Thursday, April 30, 2009


Yes, 'tis true, today marks the 24th anniversary of my birth. April 30, 1985... a date which will live in infamy. I'm never one to let an event pass without some culinary exploit to mark it with, and at work we always follow the same plan. Get a cake, one that is kosher, which is plain ice cream, which is BORING, and we NEVER get anything else. Well, surprise! My bosses are in China, leaving us free to select a different cake to make to celebrate the monumental event! When asked what my cake of choice was, my immediate thought was carrot cake, but since I'd like to try my hand at making that soon, I opted for red velvet cake. Our new hire is from NYC, and at the very mention of the words "red velvet" she picked up the phone and through our questioning ordered a cake from Cake Man Raven in Brooklyn to be shipped cross country to arrive for my birthday without hesitation. This guy's cakes are world famous, especially his red velvet. His client list includes Oprah, Robert De Niro, 50 Cent, Maya Angelou, and an incredible much more. The stokeage was reaching maximum levels, and I didn't eat anything in anticipation of the sugary treat. It finally came today and we made an early lunch of it! The pictures below speak for themselves- I DID NOT RETOUCH ANY ONE OF THEM BEYOND CROPPING. The colors are true and the flavor was insane. If you ever have the opportunity to sample one of his marvelous cakes, DO IT DO IT DO IT.

Ignore the mild smush, the FedEx guy was just jealous. All it did is condense the deliciousness even more.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

perfect way to start the day

You know how sometimes you just get the exact right amount of sugar and cream in your coffee, which is perfectly brewed and even though you make it the same way every day this particular day it's extra perfect and puts you in a great mood? That happened today. That, plus the delicious treat my co-worker made has jump-started my Tuesday! She sliced up this AMAZING rosemary/olive oil bread, lightly toasted it, added some cream cheese with a slice of sharp cheddar and cold shaved turkey... heaven. A perfect blend of flavors for a marvelous treat.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mac attack

Oh, the glory of it all! How have I been missing such an American staple for so long? Where have you been all my life, the elusive Big Mac?? Why, just around the corner at your friendly neighborhood McDonald's!

Now, to all the people who are going to backlash and ask how I can support such a disgusting industry that is clogging the arteries of America's youth and destroying the local eateries, BACK THE TRUCK UP. I've probably had McDonald's less than 5 times in the last 10 years. This includes late night drunk munchies and any other inebriated state requiring a quick fix of cheap greasy food. It's just nasty. Everyone knows that. I hardly think that this goal of tasting an American Tradition means that I am a McDonald's supporter.

As gross and unhealthy as it may be (which it certainly is), the Big Mac is an American Icon of food. The fact that I'd NEVER EVER TRIED ONE blew a lot of people's minds, including my own. How have I, such an avid lover of all things flavor, missed this unique and uncopyable flavor in its own right? I defy anyone to try and mimic this succulent, delicious, unique flavor in any capacity. There's got to be crack or something in them. One bite and I was hooked.

I was definitely warned up front. I've brought up this quest to many people over the last few weeks, and here's how the conversation went about 99% of the time...
Me: "Blah blah blah food blog, I'm going to go to McDonald's too...
Me: "But I've never had a Big Mac before, and I think that's weird. I want to experience ALL flavors, and this being such a famous one how could I exclude it from my taste library?"
Other person: "... you've NEVER had a Big Mac? You must drop what you are doing immediately and get one now! How have you lived 23 years without trying one! Once you have one, you'll understand what you've been missing. Actually, it's kind of a secret pleasure of mine to get every once in a while.... (sheepish grin)"

SEE?!?!? EVERYONE knows McDonald's is gross and unhealthy. But it's a travesty that I didn't even know what I was missing! The following is the step by step of the monumental event.

Ahh, even the packaging says "Eat me, EAT ME!"

Not my first look at the Big Mac, but my first look at MY first Big Mac.

First bite. Flavor is already dripping off my tongue and down my chin. Maybe it's just the secret sauce.

Contemplation that only the most serious food critic or philosopher can summon.


Soon to be digested... hopefully.

+1 for Mickey D's

I will say though, this might not have the happiest of endings. All I know is I ate this at around 9:30 PM yesterday. It is not 2:10 PM and it is still solidly in the stomach. Something needs to happen soon......

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Bruery tasting at Whole Foods

One of the things I really miss about Richmond was my connection within the food community there. It's a tightly knit fraternity that can only be entered through the blood, sweat, and tears of participating in this largely thankless industry. For as much crap as you have to deal with working in the restaurant/catering world, there is no limit to the rewards reaped in the network-dependent clique. It was rare for me to go to a restaurant or bar without some connection or hookup there; this incestuous relationship is not uncommon, especially in a small town with an emphasis on food.

Now that I am separated from the relationships I had built over the years, I have longed to re-enter that world, slowly but surely, in San Diego. When we saw the flier for a Belgian Beer Tasting at Whole Foods, of course we jumped on the opportunity. No stranger to beer dinners am I, and a rabid fan of all beers Belgian. The featured brewery was The Bruery, which is an infant to the industry and located in Orange County. Their beers were accompanied by so many cheese plates it really ended up being more like a never-ending cheese tasting with some beer on the side, but it was excellent nonetheless.

The first beer we tried was the Bruery White Orchard (5.7%, 15 IBU's, $7.99 per 750 mL), and the first thing I noticed was the bottle it came in. They have super-cute and kitschy labels that are a great accent shape over the whole bottle. Only a design weenie like me would even notice, but it's nice to be drinking a good beer with an attractive label. I can definitely see me drinking this a lot, especially in the spring/summertime. It's incredibly light and would make an excellent shandy.

Next up, Bruery Black Orchard (5.7%, 15 IBU's, $7.99 per 750 mL). Along the same vein as the White, but slightly malty and had a mild licorice flavor. I didn't love this one, it seemed over-carbonated and had that sticky-in-the-mouth feeling like coke leaves. You know how if you're drinking a really fizzy soda you have to pause for just a moment before swallowing it because all the trillions of bubbles pop at once? It's like that. Not a bad beer by any stretch, it had hints of coriander and chamomile. I rated it "weird but good". An occasional sip.

Saison de Lente (their Spring Seasonal, 6.5%, 35 IBU's, $10.99 per 750 mL) was up next. It's supposedly the "lighter" version of the Saison Rue, but I found it hoppy, fruity, and dry. It was over my personal preference of hoppiness, but it was still nowhere NEAR what an IPA would be like. It had a really great smoothness, and the taste lingered just long enough without overstaying its welcome.

I was excited about the Trade Winds Triple (8%, 25 IBU's, $10.99 per 750 mL) when Patrick told us there was thai basil in it! I was actually so excited that I wrote "hurray" in my notes. Don't believe me?

Anyway, it was very similar in color to the Saison de Lente, but cloudier with a really strong, floral aroma. For some reason I've always has this strange aversion to Tripels, but this had a great pear flavor that was a bit too carbonated but good. No one else seemed to like it, and I don't think I could drink the entire bottle myself... but if I found myself in that position, I'm sure I could rise to the challenge.

The Saison Rue was up next (8/5%, 30 IBU's, $11.99 per 750 mL), and the alcohol content just keeps rising! The first sip of this amber-colored beer was excellent, and paired with a bite of one of the soft cheeses they complimented each other wonderfully. We got a little zany and tried pairing it with the White Stilton with Lemon Zest on top of the Nairin's Stern Ginger Oat Biscuits, and it was a match made in heaven! This beer is absolutely enhanced with a good pairing!

Last but not least was the Partridge in a Pear Tree: Winter Seasonal Belgian Style Quadruple (12%, 20 IBU's, $10.99). There's something about winter brews that always contain a high alcohol content. I understand that in the North or East where you spend months on end huddled in your apartment cursing Mother Nature and nursing your body back to warmth with a brew, but here in Southern California it's just not necessary! Beach Christmas, anyone? Regardless, staying true to the Belgian style, this caramelly dark beer is not made with roasted grains (which is why the majority of dark beers are actually dark in color). The Quadruple contains almost no roasted grains, which means it doesn't have the smoky flavor found in most dark beers. It substitutes caramels and sweetness for smokiness, which I found to be a pleasant change. This beer is also unique because every year it will be the next line in the Christmas song, meaning 2009 will be 2 Turtledoves, and so forth. An excellent collecting incentive!

All in all it was a pleasant and educational evening. The cheese was magnificent, the beer was a new treat, and the company was stellar. I hope to drink much more of these for years to come!

Friday, April 17, 2009


I am EXTREMELY proud of this dish! My uncle and aunt came down for dinner last night to see our place, and I wanted to wow them with our cooking skills. I had gotten this recipe from a friend and it just seemed a little boring, so I jazzed it up with a few items of our own creation and made it our own!


Thai Curry Chicken with mushrooms and peppers
3 lbs. chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
6 large shiitake mushrooms cut into large pieces
1 large red bell pepper
Curry to taste (probably 2-3 large tablespoons depending on desired flavor)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups chopped onions (1/4” dice)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 small can or 1 cup coconut milk
Jasmine rice

Rinse chicken in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. In a bowl or pan, combine chicken, lemon juice, zest, salt, pepper, and cayenne to marinate for 1 hour (or longer). In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and sauté onions and garlic for 3-5 minutes. Add chicken and mushrooms, generously sprinkle curry over everything, brown and cook until nearly done (about 12 minutes). Add tomatoes, ginger, and sliced red peppers, stir well, cook for 3 minutes more.

At this point I transferred everything into a large pot and then added the coconut milk. You can leave it in the skillet if you have enough room, whichever you prefer. Simmer until chicken is completely cooked. Reduce sauce to desired consistency, serve over jasmine rice.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Best Burgers in town

CNN is often the voice of despair, of war, of crime... but sometimes it's the voice of tasty travel tips! Today's article seen on CNN/Travel is about 5 of the best and most unique burger places in the country. Pay extra special attention to Hodad's in Ocean Beach- I've yet to go, but with a CNN blessing I am far more motivated!

Speaking of burgers, I've got a bombshell for you all. I have never, in my entire life, had a Big Mac. For as much as people poo-poo McDonald's (and for good reason), the vast majority of people upon hearing this revelation are shocked and urge me to drop whatever I'm doing and run to the golden arches as fast as I can. Well my friends, I think this weekend will be BM-Day. I will have a Big Mac. And also a Bowel Movement. Of that I am sure.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sticky Rice DC

Sticky Rice on Main Street in Richmond is a total Fan staple, especially anyone with hipster-ish tendencies and the desire to see and be seen in a hip location. Considering their sushi is new-school with 90% innovative flair and 10% tradition, it's a great bar spot that happened to be 3 blocks away from my old apartment. (sigh) They've got great events like karaoke, 1/2 price sushi Mondays, and trivia nights that are always guaranteed to be jam packed.

Within the last year, they've opened the 2nd Sticky Rice in the H District in Washington, D.C. I'm sure it will attract the same group of 20somethings who long for tater tots and cheap PBR with a California roll on the side. I would love to see the new location's design and layout; the interior and exterior of the original was kitschy and bright while just grimey enough to entice bike punks and young professionals alike. Even Sticky to Go Go across the street was a wild success. All best wishes for their old and new ventures alike!

Recommended for people who want a cool sushi "experience" rather than expecting the most traditional of dishes.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Marley's mac n' Cheese

My sister is not known for her culinary flair (just mention the words "jello salad" and you will be regaled with a tale that the family will NEVER let her live down!) but I definitely respect her for her persistence in the cooking realm. Actually, her husband Jason has a bit of talent with a grill, and even with the smallest kitchen I have ever seen, they've been able to knock out some commendable tidbits. I haven't yet tried the following recipe, but with cheese, jalapenos, and prosciutto, I think it sounds pretty damn tasty.


8 oz. box of macaroni (we use Cresti di gallo noodles; its large size and the ridged texture always adds to the pasta when you have a rich sauce by helping the sauce adhere to the pasta)

4 tbsp unsalted butter

1 small shallot, finely diced

1 jalapeno (include seeds and/or a 2nd jalapeno if you prefer it spicier)

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tbsp dried/ground mustard

1/2 tsp paprika

2 cups half and half

8 oz shredded sharp cheddar

8 oz shredded pepper jack

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs w/ 1 tbsp melted butter

1.5 oz (half a pack/to taste) prosciutto (found near the deli counter by lunch meats)


1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C)
2. Bring large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta noodles and cook for 7-8 minutes until they're almost al dente; drain well and set aside
3. Meanwhile cook prosciutto in olive oil/butter in a small saucepan until slightly crispy; cut into smaller pieces and set aside
4. In a large saucepan (at least 3 inches deep) over medium heat, melt 4 tbsp unsalted butter; add shallots and jalapenos and cook for 1 minute; add flour, dry mustard and paprika; stir continuously until blended (about 1 minute); pour in half and half slowly as you're stirring everything fast enough to keep it from getting chunky
5. Add shredded cheeses and stir until blended
6. Stir in garlic powder, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce
7. Add macaroni and prosciutto to pan and mix everything well; transfer to a 2 quart Corning ware/casserole dish. Mix 1 tbsp of butter with bread crumbs (can use same small saucepan as the prosciutto) and sprinkle over macaroni and cheese
8. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until hot and bubbling around the edges.