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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Saturday, April 30, 2011

in the house and on the street

So, one plus about being unemployed is more creativity in dining choices, mostly due to more stringent budgeting. So, what have we been eating? Well, there's the soon to be famous Food Pimp's caesar salad.

So, it's not a "traditional" caesar, who the hell cares anymore. I don't. I don't make it traditional either. I do know that the FP over the years has become a salad and sandwich artiste. Why is it so special. I really don't know. Maybe just because when he says he's making caesar salad for lunch, I'm not excited. But then he makes it fresh and, pardon my language, he tosses the salad for me, it's really quite exciting. I mean exciting. It's not even fancy ingredients. But it's just fresh and crunchy and salty and fatty rich and just good.

So, then, I have been cooking more at home. One night I cooked a more "healthy" dinner - boneless pork chops, with collard greens and parboiled rice. I say healthy, because I guess it's healthier than rich fatty beef stew or pork butt. So, I didn't have any oil, but I looked for some kind of fat. All I could find was some butter, which isn't exactly healthy, and an open can of anchovies. So, I went with the oil the anchovies were in. I sauteed some onion and garlic, then I added carrot and collards, and I braised it for a couple hours. Since I didn't have any salt, I had to wait until the FP got home to season the greens. He only had Tony Chachere's, so that's what I used. Then, I also waited for him to come home to cook the pork chops, not just so they wouldn't overcook, but also because I had no oil. So I seasoned the chops with the Tony's, seared them, then threw them in with the greens for another 10 minutes.

So, you know, it always seems that bad things happen at the worst times. So, of course, the car window regulator craps out. The day before the FP has to drive to Anaheim to do a class. So, we knew it was the regulator because we had to replace the passenger side regulator 2 months before. I looked it up online, and I saw that 2006 Hondas seemed to have this common problem. They must have had a bunch of cheap regulators that year, but there were no recalls. So, the next morning we went to Pep Boys. We had them change the oil and look at the window. So while we waited, we walked up El Cajon Blvd to find a restaurant that was open. Since it was a little early, we figured we might find a vietnamese restaurant that was open. We walked up to Pho Van. We hadn't been there in years. So, the FP had the Pho of course, and I had the Bun. We also had the spring rolls.

So, the pho was good. The bun was good too, nice amount of peanut and pickled carrot. But it had green leaf lettuce instead of cabbage. The pork was sweet and rich and tender, but not too sweet. And the eggrolls were nice and crunchy and warm. The spring rolls looked nice, but they had such a little portion of dry pork, they were just okay.

The nuoc mam sauce was fine though. The place was clean, and the bathroom was clean, so we were pleased. We could put this place on the rotation. I didn't eat all my food, so I wanted to take it to go, so I could eat it in the afternoon when I got hungry. The FP dumped everything in the to go box, so then, all my nuoc mam sauce was in it, and it was leaking out of the box into the bag, so it was a mess. The FP finally convinced me to let him throw it away. The sick part is, I would have eaten more if I knew I wasn't going to take it home.

So, we got back to Pep Boys, and they told us that they would have to get the regulator from the dealer and it would take a couple hours, thus, totalling $369 including oil change and diagnostic. So, if we got them to replace the regulator, they wouldn't take the $35 off for looking at it. Well, we didn't really have much time before the FP had to leave, so we declined. Also, the price was at least $100 too much. So the FP had to drive all the way up to Anaheim and back with the window open.

Meanwhile, I played dutiful housewife. I cleaned, and I cooked a healthy meal. Veggies with chicken and rice. We had gone to Pancho Villa's, and I really didn't know what I wanted to cook, so I just picked a bunch of vegetables, and the FP picked chicken breast. So, it was weird. But I guess it was healthy and still tasted good. Those are two words that in my early years I would have never believed could go together. But they can.

So, it was weird, but here's the recipe:

Healthy chicken breast and vegetable quick stew

3 pasilla peppers
vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped, not too small
3 carrots, peeled and rough chopped
1# green beans, cut in half
4 roma tomatoes, cut into 6 wedges each
1# chicken breast, sliced into 3 inch strips
1 pat butter
Tony Chachere's

Roast the peppers in a little oil, so that the peppers soften, peel them if you desire, and then cut into strips. Saute the garlic on medium heat in oil, until it starts to turn golden. Add the carrots, and let them brown, then add the green beans. Let it cook for another 5 minutes, then add tomatoes and pasilla peppers, and put heat on low. Season with Tony's, then cover and let cook for another 15 minutes, so that the tomatoes release their juice. In another saute pan, heat oil on fairly high heat. Season chicken with Tony's, then sear in pan on one side, flip after 2 minutes and sear on the other side. Then dump chicken into pan with vegetables. Add enough water to the chicken pan to cover the bottom, then add this water to the vegetable and chicken mix. Let it cook until chicken is cooked through, then add butter and swirl it into sauce until melted, then serve over rice.

So, the next morning, we went out to Clairemont Mesa to Low Cost Auto Glass to get the window fixed. Once again, it was morning, so we walked down the street to see what was open for breakfast. The first place we found was Sieu Sieu BBQ. So that's where we ate. The FP had the noodle soup with roast duck.
The duck was great. It was crispy and warm and tender and flavorful and juicy. I guess his broth was just okay, but when you have the roast duck on the side, you don't need as strong a broth.

So, I had the brisket, dumpling and noodle soup.

Yum. Yum yum. So, because I had the brisket in my soup, the broth was very tasty. That along with the pork and shrimp dumplings really added to it. The dumplings were good, the pork and shrimp were seasoned, which is always important. Sometimes places seem to have forgotten the salt or soy in their dumplings or shu mai. But this had it all. The bok choy was just wilted enough, the rice noodles were soft, but not too soft. The real gem in this soup were the pieces of tendon from the brisket. They were more tender than gummi bears, but almost as sweet. Yes, gummi bears, That's the first textural thing I could come up with, and I'm sticking to it. The problem is I have been watching TV while I write this, and I haven't drank anything at all.

Anyway, it was good, and it was like $16, which was also good. I had some soup left, but this time, I didn't even bother to try to take my leftovers. I figured that this time, the FP wouldn't even let me get a to go container. He never said anything, so I don't know if he was even thinking that I might want to take it.

So, we walked back, and lo and behold, the car was basically done, and it was $100 less!

So, then, later that afternoon we went to South Park Abbey. We were thinking about getting some appetizers there, but we ended up just having a few drinks, and then heading across the street to the Mariscos German truck. It was around 5, so there was a little bit of a rush. We decided on 2 grilled fish tacos, 2 garlic tacos and a clam cocktail. She asked if we wanted, soup, so of course we wanted soup. So she charged $17.50. I gave her a $20 and didn't get any change offered back, so I left it at that. So, I watched, and mexicans, and others who spoke spanish, ordered after us, and they got their soup straight away. I'm not accusing anyone of racial or lingual discrimination, but I observed what I observed. We got our food, and I had to ask for the soup. So, we looked at our order, and it was 3 grilled tacos, 2 garlic tacos, and a clam cocktail. I guess that one extra taco kind of hiked the price up.

Anyway, it was kind of warm out, and we had had a few beers, so soup wasn't exactly the first thing I would have thought to have, but it was delicious. It's just like seafood broth with tomato and cilantro... the scraps - the good stuff. The clam cocktail was good, and the clam tasted good, but we get wary of stuff like this. We've had enough foodborne illness not to be wary, but the FP polished it off. The two tacos were the same, except for the fish preparation. They had cabbage, pico de gallo and the orange sauce. The grilled tacos were good. Nice solid fish taco. The garlic fish tacos, were a surprise. They were batter fried. I'm not big on batter fried fish taco, but, maybe it was the 2 beer buzz I had going I really liked this one. The FP dumped a whole bunch of hot sauce on his, and then took a bite, then went back to the clam cocktail. So, I had finished my tacos, and I took a bite of the FP's garlic taco. And it was too hot! I have been having...um..digestive problems. All of a sudden, I cannot handle hot peppers. After I eat them, my stomach bloats. Then I'm constipated for a couple days, then finally I get the spice ass and the frequent urge to defecate. Yeah. That's how it is. So, I have been severly limiting my hot pepper intake. Only the milder hot sauces for me. So this taco was just way too spicy. But I was still hungry, so I took a couple more bites, and then I gave up. So, the FP polished it off. He even admitted it was pretty hot.

So, lastly, today, we went to the Golden Hill farmer's market. It is literally 5 or 6 blocks from our apartment, and this was my first time going. It was great. Not very big, but not a lot of bullshit vendors that sometimes the bigger markets have. All the food vendors were at the close end, so we looked at everything before making a decision.

There were crepes and waffles and an italian truck, and GYROS and so much other stuff, but we settled on... I can't remember the damn name!!!! It was like a middle eastern man and his wife who had really a very multiethnic stand. They had sambusa and kofta and falafel and rice pilaf, and this tumeric yogurt that looked like dum aloo, and bbq soy chicken. So the guy learned to cook from his mom, who cooked all kinds of middle eastern and european food. He was very proud of the fact that it was always different and all kinds of different food. So we got a kofta kebab plate and a chicken plate. And a ginger iced tea. The wife was handing out samples, and it was delicious. So, since we were going to eat it there, I ordered an iced tea. This is a big deal. Because on the record, the FP hates HATES iced tea. But this was really like a ginger drink, flavored with tea. He guzzled half of it to wash down our delicious plates. And then the vendor gave us a refill for free. So the kofta.

Need I say, rich, flavorful and seasoned properly. I'm just being redundant now, but this is so important, and it's rare that we eat at so many new places and it's all good experiences! The chicken, was really equally delicious. Marinated for who knows how long, and the skin was my favorite part of course. So there were some beans, that were like southernish pintos or not as tomatoey baked beans. They were good, but kind of the least cohesive part of the combo. There was this yummy saffron rice, bulgar wheat pilaf, which was cooked to the point of being soft - past al dente, which was a nice change, because I feel like I usually eat bulgar wheat al dente. And then the yogurt potatoes. They were just swimming in the yogurt sauce! So good. Really, everything was so good. And we didn't eat it all, but I got to take it home, sinc we live a few blocks away. We turned the one plate upside down to make a cover. So we said goodbye and we were walking out of the market. But then the wife chased us down and gave us a plastic bag to put our plate in! Such a nice couple, and I can't remember the name of their stand! I do recall that he said they go to Hillcrest on Sunday, if that helps.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

gyros gyros gyros....

So, I had to go to the malls 3 or 4 times a couple weeks ago. I never go to the mall, I avoid it if at all possible. In fact I will drive farther to avoid Mission Valley. Just the traffic, the parking, the walking around looking for a store...this is all a nightmare to me. When I was younger and in college I would have loved going to these open air malls, wasting time, shopping, window shopping, not so much now.

So, 2 weeks ago, I went to the Fashion Valley Mall - one of the worst malls to just pick something up. So this is where I got our beloved macbook pro. The place was loud and buzzing with activity like a cafeteria. There were about 2 employees working for every 3 customers. I upgraded the memory, so I had to wait until it was ready. So, it was lunchtime. I wasn't hungry because I get jittery when making big purchases, as I always wonder how we can afford it - which we really couldn't, I would find out a few days later.

Anyhoo, I knew I had to eat lunch because it was lunchtime. So I went to the food court. There was japanese, mexican, sandwiches, and a greek place. So, I figured I would get a gyro plate. It was okay.

Nothing special. Not enough dressing on the salad, there was kind of too much feta, and the meat was a little dry, but it did the job. It's funny, because back in the old days, the more cheese the better. But not so much now. So, I was pretty much finishing my gyro plate, when the Apple store called and told me that my new computer was ready, so perfect timing!

So, then, the next day, I had to go pick up contacts from Lenscrafters, which is in Mission Valley mall. So, we picked up the contacts, then we had lunch in the food court. I had an italian salad this time, only because there was no gyros there. It was a very blase salad with romaine lettuce, olives, grated mozzarella, and some sliced salami. The Food Pimp had his usual indian - some chicken makhani and some other stuff. Not really that good. And I guess the samosa sucked.

So, then on Friday, we had to go to guitar center to by an audio interface for our new macbook. Just spending money we don't really have on things that we think we need. Guitar center is in the Grossmont Center. There is a mall across the street that has a food court with indian food. So that's where we went for lunch. Food court. There was a greek restaurant, so, guess what I had? Gyro plate? I actually thought of the quarter chicken special, but the gyro won out, possibly because I knew it would be funny to eat gyro again? So, this plate came with rice and salad, and tatziki, surprise, surprise. It was much better than the first one. Not as dry, more dressing on the salad, good gyro meat. The FP's indian food was much better than the last food court's indian restaurant's offerings. I didn't get pictures of these, because we had been here before, so at the time, I didn't take any.

So, then, the next Saturday night, I had a horrible accident. I dropped the FP's iphone on the tile floor, and the glass shattered. I can't help thinking that this happened partially because I was still dealing with the fact that my future was up in the air, given I had gotten the new 2 days before that I was being replaced. So, we had a horrible Sunday morning going to the Horton Plaza looking for this internet store where they also fix iphones. So we wandered around, looked at the map, and after a long time and lots of frustration, we found it. But it wasn't open, of course. It didn't look like it was going to be open any time soon. So, we had to leave. We had to find somewhere to eat - so this time, we had El Salvadoreno, which was not the fastest choice, but a delicious choice, anyway. I had my usual - yucca con chicharrones, and the FP had his carne guisada. Once again, I didn't take pictures because we've eaten this over and over again!

I guess I can paint a picture. So there are those large yucca fries - they are as big as steak fries. They are crunchy on the outside, starchy fluffy goodness on the inside. And there's the cabbage salad. Cabbage and carrot. No dressing on it. And then there's the Chicarrones. So these are different than the mexican puffed up pig fat. It's the fat and the meat, and it's fried in this giant fryer pot in a huge amount of oil. So the outside is crispy and hard. It looks dry. But usually, you bite into it, and the meat is tender and fatty. Sometimes it's dry, but that doesn't bother me really, because it still has that delicious porky goodness. And now that I think about it, I didn't get the pickled onions this time!

And, they bring a chicken sauce and a red pepper salsa to the table, along with a cabbage salad. But they were busy, and they only brought us the sauces. We don't touch the chicken sauce because for one, it's pretty flavorless, and two, once they brought it to the table and it was bubbling like a hot springs. So, we had to ask for the cabbage salad. What I've noticed before, is that when they are busy, they don't bring us the cabbage salad, but they bring it to all the latinos. So I think there's this discrimination going on there. Like maybe the whites don't eat the salad or if they don't know about it, why bother giving it to them? I know I'm not white, but if I'm not latino then it doesn't matter what I am there at El Salvadoreno. Anyway, I'm not complaining really. Because eventually I got my cabbage salad, and I didn't really eat much of it, the FP ate it.

The FP's food is like a stewed thin puddle on a plate with the rice on the side, and I always thought it was weird that they serve it on a plate. I am a bowl girl myself. I can eat most meals in a bowl and be content. Probably because I'm a sloppy person, and bowls contain food much better than plates. So, anyhoo, the FP's food came with the homemade tortillas, which are thicker, but delicious. And we also got our usual mandatory pupusa with jalapeno y queso. Pupusas are just what should be a staple snack food. Like, why aren't there pupusa carts around town? Anyway, it's simple. It's two tortillas rolled together with filling in the middle. But if the masa dough is fresh and the lady (I've yet to see a senor making tortillas in a restaurant) knows how to roll a good tortilla and the filling is flavorful, it's just wonderful.

Monday morning, we had to go take the phone back to Horton Plaza. So we dropped the phone off, and then we needed to eat lunch. So, I had remembered this place called The Kebab Shop. We couldn't remember where it was. I said 6th, and the FP said 10th. So, it was 9th. I admit. I was wrong. I am often wrong. Very often. So, the place is a chain. But it is done in a very minimal, modest way. Small menu. Ikea furnishings. It gave me hope for opening my own restaurant. I could use cheap furniture and not have to offer everything under the sun. So it was lunchtime, so we had to wait a while. The tables were jammed together. This was the day after Coachella, and I guess these kids seemed to have just come from there. They were fucked up! I mean tripping balls. The FP noticed first. They were hugging and trying forever to get wristbands off, and they had the crazy eyes look. And they wouldn't sit down. They just waited and waited at the counter. And waited. And we waited. and waited.

Finally, our food came! So, I got the gyro plate with saffron rice and salad.

Oh, they had other sides, that after I ordered I wished I had gotten, but that left other items to get later. So, the gyro meat was delish. The saffron rice tasted like saffron. The salad was fresh and tasty, and the tatziki was really nice. I loved it.

And then I tasted the FP's dish. The iskender kebab.

So, it was gyro meat over warm pita squares, with brown butter, a tomato sauce, and lebneh kind of on the side. And a roasted chile. It was wonderful. Tomato and yogurt together on the lamb and the pita. Just so...comforting.

So, at the end of the week, the Kebab Shop won, hands down. I can't wait to go back there!

630 9th Avenue, downtown San Diego, 92101

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Notice anything different?

So, I thought I would change the blog up a little... you know, updated, computer, update the blog. Yes. Updated computer. Apple. Mac. Macbook Pro. So cute and gleaming and glossy and easy to use, and it's fast, and the internet connection is better. No matter how shitty some things in my life are (which right now it's not the best) at least I got this amazing new computer so I can blog more and tell you about my shitty life. In fact, if I had not had this amazing computer, in a way, I wouldn't have coped as well with the shitty news I got last week. Of course, I probably wouldn't have gotten the computer after the news... Wanna hear?

Well... let's just say, some people are not the best at breaking new to employees. Some people don't understand that they shouldn't go to work, tell their current chef that there is a new partner/chef in the company (which means another boss for the chef) out of nowhere with no warning, and then expect them to go back to work. And how many people in that chef's situation would continue working? I did though. They tell me they want me to stay because I know so much about running the kitchen and wouldn't it be great to have us collaborating. The only thing is, I'm not a collaborator. Why collaborate, when before if I wanted to do a special or change the menu I just did it. Okay, so I would have to discuss it with the GM, because she likes to believe she's so knowledgeable about food. She fancies herself a restaurant critic really. Restaurants actually despise her as they might a restaurant critic.

The FP is dying for me to leave the place. It's embarrassing, and it's shameful, and it's embarrassing. This shit went down last Thursday, a week ago, and they already blogged about it on the website on Monday. Tonight, I'm off and the new chef is doing an earth day prix fixe. I don't really hold anything against him. He seems nice, he seems to do nice food, he wants to change the place for the better and he wants to put time and money into the place. But he has the power to schedule more labor hours, change the menu, change policy, do things I would have liked to do myself, but I didn't have the power to do. I had several times gotten reprimanded for having too much overtime - as in 10 hours on a very busy week with special events that they had scheduled. I guess what they want is employees that will work so many hours off the clock. I can't do it. I do work off the clock several hours a week. But why kill myself for no incentive, no encouragement, no kudos, no pay raise at the crap level of pay that I get.

I'm burnt out and demoralized and exhausted and I want a break. It's not good to stay at a place when you consciously know you are oozing negative vibes. I know I am. I somehow manage to talk to the GM every day, and I joke with her, but it's what I do. I joke with people I have a problem with, but it's nasty. Every little thing she does wrong really irritated the piss out of me. But I don't have the money to just take time off. So I'm figuring out my life. Gotta pay for my internet connection, phone, rent, etc.....

So, if you want to see me at my current place of employment, you better come soon. I'm not sure how much longer I will be there. If you do come in, I'll buy you a drink and a dessert. I got some house credit I need to use up!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

southwestern vacation part 4

So, I fell asleep looking at the flashing Rio sign. It kind of makes me feel dirty. So the next morning, we woke up, had breakfast in one of the places in Rio. I didn't take pictures...the Food Pimp had corned beef hash, I just had like 2 eggs and toast and whatnot. Nothing special. Hotel food, hotel prices. Actually, each breakfast came with a blueberry muffin. No one else would eat theirs, but I thought I would try it. It was delicious, it was more like a fluffy moist coffee cake!

So, we gathered our things, loaded up the car, checked out and said goodbye to the in laws. Then we headed down Flamingo Road to my bff's place. We'll call her Kitty Tall. She likes to call me her soulmate instead of bff, which is coincidentally the name of her sailboat that she bought several months ago. So, her complex is a nightmare to get into. There's gates and guards, and you have to say who you are going to see...

So, we dropped some stuff off, met her cat Rawr, and we were off to Treasure Island to pick up her other friends. Then we were off to the grocery store for supplies - mainly alcohol. Everyone else was getting food, but we weren't hungry, so we waited. The lady behind the deli counter took 10 -15 minutes to make a sandwich. They were timing it, but then you know, iphones, you get distracted.

Then we got to Lake Meade. And we parked, and there was the marina. So cool. a lake in the middle of the desert. And the lake was big enough to have a marina!

So we were waiting for Kitty Tall's friend. She was late. So they ate their painstakingly crafted sandwiches. And the birds swam around waiting for crumbs. And the fish too. And I really wanted to break out some wine, but I wasn't sure if you were allowed to drink right there. So I waited.

Finally, we decided to head to the boat. So we went in. And I guess I was expecting a smaller boat. But, it could fit 6 people, so it was big enough to fit 6 people. So we sat there and drank. And then KT's friend arrived. And we sat and drank. It was really windy, and KT doesn't have the most experience in the world, so she didn't think we should attempt to sail I mean, I'd never been on a sailboat in my life, let alone know what to do on one. So we drank, and then KT figured we could just motor out. So we went out.

And we went to look at the Hoover Dam, and then we went back. So then we had to maneuver back into the "slip". The two most knowledgeable passengers got out to pull the boat in, but then a wave caught it, and it kind of slipped out of reach. And then we were fucked. None of us left on the boat knew how to steer. It's like backwards. So KT would give directions, and we would turn too much one way, then another, then go in a circle. We hit a few expensive boats and houseboats. Finally, after 45 minutes maybe - it seemed like 3 hours - we got in.

So then we needed a drink! We went to the marina bar and sat there and had a drink. I was driving, so I had a diet Coke.

After we had all recovered, we got back in the Element and went to Freemont Street. And we bought alcohol at a convenience store and walked around. So many bright lights and they had the zip line that goes across the street. And the light and music show that plays on the ceiling.

We went into the Golden Nugget. It was strange, because it has the old area, that looks like the iconic old Vegas, and then all of a sudden you walk into this modern sleek area that doesn't match, but it's still the Golden Nugget. And there's the pool area. It's got a 3 story deck wrapped around and aquarium, and there is a slide that goes through the aquarium so you feel like your in the tank! How cool is that?

So we wandered around there for a while. Then we dropped the kids off at the pool - I mean at the Treasure Island. Then the 3 of us were hungry, so we decided to go to Terrible's, which was down the street from KT's apartment. It's a casino called Terrible's. A big gaudy ugly old pink thing. And it's quite sad inside. So we went up to the restaurant, but the buffet had already closed. So we had to order off the menu. The FP got the prime rib, of course. He was dead set on eating steak for dinner the whole trip!

I got a footlong schlongdog. The casing snapped. There was too much cheese. I don't think I like sauerkraut and cheese together. The snap though was the worst, I don't like that.

I also got a turkey noodle soup. Don't know why. It was disgusting. It was like noodle soup with turkey deli meat chunks in it. Big chunks. Terrible. Just Terrible.

And KT got a veggie burger. Gross, gross, gross, and double gross... it was......TERRIBLE! And it was great that we could say over and over how it was terrible, whenever the waiter asked us. But he was good spirited and played along with us. It's just one of those sick things we felt the need to do. I don't think I need to explain why the food was gross, but let's just say it seemed like they were closing up shop and we got the food that had been sitting in the steam table at the buffet maybe.

So, at least the waiter got a nice tip. So then we went back to KT's place, drank some more, then went to bed.

The next morning, KT had to go to work, so we wandered around the strip. We had never been to Vegas together, so we did the tourist thing. We had lunch at Hooter's Casino.

It was kind of boring. No orange shorted women running around the casino. The restaurant was just a Hooter's. I don't know what I expected.

Then we went across the street to MGM Grand, where we saw the Lion enclosure.
These female lions were naping, and 2 guys were in there just sitting with them. And then a little off there, is the area where the babies were! They were separated, but they could see eachother. And there was an area where you could go and sit and get a picture taken with them! No one was there, so it didn't look like it was open...but we thought about it!

We went to New York, New York, Mandalay Bay, the Luxor, Excalibur. They all look so much cooler on the outside, except the Luxor. But at the Luxor we were getting harrassed by the suited employees sellng tickets to stuff. They kind of made us paranoid, because they were looking at us, like we were suspicious or doing something wrong. I mean, it's Vegas for godsake!!!!

So that was when we decided it was time to get a drink. But it had to be the right bar. The FP knew of a bar he had gone to before on a previous trip at Caesar's Palace or somewhere. So we drove around in traffic, to get there, and it was too much, so finally we left the strip. We decided to go to one of the chain restaurants near KT's place for happy hour. The first place, Cozymel's was closed for business. But then there was another cheesy tropical restaurant a couple parking lots away, so we went there.

We sat at the corner of the bar. The place was fairly empty. So we got margaritas. And they were just what the doctor ordered. And then this business lady came and sat right next to me. There was all this room, but she had to sit next to me. She studied the menu like she was going to have to take a standardized exam. She asked questions, then she settled on some cocktail that she didn't seem to enjoy.

Then her associate showed up, another businesslady. They definitely seemed like they were from the midwest. So, they were having a little interoffice cocktail hour. Maybe it was their last night in Vegas so they were going to live it up a little. The second lady asked what was in all the drinks - which they all listed what was in them. But she said she was allergic to strawberry or something. So she asked what grenadine was and asked a hundred times what was in every drink. I wanted to ask where they were from and if they had ever gone to a bar before.

They ordered some appetizers. One was like a fried chicken slider. The allergy lady kept saying they were "heavenly". Heavenly? Chicken slider? Really? So, then their other special dietary needs coworkers started to show up. They ordered their silly mixed drinks. The allergy lady kept telling them to try a heavenly chicken slider.

Finally, KT texted to say she was home. So we finished our margaritas and vacated the premises. As soon as we got 8 feet from our bar stools, the vultures descended on our spot, so they could stable their tipsy happy hour selves, indulging in "exotic" drinks and bar food.

So, we went to KT's, and had a drink or two. Then we went to dinner. Lotus of Siam. Apparently, on the internets, it has been touted the "best thai restaurant in North America." So, I had my doubts, but we had to check it out, of course. So it was pretty busy. We had to wait at the bar. They had those fancy wine dispensers. So we ordered 3 glasses of wine, but they poured it straight out of the bottle. How boring! But we were excited. There were practically all asians there.

We got our table, and immediately the FP and opened our menus and tried not to have strokes right there at the table. The adrenaline rush that I get from looking at a new menu at a new exciting restaurant is the same rush others get from buying a new pair of shoes, surfing, or jumping off a cliff. Really. That's what it feels like to me. So many possibilities. Such an array to choose from, make sure you choose the right dish. Narrow it down to several, then narrow it down from there. Then confer with the dining partner.

So, we ordered. And we waited. And we got our papaya salad.

They did not have bamboo salad, so papaya would have to suffice. And it did. It was great. I don't know if I've ever had a bad papaya salad though. If you have the right ingredients it's going to be delicious. If not, then don't make it.

KT got some thai salad. Really it was just a vehicle for the peanut sauce that she ordered. The peanut sauce was good, and we ate most of the salad slathering it on all the veggies.

Then she also got phad thai. It was, good, but kind of sweet.

Then our dry curry pork came. It was a dish we had never had before. And it was really flavorful and delicious.

But the issan sausage was the show stopper. It was so many different things going on at once. Meaty, herby, spicy, sweet, sour, yummy. Just plain delicious. Just great. So, that was our dinner at the best Thai restaurant in North America. I don't know. I would have to try more food before I could even make any kind of judgement.

So, thus ended our Vegas adventure. We left the next morning, and we stopped for lunch at the Mad Greek Cafe. We were going to go to a bbq place at the same exit, but it wasn't open yet. But the Mad Greek Seemed to be the happening place. All kinds of crap all over the place. All kinds of food - not just mad greek, they also had mad taco and other stuff. We ordered 2 gyros and a greek salad. We got 2 gyro salads, which was okay, but not quite what we wanted.

I had to ask for some tzatziki, but they didn't charge extra anyway. It was...okay. Not great, not Terrible, just good. Nothing special.

We also got one of those greek nut cookies. Which was good, but I am perpetually parched on road trips, so it was kinda dry and sucked the moisture out of my mouth. Our last meal of our trip. I think it was a little tarnished because the FP had to take a call from his boss. I hate that. He always calls when we are eating lunch. Always. It just reminds me of my mom, having to use the house phone at a restaurant to get a message from the answering service. Either way, phone calls taking my loved one away from me during mealtime is irritating. I guess our vacation was over, but I wasn't ready for it to end. :(

Monday, April 4, 2011

southwestern vacation part 3

So, day three of our SW adventure. We woke up, packed, and went back to the Grand Canyon. This time, we drove to the cliff and parked right on the side of the road and walked a bit. There was barely anyone around, which was nice. The view in the morning was even better!

We walked by some Vietnam vet taking pictures with a fancy camera on a tripod, and he started talking to us. He's a photographer now. Doesn't everyone take pictures of the Grand Canyon? Doesn't seem lucrative. Anyway, we excused ourselves and kept walking. We saw two pairs of flip flops on the edge of a cliff. Creepy. But, they probably planned it to look like a double suicide for people to wonder, right?

We took a few more pictures, then we headed back to the car and headed for Vegas. We had our google maps route, but we kept seeing signs for Route 66. We felt like we should go on it for a while... it's Route 66 after all. So we did. It doesn't seem to be kept up very much. There were those touristy general stores and gift shops at the exit when we first got on Route 66. We thought about stopping, but there was like a tour bus of Japanese tourists that had just stopped, so the place was mobbed. Curiously enough, there were also two girls who were Amish or Quaker.

So, the drive was desolate.

No wireless signal, of course, except for when passing some sparsley populated towns. So desolate. Who would live in these places? What was life like for these people? What did they eat?

We were getting hungry, so judging by the map, there was Peach Springs coming up. Judging by the size of the dot, it must have been big, so we thought we would stop there for a bite. Hopefully, some local place - not just chain restaurants. So, we drove and drove, hungry, and then we got to Peach Springs. Not only did we keep driving, we sped up. It was a sad rundown place. Not one gas station, not one store, just sad falling apart old houses, with lots of junk in the yard, and old cars. The Food Pimp's explanation was that these people were moving out west to Cali so many years ago, and these old cars of theirs just died, so they settled there in Peach Springs when their cars wouldn't go any farther. So from what I can see on the internets, is that the FP's theory isn't true. Peach Springs is the capital of the Hulapai Tribe. Some friar named it St. Basil's Wells, Then some lieutenant rode his camel through, then the mormons stopped by, sowing peach trees. Is this the edenlike place the Presidents of the United States of America sing about in their 1990s hit single?

Well, maybe when you get off the main road, Peach Springs is just beautiful. And who am I to judge, these people probably keep a cleaner house inside than I do.

So anyway, we got to our junction when turn off towards Vegas. And there were a bunch of chain restaurants! Yay for chain restaurants! If I had been a kid, I would be satisfied on this trip with the restaurant offerings along the way. So, anyway, we picked the elusive Arby's. It was lunchtime, so it was pretty busy. But I have to say, it was still good. Some of my fellow food bloggers might be appalled by several of my preferences for fast food joints. But I like Arby's! If you send me an Arby's Tshirt, I will gladly wear it!

So yeah, I got the medium sized beef and cheddar, and I substituted potato cakes. I like the sweet Arby's sauce and the Horsey Sauce. I don't really care for that crazy new Three Pepper sauce. What I like to do is put a generous amount of Arby's sauce and Horsey sauce in my sandwich, then I dip each bite in some more Arby's sauce. I know - corn syrupy badness! But I do have to admit, part of my pension for Arby's has to do with the childhood memories. Arby's was often an event - usually after Sunday mass. The one we went to in Lakeland was this oldtimey looking one with not much seating, but they were the swivel chairs which I really liked. And sometimes I could get a shake.

So, after a satisfying lunch, we headed on in to Nevada. We stopped at the Hoover Dam and walked across the newly built Pat Tillman lookout bridge. It was pretty dam cool.

We stopped at a gas station and marvelled at the slot machines. And we almost felt like we were in Las Vegas all too soon - we had been driving through Arizona for so long, that we had been ready to experience another state.

But, alas, in no time, we were in Vegas. It was a little overwhelming, coming from the pristine middle of nowhere with beautiful desolate landscapes. If I had to plan the trip again, I would have reversed the order of our stops, and ended in Sedona. Anyway, off we went to the Rio, to meet the FP's sister. Coincidentally, they had been in town since Sunday for a convention. Her husband can be high stakes gambler, so he had earned lots of points for free hotel rooms, so they put us up in the Rio for their last night in town, so we could hang out.

We met at the bar by the main entrance and had some drinks. Then we checked in, and we all went up to look at our room. They were curious, because they paid extra for their suite with a view of the Strip. But, the whole building has floor to ceiling windows, so every room has a view of something. How I do not have pictures of our view, I do not know. Not that my little coolpix could have captured the view. We could see the backside of that new hotel - the Cosmopolitan, and the Rio sign. It wasn't spectacular compared to other views, I'm sure, but the FP's sister and brother in law were a little unhappy that we still had a view when they had paid $20 extra for theirs.

So we took showers, we enjoyed the room for a few minutes, then we met in their suite. We took a cab to Bellagio to eat at Mon Ami Gabi. Which happened to be a place that everyone had eaten at except for me! It was a French bistro place. We got a bottle of wine, and chicken liver pate.

The pate was really good! And I love cornichons and olives and pickled onions. (In New Orleans we used to get a jar of pickled onions with each bottle of Kettle One at one restaurant I worked at. They didn't put them in drinks, so we would just eat them all.) We nibbled at it. The last smudge sat on the plate for a while, until... I think the FP disposed of it.

The FP got the french onion soup, his sister got a salad of frisee and goat cheese? and bacon? - I honestly don't remember.

We have the kind of relationship where I already feel intrusive by taking pictures of her food, so I don't feel comfortable asking her for a bite of her food if it's not something really exciting that I need to taste. The french onion soup was good, but not to die for.

I didn't get an appetizer, even though I was pretty hungry because I figured the portions would be big and I wouldn't finish and that a lot would be wasted and I'd be walking around Vegas all bloated Which that is all what happened. I got the half roast chicken. Half a chicken.

This is not what I would usually order, but I was very steaked out, and I thought that a nice french restaurant would have a nice roasted chicken. And it was nice. Flavorful and juicy and yummy skin. The frites sucked. They were cut with some kind of flat wide die - like short fettucini - and so they were too crispy and not starchy fluffy middle! But, the star of the plate was the roasted mushroom, pearl onion and bacon side! That is a big part of why I was attracted to the dish. Its was bacon greasy goodness!

The FP got the Hangar Steak frites. Delicious steak, turrible frites.

The FP's sister got Boeuf Bourgignon which came over pasta. It was...average. Not blow your socks off, like Julia's recipe as seen prepared in "Julie & Julia" by Julia's editor and by Julie the second time.

The FP's brother in law got the fish. I can't remember what kind, not halibut, but something halibutty. He isn't the most adventurous eater, but he's come a long way over the years. The FP's likes to cook out of pretty cookbooks like Barefoot Contessa, so he's probably had to eat a lot of vegetables and things that he wouldn't normally eat. Anyway, the fish special had like roasted butternut squash, and he couldn't fathom the description. As depicted in my professional photography, his fish wasn't the nicest seared fish I've ever seen. When asked how he liked his dish, his response, was, it didn't come with mashed potatoes. Who was I to tell him he could have ordered a side of mashed? It was as if he were born and raised in San Diego, as San Diegans are obsessed with mashed potatoes!

So after an average to delicious meal, we walked around the Bellagio. And walked. The FP's brother in law was smart enough to take us to the back area where they redo the plaza with different themes. Since it was chinese new year, the area was decked out in chinese rabbit themes.

Very very cool. And there was a big boat! Loved it! So, after walking around casinos and watching the in laws gamble, we headed back to the lounge at Rio, had a drink or two, played on the interactive touchscreen table which was like a giant ipad, then we called it a night - at like 11:30 pm.