Sunday, April 30, 2006

Squeaky Cheese Curds

Have I mentioned this Wisconsin delicacy yet? Yes, that ever elusive squeaky cheese curd. I’ll be lifting much of this post directly from Wikipedia because sometimes someone else can say it better. I’ve interspersed a few photos I have harvested from the web.

Give me what you’ve got, Wikipedia:“Fresh curds are roughly the size and shape of peanuts or, perhaps, Cheetos. The flavor is a mild "fresh-dairy" taste. The texture and mouth feel is unique. They have about the same firmness as cheese, but have a springy or rubbery texture, rather than the yielding, clay-like texture of cheese. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into. This squeak is perhaps the defining characteristic of fresh cheese curds.”

There is a stand at the Hillcrest farmers market that sells something called cheese curds – but it really isn’t quite the same. They are more like little hunks of cheese – of course the key here is the freshness – right from the cheese factory. Plenty of dairy is produced in California so they must be able to be found. Any leads? I honestly haven’t looked hard at all. It’s just chedder cheese before it’s been formed into squares and aged.

Help me out here, Wikipedia: “Cheese curds are little-known in locations without cheese factories, because they must be eaten absolutely fresh, within hours of manufacture. After twelve hours, even under refrigeration, they have lost much of their "fresh curd" characteristics, particularly the "squeak." They have not become unwholesome or distasteful, but they are not fresh cheese curds any more—they are simply insufficiently aged cheese.”

That call for purchasing absolutely fresh curds is slightly overrated – we could pick them up in bags at any grocery store – practically the corner drug store – and be pretty happy with them (hopefully they were packed that day or the day before). But to get the best taste and texture with the squeak – you’ve got to get them from the source. (I wouldn't recommend doing that mail order thing.)

And of course it wouldn’t be Wisconsin with deep frying these things – I once ate an egg wrapped in bacon that was dipped in batter and deep fried proving anything is possible – so you can also buy deep fried cheese curds at fairs, local restaurants and bars. Grease covered and filled, it’s a cardiologist’s worst nightmare (well, maybe that egg was – but this is close!) Wikipedia says; “Deep-fried cheese curds are covered with a beer based batter, like to that used for onion rings, or are breaded and placed in a deep fryer.”


Saturday, April 29, 2006

My Weekend Doggie Picture

There is something called Weekend Dog Blogging at Sweetnicks. I don’t quite understand it either but I like sharing dog pics. Is it okay if they are from last year or do they have to be from this weekend? Here we have Cooper playing in Lake Tahoe:

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Eatin’ the North County Way Part 4

Be sure to scroll down – I’ve posted several times this week. I also see I mistakenly mentioned that this would be a definitive list of my area restaurants but I mistyped – I meant this would be an incomplete diminutive list. Sorry for this misunderstanding. Basically I’m just wasting time until I have a new full restaurant review (those are rare in these parts) to post or maybe a recipe to share (that has never happened!) So, each part will have two restaurants mentioned, so in the end I guess this will be the top 20 restaurants of the area close to my house? And hey, in my comments section on some past posts on North County Eatin’, Leanne has been kind enough to post some lengthy comments on her recommendations. I’ll write a bit more about a couple of those now.

Miami Grill
This is a newish (opened last summer) place well east of the 15 on Poway Road past Henry’s (where I make weekly trips for dirt cheap veggies and fruit plus bulk nuts and candy) but before you get to the car dealerships. The time we went (on a Friday night) it was pretty busy and we waited longer than we normally would for a seat. Nice enough place – that Miami Grill – we were on the patio and it seemed pleasant inside. They have Cuban sandwiches for around $7 and entrees for around $10 (like Jamaican Jerk Chicken or Slow Roasted Pulled Pork). I’d like to go there again. Newspaper article here.

Yanni’s Bistro.
I like this place though I remember being disappointed with my meal last time. We’ve been here a few times for dinner – last time was around Christmas and I remember it was quite busy even on a midweek night. They do have quite a large patio for the warmer months. Their website says they “reflect a fusion of northern Mediterranean cuisine with predominant influences of Greece and Italy.” They offer up a variety of meat skewers and chicken dishes. I remember my wife got a memorable Fried Calamari Steak with saffron cream. Don't forget the chocolate! The bistro also has very good desserts – I’d probably go back next for a light snack and a couple of shared desserts.

Your gateway to Yanni's Bistro is ---> here!

Remember when Jack opened up is very own bistro on Three’s Company? That seemed like a pretty good place! Now, that was a show! And the theme song kept getting better each season. Maybe it wasn’t as good as ChiPs – but what could be?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Eatin’ the North County Way Part 3

Attack of the Two Cafés
Just a couple of casual mentions this round – I don’t have great descriptions nor have I been to either of these more than a couple of times. Except for my lunch (I could write a book on the Qualcomm cafeteria – which is quite good!) I find that we would rather try new (to us) and different restaurants rather than become regulars at the same place. But I wanted to toss these out for your review in part 3 of a 10 part series I'm calling Firefly Fifty Five’s Quick Ones™

Café Luna
This is a little hidden treasure – an Italian restaurant! – in Carmel Mountain Ranch behind an Olive Garden that I don’t think gets too many mentions – yet they have been pretty busy especially on Friday and Saturday nights. We’ve just been there twice over the last few years – but I remember it as being quite good. Pasta and meat entrees rule the day here – oh, I’m sure they have a few fish specials. I remember them serving a very good tomato based dipping sauce with their bread. I don’t know if she is still there, but they had a relatively young head chef that really seemed to energize the menu. Service is friendly.

I don’t have much else on the place – but wanted to add it to my definitive list of my area restaurants. And remember, if you are waiting an hour for a table at that Olive Garden, just look across the parking lot and find out if Café Luna just might have a table for you. I know Google is my friend, but I can find no webpage for this restaurant – but here is the newspaper write up.

Athens Market Café
As long as I’m talking Carmel Mountain I might as well mention this little Greek restaurant next to a movie theater in this shopping center that also houses that great T.G.I. Fridays. We’ve only been there once – a couple of years ago – but it seems that they serve up home-style meals – none of that crumby slop. They do the flaming cheese (saganaki) while shouting out “Opa!”. Our meals were fine – but Greek isn’t a cuisine we crave just too often – though I like those little grape leave things. Looking at their website – I imagine I got the Greek Combo with a couple of baked dishes like pastitso and moussaka. (I wonder if Scott Bakula likes baklava? Probably.) On the other hand, my wife mentioned that she preferred the Greek restaurant very near the Trader Joe’s in the same area.

Back to the Athens Market Café – we’ve driven by since we dined there and see that they took over the space next door (a hot dog joint I think) to double the size of their dining room so business must be hopping.

Heads up!
If you read this before Thursday evening, something called Infusion Culinary is offering up a free seminar at the Macys Home Store in Mission Valley:

Come and get some technique, and a taste, when Chef Joey Nerenberg of Infusion Culinary, a San Diego culinary school for serious cooking enthusiasts, presents “Pan-Fry/Pan-Roast.” This free 90 minute course is open to everyone and includes demonstrations, helpful hints and plenty of food samples.

Thursday April 27 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Macys Home Store in Mission Valley, 1555 Camino de La Reina, San Diego.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Taste of Hillcrest - the big finale!

…and we spent the rest of the afternoon eating.

The end!

Okay, just a short wrap up from the post yesterday.

Longest line award: Hamburger Mary’s – went out the door. Once you got in thru the patio you still had to wind your way to the back. People leaving said it was good – chicken wings. And they were very good – though I hardly ever have chicken wings. I didn’t see any actual wings – all legs and meaty with a good spice. But worth the 20+ minute wait? Nah. I suppose it was the failing of the staff to serve it up – we were forced to scoop out our own lemonade from a punch bowl and grab how many wings we wanted. They could have just had it in cups and plates ready for us like everyone else. By far, the longest wait.

The “Rules” at Mary’s. I can’t say I agree with #6.

Wine: A couple of places had wine samples: Wine Steals and The Wine Lover. Just a small sample of one wine at each. Wine Steals also had little tasty sandwiches.

Mexican: Mama Testa Taqueria: a choice of a beef taco or a small caesar salad. Baja Betty’s: chicken or carnitas tacos with small margaritas samples. Both places were tasty.

The worst?

We were waiting for the elevator to go up to Martini’s Above Fourth (on the second floor, apparently no stairs since people were waiting for the elevator) and someone getting off said that the crabcakes were the size of dimes. Automatic skip for us. An hour later we overheard someone complaining about those tiny crabcakes. Yet, I can’t confirm since we didn’t go up.

And so that is it.

Betty’s and Mary’s were the busiest with regular lunchtime customers – and is the mid afternoon meal called “linner”? And one final word of advice: If you go on one of these all afternoon eating adventures be sure to take a clean pair of undies – you just might befoul your shorts without even knowing it with all the eating and walking.

Oh, and on that note, I should say we skipped that burrito place.

Let me know if you hear of other tastes – I do know about Taste of Adams Ave. in June. Smaller, but just 10 bucks! There is an homemade ice cream shop there that is to die for!

I’m slightly disappointed in how the pictures turned out on the blog posting from yesterday. The originals are pretty good, but they scaled down and lost sharpness and they aren't clickable dammit. I usually resize before posting but left these in the 1280 x 980 size that I took them in. Whoops. I’m in awe of some of the pics posted on area blogs – Kirk always does a great job and the blog “What We’re Eating” has crystal clear photos. Surely one of them is a professional photographer. I have lots to figure out here – I’d like to add my very own banner to the page.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Taste of Hillcrest

This blog, yes, my very own blog, started with a “Taste of…” last September. Anyone remember when I vowed never to go to one again? Well, we did it again. Taste of Hillcrest was on Saturday from noon until 4.

We got down there about noon, picked up our tickets from will call and got started. We did this “Taste of” in the rain 2 years ago and skipped last year. 30 restaurants were on the list – even Chipotle! I had ticket number 1500 (they told walk ups that they had sold out) so I’d assume at least that many people ate. We got our red map (perfect for spotting fellow participants!) and started off – $25 got you a sample at each of the 30 restaurants. You go right to the restaurant – thus the need for that map. I’ll try to give a short burp about each. And I did snap a few pictures – but I perceived a few odd glances and forgot about that after awhile. I don’t know how others do it.

Hash House a Go-Go

I nickname this one Hash House a Yum-Yum. Tasty large portions rule the day here – reviews sometimes say the portions are TOO oversized – now that is something my mind can’t comprehend. Too much food? It doesn’t make sense. Here, for the taste, the sample was served outside, so the line was short and we had our first sample: a small cup of corn chowder. We agreed, it was delish!

Dessert case at David’s Coffee House

David’s Coffee House was up next – here the line was longer as the samples were served in the rear, on the back patio, so the line went nearly out the door, but it moved quickly. They had carrot cake, and two types of coffee cake – plus what must have been the house coffee blend. I remember this place was a real dessert winner with us last time. They say they get their desserts from nearly 20 different local suppliers – the coffee cake, I was told, was made by a woman in Mission Beach.

Jamba Juice (which I have never been to – I know, it’s like saying you’ve never been to McDonald’s) served up 8 oz cups of a variety of flavors. I had mango something. Next door, Starbucks served up a couple of Frappuccino in thimbles.

Now I get the order mixed up – were we at Nami Sushi first or was it Rannoosh? (I’ve already tossed out that aforementioned map) I think it might have been Rannoosh – billed as Lebanese / Mediterranean cuisine. We waited in line and after a brief wait, were seated – that’s a new one! – at an empty table, waited a minute or two and were served a couple of falafels and a couple of small pastry squares. In their haste they gave us an empty bowl that was supposed to have the dip. No – it wasn’t used, just (as my uncle would say) dry as a fart.

Then it was on to Nami Sushi

Just as you see – a couple of pieces of teriyaki chicken with a couple of California rolls. Sushi Itto and Ono Sushi also served up samples – one had a line that was too long, the other had a short buffet line. Crush gave out your choice of baked goat cheese & smoked salmon bruschetta appetizers or little crackers with a small piece ahi tuna. Tasty – and I guess the most inventive so far. Taste of Szechuan in a strip mall next to Hue’s Hair Treatment Center (or something like that) served up Peppery Beef with a Cream Cheese Wonton.

Taste of Thai plate

A nice sample at Taste of Thai – cucumber salad, chicken satay with peanut sause, pad thai and something else. I overhead one woman say this was absolutely her favorite restaurant. I’ve read that Celadon across the street is better.

The Saigon on Fifth sample

Coincidentally, Master Blogger Kirk just reviewed this place. Seems liked a nice place and they had the line moving quickly, zip, right around that statue. I heard a couple complain that the sauce was too sweet – I thought it was fine and not too thick.

Dad always said you can have dessert first – what if you don’t have room for it later? Ben and Jerry’s gave a small sample of any ice cream you wanted – just the right amount! Dessert courses could also be found at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (do it yourself chocolate covered strawberries dipped in the flowing milk chocolate) and Kemo Sabe (a nice brownie with ice cream - we think they did the same 2 years ago).

Corvette Diner

Corvette Diner served a fairly dry hamburger from a heated tray – we could put a couple of toppings on it and got out the door. Terra served up Kobe Beef Sliders – yum! I tried to gobble it down in one bite – but couldn’t quite get it….


How will it all end? Will he throw up? Will he get to Chipotle? Stay tuned, same Bat Time, same Bat Channel!

And now, I ask, would it be crude to suggest that some of you click on those little Google Adsense ads up there in an effort to line my wallet?

Oh. It would be? Sorry!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Eatin’ the North County Way Part 2

Da Kitchen
I got an email wondering how I could possibly forget Da Kitchen in Scripps Ranch – way on the southern end on Carroll Canyon Road a block from the 15. Tons of offices here – a real business park – so it gets a big lunch crowd. I just made it there today – had a pleasant meal on the patio. I asked order girl what their specialty was or what was her favorite and heard Teriyaki Salmon or Chicken. I find the teriyaki can be overwhelming so ordered the Kalua Pork – pork cooked so tender it falls of da bone!

$7.75. Meat, rice and macaroni salad. Holy tomkat kids, you get a ton of meat for that price – the entire large section of the Styrofoam takeout box was packed full with pulled pork! It comes with a red sauce that was slightly/moderately spicy. I really should have just ate half of it, but ended up gobbling the whole thing down. The macaroni salad really wasn’t anything. Maybe next time I’ll get the Loco Moco which Kirk gives a thumbs up. This place is right next door to one of the best Carl Jr.’s in the whole west coast. Also next door is a sushi place (seemed pretty empty) and Chez Nous (went there when we first moved to San Diego – I had a sandwich as I recall. I’ll eat there again before I report on here. I would not want to rush judgment.)

Anyone ever eat at Shozen way at the east end of Mira Mesa Blvd.?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Eatin’ the North County Way Part 1

Inland that is. Not coastal. Every now and then I’ve been told that I put pen to paper appallingly terribly with horrifying run on sentences but let us stop thinking about that now but wait this an web log and paper and pens makes little sense and because as mentioned before, now it’s time to do a quick run down of the restaurants of the San Diego Inland North County area – for these purposes I’ll keep it centered on Poway, Scripps Ranch and Rancho Peñasquitos and that nearby surrounding area, but I’ll leave out Rancho Bernardo and points north, surely the area is surrounded by a fair share of chain restaurants – On The Border, Buca di Beppo and Applebee’s to the south in Mira Mesa and Chevy’s and Marie Callender's (never been to that last one – good pies, I’ve heard) to the north in Carmel Mountain Ranch not to mention that place where you can jump a claim. But I will skip those and concentrate on the local restaurants. I’ll call these FireFlyFiftyFive’s Quick Ones™

Jose O’Reilly’s
I remember (a few years ago after we first moved here) eating at a restaurant right in the Peñasquitos “town center” shopping area called Jose O’Reilly’s – said to be a mix of Irish and Mexican. I didn’t really see it – I probably had a fajita special. I asked my wife if she remembered it and she said “Oh, God, it was shit”. I don’t think she meant it was “the shit” in a good way either so I’ll just move on. I don’t know if the place is still there – they still have a somewhat defunct website. Are they still there? I'd give them another try.

I’ve mentioned Mesquite a few times here – it’s close by, dark blue inside, and something of a special occasion restaurant for us when we don’t want to drive far, plus it feels like you are under water when you are there. The name of the game here is fish and meat prepared simply over a mesquite fired grill served up with a couple of dipping sauces (I wonder if they come from a bottle or are homemade?) and your choice of side. Fish seems fresh, service is friendly – it’s a nice place to share a bottle of wine and have a dinner out. Most entrée’s are around $20+, a few cheaper rice bowls – they also have a Mon. – Thurs. foodie happy hour until 6:30 in which the appetizer menu is half off. Hmm half off – reminds me of that old Michael Jackson joke. Anyhow, this place is right off The 15 at the Scripps Poway Parkway/ Mercy Road exit (look beyond the KFC!)

That is about it. Let me know if you hear of any others so I can do part two. Yes, there is that Thai place in the place that used to have a pizza place and that French place which I’ve mentioned here. Yanni has a bistro. Plus surely there are restaurants on Poway Road worth mentioning – I’ve heard that Italian place is good. So, over the course of a full ten part series I will mention or refer to many more restaurants – all no further than 5 miles from my bed.

Another blog
Saw another area blog – from GarlicLover28 called Good Eats in San Diego - this one is jam packed with restaurant visits.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tax day!

Pay them up. Did you have a special tax day meal?

I did not.

We’ve never stepped inside a Costco until this weekend – we might start doing some of our grocery shopping there. Any favorites? Portions are better suited for families but depending on what it is - we should be able to find items that work for us. We are always looking for quick and easy meal ideas. The rotisserie chickens looks big and at just (I think) $4.99, a great value. Other things don’t appear to be that inexpensive. Now, do they do samples daily or just on weekends?

Random notes.
I see the Cohn Restaurant Group has added longtime OB restaurant, Thee Bungalow, to their collection of restaurants. A check of their website also shows a 3 course prime rib meal deal served up at Dakota each Monday for $25.

Speaking of local restaurant groups, I’ve lived in San Diego for 4 years and have yet to eat at one of the Brigantine family of restaurants. The Brig seems like a steak and fish place – we’ve often had Zócalo Grill in mind when we think about Old Town but have not been there either. Yay or nay for these restaurants?

Anyone watching Top Chef on Bravo or The Next Food Network Star on (obviously) The Food Network?

Eatin’ the Coronado Way
We took a rare weeknight drive down to Coronado for a meal on the patio at Costa Azul on Orange Ave. They have a large patio that is great when the weather is warmer. Food is your typical American Mexican, you get your rice and beans. I had the “Carnitas Ole” – pretty tasty. Entrees are around $10, margaritas $7. Dessert was a winner – chocolate mousse pie. Probably from Costco or Sysco or another “co” but surprisingly good. Service is young and friendly.

There are probably another nearly dozen restaurants in that few block area – Lotsa Pasta, Rhino Café, Moo Time, another pizza place and couple of sushi joints, etc. And there is Chez Loma (the French restaurant in a house) that has a early bird special - and all night on Tuesday - 3 course prix fixe for $25ish). And of course, you can walk a block to the ocean and walk on the beach in the moonlight.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

...And that answer!

My gosh! Looks like I have stumped everyone! :) Those playing "WHERE IS IT FROM?" at home, if you guessed Taste Pilots' Grill at Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim California, you guessed correctly!

You can expect your prize in the mail any day now! It's where Great Food IS Rocket Science! I guess they mean that you get to order from a kiosk. The hint of course was the napkin on the lower left corner. Of course I will accept just plain Disney as the answer. The burger was pretty dry, the fry "chips" okay, somewhat soft and barely done. Besides several fun rides, there was a very good live action Aladdin show - be sure that catch that!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Where is it from?

Welcome to the first part of my 100 part series: Where is it from?

Today, I present this meal to you, I consumed this meal nearly entirely on Sunday. And now, where is it from and please note there is NO vomit on that tray. Also, you might see a hint there somewhere.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Just a quick post today...

I had gotten a nice email from a guy who directed the movie Slut Diaries: "I'm the director of Slut Diaries with Mike A. from Digital Sin. I found your blog by random and I would appreciate comments in your new adult movie blog about it. I always like to have feed backs from people. Check out the footage on Venice beach! Greg L. BTW : Sorry if my english isn't that great... I'm from Europe LOL"

Okay - sorry Greg. My last post was an April Fools joke. Wikipedia says: April 1. The day is marked by the commission of hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends and neighbours, or sending them on fools' errands, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible. In some countries, April Fool's jokes (also called "April fools") must only be made before midday.

And so no immediate change is in store.

And a couple of links for the week:

Readers' Choice, Best of 2006 from Ranch & Coast Magazine. Oh, you might laugh at some - agree with others...

Larry from Chowhound has a great Las Vegas travel diary - includes lots of restaurant reports.

I also finally added a few San Diego blog links over there on the side - though if you've found this one, you've probably seen those already.

I'll be back later this week with part one of something... :)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

T.G.I. Fridays!

God, this place is some damn kind of yummy I can’t stop myself from going there every Friday. They have the best $12.99 three-course meal deal. You know how I loves a deal and this one, baby, is it! This puts every restaurant on the big restaurant week $30 showdown to complete shame.

Not much mystery about this restaurant, eh? I used to think it was only open on Friday, but no way man, it is open and ready for everyone 7 DAYS A WEEK! Now, the atmosphere is busy and noisy. There are lots of servers running about and the executive chef clearly has his eye on the dining room at all times. As one might expect, service is generally efficient, friendly, yet professional and courses always well paced. And the food? Both the flavors and textures were top notch. Now, don’t go in expecting truffle infused foie gras and poached baby kumamoto oysters and you’ll be fine.

“Tell me more, dammit, about that $12.99 meal deal, Scott!” you are all screaming now, I’ll bet.

Well, gather up the kids, here it is: You can pick either the indulgent menu or the “Guilt Free” (without being Taste Free!) menu and it’s all just $12.99 for 3 freakin’ courses! Naturally, you get a special selection of six appetizers (I nearly always go for the Chipotle Queso Dip – YUMMMMMY!) Then your choice of twelve entrees (but you can only pick one unless you want to pay extra). You might like that Key West Shrimp or the world famous RIBS! And then a choice of three desserts (my pick: Cinnabon Cheesecake made with a real cinnamon roll chopped up into a cheesecake, drizzled with hot fudge and topped with a flaming banana.) How could you go wrong?!!??

Of course, this place has garnered mostly rave reviews, but a few people have been under whelmed but I clearly can’t agree with those (classless?) people. All in all, well seasoned, very light, very fresh and very good food. And seriously folks, this place is going to have you running home to your underwear drawer – it’s so good you’ll be filling your pants! (Note: I did find out that this deal has expired in some regions).

And now…
After 7 months and as April begins, with this post I end my foodie blog and announce I will be converting it immediately to adult movie discussion – the first topic: the movie Bra Breakage 17!