Thursday, October 14, 2010

Romesco- Baja Med Bistro (Bonita)

4346 Bonita Road Bonita, CA 91902 - 
(619) 475-8627
Romesco's Official Website

Location location location.  If you are a local, you may have seen this place and wondered, "hmmmm I wonder what that place is like".  Since it is wedged between Baskin Robbins and Rite Aid in the middle of Bonita, it has to try a little harder to impress IMO.  And does it, you might ask? Keep reading, you decide.

You are going to spend a pretty penny by the time you leave.  But, you will leave full and satisfied, if not happy.  The flavors were good, ambiance is clean and elegant, and menu creative.  We ordered 5 tapas and 2 orders of paella.  Back to the ambiance--low lighting, cloth table cloths.  Not exactly complementary to me busting out the flash on the good ole Iphone and snapping away.  I was actually more furtive in my pic snapping skills.  Like a blogging ninja! 

So here is a bit of what we ordered in clockwise order: crusty french bread (complimentary), beer and champagne, Ahi Tuna Tostada, Papas con Chorizo ala Riojana, Fonduta con Chorizo, Beef Filet Mignon Carpaccio, Tacos de Cachete de Res, and Paella.  For about 4 hungry adults with the above entrees and one champagne and one beer, the bill was like 92 bucks before tip.   Can we take a second and admire the artistic vision that is my collage?  I completely forgot how awesome photo editing programs can be! 

The bread was a good starter.  Crusty, chewy and the second loaf was just out the oven.  Lets get to the nitty gritty.  The tostada was small but good tasting.  The guacamole was simple, the lettuce was like a baby green selection and the fish was fresh enough tasting.  At nearly 4 bucks, not enough bang for the buck IMO.

The potatoes with chorizo had a nice spice to it.  All the flavors melded nicely with each other and the components were perfectly cooked to taste.  At 4.50, a bit better of a deal than the tostada but you still want to order something else if you get this.  I cant remember if there was alot of chorizo inside which probably means there wasnt too many of those little critters inside. 

Dont even bother with the fonduta.  I was expecting a more smooth velvety cheese sauce, but really it just seems like straight up melted cheese with chorizo dropped into the pan.  I like salt but this dish seemed to salty even for a salt-a-holic like me.  

The filet carpaccio....actually pretty good! Not the best I had.  That selection goes to this little so-trendy-I-seriously-might-puke place in the middle of Hollywood I went to a few years back.  Best. carpaccio. ever.  I think there was about 4 pieces to the order which seems fair enough at 6 bucks.  The flavor was decent and it could have used a higher quality parmesiano reggiano shavings.  Since I have only had this dish a few times ever, I'm not clear if the fried capers are standard.  They were the hefty size capers and frying them gave a different texture and extra saltiness...interesting.  

The beef tacos were very tender...that is the first thing I noticed.  Deep beefy flavor here...duh! At 6 bucks, there was actually a nice pile of beef and hot corn tortillas to boot.  It only came with a topping of salsa and white onions, which sucked for me since I hate onions that are shaped like circles.  

The piece de resistance was definitely the paella.  You cant tell in the picture but there was actually a good amount of non-rice bits in here.  The menu said it has mussells, clams, shrimp, calamari, chicken, pork rib, and chorizo.  I would agree.  The rice was tasty, well seasoned and had a tiny kick that I enjoyed.  At 19 bucks, it was one of the more moderately high priced items on the menu, but it was very well put together.  Apparently award winning as well.  

One quibble.  Parking sucks due to the number of businesses in this shopping center and the small spaces.  Also, some of the menu prices do not match what we paid on the bill.  We were told that the menus need updating.  If we were the more pushy type, we might have made a deal of it, but we are a peace loving happy bunch aka the less drama the better.  All in all, a nice date place in a surprising location where there isnt a whole lot of eating choices.....

The Mission- North Park

2801 University Avenue
San Diego CA 92104

Today I want to talk about friendships.  Friendships need maintenance, agree?  Friendships need attention and care, agree?  Friendships need to feel satisfying, no?  I value my friends.  I like my social circle, but I value my inner quorum alot.  If you are in the juicy middle, I will love, spoil, trust and give you attention like no other.  Similarly, if you stab me in the back, there is almost no recourse for any kind of making up or getting back to where we used to be.  At the risk of jinxing myself, I love my girls! 

The girls and I went to brunch with one honorary girl (friend's bf) last weekend.  Seeing as how I live the farthest, I had to of course sojourn over to NP (north park) to join the others.  We chose Mission frankly b/c it is known for being cheap and good.  Word of advice?  Go early or be prepared to wait.  I went at 9 on sunday and it was a short wait but when we got out at like 10 it was a packed house with about 15 people waiting outside and at least 10 more inside waiting around.  Parking is straight up curb parking which can be easy or impossible depending on, well, your luck.  If you want to sit, you better make sure your entire party is there with you b/c they are sticklers for this rule.  Trust me, I had to wait 20 minutes since I was the first one there.  

Soy Chorizo & Eggs $8.50
Soy Chorizo scrambled with eggs, served with black beans, cheese, chipotle cream and tortillas

This is what one of my friend's ordered.  She has had it before so she obviously likes it.  The beans were kind of bland but otherwise cooked nicely consistency wise.  The dumb thing about this plate is that salsa is not included and that you have to pay extra for it.  Ugh.  Dont get me started on restaurants upcharging for condiments i.e. a buck for sour cream, buck fifty for 2 ounces of salsa, etc.  They even charged her extra to add a few extra sauteed tomatoes to her plate.  It had to be less than a small roma tomato but I cant remember how much she got charged.  Tortilla looks like a reheater.  Eggs were cooked nicely.  The portion size was plentiful with enough to take home too.  

Mission Rosemary $6.75
Crispy rosemary potatoes, scrambled eggs, sautéed tomatoes, and grilled rosemary bread.

My dish.  I have been somedays opting to be meatless just for digestion and chewing reasons.  Gosh that makes me sound like an old toothless gaseous patheticon doesnt it?  I asked for my eggs soft scrambled...yum.  Perfectly done, not too runny.  It did benefit from a little bit of salt if I am being honest as did the rosemary taters.  I was glad to not have eaten a raw potato and had nice char to them without tasting like the grate on a dirty bbq.  The tomatoes really shouldnt even be added on the menu as a highlight since there was very little of it and didnt really have too much flavor anyways.  The bread.  Disappointing.  I am a bread lover, the more rustic sounding the better.  I felt the bread was too soft and didnt have enough chew.  The portion was generous and they have their own jam here...some kind of berry mix.  Not overly sweet either.  Still, the bread broke my heart.  

Chicken Apple Sausage and Eggs $8.95
Chicken apple sausage is lightly sautéed, served with crispy rosemary potatoes, grilled rosemary bread, and eggs as you like them.

The other two friends got this plate.  Its a good amount of food.  I wont talk about the eggs, bread or taters since I just covered it.  The sausage is nicely cooked.  The pic makes it look burnt but I dont recall anyone complaining about burnt food so I'm sure its a lighting blip.  I rather like the way the light hits the corner of the plate in almost a sunday afternoon kind of way.  My friend took home a sausage and half her taters home btw in case that interests anyone.  

I'm just gonna go ahead and say that this is probably the most awesome pic in this entry.  I dont know if you agree, but the bacon just is screaming to be eaten.  It was perfectly cooked, thickly sliced and perfect combo of salt and sweet that bacon should be.  Not too fatty but not that I would complain if it was.  That is part of the reason why you eat bacon...duh! If you can see in the left corner, this is the other chicken sausage breakfast that was ordered.  Stacks pretty high right?  A small population of you might notice the beer on the right corner of the pic.  Friend's bf stated that it was the weekend and he could drink if he felt like it.  This is a side order of bacon btw.  I think it came with 4 slices but if not, it was at least three.  Couldnt tell you the price of adding a side of bacon...but if it spoke to you the way it seems to do to me, it might be hard to pass on next time.  

All in all, a decent haul for sunday brunch.  For 4 of us adults with one beer, one oj, and one mocha milkshake (dont ask), the damage was like 52 bucks before tip. They offer alot of healthy dishes as well...apparently we are a bunch of gluttons though.  

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cheesecake Factory- Otay Mesa

2015 Birch Rd # 705
Chula Vista, CA 91915-2007
(619) 421-2500

For me, this place is kind of like a love hate thing.  Love some of their food choices, portion sizes and the fact that they dont use styrofoam for the takeout boxes- hate their prices, long lines, the mass producedness of it, etc.  Once in a long while, I let myself come here and just dive in.  That is, always in the day time, never during a holiday weekend, and only with a friend.  Plus I dont get the cheesecake so somehow I feel better about it like I'm going against the grain or something.  If you have never been, it is a chain of sit down restaurants with a fat menu of choices ranging from omelettes to steak to gumbo to pastas and some attempts at asian food...not to mention many cheesecake and non cheesecake dessert offerings with a full bar service.  Glossy menus, servers decked out in white shirts and pants, shiny displays to tempt you into taking some sweets home.  Whole shebang.  

I happen to come here with a new friend who I am trying to hook up with my sister.  If I find my sister a nice man, then my mother can relax and sleep...since according to my mom, she cannot sleep or relax knowing that my sister is still unmarried and alone.  So we met here so that I could interrogate him and also to tell him a little about old fashioned huh???  We ate outside since I am a hot blooded freak who needs to constantly feel cool even in 60 degree cali weather...which is cold for us! 

Chicken Madeira.  Our most popular chicken dish! Sautéed Chicken Breast Topped with Fresh Asparagus and Melted Mozzarella Cheese. Covered with Fresh Mushroom Madeira Sauce and Served with Mashed Potatoes (taken from website directly courtesy of The Cheesecake Factory Website).  

My eating mate swears by this dish.  He claims to order it every time.  I have recently decided that I dont really like understanding of why.  A hefty portion.  Those potatoes are ridiculously good.  Like I couldnt stop stealing some off the plate good.  Its topped with a few asparagus spears but I felt like it either should have given more asparagus or just not even included them to start with.  Too much of a teaser.  The sauce was good...but not great IMO.  Those potatoes though....

My choice, Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo (minus the chicken).  Shrimp, Chicken, Andouille Sausage, Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions and Garlic Simmered in a Spicy Cajun Style Broth with Cream. Topped with Steamed White Rice.  They also give you the option of brown rice which is what I chose.  To be healthy duh! Ok so here is the deal about this one.  I liked it better the last time around, but Im not sure if it was b/c I got it at the Fashion Valley location, operator error, maybe the chicken makes it tastes a little better, etc.  I still liked it, but it lacked the creamy factor that I liked in the last time I had this dish.  The shrimp was a good size and they gave you more than enough in the dish.  The portion size was generous as well.  It was definitely missing something this this time around which made me frown a bit.  But dont let that give you the idea that I would order anything else next time around without much consternation.  It still ranks in my top 3 things to order there....

So I lumped the other two photos in the same line.  They always give you complimentary bread while you wait for your food.  I personally prefer the dark oat bread with a dab of butter.  A touch sweet and bready all at once.  It also has a french bread roll accompaniment btw.  The cake was the Black Out Cake.  Chocolate cake with chocolate chips, nuts, whipped cream and a fudge icing layer.  In case you cant tell from the picture, many layers of cake and chocolate in between. Large slice of course.  My friend says that if you take the cake and warm it in the microwave for 27 seconds, it is heaven.  But then again, he doesnt like whipped cream so ya.... just kidding! 


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Goody's Deli- National City/ Mile of Cars

340 W. 26th street, Suite E
National City, CA 91950

Say what you will about social networking site i.e. facebook.  It made the probable creator into a billionaire, which I want to be so freaking bad.  It has reconnected long lost friends, reunited family members, allowed people to stalk on others anonymously, helped people market their inventions/ businesses, etc.  Through FB, I caught glimpses of this awesome looking sushi rolls via a friend's post and stopped in last week to check it out myself.  

Its located in an industrial-ish building tucked behind In and Out near the National City Mile of Cars.  Thanks to the greatness that is mapquest, I got lost immediately but was able to find my way relatively quickly.  Coming into the restaurant, you will see that it is on the small size.  But the staff are welcoming and make you feel like you have been coming for years! .They havent been open that long so I dont know if there are other plans decor-design wise.  The menu features salads, sushi/ sashimi, sandwiches and other items.  

For the sake of integrity, I will mention that when I walked into the deli, the sushi chef/ owner looked very familiar.  After some small talking, we realized that there is a very good chance that we know each other and definitely have alot of mutual friends between us.  But I also saw how they greet and interact with several other customers while I was trying to narrow down my choices and its clear that they love what they do.  No bitter bettys here!

Shots from the area directly in front of the cashier and sushi counter.  Simple operation but efficient.   Only took a few minutes to get my 2 rolls and side salads.  It actually took me longer to  pick my rolls than to get my food lol.  Food specials on the board.  

 Side salad with their fresh made dressing.  Citrus, ginger and creamy.  Love it.  I wonder if they sell it separately?  Seriously.  I ordered two rolls, one with spicy tuna, red fish eggs and yellowtail and the other with spicy krab, albacore and seaweed salad.  I know one of the rolls was the Al Bundy but I cant remember the other roll's name for the life of me.  Fresh fish for sure.  Creative rolls.  Average price seemed to be between 8-11 bucks a roll.  The rice was not too heavy or vinegary and good ratio to the fillings.  Nice size rolls as well.  I also heard the next customer rave about the sandwiches there...They are about 5 bucks each with choice of chips/ fries so it sounds like a good deal. Just look at their FB page to see more pics of their offerings....i couldnt find an online menu with descriptions for you guys to see.  

Warning, they do take the customary 2 hour closing between lunch and dinner to prep for the night rush so dont come between 230 and 430/5.  Parking is more than plentiful.  They have at least a few things on special according to their board and facebook wall posts.  We will be back....part deux.  This place could seriously be on the sushi rotation for me along with my other die hard place! 

What do you keep in your fridge?

Every weekend I methodically prepare for the next week foodwise.  No more dirty dishes in order to have clean glass tupperware and reusable water bottles for the work week.  Prepping staple items to keep in the fridge.  Grocery shopping only if necessary since I am trying to eat down my pantry and freezer lately.  The most time consuming part of this process however is cooking my breakfasts and dinners for the week.  I love having soup for bfast several times a week, my favorites being scratch made tomato soup with whatever is in my fridge for veggies, meat or pasta inside and korean seaweed soup. Sometimes I will make pasta for the week.  Sometimes, grilling up the meat for the week.  I loved having cubed watermelon and cleaned/ sliced berries ready to take and eat as well.  Take a look:

Bottom row: kimchi, tofu, uncooked corn tortillas, guac, russian pickled tomatoes, and my famous water bottle.  Middle row: brown rice with leftover 1/2 trader joe's chile relleno (so good and only 300-ish calories), leftover afritada and rice, asian pears, edamame, quiche that I had just made and portioned, homemade tomato soup with ravioli and kale and corn chowder.  Top row: soymilk, vitamin water, club soda, day and night allergy meds, leftover chocolate sauce from claim jumpers, and ketchup.  What is in your fridge?

If you looked today, you would find also 6 broiled potatoes, 5 boiled eggs, korean seaweed soup, homemade fettucine alfredo with broccoli, columbian vegetable sides, leftover chocolate cake from cheesecake factory, and a side salad.  Happy eatings...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday eats

Life is funny isnt it?  One minute you are arguing with a loved one, and the next, eating brunch with a friend who you hadn't connected with in awhile.  Its sometimes as if one incident happened to one person and the other, another.  Today was a day like that.  Actually this weekend has been like that.  Even retail therapy wasnt cutting the mustard all the way.  The only think that kind of helped?  Cooking and sharing.  Seeing the look on my neighbor's face as they taste something for the first time, from one person's home to another.  

In case you werent hungry yet, let me speed that process along for you.  Here is a snapshot from our m-eating at the Daily Grind Cafe near SDSU (I have posted on it before: Daily Grind Cafe- Original Post).  Since we didnt end up arriving till about 11, I decided to test out a lunch item.  In fact we all did.  I only took a pic of mine since we all got the same sandwich.  Take a peek:

This is the turkey, avocado and bacon club.  I havent had a proper sandwich in a while so this really hit the spot.  Nice and large sourdough bread griddled perfectly.  Swiss cheese inside with slices of tomatoes.  Not too heavy on the mayo or the lettuce.  Notice the fries?  They are spectacular.  I am normally a non-seasoned fry kind of chick ala in and out style, but these were tasty as all get out. They are wedge seasoned fries, perfectly fried and seasoned.  Kind of reminds me of a way tastier and less burnt KFC fry.  It was so big that I only ate half the sammy but I sure finished my fries.  Hey I gave some to my friend's kid...they were three large fries by the way! In fact, that picture makes me want to go eat the other half right now....=)

Then I came home with an itch to cook.  I guess I am trying to save $ and cook more at home.  I wanted quiche to free up room in my itsy bitsy freezer so I have been thinking of making a quiche for awhile now.  I also did not want to go to the market b/c I have a horrible habit of grocery shopping too often.  The innards of the quiche?  Edamame beans, shredded mozzarella cheese and sundried tomatoes.  I thought it might be a bit of daring combo but I'm a badass so I did it and didnt event think twice.  It came out rather nicely.  I used heavy cream to mix with the eggs so the egg came out creamy and rich.  My only faux pas- I should have used a few more eggs than the recipe indicated since it wasnt as tall as it usually comes out.  

Neighbors loved their first brush with quiche as well as the kare kare I made for them with baby bok choy and mussels (normally made with oxtails I believe).  I used a mix but I wasnt happy with it since I have been spoiled by my normal to-go place.  I can never eat packet cooking again for Filipino food! Neighbors were entranced by my version though so I guess all is well that ends well.