Saturday, February 27, 2010

Off Shore Tavern- Morena Blvd

Random lunchtime eatings landed us at Offshore Tavern.  Its on the Morena Blvd that runs parallel to the 5 north freeway.  Ive been here a few times for drinks but we never ate here before.  Prices are run of the mill to a bit higher than I would have expected to see at a bar. Here is the link to their official website: Offshore Tavern.  You can see their menu offerings, daily specials, events, map, etc. 

Service was kind of slow to be frank.  Our waitress forgot about us it seemed after giving us the menu even though it didnt seem that crowded yet.  Hmmmm. Since we were there already we stuck it out.  We ordered the following items: Chinese Chicken salad, Chicken Pesto sandwich, House Salad and the Diablo sandwich.  They let you choose tater tots as a side item with burgers and sandwiches in lieu of macaroni salad or fries. 

Entree 1: Diablo Sandwich- grilled with shaved beef inside, spicy aoli, cheese and something they call jalepeno "bottlecaps" inside.  Hubby opted for tater tots and got them smothered since it wasnt unhealthy enough on its own.  As you can see, smothered includes cheese and bacon on top of the taters.  Sandwich was actually very good.  It wasnt too spicy, beef had good flavor and was tender, bread was grilled nicely and not very greasy at all.  I cant recall the kind of bread it was though since hubby only let me have a few bites.  At 10.95 plus another buck for the upgraded smothering of the tots, it was on the pricier side for a sandwich and fries but still tasty. 

Entree 2: Chicken Pesto sandwich- I never got to taste this since it was my co-workers choice and she was very hungry.  She finished the whole thing so she must have liked it.  Appeared to be made from the same bread as the first dish.  Also came with tater tots.  I think this was about 9 bucks although I cant find it on the online menu.

Entree 3: Chinese Chicken salad- mixed greens, carrots, cabbage, fried wonton bits, oranges, chicken and green onions with a sesame vinaigrete.  I didnt care for the dressing as I felt that it was too thick and syrupy for my liking.  Some of the greens were bitter and it didnt have enough chicken in my opinion.  Portion was a decent size but my hungry friend finished it all so it wasnt enormous.  At 8.95 it was just alright in my humble opinion. 

My advice?  They have good happy hour and taco tuesday deals.  Go then and test the waters that way.  Parking isnt the greatest here btw.  They do have a covered patio area that is kind of like a sunroom style.  The smothering of the taters was maybe a bit overkill as it was just too heavy. 

xx world

Friday, February 26, 2010

Instant Gumbo ala Tony Cachere

Ever since seeing this post by fellow food blogger Homesick Texan (Chicken and Sausage Gumbo), I have been wanting to make gumbo.  I bought all the ingredients such as sausage, chicken, bell peppers, etc and finally got ready to cook gumbo.  No cast iron pot.  No file powder. No this, no that.  Dang.  Luckily, I had ran across this experimental item which is a gumbo mix by Tony Cachere brand, usually known for their seasonings and sauces.  I bought a box since it was on sale and figured it would be worth a hoot.  Here is what the box looks like:
I know that the Iowa Meat Farms on Mission Gorge carries this as well as the dirty rice and red beans and rice version of this mix.  In order to jazz it up a touch, I chopped up red bell pepper and celery to brown in the pot.  I also chopped sausage cubed and peeled/ deveined shrimp for jumping into the pool.  I waited until the gumbo was almost done to add the shrimp since I had smallish sized shrimp and didnt want them to rubberize up.  The verdict?  Decent.  I added the amount of water it called for (4 cups) but to me, it came out bland.  I happen to have the Tony Cachere creole seasonings so I dashed a bit into the pot.  Better, but then it was too soupy for my preferences.  I made a little thickening solution and voila, texture was improved instantly.  I was impressed by the volume of food produced by one modest sized box of gumbo mix.  For what it is, it was ok.  It would be a good fix for someone who either doesnt know how/ doesnt want to make gumbo from bare bones recipe and wait hours or doesnt want to/ cant pay for restaurant entree gumbo.  Again, camera is kinda day I will replace my smartphone and my shoot and point camera. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

San Diego Desserts- College area

Let me preface this entry by acknowledging a few things.  This place is co-owned by a colleague of mine.  Also I do not have much of a sweet tongue and so do not often seek out bakeries.  I find great beauty in the skill it takes to make ornate baked goods, but personally dont consume much variety in them.  Today, hubby and I were in the area and I had a strange cookie craving after seeing the ridiculously expensive but tasty looking Barefoot Contessa chocolate cocoa cookies with white chocolate chunk mix at Iowa Farms market off Mission Gorge.  9.99 for a box of cookie mix????  Uh not for this girl.  Back to San Diego desserts of course...

Today, I was looking for my friend but was told he was in LA with the other owners showcasing their cupcakes at a Food Network office for an upcoming show called Cupcake Wars.  Imagine the honor of being sought out by TFN to compete in a cupcake battle when cupcakes are the new rage.  The nice staff offered us a complimentary cupcake similar to the one being demonstrated to the network people today.  There was a Red Velvet, Lemon, German Chocolate, and Chocolate with custard cupcake on display- we got one of the Lemon and one of the German.  See pictures below:

The lemon cupcake was heavenly. The frosting was kind of glazey in texture but a thicker glaze.  It was sweet and lended well to the cupcake itself.  The cupcake itself slightly resembled "an angel food cake with the texture of birthday cake'--thats from my husband btw.  There was also a filling at the bottom that was glorious.  Hubby says that the filling was like lemon custard--not the creamy type.  It tasted like lemon pie filling with both sweet and tart flavors.  Yummy but the filling fell out of the cupcake after the first bite.      

Let me tell you about the German Chocolate cupcake. I actually think its more like a Black Forest variety and you will see why in a second. Whip cream on top with choc shavings, chocolate flavor cupcake filled with glazed cherries and whipped cream thats also on top. Holy cow. The cupcake is not too sweet but just right in flavor and super soft. Whip cream was a good balance to the cherries which were sweet and slightly tart just like perfectly riped cherries tend to be. SOOO good.

I also got a white chocolate macademia cookie. It was chewy and crispy at the same time and as big as my hand. Texture was perfect and there seemed to be a hint of vanilla in the cookie. It would have been perfect except for the shreds of coconut in the cookie. The coconut seemed to have been toasted before being put into the batter which would have been appreciated by someone who actually likes coconut. For me, its worse than onions so I really couldnt eat more than a bite of the cookie because of the dreaded coconuts. Hubby really enjoyed the cookie on the whole though...

In the past, I have also tried their Monte Bianco cake, which is both white and milk chocolate inspired and beautiful in and of itself, some cake piece with a fabulous chocolate ganache covering and some of their savory food items.  Im told that they have a brunch and dinner and their new chef is amazing.  I cant attest to the savory food currently as I havent been here since the new chef was hired but another coworker of mine has gone their recently and raved about the food and wine.  They have a connection with a local winery and do joint tours,etc.  Only drawback is the parking being off ECB and College.  Here is a link to their official site: San Diego Desserts


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Yum Cha Cafe- Linda Vista

Today, we went to Fashion Valley mall to get a ring fixed and cleaned.  After seeing the excess and money at that mall, I immediately craved some cheap eats in the nearby Linda Vista area.  Yum Cha Cafe has been reviewed by others but since I cant remember who out of my favorite bloggers did so, I will take the opportunity here and share my thoughts on my food choices today.  Here is a link to their company site: Yum Cha Cafe

I thought I was taking hubby here for the first time, but it turns out I took him here before.  Drats.  Since we were there already, we picked out about 6 items to graze on together.  My food pickiness keeps me from trying the full range of food choices but we had enough for a full lunch and leftovers.  This place gets full very quickly too FYI.  We usually order the dim sum items although they also have roast duck/ chicken/ pig and soup/ noodle/ rice items. 

So the item on the left is the sugar cane shrimp and the next is the rice shrimp roll.  The stick is an actual sugar cane stick piece which is fun to gnaw on for a minute after you eat the shrimp on top.  Decent amount of shrimp in each piece but the outside wasnt as crispy as I would have wanted.  They dont serve the traditional sauce as other dim sum places do with the rice roll but it was decently fresh and soft.  Whole shrimp pieces in the roll.  I definitely got my shrimp fix today for sure...

This was some kind of shrimp mixture with eggplant slabs as well as some rice wrapped "beef stomach".  Hubby wanted the beef stomach but due to language difficulties, we got this.  It appeared to taste like some kind of har-gow in wonton shape.  This one wasnt that great- something was crunchy inside in a bad way.  The eggplant was good.  It came with its own sauce.  The eggplant was cooked a little too long and was most likely the chinese eggplant in variety.  Seemed to have been a black bean style of sauce btw.

The last 2 items were Pork Shu-mai and Wrapped Rice with Chicken.  I love the wrapped rice personally although I have also had it in bigger portions and with boiled egg inside.  Theirs is smaller but cheap and has some savory chicken tucked inside.  They reheat very well FYI.  The shu-mai was too "porky" in our opinion although I never thought there was such a thing.  Im not the biggest fan of shu mai to begin with but hubby is--he was disappointed for sure in this item.

4/6 aint so bad I guess.  The only quip I have about this place is that they dont have a great sauce option on the table or behind the counter.  No free beverages here either but it is a good cheap dim sum fix. 


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rambertos- spring valley

In San Diego, mexican taco shops are a dime a dozen.  Sometimes a girl craves a good rolled taco. Today, I want to tell you guys about a wonderful rolled taco from Rambertos.  They use the real guacamole, not American style.  Guac has tomato chunks that you can see.  They dont cheap out on the beef inside the tacos--no ground beef here! I also love their hot sauce.  The only stinker is that depending on the person at the window, they can get stingy on the amount.  Plus they only accept cash.  They are open 24 hours however but service was painfully slow when we went there once after a late night out.  See pic below:

They dont overwhelm the customer with lettuce either.  Tacos were always nicely fried with all residual grease drained off.  It appears to have cheddar cheese shreds which have always been generous as well as the guac.  At 3.89 for 5 of these, it is a bit costlier than the other places in the 1 mile vicinity, but quality of ingredients made it justifiable for me. 

The other item we got this day was the pollo asada fries.  It was decent, but I usuallly like this treat to have simply seasoned pollo bites.  Sadly, theirs was seasoned/ marinated more than I prefer.  I also like the shoestring fries versus the thicker medium size variety.  I like the pollo asada fries from Robertos off ECB and the 15 freeway better.  Too bad we cant eat these things all the time! ='(

There is no inside eating area.  A few lackluster plastic tables outside and a drive thru as well as walk up window to order from.  The way it looked from driving past caught my eye and not in a good way but one night after a rare bar/ club night, we saw the 24 hour sign and took a shot.  Figured the alcohol in our stomachs would kill any germs.  I havent tried anything else here like a burrito but they do have a decent selection.  I basically come here for the 3 rolled tacos for 2.99.  Give it a whirl and let me know what your experience has been or is. 

xx kiddos

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cafe 21- Adams Ave

My sister came into town this weekend for the wedding of our old friends.  To continue the reunion theme, I squirreled together a reunion between my sister and her ex boyfriend from a long time ago since he and I still remained friends.  I guess that I'm a romantic at heart so I couldnt resist trying to do a little matchmaking of the rekindling of an old flame.  He suggested that we meet at a cool brunch spot Cafe 21.  Here is a link to their site: Cafe 21

Its located in a little strip mall next to a liquor store.  My friend who lived in Oregon for a spell said that it reminded him of the kind of cafes you would see over there.  Small, local, cool dishes, fresh ingredients, etc.  There is kind of a zen vibe in the eatery and I would say an eclectic mix of patrons.  The place could probably fit about 30 folks at a time although that is a wild guess since I didnt bother to count tables/ chairs.  There is also a cool wooden table outside that is kind of a gliding bench set.  I didnt trust my stomach to be able to endure a constant swinging motion. 

It was all of our first time eating here.  I was able to snag a parking spot by serendipitous luck and also by asserting my right of way.  After much consternation, we were able to choose our pickings.  Im not a coffee person but my sis and friend were thrilled with the house coffee.  Free refills apparently.  We were told by the guy I believe is the owner of the place that the coffee was organic Costa Rican blend.  They drank it black with a tad bit of sugar and had refills as well.  Our server Gregorio was fun and helpful.  I thought that it took awhile to get our orders, but then I reconsidered my qualms since its made to order.  We ordered the Salmon Benedict, Sausage omelet and Mushroom omelets respectively. 

Here is the Salmon Benedict which is a weekend special item.  The presentation is lovely and plates are a bit rustic-cool looking. The bread that accompanies all breakfast items is apparently locally baked in Escondido and a mix between white and wheat.  Hearty bread I would say, but was very good.  The salmon was flaked into large chunks in the patty below the egg.  It is mixed with a potato blend that almost tastes like mashed potato with chunks of potatoes inside.  The flower is apparently edible but just tastes like flowers.  The hollandaise sauce was a more liquid version but still tasty.  Sister really liked her dish. 

Here is an up close of the benny.  I just cant handle runny yolks so I wouldnt want to order this dish on my own but would recommend to anyone who likes eggs benedict overall. 

Here is what my sausage omelet looks like.  Its cool because they cook them to order in an individual griddle pan that gets started on the range and finishes setting up in the oven.  Not low calorie fare by any means but sometimes you need something that will just bliss you out.  Its served on this cool marbley round platter that adds to the ambience of your order.  All omelets come with a choice of side: potato pancake, fresh fruit, salad or grilled proscuitto.  Potato pancake seemed to have some cheese mixed into the potatoes...extra indulgent, I would have preferred home potatoes or roasted taters with rosemary or chives.  The omelet was good.  Very filling and actually I only ended up eating half.  Good amount of tomatoes and sausage chunks.  The only other bad part is that they dont have condiments on the table and you have to ask for them like a whiny customer. 

Just in case you wanted to see it up close.  Doesnt it remind you of a pan pizza?  That is my first thought. 

Here is the way that the hub area of the restaurant looked like.  There is the counter where the orders come out of.  They have an extensive selection of coffees and teas.  On the counter, they have a platter of fresh baked cookies that we didnt have the room to try out.  Apparently they are shortbread cookies with a fruit jam in the middle and topped with shredded coconut on top.  The server said that they might consider making a few without coconuts next time.  Well...since you twisted my arm!

Everyone was friendly here from the owner to the servers.  Portions are sizable and you will not leave hungry.  Not gigantor like some other restaurants mind you but I was able to take home half of my omelet after surmising that I couldnt finish another bite.  I recommend that you have everyone order something different and play the sharing game...

xxoo kiddos

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Phil's BBQ- Point Loma

Yes I know that everyone has been to Phil's.  Yes I know that it has been yelped, blogged and reviewed widely.  As I mentioned on a previous post, a coworker and I thought we would be able to see Man versus Food filming there as I heard through the grapevine.  First they said that he was filming at 545, then they told me noon.  When I got there at noon, they told us he wouldnt be there until 2.  We didnt want to take a chance so we just decided to eat anyways.  I wasnt feeling meaty much so I opted for my first time tast of the veggie burger at Phil's.  Of course I had to get the fries.  Lucky for me, coworker got the onions rings so I could sneak a few into my mouth!  Going to a bbq joint for veggie burger probably is the logical equivalent of going to Fry's for lacy bra.  Sometimes you just have to say eff it.  Go against the grain. 

Lets start with the burger even though the fries are my favorite part of this place.  I got the bbq veggie burger with the sauce on the side.  Apparently burgers take longer to cook than ribs or their other offerings.  The burger came topped with one onion ring and cheese melted on.  I have to say, nicely charred on the grill, well seasoned, tasty patty! I can totally see myself ordering this again.  The scrumptious.  The remind me of In&Out fries but bigger.  I love the handcut lightly fried kind....their ranch also rocks.  Even dipping the fries in their bbq sauce was yummy. 

Here is a cross section of the veggie burger.  I would say that even non vegetarians would enjoy this. 

Onion rings.  Before you hear my review on this, keep in mind I detest onions.  If I find them in my guacamole, I pick each one out before I eat it.  I only use green onions in my recipes.  However, I will occasionally try an onion ring or two since I love onion rings when the onion is very thinly sliced and I can barely taste it through the batter.  I love their batter...crunchy, not bready and too overwhelming.  Loved the onion rings...especially with ranch! They may have looked burnt but they werent.  Crispy outside but not hard or bland.  The small order of the rings were very generous as well as the small order of the fries. 

Did anyone hear about the man vs food coming to town last week? 

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dupars- Point Loma

A valued coworker was resigning our office due to office politics and other issues.  So we chose to send her off with a hearty breakfast at Du-Par's.  Not only was it my first time there but I had only learned about its existence several days before.  Long story short, we had gone to Phils BBQ to catch a glimpse of the Man Vs Food show that was allegedly filming there last week.  If anyone knows if he ever showed, feel free to comment on that.  I will be doing a post on Phil's BBQ soon from a different perspective as I'm sure its been blogged many times over. 

They serve you a free helping of their "famous" banana bread while you wait for your order.  It was pretty good and had the sugar toppings on the crust.  They sell it by the loaf as well for about 4 bucks at the counter.  The premise of this place is that it is an old school coffee shop known for their pies, fresh homemade ingredients, etc.  They even have a souvenir menu from several decades ago where the food was pennies basically.  Here is a link to their website for menu, story, locations, etc. Du-Pars website

I ordered the veggie burger and fries (yes it was 8 in the morning), one of us ordered the Denver omelet, the other ordered bacon avocado and jack cheese omelet.  We will start with my order since that is the one I can comment most on. 

The veggie burger is basically a no frills simple choice.  I quote the menu directly when I write: "veggie patty with thousand island dressing and cheddar cheese"".  I believe it was a processed wheat bun and came with a side of fixins i.e. tomatoes, pickles, etc.  Had it not been the first meal of the day, its simplicity would have been disappointing.  The veggie patty was pretty high quallity with bits of corn, peas, carrots, and brown rice inside.  Everything was cooked nicely with grill marks and fries were reminiscent of the freezer variety--NOT the hand cut as promised on their website.  Their ranch was quite tasty though...probably made in-house?  Cost= 8.95 

My male coworker got this Denver omelet with sausage instead of ham.  Looked to be about a 2 egg omelet.  He only let me swipe one piece of sausage.  I liked that the size of the sausage pieces were decent instead of little crumblets.  It had a nice bite to it as well.  He ate it all and seemed to be happy with it.  According to the menu, it was 10.95.  Omelets come with choice of toast. 

This is what the Avo-Jack and bacon omelet.  She ate every single bite and seemed to enjoy.  All the omelets will run you 10.95 and come with toast as I mentioned.  I couldnt say anything else about this dish...sorry. 

So overall here are my thoughts on this place.  Meah.  A little pricey for the food quality.  I didnt try the baked goods- since that is supposed to be one of the main things they are known for, it might be a game changer.  I probably wouldnt go back unless I had a coupon or everyone else wanted to go there desperately and I was the only holdout.  The service was very attentive and the waiters all wear nice old fashioned uniforms.  Also they made an error on the order and fixed it quickly and without being snarky.  The parking sucks b/c the surrounding hotel commandeered all the spots.  Also a stupid limo company seems to have stolen all the curb parking spots.  By the way, the donuts on the counter looked FABULOUS.  Im going to try one sometime since they are as big as my entire hand with fingers spread out. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

One Pot Rice Meal

As part of my homage to korean food traditions ala my childhood, I have decided to revisit this dish.  It is kind of the Korean version of a crockpot style, one pot meal...made in a rice cooker.  I dont think my mom invented it but then again, I have never seen it in any K-food restaurant menu either.  My mom's version could probably most accurately be called Korean Bean Sprout rice.  I have taken it one step further and jazzed it up.  Brown rice instead of the traditional white.  Ready to go bean sprouts in lieu of the usual by the pound sprouts which require about a half hour of extra prep due to having to wash and trim the ends.  I have also added ground turkey which has to be browned up in a separate pan first to ensure appropriate texture and cookedness. 

Isnt my rice cooker the cutest?  It was a gift from my mom since I was stll using this cheapo one from college.  I love it cuz it has a setting for brown rice, mixed rice and porridge as well as the regular white rice.  It is completely in Japanese so it took me forever to figure out how to use it...between you and me, I randomly push buttons until it points to the brown rice setting and then I push COOK.  One day, one day.  So I measured out two cups brown rice, rinsed, added appropriate water.  Then I threw in a healthy handful and a half of the ready to go sprouts and kinda crammed it in there--you can add as little or much as you want, depending on the size of your rice cooker.  Mine leans toward the small end so I couldnt add as much as I would have normally wanted.  I added chopped green onions and just threw them in there too for extra flavor.  Then I browned about a quarter pound of ground turkey with just S&P.  Im not a big meat person so that is enough for me for the entire pot.  Dump that sucker in too, right on top of the rice grains, water, sprouts, and onions.  My rice cooker takes 2 hours for the brown rice so I had to go and busy myself for a few hours.

This is what you will see when you open the lid.  It doesnt look like much but just wait.  Make sure you mix the rice, sprouts, and meat around thoroughly to spread the goodness.  Im going to portion off the contents and freeze them so I can just reheat later.  It should stand up to the freezer and microwave later on since the sprouts arent cooked to mushiness. 

This is the final version of the rice bowl.  My mom usually makes a mix of soy sauce, sesame oil and korean paprika in a separate bowl hat you spoon onto you rice and mix it all around.  Im lazy and frankly was too hungry and impatient to care so I just threw some soy sauce (I usually only use low sodium soy), sesame oil drizzles, and a dash of chinese hot chili oil cause I'm spicy like that. 

The beauty of this dish is in its simplicity.  You taste each ingredient so you want to use good ingredients.  Only minimal seasonings really if you think about it.  And everything goes nicely with each other and you end up feeling full without feeling oily or just "too much".  Do it now. 

Oh yeah, and happy valentines day too. 
xx kiddos

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Quasi Korean New Year

I remember when I was younger.  New Years always meant some kind of party with my parents friends and their kids.  The kids were all like cousins actually which was nice, since my immediate family has been the only blood relatives I have had in the states.  We would say the new year's greeting which roughly translates to something like "may the New Moon bring you many blessings" or at least my broken Korean translation of it.  We would eat rice cake soup with sprinkled on egg omelet, seaweed and for one of my friends--american cheese!  It sounds gross but the cheese mix in actually is actually pretty tasty.  My mom would make me my favorite fish fry which is cod slices dipped in flour and egg and fried up.  In lieu of cod, my nostalgia brings me to fried fish sausage cooked in the same manner. 

I dont know which other cultures eat fish sausage but apparently it is an acquired taste.  Hubby doesnt really care for it, but he has a very open palate.  My middle America, meat and potatoes friends usually dont even want to try it and when they have, they couldnt get over the fish sausage idea.  I used to eat this stuff by itself like string cheese! They come in different sizes and come individually wrapped as well.  There are also a few variations of the sausage as well but they are ready to eat right out of the packaging.  I just picked up the largest one...more bang for my buck! Take a gander:

This is the packaging.  I think it was about 16 ounces.  It comes wrapped in a protective plastic casing that you have to peel off before you eat or cut up. 

I slice them on the diagonal for several reasons: for more batter surface area, pretty factor, wider cooking area, etc. 

For extra flavor, texture and looks, I like throwing chopped scallions into the egg mix and spooning a bit of the onions onto each sausage piece in the fryer. 

So I used about three large eggs for the egg batter.  All it needs is a little S&P and the green onions to boot. 

Dredge the sausage in the flour.  A light dusting is fine but coat it evenly or else the egg wont stick right. You WANT the egg to stick as much as possible as the sausage's smooth not-so-porous surface tends to have the egg wanting to slide right off. 

So you coat in flour, bath in the egg onion mix and lay in a non-stick pan with a shallow covering of oil.  Please take the extra time to spoon some onions onto the sausage once the little monsters hit the pan.  Let  them brown up nicely because the egg will do a pretty puff up thing.  Obviously you want to flip these suckers once they tan up a bit. 

Finished product.  My camera kind of uglies the presentation.  It really is yummy and a nice salty snack.  Eat it warmed up though.  You salty savory people will definitely like this...enjoy!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

RB&R fix (Red beans and rice)

Yesterday's rain brought several things along with it.  Nasty traffic, free sprinklers, and leaves on the streets.  It brought me the worst craving for creole food as well.  The worst.  I could not go get any food since I am made of sugar and would have melted in the rain, so I had to satisfy my craving by researching where and what I would order today with sunnier skies.  I decided to fill my RBR cravings at Bud's Creole Cafe in Tierrasanta.  This was my first time ever to frequent this joint in this location or its previous placement in Little Italy (or at least I think it was in Little Italy).  I had read the yelp reviews so I felt like I was prepared with my order.  The parking is of course sparse but I went after lunchtime so I found front row space. 

I walked in and all of a sudden, couldnt decide what I wanted! The reviews made it sound like this was the kind of place where the staff was very laid back and cool.  I kinda felt an annoyed vibe from the guy when I started asking about some of the menu items...and it didnt get better when I asked for a sample of the RBR and gumbo.  He only gave me the sample of gumbo in the end actually.  Still it was enough for me to decide that I was going to choose the RBR this time and wait on the gumbo. 

I ordered the red beans and rice platter with andouille sausage and caesar salad to go.  When I got my order, I was disheartened at the portion size.  It costed about 10 bucks for my food so I kind of expected a larger size container.  See for yourself:

So here is the order.  The bowl isnt very big despite the picture...the wooden surrounding area is actually a small tray, not a kitchen table.  The sausage was seasoned decently but wasnt very juicy IMO.  Plus I feel like that being an entree size, the sausage should have been more plentiful as well.  Also seemed to have too much rice versus bean ratio but that may just be my bias as well.  Flavor was good...creamy and nicely spiced with whole beans as well.  You can taste the fat from the hock that it was cooked in...but that is a gooood thing.  Overall, small portion was disappointing and too little bean/ sausage.  I knew it let me down when I didnt want to finish my when something is so good that you eat till your gut busts!

So in case anyone cares, this is the accompanying side of caesar salad.  It was just aight.  At least it had shavings of parm and the croutons were good.  I felt as if the lettuce tasted sad. 

Overall, it barely met my expectations...dont you hate that?  When you read so many good reviews about a place, see the menu and get excited, have a mean craving, and then the place falls short?  super sad face.  Plus I live or work nowhere near this place so I went out of my way.  Ok I will stop.  I may chalk this up to an off day...but I think I will seek out another creole place before my next craving hits...just in case. 


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Captain Obvious to the Rescue

...wants to relay the following message.  Someone is trying to find the perfect blog layout so bear with us if it looks different on the outside.  Its whats inside that counts! =)

Monday, February 8, 2010

I'm just saying...

(Warning: there are actually 4 blog entries from today...this is the newest.  They are all equally interesting IMO so either you will love them or hate them.  I have been uber lazy apparently and saved them all up for a rainy day)
I would like to let you guys into my house.  Not literally but through the mind's eye of course.  When I cook, I like a cute kitschy atmosphere.  I spent 3 months looking for the perfect cup of measuring cups to stagger along my windowsill.  Well I couldnt get them b/c they were 30 bucks and I am intrinsically opposed to spending that much.  I got a cute set of measuring cups that look like little china tea cups.  Only today was a dark day...I chipped the 1/4 cup one! Mourn ye with me please.  Another telling feature that would tell people that this is MY kitchen is the dispenser of Lysol wipes and antibacterial gel.  I may or may not have been described as a neat freak.  My kitchen also shows signs of compromise within a marriage.  Husband insisted that we needed a wine fridge although we dont really drink wine.  He uses it for liquor or beer so it is def getting used.  I guess it also frees up some of the valuable refridgerator real estate since I just HAD to get the swanky Euro model that barely fits anything inside larger than an orange. 

The piece de resistance?  The flower.  Kind of not real, maybe a little bit plastic.  In an ikea vase that is clear polka dot texture.  It says...I am colorful, kitschy, fun and still look good even if I am not perfect...I am a bit artsy and a tiny bit fartsy...I'm not rich but I still stand out and look cute doing it.  See:

xx kiddos

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Zensei Sushi (North Park area)

As we are all tightening our wallet strings, I try to limit the eating out excursions I have--however I find that this can be a lonely experience since dining out is a major form of socialization these days.  That is probably why most of my blogging has focused on homemade items vs. eating out experiences.  Thanks to groupon and my awesome friend, I was able to try out Zensei Sushi in North Park.  She raved about their food so I was only happy to tag along since it was payday and I hadnt gone to eat in a sit down place for a few weeks at least.  It was hard to find but the inside was kinda funky.  Like a diner feel but with a sushi bar and an imposing sushi chef to boot.  They seemed to have lots of specials for lunch and happy hour as well but the groupon couldnt be used for lunch specials or happy hours apparently--this was not on the fine print.  I used the menu to copy off the roll descriptions FYI--here is a link: Zensei Sushi official menu

We had a total of four rolls and one order of edamame.  Edamame was cooked perfectly with either rock or kosher salt on it--that makes a big difference! Not over or undercooked, came out piping to our table.

Roll#1: Crunchy Roll- shrimp tempura, crab, cucumber, crunchies and sweet sauce
It was our first roll brought to the table so we were eager to dig in.  I was quickly disappointed.  Sushi faux pas.  Ice cold sweet sauce! It just doesnt taste right when the shrimp and crunchies are warm and the sauce is so cold.  Maybe its just me.  Maybe its cuz we were the first customers of the day.  Maybe shmaybe. 

Roll#2: Mango Delight: crab, avocado, cucumber inside, baked with a special spicy sauce and topped with mango salsa
This was the one my friend had to have.  It wasnt bad, but I usually like my rolls simple without baked/ crunchy/ fireworks.  I dont think I really like their sushi rice so that kind of ruins things to begin with.  Perfect amount of spice though. 

Roll#3: Mt. Fuji- smoked salmon, avocado, crab wrapped with snapper and topped with bonito flakes and baked with spicy aoli. 
I didnt realize that the little haystacks were the bonito flakes.  I could eat these by the bowl.  The roll itself was alright.  Not worth the sticker price though.  Good spiciness though.  Again with the cold sweet sauce!

Roll 4: White Dream Roll- spicy mix of cucumber, gobo, onions, masago, tuna, yellowtail, and cerab inside with avocado, thin edible lemon zest and seared ahi or pearl white tuna outside
Of the bunch, this one let me down the most.  Part of it was my fault since I obviously didnt read the menu right.  The gobo ruins this roll almost as much as the onion does.  Otherwise this would have been the kind of roll I would have devoured.  White tuna is my fave sashimi at this point in my life so I desperately wanted this to be orgasmic. I think I ate one piece only. 

The service was good and we even talked to someone who looked like the manager or owner (had an air of authority but wasnt doing much).  He was very friendly.  It apparently has been reviewed highly so I dont know if they were just off today or what but I cant rate it more than a B- or C.  I also dont like when restaurants try to pull a fast one on you by putting limits on coupons or gift cards. 

What is your favorite sushi joint people?  I have one that so far no one has been able to match...affordable, big rolls, fresh fish, and good roll creations.  It always get crowded--that is the only drawback. 

xx kiddos

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Anyone in the mood for a quiche?

I had an extra frozen pie crust just screaming at me to be used up.  Normally this wouldnt be an issue but I feel like I have to explain.  My freezer space is tiny.  When I bought my house, I wanted everything to be stainless steel and modern.  I had a choice between a traditional looking side by side fridge/ freezer but I ended up getting the Euro branded one that is counter depth and has freezer pull out drawer on the bottom.  A year later and I regret this decision.  ughh.  Anyways I can no longer hoard in my freezer as much as I would like.  That brings us to this entry: quiche.  Today's version?  Tomatoes, mushrooms, kale and the last 2 slices of bacon that I had. 

So easy that I am not even going to post a recipe or instructions.  Google it if you want to make one.  I did use my countertop convection oven to make this quiche for the first time so that was pretty awesome.  Seriously, why havent you gone to Costco to get one for your house already????  It took about 20-25 minutes in my convection at 375.  This TOO freezes well for reheating later.  Waste not want not as much because lets face it, I am always going to want something else/more. 

xx kiddies

Friday, February 5, 2010

Soup weather

Let me preface this by saying that I understand the value of rain.  I understand we are in a semi drought and that there are many ecological benefits of weather change.  Still I am not a rain person.  I dislike how it keeps you inside, make people drive like 2 year olds, gets in the way of my current backyard project, gets things dirty and muddy, often bring with it good ole windstorms and flooding, makes it so I cant wear my cutest shoes, etc. 

Rain makes me want soup.  I have always liked soup and each season brought with them a different soup that I would make over and over again, each time a bit different depending on what I was wanting or had in my fridge at the time.  Today, it was kale, corn, and ground turkey soup made with a base of ham hock for stock.  I always add some red peper flakes because life is always better with a dash of spice.  Here is the quick recipe--I always forget to measure or take in between pictures!

You need:
- kale, chopped and cleaned
-carrots and celery for starting the base broth, diced
-2 small ham hocks (I've also used leftover ham bits)
-1.5- 2 cups of uncooked lean ground turkey
-1-1.5 cups frozen corn
-red pepper flakes
-korean beef broth seasoning

This is so easy even a beginner can do this.  The trick is not to rush any of the stages.  Start by cooking the carrots and celery with a bit of oil at the bottom of a large pot.  I know this is only 2 of the 3 trinity in cooking but I left onions out since I dont really like to cut it.  Cook slightly until a bit softened.  Brown hocks for several minutes on each side.  You dont want to really cook either of these steps thoroughly at this point as you will be cooking this soup for about an hour or more.  Add ground turkey and cook partially.  Add 6-8 cups water and bring to boil.  I let it boil for about 45 minutes before I add the kale.  Add corn at the very end along with the pepper flakes to taste.  I love korean da-shi-da for my magic ingredient for many of my dishes so its a staple in my kitchen.   You want a savory flavor here so use it!  

I didnt add potatoes in mine this time because I knew I wanted to freeze the majority of the soup for reheating later.  Potatoes get funky for me as reheated ingredients so I wouldnt do it.  If you are planning to feed an entire family and not planning for lefties (leftovers), go ahead and toss them taters in--probably before the kale.  I have also made this soup in the past with collard greens and white went over very well too. 

The first picture is what the soup from today looked like.  As you can see, the colors give a nice presentation to the soup, even when shown in cheap plastic tupperware container.  You will be satisfied with the soup as a meal but it can also pair nicely with some toast or rolls.  The second one is the collard green version.  I wanted to use black eyed peas so that it would be like a twist on collard greens and BEP side dishes that usually is eaten in the south, but I didnt find any at Albies (Albertsons). 

Stay warm my pretties! xx