Tag Archives: Eat

Marini’s Chocolate Covered Bacon

One of our first stops whenever we hit Santa Cruz is Marini’s at the Beach on Pacific Ave. Not only does Marini’s have the raddest selection of candy, salt water taffy and other assorted sweets on the planet, but now they also offer…ta da, Chocolate Covered Bacon.

Marini's legendary chocolate covered bacon #1

That’s right, amigos, Marini’s has found a way to merge two of Christine and my favorite food groups into one. And though Chocolate Covered Bacon sounds awesome in theory, it pains me deeply to tell you that the actual result is a bit odd. That said, I am glad we sampled it at least once.

It’s not that it tastes bad, because, well, bacon never really tastes bad. But the biggest problem I had with this concoction is that is was cold. I know that’s the only way to keep the chocolate from getting all melty and everything…but, I’m sorry, cold bacon is just not the same as the warm stuff.

And though the chocolate coating is delicious, it also seals the grease onto the bacon when it chills, which is even more off-putting. I left my piece out for a while and I think it tasted much better at room temperature. True, the chocolate was all goey by then, but the bacon was much more palpable.

Marini's legendary chocolate covered bacon #2

Marini's legendary chocolate covered bacon #3

So, if you do decide to check out this strange marriage of flavors for yourself, I have two suggestions. One, call the folks at Marini’s up and order it ahead of time. They sells out of their Chocolate Covered Bacon every day, usually before noon, so, plan ahead.

And two, and this is a biggie, do not order more than one piece of bacon per person in your party. We got all greedy and ordered a half pound — which wasn’t cheap considering the whopping $9.00 per pound price tag — and that turned out to be way, waaaay too much for the four of us to consume. Seriously, one large piece of bacon is more than enough for a party of four. Hell, one bite per person would have been enough.

And while Marini’s doesn’t offer suggestions for accompanying drinks or anything, I recommend washing your bacon down with something nice and bubbly afterwards. We had a round of ice cold Cherry Dr. Pepper’s with ours, but, honestly, any carbonated beverage will fit the bill.

Um, you know, as long as it doesn’t have any bacon in it…

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Lunch at San Francisco’s Ferry Building

Christine and I usually visit San Francisco at least once a year for her work and every time we go, one of the first places we hit is the super cool Ferry Building Marketplace at the end of Market Street.

Housed inside the beautiful shell of the historic Ferry Building (which opened it’s doors in 1898), the marketplace can best be described as a gigantic indoor farmer’s market. With offices upstairs, the bustling lower level is home to some of the tastiest gourmet grub in the city.

The Ferry Building, San Francisco

Little girl (not Greta!) at Miette

Miette's collection of cool goodies!

Artisanal cheeses, chocolates, meats, tea, coffee, breads…there is nothing you can’t find at this place and if you are lucky enough to come on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday between the hours of 10:00AM and 2:00PM, you’ll find a real life farmer’s market camped outside the building as well. And, man alive, is that place amazing!

But even if you can’t make it for the outdoor farmer’s market, the permanent storefronts inside the Ferry Building will more than satisfy you. We’ve eaten at almost every joint in there and aside from the bland, totally overpriced Mexican food at Mijita, everything we’ve eaten there has been excellent.

That said, we are total creatures of habit and almost always eat at the same two places. First stop is usually Charlie Phan’s Out The Door. Located directly behind Phan’s already-legendary The Slanted Door, Out The Door has some of the best Vietnamese “street food” I’ve ever had. Soups, salads, spring rolls, out-of-this-world Vietnamese coffee, this place is probably one of my favorite restaurants of all time. Seriously good food!

Miette @ the Ferry Building!

Miette pastry table at the Ferry Building!

The amazing chocolate pots @ Miette!

And the meal we had the one time we actually managed to score a dinner reservation at The Slanted Door — which is usually booked months in advance — will go down in the record books as one of the finest meals I’ve ever had. I  kid you not, amigos, I have actually had dreams about their world-famous Chicken Claypot with caramel sauce, chilies and fresh ginger. DELICIOUS!

Our second favorite spot in the Ferry Building is Miette Patisserie home of awesome cookies, pastries and the second-best cupcakes in the city (right behind my all-time favorite, Kara’s Cupcakes!). But cookies and other baked yumminess aside, the thing that keeps Christine and I coming back year after year are Miette’s incredibly tasty Chocolate Pots de Creme. Holy crap, these things will totally change your life!

Served in a tiny glass jar (which you get to keep!) the chocolate pot is like the best pudding you ever had topped with a healthy dollop of dreamy, melt-in-your-mouth, creme fraiche. Yum!

Boccalone sandwich board sign @ the Ferry Building!

Boccalone at the Ferry Building!

And while we were a little sad to learn that they no longer uses the Miette logo glassware for the pots (which make rad tea light holders back home), as long as the chocolate keeps tasting this good, who really cares what it comes in?

Our two favorite stops aside, this past visit we decided to try something different for lunch. So, at the urging of Grandma Wendy, the four of us jumped into the long line outside Boccalone Salumeria to try their Food-Network-famous mortadella hot dogs. And, lemme tell ya, the sign out front, “tasty salted pig parts”, doesn’t even begin to describe how good this fancy hot dog was.

The sight, the smell, even the sound as it popped in your mouth when you bit into it, this was truly a weiner for the ages…delicious!

Boccalone delivery bicycle!

Mortadella hot dog @ Boccalone!

My only complaint about the Ferry Building Marketplace is the lack of parking. This was our first time driving to SF with Greta (we’re saving her first airplane trip till January!) and the parking really sucked. The dedicated lot they do have is very small and street parking is a nightmare. And when you do find street parking, it’s metered up the wazoo, so, bring your quarters!

Oh, and one more cool thing. The Ferry Building Marketplace has free WiFi, so, bring your laptop and sit a spell at one of the giant wooden tables facing the bay…the view is incredible!

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Scrabble Junior CHEEZ-ITS

I should start by saying that I am not a fan of CHEEZ-ITS. I know, shocking, right? They are comprised of three of my all-time favorite flavors: salty, cheesy, and crackery…but for some reason, CHEEZ-ITS are just not my thing.

Scrabble Junior CHEEZ-ITS #1

So, when my Step Mom Wendy brought some down with her on her last visit, I gotta tell ya, I was a little wary. Then, I looked closer at the box. These were no ordinary CHEEZ-ITS, amigos…these were tiny Scrabble tile Scrabble Junior CHEEZ-ITS. Wendy and I are huge, insanely-competitive Scrabble nerds — don’t even get me started on Lexulous! — so suddenly, this gift from the north made a whole lot more sense.

And for some reason, these CHEEZ-ITS tasted a whole lot better than usual. I don’t know if it was the fact that you could spell fun words with them before you ate them or whatever, but, man alive, these crackers tasted awesome!

Scrabble Junior CHEEZ-ITS #2

Scrabble Junior CHEEZ-ITS #3

Anyway…I have no idea how long the Scrabble Junior promotion will last, so, if you love word games as much as we do, then hurry on down to the store and pick up some of these rocking little CHEEZ-ITS for yourself.

Oh yeah, and just for the record, they do not have blank tile crackers…I checked.

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Free Mocha Mondays @ McDonald’s

Just found out from one of our regular tipsters (thanks, Aunt Debbie!) that McDonald’s is offering free McCafé Mochas between the hours of 7:00AM and 7:00PM every Monday until August 3rd! Cool, huh?

Don’t know if you’ve had the chance to try this new line of fancy coffee drinks at McDonald’s yet, but Christine and I were first in line when they launched them back in May. And though the Caramel latte she had was downright hideous — I don’t know if it was the cheap caramel or what, but that thing SUCKED! — the iced Mocha I had was pretty damn good.

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Free Mocha Mondays #2

And when some freebie coupons came our way a week or so later, we tried some more of the McCafé drinks and were both very pleasantly surprised by how tasty they were for the price. It’s not Starbucks or anything, but they do pack a wallop in the caffeinated department and they are way cheaper than almost anything else on the market…so, I say try them out at least once.

And with Free Mocha Mondays for the rest of the month, how can you not try these drinks out? I haven’t sampled the hot mocha yet, but I can tell you from personal experience that the two iced mochas I’ve had have been kinda magical. So, I’d go cold on this one, amigos. Or, if you really wanna get your freebie on, go cold for breakfast and then head back later and go hot just before dinner…either way, you gotta try these things!

Oh yeah, and just to give you a heads up, the free version of the Mocha is served in an 8 ounce cup, not the usual 12 ounce. Just wanted to let you know so you don’t bitch out your McBarista when you get a small-ass cup.

Dying to hear what y’all think of the drinks, so, as usual, McComment away!

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The Return of Mother’s Cookies!

The cookie circuit was abuzz with rumors that something like this might be happening back in May, but after buying our first bag of frosted circus animal cookies recently, Christine and I can now tell you with all certainty that despite closing their doors back in October, our beloved Mother’s Cookies have returned to grocery store shelves everywhere! Hooray!

Apparently timed to coincide with Mother’s Day 2009, the crumbling cookie dynasty — sorry, I couldn’t resist — was brought back to life by the very cool folks at the century-old Kellogg Company.

The Return of Mother's Cookies #1

The Return of Mother's Cookies #2

In fact, their Senior VP of Marketing and Innovation, U.S. Snacks (what a title!) Doug VanDeVelde had this to say about the triumphant return of Mother’s Cookies: “We’re thrilled to bring back a classic, beloved brand that calls to mind such strong feelings of nostalgia and happy childhood memories that parents want to pass down to their children.”

Damn straight, Doug! That is exactly what we wanted to do with those tasty cookies and now that they’re back, our little girl will get to grow up loving Mother’s Cookies as much as we did. So, welcome back to all of our favorite, crazy-sugary, store-bought friends…we missed you more than you’ll ever know!

Long live Mother’s Cookies!

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The Horseless Carriage @ Galpin Motors

Been meaning to blog about this place since Christine and I started the blog, but, as you know, we’ve been kinda busy, so, time and time again, the first-rate grub at the Horseless Carriage has fallen by the wayside. Well, that all ends today!

The first restuarant ever to open inside a working car dealership, the Horseless Carriage has been serving up the best diner food in the San Fernando Valley to the patrons of the legendary Galpin Motors since 1966. Yep, the Carriage is actually three years older than I am…crazy!

Galpin #3

Galpin #1

Christine and I discovered this hidden gem of a restaurant when we bought our first Saturn back in 1996 and we have been coming here for breakfast and/or lunch every since. Located within walking distance from the cozy waiting room at the Saturn of the Valley service area, the Horseless Carriage has always been the one thing that makes long-ass trips to the land of Galpin for tune-ups or oil changes bearable.

And though just about everything on their vast menu is amazing, I gotta tell ya, I have ordered the exact same thing every time I go for the past thirteen years…the pork chops and eggs with buttermilk biscuits and country gravy. I know it sounds boring, but when you find something you love, you stick with it. And, man alive, do I loves me that breakfast!

I mean, seriously, have you ever seen finer grill marks on pork chops? Hell to the no! And that’s only part of the meal…I didn’t even take a picture of the tasty, but decidedly unphotogenic, biscuits and gravy! And best of all, that hearty heart attack on a plate sets you back a paltry $10.65. Top that Denny’s!

Galpin #4

Galpin #5

But that steal of a meal is only one of the many fantastic items on the menu. Christine usually orders the traditional Club Sandwich (which is great!) but the last time we went, she opted for the Horseless Carriage Triple Decker Club California-Style, pictured above.

Substituting pastrami for bacon and adding a heaping wedge of avocado, this sandwich was so good, I just might ditch my biscuits and gravy goodness and get one for myself next time. Seriously, that sandwich was heaven with a side of fries, amigos…fantastic!

And even though one of the waitresses there looks and often acts kinda scary-mean — you know who you are, blondie! — for the most part, the staff is made up of really sweet career waitresses who keep your coffee and water filled like nobody’s business. And, honestly, anyone who can put up with my fat ass reading the paper at one of their best booths for two hours while I wait for my car to be serviced is OK in my book.

Galpin #2

So, if you’re looking for a primo meal that will stick to your ribs while you browse the sprawling Galpin acrerage — they have seperate, swanky-ass showrooms for Fords, Saturns, Mazdas, Aston Martins, Volvos and Jaguars! — or get your car serviced, check out the fine food at the Horseless Carriage. You might be there a while, but you sure as shit won’t leave hungry!

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“Not Forgotten” night at the Mann’s Chinese!

Friday night was the Hollywood premiere of my new movie “Not Forgotten” at the Mann’s Chinese and let me tell ya, it rocked! We had an awesome audience, great food and drinks at the after party at The Grill, and best of all, the movie played to packed houses all weekend long. Yay!

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #1

No official word on what that means for future distribution plans, but according to the fine folks at BoxOfficeMojo.com, “Not Forgotten” did manage to beat the pants off heavy-hitters like “17 Again”, “Hannah Montana” and even “Wolverine” (again!) on a per screen average, so, I’d say we kicked ass!

Also, I just found out that we will be moving to the Mann Beverly Center 13 on Friday, so, if you missed us last week at the Chinese, check us out this weekend at the Beverly Center by clicking here.

In the meantime, back to the premiere! After mingling with the cast and crew in the lobby, I walked the press line outside the theatre for a few pics and then Christine and I headed upstairs to our sweet-ass leather seats in the VIP section. Yep, I said leather seats, amigos. Honestly, I didn’t even know the Mann’s had a VIP section, but it was awesome.

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #2

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #3

The funniest thing was that Christine and I — who have both seen the movie a gazillion times — were completely freaked out by the kidnapping stuff this time around. I know it sounds crazy, but we both kept looking at each other like: “Should we call home just to make sure Greta wasn’t taken by Santa Muerte?” Wow, I guess that’s what being a parent is all about, huh? Weird…

Without giving too much away, all I can say is that if any of that spooky shit ever happens to my daughter…I might just go “mental” too. Yikes!

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #4

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #5

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #6

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #7

Immediately following the screening there was a super cool party just around the corner at the swanky Hollywood Grill. In keeping with the Tex-Mex setting of the movie, the food was all Mexican — right down to the never-ending bottles of Corona with lime! — and though the chicken tostadas were kinda weird, the carne asada was out-of-this-world fantastic. My brother, Ryan, and I went back for that like, three times. Awesome!

Of course, the company was even better. Although neither Simon Baker or Paz Vega could make the premiere — she’s eight-and-a-half months pregnant and lives in Spain, and Simon is supposedly filming a movie in Australia, although he appeared on both “Regis & Kelly” and “Jimmy Fallon” on Monday night, so, who knows? — the rest of mi buen amigos from the supporting cast were there in spades and we had a blast.

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #8

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #9

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #10

And though there were several cool celebrity sightings — Marion Ross from “Happy Days” came with her son, Jim Meskimen, who is the nicest guy in the world, even if he plays a child molester in our movie! — my favorite had to be Oscar-nominee and 70’s icon, Karen Black.

Miss Black was supposed to appear in an AFI student film of mine, “The Lone Star Letters”, way back in the day and I had always wanted to meet her in person. So, when I saw her noshing on tacos near the bar, I stumbled over. Being the geek that I am, I started with: “Are you Karen Black?” Lame…I know, but I was completely starstruck.

She was beyond cool and of course had no memory of my nerdy student film or why she couldn’t appear in it, but really, who cared at that point…I mean, I was talking about my movie with Karen-freaking-Black, how cool and totally Hollywood is that? Crazy!

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #11

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #12

Anyway, we all stayed way too late and drank and ate way too much, but, wow, what a party! Thanks to everyone who came to the premiere to party down with us and most of all to those of you who went out and actually paid to see “Not Forgotten” on it’s opening weekend in Los Angeles. My Aunt Linda and Uncle George actually drove down from the Fresno area to see the movie on Sunday afternoon. Wow!

So, thanks again for all the “Not Forgotten” love, amigos. You guys rock!!

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UPDATE: 31-Cent Scoop Night @ Baskin Robbins (2009)

OK, I don’t know if it was the cold weather or this crazy Swine Flu mania, but for some reason, there was virtually no line to speak of at this year’s 31-Cent Scoop Night at our local Baskin Robbins. And we went to the “good” Baskin Robbins on Victory this time too. Crazy, huh?

31-cent scoop night (2009) #1

31-cent scoop night (2009) #2

All I know is that the smaller crowds made it that much easier for myself and our friend Mike to sneak back inside for round two while his wife Patty and our other friend Elyse waited outside with Christine and Greta. Yee-haw!

Oh yeah, and this year, the scoops were way bigger than last time too…so, thank you, Baskin Robbins for another awesome adventure in cheap ice cream. You guys seriously rock!

31-cent scoop night (2009) #3

31-cent scoop night (2009) #4

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Cherry Dr. Pepper rocks!

As huge fans of all things new in the world of junk food, Christine and I were thrilled to learn that Dr. Pepper — always the classiest of the soft drinks in my book, I mean, hello, the dude’s a doctor! — was improving on a classic with the introduction of Cherry Dr. Pepper.

Cherry Dr. Pepper #1

And yes, it’s as freaking awesome as it sounds. No, I take that back, this drink is ten billion times better than it sounds. Really, truly, this is the flavored soda pop we’ve all been waiting for. Well, at least at our house.

Christine has been a “pepper” since she was a kid and you know I loves me some cherry-flavored shit, so buying a twelve pack of Cherry Dr. Pepper the moment it was released was kind of a no-brainer. And though it tastes amazing on its own, this beauty of a soft drink also makes spectacular ice cream floats.

Even Ryan and Laura (who are no fans of soda to begin with) were left breathless in the wake of this gorgeous, surprisingly subtle concoction. We had a little tasting party at their house the other night and they asked us to leave the unopened cans with them when we went home. Yep, it’s that good!

So, if you’re in the market for a tasty-ass caffeinated beverage this summer, skip the sickly-sweet Starbucks Doubleshot Coffee + Energy and pick yourself up some of this nectar of the gods. Seriously, all punning aside, it’s just what the doctor ordered…delicious!

Cherry Dr. Pepper #3

Cherry Dr. Pepper #2

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Mt. Shasta Brewing Company’s signature brew: Weed Pale Ale!

As you may have read in my previous post, last summer, Christine and I finally got off the freeway in the mythical town of Weed. But we weren’t looking for gas, or, well, you know…weed. Nope, what we were looking for was some of the legendary Weed beer brewed locally by the Mt. Shasta Brewing Company.

And though Christine only gave me one shot at finding it — we were trying to make Oregon by nightfall, yo — I happened to find plenty of Weed beer at the first and only gas station we stopped at. Yay!

Weed Pale Ale #1

Why all this trouble for a microbrew you ask? Well, first off, I loves me some beer, the smaller the batches, the better, and secondly, I wanted to support the brewery in their epic struggle with the U.S. Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) over the pithy slogan on their bottle cap.

See, until spring of 2008, the bottlecaps on all the MSBC’s beers read: “Try Legal Weed”. Hilarious, right? Well, apparently, the suits in Washington did not agree and even though the trinkets at the gas station were loaded with pot humor and Weed references, the bottle caps had to be recalled. As the local headlines jokingly proclaimed: “Government is keeping us safe from bottle caps”. Insane!

Of course, that only made me wanna try the beer even more. Not just as a beer lover, but to help support the kick ass dudes who brewed it. I mean, hell, microbreweries are having a hard enough time making ends meet these days, last thing they need is to be replacing hundreds of so-called “inappropriate” bottle caps. The way I saw it, if my lowly purchase could in any way help their bottom line…sign me up!

So, we bought a six pack of their signature brew, the Weed Pale Ale, picked up some Weed-centric shot glasses and refrigerator magnets at the gas station and drove the rest of the way to Grants Pass. Only then, when safely ensconced in the bosom of Christine’s family farmhouse did I get to taste this magical beer for the first time…and let me tell ya, it rocked!

Weed Pale Ale #2

Weed Pale Ale #3

Crisp and malty with a vaguely sweet aftertaste, this was a pale ale for the ages, and after a long, sweaty trek up the interstate from Burbank, it was just what the doctor ordered. Amazing!

Sadly, the bottle caps I was searching for had already been replaced with a generic gold cap with no writing on it at all. LAME! But a few months later, the case was overturned and the Mt. Shasta Brewing Company was allowed to resume bottling all of their beers with their now-legendary bottle caps. So, yay!

To read more about the Mt. Shasta Brewing Company and the many fine beers they produce — I wanna try the space-alien-themed Lemurian Lager next! — click here. And, once again, happy 420, amigos!

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Greta’s first free food @ Denny’s…

Technically, this momentous “first” took place the week before Easter, but seeing as we’ve had more than a few sleepless nights recently, I’m only just now getting around to blogging about it…sorry! In any case, Greta’s first free food at Denny’s was pretty amazing.

Greta @ Denny's #1

Of course, she didn’t actually eat anything on the menu. But Christine, myself and our friends Mike and Patty sure did and it was great. And better yet, we practically had the whole place to ourselves!

I don’t know if it was the fact that the last ad was hyped so heavily during the Super Bowl or what, but the lines weren’t nearly as long as the last time we schlepped to Denny’s for free grub. Which was fine by us, since this time we came with a stroller!

And though I’m still partial to the Lumberjack Slam or those totally badass Nachos with the fake cheese sauce, I gotta tell you the free Grand Slamwich Christine ordered — I ordered the traditional Grand Slam, which you had to purchase to get the sandwich free — was pretty tasty.

Greta @ Denny's #2

Greta @ Denny's #3

Basically a sandwich version of the Grand Slam, the Grand Slamwich consists of two scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, shaved ham, mayo and American cheese grilled on potato bread with a maple spice spread. I know, sounds like I’m describing heaven, right? Well, it was pretty close, amigos.

Christine found the flavor combo a bit overwhelming, but the couple of bites I had of that larger-than-life concoction were pretty incredible. It’s no Southern Style Chicken Breakfast Bisquit, but it was definitely worth trying at least once.

And though she didn’t eat there, Greta actually woke up and demanded to be taken out of her carseat/stroller for the first time in her short life. Seriously, she has slept soundly at every restaurant we have taken to her so far, but for some reason, she woke up at Denny’s!

Greta @ Denny's #4

Greta @ Denny's #5

I don’t know it’s coded in her DNA or what, but I like to think my girl just knew somehow that this magical place with the red and yellow decor and 24-hour service with a smile was truly something worth waking up for.

Yep, guess that apple didn’t fall very far at all…welcome to the great, wide-world of Denny’s, baby!

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UPDATE: Free Grand Slam Day at Denny’s!

I hope you all took advantage of Denny’s gift to America yesterday and got yourself a free Grand Slam Breakfast, but for those of you who missed out, never fear, because…as always…I took plenty of pictures!

Free Grand Slam day @ Denny's #1

It all started at 10AM when my friends Mike and Patty and I met up in the parking lot at the new Denny’s near the Burbank airport and found ourselves a place in line. Yes, there was a line, and it was long as hell, but hey, the food was free and the crowd was in a great mood…so, we had fun.

I think we waited in line for about half an hour — a small price to pay for free grub at the what I consider the best Denny’s in L.A. County — but once we got a table, our piping-hot food was up and ready quicker than you can say: “a side of hash browns for 99cents”. Seriously, the service was fast, man.

Free Grand Slam day @ Denny's #2

Free Grand Slam day @ Denny's #3

And while I’ve heard some grumblings from haters who didn’t think the line was worth the wait, I gotta tell ya from years of experience, free food events are not about the wait or the food…they are all about the experience.

And in today’s cruel economic climate, I can’t think of a better experience than a rocking free breakfast with America…so, thank you, Denny’s!

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Free Grand Slam Day @ Denny’s!

Hopefully, you guys will read this in time to take advantage of this sweet-ass offer…but today only, February 3rd, from 6AM to 2PM, the kind folks at Denny’s are giving away free Grand Slam breakfasts! Yep, I said free…as in, all you gotta buy is your coffee. Pretty cool, huh?

Free Grand Slam Day @ Denny's!!

I’m sure this killer offer is not news to anyone who watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, but seeing as Christine and I were otherwise engaged (and just now finished watching the Bowl commercials on Tivo) we just heard about the Denny’s deal of the decade last night.

And in case you were wondering, I did read the fine print on the website, and unless you live in the town of Baker, California or Las Cruces, New Mexico, the Grand Slams will be free at every single Denny’s in the United States. AND from what I’ve read on a couple of other sites, you can add another two items to your breakfast for only 99cents each. If that’s true, then…wow, I’ll stay there all day.

Ooo, speaking of…if I go to bed right now, I can squeeze in a good five hours of sleep before my free breakfast. Later…

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Martha Stewart Apple Raspberry Slab Pie @ Costco

I don’t know what’s cooler, the fact that Martha Stewart is now making frozen pies, or, better yet, that she is selling them at Costco for $10.99! Yep, Costco, the place with the crazy-good roasted chickens and all the free samples.

Of course the old ladies in the white hats weren’t sampling this delicious Apple Raspberry Slab Pie when we were there, but after hearing Martha talk it up on her show for the last couple of weeks, Christine and I bought one anyway.

Martha Stewart Apple Raspberry Slab Pie #1

Martha Stewart Apple Raspberry Slab Pie #2

And let me tell ya, this pie is amazing! Seriously, it tasted like Martha cooked it in our kitchen that night. It was totally fresh, the perfect balance of sweet and tart, and had this incredible crust that left us dreaming about it for days. Or maybe that’s just us. Either way, I defy anyone to find a store-bought frozen pie crust this good…it will totally blow your mind.

And best of all, the pie itself is freaking gigantic. I’m talking like casserole-dish-big. I’m not complaining, mind you, but, wow, we had leftovers for days. We ate ours fresh out of the oven with vanilla ice cream, and Laura tried hers with whipped cream, which was also very good. But even cold, days later, that pie was positively drooltastic.

So, if you’re looking for something a little different for this year’s Thanksgiving feast, I’d say Martha has the pie for you, amigos. And if you really wanna be sneaky, chuck the box and the cool recycled paper tin it cooks in and tell your guests you made it yourself.

But make sure and leave some time for baking, because this tasty slab pie takes one hour to cook and another whopping hour to cool before serving. You don’t know how tempted we were to cut into thing at the forty-five minute mark, but hey, if Martha says to wait an hour…we listen.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Halloween Harvest Festival @ Pierce College

Every year around this time, Christine and I head out in search of cool amateur haunted houses in the valley to explore. But this year, with our own little pumpkin on the way, Christine opted out of our tradition for fear of being bumped, pushed or just plain scared to high heaven along the way.

So, instead of going the local, down and dirty haunted house route, we decided to explore something a little more organized and fair-like this year. That way Christine could chill with some cotton candy while Ryan, Laura, our friends Patty and Mike and I screamed our lungs out in the haunted house.

And after many years of hearing about it, we finally schlepped out to Woodland Hills for the annual Halloween Harvest Festival at Pierce College. We had heard before that this place had one of the scariest “pay” haunted houses in the area, but when we learned that they also have a haunted corn maze on the premises, well, we were sold!

I’d never been to Pierce College before, but that place is way out of the way…I’m talking barely in L.A. county. And the campus is positively massive, with acres of corn fields, pumpkin patches and other assorted growing spaces dedicated to the school’s renowned Agricultural Department. I gotta say, the sheer volume of land out there was insane, you kinda felt like you were in another state or something…

But the coolest part is that if you park in the far lot, you get to enjoy a free tractor-pulled hayride through the fields to the festival grounds! Cool, huh? Even Christine, a hayride aficionado from way back, was impressed…although she was quick to point out that the bales we were sitting on were comprised of straw, not hay as we first surmised. They don’t call her Farmer’s Daughter for nothing, yo!

Anyway, aside from tons of what we think were free pumpkins and a petting zoo — which is only open during the day — the Harvest Festival is also home to some of the finest fair food we’ve had since, well, last year’s visit to the L.A. County Fair. Giant turkey legs, kettle corn, funnel cakes, you name it, they had it.

Of course, being the girlie man that I am, I wanted to hit the haunted house and corn maze before eating, you know, just in case I threw up or something. So, while Christine chilled with her cotton candy, Ryan, Laura, Mike, Patty and myself headed into the daunting haunted house.

And…Oh. My. God. Was it scary!! I clung to Ryan’s jacket with my eyes closed almost the entire time, and halfway through, as we passed an emergency exit, Patty got so scared that she actually burst into tears and left. I wasn’t crying, but man, how I wanted to! So, I took off with Patty and Laura while Ryan and Mike finished the tour alone. Yes, I left with the girls…sue me.

For anyone out there keeping track, I should also note that this haunted house is not nearly as scary as the bone-chilling “Shipwrecked” event they have every year at the Queen Mary, but it was a pretty close second.

It’s not that the scares were that original or anything, but the looks on some of the people’s faces in there were downright murderous. These are not your garden variety haunted house workers, amigos…even without their make-up, these carnie folks looked and acted, well, dangerous. Seriously…we checked our wallets when we came out!

And then, since we had paid for both the house and the corn maze (and I am loathe to ever not get my money’s worth!) we hit the haunted corn maze out front. That horrifying winged beast in the picture above acts as kind of the maze’s gatekeeper, and when he is moving and screeching, well…you kinda want to wet yourself. I’m not kidding, he was freaky!

But the maze itself was actually quite cool. Instead of picking on me — as the ghosts and goblins did in the haunted house — they fixated on Ryan this time, so my journey on his coattails was actually pretty scare-free. Don’t get me wrong, the maze was still very creepy and totally long — someone said it winds almost a mile and a half through that dark-ass corn field! — but it was more cool creepy than, you know, crap your pants creepy.

So, if you opt for the Multi-Pass Ticket, which is $20 (versus $13 for just one haunted area) I’d suggest you hit the haunted house first, then catch your breath in the corn maze. And then, and only then, hit the fair food!

Like I said before, they have all kinds of crazy-good food and all of it was awesome and totally cheap, but I think the highlight of the Festival were the fresh-cooked donuts pictured below. Fried to order, they were freaking amazing…and when you added a healthy dusting of powdered sugar, well, these were some donuts for the ages, man. Spectacular!

So, for those of you in the L.A. area who wanna get your scare on, or even just get your fried food on, head out to Pierce College tonight because the Halloween Harvest Festival ends Sunday, November 2nd.

And for the love of God, make sure and wear something grubby…we’re still scraping mud and straw off our damn shoes!

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Halloween Cupcakes: 2008 Edition

Farmer’s Daughter Bean here. I know it’s been awhile…but it’s too hot to bake during the summers in LA, so I haven’t spent much time in the kitchen. But now, with the harvest season in full swing, I figured it was time to make some goodies, and since my husband likes to say that Halloween wouldn’t be complete without my cupcakes…cupcakes it was!

First, I looked up some tasty recipes in one of my favorite cookbooks, Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans and came upon the Spiced Pumpkin recipe. Once I saw the pictures inside, I knew that I had to try these out! The batter looked so good I was dying to try some, but in my current state, I wisely resisted the temptation.

Tomás and my sister-in-law Laura — who were playing “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” all night while I baked — said the batter on the beaters was “delish”, so, I kept baking. Trust me, it took a lot of willpower to wait for the final product with Cream Cheese Frosting and cinnamon frosting spiderwebs, but it was definitely worth the wait.

The cake was very light and had just the perfect amount of pumpkin spice. I did switch it up a bit by omitting the crystallized ginger from the recipe, partly because I didn’t have any on hand, but mostly because I just kind of needed immediate satisfaction at that point. But the cupcakes still tasted great.

The other cupcakes I made that night didn’t turn out as cute. For that batch I used the Butter Cupcake recipe and the Cream Cheese Frosting from Cupcakes! again. They were supposed to look like little pumpkins, but the Tootsie Roll stems didn’t really turn out as well as I had envisioned them.

They still tasted good though, but Tomás and Laura (and later Ryan!) raved about the pumpkin spice…so, I’ll definitely make those again.

For those of you who have never baked from scratch, you must try it. And with the holidays approaching, there is no better time to crack open your favorite cookbook and give it a whirl. It takes a little longer, but if you like to bake, the results are totally worth it. Just ask the nerdy gamers in my living room!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Mother’s Cookies bites the dust…

I know it’s been a while since our last post, and while I could make excuses for why we haven’t written, or where we’ve been, the biggest reason for the lag in posts is that we’ve been in serious cookie mourning, amigos.

Yep, you read the title correctly, Mother’s Cookies, that sugar-coated staple of our grade school lunches has baked their last frosted circus animal cookie.

Apparently Mother’s has been through four different owners in recent years and has been seriously hemorrhaging cash for decades, but still, this is a company that has been in business for 92 years…you’d think some cookie-loving CEO would save them.

Sadly, that was not to be, and so, Mother’s Cookies abruptly closed their doors last week…forever. Christine and I were so shocked by the news that we hurried over to Von’s to see if they had any Mother’s Cookies left. Luckily for us, they did. And although we didn’t buy the store out on that visit, we just might head back in a couple days to stock up.

Christine was bummed that she couldn’t find a whole bag of her favorite Mother’s Cookies — the pink and white frosted circus animal cookies, above — but she was more than happy to pick them out of the Cookie Parade grab bag we found. And she was even more excited to find a big, beautiful sleeve of the Iced Oatmeal cookies from her childhood just waiting for her on the top shelf. Yum!

Personally, my favorite Mother’s Cookies were the plain old Mini Chocolate Chips. They weren’t as good as homemade chocolate chip cookies, but they were cheap and yummy and you could fit like, twenty of those little bitches in a plastic sandwich baggy…so, needless to say, I kinda loved them.

I think we’re most sad to know that our unborn child will never get to experience the totally processed joy of Mother’s Cookies for themselves. I’m not kidding, we were so distraught that we actually looked for bags with expiration dates of like, two years from now, but they didn’t exist. Every bag we found at Von’s expires sometime around mid-January of next year.

And seeing as there will be no more Mother’s cookies delivered after today (the 20th of October) I guess that’s the end of the line…cookie-wise.

So, for now, we’ll just have to settle for the pictures above and the warm, fuzzy memories of simpler times spent sharing Mother’s Cookies with friends in the school cafeteria. Ha, who am I kidding, I never shared my cookies with anyone.

Either way, vaya con díos, Mother’s…we’ll miss you!

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Ben & Jerry’s newest flavor: Cake Batter Ice Cream!

I know it’s been a while since we posted anything new in our “eat” category — I guess you could say the steady diet of McCain campaign lies has been keeping us both pretty full up! — but lest you think we’d stopped blogging about food entirely, here is a new ice cream flavor for the ages, amigos!

As you know, we loves us some ice cream, and though I remain a steadfast Baskin Robbins devotee, Ben & Jerry’s has been churning out some pretty rocking new flavors this year, and their 30th Anniversary Cake Batter Ice Cream is another home run from the hippies in Vermont!

The concept here is very simple: yellow cake ice cream with chocolate frosting swirled in for good measure. Baskin Robbins had a similar flavor a couple years back with actual chunks of cake in the mix, but this is much less, well…lumpy.

It tastes exactly like that first wonderful beater you mom let you lick clean when she was making your cake as a kid, except, you know…colder!

And the addition of the chocolate frosting swirl gives the whole thing a warm and fuzzy birthday cake flavor that will leave you jonesing to lick the frosting off the freshly-blown-out candles. Seriously, the memories will flow with every bite.

And though I was tempted to eat this shit on a beater, I think a spoon is much more practical in the long run…

Here’s to another 30 years of Ben & Jerry’s deliciousness!

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Ben & Jerry’s newest flavor: Imagine Whirled Peace

Christine has always favored Ben & Jerry’s over all other ice creams, and even though I must admit to being much more of a Baskin Robbins man myself, I do love me some sweet, socially-conscious Ben & Jerry’s sometimes too.

Their Chunky Monkey kind of slays me…it’s amazing. And Christine actually fought a woman to the death for the last pint of Cherry Garcia at Vons one time. Yeah, um…we don’t talk about that much…

The thing I dig most about Ben & Jerry’s is that they make great gourmet ice cream for a cause, several of them in fact, and yet despite the often serious nature of the causes they morph into flavors, the company maintains a cool, cheeky sense of humor. Who else but those crazy hippies from Vermont could take a cause as noble as ONE.org’s campaign to “make poverty history” and make it into ONE Cheesecake Brownie?

Haven’t tried that one yet, but man, that is just hilarious. So when we heard that Ben & Jerry’s were creating a new flavor to honor John Lennon’s lifelong commitment to the peace movement, we were all over that shit!

Launched in Times Square on May 27th, Imagine Whirled Peace is caramel and sweet cream ice cream swirled with fudge peace signs and toffee cookie pieces. And, man alive, is it delicious!

Even cooler than the ice cream is the way it was introduced to the world. Staging a recreation of Lennon and Yoko Ono’s famous “bed-ins for Peace” with super cool actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, B&J’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield and Jeremy Gilley, founder of Peace One Day, Imagine Whirled Peace was literally launched from bed. How cool is that?

As always, a portion of the profits go towards the Peace One Day foundation, which was started by Gilley to keep the peace movement alive in today’s crazy world. Peace One Day events are celebrated annually on September 21st.

And while she wasn’t there in person to launch the flavor, Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono did provide a statement for the event that supposedly brought down the house…er, bedroom. “Make peace — a dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” Wow, almost me wanna run out and buy more some ice cream…nicely put Yoko!

And while I gotta admit that I was not initially turned on by the actual ingredients in the flavor, one bite of that toffee cookie dough goodness changed my mind immediately. Imagine Whirled Peace is straight-up fantastic! And though I usually find large chunks of chocolate in ice cream to be too hard, those tasty little peace signs literally melt in your mouth. Must be the fudge factor.

So even if you don’t eat it in bed, I urge you to check out the links above, help make a difference and most of all, as Lennon famously encouraged us to do with peace, give this flavor a change, baby. You’ll love it!

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Downtown L.A.’s “Ciudad”

On their very cool website, Ciudad invites one and all to “experience the bold and seductive flavors of the Latin World” and last night, we took them up on it!

Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, Ciudad is the brainchild of world-renowned Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger and though a little pricier than their fare at the similarly-themed Border Grill in Santa Monica and Las Vegas, Ciudad is worth every penny you pay. Seriously…it’s kind of magical.

Although Christine has eaten at Ciudad a number of times over the years — her workplace, downtown’s Central Library is practically across the street from the restaurant — I had only been there on one other occasion, but the memory of that meal has stayed with me ever since.

So after enjoying the sunset from the rooftop bar of The Standard nearby, we hiked on over to Ciudad for a late dinner with some of Christine’s co-workers. And seeing as the late night happy hour at Ciudad had begun just minutes before we walked in — incredibly enough, they have house mojitos, sangria and a number of other rocking good cocktails for only $4 a pop from 9-11 on Friday nights! — we could not have planned it better!

The only hitch to the late night happy hour is that you have to enjoy your drinks literally at the bar and cannot move to your table until after you’ve settled your tab. Fine by us! So we drank ourselves silly at the bar, settled the tab and stumbled to our table around 10-ish.

And the food? Wow…word’s cannot do this place justice. Fusing delicious new and classic authentic dishes from Spain, Mexico, South America, Central America, Cuba and even Portugal, the menu is almost as rich, colorful and varied as the crazy hip decor and art work inside.

We started with some incredible tapas-style dishes. And though the Peruvian Ceviche with plantain chips and Argentine Empandas (with wild mushroom, warm chipotle sauce and swiss chard!) were fantastic, I gotta say that my favorite of the three appetizers we shared was the Fried Spanish Brie. Dios mio, that stuff melted in your mouth…it was incredible.

And this from a man who is not a huge fan of the Brie…don’t get me wrong, I love me some soft cheeses, but Brie has never been my favorite. Until now!

And dinner was even more amazing! Not only were the hip, mid-century dishes super groovy to look at, but the plating of this food was out of this world. Beautiful culinary art on every plate…just gorgeous!

I had the slow-roasted Niman Ranch Carnitas with mashed yuca, organic black beans, fried plantains and grilled corn salsa. Wow, even just typing those words is making me drool. It was probably the best carnitas I’ve ever had anywhere…and that mashed yuca is something I wanna make at home, like, every night. I loved it!

Christine had a huge crusted pork chop from the “Specials” menu that not only tasted like heaven, but rivaled the Brontosaurus bone on “The Flintsones” in heft. That thing was enormous!

And that lovely pork chop was not alone in the size department, because, unlike other hipster haunts downtown, the portions at Ciudad are authentically gigantic. That’s right, they don’t eat dainty in any of the countries listed above, so why should we do it here? Sí se puede, indeed!

I don’t have any pictures to back this all up of course — Christine forbid me to photograph my food in front of her work friends — but you’ll have to trust me when I tell you that even the heartiest eaters out there will not leave this joint hungry. It’s just not possible…

So next time you find yourself downtown on a Friday night between 9-11PM — gotta hit that happy hour, I mean, come on, regular-priced Supremo Mojitos are $15! — check out Ciudad! Sure, it might cost you and arm and a leg, but I swear to God, the food you eat here will flash before your eyes when you die.

Yep, it’s that good!

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Almond Butter Cupcake Disaster

Hey again, Farmer’s Daughter Bean here with another “make” post. Only this time, what I ended up making was a bit of a disaster.

Earlier this week, Tom came up with the brilliant idea of making some “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” cupcakes. I would make the cupcakes, he would make tiny crystal skulls out of marzipan to put on top and we would have “Indy 4” cupcakes to enjoy while waiting in line to see the movie. It all sounded so fun…in theory. The reality was something much worse.

To start with, I have given up sugar and white flour, so I needed to come up with an alternative. Sounds easy, right? Plenty of people substitute agave nectar for sugar, so I picked some up at Trader Joe’s and got to work. I figured the white flour shouldn’t be too hard to replace either, so I used some oat bran and almond meal instead. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

Oh yeah, and did I mention that the cupcakes were supposed to be Peanut Butter? But since I’m not eating that either, I just switched it out for some tasty Trader Joe’s Almond Butter instead. So far, so good. Everything went smoothly and even Tom agreed that the batter tasted really good. Sorry I didn’t take pictures of the process, but I was too wrapped up in everything to even think about bringing a camera into the mix.

Coming out of the oven, they didn’t look half bad. I’ll admit the tops were a bit sunken in, but they still looked like cupcakes. So, I let them cool and decided to taste one before frosting them. They didn’t taste bad, but the spongy texture was kind of strange. Tom said they tasted like “hippie” and something tells me that was not a compliment.

To me, they had more of the texture of a bran muffin than a cupcake. In hindsight, I think oat bran is just way too course of a substitute for white flour. Sadly, instead of Peanut Butter Cupcakes, I ended up with “hippie” Almond Butter Muffins, and weird one’s at that.

I did make some frosting too but that was an even bigger disaster, so I won’t even get into that. Tom called it “chocolate soup” and even I had to admit that’s kind of what it looked like. It tasted great, but when you coupled it with my sunken cupcakes, it was not a pretty sight.

As you can probably imagine, Tom never did get around to making those crystal skulls either (sorry, Indy). As for me, I think I’ll skip the substitutions in my cupcake recipes and stick to dark chocolate and fruit when I’m craving something sweet. Or better yet, I’ll just make proper oat bran muffins next time out!

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Thanks for reading!

Seven months ago Christine and I started our blog with the hope that maybe, if we were lucky, our very close friends and family would read our nerdtastic ramblings…and seeing as we just passed the 15,000 hit mark, well, I guess they kind of did.

So, although we are still constantly amazed that anyone reads us at all…we gotta give y’all a huge shout out for your support. Thank you for not just reading our posts, but also for your rocking-good comments. You guys have made this whole process way more fun and rewarding than we would have ever expected…so muchas gracias for everything!

Aside from our crazy-loyal daily readers (you guys seriously rule!), we also know that there is no way in hell we would have gotten nearly as many hits as we have without kick-ass link-meisters like James & Tim, Nina, Will, Dan, Tevana, Natalie, and our newest hit-maker, becauseweloveit. You guys have sent some awesome cyber traffic our way and it is greatly appreciated, so, thanks!

And finally, thanks to those original close friends (especially that fervid blog pusher, Ginger) and family we started this blog for to begin with. You guys are way too numerous to name individually, but, wow…just wow. Without your eyeballs, “make. see. eat. do.” is nothing, baby! So, thanks again and here’s to the next 15,000 hits…whenever they may come.

In the meantime, enjoy these screen caps I found online of some strange Google Language Tools translations of our blog posts from days gone by.

We knew that Italians had kind of an Elvis Presley thing going on, but wow…who knew that the French had such mad love for the Chenbot? Mon dieu!

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