Archive for the ‘Narcissistic Ramblings’ Category

Eat (X 6)

April 24, 2010 8 comments


We had a big ol’ food festival for The Fun Son #1’s birthday with the The Fun Extended Family.  Aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents all descended upon “America’s Finest City”, San Diego, for the celebration.  Though we all live fairly close to each other, we don’t get together as much as we would like.  When we do, food is usually central to the fellowship.  This day may have been just a tad over-the-top as we made SIX different food stops! 

STOP #1: Coffee Klatch (San Dimas).  This was where we initially met to form our convoy for the southward trek.  “The Klatch” is one of the most decorated and lauded micro-roasters in the world.  Their coffees and espressos (espressi?) are always impeccably fresh, complimented by high quality cocoa for their mochas.  Everything they offer is head and shoulders above the mass-produced mediocrity of Star-yucks (unless you’re into that acrid, burnt plastic flavor).  If you’re willing to splurge a bit, give their “World’s Best Espresso” blend a try ($16 for a 12 oz bag of beans).  This isn’t a “self-gloss” as this blend actually was named best espresso in the world at the 2007 World Barista Championship.  It is amazingly tasty and complex and even makes for an incredible cup of french pressed coffee.
Coffee Klatch on Urbanspoon 

STOP #2: Famous Dave’s BBQ (Vista).  Our family get-togethers rarely involve visits to big national chains.  BBQ is one of a handful of cuisine choices that’s unanimously enjoyed by the entire Fun Extended Family.  In spite of growing to 177 restaurants in 38 states, Famous Dave’s has found a way to keep quality, down-home BBQ coming out of their Southern Pride Smokers.  Last year, The Fun Foodie was crowned “The Best Famous Fan in America” and won free Famous Dave’s for a year.  It was nice to be able to lavish some of my winnings on the family.  Two All-American BBQ Feasts adorned our table with pork spare ribs, Texas beef brisket, Georgia chopped pork, country roast chicken, fries, slaw, beans, garlic mashed potatoes, potato salad and corn muffins.  Excellent all around! 

That's one beast of a feast!

STOP #3: Point Loma Seafoods (San Diego).  This San Diego institution is easily The Fun Foodie’s top choice for seafood in all of SoCal (read my original review here).  One of the “The Fun Bro-In-Laws” is almost as big a foodie as I am, and we have a great time experimenting.  We went halfers on a couple sandwiches: squid and clam.  I’ve only known squid to be rubbery and bland and have never really been a fan of shell-fish.  But both of these sammies were surprisingly enjoyable.  Served on sourdough with their house-made tartar sauce, both were fried perfectly crisp, but were somehow still wonderfully tender.  Very lightly seasoned because it’s all about freshness at Point Loma Seafoods.  So glad I left my seafood comfort zone for these treats! 

Squid Sandwich ... so good!

Clam Sandwich ... even gooder!

STOP #4: Coronado Cupcakery (Coronado).  I took the bait.  The Fun Wife noticed a sign for a one dollar cup of coffee, which got us into the store.  She was content to leave with her bargain coffee, but I can really be a sucker sometimes.  They had about six or so varieties of cupcakes and they looked great.  So I bought four (chocolate chip, mocha, vanilla and chocolate).  They were very good, moist and not headache-inducing sweet.  But they’re not supplanting Porto’s by any stretch of the imagination.  I wouldn’t make a special trip to Coronado Cupcakery, but will probably return when we’re in the area. 

How could I resist?

Coronad Cupcakery on Urbanspoon 

STOP #5: Tioli’s Crazee Burger (San Diego).  I saw Tioli’s on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and was most intrigued by their “crazee” burger alternatives.  I really wanted to try alligator, kangaroo, and buffalo and talked The Fun Extended Family into experimenting with me.  We caused quite a scene as we moved around tables to accomodate all 19 of us.  Turned out they were out of alligator and kangaroo so we settled on buffalo and ostrich (which is aptly named “Big Bird Burger”).  We ordered fries for the kids (which were your standard freezer shoestrings with parmesan cheese; pretty good but they didn’t live up to all the Yelp hype) while eight adults split two burgers.  Ghetto, I know, but this was just research, not a legitimate meal.  The buffalo burger was awesome!  Juicy and beefy.  In fact, it had a more robust beefiness than beef itself.  Weird.  Speaking of weird, I won’t ever order an ostrich burger again.  It was strangely mushy (kinda like ground turkey) and pretty gamey (almost fishy).  Not pleasant.  But, hey, at least I can say I’ve had ostrich!  I’ll eventually be back for gator and kangaroo, but I’ll be sure to call first.
Tioli's Crazee Burger on Urbanspoon

STOP #6: Bronx Pizza (San Diego).  “The Fun Mother-In-Law” (oxymoron?) grew up in New York and we’ve had the chance to visit the Big Apple and fall in love with New York pizza.  The absolute best “pie” in SoCal is found here in the funky Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego.  The most distinctive characteristic of a New York pizza is its thin, floppy crust that mysteriously combines chewiness and crispness, which Bronx Pizza nails!  They use a simple, yet bright and savory marinara and a creamy and milky mozzarella (I’m guessing it’s made from whole milk).  Our favorite of their specialty pies is the Whitestone, which is mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan and garlic (no marinara).  So simple, yet so good.  Worth the wait, worth the New York attitude, and worth the fact that they only take cash.  Bronx Pizza is easily one of my top five places to eat anywhere!

Doesn't look like much, but Bronx's Whitestone is too legit to quit!

Bronx Pizza on Urbanspoon


My Big, Fat Greek Christmas

December 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Oh-pah!  All we needed to round out our Greek Christmas was the Papadopouloses from the 80’s sitcom, Webster.  You might be able to tell from my header pic that I’m not Greek.  I’m actually Filipino.  It’s probably not the best angle to be able to see, but I’ve been told by many that I bear a striking resemblance to Tiger Woods (which was pretty cool up until a couple weeks ago).  So do we owe our Greek culinary expressions to my wife?  Nope, she’s Italian and Irish, which means we would have had Lasagne and Lucky Charms for Christmas.

We’re just weird like that.  We like to mix it up for the holidays, even experiment.  We’ve done a couple traditional Christmas meals with Turkey or Prime Rib.  We’ve paid homage to our respective ethnic backgrounds with Italian and Filipino celebrations.  A couple years ago we did a funky (but tasty) Mexican/American BBQ fusion in which we served up smoked brisket tacos and smoked pork tamales.

This year’s Greek spread was an all-day affair of cooking.  It was quite a bit of work, and I wouldn’t necessarily call it our forte, but I think we pretty much nailed it.  Pictured above, starting at the top and working around clockwise: spanakopita (feta cheese and spinach wrapped in phyllo), tabouli salad, dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), sliced cucumbers, humus, baba ghanoush, wheat pita bread, and rice pilaf.  All these tasty sides make a fitting frame for the main event, tri-tip kabobs.

Stay tuned for recipes.

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Foodie W.M.D.

December 4, 2009 1 comment

Weapons that Make for Delicious! My fellow foodies will understand the strange fulfillment found in traveling off the beaten path. To look beyond main stream, everyday brands and occassionally splurge on upscale products. Sometimes you end up going back to the normal stuff, but many times you find a gem that changes your culinary world. Allow me to share a few of these wonderful finds and encourage you to give them a try….

When it comes to BBQ sauces, my undisputed champion is Famous Dave's!  I'm so glad it's in our grocery stores now.  Until fairly recently, I had to depend on a few kind souls to bring me some from out-of-state.  I'm all about variety, so you'll pretty much always find three or four of Dave's varieties in my fridge.  Bulls Eye, the best of the main stream brands, is solid, but, as you can see, not the BBQ Family's favorite.

When it comes to BBQ sauces, my undisputed champion is Famous Dave's! I'm so glad it's in our grocery stores now. Until fairly recently, I had to depend on a few kind souls to bring me some from out-of-state. I'm all about variety, so you'll pretty much always find three or four of Dave's varieties in my fridge. Bulls Eye, the best of the main stream brands, is solid, but, as you can see, not the BBQ Family's favorite.


Chipotles are smoked jalapenos. Dry 'em and grind 'em and you have one crazy tasty spice! Quite spicy and the smokiness really shines through. Celery salt adds a depth of flavor to my BBQ meats that can't really be described. Not terribly fragrant, but it adds just a little something in the background to make food more interesting. It is the base for my BBQ rubs. I find it doesn't mix well with Asian flavors, though. I know black pepper isn't anything out of the ordinary, but I don't think enough people grind it fresh. Totally different world from the stale pre-ground stuff you buy in those little red and white cans. Get yourself a pepper mill and you'll never go back!


And on to my Extra Virgin Olive Oil collection! Why would anyone need three different types of olive oil? First, extra virgin olive oil is all about flavor (don't confuse it with "pure olive oil"). You can't think of it like you do canola oil, which has pretty much no flavor. Olive oil is like coffee. You get distinctive flavors from various regions. My go-to stuff is pictured in the middle, Trader Joe's California Estate. It is only $4.99 for a 16.9 oz bottle. Really quite a steal for extra virgin that actually has nice flavor. Fruity and a bit nutty. The oil on the right is Los Villares. It is from Spain and has a distinctive peppery finish to it. On the left is the darling of our household, Carm from Portugal. Incredibly fruity, it works with any Italian dish. Carm and Los Villares are not cheap, so they're a special treat. Don't try to deep fry with extra virgin, you dip bread in it, make salad dressings, and drizzle on your entree. You've not truly eaten Italian until you've had it with fresh extra virgin olive oil.