Sunday, October 25, 2009

brown baggers unite!

I work in an office, and with that comes a vending machine, sodas, snacks, and the ability to eat out every single day. This proves appealing, albeit unhealthy and expensive, guised under the veil of "convenience". However, I believe that eating is not singularly for filling your stomach, but to experience the most primal of pleasantries and an opportunity to enhance ones' daily routine at least a few times a day. I understand that the promise of a $5 foot long sandwich is just too much to pass up, because in this fast-paced world "time is money" and no one wants to take the time to prepare a meal when it's just "easier" to buy it.

Harumph. I don't buy it. I'm a brown bagger, and proud of it. That's not to say that I don't enjoy the occasional treat of a convenient meal, or that sometimes I'm just too tired or lazy to put something together. I just don't see the overall savings of purchasing an individual, probably unhealthy, quick meal 5 times a week. Meals shouldn't just be about eating. It's an experience. What fun is lunchtime if you have to rush rush rush before it's time to clock back in? Do you really think it's cheaper to spend $5-$10 and save some time than going to the grocery store, spending a little bit more up front, and enjoying a healthy, homemade meal at your leisure?

ReadyMade has explored this very enigma. How Much Was That Sandwich In Your Bag? delves into the hidden costs and compares the "time is money" argument. If you're the type of person who enjoys putting together a meal, planning ingredients, buying exactly what you want instead of settling for what's available, then read on. However, if you don't care or notice what slop you shovel into your fat mouth day in and day out for a seemingly cheap and easy way to fill the soulless void in your belly, then don't bother. Eating isn't simply about food. Take a few moments out of your day and think about what YOU want instead of choosing from a menu designed to numb your senses and fatten your thighs. I think if you took the time and challenged yourself to ONE WEEK of making lunch, we'd be better off all around.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Is it just me, or is October THE BEST FREAKING MONTH OF THE YEAR?!?! Not only is it fall, the time of harvest, crisp winds, brisk nights, hoodie weather days, pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, spiced chai, it's home of OKTOBERFEST! Strangely, the original Oktoberfest had little to do with the drunken debauchery that it stands for today- that was just a happy accident. San Diego is home to quite a few of the largest Oktoberfests around, and while the big crowds head to La Mesa, the actual Germans and enthusiasts alike head to El Cajon every year for one of the best gatherings around.

Bowen and I are enthused about what we are about to experience. He's got attendance on me, however, as someone who drinks beer and eats meat, I think I feel a little more at home.

A great Bavarian band graced us with their tunes, and the German dancers never seemed to stop!

Believe me when I say that this brat (extra sauerkraut, extra spicy mustard) and Hofbrau brew NEVER tasted as good as it did then. It's all about the atmosphere...

There was an abundance of German pastries (an entire tent dedicated to their sweets!) and while I'm familiar with a few standards like apple strudel and Black Forest cake, I'd never heard of poppyseed cake. It was unbelievably sweet and crumbly, moist and dense and totally delicious. It had faint twinges of phantom chocolate, although there was nary a cacao bean to be found. An absolute delight.

Ashton was jealous of my brat and decided to retaliate by getting a pretzel the size of his torso. This gigantic monstrosity seemed well worth the price, and I feel confident stating that it could feed a family of four.

Alas, the season for 'festing is over all too soon, but it's never too early to start thinking of next year!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cooking with Beer!

Here's a great article from NPR about the wonder of cooking with beer! Be sure to check the links at the bottom for more great beer related articles.
Sorry this is a short one, but who can compete with NPR? Just read it!


FINALLY! We have been hearing NOTHING but good things about Jyoti-Bihanga, a vegetarian venture in Normal Heights run by the followers of Sri Chinmoy's teachings. It's described as a "divine enterprise" and is closed for a few weeks and weekends out of the year specifically for congregating with their (now deceased) spiritual leader and sporting events such as the World Harmony Run. Hey, as long as the food is good, they could be worshipping Nico for all I care! Still, our several attempts for brunch were thwarted with their odd weekend closing schedules, so naturally we were thrilled to finally make it to dinner.

Luckily, our dining partners were regulars of the establishment, and offered helpful tips on what to order. The mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy were particularly highly recommended, and how convenient that they were the included side for most dishes! Their meatless "Neatloaf" was available vegan and vegetarian, and their special curry of the night was Lentil and Spinach. Their menu is very impressive for a vegetarian/vegan specialty place, and not with the normal boring fare.

The whole place was extremely serene; its high vaulted ceilings and white walls were decorated sparsely with minimalist and spiritual art, with books and pamphlets available to read while you wait. The staff moved slowly, deftly, quietly, and while the voices remained hush, it still maintained a very casual feeling, not at all like being uncomfortably stifled in a place of worship. The food arrived quickly, and it did not disappoint. I'm not a huge tea drinker, but pairing my famous Neatloaf sandwich (pictured below) with a cup of hot Bengal Spice tea was absolutely divine. My friends are now very used to me reaching over to try a particularly tasty looking morsel on their plates (all for the good of the readers of course!) and I managed to sneak a slurp of the broccoli soup (WONDERFUL), the BBQ duck sandwich (a third of our group ordered it- it was as excellent as I had hoped) and the lentil/spinach curry (fantastic). Everything we had was perfectly made, the sauces were delicious, and the service was polite, prompt, and understated. I'd give this place an enthusiastic recommendation with every intention of returning!

All this neatloaf just for me?!?!?!

Their "tziaziki" was just as good as the Greeks!

3351 Adams Avenue
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 282-4116

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 11:00 am to 9:00 pm
Saturday 12:00 noon to 9:00 pm
Wednesday 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Two to three Sundays a month we do an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet from 9:00 am to
1:00 pm. Please make sure to call for the monthly schedule.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


If you're like me, you're on a constant quest for a few life staples such as a great beer bar, a great brunch spot, and hey, if the two happen to coincide, so much the better! Toronado has been a solid stop for any beer enthusiast for the last year since opening in North Park (even mentioned in Men's Journal WHERE SAN DIEGO IS NAMED THE NUMBER ONE CITY IN AMERICA FOR BEER DRINKING!), and is now open for brunch! As an avid appreciator of all things brewed and also brunched, obviously we had to give it a try as soon as possible. Luckily, we caught the second Sunday brunch, so a few bumps wouldn't have been surprising.

However, none were to be had! The bar service was much better on a quiet Sunday morning than the usual bustling Friday night crowd, and the menu was solid with fantastic options and reasonable prices. I was torn between the Big Breakfast (2 eggs any style with 2 sausage links and a potato pancake) and the Soyrizo scramble (2 eggs or tofu scrambled with soyrizo and an assortment of red, green, and jalapeno peppers with rosemary potatoes and Bread & Cie cracked wheat toast) but when Ashton declared his intent to order the former, I happily accepted my soyrizo fate. I wouldn't recommend pairing this incredibly spicy dish with an organic wheat beer, which unhappily I did and what a poor pairing it was. However, the jalapenos were plentiful and some of the spiciest I have EVER had. As a spice lover, I relished in this searing, tear-inducing, tongue-scorching masterpiece, but unless you're prepared for it I wouldn't recommend this particular scramble! However, it was absolutely superb, and the generous helping didn't go unnoticed. Ashton's big breakfast was pretty standard, the eggs were well cooked, the potato pancake solid, but the sausage was the star of his plate. Maple cured and piping hot, these puppies were a joy to have reside (albeit briefly) in my mouth.

If you're willing to forgo the usual bloody mary for brunch, make Toronado your next Sunday destination. Don't worry about missing your mimosa, those are available as well!

4026 30th Street
San Diego, CA 92104