Our favorite island is Kauai. We loved going to a sports bar called Backyards for their Ahi Poke Nachos. The Shrimp Station is always a must for us as well. We liked the low key ambiance on vacation. My best memories involve getting a poke burger at a little shack and heading over to the beach with Ryan and just enjoying the moment.

8.  What are some of your favorite North Park restaurants and bars that you frequent? 

North Park is full of amazing restaurants and bars. For bars we really like WayPoint Public, because it has great food and a nice little play area where we can watch our toddler play safely while we enjoy our meal. When I was in college, (many years ago) I studied and hung out at Claire de Lune Coffee Shop all the time. They have great pastries, teas and coffees. There is a new restaurant that just opened called Encontro, which I have been dying to try, but haven’t had the chance. They actually make amazing shakes using our ice cream! And we like going to Lefty’s Pizza for a solid slice of pizza with no fuss. While we’re talking about pizza, our North Park neighbor, Urbn Pizza has really good pizzas as well. And they actually created a drink using our waffle cones. Lastly, when we have friends in town, we like taking them to Urban Solace, it’s got great food and a very nice ambiance. And then after dinner I like going to Hammond’s for ice cream, haha. I can go on and on about North Park, but I think this should suffice :)

9.  For people visiting San Diego, what is one attraction (touristy or non-touristy) that they absolutely must check out?

Well, Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream, of course! The tidepools in Cabrillo are always refreshing to hang out around. I grew up loving tidepools, so this is a must do for me. There are many many nice hiking trails in San Diego as well. Really, everyone should check out the diversity and charisma of all the neighborhoods in San Diego: North Park, Hillcrest, Little Italy, Gaslamp, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Golden Hills, etc. Each area is unique in its own way offering different cuisines and experiences and I think this would be the best way for someone to truly experience San Diego.

10.  What’s your personal preference for holding ice cream: cup, cake cone, or waffle cone?

It depends on the flavor. For example, I love the fruity flavors in a cup, the chocolaty flavors on a Waffle Cone and some of the classic ones like Butter Pecan or Tahitian Vanilla on a cake cone. When I am eating ice cream with someone else, I pretty much always get a waffle flight to share.

11.  Let’s say the President of the United States of America visits your store and wants a six-flavor ice cream flight, but he wants you to choose the flavors. Which six do you serve him?

Oh man, your questions really get into the heart of things! Tahitian Vanilla (something ordinary, easy to please everyone, yet satisfying), Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut (it really brings out the Hawaiian flavors and President Obama IS from Hawaii), Chocolate Peanut Butter Oreos (a total guy’s flavor, and really really delicious), Blueberry Cheesecake (Fruity, yet still savory with chunks of cheesecake), Birthday Cake (because his job is so stressful, ice cream with tons of yellow cake, frosting and sprinkles might help lighten the load), and POG (Pineapple-Orange-Guava) Sorbet (everyone needs to try our sorbets–they are dairy free, but bursting with all natural fruit flavors). I think the President would like this, as it would bring him back to his days in Hawaii.

Huge thanks to Trang for chatting with us! If you’re in San Diego, definitely stop by Hammond’s for an ice cream cone…or thirty-two.

Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream
North Park:  3077 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104
Pacific Beach:  1418 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109
Point Loma:  Coming Soon!
hammondsgourmet.com
Twitter: @HammondsGIC
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Hammonds-Gourmet-Ice-Cream-1428243157432275/
Instagram:  @HammondsIceCream

Pacific Beach - Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream - San Diego, CA #getinmymouf

Photo courtesy of Trang Hammond.

Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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11 Questions, Travel

11 Questions with The Dining Traveler

Jessica van Dop Dejesus - The Dining Traveler

Photo courtesy of Jessica van Dop Dejesus

If you’re a food and/or travel blogger in the Washington, DC area, you probably already know Jessica van Dop Dejesus aka The Dining Traveler. If you don’t, well you’re missing out on a generous blogger and local influencer who pays-it-forward more than any person we’ve ever met. Seriously, almost every cool trip, blogger-friendship, and restaurant relationship that we’ve established over the last year can in some way be traced back to her.

Jessica is currently in the last leg of a Kickstarter campaign to fund her Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico, a photo book and travel guide that portrays the island from a Puerto Rican perspective. Take a moment and check out her campaign video below, then channel some holiday spirit and make a donation to help her close in on her goal. And “donation” is a loose term, since you’re basically pre-ordering the guide along with some other cool perks at different pledge levels (including a home-cooked Puerto Rican meal made by Jessica herself!).

Despite being insanely busy with the campaign, as well as traveling, and finding time to enjoy the holidays, Jessica was kind enough to answer 11 questions about Puerto Rico, traveling, and (of course) food.

1.  What’s the one food dish that you recommend people try while in Puerto Rico?

Where do I start? My favorite places on the islands are the panaderias (bakeries). I love a medianoche sandwich. It’s similar to a panini; a soft baguette filled with roasted pork, ham, and Swiss cheese.

The Dining Traveler - Jessica | getinmymouf.com

Medianoche | Photo courtesy of Jessica van Dop Dejesus

2.  If someone wanted to stay away from touristy areas in Puerto Rico, like San Juan, what area(s) would you tell them to check out?

The west coast of Puerto Rico. Cabo Rojo in the southwest coast has beaches to die for, like Playa Buye and Playa Sucia. The town of Mayaguez for the food; they are known for their artisanal sangria and the guava jelly roll (Brazo Gitano).

Playa Buye in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

Playa Buye in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico | Photo courtesy of Jessica van Dop DeJesus

3.  What is the one thing that you’d like to share about Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican culture that people might not know?

That Puerto Ricans are very welcoming and open people. Don’t get weirded out when people tell you their whole life story after five minutes of meeting you!

4.  On average, how many days do you spend traveling each year?

This past year I have been on the road over 100 days so far.

5.  You seem to have already traveled almost everywhere, but what’s one country or city that you haven’t visited yet, but would like to?

Peru. It’s my dream destination. We’ve been trying to go for the last two years but something always happens. Hopefully in 2016.

6.  Do you have any travel rituals that you follow before a big trip?

I always wait until the last minute to pack. Does that count as a ritual?

7.  Do you remember your first plane ride?

I was five. We flew Eastern Airlines (dating myself here, LOL). We moved from Rochester, NY to Puerto Rico. I was super excited. The whole family, including our German Shepherd, was on the flight!

8.  When you’re back home in DC, what are some of your hobbies and other activities that you like to do to relax?

I love exploring DC. I enjoy going for a run along the Mount Vernon Trail and admiring the monuments across the Potomac. I also love checking out the new exciting restaurants that continue to pop up in the city.

9.  Okay, it’s late at night and you’re craving a sweet and/or salty snack. What do you make or grab from your kitchen to satisfy your late night hunger?

Well… this food blogger is trying to lose weight! I’m trying to be disciplined! However, my downfall is cheese. We always bring tons of cheese back from Holland, where my husband is from.

10.  You currently live in Washington, DC; what other U.S. city or cities do you think you would enjoy living in for an extended period of time? 

I lived in Miami for three months and truly enjoyed it; there are so many cultures converging in this area. Wouldn’t mind returning. I would be open to living in Chicago or San Francisco. However, I love DC. It will be hard to get me out of here.

11.  If you could have one person from any time period, dead or alive, be your tour guide in any city in the world, who would you choose and why?

I would have loved for Pablo Neruda to show me his native Chile. I studied his poetry in high school and college. His words made me feel as if I was already in the country.

Many thanks to Jessica for taking time out of her non-stop travel schedule to chat with us. Don’t forget to check out her Kickstarter, Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico, before the campaign ends on December 10th!

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Holiday, Recipes

An Evening with a Spiced Pecan

Spiced Pecans | Get in My Mouf

Our Spiced Pecan recipe (at the bottom of this post) has become an MVP of our holiday season, playing a role in multiple dishes both savory and sweet. From green beans, to cookies, to binge eating at midnight whilst watching Netflix, these pecans really are team players. We had an opportunity to get to know one of deez  these nuts a bit more intimately and to try and figure out what makes them such a solid classic.

Get in my Mouf:  Really appreciate you taking the time to sit down with us–I realize this is a busy time of year for you.

Spiced Pecan:  Not a problem. I’m happy to be here. Prefer to keep it short, though. Already a bit behind this year…

GIMM:  Absolutely–I want to start with a question, an old debate that’s be around for a while. What do you prefer to be called. Pe-con or Pee-can?

SP:  Well, I don’t go by either, since that’s not my name. It would be like me calling you “Human.”

GIMM:  Oh, I’m sorry… What’s your name?

SP:  Charles. Friends call me chuck.

GIMM:  Pleasure to meet you, Chuck!

SP:  Charles.

GIMM:  Right… [awkward pause]

Egg Whites | Get in My Mouf Spiced Pecans

GIMM:  Anyway, you’ve seen quite a bit of success over the years–You’re a very traditional holiday staple–Is it hard to stay consistent? There are a lot of food fads that take hold and I could see that becoming a distraction.

SP:  Not really. I grew up in a family where tradition and work ethic were really important. You do your job. I do my job. It’s just what we do. I watched a lot of our friends get mixed up with Wasabi and Sriracha. Sure that’s popular now and I get it, I really do. Commercials, prominent shelf space at Target, features on FOOD BLOGS. There’s definitely an allure that’s hard to turn down. But at some point the fame will fade and at the end of the day, people always go back to the classics.

Pecan & Egg Whites | Get in My Mouf Spiced Pecans

GIMM:  I’m not sure if anyone picked up on the tone you had about food blogs, but it did take a bit of persuasion to agree to sit down with us. Why were you so hesitant?

SP:  Honestly, recipes should be shared between family members on faded scraps of paper. This whole internet blogging thing is just too impersonal. For example, when you want to make a pumpkin pie, what do you do?

GIMM:  I Google a recipe. 

SP:  Exactly! Now how many choices are there?

GIMM:  Who knows…hundreds of thousands? A million?

SP:  How do you know which one is a good recipe?

GIMM:  I’ll try and find a site that has reviews or find a recipe that’s on a blog I trust.

SP:  Basically, you’re outsourcing your pumpkin pie recipe and basing your decision on a stranger’s who may or may not have a similar flavor profile as you.

GIMM:  Sure, but–

SP:  Meanwhile, you could have just called up your mother and asked her if she had any secret family recipes. AND during which you could engage her in an actual conversation. A real human to human interaction. Why is that important? Food is at its peak enjoyment when it’s connected to memory or tradition. Would you rather eat a pie that you found online from a stranger, or eat a pie that has roots to your family?

GIMM:  If given the choice between two pies, I would prefer to sample each before making a decision.

SP:  When was the last time you called your mother?

GIMM:  Speaking of…my mom is actually VERY allergic to pecans.

SP:  Her loss.

GIMM:  Agreed. You are delicious.

[Another awkward Pause]

GIMM:  I’m not going to eat you.

SP:  I think we better wrap this up.

Spiced Pecans | Get in My Mouf

Well, that was fun. A big thanks to Charles for joining us. Though, to be honest, I’m not sure who was interviewing who. He might be stuck in his old fashioned ways, but man he was, er is–from what I’ve been told–delicious. Want to give him and his friends a try? Don’t bother your mother, as she’s probably busy planning your Thanksgiving dinner. Instead give our recipe a try, ’cause we’re sort of like family at this point, right?

SPICED PECAN RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups Pecan Halves
  • 1 Egg White
  • 1 Tablespoon Water
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300°. Mix together the sugar and spices and set aside.
  2. Combine the egg white and water and whip until stiff peaks form.
  3. Fold the pecans into the egg white mixture. Once completely moistened, add the sugar and spice. Mix well.
  4. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper and spread pecans into an even single layer. This single layer may not sound important, but it is. Crowded pecans mean too much moisture and, in the words of Alton Brown, definitely not good eats.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes at 300°. Remove from oven, carefully stir, and reduce oven to 250°. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Let cool on a wired rack – we keep ours on the parchment paper so they don’t fall through the cracks – until they come to room temperature.
  7. Try not to eat all of them in one sitting. They are seriously addicting. Sorry, Charles.

Spiced Pecans | Get in My Mouf

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Recipes

Potomac Point Winery – Stafford, VA

Potomac Point Winery - Stafford, VA

Thanks to DriveShop and Mazda, we had a 2016 Mazda CX-5 to play with for a week (check out our car review here). Its nimble handling made for a fun drive on some winding roads to Potomac Point Winery.

Potomac Point Winery - Stafford, VA

Our handsome +1 to a winery wedding.

Question:  When you’re driving up and down I-95, stuck in a swell of cars commuting from parts north and south in Virginia, do you ever wish you could take a quick detour and find a happy place filled with nature, wine, and good food?

If so, Potomac Point Winery is that happy place.

We recently attended a wedding at Potomac Point Winery (Congrats Dianna and Gregg!), so our detour to happiness included a night filled with good company, wine, fine food, and plenty of my off-rhythm dancing.

Tucked away in the woods, it all starts with the drive leading up to the entrance where you’ll soon forget that you were just on a major highway. This is where the happiness begins. Rather than describe it, just take a look at our first impression of the winery:

Not a bad way to start a wedding, eh?

Sweeping views of vineyard, surrounded by woods. It’s truly a serene escape from the traffic-filled highways of Northern Virginia and a romantic getaway for not only a wedding, but even a short day trip or date night.

Potomac Point Winery - Stafford, VA

Potomac Point Winery - Stafford, VA

Wine

We’ll definitely be going back to try their full array of wines, but the Abbinato was clearly the hit of the wedding selection with our table. It’s an easy to drink Chianti-style blend with fruit and vanilla flavors and pairs well with most Italian meals, barbecued chicken, tomato-based entrees, and pizza. Though, to be fair, what doesn’t pair well with pizza?

Potomac Point Winery - Stafford, VA

There was very little deviation from the Abbinato, but I also enjoyed the Coyote Cave Red, which was also a light smooth red blend that pays homage to the coyote cave in the winery’s cellar–named after a mother coyote and her cub, who took an “unguided tour” of the cellar before the winery opened to the public.

Potomac Point Winery - Stafford, VA

Food

You’re welcome to bring your own food and non-alcoholic drinks for a picnic at the winery, or you could dine at the attached Le Grand Cru Bistro. The menu focuses on local and seasonal ingredients, and ranges from cheese plates, to tapas, and even full entrees like a Brined and Smoked Pork Chop with Sweet Potato Mash and Sage Butter.

Fortunately for us, Le Grand Cru Bistro also catered the wedding, so we were well fed during our visit. All around, the food was solid and included mini crab cakes, mountains of cheeses, meats, and pickles, along with main courses of Pan Seared Sea Bass with Sorrel Butter Sauce and a perfectly cooked Beef Tenderloin with Caramel Sauce.

Our personal favorite was an appetizer that brought out our inner childs: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Shooter. It’s everything an appetizer should be, lighthearted, comforting, fun, tasty. It was also a cool October night, so throwing back some warm soup hit the spot like a can of emergency Campbell’s on a snow day.

Potomac Point Winery - Stafford, VA

We had a really enjoyable time at Potomac Point Winery and look forward to heading back with our pup (yes, they are dog friendly) to revisit this new happy place.

Potomac Point Winery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

If you want to know more about the winery, including tasting notes on their wines, then check out “Field Trip:  Potomac Point Winery” from The Armchair Sommelier. Lots of good, in-depth wine knowledge and plenty of pictures!

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Car Reviews

2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD Review

2016 Mazda CX-5 Review

This post is made possible through a partnership with the awesome folks at DriveShop and Mazda, who provided us with a vehicle to test drive for a week. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveMazda.

Also, one of the cool things about testing out this Mazda, was that upon receiving the vehicle, we were provided with a $25 charitable gift card redeemable at OneOC.org/givingcards to donate to the charity of our choice. The Mazda Drive for Good charitable program has helped raise more than $7.6 million and has resulted in over 120,000 charitable service hours pledged since 2013.

Mazda Drive for Good

Given that Thanksgiving is right around the corner and this is a food blog, we chose Food & Friends. The organization is dedicated to helping men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses by preparing and delivering specialized meals and groceries in conjunction with nutrition counseling. What does that entail exactly? They deliver meals year-round, six days a week (including holidays) and since inception have delivered 18 million meals to over 26,000 individuals. Thus, the impact is huge, but they can’t do it without volunteers and generous donations! To learn how you can help, visit their website for more info.

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2016 Mazda CX-5

Full disclosure: I owned a Mazda for almost a decade. Does that create bias? Maybe. Does that also create some higher-than-normal expectations. Maybe. So, everything should balance out…

Specs

MSRP (as tested):  $32,340
MPG Estimate: 24 city – 30 highway
Engine:  2.5L Skyactiv, DOHC 4 cylinder
Power:  184 hp @ 5,700 rpm  | 185 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm
Transmission:   6-Speed Automatic
Color:  Titanium Flash Mica
Options:  Grand Touring Technology Package (Navigation System, Smart City Brake Support, LED headlights with auto leveling, Adaptive Front-lighting System, LED fog lights, LED daytime running lights, LED combination tail lights and auto-dimming mirror)

For more info, click here to view the 2016 CX-5 Brochure.

Amenities

The entertainment system works really well, keeping in mind it does take some time to get familiar with navigating through everything. So, it’s not quite as initially intuitive as others, but I easily learned what I needed within a few days of driving. No biggie for a car you’ll keep for a decade.

2016 Mazda CX-5

Voice commands also worked easily for making calls and entering addresses for the navigation system.

In my opinion, a huge plus is the fact that the Grand Touring comes standard with a Bose sound system (it’s also optional in the Touring trim). I love me some Bose. I’ve got a pair of Bose computer speakers that can shake our house. So, needless to say the system in the CX-5 is plenty good enough to rock out, hip hop, or blast whatever your preference is.

Comfort

Although the seats were comfortable, the ride is a bit harsh, but that’s the trade off you get for some of the zoom zoom that’s discussed later.

2016 Mazda CX-5

The A/C was decently cold and I only bring that up, because my old Mazda’s only fault was its air conditioning. Quite the testament to how much I enjoyed that car, as I spent nearly a decade enduring long, sweat-filled summer commutes. This car was a sweat-free zone. Except when I took that one hairpin turn at 80 MPH. Kidding. Or am I?

Oh and not sure if you’re into safety, but the 2016 CX-5 was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, which means this car could save your life. Especially during those 80 MPH hairpin turns. KIDDING. Drive safely.

Performance

This is quite a deceiving little SUV. First impressions would likely lead one to believe that this little go-getter is a suburbanite’s dream, ready for trips to big box warehouse stores, home improvement shops for weekend warriors, and carting the little ones (two and four legged) around town. But honestly, all that stuff seems to bore the CX-5. Not that it won’t do all that stuff well, but it seems to do the chores almost begrudgingly.

2016 Mazda CX-5

The CX-5 yearns to stretch its legs and search for winding roads, rural scenary, and areas where there might not be a road at all. During our time with the CX-5, the most fun we had was exploring the curvy roads on our way to visit Potomac Point Winery, and soaring across a grassy field, escaping the hellacious parking situation of a just ended Renaissance Festival.

I really wish we had some snowfall to play with like in this video.

Oh, and the gas mileage. Was it good? Well, for an AWD compact utility vehicle, I was pretty happy with our average of 26.8 MPG. That included five days of commuting to and from work (32 miles round trip) along with two longer trips with mostly highway.

Because of the nature of this car, my only complaint on the performance is the lack of a little more umph. And sure it might be gratuitous, especially for those who want to retain the solid gas mileage, but oh the fun you could have with a turbo-charged MazdaSpeed CX-5…

Smashing Good Looks

Co-workers and neighbors were happy to compliment the looks of the CX-5. The light Parchment color interior was noted on more than one occasion to be sexy. Also, the Titanium Flash Mica exterior made the car look almost like a mini-tank, which was cool. B-Y-O-Rocket Launcher.

cx5 (10)

And personally, upgrading to the Grand Touring model is worth it for the wheels alone.

Who Should Buy This Car

This might be the car for you if you need a little more suburban hauling capacity, but you’re not ready to sacrifice the handling of a smaller vehicle. You might want to check this car out if you enjoy taking weekend trips off the beaten paths and you’d rather take the long way versus a highway. And in all honesty, I was very close to purchasing this vehicle a couple months ago. Had it not been for our dog’s extreme fear of change and anything remotely resembling an SUV, I might own one right now.

cx5 (6)

Disclaimer: As noted above we were provided this vehicle courtesy of DriveShop and Mazda. Other than being allowed to test drive this vehicle, we were not provided any monetary compensation for this post. All opinions remain our own and I seriously almost bought this vehicle. 

 

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Reviews

McDonald’s Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich: Surprisingly Not Awful

McDonald's Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Review #getinmymouf

Thanks to DriveShop and Kia, we had a 2015 Kia Optima SX to play with for a week (check out our car review here). It’s a really comfortable car, so I figured it would make for a great lunch escape. Sure enough, it was provided a calm, comfortable, place to enjoy a Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich from McDonalds.

McDonald's Butter Crispy Chicken Review #getinmymouf

Now, on to the sandwich…

McDonald's Butter Crispy Chicken Review #getinmymouf

I tried this sandwich twice. The first time, my expectations were so low that I also simulataneously picked up a Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich from Wendy’s as a back up lunch. Yes, I was prepared to hate McD’s new “food truck worthy” sandwich. And yes, I was prepared to throw it in the garbage and eat the ol’ faithful from Wendy’s.

Fortunately, I did not have to throw out any chicken.

McDonald's Butter Crispy Chicken Review #getinmymouf

In other reviews of the sandwich, there have references to dry, stringy chicken. The first sandwich’s chicken was burning hot, moist, and–dare I even say it–perfect. The second sandwich wasn’t completely dry, but was just okay. So, it seems like consistency might play a role in everyone’s individual experiences. For the best chance, you’ll definitely want to go during a busy lunch hour, or else you may end up with a chicken fillet that has been hanging out a little too long.

As the name would suggest, it was also quite crispy. Actually, crunchy might be more accurate. Yes, it was very crunchy, which was nice.

Flavor-wise, I definitely tasted some of that tang of the buttermilk, along with a healthy dose of black pepper. It reminded me a little bit of the flavor of Wendy’s fried chicken sandwich. No need to reinvent the wheel.

The bun? Impressive. Soft, buttery…brioche-y. It’s a good bun.

McDonald's Butter Crispy Chicken Review #getinmymouf

Even the vegetation was better than most of McDonald’s other sandwiches, with a thicker slice of tomato and crisp lettuce, which also seemed fresher than the usual lettuce suspects.

The Mayonnaise Situation

The only flaw, which is also a flaw for many sandwiches at McDonald’s, is the mayonnaise. I rarely shy away from a good, creamy mayo. I spent the better part of my teenage years surviving off Subway subs with extra mayo. So, as a big supporter of the pro-mayo movement, it takes a truly awful mayonnaise to make me angry (and don’t get me started on that disgusting Miracle Whip stuff).

McDonald's Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Review #getinmymouf

And with McD’s, there is always way too much mayo. It’s too thick, almost gelatinous. I feel like I should be using it to grease up car engine parts of my 2015 Kia Optima loaner rather than underside of a brioche bun.

McDonald’s, you need to fix your mayo situation.

Final Verdict

Mayo-hatred aside, this is actually a really good chicken sandwich from Mr. McDonald. I’d definitely order this again. I would recommend ordering this one sans the white goo and “fixing it” with a few packets of Chic-fil-A mayonnaise. You keep extra Chic-fil-A mayo in your car, right? Good.

McDonald's Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Review #getinmymouf

Want another opinion? Then check out these other reviews:

GrubGrade |Review: Premium Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Deluxe Sandwich from McDonald’s

DanimalCrossing | McDonald’s Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich Review

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Disclaimer:  No free chicken sandwiches or money were provided by McDonald’s for this review. 

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Car Reviews

2015 Kia Optima SX Review

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

This post is made possible through a partnership with the awesome folks at DriveShop and Kia, who provided us with a vehicle to test drive for a week. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveKia.

I didn’t really know much about Kia before driving this Optima. I did notice that a ton of people in our neighborhood have Kia Optimas. Like, a ton. And after getting to know this car for a week, I completely understand why.

Specs

MSRP (as tested):  $31,310
MPG Estimate: 23 city – 34 highway
Engine:  2.4L Gas Direct Injection, 4 cylnders
Power:  192 hp @ 6300 rpm | 181 ft-lbs @ 4250 rpm
Transmission:  6-speed Sportmatic Transmission
Color:  Remington Red
Options:  SX Premium Technology Package (power folding mirrors, Infinity audio system, UVO Service w/ Telematics, HD radio technology, Navigation with SiriusXM, rear camera, blind spot detection system, driver’s seat memory, heated and cooled front seats, power front passenger’s seat, heated outboard rear seats, and back-up warning system)

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

Comfort

The seats are really comfortable. REALLY comfortable. Surprisingly comfortable, even. Here’s a challenge: Put on a blind fold and go sit in this car along with three other luxury brands. I bet it’ll be tough to tell which one’s the Kia.

And on top of seats that are luxury-quality comfortable, they’re also cooled. Yes, cooled seats. On a hot day, they’re basically like an ice cold lemonade for your back and butt. Weird metaphor, but accurate.

Ventilated Seats Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

Amenities

The UVO entertainment system is a really well-designed and user-friendly system that looks good, is intuitive, and WORKS. I’ve come to expect most voice-comand functions in cars have a 50% success rate. I was able to easily add a new destination to the navigation on the first try. You’ve been warned, Siri.

And the mirrors fold in and out automatically. Which I suppose is functional for tight parking spots, but it just also looks cool and made me feel like I was driving a spaceship.

Performance

190 horsepower and 181 ft-lbs of torque provide plenty of get-up-and-go to get you around, but aren’t so much that you’ll be living at the gas station. Our average gas milage over the course of the week was 25.5 MPG, which isn’t that bad (if you want better milage, then check out the hybrid version). Personally, I’d take the extra juice if it meant spending a bit more at the tank.

Steering feel and handling are a tad looser and not quite as responsive as I prefer, but others may take that sacrifice for the softer ride. I missed some of the nimbleness that my 2006 compact car has, but the Optima is quite a bit larger.

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

Food Friendliness

Often an overlooked aspect of vehicles, a lot can be said for a car that is really comfortable to eat in. Sometimes you need a quick, quiet, and comfortable place to escape from the insanity of work/school/your own children. Enter the Kia Optima.

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

With the seat reclined and moved back, the center console made for a nice counter to hold a sandwich. In fact, I recommend using one of the memory seat positions for “lunch mode”. Did I mention the seats were comfortable?

(BTW – You can see more interior car/eating pics in our review of McDonald’s Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich.)

The cabin is also spacious, so I’m sure that somehow prevents you from accidentally bumping your elbow on something and spilling ketchup on your white button-up shirt.

Who Should Buy This Car

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

This is definitely going to sound like standard commercial copywriting, but if you want luxury amenities at an affordable price, then you should give a hard look at this car. Although the MSRP tops out at about $31k, nobody actually pays MSRP. In fact, internet prices for the same version of this car, WITH THE TURBO ENGINE (274 hp and 269 ft-lbs of torque) is about $27,000. That’s almost ridiculous, especially when comparable luxury vehicles would easily double the price tag. Overall, this was a fine car. A fine car, indeed.

And for what it’s worth, Kia ranked #2 in the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Initial Quality Study. Yup, Kia was right behind Porsche and just ahead of Jaguar.

Gratuitous Dog Pictures

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

Disclaimer:  As noted above, we were provided this vehicle courtesy of DriveShop and Kia. Other than being allowed to test drive this vehicle, we were not provided any monetary compensation for this post. As always, all opinions remain our own.

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Travel

DIY Food Tour: San Francisco’s Mission District

DIY Food Tour: San Francisco's Mission District

When we were preparing for our last trip to San Francisco, something quickly became apparent: The Mission District’s food offerings would require us to set aside an entire day. Now, obviously San Francisco as a whole is one of, if not the best food city in America, so it goes without saying that you could easily create a food tour in any of its neighborhoods. But as I Googled, Yelp’d, and food blogged the heck out of San Francisco, I kept finding Mission District gems that required a visit.

Thus, this is the first in series of DIY food tours that we’ll be posting here on the blog. And what better way to start than with San Francisco?

Aside from all the tasty food stops, the Mission District is also home to a ton of great thrift stores. With the amount of food you’ll want to eat, they’ll be a good way to kill time in between stuffing your face.

How to get there:  All of the places are easily walkable via one of the two BART stations in the Mission district. I will note that there is a bit of back-tracking involved based on the order that I set up; feel free to mix and match your own order to fit what you have time and/or want to check out.

Stop #1:  Breakfast at Craftsman and Wolves

Closest BART Station:  16th Street Mission
Address:  746 Valencia Street, San Francisco 94110
Website:  craftsman-wolves.com
Craftsman and Wolves Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Rebel Within - Craftsman and Wolves

The Rebel Within – asiago, sausage, green onion, soft cooked egg

Having gained attention for their soft-boiled egg-filled sausage and cheese muffin, The Rebel Within, Craftsman and Wolves is the perfect place to start your tour de eating. I fueled up with said muffin and some cold brew; a near perfect breakfast that helps set the foundation for a long day of eating. Although The Rebel Within has garnered the most attention, their pastry counter is worthy of its own mini-food tour, filled with items such as a Thai scone (green curry, candied ginger, coconut) and matcha snickerdoodles. While the food at CAW is exciting, the atmosphere is calm and makes for a spot that’s easy to get some work done.

Stop #2:  Lunch at La Taqueria

Closest BART Station: 24th Street Mission
Address:  2889 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Website:  Ha. Nope.
La Taqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Photo Jul 15, 3 12 18 PM

Carne Asada Tacos Dorados - La Taqueria

Carne Asada Tacos Dorados – steak, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, monterey jack cheese

Does La Taqueria have the best burrito in America? I’m not skilled enough in the ancient art of burrito eating to provide an insightful answer. The burritos are good, but that’s not why you’re here (and from experience, eating an entire burrito in the early legs of a food tour is not a smart choice). Why are you here? Four words: Carne Asada Tacos Dorados. A mountain of moist carne asada, covered with salsa, guac, and sour cream, all wrapped up in two tortillas–one of which has been fried crispy with Monterey Jack cheese. This taco satisfies every taste and texture you’d want from a taco. Show up early to avoid lines, because aside from the national attention that this place has received, the locals clearly love it just as much. More than a few native San Franciscans I talked to mentioned La Taqueria as their go-to Mexican joint.

Stop #3:  Dessert at Tartine Bakery

Closest BART Station:  16th Street Mission
Address:  600 Guerrero Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Website:  tartinebakery.com
Tartine Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Banana Cream Tart - Tartine Bakery

Banana Cream Tart – flaky pastry coated in dark chocolate with caramel, pastry cream, and lightly sweetened cream

A James Beard Award winning bakery, Tartine will surely be the reason your sweet tooths will need to spend hours in confession on Sunday. A sucker for anything combining cream and bananas, my instincts took over and I tried their Banana Cream Tart. FYI, objects in picture are larger than they appear. Did I mention food tours are best done with a companion? Yeah, a partner would be really helpful here. However, despite its intimidating size, the tart is surprisingly light. And for you cocoa nib groupies out there, grab a Cocoa Nib Rocher for the road.

Stop #4:  Cocktails at %ABV  

Closest BART Station: 16th Street Mission
Address:  3174 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Website:  abvsf.com
ABV Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Special Note:  This bar opens at 2 PM, so plan accordingly.

Fogerty - %ABV

Fogerty – rye, campari, cacao, orange bitters

Mumbai Mule - %ABV

Mumbai Mule – saffron vodka, lemon, ginger, mint, soda

If you’ve done your job, you should be fairly full and your feet should have marshmallowed from all the walking. This is where %ABV comes into play: Time to take a seat, order some cocktails, and enjoy the company of one of their talented and friendly bartenders. Speaking of talented and friendly bartenders, I want to give a shout out to Eric (90% sure that’s his name) who mixed up some great drinks and was full of delicious restaurant recommendations. I enjoyed a refreshing Mumbai Mule and a strong, yet smooth Fogerty. Although I was too full for any solid food, I’d love to go back to try their kimchee fritters, pimento cheese burger, and some PB&J “ice cream”.

Stop #5:  Ice Cream at Bi-Rite Creamery

Closest BART Station: 16th Street Mission
Address:  3692 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Website:  biritecreamery.com
Bi-Rite Creamery & Bakeshop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Strawberry Soft Serve - Bi-Rite Creamery

Strawberry Soft Serve

An ice cream institution, no trip to the Mission District is complete without a treat from Bi-Rite Creamery. Have time to kill and are still a little full? Stand in the long line headed inside where you’ll find a large selection of their hand-made, small-batch ice cream like vegan strawberry coconut; Blue Bottle coffee with Alfieri almonds and chocolate chips; and brown sugar with ginger caramel swirl. In a hurry? Then jump into the “express” soft serve lane to see what flavors are swirling up.

Stop #6:  Coffee at Four Barrel Coffee

Closest BART Station: 16th Street Mission
Address:  375 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Website:  fourbarrelcoffee.com
Four Barrel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Iced Latte - Four Barrel Coffee

Iced Latte

After some serious eating, drinking, eating, walking, and eating, it will be tempting to crash and sleep through dinner. Remedy that by ending your Mission [District] Impossible with a caffeine boost from Four Barrel Coffee. I did not have a chance to visit the shop, but I did enjoy an iced latte from their stand at the Ferry Building farmer’s market. They roast their beans in-house, so I’m sure their store smells so good you’ll take a bag home as an air freshener. You’ll probably be force-fed coffee from a blue bottle the rest of your trip, so you might as well experience another great west coast coffee house.

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Disclaimer: Visiting these restaurants can result in San Francisco Deficiency Syndrome. Talk to you doctor before participating in any food tour. Also, we were not provided any free goods or services to write this post. 

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Reviews, Travel

Red Truck Rural Bakery – Marshall, VA

Red Truck Bakery - Marshall, VA #getinmymouf

Thanks to DriveShop and Mitsubishi, we had a Rally Red 2015 Outlander for a week that begged to be driven (check out our review here). And thanks to a grey, rainy day, our original outdoor plans were nixed, so we decided to head west to add some color to our day at Red Truck Rural Bakery in Marshall, VA.

Red Truck Bakery - Marshall, VA #getinmymouf

Red Truck, meet Red Mitsubishi. #DriveMitsubishi

Red Truck Bakery is an iconic bakery and market that has historically only had one small location in Warrenton, VA. Luckily for us, they had their grand opening of the new, larger Marshall shop. How grand was the opening? I dunno, maybe you should ask Academy Award Winning Actor, Robert Duvall:

The trip out west on Route 66 is much different than the mess that I normally sit in every weekday. The small town of Marshall is about an hour outside of Washington, DC; once you get past the cookie-cutter residential developments of Prince William County, you start to feel the calming sensation of being surrounded by green stuff–you know, actual nature, like trees, hills, mountains. So, despite the rain, we had a comfortable ride in the Outlander along with some pleasant scenery to take in.

When we arrived at Red Truck Bakery, we were met with an exterior that was charming and blended in well with that small town vibe. Parking is easy, as they have plenty of space out back, but there was also ample street parking available. We parked on the street thanks to my stellar parking abilities (aka a backup camera).

Red Truck Bakery - Marshall, VA #getinmymouf

That small-town feel follows you inside, as the staff and customers were all friendly and eager to provide recommendations on what to order. It’s the kind of place where you get the impression that everybody knows each other, even if they don’t.

Red Truck Bakery - Marshall, VA #getinmymouf

Red Truck Bakery - Marshall, VA #getinmymouf

The wall of deliciousness.

Red Truck Bakery - Marshall, VA #getinmymouf

These fellas would have made a fine picnic had it not been for the rain.

When it comes to the actual food, the choices were quite overwhelming for us first-timers. First, there’s a glowing case of baked goods–all of which were fighting for our attention–as well as two refrigerated grab-n-go cases with sandwiches, drinks, and other goodies. On top of that, there is this wall of jars and bottles of packaged goods from other local and lesser-known companies. Who knew a mini food mecca could exist in a small town bakery?

Tina tried their (highly coveted) Veggie “Beetloaf” Sandwich (roasted beets, sweet potatoes and ground walnuts). She was instantly a fan and for me, as someone who doesn’t really like beets all that much, I enjoyed the few bites I had. It doesn’t taste as “beety” as it looks, and rather has more of an “herby” taste.

Red Truck Bakery - Marshall, VA #getinmymouf

Veggie “Beetloaf” Sandwich: roasted beets, sweet potatoes and ground walnuts.

For us meat eaters, you can’t go wrong with their Chicken Salad Sandwich. Or as I will forever call it, the Kitchen Sink Salad Sandwich (as they put everything but) in this jam-packed sandwich, including fresh local roasted chicken, grapes, apples, celery, raisins, walnuts and a hint of curry, with local Bibb lettuce.

Red Truck Bakery - Marshall, VA #getinmymouf

Chicken Salad Sandwich: fresh local roasted chicken, grapes, apples, celery, raisins, walnuts and a hint of curry, with local Bibb lettuce.

Sandwich Tip:  The sandwiches are pre-made and are grab-n-go, so they can sell out fast. So, it’s highly reccomended that you give them a call to reserve what you want. Luckily, we called ahead and got the very last Veggie Beetloaf Sandwich. 

Red Truck Bakery - Marshall, VA #getinmymouf

Peach pie. Maybe the last of the season…

Our dessert included peach pie and a cookie, but was completely overshadowed by one of the best cranberry-orange walnut muffins we’ve ever eaten (sorry, not pictured). I can’t remember getting this excited about a muffin before… I mean, it’s just a muffin, but it’s not.

We didn’t try them (still not sure where I discovered that willpower), but the pumpkin scones with maple glaze beckoned like an old friend, while the ham scones looked as if they could be my new future best friend. Until next time, scones…until next time.

Red Truck Bakery - Marshall, VA #getinmymouf

Overall, we really enjoyed this little gem of a store and highly recommend giving them a try. The Marshall shop is also in proximity to two of our favorite wineries, Barrel Oak Winery and Aspen Dale Winery, so Red Truck is a convenient place to grab a picnic lunch before heading out for a day of wine tastings. And if you do go, leave the willpower at home and take ALL the scones home with you.

Red Truck Rural Bakery
8368 W. Main Street
Marshall, VA 20115
RedTruckBakery.com
Twitter: @RedTruckBakery
Facebook

Red Truck Bakery - Marshall, VA #getinmymouf

Disclaimer:  We were not compensated by Red Truck Rural Bakery in any way for this post. We really like ’em and you should too!

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Car Reviews

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC Review

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC

This post is made possible through a partnership with the awesome folks at DriveShop and Mitsubishi Motors, who provided us with a vehicle to test drive for a week. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveMitsubishi.

This is a companion post to our trip to Red Truck Bakery in Marshall,VA. For delicious baked goods in a small town, check out that post. If you’re interested in the wheels that got us there, you’re in the right place.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC

Thanks in part to The Fast and the Furious franchise, my teenage memories of Mitsubishi cars are comprised mainly of street racing Eclipses and Lancer Evolutions. Not being a street racer and also not being in the market for a new car over the last decade, I haven’t really paid much attention to what Mitsubishi has been up to, so I was interested in the opportunity to try out the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC.

Specs

MSRP (as tested):  $29,645
MPG Estimate: 24 city – 29 highway
Engine:  2.4L MIVEC SOHC 16-valve, 4 cylnders
Power:  166 hp @ 6000 rpm  | 162 ft-lbs. @ 4200 rpm
Transmission:   CVT
Color:  Rally Red
Options:  SE Premium Package (sunroof, leather seats, roof rails, 710w Rockford Fosgate sound system, power remote tailgate, power driver’s seat, woodgrain interior trim panels)

Comfort

The comfort and driving position of the front seats were good, which made commuting a little easier than my 2006 manual transmission compact car. Although we didn’t travel too far, I wouldn’t anticipate any issues with taking the Outlander on a long road trip. Since I did all the driving, I didn’t have to sit in the back, but my co-workers commented that the rear seats were a little stiff for their liking.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC

Overall, the interior is quite spacious, which gives the feeling you’re in a much larger SUV. In fact, with all of the second and third row seats folded down, I could easily lie down and take a nap on my lunch break. Not that I did that.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC

Amenities

The entertainment system is probably due for an upgrade, but it was easy to use (which is sometimes lacking in the newer, more complex systems in other brands). The Rockford Fosgate speaker system sounds incredible thanks to the nine speaker system, including 10 inch subwoofer in the back.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC

It was also easy to fall in love with the optional remote power lift gate. Emphasis on the remote part. Sometimes I opened the lift gate for fun, just because I could. It made trips to the grocery store and Costco slightly more exciting.

Although we did not take advantage of the third row of seats, it was actually beneficial on those aforementioned trips, as the seat backs helped keep our groceries from flying all over the place, while I tested out the vehicle’s cornering ability (well-within all applicable traffic laws, of course).

And as is becoming the norm with most mid and upper trim levels, a backup camera and heated seats are standard on this trim level. A week later left me wondering how on earth I was ever able to own a car without a backup camera and heated seats.

Performance

First of all, you won’t see this car in Fast & Furious 8 (or 9 or whatever they’re up to now). But that’s okay, because you’ll buy this car for the gas mileage. My daily commute, which is a 33-mile round trip mixture of highway, stop-and-go traffic, and dance parties (thanks, Rockford Fosgate!), consistently returned gas mileage around 25 MPG. Our mostly-highway trip to Red Truck Bakery resulted in a respectable 28.8 MPG, which easily rivals my my 2006 compact car. Although acceleration from a stop leaves something to be desired, throwing the shifter into sport mode provides ample juice for a lane change at highway speeds.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC

I was also impressed with the steering feel and handling, as this vehicle drives more like a car than a compact SUV. I’m not a fan of loose steering (reminds me of driving a boat), so I was pleasantly surprised to still feel the road in a vehicle of this size.

Dog Friendliness

Given that this is an SUV, this is likely a great vehicle for anyone with a decent-sized dog. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of opening the power lift gate in front of Cooper. And since any inanimate object that moves on its own completely BLOWS HIS MIND, he was convinced that the car was possessed and wanted nothing to do with it. Again, it was through no fault of the Outlander and completely Coop’s own neuroscis (he also growls at bags floating in the wind). Sad, because he would’ve fit perfectly in the back, but a good reminder for dog owners to always have new vehicle purchases approved by their pups.

Who Should Buy This Car?

This vehicle would be perfect for a price-conscious consumer with kids and a need for a third row of seats. The MSRP is $29,645, but online prices at some local dealerships are closer to $25,000 for Outlanders with similar MSRPs–which seems almost insane when you think about how much vehicle you’re getting. Plus, the 10-year / 100,000-mile power train warranty and solid gas mileage will help keep future costs down. I should also mention that the 2016 Outlander has hit dealers this month, so any remaining 2015 vehicles are likely to garner some significant savings. Haven’t had a chance to try 2016’s model yet, but from what I keep hearing, there are quite a few improvements over the 2015 model.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC

Disclaimer:  As noted above (you did read the whole post, right?!) we were provided this vehicle courtesy of DriveShop and Mitsubishi. Other than being allowed to test drive this vehicle, we were not provided any monetary compensation for this post. As always, all opinions remain our own.

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