Archive for the ‘Vom’ Category

Slimy the Salad Slug

Wednesday, 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.

Wait, 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.

“DON’T MOVE! DO NOT! DO NOT MOVE! DON’T MOVE!” I shrieked.

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.

Slug
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
310.394.2222

Espana Part II: Toledo

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

“Holy Toledo” is what R2′s FB status was when we went here. Toledo was a relatively spur-of-the-moment stop for us – we wanted to stay in a parador (a state-run converted castle) and this one was the closest one to an AVE (high speed train) stop. Just thirty minutes south of Madrid, the Parador de Toledo is on a hill outside of the main city with fucking KILLER views. The picture above, taken with the panorama function on The Kraken, barely got taken because both R2 and I were subject to a sudden spider cloud ambush. Horror and squeals. Except R2 was taking a photo of some English tourists for them at the time, one of whom said “You’re one hundred times bigger than that spider!” so he couldn’t squeal at the monstrous arachnid dangling from his elbow. [He kind of just stopped breathing and trembled until I rescued him and killt it.]

This was the view from our balcony. Our room was clean and bright and atmospheric and had a canopy and warm tile floors and I loved it.

The city proper (the entire city has been declared a national monument) is two winding miles away and everything you want in a vacation spot. Tiny streets barely the wider than most of your flat screen TVs, all cobblestoned and meandering down and up and down and up with charming doorways and stores and – SMACK! Right into the most gorgeous cathedral I’ve ever, ever, ever been in. The Toledo Cathedral does not allow photographs, unfortunately, but even compared to later cathedrals (Sagrada Familia, Barcelona Catedral) that are bigger and more famouser, this one was just breathtaking. It was all I could do to not burst into flames, it was so beautiful and spiritual.

Plaza de Zocodover is the main square in tiny Toledo, and all roads lead back to it. We stopped at a cafe on the square and I had my first experience with churros.

We did it wrong, totally.  They had clearly been sitting out forever, and were cold and salty (?) and I didn’t get a hot chocolate as one was supposed to so I was dunking them in cafe solo (black). I huffed a little and wished I was at Disneyland but then realized I was in fucking SPAIN so I snapped out of it.

Across the street to Santo Tome, purveyor of Toledo’s specialty, mazapan (marzipan). All these online reviews say their website is great, and it should be, since they’ve snagged mazapan.com.

I adore almond flavoring. I also adore nondescript globs of things. From soft (flan) to hard (Lemonheads). As I type this now, I’ve had to text “I WANT MAZAPAN” to R2. Twice.

We then went, based on Rick Steves’ recommendation, to Cafeteria Cason Lopez de Toledo. It’s the cheaper version of the fancy restaurant “located upstairs in an old noble palace,” specializing in “Castilian food, particularly venison and partridge.” The cafeteria version, “…while called a ‘cafeteria,’ is actually a quality restaurant in its own right…where the locals dine, enjoying the fancy restaurant’s kitchen at half the price.” Sounds great!

We showed up at eight, apparently too early for them, for the restaurant was empty and the waitstaff kept rolling in for work after we were practically done. But methinks the restaurant was empty for other reasons…

They had a 11 euro prix fixe deal, and our amuse (?) was the mussel … ceviche? Shown above. Ceviche doesn’t technically contain raw fish, since the acid from the lemon/citrus “cooks” it. These looked pretty raw, however.

R2 picked one up and noticed a bunch of hairy … things coming out of the blowhole of one of them. He (with effort – shudderrr) yanked them out, and not knowing what to do, threw the hairy bundle onto the ground. I didn’t tell him at the time for reasons that will become apparent, but it reminded me of a particularly horrific wart I got on my toe in middle school in moist and humid Tokyo. The Japanese name for that type of wart is uwonome, which in English means fish eye. My specific wart, though, looked just like the thing in the mussel – a circular ring with skin formations that looked like tiny hairs poking out the center. I just vommed a little thinking about it.

Anyway, I ate one and thought “FISHAY!” R2 went for the now-de-haired one but I stopped him. He put that one aside and picked up another one and popped it into his mouth.

“I still can’t get over how beautiful that cathedral was. And it’s crazy to think that it’s tucked away here in this random cit–”

I looked over to R2 at that moment and stopped talking, because R2′s face had gone from his usual Jew-pale to an ashen, translucent putty color, streaked through with green.

“ARE YOU OK?”

“GULP.”

“NOOO DON’T SWALLOW EET!”

He swallowed it. And proceeded to look shaken for the rest of the meal (I think he was actually shaking), with perspiration at his hairline. Poor thing.

He also had the bad luck to have ordered gazpacho, which in this case apparently meant salmon gazpacho. Cold soup when you feel like you want to mon (the opposite of nom get it?) is not great, but an intensely fishy cold soup with cheese on top…R2 is only a man, after all.

I told him he didn’t have to finish it and offered him some of my salad, which came with white asparagus, which I love (this is the nicest thing I can say about this place – that they happened to serve something out of a can that I like) but also with tuna mixed throughout the lettuce. This resto really loves their fishy meme.

The server, noticing that R2 had barely touched his soup, grew concerned. She asked if he wanted a salad like mine? Did he not like his soup? What else would he like instead? and R2, in a trembling voice, insisted “…me…me gusta!”

I had to give it to him – he delivered this lie without crying.

Bad luck upon bad luck, R2 had ordered a fish dish as his entree. I stole it quickly away from him. The fish wasn’t bad – it was just normal.

In return, I gave him my scalloped beef with potatoes. Again, it wasn’t fabulous, but the potatoes settled his tum I think. After this was flan and bread pudding, which R2 tore into to wash the whole tragedy of a meal down.

As we walked (he, shakily) out of the restaurant, we decided we could not end our night on that note (they didn’t even have the promised venison OR partridge, jyerks!), so we decided to go to a wine bar, once again recommended by Rick Steves.

Adolfo Vinoteca is the wine bar of the highly respected local chef Adolfo, who runs a famous gourmet restaurant across the street. His hope: to introduce the younger generation to the culture of fine food and wine. The bar offers up a pricey but always top-notch list of gourmet plates and fine local wines per glass – don’t economize here. Adolfo’s son, Javier, proved to me the importance of matching each plate with the right wine. I like to sit next to the kitchen to be near the creative action. If the Starship Enterprise had a Spanish wine-and-tapas bar on its holodeck, this would be it.”

Guess, just GUESS which part of that description sang to R2.

We went, and had to double check that it was still open, since it, too was empty. But they had both partridge AND venison on their menu, so we ordered both (both came as stews; the partridge dish was described as partridge with discolored beans lol). We asked, in accordance with Rick, for them to pair a wine with it, and our server was like, “???” and we said, you know, what wine would go well with the dishes we’ve ordered? and he was like, “?? Well, we have red wine and white wine.” And we said no, like, what specific wine would go with the partridge and the venison? and he finally, seemingly haphazardly, said, “this wine is very good.”

They first brought out what we encountered often in Toledo – a potato salad sandwich. Just the thought churns the stomach, and this one had cooked soft carrots which I found highly displeasing, and it was all on one of those airplane-esque yucky rolls. Particularly on the heels of our prior meal and on a full stomach on top of that, I couldn’t enjoy it (but you better fucking believe I ate it).

Who knew discoloration was so delicious? I heard from my friend Saxy that beans help cure nausea (this came up at a chili cook-off when she was in that particularly pukey stage of pregnancy) and perhaps this was why I fished out and ate most of the beans. The partridge tasted like any other bird, though tender and flavorful.

I knew even before I ate it what word was going to come out of my mouth after I ate the venison: gamey. Of the two, I liked the partridge better than the venison.

But I realize as of Saturday that I had no inkling what gamey meant until I had a slice of ostrich at the Bellagio buffet. Holy shit that’s like the Cranium of meats right there.

Anyhoo, it really was a shame that we didn’t just come here, as we didn’t have the stomach space or fortitude to truly enjoy their offerings.

We walked out, back to the Plaza, a little bit scared now that it was very dark and the tiny streets were so confusing. Rick Steves said Toledo’s “medieval atmosphere” was vibrant and “wonderful after dark.” I am looking down at my iPhone notes and I believe right about then is when I typed “Rick Steves needs to check his shit.”

The following day we decided to take full advantage of our parador and swim, laze around, sun, read, and lunch at the parador’s own restaurant before taking the AVE to Barcelona. We were seated in the midst of three Japanese dantai tours – each with over 20 middle-aged, chatty, beer-drinking Japaneezy tourists. I love how my people booze it up at every meal – lunchtime and even the tiniest of little ladies was three-drinks deep.

OMG not here too! High brow though the little tart cups may have been, it was still the same god-awful potato salad shit.

I mean, I confess I’ve dipped my KFC biscuits into my KFC mashed potatoes before (hasn’t everyone?) but starch on starch does not a pleasing bite make!

My app was roasted red pepper cradled around fish mousse. R2 the amnesiac scarfed it up, while I was a little bit turned off by the fishiness (why the hell were we eating so much seafood in land-locked Toledo anyway? God we suck.)

R2′s app was a salad of some sort; overdressed and with canned (?!) mushrooms at the bottom; not my favorite and until I figured out they were mushrooms, I paranoid-ly thought that it was a squeaky, chewy, sour fish of some sort.

I just kept working through the half-bottle of white wine that I ordered.

His entree was something I want to eat when I’m drunk, with beer. It was their special – the Don Quixote, with over-easy egg, chorizo, and fried bread crumbs. R2 loves eggs, LOVES chorizo, and LOVE LOVE LOVES Don Quixote (for his thirteenth birthday he asked only for a copy of Don Quixote, which his dad got him – used – for $6.95).

Against ALL common sense, I had ordered pulpo a la plancha (that’s grilled octopus) for my entree.

My reasoning was this – octopus isn’t fishy. If anything, it’s reminiscent more of chicken, or even pork. Plus – can you say blogworthyyyy?

Something I learned in Spain – octopus needs to be grilled for a long time to render out the very very thick layer of fat between the skin and the meat. I started at the tip, which was salty and crunchy and the tiny suction cups popped in my mouth like crispy caviar. Awesome and tasty. As I ate my way up the tentacle, however, I encountered said fat and the shiver started from my toes and took a full 10 seconds to work its way up into my eyebrows. I mean, unrendered fat is gross. Fishy unrendered fat – even grosser. Packaged in a very raw-looking, giant slab of slime – it was very hard not to faint on the spot.

Am I losing my foodie mojo? I wondered.

I refuse to think that. I think Toledo is just a food wasteland. Definitely, definitely go, but stick to bocadillos and for the love of god avoid anything with tendrils coming out of it.

Up next…Barcelona!

Portland Report(land)

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

I heart it when conference organizers choose proper cities that (a) are walkable and (b) are a random foodie oasis.  I was recently in Portland for exactly such a conference, with my dearest friend and OG Foodie Sharisa, and found my new favorite restaurant…

Ping

Ping was named Rising Star Restaurant of the Year by the Oregonian’s Diner Guide.  I was excited about their Baby Octopus Skewer (marinated in lime, chiles, garlic, fish sauce, and cilantro).

Mostly I was enticed by the price – TWO BUCKAROOS for all you see above!  Loverly.

Our server was the cutest hapa girl, which Sharisa appreciated as she is a hapa herself.  She guided us to good cocktails and handled our frantic and impassioned ordering with style.

In addition to the octo-bebehs, we ordered a red potato skewer (salt roasted and grilled, served with spicy mayo sauce – $1!), a salapao (thai-style steamed bun stuffed with sweet shredded pork, fried shallots – $2.50!)…

deep-fried tiny fish ($2!), chinese tea egg (steeped in black tea, soy sauce, ginger, star anise, & cinnamon – $2!)…

…house-made pork meatball skewer (Thai-style, dipped in sweet chili sauce – $2.50!), house-made fish ball skewer (same), yam yai (Thai-style green salad with lettuce, boiled egg, peanuts, onions, prawns, chicken, bean sprouts, pickled garlic, scallions, cilantro, cucumber and tofu topped with a peanut dressing)…

And THESE.  Quail egg skewer (wrapped in bacon, with spicy mayo sauce).  Every neuron in my noggin was trilling with joy.  We ordered another as soon as the first hit our respective mouths.  Think smooth plus crunchy, shot through with spicy cream.  Not that I chewed to register the crunch.  I gulped them down cartoon-style – a delicious Adam’s apple!

We should have stopped there, but the fucking curiosity killed the cat (‘s palate).  We spied chicken butt - brined with fish sauce, garlic and sugar, grilled and served with sweet chili dipping sauce and ordered it.  Two thoughts, both related to R2, popped into my head.  (1) R2 told me that the a bird’s butt-al area is called its “vent” which is gross and reminiscent of wormy farts; and (2) no one loves a slanted rhyme more than R2, so I promptly texted him “What’s up?” and he texted back, just as promptly, “Chicken butt.”

Excellent.

Chicken butt is fucking disgusting.  Think of the gristliest bit of chicken that you’ve ever accidentally eaten, then shoot it through with sickly-yellow chicken fat, and then genetically hybridize it with  bouncy ball and that’s what you get.

Thinking about the chicken butt is bad.  Thinking about chicken butt while watching the episode of Man vs. Wild where he…well actually, any episode will do, but this one is the one where  he drinks his piss (which he has deposited into the skin of a rattlesnake) and then he’s eating skunk that he’s recently beheaded and describes it as “steak rubbed in dog feces…” anyway yes blogging chicken butt plus Man vs Wild is making me green about the gills.

Despite the chicken vent, I was so happy to be full-up with good food and hanging out with Sharisa again.  In fact, it was this very conference, six years ago, where Sharisa earned her nickname from our ESL Chinese friend who could not pronounce her real name and called her Sharisa (“Sharisa I have your wine!” she said about the vodka and champagne we had purchased to pregame – every kind of alcohol is called “wine” to her apparently) and called me “Janeee.”

My happiness was shot to berserk levels of happy when our server set down our check and we discovered her name was Charissa.  ”HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE YOUR NAME!!” we shrieked at her, and she said “Sharisa.”  More shrieking!  What a perfect end to the night.

Except it didn’t end!  Because we next rolled ourselves over to…

Voodoo Doughnut

Voodoo Doughnut is a Portland mainstay.  The guy behind the counter was a burly, bearded, world-weary Portlandey dude who would periodically sigh “Can I get anyone anything.”  I had, natch, the bacon maple bar, which I thought I could handle being the sweet-savory queen.  No.

Others got the apple fritter, which was a triumph.  Crisp, light as air, and the size of a large frisbee.  Many grabby grabby hands tearing off shreds and nomming with gusto.

The next day we went to…

Navarre

Navarre also had glowing reviews, so we went.  I don’t know what to say about this place.  It does everything right (local, organic, la la la, small plates big plates etcetera).  Ambiance is cool, good wine list.  But none of the dishes sang.  Good, not great.  Not always due simply to underseasoning, per se, just…boring.

Save for this one dish, which was off-limits to cheese-hatin’ Sharisa.

Pardon the awfulness of the photo.  Did I even need to show it to you?  It’s basically a huge thing of fried cheese.  We manhandled this shit like there was no tomorrow.  Shattery, sticky cheese that squished out pleasing salty grease liquid, oh lord.

At more than twice the cost of Ping and with less than a tenth of the elation, NOT WORTH IT.

The following day I went for lunch with an old advisor to…

Veritable Quandary

VQ was a medium-schmancy joint where everyone from the conference ended up for lunch.  Sharisa showed up, too, with her advisor.  I could only take a couple quick pictures because I do NOT want any of my former advisors to know about this little blog overflowing with f-bombs.  Anyway, here it is:

Vegetarian biscuits and gravy with mushrooms and poached egg.  I am laughing to myself as I look at this photo, because I could not have (a) inhaled this faster; or (b) paid less attention to my advisor.  I hope I am still shiny in his eyes after this lunch.  I couldn’t help it!  The biscuit was perfectly crisp at the edges, and the yolk that yin-yanged into the extremely rich gravy was just so drop-dead fucking (see? f-bomb!) scrumptious. Lickety lickety.

Sharisa and I ditched the rest of the conference and went on a walk of Portland that moved me to exclaim, more than once, “This is like the fucking ODYSSEY!”

We started out walking along the river, where we happened on a huge fair.  Apparently this happens every week?  But it covered several blocks and I counted three different live bands!  Sharisa and I lamented that we were both full and couldn’t partake in any of the lovely fair food, fun stuff like bentos, gyros, curry!  Also, there was a cool artist who painted with numbers.  Not by numbers, but with numbers.  From far away it looks normal, but up close it’s like 1′s and 2′s and 3′s (well, you know what numbers are) that, like pointillism, from far away comprise a picture.  Pretty nerdy cool.

We kept walking and stumbled upon a city block that was crowded with loud people in wacky wacky costumes that walked that line between jolly and frightening.  A little too loud and drunk and homeless-looking.  Sharisa and I stood on the edge of the block, breathing hard and gathering courage to walk on.  We did, and encountered a guy dressed as the Last Supper (he was Jesus in the center with cutouts of the others, with a full-on table with bread and stuff on it slung around his neck.  Then a crusty looking guy ran up, grabbed a baguette from the table, and started wacking cardboard Judas with it, causing Jesus to get pissed and yell HEY HEY HEY HEY at increasingly menacing decibels.  Sharisa and I scampered right out of there.

Next, we passed Cupcake Jones.  Donuts are the new cupcakes and we had been there, done that, but we stopped nonetheless to pick up a baby cupcake each.  She: vanilla (flecked through with real vanilla bean and topped with a preshus edible pearl).  Me: red velvet (topped with a darling edible flower petal).

Blood sugar restored, we went to the world’s largest Anthropologie, which was a bit meaningless because I can never find anything that looks good on me there and Sharisa already owns all of it.  Next to Anthropologie was…

Powell’s City of Books

Goodness Gracious.  Truly a city.  I stepped in and I was shell-shocked.  I was on a hunt to find a used Edgar Rice Burroughs book for R2, who is collecting all the ones with Ace covers.

Usually he’s lucky if he can find any ERB books at a used bookstore.  Here, there was not only one book, not only one bookshelf, but three and a half bookshelves FULL of ERB books!  I breathed “Ohhhh he’s gonna die…” and whipped out my phone to call him and gloat.

I picked up two books to add to his collection, read through a Bon Appetit that said photographing one’s food was rude and should be outlawed (gulp!), texted Sharisa to find her, and left in search of a cocktail.

And I spied this thing!

EEEEEEEE!

Our final stop in Portland, recommended to me by a Portland native, was…

Clyde Common

The new home of noted mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler, we were excited to try some weird cocktails.  First we cooed at the impossibly cute dog outside, who looked like a pig and cow and puppy rolled into one.  No picture, sorry.  I suck at taking animal photos, remember?

We got one Copper Penny: Old Overholt rye, Clear Creek pear brandy, Punt e Mes, apricot, one B.M.O.C.: bourbon, raw ginger syrup, Angostura, soda water, one Tonga-Tonga: Smith and Cross Jamaican rum, lime, grapefruit, Trader, and one Beginning of the End: Boca Loca cachaca, lime, amaretto, egg whites, apple butter.  The latter was my favorite due to my intense love of egg whites which was further thickened with the apple butter – captivating!

And thus, we said goodbye to Portland in the best possible way – slightly-beyond-tipsy.

Alembic

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Some things you eat once and you dream about them ever more (“she said that”).  For some it’s caviar, for others it’s a sugary donut.  For me it’s…a pink egg.  A mini pink egg.  Times 3.  For a mere two buckaroos.  All of those things combine into the sublime at… Alembic.

“Hey R2, I’m bloggin’ Alembic.  Any thoughts on it?”

“…Can I REMIND you how Alembic ended???”

Anyway, I’ll get to that.  But first – Alembic is a cute little bar with great great food, nestled amongst the crusties with their fucking CUTE doggies (how do they do it?  where do they find them?  it’s so unfair!) on Haight street.

We were seated by the most pleasant of greeters in a cute table toward the back.  We were promptly served with one of their many cool cocktails with fun names and equally fun descriptions.  We had a Gilded Lily (described as “there are things in life that require little adornment, but we are never ones to shy away from a bit of grandeur. so we’ve decided to bring a touch of sparkle to a dark and cozy barroom. this baroque number mixes plymouth gin, yellow chartreuse, orange flower water, and sparkling demi-sec and drop in a little flake of gold leaf. shine on.“), a Vasco Da Gama (described as “we don’t take any” well actually if I cut and paste all of these then this post will be Bible-lengthed), a Poop Deck, and a Pisco Sour.

And I ordered two orders of…the EGGS.  The hallowed pickled quail eggs.

Gosh they are good.  They aren’t fatty or sweet (maybe a little bit sweet) or any of those things that people normally associate as crave-worthy.  They are tiny and tart and smooth and leave the best taste at the back of your tongue.  You can’t have just one!  Just like small, round, cold, eggy, sour potato chips.

We then proceeded to order the most decadent series of dishes ever.

But first, from the chef, some free poppycorn with butter, sugar, salt, and shichimi.  I MUST do this at home and impress all my guests!  ”[tinkling throaty laugh] Yes, well, shichimi is a seasoning we use in Japan, actually, and I thought it might be lovely on some sweet and savory popcorn.  Cheers everyone.”

Decadent dish #1 was cauliflower bisque, with smoked potato, sea urchin, and tarragon. (no photo because my camera doesn’t know where to focus in white soups so it didn’t turn out.)  Lovely presentation, starting with a big white bowl with the uni in the middle and our server (a most attentive and nice gal) pouring the thick but silky soup over it.  Briny + creamy is, believe me, awesome.  Hmmm.  Maybe with the popcorn, and if I strike it rich, I’ll serve uni mashed potatoes!!!  OMG brilliant.

Decadent dish #2: pulled pork sliders. (“smoked coke barbeque, celery root-apple slaw“)

Such a wee little thing, and yet, as if from a black hole in its middle, rivulets of juice.  And can’t you see the gorgeosity of that puffy bun?  You bet your ass it was warm, too.

Then, decadent dish #3: bone marrow (pictured top).  With caper gremolata and garlic confit.  It came out crackling and oozy and redolent of garlic.  We used our spoons to scrape and scrape and scrape the shit outta those bones.  We could have done with double the number of toast points, but didn’t want to get called out on our inability to handle the decadence of the meal we were constructing, so we didn’t.

“I’m still hungry.  Are you still hungry?”

I didn’t even wait for the answer and went ahead and ordered one of their two specials of the day – decadent dish #4: crispy fried sweetbreads, on a bed of butternut squash puree and topped with pickled onions and tart cherries.  I’d never seen such a gigantic cut (? are they cuts?  or are they just, like, one thymus per serving?) of sweetbreads, and I would have appreciated it just a skosh more crispy, but the sweet and savory rich PUNCH was cut through just perfectly with the sharp onion.

A verrry foodie meal.  One of the best of 2009, though blogged too late to make it into the Top 10.  Everything from the service to the food to the cocktails were exciting and delicious.

My stomach also found it exciting in the way that watching a horror movie is exciting.  As soon as the second mouthful of sweetbreads hit my tum, something was wack.  We drove home with me doubled over in pain, and as soon as I got to my apartment I collapsed into bed and started sweating.  I resolved to vom several times but couldn’t fathom traveling the seven meters from my bed to the bathroom.  I just wallowed in my agony while a concerned/amused R2 listened to my lamentations (“There are hedgehogs in my tummy and they are leaning against the wall of my stomach and rubbing their quills up and dowwwwwn.”)  In the end I didn’t yak though I was cleaned out  from the other end the following day.

It could have been anything.  It could have been the egg white on my Pisco Sour.  It could have been the bloody marrow.  Or the sea urchin?  Or an egg pickled too long in some sort of bacteria.  Or an undercooked sweetbread.  Who knows.  Probably the egg white since R2 escaped unscathed.

UNTIL SIX AM THE NEXT DAY!  At which point he was shooting liquid out of both ends (if you know what I mean.  I know I’m being vague.).

I sent an email to them, and this is what they wrote back:

Hi Janet,

Thanks for your kind words and praise despite what must have been a very uncomfortable situation for you.  I am very sorry to hear of your experience and I have begun to investigate all possible causes, in the event that it was caused by something at Alembic.  We are very proud of our ingredient sourcing and food preparation and I’d hate to think that something slipped through the cracks on our end.  Serving food to the public is a serious responsibility and we definitely don’t take it lightly.  I can say that thus far, I have not discovered any other complaints or similar/related issues, which is a relief, but not much consolation for you.  I will continue to look into the issue, though, and will let you know if I discover anything.

I really do hope you will give us another chance!  Please don’t hesitate to write back if there is anything I can do at this point to make you feel better.

Cheers,

Dave McLean

Owner, Alembic

So.  If there’s any restaurant that is THAT GOOD that someone would return despite food poisoning, it’s Alembic.  I cannot stay away from those eggs.

Alembic  |  1725 Haight St, SF CA  |  415.666.0822

The Many Uses of Otter Pops

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Should you pick up a huge box of Otter Pops at Costco containing 200 Otter Pops as we did when we went to Maui, you might be at a loss as to what to do with them.  Particularly since our consumption was time-limited, since we couldn’t carry-on back to the mainland all the leftover pops due to the 3 oz rule…

So here’s a list of things we decided to do:

(1) Have an Otter Pop eating contest – first to 50 (ie., 200 divided by the four of us) wins!  We kept track of this on a piece of paper magneted to the fridge.

After the first day, the paper looked like this:

Simon: ||||
DJ Deer: ||
Janet: ||
Tinx: |

It was clearly time to consider other uses since we even more clearly weren’t going to hit 50 each.

(2) Use to flavor coffee. The condo was super stocked, but it didn’t have sugar and we neglected to buy milk.  So, to flavor my coffee, I decided to use an Otter Pop.  But what flavor?  It was a quandary.  I ended up using two reds (cherry?) and the end result was…interesting.  Not good.  Sweetened, but also sour-fied.

(3) Use in marinade for chicken. Acid and sugar and flavoring, kind of like those folks who cook with Coke and whatnot, no?  We squeezed out two greens (LIME!) onto our chicken, which was already sitting in a bath of soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, etc.  By this time the Otter Pops were frozen, so they just sat on top of the chicken in a sad little equals sign.  The chicken turned out dynamite, though it could have had nothing to do with the Otter Pops and everything to do with us being starving from snorkeling all day and grilling it fresh and hot on the poolside grill.

(4) Use as mixers. DUH!  Why did it take so long for us to realize this?  We created quite a number of combinations – blue and purple, green and purple, red and red, mixed in with a double shot of ice-cold vodka and a splash of pineapple juice.  Definitely a WIN, based on the many smashed and nonsensical videos that resulted…

Ooter Poops [it is essential that you pronounce them this way]
Your freezer (you prolly have some in there)

Four Winds II: Snorkeling Cruise to Molokini

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Tinx iPhoning, me dying

Simon, Tinx, and DJ Deer and I went to Maui a couple weeks ago.  The flight was a gift from Simon for gradumacating and the condo was a free timeshare donated to us by Simon’s auntie.  YESSSS!

Most of our trip was being lazy.  In Tinx’s case, it was wake up, eat breakfast, take a nap, wake up, eat lunch, take a nap, wake up, eat dinner, go to bed early.  The one activity that hypertron DJ Deer and Slothasaur Tinx could agree on was a snorkeling cruise.

We looked through our guidebook and found one that they recommended – the Four Winds II.  There was some stuff about how they stay at Molokini (a crescent-shaped island 2 miles out from Maui) the longest, and how their BBQ was delicious, but our eyes didn’t light up until we read the part about how the Four Winds II “has the longest open bar out of all the Molokini boats.”  Done and done.

Should we have trusted a guidebook?  One that had the actual line “What do sea turtles eat? Dolphins.”  They’re either seriously misinformed or else they have a shitty sense of humor.  Either way.

Anyway, we were told by Simon’s overbearing dad that we should get there an hour early because parking at the marina fills up.  The cruise left at 7, so we woke up at 5:30 and got there super early.  We yelled, “THERE’S ONE!!!” at the first open parking spot and burnt rubber into it.  And then walked a quarter of a mile to the actual ship, past probably 100 open parking spots.  Fail.

The one thing the guidebook didn’t love about the Four Winds II (oh, by the way, it’s $100 a person, not the $80 that the guidebook says) was the incessant sales pitch.  We experienced this firsthand.  The barrage of shilling included waterproof disposable cameras, waterproof digital cameras, photographs of our tour, SNUBA, and, of course, a DVD of our snorkeling extravaganza, marketed exhaustingly to us by Trey the Videoooographer, a blonde surfer dude with a very weird vocal cadence.  ”HEY GUYS! IT’S ME, TREY, THE VIDEOOOOGRAPHER.  COME CHECK OUT THE COOL FOOTAGE I GOT OF YOU GUYSSSS!  WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DAY FOR A GREAT TIME SNORKELING HUH GUYS?  CHECK IT OUUUUT!  CHECK OUT THE GALLERYYYYY!”

Our captain, who continually referred to himself in the third person as “Cappy,” was a scraggly old dude reminiscent of the lecherous grandpa that everyone tolerates but would never, ever, under any circumstance, give a microphone and control of 180 people to.

Some notable things about Cappy – He pointed out the nude beach and said, “We’ll be heading over there after snorkeling.  Ladies, feel free to get ready now.  Fellas, let’s wait until we get there.”  He had a 2:00 tee time so he wanted us to be SURE we were dying before we called for help in the water.  He referred to Tinx continually as “Red.”  ”Hey Red, better get some sunscreen on that skiiiiin of yoursssss.”  He had fishing lines off the back of the boat so he unnecessarily took us around the rough side of the island so that he had a better chance of catching some tuna.  He had a fetish for tags sticking out of bikini bottoms and would announce over the entire ship’s broadcasting system when he spotted one.  Or, in our case, he said, “Hey!  Red!  Hey Red!  Your friend’s tag is sticking out!  Better fix it!  Yeah, you!  Better fix it!”

Anyway, we finally got to Molokini, which took almost two hours.  That’s 1 mile per hour.  Yeah.  

At that point I was very uncharacteristically seasick.  It could have been the extreme stench of birdshit blowing off the island and into my nostrils.  (The island itself is not open to people, but np – why the fuck would you want to go on that crap mountain?)

I figured when I got in the water it would be better…and indeed the snorkeling was amazing, astonishing, stunning, all of that.  Minus the part where TREY THE VIDEOOOOGRAPHER came around swimming with his underwater still and video cameras and made us pose like idiots.  Damn him.

So, usually seasickness gets better once one is in the ocean, right?  Not for me apparently.  The fish were so gorgeous and cute, though, so I stayed in as long as I could.  I stayed in until I knew in five seconds I was going to feed the fish with my vomit and they would likely eat my face off.  I scampered onto the boat in a hurry, where the crew was BBQing and some guy got a burger flipped into his face, haha.  I asked in a trembling voice for some Dramamine and Cappy said, “We don’t have any.”  WHAT AND CRY!  Why wouldn’t a cruise ship carry DRAMAMINE?!?  Cappy got onto the mic (his favorite) and asked if anyone had any extra, and a nice midwestern lady gave me … one tablet.  Lame.

I climbed up to the second story to live out my misery, passing an Indian family on the way who went snorkeling full-on in their saris, haha.  I spent the rest of the cruise getting sunburnt (no wherewithal to stay on top of the sunscreen sitch) and rolling around feeling awful.

I know, I know.  Wah wah I’m in Maui for free and I’m siiiick wahhh.

Not what we saw.

So there’s this place called Turtle Town that all the cruises go to.  Cappy said, “Screw that Turtle Town!  We’re going to Turtle UNIVERSE!” and took us to a place, cut the engine, and…crickets.  ”Hmmm.  Usually they’re a million around here…”  Everyone was craning their necks (except mine, which was lolled over the edge of the bench in agony), and finally – ONE TURTLE!  We saw maybe five total from pretty far away, causing DJ Deer to use “Turtle Universe” to refer to anything that sucked for the rest of the vacation.

In sum, fish rock but everything else about this cruise, including the fact that I didn’t get to take advantage of the open bar, was only so-so.  Also the fact that Cappy told us that the raffle prize was a sea turtle and a year’s worth of food (a year’s worth of DOLPHINS!??!) but he lied – it was just a T-shirt.  But still, the Four Winds II spends the longest amount of time at Molokini, so it’s probably worth it.

Even if you do have a leering Cappy staring at your ass the whole time…

Four Winds II

808.879.8188

Cooking with Balls: Avert your eyes if you’re wussy.

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

By way of Geekologie, my favorite blog after failblog, is this extraordinarily vom-vom-vom-worthy post about the joys of cooking with testicles.

It tastes like…you guessed it! Chickenz!

Yeah, yeah, the whole thing screams FAKE but maybe that’s just because I really really want it to be so. I mean, balls are just not anything that teeth should be sunk into.