Posts Tagged ‘debbie’

Temecula Wineries~

Monday, August 13th, 2007

I’m not a wine snob! To prove it to you, I went to Temecula to go wine tasting. See?

Sharisa, in her special Sharisa way, found an incredible deal online and booked the three of us (me, her, Debbie) a villa at South Coast Winery for a fucking steal. We wanted a fourth, but after several “Um, I have WORK on weekdays?”-type bitchy responses we gave up trying to add party poopers to our fiesta.

I put an ad up on Facebook to hire a designated driver for $10 an hour. ((Debbie was skeptical that we would need one. When she was totally incoherent later, the only coherent thing she said was, “I’mm glraad weeee gut rrr DD.”)) Amazingly, I got probably a trillion replies. Many were from horny guys who were probably hoping to score with a carful of drunk chicks (I also weeded out a particularly aggressive-looking lesbian). After sorting and sorting, I found the PERFECT d-driver, who was a cute Asian girl from Temecula and offered to get us winery recommendations from her friends and parents. Score! But then she couldn’t do it (Gasp!) but then she got her best friend to do it (Yes!), who was perfectly lovely. She brought a friend (which ended up being a fabulous idea since it would have been awkward for her to stand around while we got sloshed) who had the same name as her. I’ll call them the two Josephines.

So as not to waste time, we met the Josephines at our first winery, VR La Cereza Winery (today I am being lazy and am not giving you addresses – they are all on one street [Ranch California Rd] so it’ll be easy enough to find). I only had one (ONE!) chicken soft taco in my system, so I felt it right away.

LC is famous for its Girlfriends wine, which was inspired by this cigar-smokin’ old lady that the winery owners met in…Mexico? I could have sworn they said Mexico, even though they are a Spanish winery. It was spunky and fruity and perfect, of course, for a girl’s night. I also tried their raspberry sparkling wine, their award-winning Zin, and Summer’s End, which was one of their most expensive and sweet wines. I think my blood sugar was low because I was digging the glucose in it.

The Josephines showed up after we had explored every corner of the gift shop once and one particular corner four times. I was still cogent enough to provide a brief tutorial to Josephine on how to drive a Prius, and we sped off to Hart.

Hart was one of the only Chowhound-approved Temecula wineries according to Sharisa. I suspect this is simple-minded, robotic snobbery because Hart is an anti-sweet wine winery that focuses on reds. I believe this winery (already) was the tipping point where we passed from buzz to drunk, or at least in the car after this winery. I thought all the wines were good, very dry, but I did have to pour out half of my Tempranillo because I just couldn’t handle it.

At some point some folks from Cougar Winery (which was not on any of the main Temecula-area free maps) came to taste the Hart wines. They were debaucherous, and one of them named Michael handed me a card and insisted that we go and find a guy named Brett at Cougar and give him a hard time. He also demanded that we ask Brett “Are you two-fisted?” Which I initially interpreted him to be saying “Are you two-fisting?” but apparently Two-Fisted is his nickname.

[Interim Epilogue - we didn't make it to Cougar; we were far too wasted. But, as I look on the back of Michael's business card I see, in my handwriting, "bring pole for pole dancing." What?!?]

P.S. Why is Hart’s website www.thehartfamilywinery.com when hartfamilywinery.com is available, and even hartwinery.com is available?!??

Okay, after that we were SERIOUSLY in need of some lunch. We decided to stop at Mount Palomar because they had a deli. I was desperate for a sandwich. We stumbled in, only to find the deli abandoned. “Oh, the woman who runs the deli is on lunch,” said some lady. WTF? Why would you go ON lunch, DURING lunch? What irresponsible behavior. We decided to just raid their refrigerated buyables, and put together an okay but completely unsatisfying lunch of crackers, cubed cheese (which even extreme cheese lovers like me and Debbie could not really handle), and hummus. The hummus, at least, was passable.

Mount Palomar is the opposite of Hart – they had an entire dessert wines section. I decided I was going to taste all of the dessert wines, and that would be my dessert for lunch. I started with the Solanus late harvest Semillon, and quickly realized if I went ahead with my plan I would die from sugar overdose and vomit out my entire insides. So I switched to Shorty’s Bistro Red and the Meritage, and then tried again with the medal-winning limited reserve port and, finally, the Cream Sherry. The cream sherry was yummy.

In the confusion at the end of the day, I ended up with the other Josephine’s wine list, and I should report that she has smiley faces next to the Sangiovese, Bistro Red, Zilah late harvest Zin, and the cream sherry. Solanus late harvest Semillon is crossed out vigorously. She also has the words “pretty,” and “bathrooms suck!!” written down.

Incoherence had set in by this point. So I did not appreciate the incredibly bright interior of Ponte Winery (who, by the way, has a very stylish website). Neither did I appreciate the over-the-top smarmy flirtiness of our wine dude. Debbie and I were hurting, and Sharisa started giving us shit, even using the word “pussies.” Meooow.

I couldn’t tell you anything about the wines here, except that I chose by cute names and got: Graciela, Fiorella, Juliet, and Isabel. I cheated and pretended I had had a fifth tasting when I didn’t. I think this later saved my life.

Debbie and I were almost KO-ed, but Sharisa and the Josephines got belligerent and forced us to go to Wilson Creek Winery of almond champagne fame, which if you remember I have blogged before. Throughout the day we kept hearing about the Almond Joy at Wilson Creek, which is chocolate port in a chocolate cup, mixed with the almond champagne. We ordered one each and the lady said, “That’ll be three dollars each.” And then she went away, and then came back and said, “Oh, wait, no, it’s TWO dollars each.” Weird but score! We first got a shot of the champagne, then a shot of the port, and then the almond joy. It was gimmicky but fun, not that I remember any of it.

I do remember stealing a glass off of a table outside on my way out (we got our glasses free at every winery except here since we technically ate ours). Josephine #2 made me do it.

Finally, time to go to the villaaaaaaa~! BUT, we had a free tasting coupon from South Coast since we were staying there, so we parked the car and all dragged ourselves through the grapes to the tasting room across the property. In my haze, I lost everyone but I got to the counter and slapped down my free tasting card. The lady gave me 5 poker chips, one for each tasting. Classy!

I looked to the left and saw the Josephines doing a tasting. I guess they were there the whole time? I chatted with them. Then I called Debbie to see where they hell they were. She said, “We’re in the bafroooooooooooom!” So I went in there and discovered Sharisa lying down on the floor. Of the bathroom. So much for not being a pussy. She said, “I lost the keeeeeeey!” Sigh.

We got another key at the front desk (“Don’t worry, this happens a LOT” said the guy) and ran through the grapes again. I stopped to eat some and they were soooo delicious. I was probably just reacting to the H20 in them, though.

Sweet, sweet bed~! I flopped down, feeling the mother of all headaches coming on. Somewhere from the floor, Sharisa exclaimed “I FOUND THE KEY! IT WAS IN MY BOOOOOOB!” Good one.

Sharisa, feeling victorious, changed into a bikini to check out the jacuzzi. She threw one at me, too, so I put it on. Debbie was rolling around on her bed in nauseous agony, so we left her alone. Then all three of us promptly passed out.

We woke up two hours later. Debbie said, “You two look so sexy lounging around in bed in bikinis.” lol. We were excited to order pizza to the villa, but every place we called was closed or didn’t deliver to us. I called the front desk and discovered that only one pizza place delivers to South Coast, so we ordered from them. I hate monopolies so I’m not going to publish the name of the place we ordered from. It sucked balls anyway.

Our room came with a free bottle of wine, which Sharisa opened and insisted we drink. We didn’t. Debbie was so green she couldn’t even eat any of the pizza (just the carrot slivers on the salad), and my head hurt so bad that I couldn’t see straight. Debbie finally gave up and went into the bathroom to try to vomit. I was ready to puke, not from nausea, but from sheer pain. Debbie came out later, not successful. She said miserably, “I thought of everything gross that I could, like the cubes of cheese at Mount Palomar, but I couldn’t puke!” Sad. I nodded into my wet pillow. I didn’t know if the liquid on my face was tears from my headache or juice from my exploded eyeballs.

The last thing I remember Sharisa saying was, “Well, there was probably an hour in there where we had fun.” Temecula, I never want to see you again.

Musha

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

The girls took me to Musha for my hatch day last December. Back then, the blog and my camera were both new, and I was much too wasted off of sake to take any decent pictures. So when we decided to go for Sharisa’s birthday I was on a mission. A diehard, take focused-yet-no-flash pictures under terribly low light mission.

I was a bit late which meant I got to sit down and immediately start eating the dishes others had ordered. Win-win. Our first was the Green Beans Salad – boiled green eans to the perfect crispness, tossed woth sesame-peanuts dressing topped with crisp bacon. I’m transcribing the descriptions exactly as they are spelled and grammatificated.

I created a small microcosm of the dish on my plate. As promised, the green eans were perfectly crisp. Woth the dressing, which was appropriately light-touch, and thinly sliced radishes, it was ravishing. I didn’t even need the bacon (gasp!) for this to be totally satisfying.

Next was the Aski – wok sauteed asparagus & assorted mushrooms of shiitske, shimeji, enoki, etc twith soy sauce, butter, and garlic. I think this hand-written-looking menu is actually not, and that the typos are merely evidence of a careless typist. Because there’s no way a bonafide Japanese person would spell it “shiitske,” but they might type it that way. Just like we aren’t good at driving, we might not be so good at typing, especially on an American keyboard.

Others raved over the asparagus, which was cooked with the same skill twith which the eans were cooked in the previous dish. I was dissatisfied because it was a tad salty and there were no enoki mushrooms in sight – inexcusable LIES!

Next was the Negitoro Tuna Croquette – minced tuna with chopped green onion, garlic, pepper, & hijiki seaweed, flattened & breaded to deep fry, it’s Japanese version of popular Spanish tapas dish served with graded daikon-mayo sauce.

I don’t know what “grade” they gave the daikon-mayo sauce, but I gave it an A+++!

You see, since I’m Japanese, I get to make fun of the Japanese. You dig?

This is one of the classic Musha dishes, along with the MFC (Musha Fried Chicken – chicken marinated with soy sauce, sake, ginger & garlic served with 2 kinds of grated daikon radish & ponzu sauce), which we also got but I did not photograph. Fried + mayo = good no matter what, and while the texture of the tuna resembled hamburger more than anything else, this dish disappeared in no time flat.

Also not photographed was my favorite dish of the night, the Takotama – “this is the Musha’s signature dish two layers omelette with chopped octpus, leeks, red ginger and bonito broth to ghives you the taste also covered with the original thick dark sauce.” Good choice, Sharisa. It’s barfood in Japan, but exotic in this context, and the sweet and savory “thick dark sauce” a perfect complement to the yakisoba noodles that are nestled within the two egg layers. They didn’t skimp on the octopus, which was not chewy at all and a great textural counterpoint.

Anyway, the next photographed dish was Musha’s Risotto – Italian dish with Japanese creation Lapanese grain brown rice cooked with chicken broth then panfried with chopped prosutto, onion, & touch of soy milk serve in a bowl of whole cheese to your table. Debbie said it best when she said that she wished it wasn’t brown rice. The whole concotion should have been smooth and creamy, and yet the rice made it way chewy/crunchy and it took away from the decadence of the cheese and milky soy. Also, it was too salty.

Above is the Ebimayo – a bitsized shrimp tempra glazed with Musha’s original sweet & spicy mayo sauce when sweet & spicy matched with tempra texture, you’ll say “AHH~”. I’m super allergic to shrimp, but others all around me definitely were saying AHH~. The dish was also the prettiest of the night, don’t you think?

Next was Itame Somen – Japanese angel hair noodle called “somen” pan fried wiyh garlic, sesame oil, garlic chive, sake, & soy sauce one of our original creation. Musha has problems with the word “with.” Three times misspelled, each in a different way.

This was salty, too, but the slices of garlic rocked! And the texture of somen is even better than angel hair, I think.

At the eleventh hour, Sharisa ordered Anago Meshi – glazed sea eel, hijiki seaweed & mitsuba leaf mixed rice then grilled in a hot stone bowl topped with sea eel, “nori” seaweed, & egg. I forgot that she likes eel as a dessert, since it’s sweet. I lied before – THIS was my favorite dish of the night. The bits of eel were interspersed at perfect intervals among the sweet rice; this sweetness was further enhanced by the hijiki.

The only thing that I didn’t like was the reason why I hated anago as a child. Eel bones are so thin that eels are virtually impossible to de-bone, and thus are not. So there were thin, razor-sharp bones hidden throughout the rice, which brought back nightmares of getting eel bones stuck in my throat as a child. The common remedy for this situation recommended by parents is to eat a mouthful of rice without chewing it, ostensibly to catch the bone and scrape it away into your stomach acid. This never worked, and one time I had to take a pair of tweezers and tweeze out a bone from halfway down my throat. Hott.

ANYWAY, we wouldn’t let Sharisa go without a real dessert, and so the chef sent out a chocolate cake-ish type of thing. The cake was standard, but I really liked that they turned out EVERY SINGLE LIGHT in the restaurant (some people got honestly scared) and then lit the candle in the pitch black. Very special and very romantic.

Musha finishes your meal with their version of a happy ending: hot tea (I think hoji?) with a crunchy umeboshi at the bottom. No handjob aside, Musha’s service is excellent from start to finish – a GREAT place to celebrate a birthday, because you feel so coddled. How long till December?

Musha
424 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
310.576.6330

TJ’s Pita Chips

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

Debbie has been hosting girls’ night all summer and fall [thanks, Debbie!] and she always serves these damn cinnamon and sugar pita chips from Trader Joe’s. I am a sweet-hater so I avoided them the first couple of times, but one week I was sooo hungry and couldn’t wait for our delivery so I reluctantly ate one. WOW! It could have been the low blood sugar and extreme hunger, but they were fucking delicious! Even without butter, they tasted buttery, and the crunchiness of the chips was heightened by the crunchy sugar grains. The cinnamon wasn’t your usual cinnamon, but more on the ginger-ey side of cinnamon, of which I totally approved. Good work Debbie, TJ’s. Next, I squished a strawberry on top of one and popped the whole thing into my mouth. Even more delicious! You must try it.

Sunnin Lebanese Cafe

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

My favorite hapa pal “Sharisa” and my favorite dogowner “Debbie”A phonetecized adaptation of “DB” which stands for data blaster – I thought I should explain cuz when Debbie reads this she is going to be like, “Why the fuck did she call me DEBBIE?? went to Sunnin Lebanese Cafe. There has been soo much written about Sunnin (even the back of their menu has a restaurant review printed on it) so I don’t know how much I have to add.

I guess I shall amalgamate all the other reviews and add my own 2 yen. People fucking RAVE about Sunnin. My guess is that it’s because Sunnin has authentic food but is in a piece-of-crap hole in the wall space, and they use disposable paper Pepsi cups for your drinks, and your food comes on styrofoam plates. The incongruity! How exquisite! It’s good food in a crappy setting! How fresh and unexpected! This must be the best restaurant ever!

I think it’s pretty good, but nothing to blog about (too late). I had the vegetarian combo, which came with one piece each of fatayer (homemade dough stuffed with spinach, onions, and pine nuts) and rekakat (filo dough stuffed with feta cheese, onions, and parsley) and two pieces each of falafel and warak enab (grape leaves stuffed with rice and vegetables – basically dolmades). Sharisa had lebanese salad (I think?) and kebbeh makliyeh (ground beef with burgul [what is burgul?], stuffed with minced beef, onions, and nuts). Debbie sensibly (she is always sensible!) went with the falafel platter.

The best part of my combo was the fatayer and rekakat. The dough on the fatayer was chewy, though the texture was a little bit like bread that has been microwaved. The inside was delicious, though it was lacking a tang that would have been filled nicely by some feta. But, maybe fatayer never, ever has feta in it and I have committed some sort of blasphemy by suggesting it. Hope not.

 


Not my specific fatayer, but fatayer nonetheless. 

The rekakat was the best of the best, with filo so crispy it exploded into a billion shards as soon as I bit into it. The parsley came across very strong, which I suspect might have turned lesser mortals off but it was completely delightful for me. And there was feta in it, which tied everything together beautifully. Pity I cannot find a picture for “rekakat” on Google.Pity I don’t have a camera yet. I want to go ahead and buy the FujiFilm FinePix Breast Cancer edition, which is PINK! but James says there is a big camera show happening soon where companies will debut their new models, thereby putting their older models on sale. Sigh. So please wait a little longer for food pictures of the actual food to accompany these restaurant reviews.

Maybe my Asian ass just can’t get into any rice that’s not Japanese sticky rice (kinugoshi at that), but I thought the rice inside the warak enab wasn’t cooked through enough, so it was a little gritty. I tend to prioritize texture over taste (which James finds verrry weird, and I kind of agree), and so I was so distracted by the rice that I couldn’t really appreciate the flavor. I think there was mint (?) in it? So in the end I think liked it because it was very refreshing.

 

I was expecting some amazing fucking falafel but it was not to be. In fact, the falafel here made me want to upgrade my opinion of the falafel I got at Piknic. I think the problem was that there was only a tiny drizzle of tahini sauce when what I wanted to do was drown my plate in it and pour the whole mess down my throat. I was SO jealous of Debbie’s entire plastic cupful of tahini, but not jealous enough to dish out 75 cents for my own extra cup. What I did instead was make tidy bites of falafel with a wisp of tahini and combined it with a chunk of pickled turnip relish and it ended up being pretty yummy. For $5.95, I would eat this plate every day for lunch, for sure.
 


I should hope that all CM readers would know what falafel looks like. 

I’m not a dessert gal, but I LOVE me some rice pudding. We got a large to share and it came, of course, in a styrofoam bowl. It was sprinkled with cute green crushed pistachio chunks and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon. Usually I don’t really like cinnamon (I even had to look up how to spell it exactly), but in the context of exotic rice pudding I LOVED it. I kept surreptitiously dragging my spoon across the top of the pudding, stealing what was rightfully Debbie’s topping. I don’t think she liked it though, so it’s OK. I liked it. I liked it so much that I tore up my lips on the edge of the (plastic) spoon from eating too voraciously. Owie.

 


A gourmet version of what our pudding looked like. 

So, even though Sunnin wasn’t the blissfest that I expected it to be, it was pretty good, and there were lots of other things on the menu that I’d love to go back and try. On top of this, Sharisa and I were over 30 minutes late to meet Debbie (fucking LA traffic!) and Debbie had to hold our table (1 out of 5 in the restaurant) and fend off the table vultures, and right before I left I dropped my cup on the table and spilled water EVERYWHERE, so I applaud Sunnin for putting up with my shenanigans.