Pork Butt, Bom chicka wow wow

Pork Butt, Bom chicka wow wow

food slideshow - be careful, some pics maybe xxx rated!

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

blast from the past part 4 - Ding How....

So, if you will indulge me and read this... you'll notice a theme... this was when we really first started going to Ding How, a chinese restaurant that represents my first taste of "real authentic" chinese cooking - so we went there a lot. I hope this isn't too boring. It's interesting, because it brings back memories that I would have never kept if I hadn't written this down in this journal.

Christmas Eve Dinner 2002

We went and picked up CMG and went to Ding How (after a few glasses of wine, of course). So when we sat down - I immediately took charge of how we would be treated. I didn't even let the paper menus touch the tables - "We want the chinese menu". Their first reaction always seems to be "did I hear her right?" But it was cool. Except, they were out of snails in black bean sauce, and razor clams. So we got duck (of course), "salt baked squid" and lobster in clay pot. Duck was okay - on the cold side, not as crispy. Squid seemed to be fried with bits of garlic, very good - not what I expected. Lobster was excellent - w/cellophane noodels. Best lobster I ever had. They actually had flavor! We also got chinese broccoli in oyster sauce. We started w/chopsticks - ended using our greasy fingers - BEST CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER EVER!!!

New Year's Day Lunch

Ding How again. I had to work brunch. But I didn't work the line & I left early yeah!!! So I drove home all delirious & I burst in and said "take me out to lunch." So they close at 3 - we got there at 2 pm.

This time duck of course. A whole of a half this time. The best yet. Warm, crispy skin - yum. Snails in black bean sauce (ohmigod!) There were fucking wonderful. Tiny snails that you had to use toothpicks to get out. Suck the shell, toothpick out the meat.

Clams in clay pot. Amazing. Lately I have been turned off by gritty, dirty, fishy clams. These were virtually dirt free in a sauce w/onions, peppers, lemon(grass?), sake? light soy? Wonderful!!!

Ding How w/CMG another Sunday lunch

Razor clams - smaller portion but perfectly cooked & no grit! Wonderful! Duck - same as usual great stuff. Goat in clay pot - very dark musky taste - lots of ginger - it was strange I could tell CMG didn't like it - I wasn't too hot on it, I ate it & enjoyed the experience though. I can't fucking remember what vegetable we got. We couldn't have gotten the broccoli again - I can't remember!!!

The clams in clay pot - the portions were smaller - so when we were talking about the clams the Food Pimp ordered them. These were different - a garlicky sauce w/separated oil on top. Really good but not the ones we were looking for. Their littleneck clams are so fresh & unrubbery - I don't know how -they must go through a shitload.

Why was I hungover - oh yeah, the night before we went to Lola's - I should do a little blurb about this place - but it's really all about atmosphere - cozy european feel - not all snotty like most places. Good honest food - nice squid steak, alright ceviche - paella good - not exciting. I think people like to bring their own bottle of wine w/out the corkage & stand out in the freezing cold - it's an experience!

Larry was there with about six girls - I know we've met some of them. For some reason most of CMG's friends blend into each other. That sounds cold & I hope none of them have occasion to read this - but it's an EATING JOURNAL - it's not about my opinion on people or daily happenings that don't relate to food - although everything relates to food!!! At least in my reality it does.

Getting back - I ate at Lola's with the FP - drank 1 1/2 bottles of wine (we split 1 1/2 bottles). Then we went to the fancy Marigny Brasserie & had some of the worst WORST margaritas ever! I think it was shelf brand - but still. I think the sour mix was some awful brand that didn't have any tang or sweetness - just mostly yellow water - maybe it would have had more zip if the guy had ingested vitamins & then peed in our glasses. On the whole - not an offensive bar. I would try the various happy hour specials like 10 cents (I never use the cent sign anymore - it is weird to write it down - do they even have this symbol on the keyboard? Or do you ave to use wingdings?) Then we went to DBA. James showed up in leather gap pants - just like the ones Amanda gave me. We drank, they both drank fast - it was cute - James had to keep pace with the FP. Usually with all our alcoholic friends TFP has to keep pace! Around roughly (I was starting to feel rough) 3am, James said, are we going home or somewhere else? I think I said I haven't had enough drinks to take him home, so we went to the Saint. The two of them were lunatics! Yelling out how they were gay or stupid or whatever and watching people's reactions - then saying how everyone was trying to ignore them but couldn't - it was one of those you had to be there situations. Some girl was about to pass out on a bench behind us - and James says - I think you're pretty - In a shy way. It was classic - he's a good looking guy - a few years ago when he first started they called him Ricky Martin (he didn't know this until I drunkenly informed him on our (the FP & mine) wedding night. So the girl pulled up a chair and her friend came up & yelled at her about how she was her responsibility. She wasn't going to leave her alone in New Orleans on her first night in from Michigan & find her murdered the next day. So of course we all had a good laugh about that. We went home to our respective houses at 5:30 am.

DING HOW - superbowl night with Openheart. Openheart broke up with Cheddarthief the evil psycho - therefore she can go out & has money & is so much more happier. I had been talking about Ding How to her - so we went after I got off work. CMG bailed - he was too drunk & ate too many chicken wings (I could never be his girlfriend) & the FP got drunk - Friedrick had cooked a romantic pork cordon bleu complete w/candlelight & warsteiner. The FP didn't want to go - but there was no way Openheart & I were not going so he did too. Okay, I know - duck, duck, duck, duck, duck (I haven't encountered goose yet - but I willingly await it). This was the best cooked quarter yet!!! No, no, I'm serious, I really mean it!! The skin was a dark, dark, golden brown, succulent meat (I love that word). I don't know if it was the longest hung (ha ha), slowest roasted, or longest marinated - It was heaven. Or hell for vegetarians because it was so good it was torture to eat. One thing about Ding How - they don't always have everything. No razor clams, no oyster in clay pot - I think we've tried to get that before. They did have clams in clay pot, which we got for Openheart to taste - oh and TFP is in love with this dish. We got seafood & bean curd in hot pot - I'm not sure of the distinction between fried tofu & bean curd because I would call it fried tofu - but it was excellent. Delicate. Tasty tender squid, clams & shrimp. Snow pea leaf shoots with garlic. So simple. I think this was my favorite thing. I don't know why - fresh, tasty, I guess a refreshing contrast to the steamy, stewey dishes. The surprise of the night... I asked for the shrimp w/candied walnuts. We got it when we went with Rio Mar - she goes - the jumbo shrimp w/walnuts, I said sure, I mean it had a 90 - 10 % chance of being the next best thing I ever put in my mouth. It came to the table a huge heap of jumbo - truly jumbo - not 21-26 trying to pass off as jumbo - shrimp coated in what looked like mayonnaise, sesame seeds, surrounded by broccoli border & candied walnuts on the rim. Not what we got. We all had this inward sense of horror - I think - when we saw it land on our table in the midst of all this splendor. I was the explorer - the Magellan or whoever is your favorite. I plunged my chopsticks into the emulsified mass of shrimp, and shoved it in my mouth - eggy first taste, then spicy horseradish, then tasty shrimp!!! It was beautiful!!! I wish I had asked what the hell they did to those shrimp because it was a work of genius in a dark, mad kind of way!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

blast from the past part 3


TS Isidore Eve (in New Orleans uptown)

Roast Pork Shoulder

I was going to pressure cook it - it was too big. Seared it - added onions, garlic. Went to Rio Mar then banks - came back - took out burnt onions (on 425) added more garlic, onions, carrots, vinegar, lime zest, lime juice, red wine, tomatoes, s & p. Went to Sav A Center three times today - we are well prepared. Started around 11am - turned off temp at 3:10 pm. Added cayenne, potatoes, mushroom, smoked sausage.


Lime Sesame Chicken

Seared thighs in sesame oil, added zest, salt and pepper, lime juice, water, cayenne, (ginger tea - shhh secret ingredient) baked in oven - served w/rice noodles boiled with philippine saffron. Yum!!!


I was wondering what I wold make as a dish in honor of the Food Pimp - funnily enough, he came home and said he was doing a demo 2 Saturdays from now - and he asked what his signature dish was - I said something southwestern/mediterranean, something with bold flavors - peppers, fresh herb, garlic w/fresh mediterranean type produce - veggies - greens finished with olive oil. Never chicken - fish - shrimp, rich meat - lamb or beef. Not pork - that is me - I'm a cannibal.

Thanksgiving (02)

Big Picnic Roast for about $10 @ 10#

Kinda carribean flavor - I guess I make everything sweet which I guess comes from the Philippines in me. I made a paste w/dried fish, herbs, garlic, hot peppers, vinegar, pineapple, OJ, champagne, ginger tea, brown sugar, oil, probably some other stuff. I poked holes all over the meat & stuck the paste deep in, baby. While roasting I would add the paste, diluted with more OJ & champagne, vin. It took 2 1/2 to 3 hours I guess. I Fuckin love Roast Pork!!!

Christmas dinner 2002

I went to Kim Phat on the westbank. My main purpose was to get some of those freaky asian ducks. In the Sav A Center a duckling is about $22 frozen. In whole foods one gigantic breast is around $15-20 - and the whole ducks were, I want to say almost $30.

Sausage Sunday.

2 weeks ago we bought lots of sausage from Whole Foods
habanero pork
lamb mint garlic
steak fajitas - given free because we got so much

We made a yukon gold, red yellow bell pepper hash. The steak fajita sucked - of course. It tasted like steak, it dryed out - didn't have enough fat. The bratwurst was not so good - I shouldn't have cooked those two with the others. The bratwurst had a strong rosemary taste. Habanero was not spicy at all if I recall. Lamb was the best! Chorizo was okay - pretty spicy. I love sausage - I'm crazy for it - I guess it adds to the cannibal concept. I haven't wanted any since then - of course at work - for the last two weeks we have been running sausage specials! It's like some kind of evil sausage karma.

side note

I went with CMG to Byblos - I feel like I go there a lot with him - although it's only been 3 times I think. The first time with the FP for lunch (FP was grumpy). That was the day he embarrassed me by asking CMG why he was in love with Maria & not with me. Then the second time - FP was sick so he didn't go. CMG got the amberjack kebab. I got the lamb schwarma or whatever. We had a good smoked salmon appetizer.

This time CMG got the Mahi Mahi kebab. I think he goes there because he likes the waitresses there. He reminds me of Moulon in that way - although whereas Moulon is vocal & whimsical (makes a comment about how she's hot every time she walks by, flirts) CMG is quiet and kidlike. I...I think she's...I like her. Whenever she walks up to the talk he looks at me, looks anywhere but directly into her eyes - so I look right at her - as if I'm the one flirting. Anyway, my whole point is that (was) is this Byblos on Magazine is beautiful. Cherry wood bar (I don't really know - I just like to sound knowledgeable, and then I have to tag on a disclaimer so that no one will value my opinion - then I'll complain that no one listens to me later.) Painted brick walls - spacious feel, open kitchen with arched opening - but the food isn't half as good as at the original Byblos. Tarek - the owner - is there a lot - but I get the feeling like he didn't train the cooks - or they don't believe in standardized recipes. I know consistency is important - but it seems that every place has off days - fairly often. If you think about it - sometimes standardized recipes are the culprit - like the laminated shrimp gravy incident.

Everyone from day one told me how the shrimp gravy is a nightmare. I think that didn't help me out psychologically. So after weeks of trying to figure it out - everyone was making it different - Kevin settled on quantities and laminated the recipe & taped it to the inside of my reach in. I made it according to his specs - but I don't think I cooked it long enough - so it was too loose - Chef got pissed said don't use a recipe - ripped it off & tossed it. The same time my chicken and dumpling was too thick. Chef said I needed to write down quantities - which one is it? I know. I knew what he meant - did he have to be so mean?

Getting back to the ducks - they have heads, feet too.I want to have "a Christmas Story" Christmas dinner. I'm going to wack the heads off & sing fa ra ra ra ra ra ra ra ra. So I rinsed and dried the plucked dead carcasses. Then I made a brine of soy sauce, salt & vinegar. I let them sit breast side down - then this morning I flipped them. They look so creepy. They have eyes - beaks - webbed feet. Am I supposed to poke the eyes out? That is too gross. I hate having to touch the neck. This is the most grossed out, quasi vegetarian I have ever felt. These are probably, most likely, going to be the best thing I ever cooked - if I don't overcook them. That is tricky though, because with our last brining experience (turkey - thanksgiving last year) we grossly overestimated the cooking time. I'm guessing 340 2/3 minutes {this is what it looks like I wrote - it's kinda scratched out, so I'm not sure what I was trying to write!} 375- 400 we have a hot oven, I think. But I have Alan's handy dandy meat thermometer.

I brined it for almost 48 hours. I dried & rinsed them and let them sit for one day. Then I made a sauce with lemongrass, kumquat, lime broth, soy sauce, vinegar, cornstarch - then I coated the ducks overnight. I had to make a sauce to finish - caramel (w/lemongrass broth) soy sauce, tamarind, vinegar, red wine, more sugar. For a side - edamame, abalone mushrooms, straw mushrooms, garlic, onions, ginger, kumquat - sauteed with coconut oil. I cooked the ducks about 2 1/2 hours 375- 400 - skin didn't gt crispy!!! Then let some of it cook on what I thought was low heat - I accidentally left the broiler on high!!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

blast from the past pt2

These are notes post honeymoon from New Orleans...

Sunday - Father's day June 16 (2002)
Went to the Rodriguez's house
Great roast pork!!!
Yucca, mojo, black beans & rice

The Food Pimp made tres leches w/Sara Lee pound cake, whole milk, condensed milk, coconut milk, whipped cream

Vietnamese style rice vermicelli w/sauteed chix
Very good, even though CMG(cuban musical genius, formerly know as cuban white sauce) made fun of me...The secret was in the saute. I put sesame oil as pan heated up. Then I added vegetable oil & a little olive oil. When it was hot, I put a teaspoon of dried shrimp paste in, let it fry. Then I went to put the chicken in - let it brown,flip & serve.

Thursday night
Marinated several eye rounds in white vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce, picka peppa, port, garlic, herbs, orange & lime zest

Crawfish & smoked oyster pasta w/buccatini (long macaroni) w/fresh tomato & garlic. It didn't taste really good until second day - The FP ate the rest for lunch :(

The next night - late night snack - smoked oyster & mushroom fried rice! Yummy! w/garlic

Sunday night dinner - after a rough night out. CMG wanted sausage - after his 7 year aversion to the stuff - so we got chinese crawfish, green onion sausage, orzo pasta, pineapple guava, mango, cuke, lettuce. The FP made salad w/lime basil vin - very refreshing, although I think our jaws were sore.

I made crawfish sauce - brown sausage - remove, onion, tomatoesauce, bell peppers. Cooked down onion bell pepper - deglazed white wine, tomatoes, crawfish, braised sausage in sauce - it was bland, even with mushrooms, so I added about a teaspoon 1/2 of shrimp paste let it infuse. It livened up the crawfish w/out overpowering. Orzo I cooked with a little of the tomato broth from the pot. I think we all liked the actual sauce more than sausage which was more of a flavoring.

7/21? SOS dinner (I didn't go)
I looked in the kitchen to see what we have (which is almost nothing) I did find the spicy dilis (dried anchovies from Philippines). I crushed them in the spanish sauce bowl thing - not really a mortar & pestle. Then I worked in a little white vinegar as I continued to crush the fish. I added habanero sauce, white bals vin, brown sugar. I tried to think of what would go good w/it. Pork. I LOVE PORK - quite possibly my favorite meat! So I went to Sav A Center - home of bargain meat counter. I know it sounds scary - but I haven't gotten foodborne illness to my knowledge so far. I found nice ruby red grapefruit & ripe florida avocado. I'm not a big fan - even though that is my native state - but it's all about experience - trying to work w/what you have. And if the grapefruit was as good as I though - they would both go great with the dried anchovy sauce. My little secret. To go w/pork I opted for roast apples & pear. Of course- I wanted sweet potato, potato - but I forgot to buy them.

I knew we were low on hot sauce - so I looked for a fruit one - a fruit theme was definitely developing. In the middle of summer I crave fruit. I looked at the $3+ bottles & thought - ginger, fruit (mango) hot sauce - back to the produce aisle - then I remembered the old spicy tamarind candy at home (once again from Philippines) so, I got ginger & assorted peppers, Then on to meat! Pork loin or chops? Well, the longer the cook the better the flavor when marinated - so I got a whole loin for $12.45 w/bonus card. So when I got home, I put on hot sauce, thin sliced ginger, sliced peppers w/most seeds removed & tamarind candy - pit & all. Steeped in vinegar - tasted - acidic. Added water, little corn syrup, brown sugar - lots. It brought out the tamarind taste. Puree, strain, simmered 10 more minutes - let cool. My first hot sauce. I found that it was much less hot after it cooled. More peppers next time & carrot maybe.

For the pork - marinated in soy sauce, port wine, triple bock, picka peppa, salt, pepper, hot sauce. Sear, then roast in juices - I covered w/foil after 15 minutes, after 1/2 hour threw in sliced onion, deglazed w/water, hot sauce. Took about 1 hr 20 minutes - turned off oven, left in.

Roast apples pear - peeled, large dice - baked covered with butter, soy sauce, lime juice, salt - 15 minutes.

The FP made green rice.

Grapefruit, I was going to half and drizzle anchovy sauce - ended up sectioning & mixing w/avocado & anchovy sauce - fresh relish for pork. I don't think one person had a clue they were eating grapefruit & avocado w/dried anchovy puree on it!!! You couldn't sell that at a restaurant! My love for cooking is getting a refresher course!!!

So, yeah. I was young(er) and naive(r) and hopeful, and fun, and adventurous and full of promise back then. Look at me now......

Thursday, August 19, 2010

blast from the past

So, randomly, a long time before I had this here little old food blog, I used to scribble down meals and notes that I never "published". So, since I don't have any new experiences, I thought I would delve into the past.

So, on our honeymoon the Food Pimp and the Food Ho - we were merely food sluts at the time - went to Spain, Madrid and Barcelona.

In Barcelona we stayed at the "Ilton Otel", as the cabbies would pronounce it. It was very posh,the FP's dad had points or something so he got us the room for cheap. So, one night, we asked the concierge where a good restaurant was nearby. So she told us to go to Telerium on Diagonal 656.

So, that's where we went. Here's my notes

part of a big conglomerate of restaurants - looks very Eurotrash - like in a movie. Modern chairs, tables, table runners - not whole linens. Lights in floor, lots of big groups. Menu was very large! Lots of sweet & savory balance.

Mille Feuille cod & vanilla potatoes - vanilla egg (like creme anglaise) sauce & raspberry.

Foie gras terrine - 11E! With "crystallized veg"

Baby Zucchini attached to blossoms, stuffed with seafood cake and saffron & some sweet (caramel sauce) - very rich

Pig trotters, shrimp in ?(FP thinks bean curd) w/raspberry sauce?

Rose champagne

Hake & crystallized veg

Fresh cheese (like ricotta - quesa fresca), napoleon with rice cake thin triangles, bitter chocolate ice cream

So, I remember this experience being just very... informative. We had not really eaten much trendy food. But we liked it. There was so much sweet with the savory, that I have a feeling today it might be over the top for us. But it was a unique dining experience for us.

The next day we had lunch at the Boqueria Market off of La Rambla. I believe this was the day it was raining. So, we walked around the stalls and planned our strategy. We got

Fresitas! Looked sour, pale, small - like candy - best ever strawberries

So I take it they were wild strawberries

Then we also got manchego seco, ciabatta- like sandwich bread, chorizo pimento and mixed olives in herbs, and we made ourselves sandwiches. I remember we were hovering in a corner next to the garbage, and the rain, but this was one of the most contented moments of my life. And if you know me at all... you know I'm not content very often or very easily. I'm not gonna say I'm high maintenance, it's just that I'm never satisfied, and things have to be exactly the way I want them, and it's hard to let go if something isn't the way I envisioned, and I expect more out of people then they tend to give me...but no, I'm not high maintenance.

Another memorable treat... also from Barcelona, helados. We got mango and roquefort ice cream. And some people might not have the tastmagination to believe, that it was a beautiful combo. Really. The blue cheese ice cream was marvelous, and not weird at all!

We had manchego, serrano, mussels, razor clams, sea snails, bacalao, zarzuela, arroz negra - that was delicious but really salty, oysters - very briny, and paella, of course. For the most part, it was so delicious.

And there were the tins of foie gras and devilled ham. To tell you the backstory, one night the FP got a little sick of spanish cuisine and so we went to an indian restaurant. This possibly could have been a bad move, because he got foodborne illness like that night. So we had to prolong our stay in Barcelona, we stayed one night in Zaragoza, then we finally made it back to Madrid. So, one day, I went to the "24 hora store" - which closed at midnight - and I got a "tin" of foie gras and a tin of devilled ham. I mean, you know, like the devilled ham they have in the grocery store that we used to eat when I was a kid. Except, it was spanish devilled ham and foie. And they were both delish! We gobbled up both pretty fast, even though the FP still had a weak stomach. Nothing cures food poisoning like devilled ham!!!

And, then, there was BOTIN. This is one of those must go places. Yes, it is a tourist attraction, but it is legitimately a great restaurant too. So, it is supposed to be the oldest restaurant in the world. I feel like I've heard that claim a lot, but I guess what gives Botin the title is that it is the oldest restaurant that has been in operation since the day it opened in 1725. Here's my notes

Botin - Monday night in Historico Centro - very cool old restaurant - by guiness book of records oldest ever!

Old wood planks, old pictures, porcelain plates on wall. Serrano right out front. You can kind of see through doorway of kitchen. Old style service - waiters rolling table. (I didn't know enough back then to call it a gueridon? I knew more about culinary terms back then) Black sausage - big huge link - sliced & roasted? Fried? Very rich & crunchy. Garlic soup with egg. Brothy with bread. Garlic carmelized - not very garlicky taste at all.

Roast lamb - good, strong - bit salty

Roast baby pig - crunchy fat, soft rich meat - delicious. This dumb old American broad at a table across from us didn't eat the fat! She set it aside & ate the meat under it!! We had huge portions but smaller than the couple next to us. They ate all their black sausage - then pretty much polished off their lamb & pig & they had dessert too. I think they were English.

Well, there are other notes from Spain, but those were the highlights. Unfortunately, back then it wasn't as common to take pictures of food - and I didn't have a digital camera yet.

Monday, August 16, 2010

good ole home cookin

So, we're stuck in a rut right now. We haven't gone to any new restaurants, we don't have any friends to hang out with, we haven't gone to the beach, we've been hanging out at home a lot and drinking beer and petting the cats. Partially because of money, partially because our schedules our out of whack and we rarely have a day off together, partially because of laziness, partially because I'm in a funk.

But, we've had some yummy food at home.

Ribs are always good. Ribs with rice, blackeyed peas, and cabbage.

Black Beans.


corn pudding - like polenta.

Put them all together - the Food Pimp turned the black beans and rice into Christians and Moors - really moors and christians, because the moors got in there and colored the christians - just like the christians were always scared of. Then I made a pickled radish and cucumber salad, with the corn pudding and oxtail... that was a delicious meal.

Pandan Sponge Cake Sundae. Pandan is this tropical "screwpine" used to flavor mainly desserts. So, I was on this kick for a while - like every night - and I ate a sundae with a sponge cake, ice cream, magic shell and yes, colored jimmies. Okay, I didn't buy the colored jimmies - you may know them as rainbow sprinkles - the FP had them leftover from an ice cream social that he did a few months ago. And so, they've been there in the kitchen. So, yes, I do sprinkle them on my ice cream. They add texture to it, but not much flavor really. And they're colorful. So for those 8 minutes when I'm eating my ice cream, it makes me happy. But it doesn't last.

I feel like I should end this blog entry with something uplifting or funny. Did I tell you about my LJS experience? No? So a few weeks ago the FP went to his parents' place in Punxsutawney, PA, home of the groundhog, for his mom's retirement party. So, while he was gone, every meal was a monumental decision for me. One day I slept in. I woke up hungry, and I didn't know what I wanted, since it was a Sunday, and prime lunchtime. So, I decided on Long John Silver's. I haven't had it in ages, and I was craving fried something. So, I went there. There were about 4 people ahead of me. I was perusing the menu board, when I realized that the clams were taken off the menu. I didn't know why, but I figured I would get the fish and shrimp combo. So I waited. I realized that that cash register wasn't working. So the counterlady was writing down the order on a napkin with a purple pen, then scuffling over to the cash register by the drive thru window, ringing the order in, getting a total, going back to the counter and telling the customer how much it was, taking the form of payment, going back to the register, ringing it in, then going back to give the change or get a signature, and so on. They seemed to be short staffed. After I ordered, the line grew and grew, but service did not speed up. I noticed that the condiment station was empty. There was just a counter with the empty rectangles where the ketchup pump and napkin holders were supposed to be. The place was dirty. I'm not sure what happened to the place, but it was as if they just opened in a hurry after being shut down. I waited. And waited. Everyone else had gotten chicken, because it was one of those KFC/LJS restaurants. Finally, this man who was a pain in the ass when he ordered, who ordered after me, got his big bucket of chicken. So the lady in front of me asked for her order. For whatever reason, they had skipped over her and me. So she got her order and a free chocolate cake. So then I asked about my order. These guys who were several orders after me had already eaten their chicken and were back at the counter asking for napkins. How could someone eat a whole fried chicken meal without napkins on hand? Finally, I got my order. I headed home. I laid out my spread. And it sucked. By that time, the shrimp, fries and hushpuppies were soft. The fish was still crunchy, but it was kind of old and a bit strong tasting. But, I had my malt vinegar and hot sauce. I ate what I could of the meal, hating myself. I knew that the only cardinal rule of eating Long John Silver's was that I needed to go before 11:30 am. It's pretty much shit after then. So, maybe that wasn't funny to you. But it's better than me going on about how my mom is still dead and how I'm still sad. I'll try to be funny for the next blog. Hope I'm not disappointing all of my millions of fans out there in foodblogland!

Oh, here's something funny. The sign in the bathroom at Marukai Living.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

LA eats

So, the Food Pimp is more than just a fancy personal chef. He's also, a rocking guitar player in our own band, and in another band a well. So, last month, the other band played a show in LA at the Silverlake Lounge. This was a good opportunity to stay overnight - rather than make that awful late night drive back to SD. So we stayed at the Kyoto Grand Hotel in Little Tokyo, for a very reasonable price.

So, for lunch we went to Toshi sushi. It's a small little place, which I like, because I know there's not a sushi factory in the back with little Japanese children being forced to make 6 handrolls per minute. Actually, when we were looking up jobs before we moved to San Diego, I answered an ad for a sushi factory. The job was like 7 am - 1 pm. It didn't pay much, but I thought it would be fun to learn to "make sushi." Of course, when we got here, I didn't follow up. I mean, a job that starts at 7 am!!!! Of course, I ended up working a job later that was 6 - 2 Monday - Friday for 2 years.

So, the menu was pretty standard. The chirashi looked beautiful, but we ended up getting just old school sushi. We never go out for sushi anymore. For one reason, it's expensive. For another reason, the places we've been to in San Diego were just okay or below average. For another reason, the FP sometimes does sushi class and brings home leftovers which are better than most of the places we've been to in SD. The thing we liked about Toshi, was that it had Japanese people running it and making the sushi. So, I'm not dogging Mexicans, but when I go into a Japanese restaurant, I want a Japanese person making my spicy tuna roll. If I walked into a taco joint and saw a Japanese guy in the kitchen... well, I'd probably stay because that would be intriguing to me the first time. But, if it was subpar Mexican food then I wouldn't go back.

Anyway, we got the pickle plate. This was like 5 or 6 bucks. Japanese places can get away with that. So the carrots were incredibly salty. We just couldn't finish them. Everything else was good. I'm not sure that seaweed salad is "pickle", but whatever, the few little strands of seaweed were good.

The sushi. Pretty standard stuff. Salmon, tuna, yellowtail, mackerel, octopus nigiri. Spicy tuna and yellowtail rolls. It was all fresh and tasty. And the rice was nicely seasoned, and it held together. Just lovely. I had become squeamish of octopus, because there have been a couple times in San Diego that it was just gross. And we never get mackerel anymore, but we figured it would be safe there at Toshi, and it was. It was just right.

So, we went back to the hotel and relaxed for a bit before going to the venue. We got there around 7. They set up their gear. This band from Denmark was going to borrow their stuff. Of course, no one had told the drummer this until right then. She was okay with it, but she was kinda pissed that no one had bothered to tell her, which is understandable. This band from Denmark was very high maintenance. More vocals in the monitor, more lead guitar, more drums, more everything, can you pan the guitars? They were playing in a dive bar, for fuck sakes!!!! So, we had a while before the FP's band went on. So we went next door to Cafe Tropical. The drummer and band leader were starving, so they ordered cuban sandwiches. We were dead set on waiting until later to eat, but the place was so authentic that we had to get something. They had a pastry case with all kinds of stuff in it. And they had all the pressed sandwiches. So we split a media noche. Why a media noche? To be different, I guess. It's very similar to the cuban, but supposed to be on egg bread. Anyway, the point is, it was delicious. We gobbled it up
The ham and roast pork, the melty cheese, pickles, yum. Then we had cuban coffee. I had a single - con leche, and the FP just had it straight up, and a double, but he was about to play a show and I was not!

So we went back to the Silverlake Lounge. And sat there. And sat there. This band that went on first sounded pretty good, but I just wasn't feeling them. Then the FP's band played. Our friends who live in LA showed up. That was exciting! They pretty much watched the band, we talked a few more minutes, then they left. It was a "school night", after all, so I couldn't blame them for not staying longer. I was just glad to see them.

Then the Denmark band went on, Foreign Resort. They were actually really good. They had an excellent balance of sound, actually. They kinda were Editorsish.

Anyway, we packed the car and headed back to Little Tokyo. We wandered the streets looking for late night Japanese restaurants. It figured, they were all closed, or open for late night karaoke lounge. No food. So we went to bed.

We woke up early and looked for a place to eat in the neighborhood. No such luck, except for a bakery. So we got in the car. We figured we would head towards home, and exit somewhere hoping to find a place to eat by chance. So we exitted, and there was no restaurants. So then we exitted again. And we drove. And we drove. We found some nondescript Mexican restaurant that was open. So we stopped there. We ate some decent but not exciting Mexican food.

I had some of that weak mexican coffee. The place was weird though. It was huge. It was what would have been a fancy exclusive looking club or restaurant about 20 years ago. Funnily enough, the new owner came over to talk to us. He was getting a petition together, because the place used to be a hangout at night for the local hoods, and the neighbors were trying to fight the restaurant's licensing or something. The owner said, he just wanted a respectable restaurant. Gave us the whole spiel. Then we told him we lived in San Diego. He was quite disappointed. He thought we lived in the neighborhood. So, we headed back down south, back to work.

Toshi Sushi
357 East 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012-3901
(213) 680-4166

Cafe Tropical
2900 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026-2128
(323) 661-8391

The Mexican Place - I don't remember the name or the area this restaurant was in... sorry!!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tender Greens

So, we like to go to places long after they are the new hotspot. Okay, it's not always conscious, but, when people are all talking about a place, I don't want to go there and see all those people there. So we wait. And then we forget about a place, and then maybe a year or so later we remember that place and go there. That's how it was with Tender Greens. Not to mention, it's not in an area where we regularly go. But one day, it was exactly what we wanted for lunch, so we went.

I got the steak salad. Yum. Steak. On lettuce. So, it's healthy, right?

The Food Pimp got the tomato soup, which, I believe was good, but needed some salt.

And he got the arugula salad, which was fresh and simple. Really good. It's funny to say, but he just loves a good arugula salad.

So, yeah, that was about it. Tender Greens. Not really any hilarity to report there. Just good, simple, local food. It's the kind of place that Martha Stewart might like - if they had table service - and they had a place for her chow chows and her himalayan cats to lounge. I'm not sure why, but when I think of her, I think of all those fluffy animals that she must pay several people to brush - cause you know that lady doesn't like fur all over the fur-niture.

Tender Greens at Liberty Station

Sunday, August 8, 2010


So, that Sunday after the great lunch kinda went sour for a while. We had to move hotels because we had booked the Ybor City hotel kinda last minute, and we had booked a random hotel room in Tampa earlier in the week. So we had to leave our comfy Ybor City hotel. We took the trolley to the convention center. We were going to take a bus up the street the rest of the way to the hotel on the riverwalk. We waited a while. I looked at the map, and then I saw where it said - Monday -thru Friday.

So we went to the cabstand. The first cab was a big old van. The driver wasn't very talkative. He had the first seat in the back down, and the FP struggled to get our luggage in and he had to put the seat up. So we got in, and we told him the hotel, and he didn't know where it was. There was like no air conditioning in the van, and I felt like I was going to pass out. There was some kind of language barrier, or he was pretending to not speak much english. I really wanted to get out and take another cab, but we didn't. So we figured out where it was - down the street. He somehow ended up charging us $14 for maybe a mile?! We were too tired to put up a fight. We just wanted to get up to our hotel room.

So we checked in. We definitely liked the last hotel better. I think we sat in the room for a while and overreacted about the way the day had gone downhill. But we needed beer. So we went for a walk. There really was not much in the neighborhood. Lots of tall office buildings that were empty on a Sunday, and several vacant buildings - cool older theater buildings or apartment buildings. We went to the CVS and got a gallon of water and some beer. The ladies at the checkout were kinda rude - everything was just bad at that point. We lugged our stuff back to the hotel. There was kinda a stir in the hotel because there was a big show across the river - James Taylor and Carole King. So, there were a lot of older guests ready to take the shuttle somewhere, or hang out by the pool and get drunk - the two things we also wanted to do!

So, instead, we sat in the hotel room, drank beer, and figured where we wanted to go for dinner. We decided on "Soho" - South Howard Ave. There were enough places on the street that I figured we could start around the bottom and work our way up (please - no proctology jokes).

We had to wait a long time get a shuttle. Everyone else was going to Channelside - where the shopping and restaurants were. That was exactly the place we did not want to go. I guess I place too much value on people being able to read me by my looks. Because when I look in the mirror, I don't look to myself like some touristy chick that wants to go to lame chain clothing stores and chain restaurants. Eww! Even when I was young and dumb, the smaller family run restaurants always left a bigger impression on me than the potato skins at Bennigan's. Okay, I admit, I really liked those potato skins.... But, in Lakeland, people generally looked at us like we were aliens. And there in Tampa, people just assumed we were going to the James Taylor show.

One of the shuttle drivers suggested that we go to Channelside too - Soho was more spread out, and shops were closed. We knew he just didn't want to take us on a special trip - but that was what the shuttle was for, and that's part of why we picked the hotel - so we wouldn't have to necessarily take cabs! So we waited until the dinner rush was mostly over - at around 6:30.

So, finally, we got to Soho. It was all of a sudden quieter, calmer, nicer. We ended up going to the first restaurant we saw - Ceviche - which was one of my choices.

They had a nice open outdoor patio area where you first walk in - so of course we had to sit out there.

It was still warm and the sun was high, but there were fans that blew light mist into the air, that was nice. I don't know what the problem was - if someone didn't show up for a shift or if the computer was down or the kitchen backed up or what, but the service was very slow and the server was very flustered. Very flustered. There was a side apartment or house with the entrance by the patio. The front door read "private". We watched the hostess go knock on the door and go in, then out a few minutes later. A while later this guy who looked like he could be the owner came out - and he had to start running food and bussing. He didn't seem to be very smooth at it, so I'm guessing owner. But he was pitching in.

We got sangria. We ordered a half carafe, but this seemed like a full. I don't know if it was a mistake or not - but we were just fine with it.

They gave us bread and chimichurri. I love chimichurri!

We got boquerones. With tomato and onion on crostini. These were really good. These were strong, but in a good way.

We got the tabla mixta - meat and cheese plate. Chorizo, morcilla, serrano, mahon, manchego, tetilla, fruit, pate. It was all very good. Except for the morcilla, which is blood sausage. It was raw in the middle. At first we thought it was just the spices making it look red, but it was raw. So we didn't eat it. Which sucked, because we both really like morcilla.

Pulpo a la gallega. We pretty much always have to get octopus at a tapas place. This was very good. Nicely cooked, nicely flavored. It just made my heart swell with contentment. We survived Lakeland, and we were being rewarded!

So, here's the funny thing. Guess what we didn't get?

So, do you know? C'mon. What's the name of the restaurant. Nope. We did not get any ceviche. There were 6 choices. We could have gotten one. But the Food Pimp was turned off by the trendy ones that he didn't want any. There was the ceviche a la rusa - oysters with lemon lime cilantro onion caviar served with a chilled shot of Zyr russian vodka. Anyway, we didn't get ceviche at Ceviche. By the way, this is a chain restaurant. So is Columbia. But they are a little different than TGI Friday's, though aren't they. I think the concepts were good and popular, so they were able to expand. We figured if there was a chance of moving to Tampa, at least we both had lots of experience with tapas......

So, at the end of the meal, we got our bill and it was like $40 or less. I know we only got 3 tapas, but still, restaurants in Florida just seem so much cheaper. Probably because they are. So, I give Ceviche a \/\/\/ grade of 6 chopsticks. Great space. The service had an issue, but that happens sometimes. The menu had a few weird things on it, the raw morcilla was disappointing. Not the best, but pretty damn good.

So, we walked up the street, looking for a place to have some drinks, maybe another appetizer. We walked, and walked. There were a few cool places, but I guess nothing struck our fancy. So then we went back to the hotel. That was the last night of our Florida odyssey. I was ready to get out of Florida. I wasn't sure though, if I wanted to go home and back to my old life, because everything had changed.

Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant
1502 South Howard Avenue
Tampa, FL 33606
Phone: (813) 250-0203
Fax: (813) 251-1827

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Columbia Restaurant

So, this is one of those places that I've always wanted to go, but never had the chance to. It's in Ybor City.

Here's a little backstory. There's always backstory, isn't there? So, we flew back to Tampa on our anniversary. We got there - and my exboyfriend from high school was gracious enough to pick us up. So we got back to my father's house, and he was not there - and the BMW was gone. So, we figured he was at Lowe's or Home Depot, he couldn't be at the bank because it was closed. So we waited. We had some beers. And we waited. We had some more beers. It started to get dark. We didn't have a car, didn't know where he was. We weren't sure what to do. So, the FP called his mom. He asked her what to do. She told him to wait an hour, then start calling the hospital, then the police.

So, right before it was time to start making the calls, my dad's physician called me. He asked if I got his message, and I said I never received it. So, my dad was in the hospital. Basically, the local homeless shelter where my mom used to volunteer had some guys go cut my dad's lawn earlier in the day. The temperature was probably 89 degrees. My dad stood out there and watched them. Then he decided to go to the homeless shelter and ask the foreman about building a fence - he wanted to make the space a compound. So, my dad got in his car, and he started to drive. Then he felt dizzy, so he drove to my mom's friend's house. She is a retired nurse. So he rings the doorbell and throws himself on her couch saying he feels dizzy. She took his blood pressure and it was really low. She took him to his doctor, who then checked him into the hospital. His blood pressure stabilized as soon as he ate something, but they kept him overnight for observation.

So, the doctor was calling to tell me he was okay. He couldn't remember the name of the nurse who took my dad to him, and he didn't have her number! So, I called one of my mom's other friends, and she gave us a ride to the hospital. My dad looked so frail, but fine. I think he liked the attention. We asked him the name of the people who took him to the hospital, but he could't remember! He was like, "the older couple from Colombia or South America.... I didn't know who that was. So we stayed a while, then we went back to the house. With no car.

The next morning, a nurse called to say he had been discharged, so whenever we could pick him up... except we didn't have a car! The car was at the hospital, but as far as we knew, my dad did not have the keys. The mystery people had them. So we waited. The hospital called again, and we explained the situation. Finally, the mystery couple went to see my dad, and they called me from his cell phone. They said they would come bring us the car. So they did. And we talked for half an hour about my dad, and about how we should move in with him and work at Disney. They obviously didn't know much about our family.

So, we got my dad. We were waiting for a wheelchair, but they didn't bring one for a few minutes, so we just walked out. As soon as we got to the car, my dad started lecturing us. I told him he needed to rest, but he would not have it. We were going to go grocery shopping, and he was going to take us to the cheaper stores because Publix was too expensive. So he took us to a crappy yucky store. It was cheaper. But most of the produce was ugly. So I wanted to go to Walmart, which is reasonable, and the produce was better, but he wouldn't have it. So we went to the asian market, which didn't have much variety. He wanted to go to Sam's, but that was not what we needed. So we got as much stuff as we could, and hours later we were back at the house. We cooked for him, and he lectured us about our past sins and how things were going to be and how subpar cooks we were. So this was the start of the longest 4 days of my life. He just criticized us about every single move we made. He made me nauseous every time we sat down to eat, because he would start picking at us. We were both losing our minds. One morning, we set breakfast for him, and one plate. Neither of us would sit and eat with him. We watched him waste time, looking for papers, totalling numbers over and over again, obsessing over every single thing.

So, my sis and her hub came on Friday night to rescue us. My dad was pacified that night. Then the next morning, he was back giving us grief. We went on a scary drive with my dad driving in the rain. He wouldn't let us drive. Finally, we made a decision. We were going to Tampa that night. So the FP got on his iphone and booked us a hotel room in Ybor. So later that night, I told my dad we were leaving. I told him we were flying out the next day - which was a lie. But we could not stay there anymore. So, we headed on out. My sis braved the wild and stayed another night, feeding him before she left. He wanted a "lowfat" meal, not like the "high cholesterol" food we had been feeding him.

So, we got to Ybor, and it's like our who bodies relaxed. I think it must be similar to the feeling someone has after being rescued and dropped off at a hotel. I'm not even exaggerating. So, we hung out in Ybor City that night. The next day, we went to Columbia Restaurant to have a proper anniversary lunch. We needed it!

So, Columbia is an old restaurant on the corner of 7th and 21st. It's like the first building when you go onto 7th. Here's the story of Columbia Restaurant.

So, to tell you the truth, I didn't know much about the place, except for it was old. So, it's a hispanic restaurant, of which there are a gazillion in Tampa area.
So, we got our drinks. We needed them.

Sangria and Mojito. Both pretty yummy.

So, then we ordered. That's always a difficult decision even if I've been to a place. So it's extra difficult if I'm somewhere new. So, the first thing we got was "columbia's original 1905 salad". Here's the menu description

Columbia's Original "1905" SaladTM
The Columbia's legendary salad tossed at your table. Crisp iceberg lettuce with julienne of baked ham, natural Swiss cheese, tomato, olives, grated Romano cheese and our famous garlic dressing (our 100 year old family recipe of fresh garlic, oregano, wine vinegar and Spanish extra virgin olive oil).

So, it's tossed and plated tableside. Totally old school.

This was so...perfect.

Next we got the empanada, which was disappointing after the wonderful salad. The empanada itself was good, the filling was flavorful enough, but the black bean salsa just didn't go with it. Hm.. black bean salsa. Remember when that was in? That was like back when we loved Chilis! Ha ha! I imagine some foodies would like to believe that they grew up with a discriminating palate, even though their mom fed them TV dinners or canned corn.

Gambas al ajillo. Just delicious. Nice big sweet gulf shrimp. Just enough garlic and olive oil. It's the simple things.

Arroz con pollo. Really just nicely homecooked tasting. Simple, no weird unflattering garnishes, flavorful rice, tender chicken. Okay, so they added the peas at the last minute, but I'm not going to complain about such a minor detail that kept the peas bright green. It was very nice. I felt good. I hadn't felt good all week.

So, based on our one visit, I'm going to go ahead and give Columbia Restaurant a \/\/\/\/ 8 chopstick rating. Because I don't know if I'll go back again. But it lived up to my expectations and more. Really just a romantic old world kind of restaurant.

Columbia Restaurant
Columbia Restaurant Ybor City
2117 East 7th Avenue, Tampa FL 33605
(813) 248-4961
E-mail: colybor@columbiarestaurant.com