Napkins…it’s all about the napkins!

Tried another…and not just another mexican food hole in the wall…this one was in fact…a hole in the wall.

Lourdes Mexican Food http://lourdesmexicanfood.com/page04.html located inside of the back wall of the El Norte Car Wash at 615 El Norte Pkwy in Escondido, CA. I was told Lourdes has been inside for 5 years. I have long taken my car to get washed and waxed there but, just today, decided to try out the Mexican food. I guess it’s something about mexican food in a gas station.

I ordered just about one of everything, except the chicken soup. Once home, I discovered that their claim is to have “The Best Chicken Soup in Town”. Next time,…and there will be a next time,…I WILL try the chicken soup!

First thing I noticed was the very orderly and seemingly clean kitchen. They were very fast and efficient. The service staff was very nice and accommodating…at least from a fast food counter…in the hole…at the back of a gas station, kind of accommodating way. Whatever!

Well, I took my $38 order home. I open the bags and immediately noticed the stack of napkins. These aren’t just your ordinary Mexican food hole in the wall napkins. You know…the kind that you can’t even blow your nose in without blowing through. These napkins were of a good quality, large Italian nose, heavy blowing style. You could rotate these things several times to clean out the last bit of mucus from the membranes. Maybe, even the good Costco (Kirkland) food service type. I quickly set those aside for later testing.

I took a bite of everything I ordered except the California burritos (2). I really just don’t like them. I also ordered a Carne Asada Burrito (1); good…not over the top. I ordered (2) regular Quesadilla. Again good…but, not over the top. A (2) Beef Taco plate, with rice and beans. The beans were tasty and the rice was…well,… the beans were tasty. I also ordered (2) Carnitas Tacos…now that was OUTSTANDING! Probably some of the most tasty Carnitas I have ever had. I don’t know, but I thought it to be really good. I also got some carrots and Jalapenos. I was told by the young lady serving me that I would really like the carrots…and again, OUTSTANDING! By the way (BTW), the salsas were just OK. All that food for $38. I didn’t think it to be too bad for that amount of food…and that quality of napkins. After I finished sampling everything, I stuffed the napkins in a drawer in the house for later testing. I probably won’t report on those since I will probably never use them, except to give a good cleansing blow some day. Almost as soft and durable as a good soothing Kleenex.

Lourdes…give ’em a try!

Foodie

BBQ attempt – just the ol’ Roadhouse in San Marcos

I’m finally getting some writing time due to being caught up at home and work has slowed a bit. Today we caught lunch and the movie “Avengers”. Pretty good movie, lunch was a let down.

We decided to try a fresh name on an old Roadhouse that used to be in San Marcos. Turns out to be almost identical inside as the previous steakhouse. It was called Cool Hand Luke’s Wild West Grill. They seemed to be a bit short staffed because it took about 3 minutes for someone to greet us. We were hoping to try out some ribs to compare against Mikes in Escondido, only to find they served only St Louis Style pork ribs. Now if you’re a reader of my crankiness and belligerent posts, you’ll know that I have yet to find anything that resembles food recommended from the lazy “Arched” city.

We ordered a “Blossom” onion…, hmmm that sounds kinda familiar, as an appetizer, but waited long enough for us to ask amongst ourselves, “didn’t we order an appetizer”, then it seemed to miraculously arrive. Yup, just like the Bloomin’ Onion from Outback…but the batter failed to stay on the onion. The entre’s didn’t seem to be too late. The kids ordered burgers that looked pretty good and had a good-sized fresh patty…I think it was fresh…it looked kinda fresh…it tasteed OK. The fries were tasty, but limp and not fresh from the fryer. Booo! I ordered a Flank Steak Salad. The steak was already cool when it got to me and the salad was missing the crumbled Blue Cheese and Avocado. I asked for them and the server asked, “do you still want them?” Duh – NO, I want my friggin meal for free. “Yes, I want them”, ’cause that was part of the anticipated flavors the salad was supposed to have. And I really hate dressings that are runny. The wife ordered some kind of BBQ Beef Nachos. An awkward flavor…it didn’t get eaten. She tore up one of the kid’s burgers though… like Kobayashi! I’ve never seen anyone lick their elbows before. Wow!

A bad dining experience…a really good movie. Avengers is a theater “must see”! Good flick! Funny.

I’ve got to give Cool Hand Luke’s only one peanut. I say throw it on the floor because that’s something missing from the old Roadhouse. “Where’s the peanuts?”

Foodie

I’m on Facebook – Now I’m hungry?

So I now have CritDicks on Facebook and linked to Twitter. This social media thing gets quite complex. I now somehow need to relate this BS to food. How about… “I’m hungry”. If I start to write something about food, I will be…

Let’s just leave this particular rant to say CritDicks –  A precariously critical, humorous take on life’s interactions with food and drink!

I leave you with this photo of food that actually looks kinda tasty! Woof!

Foodie

Bad A*$ Menu for a Bad A*$ Party

 So check out what was made for our recent gathering. What was your favorite?

I prepared for 60. Less than 1 pound of the pasta salad were all that remained. The prep took only about 6 hours of labor and one Popper assembly line the night before (that helped alot). Included 20 lbs of Prime Rib, 7 lbs of Salmon, 6 lbs of Sea Monsters for the Ceviche, 6 lbs of Carne Asada, 6 lbs of pasta, 80 Jalapenos, 5 lbs of Italian Sausage, 25 Hot Dogs, 25 Hamburgers, 6 lbs of boneless/skinless chicken thighs and 6 heads of Italian Parsley for the Chimichurri.

I was really surprised that every item was well received. I happily accepted compliments on every item…especially the poppers and the Prime Rib. I even got compliments on the burgers and dogs. Dunno? Maybe everyone was just really hungry.

Foodie

Garlic-Inspired Prime Rib

Roasted Truffle-Garlic   Stuffed, Herb-Crusted

Prime Rib of Beef

Grilled Salmon

Charcoal-Grilled with   Olive Oil, Fresh Rosemary

 and Garlic

Pasta Salad

Fresh Tomatoes,   Basil, Garlic and Scallions

 With a Red-Wine Vinaigrette

Taco Bar

Carne Asada, Corn   Tortillas and Pico de Gallo

Sea-Monster Ceviche

Shrimp, Squid, Baby   Octopus, Mussels, Imitation Crab, Scallops, Tilapia and Pico de Gallo

Jalapeño Popper

Bacon Wrapped   Jalapeño Chili Stuffed with Jack Cheese, Queso Fresco, Cumin and Lime Zest

Italian Sausage Sandwich

Turkey Sausage with a   Parsley, Garlic and Red Pepper Chimichurri Sauce on a Fresh Bolillo

Teriyaki Chicken Skewer

Chef’s Special   Teriyaki Marinated Boneless/Skinless Thigh

Garden Salad

Jus’ About Everything   From the Garden

Vegetable Platter

Jus’ About Everything   Else From the Garden

Mushroom Tres-Three-Trio

King (Trumpet),   Bunashimeji and Oyster Mushrooms Sautéed w/Shallots and Red Wine

Chimichurri Sauce

Parsley, Garlic and   Red Pepper w/Red Wine

and Olive Oil

Franco’s Focaccia Bread

Special Focaccia   Dough w/Olive Oil, Herb and Spices

Hand Made By, and   Courtesy of, Franco Petruzzella

“By Grace” Cake Pops

Chocolate, White,   Carrot and Red Velvet Cakes Covered with Elegant Frostings Displayed Atop a Stick

Hand Made By, and   Courtesy of, Jenifer Sempertegui

Need directions?… Ask Tim Tebow!

So you’re hosting a gala celebration, a large party with many anticipated guests, sending invitations to everyone you know, some you don’t; yet others, perhaps business associates that may just be interested in attending to show respect… The invitations include a brief geographical map, the address and contact information. Who would have thought nowadays, people don’t use some convenient on-line mapping or other type of installed automotive GPS service to find their way? Inevitably, someone calls for directions the day of the party, usually after the party has begun, and the host is already involved with the guests. You’re busy finalizing the Grilled Salmon, carving the Garlic-Inspired Prime Rib, squeezing the last lime on the Sea-Monster Ceviche, grilling the Teriyaki Chicken Skewers and giving the last stir to the Chimichurri. Now…, a good host would have parlayed the phone, emails and texts to properly tend to the guests, keep the party lively and guests attended to. Of course, the host is also greeting, welcoming and sharing stories with his or her guests.

Sharing stories, as I was, numerous times throughout this day, and well into the evening; about why I’m wearing a Tim Tebow (Denver Broncos, number 15) premium NFL jersey, when everyone knows I’m a devoted San Diego Charger supporter…in Charger country, where most everyone is a Charger fan. Not being necessarily proud of that (Chargers)…, I continue. So needless to say…I didn’t give any directions that day; but, I did explain the jersey…over, and over, and over again.

The story goes something like this:

A work associate and I have long talked about attending a Bronco/Charger game together during one of his frequent visits to the San Diego area. Of course, he is a Denver Bronco fan, and I am a devout San Diego Charger supporter. I often say that I quite literally watch only one sport…Charger football. So, several years go by and we are still hoping to partner up to attend a game, but could never time everything right for a date here in San Diego. The following year, I ask my wife if she would like to go to Denver, since we’ve never been, to watch a ball game and check out the Denver area. She says to go for it and “make all the plans”. That year, the San Diego Chargers played in Denver on January 2nd, or something like that; and this “So-Cal” boy is not going to get my “shirtless Chicago Bears fan” game on…, anywhere near Denver…, outdoors…, in January.

The following year (2011), is the NFL Players strike. I anticipate the strike being lifted, keeping a close eye on the NFL game schedule, and immediately book a flight for my wife and I, roundtrip to Denver for the October 9th game vs. the San Diego Chargers…, in Denver. I purchased the tickets without even consulting my business associates in Denver. I called them later and said we’re coming in, to get us all some game tickets. This game in Denver had been the turning point of the season for both teams this season. You see, San Diego had won almost all of their games to this point, and Denver had lost all of their games to this point. This was going to be Tim Tebow’s day…, and no-one knew it…, except for the coach. That particular game is half of the reason I own, and was wearing, a Tim Tebow, safety orange, Official NFL licensed number “15” jersey the day of my gala event. It was to be a conversation piece for the party. It’s just what I got for challenging my Denver friend, and a conversation piece it was. Probably way too much conversation.

So the game in Denver gets started. I’m surprised at the amount of San Diego jerseys being worn by the fans in the seats. I’m even more surprised at the “booing” the Denver Broncos received upon entering the stadium. I ask, “what’s up with that?” My associates tell me that the Denver fans are not happy with the coaches, the owners and their decision to keep Kyle Orton (quarterback) playing despite his consistent losing record. My Denver counterpart continues, “Tim Tebow was a Heisman Trophy selection and never plays other than for an occasional quarterback sneak”. Moments after the initial booing, the fans begin to chant “TEBOW, TEBOW, TEBOW”. I start laughing. Sure enough, part way through the first half Tebow is brought in for the “quarterback sneak” and gets stopped at the line of scrimmage (that’s where the ball got “hiked” from, just in case you’re not football wise). The first half of the game continues and it looks like San Diego is going to run away with this one. Even my Denver fans are rooting after good plays are executed by the Chargers. We were all having a lot of fun at the game.

So now it’s halftime and the score is like Chargers, 29 and Broncos 6…, or something like that.

The second half opens and out walks Tim Tebow onto the field to begin his historic, brief career as an NFL star with the Denver Broncos. “Tebow” was being chanted throughout the second half of the game almost religiously as Tim Tebow had routed the Denver Broncos to an almost historic last-minute win. I mean, I was starting to feel humiliated wearing my Charger paraphernalia, and taking quite the ribbing from the fans around me. They (Denver fans) were very friendly and accepting. They were cool. We all had a good time. Final score for this game was a very close, San Diego 29, Denver 24. I told my Denver counterpart that Tim Tebow will be the headline in the news tonight…and that he was, in fact, for the rest of the season. Well, from this point in the season, Denver had won almost every game and San Diego had lost almost every game…and Tim Tebow would now be a household name. The whole nation watched this guy bring an excitement back to NFL…and to the Denver Broncos. Without knowing it, I’m about to lose a bet.

In week 12 of the NFL season this year, the Denver Broncos were to play the San Diego Chargers in my town, San Diego. Being a desperate, and now quite humiliated Charger supporter, I called my Denver associate and gave him my ultimatum. “If Tim Tebow beats us, I’ll denounce the Chargers as my team for the rest of the season, and become the biggest Tebow supporter in all of San Diego”. “I will post Facebook photos of me watching every Denver game and take pictures of me doing so…”. I told him he can further humiliate me by placing my picture on his company intranet if he desires; but, I told my Denver counterpart, he must purchase me the finest “safety orange” Tim Tebow number “15” NFL jersey. At this point in the season, I had a very strong inclination, that Tim Tebow was going to be traded following the end of the season and there “should” be no further use for the jersey following his football dimise. I was confident that I would finally have a “safety” vest/jersey in case I needed it for work out in the field. I would finally have a matching colored jersey to wipe oil from the underside of my rare 1973 Pumpkin Orange, Volkswagen Thing. It was a bet I was willing to make because the Chargers looked hopeless for the remainder of the season, and I now anticipated that I was going to need something to keep me interested in the remainder of the 2011 NFL season. I continued to tell my Denver counterpart that I was going to root for Tim Tebow to single-handedly win every game, including the Superbowl, by making his trademarked last-moment spectacular plays. This wasn’t going to be a Bronco season…it was going to be a Tim Tebow season! This was going to be HIS season!!!

So inevitably, San Diego lost the game and I was now to be the biggest Tebow fan ever. I was on the losing end of a personal bet… The following week, my Denver friend came to San Diego for business and we decided to join up for dinner. We chose Brian Malarkey’s (Bravo’s Top Chef finalist), “Searsucker” in downtown San Diego’s Gas Lamp Quarter. I knew one of the Sous Chefs at that restaurant, as he was one of the culinary students that attended the same school as I. Searsucker turned out to be a great dining experience. I was told by the Chef, Searsucker is also frequented by many San Diego Charger players. It is a “yuppie” hangout where it is important to be seen…and to see; another place where almost everyone is dressed nicely and looking good. I was told by my Denver friend that the jersey almost didn’t get there in time, that his wife had overnight’ed the package to his San Diego hotel room so he could present it to me. It was there, at Searsucker, that I was presented with my new jersey, in front of many displeased Charger fans scowling at me, presumably desiring to kick my ass. We continued a wonderful dinner and had a nice night, complimented by the very attentive service staff at Searsucker. But now I have one of the finest NFL fan jerseys made…and I have a great story.

I fulfilled my end of the bet, wearing the jersey, taking pictures of me watching the Denver games and posting them on Facebook. It was a daunting task. It was a fun winter activity for me and the NFL. Luckily every game was televised. I took…and posted a lot of pictures. There was even one point in the season that I took pictures of me taking the jersey off to reveal a Charger shirt underneath, in front of a last minute Denver loss that would have eliminated them…but again, “Tebow” somehow pulled off a victory. Like I said, it was a fun season for the Denver game and being the biggest Tebow fan ever.

So Tebow takes his team to win the Divisional title and to the Conference final where they lost…again, somthing like that. I don’t remember that detail junk! I quickly gave up rooting for this guy, shagging the jersey right in front of some Denver fans wearing similar, but cheaper, Tebow jerseys in the bar as we watched the game that day. During that final game, they thought I was one of them. I tried to get a picture with them as I took off the jersey to reveal a Charger shirt underneath. Then they accused me of being, and knowing I was an imposter. I tried to explain the situation, but they didn’t want to hear about it, after their dreams had become shattered and Tim Tebow will go down in history.  And Tim Tebow is now…, how they say, “history”…, yet he and what he did that season will be remembered, and forever logged in history. His last minute game resurrections and his charachteristic “The Tebow” bow or kneel.

So I told this story numerous times throughout the evening of my party. I also told people that I now must get the jersey signed to seal the fate of the jersey, and that it would now make its way into a nice frame on the wall of my home…along with my nice Charger signed pictures and stories, like the Charger offensive lineman (Fonoti) that rented my house…and other stuff signed by him, and Fonoti’s real…, really large jersey that I had. I also told them that Tebow’s jersey would make it to my wall…, but only if it gets signed. That way, I really have a complete story…and I can flip my bet; making my Denver friend the real loser. Now, to seal the fate of my jersey, I must present this story…and hope Tim Tebow finds it amusing enough to oblige.

BTW, I think my party…and the food turned out well that night. Well worth having the wonderfull guests enjoy the food that I prepared,  and the stories that were being shared. Thanks for all of the wonderfull compliments.

Foodie

Recognizing Awesomeness – But don’t drink the water!

A trip to the Arco Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista yesterday and a guided tour of the facility, kitchen and dining area revealed one very fascinating discovery…Olympic athletes are HOT! I don’t think there was one disgusting fat-body in the whole place…except for maybe some of the Culinary students on the tour itself.

We were graced by such awesome athletes preparing for the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics being played in London, England. We were also invited to eat lunch with them. Myself and another student sat next to a couple of oversized Swedish or Swiss female volleyball players while waiting for our food to be prepared. Did you know that wiping house plant’s leaves with Coors Lite makes them shiny and healthy? Ha Ha. neither did I until I discovered a hidden bottle in the walk-in fridge. I think we have a closet alcoholic Executive Chef that was prepared with the “plant” answer, or it may actually work. I guess I learned something new. Anyway, the mile long legs on these gals could’ve been used to replace the fallen Twin Towers. And yes, it appears that athletes from around the world use our training facility. I guess that’s part of how they make money to survive. Anyways, these athletes that compete at this level are truly awesome. It’s quite amazing to realize the sacrifices that go into their lives as an Olympic athlete.

I also thought it interesting that, although Michael Phelps (Olympic swimming record holder) graces the establishment with his training presence, there is no pool for which he can swim. I guess the pool was initially funded, but budgeting for the facility ran out before it could be erected. So the athletes do all of their “dry” training and strengthening workouts at the facility, then go to the nearby  city pool in a neighboring slum. Yuk…don’t drink the water.

Our class, as a tour group, was given a very good tour by the Executive Chef, who was very knowledgeable. We had an opportunity to watch the female US Archery Team practice. We were asked to yell, holler, cheer, berate and otherwise attempt to distract them during a timed event. This was to help provide a certain level of reality to their workout in preparation for the yelling, hollering, cheering and berating they will encounter during the actual competition. That was actually fun, and I think the athletes had fun with it as well, because we got several smiles and laughs from them.

Another interesting fact was the event of Women’s Softball is no longer played as an Olympic event because the US team won every year except one. I guess there’s one thing we do right. As a replacement competitive sport they will be exhibitioning Rugby this year. Oh…, we’re really good at that one. That was a fair trade.

We ate lunch in the dining facility that has autographs from many athletes that currently train or were currently training at the facility. You’d think the kitchen is very specialized for the various individual diets of each athlete. This is not the case because again, extremely tight budgeting. The athletes do, however, have a pretty nice and well-rounded menu from which to choose. It’s all served cafeteria style with a quick order grill. I was searching for something of the offerings that I felt might be something targeted frequently by health-conscious athletes. I chose the Veggie Burger on a whole wheat bun. I wanted french fries but maybe that’s one thing the Olympic committee just won’t provide. Well, I was right…there were several athletes that selected the same veggie burger. It was pretty dang good. I figured, that might be something they would need to do right because of the frequency of the request. Well, they did it right!

All in all, an interesting trip. Now I saw it, but it’s kinda like going to see the Grand Canyon, like in the movie “Vacation”, where Chevy Chase quickly looks around and sees the same stuff no matter how you look at it. “OK kids,… let’s go!” And I guess we really had a special tour. If you go unguided, you won’t see or do anything to the level of our tour. Hell, we even got to see the compost pile. I mean “HOW SPECIAL IS THAT”?

Foodie

Linguini & Clams – Siriusly?

Got the Sirius playing on-line. Inspired by some kickin’ music on “Lithium” and a great recipe for a family favorite. Yup, the ol’ Italian in me had a Sirius craving for the clams. How simple is this?

Start with the cleaning, mashing and chopping finely, some fresh garlic. For this I use a whole head…duh, for just about everything, I use a whole head. I just now refer to the entire head as a “clove”. That’s how much garlic means to me. “F” Emeril and his girlie “Bam” and “Gaaallliicc”. I’ll show him a thing or two about this stuff. Sorry, I digress….

Clean and finely chop some garlic. Coarsely chop about a cup’s worth of Italian parsley…retain. In a large sauce pan…oh I forgot, throw some water in a pot to boil. Say about a half-gallon or more in a large stock type pot. There’s actually a ratio that I was taught…yeah really, like that was something I paid attention to. One of you other culinary types wanna chime in and give me a bit of help on that one? Obviously NOT Italian if you actually remember that one. Bring the water to a boil… while I digress again. In a large sauce pan, yes, you are creating a sauce you know. Heat about a couple of table spoons of olive oil, you can always add more later for more olive oil flavor, and now toss in the chopped garlic. Cook, stirring a bit until translucent. Oh yeah again,… open a couple of cans of chopped canned clams, retaining the lids so you can now pour the liquid into the saucepan,… carefully ’cause it will splatter a bit. Just be carefull. You can get all of the liquid by retaining the lid atop of the clams, so the clams don’t pour out, and you can slightly push the lid down to squeeze the last drop of liquid out. I would say use about three cans worth for the novice. To that, add about a cup of white wine…house crap white is usually fine. I normally use like a Chardonnay. Now bring your sauce to a boil, reduce heat to a very slow simmer and salt and pepper to taste.

Return to check your boiling water. Is it boiling yet? You can add salt at this time if it is…or even not. I really don’t care either way. Do what you want. It IS the only and last opportunity to add salt to your saltless pasta. Now bring that water to a very hard boil and check on your sauce. Do you have a nice slow simmer going?… good…

Once your salted water is at a hard boil, grab your favorite dried linguine and add it all at once. Watch the boiling water being sprayed back at you. Just be careful. Immediately stir gently so the pasta doesn’t stick together. Some folks use a bit of olive oil in the water just before adding the pasta. I say…those folks are amateur. Just stir it right away a bit to prevent sticking and you’ll be ok. Then cover it just for another minute to quickly return it to a boil again. Check the pasta again and stir it once more, this time stir it a little more briskly to again help it from sticking, being careful not to bust up the pasta. Cook it for about 8 minutes, or until al dente (just done, to the tooth). Check on your sauce..stir. Check on your pasta…stir. Check on your sauce…stir. Check on your pasta…stir. Sheesh, get the picture already? Just keep checking and stirring.

Once your pasta has been approved by MY mother, grab a couple of pot holders and say loudly, so everyone can hear, “COMIN’ THROUGH” and head to the sink and drain in a colander, again being carefull not to burn your unskilled ass. Don’t be a gringo and rinse it, you’d just wash off the valuable starches. Let it sit there a minute…it’ll be fine.

Turn your sauce on high and again bring to a boil. Now add those clams that are hiding under the lids you smashed down. Pour ’em all in…quickly. Give a quick stir. Add  that chopped parsley…give a quick stir. Remove from heat. The longer you cook this sauce now will make the clams tough and the parsley ugly.

Grab your ladle and add a couple ladles of just the liquid part of the sauce, to the pasta pot or other special pasta bowl you were given as a wedding gift. Now pour that drained linguine into the pot, dish or what ever you’re using and coat quickly by turning it into the sauce liquid a couple of turns to coat. You’re ready to serve.

Plate about 4-6 oz of pasta or more…I say about 8 cause I like this stuff. That would be about 2-3 servings per pound, when it’s actually supposed to be 4. Anyways, atop the plated pasta, ladle some of your kickin’ clams and more sauce. Garnish with Romano cheese and Garlic Bread. I hope you made a salad. Please, oil and vinegar dressing only…none of that white crap for the Italian dinner here. Really?…have some respect…eh?

You ask how it was tonight??? I don’t know…I made a TV dinner and just gave YOU the recipe. You think I have all this time… A man’s GOT to know his limitations…and this night was a hard limitation…I can’t believe I ate a TV dinner. Had to help clear the freezer for party ice.

Foodie

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