Monday, December 14, 2009


Wow. Its been so long since I've blogged. I'm surprised I can still type and find all the correct keys (thanks to Facebook). Well crap, I've eaten a lot since my last blog. There was a trip to Milwaukee, Thanksgiving, a Top Chef Finale and now we're on to Christmas. So let me start with Milwaukee.

Visiting my sister Lara in Milwaukee was super fun. I was really surprised at how much fun it was there. There are cute restaurants, little punk rock cool kids every where, the art museum, and lots of cool shops. But this is a food blog, not a travel blog, so let me get down to it. The beer was tasty, the liverwurst was good, the Lindhberg cheese was revolting, the cider was amazing, I now love brandy old fashioneds, the apples changed how I feel about apples, and Billy's cooking was pretty awesome. That's the quick version, but let me talk about a few of my favorite things.

The apples are sooo good. I'm not even an apple kind of gal. I think most fruit is lame besides mangos, tangerines, berries, and pomegranates. But the apples here are something to get excited about. Lara, Billy and I went to this little apple stand and it was so cute and everyone was drinking cider and saying "You Betcha!" It was just the perfect place to bite into a really good apple. I talked to the apple vendor and told her I only like green apples and honey crisp apples, both were out of season, so she had me try a different kind.

This beautiful specimen of an apple is an Empire apple. Its super juicy and has a firm crunch to it. Its also not too sweet or sour. Its just perfect. And how much does this apple look like the poison apple from Snow White? I know. I felt BEAUTIFUL eating it.

Another favorite treat of mine was the damn $3 meatball sub from the Italian grocery store a block from Lara's house. Now I have to slam Lara for never trying one until I came to visit. She was very dumb for not eating one sooner. The grocery store is a tiny little shop with a great deli in the back. From what I can tell, it looks like one family runs this place which is super cute. Their shelves are stocked with yummy little Italian specialties like capers rolled in anchovies, anise cookies, and homemade pasta sauce. The deli is the best part because they have tons of meat and cheeses and pre-made dishes like Fruitti de Mare with octopus and stuffed olives and oh my!

When you first walk in to the store, the smell of meatballs and garlic tickle your nose. Its impossible not to order this. Me, being a pig, ordered the meatball sandwich with provolone cheese. It was super good, but its better without the cheese cause then the bread soaks up more marinara. As you can see, I had more than one....but they're really small! The bread was really soft in a good way, and the meatballs were tender and garlicky and went well with the sweet basil marinara sauce. It also had fresh Parmesan sprinkled on top. It was SO good. It was a hug for your mouth. I can't wait to eat one again.

Billy's meal was great too. It was awesome to watch a pro cook and smell all those great sauces! Billy made us a duck breast with a demi glace with a salad of mixed beets and a pear holding asparagus tips. Everything was super good and definitely tasted like fall. The duck was so tender and really good. It didn't taste greasy at all. I also loved the demi glace. It was super meaty tasting. I guess he made it out of roasting bones, which to me, sounds complicated. It was super rich and went well with the duck, however, it was a bit thick. I just really loved this meal. It was super delicious and it was nice of him to make it for Lara and me.

Lara and I also ate at Sanford's Restaurant. That meal was incredible and I would like to blog about it, but I need to find my notes on the meal before I do that. Anyway, just know that it was delicious and a VERY nice birthday gift! So that's it for now. Tomorrow will be about Thanksgiving most likely. Hopefully, I stay motivated and write often!

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Inner Southern Belle

Well this all started about a week ago. I ordered 6 nail polishes and some firm hold hair spray from the beauty supply and its been a downward spiral ever since. I'm becoming southern. Its true. I only want to eat pie and have lacquered finger nails and curl my hair. This is what I get for making fun of Paula Dean. Its all catching up with me. If I start wearing petite miss suits in cotton candy and powder blue, please start an intervention. Its sad 'cause I kinda like what Ms. Wisconsin has got going on.

So for dinner tonight I will be feasting on deep dish apple pie that Diana made, chipotle peach BBQ chicken, and beans with bacon and brown sugar. Mmmm!

So for the chicken I mixed one jar of chipotle peach salsa from Trader Joe's with ketchup, brown sugar, worshtichire sauce, white wine vinegar, garlic pepper, salt, chili flakes, and cumin. Next time I will use honey instead of brown sugar so that it makes a more syrup-like consistency. The flavor was really good, but the sauce was runny once the chicken started cooking and the juices mingled with it.

For the beans, I mixed a big can of pintos, 2 bay leaves, salt, garlic powder, 2 cloves of garlic, 3 tbl of brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and chopped two strips of thick cut bacon. I covered it all with chicken broth and simmered for about 30mins. It was sooooo good. I love baked beans. Actually, I just love beans.

So I wolfed this all down with a glass of Clos La Chance, Syrah wine for $7.99. Its really good, cheap wine. If you ever see it, buy it. It pairs perfectly with BBQ chicken and The Rachel Zoe Project.

Well, that's it. Not too exciting. Sometime this week I will attempt to make baklava. We have lots of walnuts and some frozen phillo dough....and my really good butter! I can't do it tomorrow, cause that's a GCN night, and Wednesday is Top Chef.... so I guess Thursday?

And to all my fans out there, is there anything you think I should try to eat or attempt to make? Let's hear it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Top Chef: Volume 3

Ok... I'm gonna make this quick. I'm not in the mood to type all that much, and my hands hurt from cutting hair. So can we all agree that this season is just WEIRD? So many twists and I never know who will get cut next. Also the contestants are very strange this season. I go back and forth on hating them. But one person is constant....I REALLY do not like the Hedge Hog.

So the guest judge is Charlie Palmer. The dude looks like a pedophile and also like the butler form the Simpsons that always says, "Yesssss."

He is famous for popularizing American cuisine and he worked with both of the Vagina Brothers (the Voltaggio's.) I didn't think it was fair. By the way, is it me or are the brothers' eyes getting smaller and more rat like?

So the quickfire challenge is pretty lame. They have to do a food pairing with potato chips. Nothing about this excites me. I call that challenge: lunch. Anyway, ugly Eli wins it because he is fat and gorges on chips while smoking pot in his mother's basement. Ya, he lives with his parents. And he was trying to pawn it off like its this kitchy off beat lifestyle he CHOOSES to adhere to. Sure pig, sure. He makes Potato Clam Salad with Fennel, Celery, and White Truffle Sauce and pairs it with the onion potato chips. It looked good....for once.

So the main challenge seemed like something I could get behind. They have to cook for Pigs and Pinot an event dedicated to eating pig and drinking pinot. WHO HAS BEEN READING MY DIARY? Why wasn't I invited? Anyway, they all got to choose their pinot and build a dish around it. Then they drew knives to see what cut of pork they had to cook. Its so serendipitous because I cooked pork tenderloin yesterday in a chardonnay and applebutter reduction. Seriously, who is following me around?

So it seemed like everyone did a great job. There was porkiness everywhere and everything looked really good, despite them serving their dishes on clear plastic plates and serving wine in plastic tumblers. Anywhoo, the winner was Kevin again! He made Pork Leg Pate and paired it with the 2006 Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills, Pinot Noir. His looked gross, but I love pate and I bet it was delicious. He also had chopped chestnuts on top which was genius. Like I said before, Kevin has this in the bag! I want to start a fantasy football team but with Top Chef. I'm great at guessing who will win... and I need the money.

So the losers are Lauraine, Robin and Ash. Lauraine made a pork butt Rillettes. The judges said hers tasted the worst and it was like cat food. She should have been sent home...but wasn't. Robin made a Brined Center Cut Pork Chop and the complaint was that she didn't have enough meat on the plate. And Ash made a Chilled Pork Tenderloin with corn and I think olives. He also embarrassed himself again by saying the Hedge Hog was a master chef and he second guessed what he was going to make and the event. Needless to say, he went home. It was time.

So I feel a little weird because I kinda like Robin now. Everyone was totally ganging up on her and my inner ghetto/savior was like "Nuh Uh! Oh nooo you didn't!" Everyone was being so mean to her at the house especially the little hog Eli. He was yelling at her for no reason. He took the cutting board she JUST cleaned and was about to use. After she told him that, he went off and started yelling that she wasn't his mom as he descended the stairs. It was very comical because in that situation, she did look like his mom. And he seemed like an immature, ungrateful, ugly child stomping down the stairs to his lair of stink, porno, and heavy metal music. She just responds with, "Thank god I'm not your mother." And she truly believes this with every fiber of her being. Go Robin.

What was also weird was that Mike Isabella wasn't totally disgusting this episode. He kinda shut up and stopped being an asshole. He made fun of himself a bit and had a good looking lebanese meatball dish. He also looks like my bartender G Spot, so maybe that has something to do with it. Anyway, great show. Can't wait for next episode when its Restaurant Wars. Sweet.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Retraction Action! I'm a strong woman. I can admit when I'm wrong. And I do have to admit, I might have been a little misleading with my very first blog, the one about Chase. Let it be known that I absolutely love it there. I will sing their praises from the highest mountain. To me, its THE perfect place for a happy hour night. I seriously hope that it remains the small "locals only" joint that it is, and that tons of people don't flock over there and ruin my Tuesday night plans. This is what I live for.

So I've been going to Chase every Tuesday night for about a month now. I have only blogged about it once and there are two reasons for that: 1. I really want it to be my secret so I still have a spot at the bar. 2. Its become my intimate little hang out and I'm so comfortable there that I feel like it would be boring to read about. I think I'm wrong. I think everyone needs to know about the tasty little treats being dished out.

Ok, so I'm going to retract a lot about my first review, however, I still stand behind that the blueberry martini is gross and that I wouldn't eat cheesy bread on a date. With that being said, the food is really really good. Now that I have eaten there a couple of times I can say that it is a mix of Italian-American and authentic Sicilian recipes. I was really impressed tonight with our food and I want to come back for lunch when the chef makes a puttanesca sauce from scratch WITH anchovies.

So for dinner, G Spot brought out bread and two dishes of antipasti. One was a dish consisting of whole white beans, onions, spices, and olive oil. It was good and sweet and had a slight creamy texture from the beans. The other dish was my favorite. Apparently it is a Yugoslavian dish consisting of cabbage, tomatoes, paprika, and sweet peppers. It was similar to Macedonia pepper mash. REALLY good!

For dinner, I had the lasagna which was awesome. In the words of Rachel Zoe, "I die." It was huge and so delicious. The sauce tastes homemade, the filling was beef, pork, and veal, and it was super cheesy and so satisfying. I usually don't eat veal. I find it too sad. Veal is my version of a gate way drug. If I start eating veal, then I know dog is next, and sooner or later, I will find myself eating monkey because it was offered. Ya...slippery slope.

Diana's dish was really good too! She left her order up to G Spot. He's really good at ordering and for some reason has this innate sense of just knowing what you are in the mood to eat. Perhaps its because his mom is MADAME ROSINKA?! Ya. NOT kidding. So bad ass. Anyway, he ordered Diana the chicken parmigiana and a side of penne in a roasted pepper sauce. The penne was good but had more of an eastern European flavor: very smoky and sweet. The chicken parm was pretty damn good. The breading on the chicken made all the difference. It was really crispy. My guess is that its a combo of bread crumbs and corn meal (polenta).

Meggy ordered the ravioli which were super yummy too. The filling was ricotta and herbs and it was in a pesto cream sauce. Definitely filling, but an addictive flavor that makes you want to lick your plate.

It was cold and rainy today so this is exactly what we were in the mood for. Everything was warm and cheesy and just cozy. I love Chase because it has atmosphere but isn't too loud. It's the perfect place to congregate after work and shoot the shit and just chill. I really love it because the interior makes it look like a lot of the restaurants in New York. It reminds me of a very small version of Les Halles with its dark cherry wood, and dark leather seats and Christmas lights. It's familiar and comfortable. Not to mention, G Spot is a cute guy who appreciates good food, which is clear since he is constantly snacking on something! He's a great old fashioned bartender in the sense that he not only pours drinks, but he entertains us while we are there. He helps us order and is always offering us little tastes from kitchen. He also is carrying pear vodka he is a good listener too.

So I hopes this clears up a few things and that people understand why I keep going back. Its simple, really. Chase is the bar you've been looking for. The spot you've been wanting to call your own. The food lures us in, but G Spot keeps us coming back for more.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Top Chef Night 2

Wow. As you can tell, I've been avoiding writing this entry. TC aired on Wednesday. It's Friday now. It's time to get it all off my chest. I just have to say that I thought this whole episode was really weird. I, of course, HATED the ending. I also thought the quickfire challenge was really rushed and I don't all didn't feel right. The whole thing gave me a weird vibe. Ash was acting like a slave, Robin and Mike were team members, the Hedge Hog RUINED Ashley's life! It was all very unsettling. Let me explain:

So I don't know whose idea it was, but Tyler Florence was the guest judge. I have nothing against Tyler Florence. In fact, I think he seems like a pretty nice guy who is reasonable good looking, although constantly bloated. However, they have had Hubert Keller, Eric Ripert, and Wylie Dufresne all who have Michelin stars! Is Tyler Florence REALLY at that level....I think not. But if I ever see Rachel Ray's little pug face on my Top Chef, I'm gonna go ape shit. I have beef with that woman.

Ok, so the quickfire challenge goes like this. There is a big slot machine with adjectives and nationalities. Everyone cranks the slot thingy and gets three words that they have to build a plate around and Tyler Florence decides who wins. Excellent idea for a challenge.

Ash got: tired, tart, Italian. He made a puttanesca sauce which I found clever because a tart is a whore. So good one, Ash! It looked good but very straightforward. C'mon now, I make puttanesca every now and then! Show me you are better than me!

Ashley got: blue, cheesy, middle eastern. Honestly, I think she had the hardest. First off, no food is blue, secondly middle eastern food isn't cheesy! She banged it out by making Sumac Crusted halibut with feta foam. It looked soo good; like a delight! I fell in love even more. *sigh

Bryan (the robot) got: adventurous, crispy, Asian. He's so lame. He doesn't know what adventure is. His snooze fest of a meal was seared scallops with bok choy and tempura beads. Waa Waaaaaa. Seriously, wake up kiddo! It looks fine and all, but make something EXCITING for once. I know you want to be Mr. Straight and Narrow in comparison to your "wild child" brother, but sheesh! Live a little.

Eli the Hedge Hog got: stressed, umami, Latin. This is a VERY cool mix. He could have done SO much. Personally, I would have done a smoky chile verde with tons of cumin for that umami flavor. He does shitaki mushroom ceviche with avocados. Can you imagine how gross that is?? I bet it just tastes like musk.

Jennifer got: adventurous, nutty, American. I would hate that mix of words, but oh well. Maybe I would make a pistachio pesto with manchego instead of Parmesan? Anyway, she made diver scallops with pistachios and caviar on top. She got in trouble because they didn't think she made anything adventurous, and I agree.

Kevin got: stressed, spicy, Asian. He made pork with daikon and a Vietnamese salad. Everyone was impressed because he nailed Asian flavors and he does not cook with them. His dish was also a real pretty color and looked very good.

Lauraine got: tart, romantic, Latin. I would have made a key lime pie ( Miami, hello Latin!) and made a truffle with dark chocolate and chili peppers to go on top. Rad, right? She made a salad with goat cheese and a pomegranate dressing. Oh, has someone been reading my blog for recipes?? I think SO!

Mike Isabella got: stressed, umami, asian. He made raw sliced mushrooms with an yuzu emulsion. His looked gross too. And jeeze people! Umami doesn't mean MUSHROOM! And why is everyone this season so obsessed with yuzu? I've had it. Its not that great!

Mike-the-Devil-may-care got: adventurous, tangy, Asian. That sounds like a personal ad to me...but I digress. He made an yuzu curd with raspberries, Greek yogurt, and a seaweed cracker. It really looked amazing. He is adventurous. I will give him that!

Robin was wearing a TERRIBLE shade of lipstick. I decided the name for that color of lipstick is Lusty Prune. Seriously, the WORST color. Anyway, she got: stressed, umami, middle eastern. She made a veggie hash with cumin and curry oil. Curry isn't really middle eastern. Woman: why are you here? Who did you have sex with to make it on the show?

Anyway, every one's dish looked pretty good! I think this is the best they have ever done. All of them looked restaurant ready besides the Hedge Hogs. Seriously, his made me want to puke. I imagine the taste of avocado and mushroom is like eating spoiled guacamole. Anyway, Kevin won again. His looked great, like I said earlier. I'm pretty sure he's gonna take it. Go red heads.

So the contestants' next big challenge is that they have to prepare a family style dish in teams of two at their house. The must make a meal in honor of a famous chef's cooking style with ingredients the chef has picked out for them. Tyler Florence is the guest judge...again.

So Bryan and Lauraine (who are so boring it makes me feel like I'm in a coma) get paired up. They make a meal inspired by Tyler Florence. It looked good but it wasn't impressive at all. It was Halibut and Sherry-Chorizo Viniagrette Yellow Corn Cake with Avocado Mousse. I'm sure it tasted great, but once again, IMAGINATION!

Kevin and Jennifer are paired up together and their chef was Tom Douglas. I think they were an extremely strong team. They are both excellent chefs, especially when Jennifer isn't hungover. They made Kobe Beef with Tomato-Cardomon Broth, Petit Bok Choy and Asian Pear. They clearly should have won. Everyone was raving about how amazing that broth was. Cardomon is one of my favorite Russian! I bet it was a flavor explosion. Jennifer wins because her broth is so amazing. I wish I could have tried it. It sound so good. I bet it would make a good addition inside a vodka martinni too!

Mike and Robbin were teamed up and had Takashi Yagihashi. This was just hilarious to watch. Robbin seems SO annoying. She was driving him nuts! It was great because he couldn't boss her around because he doesn't know Asian food at all and she claims she does. It was just a car wreck. Robbin is burning food right and left, Mike is all deflated and bruised because he doesn't have any ideas! Comedy. They ended up making marinated Mushroom and Pickled Pear Roll, Seared Tuna and Scallop, Truffle Ponzu. It was kind of a mess.

Michael and Ash were really weird to watch. All of the sudden Ash develops this super man crush on Michael and decides to lick his butt clean and do whatever he says. It was like Stockholm Syndrome. The chef they got was Nancy Silverton. Ash didn't contribute anything. He just sat back while Michael's meth-induced rant came out with some civilized ideas. They made Pancetta Wrapped Halibut with Egg Yolk Ravioli, Fennel and Asparagus. I guess they wanted it to be like a carbonera. It seemed really good. Problem was they didn't get a good sear on the fish because they were cooking on these weird electric woks instead of the kitchen like normal people.

Lastly and sadly, handsome Ashley was paired with the evil Hedge Hog and their chef was Govind Armstrong. They made Grilled Spot Prawns with Red Beet sauce, Creme Fraiche Gnocchi and Kale. It all seemed like it would have been delicious! Eli really wanted Ashley to make her gnocchi. And she did. However, when her back was turned, Eli over salted them and then deep fried them instead of sauteing them. Seriously, Colonel Sanders uses less oil to make chicken. He ended up ruining the gnocchi, and Ashely didn't cook the prawns enough because she was worried about overcooking them. So Hedgehog threw her under the bus and she was sent home. I'm so so so sad. I never thought she would win, but I thought top 4 for sure! She was sent home before her time. How can Robbin still be there and not my lovely Ashley? Sometimes the galaxy doesn't make sense.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Festivals are cool, Port-A-Potties are Not

Well kids, it was that time of year again when boys became men and girls became women. was the annual Avocado Festival in Carpinteria. 3 Glorious days of stuffing your face with actually QUALITY festival food. I said it before, but Mexicans can COOK! And the Avocado Festival is their super bowl.

I had to work 2 out of the 3 days this year, so I didn't go balls out like I wanted to. There was so much to taste and I didn't get to sample nearly as much as I wanted. But everything I did eat was amazing to say the least.

I know what you're thinking. "Festival food? Gross." But this isn't actual carnival/festival food. Think of it more as street vendors or the worlds longest taco truck. Everything is made with love and care and with extreme attention to detail. So to start my culinary adventure (at 10 am) I bought some chips and guacamole from the high school cheerleaders, who happen to make the Worlds Largest Bowl of Guacamole. It is an inflatable children's pool loaded with avocado, onions, jalapenos and lime. I'm not really into kitchy hype like that, but seriously its really good guacamole. Also, I was a cheerleader for Carp high and remember waking up at 9am to chop onions and cry. Maybe the secret ingredient is cheerleader tears?

After my guacamole, I went to the old favorite of mine which is the Lions Club's Famous Tri-tip sandwiches. Imagine a french roll loaded with savory, tender tri-tip and smothered in strips of avocado. Oh. My. God. It always hits the spot. I can't even explain it. Its meaty juices soak into the bread and intimately mingle with the avocado just like sluts at a frat party. Did I mention I love avocados?

I also sampled the hand rolled chicken taquitos for the first time this year. VERY good. Probably my new favorite. They used all white meat, which is a little gringo for me, but still good. It was really garlic-y, so of course I liked it. However, I'm still gonna claim that thigh meat with some fat would have been better. The taquito shell was really good. Very crispy and light and perfectly seasoned. It was served with some guacamole that wasn't very good. It was pretty watery and didn't have any kick to it. I think its a crime to make guacamole without any heat. I also had some churros. And well...they were churros. What do you want me to say about it?

One REALLY important part to mention is that Meggy Girl really wanted a funnel cake. I don't blame her. The smell of vanilla funnel cake permeated ever inch of the festival. It smelled so good you could almost see it. Remember in Looney Toons cartoons when someone would put a pie in the window and the scent would slowly drift and then become a hand that beckons people? Ya...the funnel cake was doing that. So we waited about 15 minutes in line to get a funnel cake. It was the only food booth with a line, which I find hilarious. But it was worth the wait. As you can see in the pic, the cashier was almost god-like as he handed the treasure to Megan's humble hands. It was worth the wait.

So to top it all off, of course I ate all of this while downing some Avocado Honey Ale from Island Brew. SO SO SO good. Its like a very light amber ale, but with no hoppy flavor at all. Its very smooth and slightly sweet. As you might have guessed, its made from the honey from avocado blossoms. There isn't any real avocado in it...but I like the avocado creativity.

As for the rest of the evening, the gang and I waited about 45 minutes in line to enter The Palms. If you know the bar I'm talking about, you would laugh. For those of you who do not know what The Palms is, first off, congratulations, you are less white trash than me. Secondly, imagine the dirtiest, dingiest, small town dive bar. Good. Now make it more white trash. That's The Palms. It was fun like always. Its the place where everyone in town flocks to and dances the night away. So all in all, Avocado Fest 2009 was a huge success. Next time, I will have to try the avocado ice cream. Usually McConnels makes it and it tastes like cold, sweet, guacamole. However, this year, Coldstone Creamery made it and apparently it was good. I found this out AFTER the festival was over. Food blogger fail.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Eat at Joe's!

Ok, so I found myself dining at a Santa Barbara staple on Friday. Yes, I ate at Joe's. Joe's is the oldest running restaurant in Santa Barbara, which is cool. I really never thought of eating there. The menu reads like a directory for the frozen food aisle in a grocery store: onion rings, mozzarella sticks, Salisbury steak. It never really jumped out at me as a place that I wanted to dine at. As it turns out, Joe's kinda kicks ass! It achieves everything it is striving to be. Its the place you would take a client if you were a business man in 1962; good strong cocktails and man food. This is a nutrionalist's worst nightmare. This is the kind of restaurant that serves vegetables as a place holder, not as something you would eat. Its total post WWII food, and done well: no frills, no silly garnish. If you are in the mood for American comfort food and booze, this is the place you should go.

I have to admit, I was lame when it came to the booze ordering of my meal. I just wasn't in the mood for a cocktail at the time so I ordered a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (my favorite). I do know from experience that their cocktails are really good! I like the dirty martini with 3 olives. With that being said, I did a better job at ordering my food! The waitress was around 50 years old, and looked like she's worked there forever; a no bullshit type of broad. I could tell that I could trust her judgment. I told her I was a food blogger and that I wanted to eat whatever she thought was the "best of Joe's." She gave me a little wink and said that she knew just what to order.

I was presented with a sandwich that could only be described as a mammoth sized open face french dip. It was a piece of Texas toast with a huge slab of prime rib with au jus and horse radish on the side. It was nestled in between a pathetic salad of chopped iceberg with ranch and a healthy dose of golden french fries. The fries were REALLY good...really potato-y with a crisp outside and soft inside. No soggy fries here. The salad was the equivalent of a frilly piece of don't eat it, you just accept that its there. And the sandwich....oh boy the sandwich. It was great! I've never had prime rib, but I'm pretty sure I was eating great prime rib. It is fatty and juicy and meaty. It squirts blood juice when you pierce it with a fork which makes the piece of toast underneath even more crucial. I grew a pair of testicles while eating this meal. This is serious man food. There is NOTHING feminine about this meal. It was really good and satisfying in its own way. I don't order fare like this often, but on a slightly cold, windy night, this stuff hits the spot. It just goes to show that sometimes you're just in the mood for bloody meat. I give this place an A+. From its classic red checkered tablecloths, to the waiters in monkey suits, and their famous stiff drinks, Joe's Cafe is American food done right; unadorned and simply fabulous.

Click Here for Joe's Cafe!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tastes like Autumn

Ok...I just LOVE autumn. I really do. Not only is my birthday in October, but it has the BEST weather and my favorite veggies too. Autumn is the bomb. You get to wear cute coats, tights, little hats, and boots. Everyone looks adorable. And the best part is that everyone starts winding down, the clock goes back, and people are ready to EAT. You start to get yummy, savory tastes: root veggies, squash, brussel sprouts and nutmeg. Oh man. I just love it.

Anyway, I made the yummiest meal ever. It was all inspired by this delicious walnut oil I got from the farmers market. It is called La Nogalera Walnut Oil. This walnut oil is so bad ass that they use it in the dishes at French Laundry! And we all know Thomas Keller is a bad ass, so ya...I'm gonna use it too.

Well, I've never cooked with walnut oil and so it inspired me to create really cozy dishes. Walnut oil tastes like melted butter and flowers...its perfect for fall. I made an awesome pumpkin pasta sauce, and a roasted fennel and spinach salad.

For the sauce, I deep fried rosemary in olive oil and then removed it to cool. Then I sauteed garlic in the oil until it was golden. Next, dump in a can of pumpkin, a cup of chicken stock, a cup of 1/2 and 1/2, a tablespoon of walnut oil, red chili flakes, salt, garlic pepper, a bay leaf, tons of fresh rosemary, more garlic, and some Italian seasoning and cook for about 10 minutes. Its delicious and tastes like it was difficult to make. With the left over sauce, just thin it out with chicken broth or milk and add some curry powder and now you have a bomb ass soup. Beautiful color, I might add!

The salad I made was a real stroke of genius. It was really amazing. I drizzled walnut oil over fennel and roasted it in the oven for about 30mins. While it was still warm, I put it on top of crisp, cold spinach leaves and added pomegranate seeds, candy walnuts, and goat cheese. For the salad dressing, I used some unsweetened cranberry juice and stirred in a dollop of raspberry jam, salt, rosemary and garlic pepper. I then whisked in the walnut oil until I had a vinaigrette. Seriously, bring this salad to the next pot luck and people will praise you.

And to top it all off, I made some walnut fudge brownies with, of course, the walnut oil and fresh walnuts. I amazed myself last night. Meals like that make me proud of every inch of chub I have on my body. When I pinch my fat, I'm like, "Ya! I KNOW what good food is." It also sends a strong signal to the dudes I go out with that I will not be a cheap date. Take me somewhere niiiiiice. They take one look at me and are like, "Shit. I ain't got enough for a steak house." Aaaah....the single life.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Few Words on Butter....

I woke up craving a nice, tasty English muffin and some dark roast coffee today. Actually, I really just wanted butter. The English muffin is just the receptacle to hold the butter; a delicious utensil with nooks and crannies to snuggle the butter in. Upside: I had a perfect breakie with strong coffee, my muffin with butter, and a little bit of raspberry jam (WITH seeds!) Downside: I can hear myself getting fatter. Literally... I got butter inside my ear. I really wish I was kidding. I was eating my muffin with such fervor and I guess I had some buttery goodness on my fingertips. I absent-mindedly stuck my digit in my ear, scratched around, and low and behold....I have a delicious tasting inner ear infection. Ya...this wont pan out well I'm sure.

Anyway, lets talk some more about butter. I really do love it. I absolutely love love love the fresh butter from the local farmers market. I don't remember the name of the creamery where it is produced, but Ill post that soon. Its a deep golden yellow stick of butter that tastes so good. It is what butter strives to be. Its buttery butter. Its so good that it makes you eat toast. Its so good that you don't want to waste it in any recipe. You just want it on a muffin or bread. Its also awesome for making cream sauces.

What I don't like about butter are all the fat people who like butter. lumps me into a pretty motley crew of people well over the body mass index and with an affinity for collecting miniatures. This is not a pleasant association. I do not like hearing the casual "oh you like butter? You're just like my aunt Mabel who lived in Georgia! She died of a heart attack and left all her money to her cats." Hmmm. Thanks?

One more negative association would be Paula Deen eating deep fried butter. That's just not right.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tongue on Tongue Action!

So on my quest to being a bonifide foodie, I decided it was my duty to start experimenting with eating weird meats. The best way to do this is with tacos. Mexicans can make a shoe taste great. Anyway, I have built up a pretty serious relationship with Salvador, the owner of El Buen Gusto and he keeps calling me an honorary Mexican, which is a huge compliment for me. He says for me to truly leave my Gringo past, I need to eat what he calls "the good stuff." He told me awhile ago that tongue was the easiest to eat and most people like it. So on my lunch break yesterday, Megan and I went to El Buen Gusto and I ordered 2 fish tacos (the old stand by) and one taco de lengua. Before I get into the tongue, let me just tell you that Buen Gusto has THE BEST fish tacos of all time. Its deep fried tilapia on two corn tortillas with tomatoes and lettuce and a blob of fresh sour cream. I always smother it in their amazing avocado and serrano salsa. Its a hug for your mouth. It seriously doesn't get any better than that. I'm going to be bold enough to say that I could eat those tacos everyday for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy. Its just that good. Moving on...

So tongue really isn't bad! Its just the mental part that's hard to get over. I don't know why it was so tough for me. I eat chicken hearts and beef liver. Whats the big deal? Tongue is just creepy I guess....and cows don't brush their teeth so its also a little gross. It didn't taste bad and it didn't even look weird, but it was just difficult to eat. It looks just like fatty stewed beef. It tasted like pot roast with a hint of venison. Megan even tried a bit and she didn't think it was bad either. As for eating it again, I think I'm gonna pass. It just wasn't that good and I'm curious about eating the other "good stuff." One of the guys in the restaurant recommended to have their chitlins taco. I'm probably gonna try that next. It sounded really good. Its crispy fried chicken innards. I can see that being more my style.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Top Chef Night

Ok so tonight was a Top Chef Night. I'm not even gonna talk about what I ate because NOTHING is more important then TC. Ok so here is the recap/my thoughts on the whole thing.

Let me just start off by saying I HATE HATE HATE Mike Isabella. Mike: what is your deal? You are not a bad ass. You are a total frado.*
*frado - an ugly guy who thinks he's good-looking
sentence: "Bill thinks all the girls love him, but they all know he's a frado."

Ok so it starts off with the Quickfire challenge and the judge is a Tracy Gold look-a-like named Michelle Bernstein. The contestants have to make a dish which represent their angel side and their devil side. In my opinion, NO ONE did a good job. They just made whatever they felt like and had a convoluted story as to why that represented devil or angel. It was all very lame. For example, Eli, the one who looks half man and half hedge hog, made a scallop with radish and greens for angel side and a scallop with risotto and butter for his devil side. WTF? You just were hungry for scallops. That has nothing to do with devils or angels.

The two dishes that were worthy of note were my girlfriend Ashley's dish (YAY ASHLEY!) and Brian's dish. Ashley was really focused this week. I'm so proud of her. Her dish looked good and actually made sense. For her angel side she had scallop crudo and for her devil side she made seared scallop on a bed of puttanesca sauce. Raw scallop to be a light, airy angel, and whore sauce for the devil. Good job. Brian Voltaggio (the one that looks like an Abercrombie robot) made a dish that was very pretty but apparently tasted like shit. He is too boring to listen to, so I'm not even sure what was in it. One side was a pure white sorbet and the other side was a pitch black chocolate thang. I would hang it on a wall, but that's about it.

So the real kicker is that Robin, the old lady, total wins the quickfire challenge cause she talks about how she had cancer. Cancer is the new celebrity. You mention it anywhere and you get the royal treatment. She makes an apple crisp and an apple/fennel salad for her dish and apparently its amazing in its simplicity. If I can make it, it shouldn't win....just sayin! Anyway, this makes me happy inside because Mike Isabella cant stand her. So anything that pisses him off is good in my book. Robin is weird, Ill give him that, but I still hate him more. Robin reminds me of a weird hybrid of Amy Sedaris from Strangers with Candy, mixed in with a lesbo P.E. teacher who speaks openly about her menses. Creepy.

Anyway, after all that nonsense, Penn and Teller come on the show and do a magic trick. They then slow it down and show us how they performed the magic trick (which was more confusing then the trick) and announced that the contestants had to deconstruct popular dishes for the next challenge. Pretty cool idea.

So Ash, who looks like the comedian Jim Gaffigan, had to deconstruct Shepard's pie. It looked like shit. He under cooked his meat and used peas instead of potatoes and had some weird stuffed tomato. It just didn't make sense.

Ashley (yay Ashley!) made an amazing deconstructed pot roast out of seared strip loin, potato puree, crispy shallots, and carrot form. She is really nobel. She never talks shit and whenever she talks about how poor she was growing up, I just want to hold her. Sigh! Needless to say, she was in the winners circle tonight, and almost won!

Bryan (aka Abercrombie robot) made deconstructed tuna pastrami reuben, warm mayo, shallots, rye, Gruyere cheese, with fried capers. Honestly, HOW DOES THAT TASTE LIKE A REUBEN?? Wheres the cabbage?? How the f does cornbeef taste like tuna? I would have sent his ass home.

Eli, the hedge hog, made a deconstructed sweet and sour pork. He made tempura pork roulette, broccoli puree, sweet and sour sauce, broccoli salad. All the judges liked it. It looked really gross though.....and I don't like him.

Jennifer, the stepford wife, made a fake lasagna out of flat iron steak, mascarpone bechemel, tomato sauce and parmesan crisp. It looked really good and apparently the judges liked it as well.

Kevin, who looks like Santa Claus mated with a red head Cupiee doll, made the best dish, and the winning dish. He made a mole negra out of chicken, Mexican coffee, chili flake, pumpkin and fig jam. He had me at fig jam. I bet it was amazing. All the judges paid him very high compliments and were shocked at how good it was. Impressive naughty Santa!

Lauraine, the caterer with a soccer mom hair cut, was lame. She isn't even worth blogging about. She made some soggy ass fake fish and chips. Really Lauraine?? You got the EASY dish and you still fucked it up?? I think that caterers shouldn't be allowed on the show. I have no respect for caterers. Caterers are stay at home moms who are bored with a decent peanut butter pie recipe. Just run the booster clubs bake sale and stay home.

Robin coasted on her easy win during the quickfire challenge and made a pretty dish but I bet it tasted like crap. She was supposed to make clam chowder but made some fried clams and a flan out of cream and celery which looked like condensed Campbell's soup. Gross.

Ron, the voodoo king, just made paella. He was supposed to deconstruct it...but he didn't. All was lost in translation. Needless to say, he went home. Later on, the judges had food poisoning due to his voodoo magic skills. Just kidding. Heheheee!

Well the last two d-bags to write about are the two Michaels. I hate both...I really do. Mike Isabella, who jumps back and forth between claiming he's from Jersey and Greece, made a real shitty dish. Apparently he doesn't know what eggs Florentine is! Instead of talking about how awesome of a chef you are and getting lame little star tattoos, why don't you actually read a cookbook???! That way, you might actually be able to back up your mouth that you are ALWAYS running. Pretty much he made spanakopita with a poached egg. Whatever.

Which leaves me with Michael Voltaggio. Oh Michael V....where do i begin? You like to think of yourself as the "bad boy of Top Chef" don't you? With your pierced ears, tattooed arms, and "devil may care" attitude. Too bad you look like a drug addicted, pervert, surfer from 1992. Ya....get a new hair do and stop puttin your hat on backwards like a dad. You can cook...Ill give you that. But you need to settle down on being the sexy bad ass. Television already has a sexy bad ass and his name is Tony Bourdain thank you very much! Followed closely up by Adam Richmond from Man vs. Food. So we don't need anymore food related man whores. Anyway, he had to make a deconstructed ceaser salad and I guess he did a good job. He had a brioche toast, chicken wing, romaine leaf, and a blob of gelled salad dressing that you had to break open like an egg yolk. Pretty cool...but already done before.

All in all, a great Top Chef Night! I'm super glad that Ashley kicked ass and that Ron got booted off. Now we just need to get rid of Lauraine and Mike Isabella!!!!

Whew! I'm glad I got that all off my chest before going to bed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Girl Friends Cafe!

So today was a GREAT day. Today Diana, Megan and I met up for happy hour downtown in Santa Barbara. We are calling it, "Girl Friends Cafe," which is a real thing mind you. I saw an ad for it on Craigslist about 6 months ago and I can't stop myself from saying it. It is now my random filler word. Instead of saying something to the effect of "Oh you!" I now just shrug my shoulders and say "Girlfriends Cafe!" with the same inflection of someone saying "Cest La Vie!" Ya...I know it doesn't make sense...but I can't help it. Anyway, since its such a great saying, we now dubbed any happy hour meet up a "Girl Friends Cafe Night" or GCN for short.

Anyway.....we went to Chase Bar and Grill for our GCN meeting. I really wanted a Peartini, but they didnt have any pear vodka or pear liquor so the bartender, George (who we call G Spot), recomended a Blueberry Martini. I tried it and I would vote against it. It tastes like it should be served from a trashcan in plastic red cups. It was so sweet and tasted like Kool-Aide. NOT GOOD. After my fail of a martinni I went for an old stand by, the Cosmo. He did make a mean Cosmo...not too sweet or too Triple Sec-y.

We dined on pesto cheesy bread and shared the penne cabonara. It was real good in that total Italian-American way. The bread was real cheesy and greasy with a nice garlic flavor. Sometimes Ive noticed that restaurants seem to burn their garlic, but this was not the case. It was just good. Something you would NOT want to eat on a date.

The carbonera was suprisingly good. That sauce is real tricky to make and can be so gross and too janky. At Chase it was totally pleaseant; nice and salty, creamy, and a bit of sweetness from the peas. No complaints.
The highlights would be that G Spot gave us a great discount because we are cute...duh. AND, Mr. John Palminterri met us for GCN night! So it was GREAT cocktails, GREAT company, and ok food. After John left (he is a busy man after all), we got to talking with G Spot and he really wanted some gelato at the icecream joint two doors down. Of course we wanted some too, so we got some and brought him back some as well. This really secured our spot on being favorite bar flies and recieving furthur discounts. Needless to say, he offered to buy us all drinks. We settled on sharing a shot of Sambuca, which was perfect. All and all, it was a great evening. I definetly need to be wary of this food blog thing and perhaps rejoin the gym! Tomorrow is definetly a salad night!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Me Want Food.

Welcome! So I recently discovered that 90% of my conversations are about food, drink, the foodnetwork (if it can still be called that...NOT), and of course TOP CHEF (I love you, Ashley)! So, this in my mind makes me an expert, which is how you found yourself here on my new food blog. So here is my blog devoted to delicious things I put in my mouth (stop it, Lindsay! You too, Tim.) and any other food related gibberish. So let us begin with the daily ritual of me telling you what I'm eating for dinner.

Sooo....this isn't too exciting. I'm kinda in the mood for something janky (melted cheese) and something simple and we are kinda low on food in the fridge. So I'm thinking of making twice baked potatoes (TBP) Iron Chef style (using the random ingredients in the house to make a meal). So I'm going with sharp cheddar, diced ham, broccoli, cauliflower, and chives...and if I feel like getting wild, some jalapenos. Nothing that shows off my obvious chef skills. Although, I started brainstorming a chef worthy TBP and here's what I'm coming up with:
1. Blue Cheese
2. Pancetta
2. Chives
3. Thyme
4. Dried Cranberries

I dunno....I could see it being REALLY good. Sweet and salty and still cheesy. This should be a Top Chef Quickfire Challenge. That's it....I'm calling Tom Colicchio.

Anyway, Ill write later and post pics of my TBP with a frosty Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. here it is. Behold the glory of the Jacket Potato (AKA Twice Baked Potato). Tell me that doesn't look good! It was awesome. Its like eating Applebee's at home but better; all of the gluttony without staring at childhood obeseity induced diabetes. It was everything I was craving. Cheesy goodness swashed down with a frosty, hoppy beer, accompined with yelling at the tv screen because Taylor (Tay Tay) from the Rachel Zoe Project doesn't understand that she is Rachel Zoe's EMPLOYEE! Dear Taylor: you are a spoiled bitch with a sweet job. Get are too blonde. Anyway, it was a good night.

Side note: I need to learn how to garnish my plates so they don't look so sad. My plating is a hair above jail I guess that makes it dorm food??