Wednesday, June 27, 2007

wtf? (SD)



A couple of weeks ago a bunch of us went to Half Moon off Convoy. Half moon is your typical korean bar, Soju, Beer, hard liquor and a fully stocked kitchen ready to pump out whatever you want to eat at a moments notice.

For the graciousness of your patronage the bar serves you two things for free, popcorn (which apparently is like beer-nuts for them since they have a GIANT platter of it at the bar and which i stayed away from like the SDSU syphilis outbreak) and a baked cream corn dish (see above).

The dish is baked corn, with mayo and cheese mixed into it and then Suracha (spicy chili hot sauce) is poured over it. Yes it looks as odd and it sounds.
The question on your eager mind dear reader is.. does it taste as odd as it looks?

Your wise guru Charlie Fu shall answer your question.
Yes/no.
Maybe...
I don't know...

I mean, it tastes like crispy baked corn which is always nice, very sweet tasty corn straight out of a can (i do have a bias for corn from a can, i could just take a spoon and gobble that stuff up) yet at the same time the creamy consistency threw me off. When you bite into it the mayo and the cheese are locked in an eternal battle for dominance of your taste buds. At one moment y ou feel the elasticity of the cheese and its pungent flavoring but suddenly you get slaughtered by the fatty buttery ammo of the mayo.

And when you finally decide on which side wins the battle, the A-bomb of Suracha drops and just changes the landscape. The dish went from sweet and savory to sweet and savory and sour and spicy and weird.

Your initial bites are thoughts of "man this is weird, why am i eating this" , but as you eat more you can't help yourself, that sour spicy taste seems to enhance the flavor. You think.. why isn't anyone else eating this? why am i the only one!?

Luckily my common sense came back and I realized i was eating a disgusting mishmash that was sure to find itself exiting me sooner rather than later. This caused me to abruptly stop as i finish about 1/3rd of the dish.

The funny part is.. out of the 12-13 people there.. only i ate it.

I AM SO COURAGEOUS I DESERVE A MEDAL, A CRAZY CORN DISH MEDAL! i withstand the onslaught upon my stomach to bring you all new and exciting things you would never eat.

Btw, another thing to avoid there.. Ginseng Soju.. Imagine ginseng tea? now imagine soju? now imagine it together.
Yeah? sucky? that is.. unless you like ginseng and its overpowering flavor... in your alcohol... then maybe this is your cup of.. soju.

Half Moon
(i wish i knew the number and the address, but go down convoy and take a right if you're going north and a left if you're going south at the Wenersnitzsal (wow i butchered that one) and its to your left).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

interesting

current location with new treo updatibg blog! see how I love you all

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sprinkle some fairy dust weee (OC/LA)

Cupcakes. Cupcakes for $3.25 each. I'm not even sure i can afford cupcakes that are $3.25, but apparently alot of people in Beverly hills can!

Los Angeles is the home of fads and one of the current fads to pop up in the recent years is the advent of expensive cupcakes. Expensive as in, organic materials and exquisite ingredients compiled into a little round piece of dough. At the forefront of this explosion is Sprinkles in Beverly Hills. If Pinkberry was the "yogurt" *cough* that launched a thousand parking tickets then Sprinkles is the cupcake that launched a thousand BMW's waiting in front of one store =P.


So on a sunny saturday afternoon with nothing to do, Kathy and i decided to venture to good ol Beverly Hills and try to see what the fuss was all about. Since we were not horribly impressed with Pinkberry we figured this just to be another fad.

While walking toward Sprinkles i look up and say to Kathy "i think i see where Sprinkles is". What do i see?
A giant giant line of people. At one point i counted about 50 people in line, which on top of that there are another 10+ people inside ordering their cupcakes and waiting for their order. Since the store is rather small , people can't squish in and wait so you have to wait outside! Their excuse for not opening the door is this.
*cough*
After waiting about 25 minutes we finally get the opportunity to get near the door. Milk chocolate floats into our nostrils, i was now as excited as a young child at 3am Christmas morning. I love the smell of baked goods! We finally get inside and i'm able to snap a couple of pictures before being told i can't take pictures!
oh no little asian boy might give away our trade secrets, or maybe the non-existant flash will ruin the cupcakes!!! I hate it when people won't let me take pictures bleh. But i got all i needed!

This large glass greets you in the entrance, right behind it are rows upon rows of cupcakes with a little place holder telling you what delicacy you'll soon be devouring. On the board is a list of cupcakes, additional things you can add. The interesting thing about this store is they don't make every flavor every day. They pick and choose a set of cupcakes for any given day and they put little dots next to the cupcakes that are available (if you look closely you can see it on the menu).

(rows of cupcakes)
We are then told we can't take pictures when we tried to take a picture of me trying to eat a cupcake thru the glass! Sorry! i can't grace you all with the beauty that is my face. Another time.

While waiting in line a worker comes up to you and has you place your order. After placing the order you move along and wait for them to pack it! You'd think with the way they were packing it the cupcakes were so fragile they would explode with the slightest pressure. I've never seen so much attention and delicateness applied to a cupcake!

After ordering a dozen cupcakes for Father's day lunch and 3 for Kathy and i to share at the moment, the grand total came to a horribly horribly death defying (showing caculations cause i'm aznmathwiz)
A dozen cupcakes 36$
3 cupcakes 9.75.
8.25 tax in LA (yuck)
for a grand total of 45.75!

In our little box to share Kathy and i got the (counter clockwise) Red Velvet, Vanilla milk chocolate, and the black and white (and a surprise)
Ready for the surprise?
weeeee nothing empty space so the cupcakes won't move around! These people think of everything! I'm also curious why they separated the Red Velvet from the other ones, they did the same thing to the ones in the dozen.. *shrug*.

On ward to the cupcakes themselves!
The first one we tried was the Red Velvet. A light chocolate cake (red colored) with a cream cheese frosting on top. When i first bit into it i couldn't say anything, just "wow wow wow". The chocolate was perfect, when they said light it was the perfect description. Just a hint of chocolate with every bite as you bite through soft soft cake that just splills into your mouth. The cream cheese tasted like there was a bit of chocolate in it as well! The cake itself was just incredibly moist yet sturdy at the same time, it didn't flake and fall apart in your mouth like a cheap corner stone bakery cupcake. This was easily my favorite cupcake out of the ones i've tried so far (vanilla milk chocolate, peanut butter chocolate chip).

The ONLY problem i have with Sprinkles is their excessive use of frosting.
If you can see, the layer of frosting is actually rather thick on the cupcake. It gets to the point where it almost overwhelms the simple sweetness of the cake itself. Some people apparently REALLY like frosting so this maybe your cup of tea, but for those of us without the major sweet tooth, leave about 1/4th of the frosting behind and you'll be fine. This sweet frosting explosion gets significantly worse when its chocolate frosting which they pile on very readily. The cake is so good i overlook the fact they put so much frosting considering how easy it is to just put some aside.

Kathy suggested we ask for a discount and request less frosting and save them money! Look at how kind we are!

The next one we ate was the vanilla chocolate cupcake. Borboun vanilla with milk chocolate cream cheese. Once again, super sweet frosting (easily wiped off) but with an amazingly incricate cake.

You could taste the vanilla, its within every bite just lingering there lightly tapping your taste buds but there's another flavor there that's hidden and casually strikes! (i assume its the Borboun flavoring). This was good, not quite as good as the red velvet but it still does a great job. Once again which seems to be a very common characteristic of the cupcakes here, SUPER moist.

Quick picture of the dozen

So the question i asked myself and Kathy was... were these cupcakes really worth 3.25? We figured we would probably pay about 2.50 maybe a lil more.. if you end up buying a dozen you get them for 3$ a piece. Now my not wanting to pay 3.25 for them doesn't mean they aren't the best cupcakes i've ever had (other than the chocolate chip cupcake/muffins kathy baked me before) because they are the best cupcakes i've ever bought, i just can't fathom spending that much money on something i finish in a few bites.

I still suggest these cupcakes to you. I mean.. even though i didn't love the price i still ended up buying 15 of them haha.

p.s. Side story: while in the La Salsa next door, these two stuck up blonde girls were commenting about the line in fromt of Sprinkles
Blonde 1 (b1): I can't understand why there are so many people there, the cupcakes aren't even that good
b2: yeah that's stupid
b1: i could make better ones from the cupcake mix at the market

Yeah.... sure........ This was right before b1 saying to the cashier "um.. excuse me i dont want the worker touching my food with their barehands they need to put on a glove that's just not sanitary". I hope she knows that in her stupid little pretenious world, no one uses gloves while working with food haha.

Anyways! side story aside, go try a cupcake or two and see what the craze is all about! You won't be disappointed! (that is if you can find parking)

Sprinkles
9635 little Santa Monica Blvd.
Beverly hills, California
310-274-8765.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The WineSellar & Brasserie (SD)

M. et la mme. de bon après-midi peuvent nous avoir un repas délicieux. (good afternoon mr. and ms. may we have a delicious meal).

Ah the French, with their beautiful language, wonderful food, and deliciously intricate wine. Since i love food, especially wonderful food i love me a French restaurant. So for my brother's 21st birthday i took him to the The Winesellar and Brasserie in Mira Mesa, San Diego. Truly a place for YOU to be pampered.

This restaurant is truly a hidden gem. Located in the business district of Mira Mesa in a myriad of Biotech firms a very inconspicious wine store is hidden in the back end of one of the districts. When you get to the store a simple sign says "WineSellar". You walk in and its a nicely lit wine store, not so bright to make you feel like a fish market yet just bright enough where you feel a calm while you shop. The wines are lined by region as they litter the whole store. A simple sign with "Restaurant" is pointing to a set of velvet stairs. As you walk up the stairs you see award after aware from Wine Spectator as well as their abnormally high food rating of 27 out of 30 from Zagat. Inside is a nice little restaurant, dimly lit for that romantic partner (or 5 other guys in my case) that you intended to wine and dine, with plush booths scattered around.

The host/waiter/sommelier at Winesellar & Brasserie greets you upon entry. Slightly witty , some may say a little overtop (some as in Matt and Joey) he takes you to your table as a flurry of busboys (vastly outnumber the amount of other help there) quickly set up your table.

First the waiter sits you down with the menu, two heavy leather bound books, a very very long and intricate wine menu and the dinner menu. A handful of appetizers and salads mixed with seafood and meat dishes.
Before you can even finish reading the menu the busboy #1 places a small plate of Chef's treats.
Light and flaky biscuits with a delicate cream cheese spread with a dallop of pesto sauce and a small roma tomato. A quick and crisp crunch and the cream melts in your mouth. A wonderful bite size starter to the coming meal.

The waiter lightly hovers, at the smallest hint of readiness he springs into action. We order our wines: a 2003 Neo, a spanish wine from Ribera Del Deuro, earth with a nice body, could be a little stronger as either fruitier or earthier, but it does well to mix with the forthcoming spiced meats and a 2004 Tandem Hellenthal Vineyard Pinot Noir
, quite possibly one of the best Pinot's i've had in awhile. Slightly fruity with nice cherry and cola flavors, wonderful finish with a great dark ruby red color. Just wonderful! Perfect with the lighter meats we had. Pinot Noir truly is the most versatile wine out there! Then on to the dishes.

First appetizer of the night was ordered by my sibling, a Grilled Lamb Salad (15). Spinach and endives sprinkled with feta cheese and dressed with a warm mustard dressing. The salad is then generously topped with peppered slices of medium rare lamb.
A stunning dish. The feta cheese and endive help blunt the naturally gamey flavor of lamb which would normally overpower a standard salar.

The next appetizer was ordered by yours truly, a Yellowfin Tuna Tartare (14) the speciality of the house. Served with very crisp bread the Tartare is mixed with chives, tomatoes, and onions and served raw. Its topped with a Creme Fraiche, a slightly richer version of sour cream.. less on the sour more on the rich. Surrounding the TarTare is an herbal mix. A delictible dish for any fish lover. Very very soft fish, the yellowtail really works well with the sauces. Eaten with warm bread as well as crisp bread, think of it as an enhanced can of tuna (if one was to degrade such a dish like this) . Tuna's with crackers...on crack.

First entree of the night is the Filet Mignon with Roasted Shallot Fondue , Potato Gratin and Bordelaise Sauce. ($36). Medium rare, no resistance from the knife, yielding like a gentle lover (haha). The owner of the mouth that ate this dish was surprised at the tenderness of the meat, practically melted in his mouth. The flavors of the sauce helped accent the already juicy meat. An amazing piece of meat, he stated probably the best he's ever had.

The next dish was Duck prepared two ways, Leg and Grilled breast served with roasted turnip, sweet potato Puree, and a basalmic vinegar orange reduction. (32)
The breast was the one marginal disappointment of the night. The taste was not bad, but it was not good. If one was to word it perfectly, it tastes like a pan fried chinese dish of stir fried duck. But its friend the leg fared significantly better. A soft yielding duck breast, spiced with a light reduction of orange. One stroke of the knife, back then forth allows your fork to pick up the meat that your mouth so eagerly waits for.

The next dish was the Black Pepper Roasted rack of Venison with a Red Port reduction sauce (35). Served at a wonderful rare to medium rare, the venison is crusted with peppers and other dark spices. Thick pieces of venison run along the bone, as with all meat shown above it yields to your gentle butter knife. The port reduction adds a tinge of sweetness to the gamey venison, perfectly complimenting the spice of the pepper. Scrumpiolicious. Wonderfully pared with the Neo.

Final Entree is the Colorado Lamb (36). A light pack of spinach hides beneath the generous rack of lamb with rich Porcinni mushrooms littering the dish, intermingling and making friends with the potato puree.
The lamb is cooked to a perfect medium rare. A thin line of fat which has dispersed its juices lines each piece of lamb. Perfectly spiced, the tinges of pepper mix with the natural flavors of the lamb. Not gamey like your standard run of the mill lamb but a version of rich yet meatier veal. So delicious one would go to an expensive restaurant and POTENTIALLY (not saying anyone did) gnaw at the bone secretly to remove all of the succulent meat. This dish, is my premium selection, if you do find yourself up the store's velvet stairs, make sure this is the dish that greets you.

Next is the dessert, a trio of the specialities of the W&B. (9). Creme Brulee with vanilla bean, Banana Cannoli filled with a rich cream, and a dark chocolate confection.
The Creme Brulee's sugar was burned to a thick layer. Underneath the hard exterior lie a creamy mix of vanilla that glided onto the spoon. I love Creme Brulee so i'm very bias, but it was amazing.
The Chocolate confection is two pieces of dark chocolate sandwiching a small mint and powdered like 1st day of snow with milk chocolate. Wonderfully rich for dark chocolate lovers..
Finally the biggest surprise, the wonderful Banana Connoli. Crisp Connoli pastry that folds underneath the pressure of your teeth. So well constructed nothing but the area you bite falls into your mouth. A rich Banana Caramel cream covers the pastry, light caramel with hints of banana. The cream is a cloud like morsel of delight. A combination that would put a smile of satisfaction on the coldest of hearts.

And finally the last dish, a complimentary dish for the birthday boy, fresh organic strawberries with a milk chocolate syrup with 3 generous scoops of fresh vanilla ice cream. (9).

Think of the best sundae you've ever had. Now multiple it by the amount of digits that appear in Pi. That is the flavor of this dish. Not as sweet as your standard ice cream. Not so heavy that you walk out of this glorious restaurant unsettled and cold. The two extremes of syrup and ice cream are a perfect yin and yang of hot and cold. The strawberries are the best strawberries hand picked and then filtered even more thoroughly for only the most perfect shapes.

As you finish your dinner another conffection from the Chef arrives, Chocolates and soft Madelines.

As you walk down the steps of the Winesellar & Brasserie you look once again at all the awards and you understand why they display them so proudly. As you leave the store the Cashier looks up and asks how your meal went, what else can you say but Amazing, absolutely amazing. You climb back into your car with a settled feeling, a nice buzz from the great wine, and a sense of contentment from the rich food and you zoom away back into the business district of Mira Mesa , away from this diamond in the rough, waiting for another person who stumbles upon this restaurant and is blown away.

Bon Appetit. Espèrent que votre repas était grand et nous espérons vous revoir.

Winesellar & Brasserie
9550 Waples Street, Suite 115
San Diego, California 92121





Tuesday, June 5, 2007

First Pictures with the new camera! Peruvian! (LA)

Like i stated previously, I will be working in the LA/OC area for the summer! And do you know what that means?

a whole lot of food in LA! weee *cue the clapping*.
AND also! you'll be seeing the first pictures i take with my brand spanking new Canon Sd1000 with pictures presented in a crisp 7.2megapixel quality. (I've sold out, i'm advertising for Canon to my 5 readers).

First up is Intiraymi Restaurants Peruvian Food which is located on near the Federal Courthouse in downtown L.A.

After a tiresome day of work the girlfriend and I decided to get dinner around the area so i wouldn't have to brave the disasters of LA traffic at 6pm. While previously looping around the area trying to find a cheap parking lot, Kathy saw a little Peruvian restaurant on Spring street. Coincidentally everytime I pass this place with my mom she always raves about how its the best Peruvian restaurant in Los Angeles (according to her and her Peruvian friends). So since i haven't had Peruvian food since getting a 1st place Trophy for my violin mastery as an 8 year old in Torrance, CA i decided to give it a shot.

We quite possibly were the only non - spanish speaking clientale eating there which was fine by me, Peruvian food isn't exactly Mexican food but still, its better than a room full of Chinese eating there eh? Next to the main door is a huge fridge of Inca Kola and all kinds of bread!

Since i love Inca Kola, before i even decided what i wanted to eat i decided i want some Inca Kola!
Its a Peruvian soda that almost tastes like a bubble gum soda, its interesting. Or.. it kind of tastes like red bull! One family next to us ordered a 2 liter bottle, i was rather jealous =P A little background on the soda itself. Its actually the most popular soda in Peru! even more so than Coke!

After settling down and looking through the menu, there is a wide assortment of beef/chicken/pork stews and pastas! (i know pastas!) As well as the ever popular Peruvian treat, the spit fire chicken.

Kathy ordered the 1/2 Spit Fire chicken with rice and beans and i ordered the (dont remember the name) beef strips (steak) with tomatoes, onions, and fries all mixed together with also a side of rice and beans.

The first thing that's of rather great interest is the large bowl of beans they give to each person.
It tastes like a soupier, less mushy refried bean. It almost tastes like it has some sort of meat dripping in the soupy mixture but i couldn't really put my finger on it. I personally don't like beans, but i found myself pouring the whole bowl over my rice and devouring it. Kathy on the other hand loves beans and says they were quite amazing!

The first dish to come up was my steak blend ($9).
A mixture of steak, onions, cilantro, fries, and tomatoes pan fried together served with a side of very short grain rice. As you can see, the drippings from the stir fry go all over the plate.

The dish itself is slightly salty which works very well with the large amount of rice they gave as well as the french fries. The fries were slightly mushy but they soaked in the flavor of the dish really well. Every bite was a nice fragrant cilantro smell and the sliced red onions were nice and spicy. The steak itself was cooked well and not overly chewy to the point you chew more than you have digits on your body. But the best part of it all were the tomatoes.
Tomatoes are just an amazing fruit, they do a great job of influencing the dish as well as work well in catching hints of everything else around it. I really couldn't live if i didn't have tomatoes, i throw them into everything i stir fry. These tomatoes soaked in the juices and you get a sweet yet salty flavoring with every bite. DELICIOUS!

Next up is the world famous roasted chicken. (6.95) (half chicken)
I know, it looks really minimal. I was actually kind of scared when i saw it, i didn't think it'd turn out so well, and Kathy had threatened me previously that this place had better be good. The skin looked charred and the chicken looked as though it'd be dried.

Luckily my mother's favorite Peruvian restaurant did not disappoint! Kathy tore me a piece of the thigh and omgggg it was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOo good. Very moist, very tender meat with a nicely flavored skin, which oddly enough wasn't all that crisp from the charred look of the skin. Kathy basked in the joy of the chicken and stated her dish vastly destroyed mine in its glory, which is rather bold since she kept picking at my dish and eating my fries =P.

Delicious! a grand and wonderful find! I highly HIGHLY suggest this to anyone around the area. The food is so good, and the portions are HUGE, i seriously could not finish my plate.. which is extremely rare since i was starving from my not so delicious lunch.

So if you're ever around the area!
Intiraymi Restaurant
633 N. Spring Street #2-3
Los Angeles, CA 90012
On the corner of Cesar Chavez and Spring street.
When you get to the street crossing its immediately to your right so watch out!

Happy eating! Next posting i'll bring it back to San Diego for a quick meal celebrating my brother's 21st Birthday!