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The Beverly Grillbillies!

February 18, 2011 3 comments

When you’re from “The 909”, it’s quite the undertaking to make a trek into the big city.  Making sure one’s wife-beater-tank-top is freshly pressed is just the tip of the iceberg.  The cow must be milked, the meth lab shut down, and the pick up truck taken off the cinder blocks.  So when The Fun Couple finally made it to Fogo de Chao in Beverly Hills, it’s understandable that we turned a few heads.  I’m sure all those West L.A. socialites were just jealous of my sweet mullet.

Okay, despite the bad rap my area code gets (the snooty folks in Orange County call the region “the valley of the dirt people”), I’ve never personally been featured on COPS, nor do I live on a farm (and I don’t have a mullet).  And even though The 909 (a.ka. The Inland Empire) is a bit of a culinary wasteland, we can definitely appreciate fine dining.  My dream restaurant has been Fogo de Chao, the upscale Brazilian BBQ chain that actually finds its roots in Brazil!  At over $60 per person, I assumed that it would be an elusive fantasy just beyond reach.  But thanks to Dine L.A.’s “Restaurant Week“, Fogo de Chao became a reality!

A quick tip for my fellow 909-ers who dare venture into such uppity places: THERE’S NO NEED TO GET INTO YOUR FORMAL WEAR!  You won’t fool anyone into thinking that you’re a “local” (the flannel shirt under your corduroy suitcoat will be a dead giveaway).  You’ll feel more than comfortable in respectable casual wear (meaning jeans and a nice shirt not shorts and a WWF tank top).

Fogo de Chao is a buffet fit for royalty.  You are encouraged to start with their salad bar, which is so much more than a salad bar.  Get Sizzler or Hometown out of your head!  It features all manner of fresh veggies, expertly prepared salads, fine deli meats (including prosciutto and smoked salmon), imported cheeses, and high-end oils and vinegars.  The highlight for the two of us was the Balsamic vinegar.  It was amazingly rich, sweet and complex.  We put it on everything!

You are given a coaster which gives the servers (gauchos) in their M.C. Hammer pants the cue to get the meat party started.  The red side means, “We need a break!”, the green side means, “It’s on like King Kong!”  When we decided to “go green”, the most beautiful parade I had ever seen got going.  Bacon-wrapped filet mignon.  Bacon-wrapped chicken.  Ribeye.  Sausage.  Garlic beef.  Lamb chops.  Parmesan encrusted pork tenderloin.  I tried everything that came my way, at least ten different meats.  I got seconds (maybe even thirds, it’s really none of your business, though) of the garlic beef, ribeye, and — surprisingly — the bottom sirloin.  Bottom sirloin can be chewy and livery, but it was tender, juicy and unbelievably tasty!  Simply seasoned and cooked to perfection using real wood, the premium quality of their meats really shine.  Wowzers, if only human evolution had taken the route of cattle … a couple extra stomachs would’ve been nice!

As if the salad bar and meat parade aren’t enough to make one spontaneously combust from “happy, happy, joy, joy” overload, you’re brought a trio of scrumptious side dishes: mashed potatoes, fried polenta, and fried banana.  They’re all very good, though I would prefer to have my fried banana topped with vanilla ice cream.  As soon as a dish is empty, they’ll bring you more.  The servers are very attentive without being annoying.  Service all around was excellent!

Commoners, peasants, and lowly 909’ers … Dine L.A. is your chance to experience the royal treatment!

I took a bunch of pictures, but they’re really lame.  Maybe I was trembling with excitement.  But here’s a taste of Fogo de Chao:

From the salad bar ... gettin' the party started right!

Terrible picture, I know. I guess I just have to go back to get a decent one!

Fogo de Chao on Urbanspoon

Free Krispy Kreme!

June 4, 2010 2 comments

In celebration of “National Donut Day”, participating Krispy Kremes are giving away free donuts!  Not to be outdone, Dunkin Donuts will give you a free one with the purchase of a beverage.  Sorry Dunkin Donuts, but you’ve been outdone.  Now, if only Krispy Kreme would come up with a low carb formula….

Anyone have a recipe using Krispy Kreme donuts?  I’ve seen Paula Deen make a bread pudding with a grip load of glazed ones and sweetened condensed milk!  Doesn’t that give you a headache just thinking about it?

D.J. Bibingkahan

May 25, 2010 5 comments

Choices galore at D.J. Bibingkahan!

The intersection of Amar and Azusa is a bit of a “Little Manila” on the south side of West Covina.  Two Asian supermarkets anchor the shopping centers that are filled with Japanese vehicles and older Filipino men enjoying their SSI over a cigarette and/or a game of majong.  This is the place to come for fresh seafood, traditional Filipino attire, and sell phones.  That’s no typo, folks:

Okay, let’s get to the food.  There are five or six “turo-turo” restaurants in the immediate area.  Pinoy Pinay is actually my favorite of the bunch.  I believe they offer the best balance of taste and value.  D.J. Bibingkahan has the biggest selection, but I think some of their food is a bit funky and they tend to skimp on portions.  But a sign for their $3.50 breakfast special (with free coffee) pulled me in.  The Fun Wife wasn’t in the mood for a hearty Filipino breakfast, so I dropped her off to do some shopping and had a breakfast date with The Fun Son #1.

The breakfast special includes your choice of garlic fried or steamed rice, two fried eggs and an entree.  We both ordered garlic fried rice, one plate of with Longanisa, the other with Pork Tocino.  Longanisa is a sweet and super garlicky pork sausage that is not for the faint of heart.  First, it has a high fat content, so it could stop your heart.  Second, you’ll be burping up garlic all stinkin’ day!  Make sure you’ll be around people who love you for you.  D.J.’s Longanisa is really good, but I would prefer better charring/searing on the outside for extra depth of flavor.  Tocino is cured pork shoulder meat, that is even sweeter than Longanisa, but with a very different flavor profile because of the curing process.  Think of it as an exotic combination of bacon and ham, minus the smoke.  Once again, very good, but I think most people would be put off by the amount of fat and gristle in the pork slices.  Their garlic fried rice is right on!  Many Filipino restaurants aren’t bold enough with garlic.  D.J.’s is just about the best I’ve had not made at home.  Nice amounts of caramelized garlic with bits of scrambled egg.  The fried eggs are terribly over-cooked, the yolks pretty much taking on the texture of hard boiled eggs.  But they’re fine when considering the great deal you’re getting.

Longanisa Plate.

Pork Tocino Plate.

D J Bibingkahan on Urbanspoon

Deals and Steals for Meals!

December 3, 2009 3 comments

Restaurant.com offers discounted gift certificates.  Generally, you can get $25 certificates for $10, but they’ve been offering 60%-80% off lately (I recently spent $2 for a $25 one for J & J BBQ & Fish — see previous post).  Usually, you have to spend a minimum of $35 – $50, but it still amounts to a very nice discount.  It’s a great way to experiment at new places without breaking the bank.  And you’ll feel alot better about not paying full price if an experiment backfires.

The site is nicely designed and easy to navigate.  You should have no trouble finding participating restaurants in your area.  Register your e-mail address and you’ll be alerted to the 60%-80% off deals.

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