May 21, 2010

food for thought

when i first started cooking and things didn't turn out how I imagined it to be, I chalked it up to the fact that there must be some special or exotic ingredient that I was missing. Of course now I realize it's just because I was/am a shitty cook.

I've realized something though (south park ending moment). Simple is good. Take for instance, some locally grown strawberries with fresh honey whipped cream. Kudos to whoever came up with this idea. Same to you mr or mrs. apple w/ brie cheese, and the many other simple yet delicious combos that work.
Then again, I'm sure you could also say that I'm just saying this simply cuz beyond the baby steps I'm hopeless xD
I've been making it rain on this biatch (and by biatch, I mean my blog) lately. it was a mad attempt to catch up and clean up shop because I'm going to korea this weekend. I've only been there once a long time ago, so I'm looking forward to it, so much in fact that I've been doing the master cleanse to prepare for some good eats and drinkin. cyall laters kids!

May 20, 2010

an indian secret garden

after a night of tequilla shots and rock band, I took a mandatory trip top dog the next morning, but I've already done a post on it and don't want to bore you. (I tried the garlic for anyone wondering and found it pretty darn tasty). and for anyone in socal who wondered about top dog, i read in oc weekly's stickaforkinit (i always read it as stick for a knit) that Berkeley Dog opened in orange county (mission viejo which is pretty damn south but a brea one to open soon) and is being supplied by top dog.

for lunch, I wanted to try something new, so my sister took me to vik's. as you walk through the colorful eye pleasing entrance, you go past the bored looking cashier and down the aisles filled with wonderful aromas of spices and other things i know nothing of then you make a left, another left, a right, and then spin 3 times in place and a robin will come and help you find the key to the locked gate, and through it...
you are greeted by utter chaos and madness. we were herded like sheep into the line, goaded into taking our order quickly before we were trampled to death by the moving crowd.
Panicking, I tried to scan the menu (this shot is for Dennis, the most meticulous food blogger I ever did meet), hoping to find anything familiar or appealing, but it was no bloody help at all! Click on the menu for full size and you'll see why.
So just like on a multiple test exam, I picked blindly and desperately prayed for the best, going for the chicken biryani. Underneath the rice were three small chicken pieces, some with bone. And along with it some yogurt sauce w/ cucumbers in it. The dish was sneakily spicy and really good...but I have no idea what it was made with.
My sister got the dosa(think thin crepe) with masala filling. Filled with potatoes and peas. Should have taken a cross section pic. I'm not quite sure what the other stuff along with it is.
to drink I got both the mango lassi
and some cold refreshing coconut juice. What I also liked about this place was that there were three cans for waste: one for trash, one for recycling, and one for compost. Respect mother earth!
there were a bunch of desserts on display, and I wish I had tried one.
I have no idea what any of them were though, which made it all the more appealing! I felt like a kid in a candy store. Overall, a pretty interesting and good place (i hear norcal has better indian than socal), one that I would go to again, but not without doing some research beforehand so I wouldn't have to feel rushed.
Stuffed, we headed back for me to get my things and head back down. But not before I tried an It's-It, generously (albeit drunkenly) bought for us by my sister's friend, who mysteriously disappeared for the weekend after a night of beer and soju shots (forgot my camera to do a post on that joint though)
The makeup.
And an ugly inside look. The chocolate overpowered the cookie for me, but the ice cream was pretty good. It's inspired me to bake some cookies at home and create my own ice cream sandwich. After a short nap and armed with an audiobook (into the wild, which I only got through the first disc haha), I got my nicely shaped rump (i've been doin those squats and yoga mang) back on the road and drove home.

May 19, 2010

driving up north sucks

took a long and lonely drive up north (party of one! a certain somebody would say) this past weekend to look for housing. it's slowly starting to hit me that i'm going to be moving and starting school in a few months, which seem both short and far away at the same time. on the suggestion of my sister's friend (haha), we checked out redrum burger in davis after visiting a few apartments. The place used to be called murder burger, but after a change of hands, the new management held a contest to pick a new name, and the people wanted redrum.
the menu. they also had a huge italian soda/milkshake menu, which i should have time i guess.
zoom sampler which gave you onions, zucchini, and mushrooms. you think you know deep fried? you don't know a g*dda ** thing about deep fried till you see and try how this place does it. redrumin your heart is what they'll do. the poor veggies were practically donuts. this was the thickest batter i've ever seen, and it was way too heavy for me. after one ring, i was done, and proceeded to eat the rest by peeling off the batter. but if you're into that sort of thing (this is america ain't it?), i'm sure you'd enjoy it.
i shared a regular 1/4 cheeseburger and an ostrich burger. let me start off with the burger first: the patty was good, but I think 1/4 lb was too small to really appreciate the taste. what i really liked though was the soft sesame bun. the ostrich burger on the other hand wasn't very good. i was surprised to find out it was red meat(although if you think about it, it's built like a raptor), but it was overcooked, making it a bit chewy. i'm not really sure how to describe the taste because it was something completely new for me. overall, i didn't really like it much, but i'd be willing to give it another try sometime.
finding housing was a success and after a few hours of impulse shopping at the vaca outlets, we headed back to Berkeley to go to Zachary's, a Chicago style deep dish pizza joint, for dinner. I wrote about Zachary's a few months back, but it was a half baked pizza my sister brought down. This time I was here for the real thing. It takes about 30-40 minutes for your pizza to come out, so I enjoyed a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale while waiting. It had been a while since I'd had this, and it's a pretty smooth and enjoyable beer.
more waiting as i looked at the fan art
they had up on the walls.
You can get different toppings for each half of pizza so we opted for the spinach and mushroom on one side and sun dried tomato and basil on the other. The pizza is a little different (I've never been to Chicago nor had their pizza, so I don't know if this normal protocol) but it goes dough, cheese, toppings, then tomatoes, so a sort of upside down pizza if you will. The crust is more thin (but not too thin) and crisp rather than fat and chewy.
After much eager anticipation, our server came out with the pizza, asked which half we wanted first, and expertly cut us off a piece of that pie. I don't know if I had hyped it up too much in my mind over time or I needed meat in the pizza, but it wasn't as good as I remembered it to be. I couldn't really tell the difference between the two pizzas haha (although my sister could). BUT that's not to say that it wasn't any good. I ate three slices, and they were pretty fatty too, boasted the prideful annoying child.

May 18, 2010

we fly know this...MULIN!

takin a quick break from food to talk about a few bottles of pop. while i don't have the elegance or beautiful pictures like A Menu in Progress' Sazerac Cocktail (one of my favorite posts although I have yet to try this), I hope you enjoy. a few months ago, i was introduced to the power of the moscow mule, and have since converted to the church of all things mule. for those that don't know: wiki is truth.
there are variations of course(i've enjoyed it also w/ rum and i hear mixing with jameson is tasty as well), but that's the gist of it. A funny dramatized manga take about the idea if it's true or not, but never thought I'd read a comic centered around a bartender. so i got my fat ass over to bevmo to get ginger beer. what's ginger beer? a stronger (nonalcoholic usually I think) version of ginger ale.
-cock 'n bull....the og gb used when this magical drink was created. if you like ginger, you'll really like this(take some notes canada dry). it packs a huge punch that initially seems to sizzle on your tongue and then leaves a spicy ginger karate kick that lingers in your mouth.
-Bundaberg. this was a much sweeter version that hailed from Australia. Overall, although you could still taste the ginger in this one, it was a much more mellow compared to cock n bull. both used strictly sugar as their sweetener, and you could definitely taste it more in this one. they also boast that their drink is naturally brewed, which I think means that instead of artificially adding carbonation, the bubbly is created naturally through fermentation. i'm not sure if cock 'n bull does this too, but bundaberg's wasn't very bubbly at all.
i also really love root beer (virgil's is one of my fave's) and decided to check one out from Sioux City as Bev Mo has not just a wonderful alcohol/beer selection, but sodas too. this was ok at best, but it really didn't taste that much different from your main line root beers.
their sarsaparilla/"the grandaddy of root beer" was definitely better, and both were quite sweet. i'm sure that you have your own sweetener preference for pop. depending on how i'm feeling, i'll opt for one or the other, but i have to admit, i have a weakness for American HFCS coca cola, and let me tell ya, when mc donald's had that 64oz soda for under a buck, i did not hold back. i love that sizzurp!
in case you were wondering what's up with the dog, it's my attempt to "spruce up" my poorly taken pictures. it was given to me before one of my school interviews, and i squeezed the living bejeebus out of that thing as i waited my turn to be grilled.

May 17, 2010 (it wurks)

I spent the last few days back in DC, wandering around the mall.
Across the river, and eventually reaching Georgetown
to this pizza joint, Pizzeria Paradiso and was seated next to their open window.
They had a pretty good selection of beer. I ended up trying the St. Faulian Triple, and then later a Bear Republic Big Bear Stout. They had beers from all over and I was surprised to see one from The Bruery, a small microbrew in Placentia. And I got a simple margherita pizza: tomato, basil, mozzarella. The cheese was really milky and overall, this was a good pizza. Plus after a long walk, I was starving, so I devoured this in no time.
My last day, I went to check out The General Store with my cousin. In some DC magazine I got from the airport, they were listed under soul food, but they offer quite a variety from fried chicken to fish tacos.
I ordered the sweet tea, then we sat down while we waited for our food. It's not exactly sit down, but you pay and sit, then a guy comes over with all your food.
I got the chili w/ cornbread. Hearty and a little on the sweet side.
while my cousin ordered the chicken tarragon sandwich. Very fresh tasting. They make everything here down to their mayo. We also shared two sides
rich mac n cheese
and some delicious collard greens with small pieces of pork.
For dessert, although I was stuffed, I had to try some of their lemon chess pie. Really sweet, but the lemon helped to cut through some of that. They also offered some kind of buttermilk pie, which I also wanted to try, but I think I'll just take a shot at making it sometime soon instead.
Overall, I thought it was good solid homestyle food but a little on the pricey side.

May 16, 2010

incomplete trifecta or the eye of the tiger

we walked off the food coma and pretty soon, we could see downtown (not sure if that's what it really was). you see, we needed to burn off some calories for the grueling challenge ahead.
first stop was village whiskey, which specialized in...take a wild guess. i'm not a big whiskey drinker nor am I much of a drinker in general although I try to hold my own...which isn't much. we were here to check out some of their food though.
duck fat french fries with sly fox cheddar sauce. this is america baby...we don't hold back on nuthin! i have no doubt in my mind that this dish was specifically made to spite vegetarians and vegans. i didn't think too much of these though...they were good, but nowhere near the orgasmic taste i thought i would experience.
their beautiful village burger, weighing in at 8 0z and accompanied by boston bibb, tomato, and house made thousand island dressing on a sesame roll. a while ago, there's been a rise of places serving gourmet hamburgers...i guess it's not just california. it was a good, perfectly cooked burger ( i liked that it came out piping hot), but it was underseasoned (it could have used more salt imo). if we had added cheese, this would have been better. regardless, all this was just a warmup for the main event/the only reason why we had bothered to come all the way out to philly : the cheesesteaks (kidding cousin J haha =p )
when you see flashing lights and people shotgunning beers in their party buses, all of which are reminiscent of vegas, you know you have arrived at Geno's. The menu is pretty simple. I can remember several years back my cousin patiently coached me on the linguistics of ordering a cheesesteak as I nervously stood in line at Pat's, afraid I'd blow it and be booted to the back of the long line as the Philly locals would jeer and sneer at "this damn California kid tourist." But today was a different day. I had my lucky rocketpants underwear on and nothing was gonna get between me and my steak. I approached the window with swagger and confidently said "cheesesteak with wiz" (cheesesteak with onions and cheese whiz).
The thought of some canned cheese goop wasn't appetizing in the least, but I found that this was actually pretty tasty. Thinly sliced rib eye steak, grilled onions and cheese along with the chewiness of that good. Despite the long lines, I think we waited less than 20 minutes before ordering.
We decided to skip Pat's this time, the local contender down the street, and check out Jim's. This size and wait of the line rivaled that of Disneyland's Space Mountain but at least we got to stare at the food being prepared.
But patience is a virtue little child, and we were soon rewarded. I got the cheesesteak with sweet peppers, onions, and provolone. The biggest difference between the two places was that Jim's chops up their steak, so on your first bite, you initially get a burst of the steak's juices, then as you chew, it gets kinda dry.
Luckily, I had this to solve the drought. Drink local! lol...(damn someone please shoot me for using that word)
If we had gotten Pat's, we would have completed the holy trinity (although like any religion, this is highly debatable) and have been awarded three wishes by the gods themselves. Unfortunately, this did not happen. What did happen was that our bellies burst from the pure unadulterated gluttony that took place that evening as we arrived home moaning and feigning disgust when in actuality what we really felt was a deep rooted pride that we were mother******* champions!
Needless to say, after almost a week of eating heavy food to the point of wanting to vomit, I had my only healthy meal for the trip the next morning and probably the only time I had fresh fruit. Thanks J for making the salad and your hospitality and thanks J 2 for driving us around! OC taco crawl next time you two come to cali.

May 13, 2010

brunch in philly and a moral refutation on red velvet cupcakes

the next morning we woke up pretty late (although I suppose in cali time, it was same ol) and went to get some brunch at honey's, a place that seemed to emphasize using local produce. the place was packed, so we put our names down and walked around a bit.

Spring was a bloomin, and my allergies were a raygin
as the wild things (of all shapes, colors, and creeds for discrimination was unheard for these wildebeests), high off banana peels and cough syrup, danced without inhibition along the walls.
we ended up at a cupcake shop called brown betty, run by a woman who used to be a lawyer. This was my first time going to one of those fancy 3 bucks + for a cupcake joints. The "dessert boutique" was very small, and behind their display, you could see everyone hard at work in their small kitchen area. What was nice was that were were several free samples, and I really liked their strawberry. What we ended up getting though was the Red Velvet and Sweet Potato Pie.
*short rant here, feel free to skip* I hate the name "red velvet" and the way some people sigh and swoon when hearing the name as if they were recalling a summer in France. Actually, i didn't know what a rv cupcake was until relatively recently (hate on me hata) and was dismayed to learn that it was just a godd*** chocolate cupcake with red food coloring. Upon further research, I learned that the red color used to come from a chemical reaction that occurred when mixing buttermilk with unprocessed cocoa, but I'm not sure if that's a common practice now. Do I like red velvet cupcakes? Sure, but the illusions that I had of royalty and magic associated with the name were harshly stripped away to reveal the emaciated tweaker and liar it really is and always has been. don't mind me though. i'm just a bitter angry man. but it's just a bunch of baloney man! End rant*
An overview shot of the potato cupcake. I liked it although the tater taste wasn't that strong. I had my reservations about these joints as I find the price a little steep for just a cupcake (although I'm sure you could raise an eyebrow or four at what I've paid for other things to eat), but I suppose everyone has something they're willing to splurge on even if the price is a bit inflated. And in case you were wondering, the red velvet was unremarkable, and due to my strong objection to and religious conviction against the offensive cupcake (or more so its name), no photo was taken.
We arrived back at Honey's, and after about 20-30 more minutes cuz the place was crakalackin, we were seated outside. I don't really get the chance to eat out for breakfast often, so I was looking forward to the brunch (it was around 1 Pm at this point haha).
I got the enfrijoladas: 2 flour tortillas filled with scrambled eggs and beans, topped with salsa verde, black bean puree, sour cream, queso fresco, red onions, radishes and mixed microgreens with added chorizo. I didn't like the sausage too much, but otherwise, I loved this.
My sister got the epilepsy inducing buttermilk pancakes with seasonal berries.
Cousin Blueberry got an omelet with toast and a potato cheese and onion latke.
And we all shared a delicious bowl of brussels sprouts, cooked with white wine, cream, garlic, and slivered almonds. I forgot the name of the coffee they offer, but it was good. I knew it was good stuff when I started to feel the caffeine behind my eyes after a few sips...needless to say, we all drank too much and ended up being wired and having stomach aches for the next few hours.
Don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden, Peter Rabbit!

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