MTFB turns 3?!

by janet on September 5th, 2011

I have been absent from MTFB a long time, due to the hugeness of this move across the country. The actual act of moving was a helluva drive through: Reno (which was too sad to even make fun of…depressing), Salt Lake City (where I tracked down and had some scotch just to feel rebellious), Denver (where I officially logged the longest wait time for a reservation-ed table – 2 hours), Mount Rushmore (where I attempted to start a movement to put Obama’s face next to Lincoln’s – there is TOTALLY room), the Badlands (looked like most of Nevada, but worth it just to go to Wall Drug), Omaha (where we stayed in the most lavish two-story suite because there were no other rooms in the city – on a TUESDAY!?), Chicago (right in time for Obama’s 50th hatchday!), Pittsburgh (where in addition to nomming I went jogging with an 8-month+ preggers Sharisa how does she do it), State College, my old hometown (where I drove by my old house and were stared down by a naked man glaring at us from the 2nd floor window), and finally, to New Brunswick, into the pink house that we will be living in for a year.

It’s true what they say about New Jersey citizens, though. They are annoying and SO NOSY!

But cute.

Happy Hatch Day MTFB. May you be less neglected in your third year.

Animals of Japan: Nihonimals.

by janet on July 7th, 2011

“Oooooo I can’t wait until you do an Animals of Japan post!” said R2 while we were tooling around Tokyo. I remember him saying this quite clearly, and yet when I sat down to compose this post I was like, “Did we see that many animals…?” But then I opened iPhoto and it reminded me that yes, we did see that many animals, and in fact we went to a fucking ZOO you dumbass.

On our recent excursion to the Land of the Rising Sun (btw, thank you Daniel and Tinx for covering with the most excellent posts; Tinky if I die/coma-out just continue posting as if you are me because we are blogstyle soulmates), we went to Tokyo, Izu, and Kyoto, and encountered tons of cuteness along the way. None was more surprising than the capybara., who we saw at the Inokashira Koen Zoo.

Oh man y’all. Capybaras are fucking cute. I was familiar with the species from the capybara Squee Spree but I was unprepared for how hella HUGE capybaras are! Usually, you mini-fy something to make it cuter, but in this instance the fact that this guy was so huge (you cannot tell in this photo, but a capybara is as big as a St. Bernard, but thicker and rounder). Apparently there is a capybara fad going on in Tokyo, which has netted shit like this which, even though they’ve been Japanified, do not quite capture the cuteness of a capybara. It’s something about their pissed-off looking eyes and their teeny prosh front feet that have to hold up the rest of the massive body. And they are massive indeed – capybaras are the largest rodent in the world.

Also at the zoo were fennec foxes. Jeff Corwin, my celebrity crush who I think looks just like Green Lantern, [aaaaaaand I'm back from almost an hour-long Jeff Corwin video watching jag] owns one as a pet. Jealouuuuuszors. Google “baby fennec” and you’ll squee, drool, and curl your toes, I guarantee it. This one was standing with one paw up and we were like “oh noooo is his wittow pawzie hurted?” but then he was like “fuck you tricked you stupids” and sprinted away. Adorbs.

While I was shrieking at the actually cute animals, R2 was busy going gaga over things like elephants.

Don’t get me wrong, I like me some elephants too, espesh since they are allegedly super intelligent despite the nomer Dumbo, but do I find them cute? No. Plus this one was stinky.

R2 also has a bird obsession, so much of the trip was him shouting GIVE ME THE CAMERA! and me frantically digging it out of my purse to throw to him, only to find he was taking pictures of birds:

I mean…ok I guess? I do like how he is marching like a soldier.

Ok that boid is legitimately cool (found outside the aquatic area of the zoo).

Ooooh artistic! This is at the top of Ohmuro-yama in Izu.

EWWWWWWWWW disgusteeeen why why why. Barf and cry. After that one, R2 was no longer allowed to take pictures.

OK, back to the zoo for a mo-mo. This is a super ZOOmed photo of a phone pic of a species that has evolved to camouflage themselves into rocks with a third monkey distractingly photobombing it in the back, so it’s difficult to see. But it’s basically a monkey in a pr0n-ey pose getting its ass picked over by a kind neighbor monkey.

Now, onward to Izu. Izu had a ton of strays. This one was lounging like nobody’s business on sharp gravel, owwch! They don’t seem to be wanting for food, based on the adorable ploppy roundness of this Oreo cat.

In Izu, we went to a heart-stoppingly gorgeous and rugged suspension bridge with giant cliffs and big white waves that crashed up against them extremely dramatically. Everyone was making “sugoi!” noises and taking a million pictures (that’s racist!) and bravely peeking over the edge of the rocky ledges.

Meanwhile, I found this cat hidden under a bush and was squealing at a super high frequency. I made everyone in my group come over and look at it, and was universally met with “….” You can see that even the cat itself was like “What is the big fucking deal.”

I dare anyone to go squee-less in the face of this marmalade stray! I can tell he’s sleepy and hungry at the same time, because his eyes are almost closed and his lil’ pink perfect half moon tongue is out.

I…I don’t understand this. But I want it. Whether it’s -the Barbarian or -O’Brien or just an incredibly awesome dog name, I don’t care. Please take note of the wiggle marks people.

All over Kyoto there were gardens in the middle of houses, restaurants, temples like it was no big thing. I can’t tell you how lovely it is to walk INTO an already gorgeous building and find this in the center. This koi was floating around at an impossibly slow pace which made me think it knew exactly how beautiful it was and was doing it on purpose just to be admired. Asshole.

Next, we went to Nara. From faaaaar away, my animal Spidey sense tingled at a four-legged brown thing off in the distance behind a fence. As I got closer, I realized it was a deer! SHHHH! Don’t scare it! We crept up on it and took a million pictures.

Then we turned a corner into Kohfukuji temple and saw a billion deer roaming around and bothering people. I yelled “IS THIS A THING?” at my mother, who was huffy because she had TOLD me that there were deer all over the place and I didn’t need to do 100x zoom on the first deer I saw. She was right. What was up was tons of deer butt.

This one was sleeping in on a park bench. Look at that moist nose! I wanted to stuff it into my mouth!! Instead, I went up to it, gave it bunny ears, and R2 snapped a photo. I am so hilarious.

This one was walking in the gutter. Stupid.

How’s this for the silliest warning sign ever? My mom and sister both thought this was a warning to humans not to bite, kick, butt, or knock down the deer. Although hilarious, also stupid.

R2 noticed that deer seem to save their fury solely for old ladies and little girls. If my mom and sister were any indication, it’s because they couldn’t correctly comprehend the signage. And if a deer is kicking you, why would you crouch into a ball!

I will conclude this nihonimals post with the gratuitous baby deer shot you knew was coming. And, because I neglected to say it when we were actually leaving Nara, I will fix my blue balls by ending this post by saying Sayonara Nara!

If I Ever Married a Burger…

by Daniel on June 9th, 2011

I have good news and bad news, friends. The good news is that Janet and R2 have safely found their way back stateside! The bad news is that eating their way across Japan for two weeks means they have two weeks worth of stuff to catch up on. Wizzomp womp! Never fear, I’m here to tide you over until Janet can regale us with whimsical tales of her motherland.

I also have a confession! I told Janet I was going to post this while she was actually in Japan, but instead I’ve been working on a secret for MTFB, a secret that not even Janet herself knows! Anyway, I’m glad I got that off my chest.

Let’s get to the topic at hand: The burger I would marry, if ever it was legal. Feast your eyes above on the Behemoth, courtesy of the Grill ‘em All Truck, winner of The Great Food Truck Race: a 7oz. burger fixed with cheddar, bacon, beer battered onions (!), pickles , Grandma’s Mosh Pit BBQ sauce, and…. wait for it… grilled cheese buns. Just in case you didn’t catch that last part, this burger uses grilled cheese sandwiches in place of buns. In. Place. Of. BUNS. Lemme hit you with a close up.

Nommy McNom NOM, loyal readers! I was the first to admit that this was one of those things that I could die from (I told my coworker she could have my stapler in the event of my death), that perhaps I should even consult my doctor prior to tackling this monster… but first and foremost I am here for the sake of hard-hitting journalism, so I threw caution to the wind and bit in.

What GLORY! JOY! EUPHORIA! I was instantly in a state of bliss, wildly giddy and ready to shout from the rooftops that I would make this burger my wife. It’s like, you know when you have the PERFECT grilled cheese sandwich? Delightfully crispy on the outside, with ooey, gooey cheese on the inside? Now think of two of those. Almost like your dreams have come true and you’ve met twins that you love equally. But WAIT! Put a burger between them (the grilled cheeses, not the twins), dressed up in its finest bacon and bbq sauce. BAM! It’s a mind-blowingly perfect combination of all the tastiest bad things in life. I thought the Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich was good, but holy moly!

Honestly, I was ready to declare my quest for the perfect burger had finally ended. I had searched high and low for years and at last, found it on a food truck. And then I realized I could never marry this burger, if only because I had already eaten most of it. I made the most of the situation by eating the rest of it, despite the fact that I felt like maybe I actually was going to die. It might’ve been worth it!

Anyway, if you’re feeling daring enough to try this finely crafted tower of deliciousness, hunt down the Grill ‘em All truck via their twitter or if you’re in West LA, keep an eye on the Westside Food Truck Central lot in Culver City, as that’s where I first met the Behemoth.

Grill ‘em All Truck
At a parking spot near you

Guest Post: Rainbow Doodle Cake!

by tinx on June 3rd, 2011

My stick figures are as true-to-life as it gets.

While Janet was in Japan getting her cultural heritage on with R2 in tow, I spent my days baking a beautiful cake.   Ok, it was only 2 days, and the cake is by no means beautiful.  But it has a great personality.  Sort of a butterface, or in this case, a butterfondant.  

This seems to happen to me a lot.  I love baking, and the stuff I make tastes really fucking good, but I’m kind of a failure when it comes to decorating.  Case in point: Giant Cuppycake.  That one tasted bad too, but whatevs.  A couple months ago I went crazy for a party Logo and I were hosting and made a shit-ton of desserts and the results were astoundingly lovely.  Alas, that was not the case this time.   

I decided to make this cake after a request from Eggroll to make a glorious dessert for a weekend away in Arrowhead for the Tough Mudder and Lisa’s/David’s birthdays.  For those who don’t know, the Tough Mudder is a ridiculous display of manliness and stupidity under the guise of a 10 miles race with obstacles.  Obstacles like diving in ice water and running through electrical wires charged with 10,000 volts.  SUPER FUN!!!!1!  

My inspiration for this cake was the amazingly beautiful Canuck cake blog Sweetapolita.  That woman makes some gorgeous cakes.  And gorgeous babies, just look at the pictures of her children on there!  And she married a gorgeous man.  Some people have all the luck.  I figured it would be fun to make a fun, surprising cake and have everyone write all over the pristine, smoothly fondant-ed outside. 

Not my cake.

I made the cake part of the cake the Wednesday before the weekend because I didn’t want to bake at high altitude–tried that in Mammoth without making adjustments and the cake was deflated and dry.  Still edible, but this one had to be gorgeous and thus I baked the cakes early and froze them.  The recipe is super easy.  I used cake flour instead of regular flour because I wanted to and mine says it’s expired so I need to use it up.  Apparently cake flour is treated with chlorine so it’s really soft and results in a lovely, soft, light crumb.  I subbed 1 c. + 2 T. of cake flour for each cup of regular flour and it worked out fine. 

Rewind to my initial preparations for this cake.  I went to the only cake decorating supply place in West LA, Gloria’s (silly side note: their URL spells it “suplys” hehe).  I think it was under construction because the right side of the store looked like a bomb had exploded.  Still, the place had everything!  I enjoyed rummaging immensely and spent a lot of time looking at the gel food colors.  SO pretty.  Ended up with the Americolor “school training kit,” so I’ll be set if I ever go to cake school.  AND I got these awesome food coloring markers so everyone could draw on the cake. 

Pretty colors!!

There was no way I was going to make my own fondant so I bought a fancier-looking one than Wilton because Wilton is the cake decorating devil and they’ve taken over everything with their cheapy fondant cutters and shit!  I made a good choice, too, because this fondant was actually tasty instead of tasting like sweet plastic. 

Fancy French name means it’s better.

After making the batter, you have to weigh it and then split it into 6 bowls for dyeing.  I thought this would be pretty difficult but it went quickly, though I used all of our cereal bowls and all of our forks for stirring the colors.  Logo was like “what happened I just did dishes?!” and I was like “Sorrrryyyyyy……”   Good story, huh?  Here’s a picture of the pretty batter.   Some of it, at least.

 Blue + yellow = green.  Lessons in color chemistry.

And here’s a couple pictures of the cakes cooling.  The layers are super super thin so I was glad I parchment-papered the bottoms of the pans to prevent any cake-butt loss.  The blue layer is missing because I had to rescue it from overcooking due its runtiness.  I’m like the mom that pushes aside that baby that won’t make it because it’s too small.  But the purple layer looks blue so pretend it’s both blue AND purple!  Yay! 

I obviously didn’t bake them in rainbow order.

Ignore the finger gouge in the green. 

I wrapped each layer in plastic wrap after cooling and realized when I stacked them that one of my cake pans was actually a pie pan and was slightly less than 9″.  So two layers were littler than the others on top of blue being super thin and yellow having a weird hump.  Not an auspicious beginning.  At least the colors are vibrant, right? 

Always use protection.

Fast-forward to assembling the cake: everyone was at the Tough Mudder except me and Stosh.  We went to breakfast (I had chicken-fried steak and eggs–I won) while the layers defrosted and then I made cream cheese frosting–Lisa’s favorite!–and frosted the cake.  I forgot to take pictures of this part, probably because I was having major issues getting it smooth because the layers were so lopsided.  Eventually I gave up, figuring that it didn’t have to look good since I was just going to cover it in fondant.  That was a poor decision.  Just so you know, fondant will form to whatever shape is underneath it.  Even weird cake lumps and gooshy frosting.  

The P-sug went into every crevice of the wooden table.  Whoops.

I did ok rolling the fondant out because it was very pliable and easy to work with.  But then when I put it on the cake, I didn’t cut off the excess soon enough and the bottom slowly ripped off, leaving a large hole in the fondant.  I tried using the remaining fondant to make another layer, but I didn’t have quite enough. 

First layer.  Not as ugly with flash.

That’s when I got the brilliant idea to make a bow!  It didn’t turn out half bad, but while I was making it the fondant already on the cake continued to settle and got lumpier and lumpier.  Eventually, the bottom of the cake looked like cellulite and when I tried to smooth it, the frosting underneath would squish out around the bottom.  Grossssss and delicious on my fingers nom. 

Ghett-bow!  Punny.

Everyone else said the cake was lovely, but they’re just nice friends.  They dutifully signed it and drew some fun pictures, including a lovely peen drawn by Eggroll’s brother. 

Complete with veins and hair.

Please compare my decorating skillz to those of my sister-in-law, who made the cake below for her friend’s wedding.  It’s breathtaking–all buttercream!!  Such sharp edges!  But then I learned that it took like 27 hours to do and she ended up crying in the kitchen more than once and I felt better about my 3-hour cake.   I could make it perfect if I spent 27 hours too!   

The story of this cake’s inception would make a good chick flick.

We FINALLY got to cut into the cake after all those hours of labor, and it was truly beautiful.  All the nasty fondant was forgotten and the cake was deliciously sweet and vanilla-ey.  With everyone getting drunker as the evening progressed, appetites increased and the cake slowly disappeared.  Aftermath.  Looks nom.

Ultimately, it was a success.  A delicious, colorful, lumpy success.  Make this shit for a fun time and an impressive reveal.

Off The Grid: Food truck circle/circus

by janet on May 11th, 2011

Have you ever wanted to get food from a food truck, but were too scared that your pants weren’t tight enough, your fedora not awkward enough, your scraggly mustache not hideous-looking enough? I mean, you bought yourself a vest so you could fit in, but as you nervously smoothed the front with your hands, did you worry that it wasn’t threadbare enough, or the buttons not ironically gaudy enough?

Did you ever want to get yummy, cheap street food without wilting under the stare of a hundred hipsters judging you?

I did.

So I went to Off the Grid, which is a weekly gathering of SF food trucks at Fort Mason. (It also happens around the city on other nights but this is by far the biggest with 30+ vendors.) I was apprehensive about it being too scene-y, but I figured it would take a lot of energy to ride a fixie all the way from the Mission to the Marina, and hipsters seem to take it as a point of pride that they have no muscle tone whatsoever, so I hoped I would be safe.

And I was.

As R2 and I approached the lights in the middle of the Fort Mason parking lot, we saw a giant circle, the border comprised of food trucks and tents with two gaps – the entrance and exit, respectively. As we stepped into that hallowed circle, I nearly fainted with joy.

Here were young people, old people, family people, weird people… and instead of calculated boredom or angst, there was only eagerness and howling hunger.

We attempted to do a lap to be organized about our dining plan, but halfway around the circle we gave up and went for the shortest line, which was for Red Truck. We picked up Chinese fried chicken with hot sauce for a piddling $2, and it seemed like as soon as we gave our name to the guy another guy was yelling our name with our chicken. In my state of extreme hunger and excitement I totally forgot to take a picture, but visually it looked a lot like fried chicken with hot sauce. It tasted a lot like heaven. It had a complex peppery flavor that I might even describe as “weird” but with the Sriracha it burst into flames of complex, crunchy, fatty, spicy goodness.

Riding high on that triumph, we next went to a vendor whose name I am regrettably missing. It was Argentinean if I remember correctly, but maybe it wasn’t. (So sue me. I was in a joy daze).

Don’t judge me! I HAD to use flash or it would have been hopelessly blurry! Anyway, I think it captures the spirit of OTG – off center, exposed in multiple ways, and delicious-looking. I get scared when the thing containing the innards is neither soft nor crunchy but somewhere in between, but this glorious green thing, whatever it was, was appropriately and pleasingly chewy to stand up to the tomato and carnitas. As a texture-eater, I found this little pocket to be totally delightful, and one of my favorites of the night.

While R2 waited in line for it, I danced on over to the Onigilly stand, which was selling rice balls filled with salmon or hijiki, which is a super salty/sweet preparation of seaweed. I got one of each, duh, and ran back to R2. Rice isn’t a slurpable foodstuff, but that’s what it felt like I was doing. Putting rice up to my mouth and inhaling, basically. It’s been ages since I’ve eaten hijiki so I was cuddled up in a nice nostalgia bubble.

See, this is what happens when you attempt to take a food photo at night without flash. Of course, it doesn’t help that it’s almost all eaten and being grabbed out of my hands by a greedy R2.

I didn’t begrudge him this grubby behavior. Because this was the Chicken Tikka Masala burrito from the Curry Up Now truck that we had been lusting after from the beginning. We were in that superbly annoying situation where the line was outrageous, and yet once we were in it NO ONE got in line after us. But all of that was forgotten once we had the huge, hot thing in our hands. Oh God. I mean I can’t. It’s…just…so JUICY! and … taste so good! I’m sure this burrito will keep me up at nights, crying, once I move to New Jersey.

Finally, we ended the night at Chairman Bao‘s truck. We got one Red Sesame Chicken bao with scallions and bok choy and one pulled pork bao with Savoy cabbage and preserved mustard seeds. Poor things. Nothing could possibly follow the transcendent curry burrito, and we were stuffed to boot. I can say that the chicken one was a flavor esploshun and the proportions were absolutely perfect in both baos.

The whole shebang is catered by quality alcohol purveyors like Alembic. Not that you needed any help in reaching a giggly, high, staggering, I-LUF-YOU-GUUUUYS state. If you are my stalker, you are in luck, as you will find me at OTG every Friday from now on.

Off The Grid
Fridays at Fort Mason
Just drive to the northernmost part of the city, you’ll find it.

Things I have eaten in daylight that should be eaten in daylight

by janet on May 6th, 2011

LUNCH: Due to my impending move to the east coast, everyone keeps asking me what I’ll miss most. I am realizing that honor might go to the teeny Sunday Farmer’s Market at Fort Mason, not because I buy that much from it (no need to cheat on my CSA box) but because of the Chaac Mool stand. For those of you trying to plan fun things like “Let’s eat all the tacos in SF and see which one is the best!” – go fuck yourselves because this is the best taco on earth. Make sure you get the carnitas taco. It will come out to your sunny picnic table on a small Dixie plate. The tortilla will be hot, with the underside slightly crunchy. The pork will be insanely juicy, and with a dollop of their neon-green hot sauce on top of their green salsa verde, oh god! I’m foaming at the mouth, either from saliva overload or because I just had a seizure from thinking about this taco.

R2 always also gets a tamal (you have two options – veggie or pollo). Why does he do this??? Doesn’t he KNOW that our time is ruuuuunning OOUUT? Any jaw movement not used toward masticating a carnitas taco is a shameful waste!

Reasons the tamal is not as good as the taco: (1) I wish cotija cheese had more sharpness; as it stands it doesn’t add to the combination; (2) moistness varies from week to week, whereas taco is absolutely stellar in its gushy-ness 52 weeks of the year; (3) it’s just not the taco.

So run run run to the Farmer’s Market on Sunday! We can elbow each other in line to fight for the first taco.

BLUNCH: If you wake up on the spaghetti-and-meatballs side of the bed, go to Caffe Delucchi. I mean, have you seen such a perfectly representative specimen? I got this with their slightly-more-expensive housemade fresh pasta, which upped the delectableness a thousandfold. R2 was staring at it, and I guessed that he was either (a) lusting after my perfect plate of satisfying comfort or (b) wanting to recreate the Lady & the Tramp scene but not asking because he knew I would say no.

He ordered well, too.

I don’t know why the polenta looks yellower than a banana (foreshadowing!), but there you go. This is Polenta with Pulled Porkhot, soft polenta topped with pulled pork in a lightly spicy marinara sauce and poached eggs. This alliteratively pleasing dish was the kind of thing (if not for the egg-hatred) I would go bananas (foreshadoween!!) over. R2 squished the eggs, stirred, and created dripping, hearty spoonfuls over and over again. Quite awesome.

3 PM SNACK: I am like the little guys from Despicable Me when it comes to bananas. Banana cream pie and banana Laffy Taffy (soo silky soft!) are my two favorite banana foods. We went to Chile Pies & Ice Cream and pretty much died when we ate this. Well, *I* did. I think R2 is just saying he loves pie so that I will think he’s cool.

This is a tre blogworthy pie, and what prompted our visit. It’s their signature Green Chile Apple Pie with cheddar crust and walnut streusel topping with organic vanilla ice cream and red chile honey drizzle. I longed for it to be even more salty or spicy or otherwise weird and exciting, but it was just a slightly crunchier (on account of the chiles) apple pie. Basically it couldn’t stand up to the sheer lusciousness and creamy satisfaction of the banana cream pie so eating it became a chore.

HANGOVER CURE: This is an R2 find – Shalimar on Polk. It’s just a no-nonsense, almost-divey Indian joint. There is no better cure for dizzy, miserable nausea than an order of their chicken tikka masala. The oily grease that floats on top fills in the holes in your soul and soothes your raggedy stomach lining. It’s not just the grease – Indian spices were basically made by God/Brahma to cure hangovers. Caraway, cardamom, coriander, cumin, fennel, and ginger calm the stomach and turmeric contributes to liver detox. As I sit in exactly such a state on a plane right at this moment, I find myself wanting to stick a straw into the screen. Instead, I will have to placate my raging, impending vomminess with one of Virgin’s bullshit “meals” of pita chips + 5-hour energy. At least I successfully switched to an aisle seat (I lied and said I was eight weeks pregnant and needed to be able to quickly escape to the bathroom on account of my morning sickness. Going to hell much?).


Chaac Mool
Fort Mason Farmer’s Market

Caffe DeLucchi
500 Columbus
San Francisco, CA 94109

Green Chile Pie & Ice Cream
601 Baker Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

1409 Polk Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Grilled Cheese Invitational and World’s Cutest Puppy

by janet on April 27th, 2011

With a title like that, there’s no way you wouldn’t read the whole post. But just to be sure, I am putting the puppy picture at the very end.

R2, Daniel and I went to the Grilled Cheese Invitational in LA last weekend. Their motto is “Bread-Butter-Cheese-VICTORY!” which makes sense to me.

We all got judging tickets, which meant that we could go to the competition arena and judge the entries. It all sounded like a dream, a cheesy dream, and I couldn’t wait!

11:00 am, day of festival, at Tinx’s house:

Janet: [clutching a huge ham sandwich] OM NOM NOM NOM!

Tinx: Aren’t you going to be eating a shitload of grilled cheeses soon?

Janet: Eee! If Daniel asks this is YOUR sandwich OKAY?

Tinx: Why?

Janet: Because he’ll be pissed that I’m ruining my appetite!

Tinx: He’s not gonna care.

Janet: Yes he is.

Knock knock.

Daniel: [Walking in] Tillamooooook!

Tinx: Hi!

R2: Hi!

Janet: Hi!

Janet: [Absentmindedly picks up sandwich and starts eating it again] Snarf snarf.


We made it to the festival, in a sort-of-shady part of downtown, by 1:30 pm. Despite my rebellious snacking, I was very low blood sugar, and the three of us were totally cranky.

Then the door checker gave us our judging bracelets, and I perked up. Then he gave us two tickets and said “That’s for your two judging tastings.” Whaaa? Just two? There were over 200 competitors! And…tickets? Does this mean it’s not a cheese-eating free for all?

It did indeed mean that. There were 17 professional stands where you had to purchase samples for anywhere from $2 to $7.50. This made us crankier. Then there was the competition arena, where the 200+ amateurs cooked their grilled cheeses in several heats throughout the day. They handed them out to people with judging tickets as they finished cooking them, often one at a time, so at any given time 1 out of around 50 people would get an actual tasting. Usually it was the person yelling the loudest or the girl with the most prominent boobs. Bogus. This made us the crankiest.

I realized were were in that dangerous headspace where you simultaneously have lost the will to live but are ready to shoot someone in the eyeball. I said, “Let’s just get one into our belly” and lined up for the shortest line, which was the Mendocino Farms stand.

Pictured in the background is the $3 Asian pork belly Cubano with chinese hot mustard, caramelized Kurobuta pork belly, prime honey ham, provolone, house made sweet chili sauce and Asian pickles on a panini grilled ciabatta.

Whoa, right?

Pictured in the foreground is the $2 French Onion Soup Melt with smoked gouda fondue and cave aged gruyere with caramelized onions on panini grilled dolce forno pretzel roll.

Fuckin-A, right??

The former was one of those sammies that start out all weird but in the end all the flavors combine to be something more than the sum of its parts. The Asian mustard POW was the best part. The latter was my favorite of the entire day. The idea itself is so pleasing, and the execution, especially with the exotic bread, was outstanding!

Next, we met the World’s Fucking Cutest Fucking Puppy. But I’m not showing the picture until the end, remember?

Daniel and I had lost R2 at this point, and I worried that he was crouching in the corner in some low-b-sug-induced sulk-seizure, but instead I spied him being fed a grilled cheese sandwich by a huge, bearded dude in a very seductive way. I felt like I was interrupting a private moment so I looked away. Then I looked back and realized it was one of R2′s high school pals, and they’re always doing silly shenans like that.

I was all riled up from the one-two punch of puppy-beard so I forgot to take a picture of our next set of sandwiches, which were from the Mix N’ Munch Grilled Cheese (their apostrophe is in the wrong place, stupid) stand. We got a $2 Mix N’ Munch Breakfast Sammy with cheddar, bacon, fried egg, and tater tots on Shepherd’s bread. I dislike egg and I REALLY dislike tater tots, so this one wasn’t for me. I did appreciate, however, that instead of being a monstrosity that it could easily have been, it was all tidy and compact and looked, for all intents and purposes, like a regular Velveeta grilled cheese. We also got a $3 Char Suit [sic] N’ [we already know this was sic] Cheese, with Chinese barbecued pork, pickled onions and provolone on egg bread. In terms of Asian fusion points, Mendocino wins. Mostly I was distracted by the huge fat chunks in the pork, which on top of the provolone was a lot of white blandness. Oh, we also got the last cantaloupe water, which made many folks in line curse at us.

Everywhere we walked with the above item people ran up and asked where we got it and what it was. We got it from the Cynthia Washburn stand and it was an off-menu arancini. Basically a chunk of mozzarella surrounded by a clump of rice, breaded and deep fried. Heavenly. This one was particularly amazing because it had huge chunks of vegetables inside like spinach and carrots. I also really appreciated that it was so hot we could barely pick it up. Next time I’m super drunk, I hope this will magically appear in my hands, because I can’t imagine anything better and my hands will be numb and won’t hurt quite as much.

This one, also from Cynthia Washburn, wins my gourmet award. It is the$4 Ruby Canard, with duck confit, truffled chevre, and red onion port marmalade on rosemary bread.

There are probably those grilled cheese purists who would scoff at such a concoction. But creative and schmance grilled cheeses have their place too, which is why the Invitational has four categories:

Love, American Style – White bread, butter, orange cheese (American or Cheddar). NOTHING ELSE.

The Missionary Position - Any type of bread, butter and cheese. NO ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS.

The Kama Sutra - A sandwich of the savory nature, with any type of bread, butter and cheese PLUS additional ingredients, and the interior ingredients must be at least 60% cheese.

The Honey Pot – Any kind of bread, any kind of butter, and any kind of cheese, and the interior ingredients of the sammich must be at least 60% cheese, PLUS additional ingredients, and with an overall flavor that is sweet and would best be served as dessert.

Click through for outrageously detailed paragraphs describing each category if you are bored.

I expected the Ruby Canard to be over-the-top decadent, but it really wasn’t. R2 and I came away with the same single conclusion, which was that we really like goat cheese.

Winning my decadent award instead was the above-pictured $7.50 Chicken N. [sic - what the hell everyone?] Waffle Melt, with sharp cheddar cheese and fried chicken on two golden waffles. By far the longest line we waited in, but I passed the time by first going to to the First Aid tent to steal some spray-on sunscreen. The paramedics looked super bored. One of them took one bite out of a grilled cheese sandwich and pushed it away. “I don’t really like grilled cheese sandwiches,” he mumbled sadly.

Then I passed the time by bopping to the music of March Fourth, which is this crazy kooky indie scary/creepy/cool awesome marching band, as it came through the main drag. Surprise surprise, they are originally from Portland.

The Chicken N. Waffle Melt was being sold by The Grilled Cheese Truck #2 (there were two and they both sold different things), and came with your choice of syrup or gravy on the side. We, of course, got one of each. I also got a Plain and Simple Melt, with sharp cheddar on French bread.

Yes, the gravy was THAT kind of gravy. The thick, chunky, pale kind that you might mistake for condensed cream of mushroom soup. This one had some cayenne pepper in it, and the fried chicken was very salty and crunchy, and the waffles were sweet and fluffy-soft and the whole shebang was pretty freaking awesome. The regular grilled cheese I got was tossed to the side after one bite, poor thing.

I was bursting at the seams, but we couldn’t leave without getting (a) a free 5-hour Energy that ladies in short shorts and visors were passing out and (b) a $3.25 Bacon Me Crazy from The Feast Truck, with mozzarella, strawberries and bacon coated with brown sugar and cayenne topped with a chocolate balsamic reduction drizzle.

It didn’t taste as weird as it looked (that’s what she said). I think cooked strawberries can sometimes get a gross slimy texture and this bordered on that, but otherwise it was fine. Who knows. Maybe my taste buds were on strike after being overworked.

We felt stupid buying judging passes and not judging a single sammy in the competition arena, so we waddled our way over and pressed ourselves up against the fence. The competitors were on the other side slowly making their sandwiches one by one. Then, festival workers would take a completed sandwich, turn to the crowd, and bask in undeserved attention as we all shrieked and begged for one of the samples. The ticketing system had gone out the window an hour earlier so it was an actual free-fer-all. One of the guys came close to Daniel, and he half-heartedly reached out a hand, but didn’t get one. I looked over at R2 and he was like “enh…” and equally half-assedly waved his hand at another worker.

Clearly we were full and our hearts just weren’t in it. To add insult to injury, there was a grilled cheese poetry contest being broadcast at ear-bleedingly loud decibels just to our left. Beyond the headache this generated, it made me double mad because R2 had composed a poem and not submitted it. I am SURE it would have won, so I am publishing it here:

Shall I compare thee to a grilled cheese sandwich?
Thou art fine and full, but not so satisfying.
Would that I were pampered and rich,
My heart still melts while cheddar’s frying.
Sometime too hot my passion burns,
By blackened char, gold flavors dim’d;
But bite for bite, opinion turns
And sandwich gone, I found I’ve sin’d.
I find fine dining my tongue eschews,
Nor are fair viands my heart’s true wish
‘Tis grilled cheese that I always choose,
Eternally the most delish.

And when I die, when laid to rest,
‘Tis cheese I will have loved the best.

Finally, we had had enough, and without judging a single sammy we wobbled/rolled our way back to the car. When I got back to SF, all those who had seen my Facebook status bragging about it were dying to know who won. First of all, we would have had to stay until SIX pm to find out the results, which would have been the death of us. Second of all, and just mentioned, we did not ourselves judge a single sando. Third of all, the winners and their sandwiches have nonsensical names so it wouldn’t make a difference to tell you. An example – the winning team of the Kama Sutra category was Super Duper Zung Chung and their entry was called the Fromage Connection. Meaningless.

So who cares! Especially when you have made it this far and can reap your just reward: The Fucking World’s Fucking Cutest Fucking Puppy. To get the proper sense of scale, you must realize that this puppy is being held by a child who is herself tiny. It was about the size of a bagel. You might even mistake it for a squirmy bagel and put it in your mouth. In fact, when I asked Daniel “how would you describe the teeniness of the puppy?” he said “Edible! Like literally fit in my mouth maybe.” So, without further ado, here it is, in all its tongue-y squee glory:


Pictures of dogs R2 has sent me

by janet on April 6th, 2011

There are more dogs than children in San Francisco. So, the collection of pictures of dogs that R2 has texted me is a well-curated one. It’s not like any old puppers can make the cut. Since they arrive in my phone without accompanying narration, I have to infer what it is about each pup that has stricken his fancy. I will share my thoughts on what I think his thoughts were with you now.

First, the dog pictured top. Obvy! The dog has two different colored eyes, stupid! Upon closer inspection, though, maybe it’s the fact that if you look at it right, it looks like a weird three-legged species of dog, and also its fuck-you expression is adorbs.

I keep telling him that this breed is called a French Bulldog, and that many famous people have them, like Martha Stewart. But every time R2 sees one he gets all excited like it’s a strange-looking mutt that is very cute and sends me a picture.

R2 is a sucker for dogs that are sitting politely even when it’s obvious that they want to freak out.

This dog looks either very old or very Asian. R2 is also a sucker for wise-soul-looking dogs, and also dogs that look very patient.

Haha awesome. Maybe he was trying to give me material for my dogs-that-should-be-named-Oreo post. Or, maybe he was actually trying to get a picture of its owner, who looks suspiciously Doctor Who-esque in his apparel.

I’m sure it was this pup’s “OK, so what the fuck do you want?” expression that caught R2′s eye. Also, he likes black-muzzled dogs. Also, free dog!

R2 knows I heart heart heart Corgis, and if it is a mutt that has some Corgi in it, even better! This puppy looks like a cross between a Corgi and Patrick Dempsey (see below) so it is ultimate cute.

This is Patrick Dempsey, the charmer that hangs out in the Animal Company pet store. He is a Bernese Mountain Dog, which ranks #2 after Corgis for me. Many a time have I dug both of my hands into his belly and relished his softness. He is extremely lazy and chill and puts up with this for as long as I want.

As a general rule, R2 does not like purebred dogs, so I’m not sure why he sent this to me. Maybe he didn’t have his glasses on and thought it was a Corgi. Dumbass.

Oh, how did this get in here? This is the late Vernon, cat of R2′s late grandpa. RIP. Vernon was both blind and deaf, but somehow he knew when it was 5 am because then he would start meowing SO LOUD like a banshee. I still hearted him, though, and I would say “I heart Vernon!” and R2 would say, “No one hearts Vernon!” but he was just saying that. I know for a fact that Tinx also hearted Vernon.

If it’s a Corgi, he will send me a picture, no matter how far away the photo has to be taken from.

He also really likes boids. The plumper, the better. I like how this one is like, “Yeah what?”

Update: Apparently Tinx sent me this. Sometimes I get them confused, even though it should be easy to tell them apart – one is a ginger with a nice rack, the other is usually practicing karate kicks with a Green Lantern ring on while telling me a really long synopsis of a Doctor Who episode.

This one is a toughie. Why did he center the one dog to the neglect of the other? The one on the left looks much sillier, and I remember that we laughed sooo hard at this post of 22 dogs that look like they’re high. I’m guessing that the dog on the right fell into the “patient-looking” category that he loves so much.

This is just a weird-looking wee dog.

Hee hee he’s so round and fat! R2 has a “fat and at Starbucks” meme with some of his dog photos.

This is another. He particularly loves pugs. He says it is because their faces are so weird but I suspect it also has something to do with Men in Black.

A+ for effort, but fucking F for safety! I do love how this dog is sitting like he’s just a human.

My all-time favorite, and sums up many of R2′s pupperson-love memes. (1) At Starbucks. (2) Old-looking, even though it is clearly a puppy. (3) Round. (4) Patient. (5) Silly.

Slimy the Salad Slug

by janet on March 30th, 2011

Fuck Imma vom writing this post because I have to look at the above picture. Plus it’s going to be on the start page of my Chrome for weeks now.

I was in LA recently, and on Sunday I went with Tinx and DJ Deer and Daniel to the Brentwood Farmer’s Market. We were a hot mess from partying till 4:30 am the night before. But the morning wasn’t going to get any better.

DJ Deer: [fiddling on phone] I’m going to check in for my flight now.

Me: [Hurting from the effort of small talk] Good idea.

DJ Deer: Wait, what’s today’s date?

Me: Sunday.

DJ Deer: I mean the DATE.

Daniel: The 27th.

DJ Deer: I did something really stupid.

So it turns out that he had booked his flight for the following week, which is just silly because that wasn’t even the right MONTH. While he freaked out about that, my eyes were sparkling because the Brentwood farmer’s market is one of those where there are proper food stalls, not just bullshit veggies.

Tinky chose pupusas. Basically a fatty quesadilla, but with the stuff actually incorporated into the masa. Here look:

Superb…looking. I didn’t taste it, since my attention was solely focused on my lamb gyro. Not content with one huge serving of food, I asked Daniel if he wanted to also share a falafel platter. He said yes, of course, and this is precisely why I keep him around.

My gyro was perfection. The lamb shards were crisp on the edges, the tzatziki was cool and creamy, and the whole thing was damn near impossible to pick up, which is the mark of a good gyro. It replenished whatever vitamins and minerals I had lost the night before and I was feelin’ ACE!

Onwards! I flipped open the falafel plate container and handed it to Daniel to hold in his lap (we were plopped down on a curb) so I would have two hands: one to pick up and dip the falafel, the other to make perfect salad bites with proper proportions of olive, feta, lettuce, and onion.

The falafel was a little bit dry, and besides, nothing beats Bella Pita fresh-fried falafel. I ate maybe a fourth of it and said “I’m done with that” to Daniel.

But then I remembered I had to take my Metamucil pills (don’t pretend like travel doesn’t gum up your insides too) which, on account of their horseyness, must be washed down with food. So I re-flipped open the container and started stabbing at it while Daniel held it for me.

Olive, feta, lettuce, onion, eyeball.

Wait, two eyeballs.


I screamed EEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAEEEEERHHHH and ran fifteen feet away.

Tinky also started screaming out of confusion, and DJ Deer a little bit too.

“There’s A! … BAD! … THING!” I cried.

Daniel started pivoting back and forth, not knowing what to do or what I was talking about.


Just then, a random man walked through our cluster of chaos, looked into the salad, and said, “Oh that’s not good.”

“You’ll get a refund for sure,” he continued. “Better that they know so they can fix it,” and sauntered off.

WHO CARES MOTHERFUCKER? At that point, the slug had crawled up and over the lip of the container and was hanging by a centimenter of its own slime.

Daniel started moving again, making it swing back and forth like a pendulum.

“DON’T! MOVE! DO NOT! DO NOT!” we all screamed at him.

Finally it plopped down on the ground and DJ Deer ran in like a paparazzo, took a picture, and ran away again.

“Should I…throw this away?” Daniel asked, PTSD-style.

“YES!” I yelled, and experienced the most massive shudder from my toes up to my head.

Ugh. Terrible. How did we not notice it the entire time we were eating it? And did I stab it with my fork, and thus did I imbibe slug fluids? What if I stabbed it through its sexual organs, and what if I imbibed its SEXUAL FLUIDS GAHHHHHH.

These thoughts are not productive nor realistic. I gotta stop.

To wash the slug semen out of our mouths, we went to Cafe Luxxe. It is a legit coffee joint where people come from miles and miles away. Their baristas always win foam competitions and stuff. Indeed, the heart-flower did soothe my horror-struck psyche a little bit.

And then we impulse-shopped Alfajor cookies. They had just 5 ingredients: flour, butter, sugar, cream, and salt.

Just looking at them, you can already tell their texture. Crumbly in the most toe-curling way:

The center was not chocolate like you’d think if you were a dumbass and didn’t read what I just wrote. It was a caramel goo which was doggone outrageous.

So with that, my psychological slug-shaped wounds were healed. But then fucking DJ Deer uploaded the picture to Facebook with the caption “Slimy the Salad Slug” and we looked at it (why!) and were traumatized all over again.

Hopefully dead and in hell
Otherwise, at the Brentwood Farmer’s Market
Gretna Green Way, Brentwood, LA

Cafe Luxxe
11975 San Vicente Blvd
Brentwood, CA 90049

There that shall not be named

by janet on March 23rd, 2011

Not cuz it’s evil, but because I don’t know if the food was included in the NDA I signed lol.

This was at one of those companies that follow the Google model; ie free food for their employees. I was given a tour of the facilities but as I walked through the space I kept snagging on the snack stations. Glorious L-shaped nooks filled with snacks like Pop Chips (they taste a lot like Kappa Ebi-sen/Calbee Shrimp chips, which I can no longer eat without dying due to my acquired allergy) and those dehydrated fruit thingies and even tiny tins of Altoid mints! And every drink known to man, including things I love but can’t often find like Diet Mountain Dew. MMmmMMmMM.

I quickly calculated: 4 pockets in my jeans, two pockets in my coat, a big purse, and oh good I wore my loose bra today so I could stuff it if needed. I wasn’t above going hermaphrodite-style either in my skinny jeans.

I got one thing of Pop Chips and then my guide was already off and away, her impossibly high heels (I say impossibly because I take pride in hacking high heels all the time, and hers were higher) clicking on the concrete floor. How does such a tiny person walk so fast I grumbled, simultaneously wondering which was more uncouth: busting out the chips and eating them while walking or the blatant crinkly sound coming from my bag.

Someone should have told me SIMMA DOWN NA, because she was headed to the cafeteria. Oh goody goody goody. Even though it was St. Patrick’s day, it was Indian day. This was a vegetarian Mulligatawny soup. Do you like how I styled this shot with the cucumber hint water?

To be honest, I was very worried about busting out a camera, given the non-disclosure agreement and all. I got away with it, probably because I was surrounded by many Asians who were too busy ching chong ling long ting tong-ing.

I love cucumber water. Maybe it’s classical conditioning because they often co-occur with massages. hint water is so gross, though. I KNEW it before I drank it, but it was a classic case of decision overload ending up in the absolute worst pick, exacerbated by the fact that everything was freaking free.

The soup was thick and salty and therefore I loved it. It was so thick and salty, however, that it made me suspect they mislabeled it as soup when it was actually some kind of curry. This made me muse about what makes a soup a soup, which made me want to revisit the idea of (which is now finally taken, by the way).

Pictured top is a potato and tofu curry, some sauteed greens, rice, Indian vegetables, and a slice of moist, quivering lamb. I cursed and cursed and cursed my choice to go into academia. I know for a fact that several people surrounding me were also psych majors in college, so that was definitely my fuckup. It was then my lower lip’s turn to quiver as I looked around in jealousy at these people who were probably coming right back here in six hours to eat dinner. In between they were probably going to go by the snack station, unwrap a free Clif bar, and throw it away after eating three bites. Assholes.

In other news, I don’t think I realized it’s Clif with one “f” before.

My final item was a cute mini cupcake celebrating the day properly. It had cream cheese frosting and was a perfect two bites. My host then encouraged me to load up on snacks before I left, and in fact pressed more items in my hands, saying “These are really nommy too! You have so much more space in your purse!” Her understanding tone plus her usage of the word “nommy” were almost enough to start the waterworks again.

I love this place. I want to go to there again.