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Monday, December 29, 2008

The Food Who?

Yeah, I know. Last published - Dec 12. A looooooooooooong time has passed. It seems like months. I don't even know where to start. Well, let's do Asmara. We ate there on December 1st - if my camera time/date stamp is accurate - which it might not be. Anyhoo, we went for lunch. It was a cool day. It was cool inside. We were the first customers, per usual. The walls and floors were brightly painted. It looked fresh and clean, unlike some of the other etrirean/ethiopian restaurants in the city. I won't name names, though.

So we didn't really have to look at the menu much. We got what we always get - the veggie combo and the meat combo. But we also got an order of meat sambusas. So the sambusas came.



They were good. Nice harissa sauce. Nicely spiced meat. No problems there.

Then the combos came.



So, I'm really bad at names. The meat combo all came with beef. I wish I could remember the names. Basically,one is with butter, another is with dried peppers, and another is with like onions, bell peppers, and jalapenos. But these tend to be kind of slow cooked as far as I know. In this case at Asmara, it's like they cooked off a big batch of beef and then divided it in three and added the different components to make them different dishes. They were okay. Nothing special, nothing that made me stand up and say, I'm moving to Eritrea!

The veggies were more promising, but still, nothing that said, the cook in the kitchen is speaking to me, teaching me about eritrea. I can't even tell you now which one I liked the best. But they were just okay. Harar rules! If I have to choose between cleanliness and ambiance or quality of food, I'm going to choose the latter. I realize some would disagree with me, but I probably wouldn't really want to go out to eat with them......




So, the next day, I made country style pork rib soup. Yum yum.



I walked down to the Jaycee Market, which is pretty much overpriced for most stuff. But I found a pack of these beauties for like under $5. So I bought it and walked home to scavange the kitchen for a meal. Luckily, I had some leftovers to work with. Onion, ginger, garlic, chinese broccoli, rice noodle, soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce and water. What more do you need? Saute the onion, ginger and garlic, sear the meat, add water, soy sauce, fish sauce and vinegar, bring it to a boil, add the meat back in, let it cook until tender, then cook the rice noodles, throw in the noodles and chinese broccoli, let it cook another few minutes, then eat. If you're not a big fan of pigfat, you might want to sit this one out. If you like pig fat, this is the soup for you.



The next week, we ate at this "vietnamese place" called Pho Pasteur Ahn Hong. It's in Kearny Mesa off of Linda Vista or something. Basically, it is not right on Convoy like all the other restaurants.

So I say "vietnamese" because the people who run it didn't really look vietnamese, more filipino or something. I could be wrong though. I don't know enough about asian culture in general to say, but they didn't look vietnamese to me. And the place was decorated the way a filipina grandmother would decorate her house, with the plastic sheeting on the table, lots of dusty mismatching knickknacks everywhere. It didn't feel like a real restaurant, for some reason.

So we ordered. The FP got the pho, and I got some shrimp and pork soup. There was some question about my soup. Some kind of language barrier thing. He asked if I wanted egg noodle with my soup. I said no, rice noodle, but he came back another time to verify. I guess it's supposed to come with egg noodle, but why was he asking if that was the case? We also got eggrolls, probably because it was cold or something.





So the eggrolls were made with thick egg roll wrapper. Not a fan. I like the thin lumpia or springroll wrapper, just my personal preference though. The filling was unmemorable. I don't remember it at all. It probably had the usual shredded pork and carrot type filling. Just not anything to write home about. In fact, I was going to send this blog to my mom, but maybe not, since it's nothing to write home about. Sorry if my jokes seem a little stale, I'm a little rusty with the writing and the joke telling, and some would say I was never good with the jokes in the first place, but who are they? Comedy critics? And if they are comedy critics, I'm honored that they would even bother to comment on my material.

Anyway, where were we? Eggrolls sucked. The FP's soup.



I believe the word is bland. If I'm not mistaken (which occasionally I am), he said the meat, tendon and stuff was tender. I love tender tendon, don't you? But the flavor was lacking. You gotta have a good broth. That's the beautiful simplicity of pho. So that was a bust.

Then there's the matter of my soup.



I didn't think it was the soup that I ordered. It had shrimp paste that looked like it was extruded right from the grinder into the soup. There was no pork. I think I ordered what was supposed to have whole shrimp and ground pork. But I didn't fight it. For some reason that was the soup they wanted me to have. And it had rice noodles, not egg noodles. So it sucked though. The broth was kinda funky. The shrimp paste was interesting on first bite, but not really what one wants to eat if one wants good tasting shrimp product. And the pork, well, there was none. That orange oil slick of a broth was what they brought me. It's not like I dumped chili oil in and mixed it up. It was orange. I did appreciate the garnish of big green onions and cilantro leaves and peanuts. But that was about all I appreciated. I ate about half of it, though, because I was hungry and scared of the guy who was serving us. So, yeah.

I'm going to rate both these places, because I don't really want to go back to either unless I get a big pay raise. But my money is so budgeted, that I can't waste it on a place that I didn't like the first time. Yeah, this means I may miss something great, but I've already had enough great experiences in my life that I can't expect to have all great experiences every time I walk into a restaurant.

So.... Asmara. I give them a \/\ 3 chopsticks. That seems pretty harsh, but when they've got stiff competition foodwise, they just don't make the cut. I've had some amazing Eritrean/Ethiopian food in the past, so all others have to compare to those experiences. Admittedly, if this were the first Eritrean restaurant I'd ever been to, I probably would have been enchanted, as some of the Yelp readers seemed to have been.

Pho Pasteur Ahn Hong. I give these guys a \/ 2 chopsticks. This place didn't have a nice clean ambiance. Asmara did. The guy was scary. Kinda moblike, but not friendly. I hope he doesn't read this. I may have to go in hiding. Anyway, I want to speak the truth though. We didn't like any of the three things we got. I can't imagine liking anything else on the menu. If you can't do a good eggroll or pho, chances are, the other stuff isn't that good either.

Where's my holiday charity, you ask? I don't know. I've been looking in the mail for it daily. It hasn't arrived yet.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thanksgiving

So, I figure I need to post this before it is about a meal we ate the year before...

Thanksgiving. It was so long ago, I barely remember it. No, actually that's not true. There's some stuffing in the fridge still to remind me of it. Yeah, I know, it's gross that we haven't thrown it out. Don't ask me why we haven't. We've been busy, you know.

So we were pretty prepared for Thanksgiving. I think we only had to go to the store once on Thanksgiving day, which is unusual.

The night before, of course we were busy at work. Also, I got meeting notes from my boss for a meeting that we never had because she came in late. Pretty much, reading these notes put me in an awful mood. It wasn't nice. Maybe she didn't mean for it to be as nasty as it seemed, but I took it in a nasty way. I work pretty hard for this place, and my back has been fucked up for over a month because of this place, but I don't get any gratitude. When they see me, they just see dollar signs, as in how much money they have to pay me, which is nothing. I'm crazy to have taken this job for the pay. So I didn't really sleep well, and we got up early, even though everyone wasn't coming for dinner until 5 or later.

So anyhoo, the Food Pimp had done a lot of the work the night before. And he did a lot of the work on Thanksgiving day. I was pretty useless. But he had all this extra energy anyway, so doing 80% of the cooking kept him more or less occupied.

So here was the menu:

Mezze Plate
hummus
tatziki
olives and feta
pita bread

Fried Green Tomatoes and Shrimp Remeloude

Citrus Roasted Ducks
Mashed Potatoes
Mushroom Stuffing
Green Beans with Mushrooms

Tart Tatin


To drink, we had some Cristalino champagne, some red wine - tempranillo, I think, beer of course, and our friends brought some booze too - miller lite cans from Mr. & Mrs MIphone, strawberry wild vines (I swear) from Ed Kowalcyzk, and Captain Morgan Tattoo (we forgot to crack that open, thankfully) from The Plunderer. Mr. Interested in You and Valley Girl came after dinner and brought Miller High Life.

So, all I made was the stuffing, the green beans and the tart tatin. The FP did all the rest. It was one of the least stressful holidays for me, even though I was thinking about work. I still got drunk and had fun though.

What sucks though, is that I got drunk, so I forgot didn't take too many pictures. I pretty much always do that! What is wrong with me?! Oh, yeah, I get drunk.

Here's the shrimp remeloude and fried green tomatoes salad. For those of you who don't know what remeloude is - it's basically cajun 1000 island dressing. But if some diehard neworleanian read this they might get pissed. I'm so controversial.



Here's one picture. Quack on a rack. A very reputable brand of duck.




Here's the ducks in the oven.



Here's when they were done.




They were beautiful. The FP brined them with citrus.


Here's the mash and stuffing.



Here's the stuffing present day.



Yeah, I know. Thanksgiving was like almost a month ago. The fridge is pretty empty and fairly clean by our standards. But for whatever reason the stuffing never got thrown out. I don't really clean the kitchen. That's the Food Pimp's domain. We haven't been grocery shopping since maybe Thanksgiving, so there's nothing else in there. Actually, I'm going to have to finish this and then clean the fridge out, because now I feel gross and dirty.

Anyhoo, I don't have a picture of the tart tatin. It wasn't that great. It was okay. But I should have left it in the oven longer, but I panicked because I didn't put it in soon enough. Basically, I forgot about it, until the FP asked me if it was in the oven. So, it wasn't as dark as it could have been. Then I tried to flip it. I didn't have a plate big enough. I once did, but the FP lost it or broke it. It was a wedding present plate. Anyhoo, I tried to flip it into a hotel pan, and all the apples slid off the puff pastry. So I had to mound them back on. Well, it tasted much better than it looked, anyway.

So, yeah. I have to go clean out the fridge now. That's all I can think about.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Quick Blog on Phoung Trang

So, the other week we went to Phoung Trang. We hadn't been there in a while, so it was quite a treat to go. We got the spring rolls, which are big, but not as big as at Saigon. These were pretty good. They were fresh and had a good ratio of noodle to lettuce. Sometimes they are all noodle, and sometimes all veg, and sometimes they are not rolled tightly enough. These were nicely rolled and had a good noodle veg ratio, which is probably 3:2.



See the heart? We have this habit of putting siracha on our plates, then dipping the spring roll in the siracha, then in the peanut sauce. So the Food Pimp was being cute and he put the heart on my plate. Isn't that romantic. Making something sweet out of something that later burns your anus......



So the FP got My Tho's Rice Noodle Soup, or Hu Tieu My Tho. This is the shrimp and pork soup with baby celery stems. The celery is what makes the soup really delicious. It's just really... fresh tasting. Just always a good soup, in our experience.





So what did I get? I thought of the shrimp, pork and jellyfish salad. Instead, I got the squid salad. Something different.



It came with the shrimp chips, which are always a plus. They remind me of my childhood. They're a bittersweet memory of my shame of my culture as a child. I loved shrimp chips, but whenever I had a birthday party or some friends over, no one ate them. They were scared of the different colors and unknown flavor. It made me embarrassed to eat them. So I ate them without the presence of my non-flip friends. Later on, when I started wanting to be different, it didn't bug me as much to eat stuff that freaked people out. But in elementary school, I really wanted to fit in and have a mom who made macaroni and cheese and hot dogs for dinner.

So anyway, the shrimp chips are good for scooping the salad up. The salad itself kind of sucked. It consisted of long strands of carrot and daikon or jicama, leaf lettuce, some other stuff, and stinky squid. Yes. Stinky. Very stinky. Poached squid. And stinky squid. I eat strong smelling seafood, but that was too much. I ate one or two pieces. One piece was okay. The other was musky. So I ended up just pushing all the squid to one side. Guess they weren't moving the squid too much. Very disappointing. I have to say that Saigon's salad is better. Stinky squid aside. I never had it with squid at Saigon. But the salad itself at Saigon is big slices of pickled vegetable. Carrot and celery mainly. Delicious. I had reasoned that if it were so good at Saigon, it would be amazing at Phoung Trang. Wrong!!!! I guess they wanted to do it different at Phoung Trang. And more stinkily.



Here it is again. Just for identification. The stinky squid salad. Looks innocuous enough. Don't let it fool you though.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tita Pork Porn

So, weirdly enough, one of the top google searches that leads international websurfers to this blog is "tita fuck porn". I don't know what that is, and I really don't need to. Anyway, I guess it closely resembles tita's kitchenette, tita pork porn, tita's food porn, etc. There. Now that I wrote all those titas, they will be clicking several links that lead to this page. How disappointing. This tita fuck porn must be excellent. I wonder if tita is a name, or it's tita as in aunt. I'm not gonna look it up though, sounds very spammy.

Anyhoo, being kind of ocd, I feel the need to post about things chronologically, when possible. So while I'd like to write about Thanksgiving, I have to write about Tita's, first.

So if you haven't heard of Tita's, you must have never have read this blog before. So if that's the case, Tita's Kitchenette is a point point joint in National City on 2720 E Plaza Blvd. which has mostly meat. Yummy, fatty rich, stewed, grilled, roasted meats. There's some fish and whatnot every once in a while, but mainly meat.

So one day, the Food Pimp was craving Tita's. I believe it was last Monday. We didn't have enough leftovers from the day before to make a meal. So we went there. Very late - noon. We were worried that it would be packed. It was, but they were replenishing the steam table, so no worries. The line was long, but it was moving quickly. I guess on weekdays everyone has their lunch break so everything has to go fast at noon. There were a lot of people behind the counter, but they seemed to have a system. This was a tough decision, but I had to make it pretty fast, as my time was fast approaching. I got through though. I ordered. The Food Pimp ordered. We got diet cokes. Then we got a table, condiments, then we were good to go.



So this is what the FP got. Chicken adobo and sisig. He just didn't get enough sisig the day before. I was tempted to get it, but it's not the same if the pig wasn't roasted the same day. It's still good the day after, but the fat isn't crunchy anymore. That's really the star of the pork roast - the crunchy fat.
But it was good. And the chicken adobo is pretty much always a "homerun" as they say. I'm not really into baseball, so I don't much like to use baseball terms. I like music, so maybe I should use a music term. Chicken adobo at Tita's Kitchenette is another hit single or smash hit. Sisig is like an encore performance. Hmmm. I'll have to work on my terminology.

So we were happily enjoying our second Tita's Kitchenette meal of the week. There was hustle and bustle around us, but we weren't paying attention. That is, until this very tall guy (kind of unusual for a flip) got in line and started talking really loud. He seemed to be making an announcement. Maybe someone left their lights on or something. I couldn't be bothered, because I was too engrossed in my food.

So what did I, your faithful Food Ho order? The same thing you ask? Pork hock kare kare and sisig? Why I did not, partially because I had you, my beloved readers, in mind. I did get the sinigang which the FP got the day before. I was just craving that tamarind broth. It might sound weird to those not familiar with tamarind dishes, but believe you me, it's not weird at all, it's just sublime. I believe that's what I called it in the last blog post. Anyhoo, there was just too much meat and veg, and not enough broth. I drank half the broth, and I was tempted to ask them if they would "top it off". I didn't think it was a good idea.

So I was enjoying my meal, when some guy walked in and went to the cash register. Now, mind you, the line was wrapped around the steam table and not quite out the door at this point. The tall loud guy was almost halfway through the line. The tall loud guy yells at the guy who had just walked up to the cash register - hey, They're busy and the end of the line is back there. The cash register guy yells back, hey, I'm just checking on my order that I called in. The tall guy yells back, They're very busy, don't bother them! So the other guy yells back, and it's very disrupting. It's one of those moments where everyone in the establishment stops what they're doing and focuses on the arguement. Then the other guy walked to the back - I guess his order might have been by the ice cream counter or something. So he yells at the tall guy to relax, and the tall guy starts cursing up a storm. Motherfucker, son of a bitch, asshole, what have you. This was all in english by the way. Which I was thankful for. So no one said anything. Business resumed. The tall guy got his food and sat at the table right behind me. He was talking loud the whole time. At one point he shouted out "bakla" which means gay. I looked at the line and didn't see anyone particularly homosexual looking. So I was beginning to wonder if this guy just had turrets or something. Anyway, I just went back to digging on my food. It was funny though, because as these ladies were leaving, they would turn around and glare at the guy before walking out. The FP thought it was funny because when the two guys were arguing, no one made a move to do anything about it. That tall guy was obviously whacked though. What were all these little moms going to do? Tell him to shut the fuck up? Jump him? Kick him out? That would have made matters worse, I'm sure.

So what else did I have in my $6.50 combo? I had rice. Oh, and I had this mung bean thing. Which the FP thought it was brave of me to get. I'd never seen it there before, and it looked good. Mung beans are very earthy tasting. Some people like them, but they are too much for others. I think they very much trigger childhood memories (good ones, which is probably harder for me to recall than bad ones) which is part of my like of them.



All I can say is, I'm so happy that I chose this dish. They were fantabulous! Really. No joke. I can't even joke about how good they were. They had shrimp
and pork in them. A little bit of greens, onion. Just a lovely combination. Sweet and earthy and fatty and just yummy and with a little garlic vinegar.... I don't know if there's a name for this dish but it should be called fuckin delishus mung bean stew. I'm sure that turrets guy could come up with a more obscene name....