Recognizing Awesomeness – Jeffery, the Property Mixologist . . .

Ok, since when does there have to be rules? When I make them . . . period. This is my site, my print and my thoughts, so therefore . . . my rules.

Speaking of rules: I once had a Commanding Officer that, during a Formation (Marines) or Quarters (Navy), spoke of the rumored displeasure he had heard from within his organization. I guess there was a bit of dissention amongst the troops, if you will. Now think about some of the leadership in the world . . . Ok, you done thinking? Back to the story. During this formation he got pissed off and took a baseball bat out from behind the podium and placed it on the top next to the microphone and spoke these famous words, “This is my bat and my ball; and if you don’t like the way I play the game . . . I’ll break the bat off in your ass!” Now . . . that’s what I call leadership!!!

Anyway, enough about making rules, I’m here to talk about a dude my Brother-in-Law and I have known for some time now. You see, we go to watch a lot of concerts together (yes we have vowed ourselves as concert buddies) usually from older bands that have had their spotlight and are now performing the Casino Tour, as we call it. Often times the shows are held at Harrah’s Rincon Casino and Resort in Valley Center, CA.  Before each show we usually need to pick up our tickets and have a cocktail with the wives and then we separate and go see the show while the girls go in and work to get us more free tickets (gambling losses = free tickets).

Our cocktail usually always ends up out by the great resort pool area bar and the head Mixologist, Jeffery can always be seen throwing cups and caps through the air while accommodating several free-hand pours at the guests requests. Jeffery has been pouring so long that, yet still required to measure, has his quantities dialed in allowing him the opportunity to free pour when others have to measure. Jeffery also is the showmaster for bar performances. Yes, I guess he has dropped and broken a few bottles in his days. Now, most of what I have just written about may be a heap of speculative BS; but yet, has been confirmed by a drunk dude at the bar one night.

Jeffery is always been there for us in our time of need and always shakes our hand or bumps our fist as he kindly greets us. He’s always happy to serve and of course always happy to receive a tip as well, so we’re sure to keep him happy. Sometimes the bartenders behind that pool bar work super hard depending on the day and the show. That place gets crazy busy.

So today, I’m Recognizing Jeffery’s Awesomeness. Hopefully Jeffery will be at every remaining show this year; and perhaps well into the future, because we actually want to see his handlebar mustache continue to grow!

I give Jeffery 5 olives and a twist.

Foodie

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Indoor bowling mall and ale house – A “split” rating!

How many time do you go to a mall and anticipate having a cocktail? You don’t . . . You anticipate meandering aimlessly around from shop to shop . . . shopping or waiting for someone else to shop . . . or otherwise get the shopping over with . . . already!

Well, in Escondido, CA there exists an opportunity to engage in a fun-filled pastime for adults. I’m not talking about bowling . . . I’m talking about drinking and bowling . . . all while the wife shops. Yes, you too can take your kids because they really don’t want to hang with Mom unless she’s buying the latest raging video game or fashionable clothing outfit (girls). But, you can hang with Dad and the guys at a bowling alley and play video games (live) and still strike a rack of pins like there‘s no tomorrow, or perhaps pin a rack like there’s no tomorrow (pun, seriously intended). I mean, there were several beers on tap and that was a positive. Jeez, I thin I confused myself with that one!

What gives? Where’s this at? According to some inside sources, this is the latest rage to hit the mall scene. These have been sprouting everywhere. A bowling alley with services intended for the young and also the young at heart. This place is in Escondido, CA and is called “Tavern Bowl” and it’s located in the Westfield, North County shopping mall in Lower Escondido (LE, with some sort of gangsta hand thing), CA.

They offered a full-service bar and several tapped beer selections along with a decent menu (I say decent, because if you’ve ever had “not so decent”, you’ll understand) for a mall restaurant, bar and bowling alley. Now, how hard can this hospitality venture be. You’re at a mall. Your kids are to shop for Grandma’s Christmas gift and they take a 2 hour break with Dad to have dinner, refreshments and a couple of rounds of the bowl. I’m in ! ! ! I think the kids are in also. I even think the wife is in . . . (She’ll be there after she goes to Nordstrom). I’m telling you, this is the ticket.

Ok, here’s what you’re waiting for. Food was good . . . not great, although I did get the chicken wings that had a garnish of full-length celery, all plated interestingly. I’m used to only the half-length julliene-cut models. This kind of threw me off. But, looking at what I received, I realized this was a creative plate for a mall environment. I liked that!

We didn’t bowl, or have a bowl, or observe a bowl but; yet, watched bowling. Whatever. The place is pretty cool and laid out accordingly. the food was decent and the service was expected for late  lunchtime service (good, proper and with a serious “tip-me” smile). The restaurant is very large. Seemingly plenty of Friday night room to enjoy a cocktail and a bowl.

I kind of like the place and I’m sure I’ll go back if the mood hits me. Until then, you try it. I think I’ll give the place a “split”.

Foodie

Not the military I remember – Sonic, Coco’s, McDonalds?

Something about traveling around military installations nowadays and seeing a variety of name brand restaurants and then some that are just as small as a local corner deli. Yup, the days of the enlisted club, the senior enlisted club and the officer’s club have given way to fast food giants like McDonalds, Sonic, Dominos and Subway. I don’t quite remember many, if any of these chains while I was enlisted. I vaguely remember McDonalds making its first appearance just before I separated. I remember the bowling alley and the 19h hole as being the only place to get a beer and burger at lunch. Ooops . . . did I just say that?

Seems that, long gone are the days of the base supported facilities provided by the Moral Welfare and Recreation (MWR) functions of the bases. Although this opinion is from a west coast observation, I don’t know what can be found throughout the rest of the country or overseas. I’m sure there are varying degrees of popular restaurants and fast-food chains scattered throughout the Army, Air Force, Marine and Navy bases globally. If Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, CA is any example, there are so many choices for the young Marine that I can now see why their pay is never seemingly enough. I think today, I would rarely, if ever, eat at the “chow hall” again. With choices like Roberto’s tacos, Coco’s, Sizzler and Chronic Cantina, who would ever need to eat at the old standby. The “old standby” could use a review someday.

I’m not sure of the contracts these facilities operate under or the amount of money that is generated for program in support of our troops, but there seems to be a “clammerin” to get a vendor spot on the base. Many of the F&B facilities operate under limited or partially modified menus or operation but they seem to be enough to draw huge crowds for mealtime. Just sit and watch a McDonalds on any base and you’re likely to see a drive-through line of many cars waiting to grab their sack of Brontosaurus Burgers and fries. It’s crazy to watch inside a McDonalds at lunch time. The McDonalds across the street from the Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton serves many meals at lunchtime one way . . . take out. The amount of paper they use on packaging is probably not even close to the number of man-hours saved and water saved for cleaning of trays during this time. I placed a very rare order from McDonald’s after being about twelfth in line and was given my bag of grub in less than 1 minute. I wasn’t asked “for here or to go”; I was told “eight dollars and thirteen cents”, and then my food spat from the back of the house almost smacking me in the face as the 60 seconds were near to expire. Their focus is obviously on customer turn-over. That’s fine, but what about the customer experience. “The hell with the customer experience, these are Marines”.

Don’t get me wrong. There are still nice facilities associated with the military bases and some actually serve up a good meal and entertainment. Just long gone are the times I remember about going to “the club” every Friday night with my babe and drinking the bar dry and dancing to local and not-so-local live bands. That was the thing to do.

Whatever happened to Fred?

Foodie

The Dalai Lama kicks-ass. KISS, Caddyshack and Crickets

I recently spoke with 3 of our local Chula Vista law enforcement officials that happened to be standing under the same tree as I during their patrol at a recent event. So I asked the officers if they knew what role they play in the hospitality business of this event. Like every good, sharp law enforcement officer, they kinda stared at me for a moment, then quickly became subject matter experts within themselves once they realized that neither of the three knew what the hell I was talking about.

But today, I was the designated driver to a recent event held at the Cricket Wireless Amphitheater in Chula Vista, CA; and tonight I was devoting my selflessness to drive family and friends, so we can all watch the entertainment extravaganza of the heavy metal groups KISS and Motley Crue. Tonight, so they can enjoy the show, I would provide transportation services, but once in the event I quickly realized I was about to receive “total consciousness”. Like in the movie Caddyshack; Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) talks about his confrontation with the Dalai Lama, “Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.” So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”

Allow me to clarify briefly. It wasn’t until I was walking to sit at our “good” seats for the event (to be upgraded during the show), I realized that everything that led up to me sitting down in my seat, from obtaining my beverage, the sights, the smells and the people around me all contributed to my perception of what my level of expectation was to me. You see, I have never been to a KISS, Motley Crew or even attended any event at this venue. I realized that my expectation included difficult parking (it did take a bit of time), but once we found a clearing, I expected the attendant was going to tell us exactly where to park, and how close to the one another . . . come closer . . . closer . . .closer, ok STOP! To my surprise, we veered from the standardized formation of automobiles and just parked where we saw a spot. Just so happened to be really close to our seats. Better yet, the parking attendants didn’t say a word. I’m not quite shure they even saw me.

Once at the ticket gate I expected the usual baggage check of the purses and the now ever popular “patting down”. I saw the purse search, but no copping-of-a-quick-feel TSA style groping or other revealing types of photographs or x-rays being taken. Just a very polite, “enjoy the show”.  I did notice that whatever checkpoint I went through, each had checked my ticket thoroughly before allowing my access to that location . . . every time, and I went back and forth allot at this show. Since I was designated driver on a “not triple digit” day (heat), for it was only 99 degrees today, I did drink a ton of water as I was frequently reminded through the repeated ventures to the stalls.

The show was impressive. The stage was probably one of the largest, loudest venues I have ever seen. There was allot of electricity flowing through those panels. Big Stage, Big Sound, Big Hair!. I think the kick off band’s name had something to do with Big Hair as they pounded a very impressive set hard with their own metronomic heads keeping the beat, heavy and hard, and in unison.

First intermission . . . and I have to check out the joint. Cricket is a pretty big place with concessions and plenty of food and beverage stands, including carnival type kettle corn stands and a Hunter Restaurant BBQ tri-Tip sandwich stand. The carnival booths and various concessions were seemingly everywhere on both sides of the stage. You can even walk through to the other side while viewing the show on the promenade separating the lower level seats from the upper level. Again, as I passed through ticket checkpoint areas, my ticket was carefully screened to ensure I had the appropriate credentials. I was even stopped at one point and redirected to the appropriate isle for another ticket/passage processing. But very consistent, every time. They must have threatened everyones’ job on that one.Everytime, they looked carefully to find just the right thing they were looking for on a 8″x11.5″ inch printer paper ticket paper.

So we sit in our seats, the first big hair band begins immediately (but 1.5 hours late) as we sat down. They were really good and very loud, hard-hitting rockers, we were going to have a good time. A group of 50-year-olds (Us) sitting in good seats listening to very loud rock and roll. I gotta take a picture . . . Oh, I left my phone in the car. I tell the friends I’m sitting with I’m going to try to go back to the car, I needed my camera to document this craziness, but I also know that an event like this usually won’t allow you to leave the venue and re-enter, so I need a ploy, . . . an insider working on my behalf. Security guards are good for this, if you can get them on your side.

I quickly find a bulky sized security guy that looks ex-Marine or Navy. He had the hair. I tell him my real situation about me being the DD, needing my phone to document because I write . . . blah, blah, blah. Anyway he says “You need your inhaler”. I say, “got it . . . that’s a good one”. I’m going to have to remember it . .  because it worked. At least it’s good for a one-timer. Obviously this guy had hospitality training.

The more I ventured into this event the more I realized what it meant to cater to the hospitality industry. Meeting or exceeding customer’s expectation has got to be hard to do, especially in an event such as this. There were seniors, with their grand kids. Plenty of folks our age, others with or without money, plenty of freaks and those that are perhaps broke drug addicts, and children aged  7 or 8. Everyone at this event had some kind of expectation.

Did the venue meet those expectations. I think they met mine. I was actually very impressed that everything seemed to be better than I expected, even our complimentary seat upgrade. Here’s the deal – We were sitting in our seats and I stand up and turn around and there was the missing two persons from our party, sitting in a box-seat area just behind us. Their seats are better and they are being served beverages from a waiting staff. “I’m moving up there”, I said. We now had our own wait staff and no one to walk between when we wanted to get  out of our seats and go to the bathroom or whatever. Don’t ask how we got the seats,  . . .  I mean, I know, . . . but don’t ask, . . . it’s very complicated. We were never asked to move for the rest of the night. They kept saying to me in broken English, “Yes, Mr. Dick”. They were even kissing our asses like some kind of big shots. Now “THAT’S” hospitality ! ! !

Well the show was actually quite good. Motley Crew’s performance was excellent. Tommy Lee, the drummer, goes through this upside down (yes the drum set too) and doesn’t miss a beat. That was kinda neat, then too, a fan wins a contest and goes upside down with him on stage. Motley Crue had a really good stage show. KISS too was good, but not as good as the Crue. KISS had a super huge high-definition (HD) screen behind them that had excellent clairty and light projection enough to provide added light and special effects to the stage. I need to get one of those. Both shows were very good.

So I think the cops I was earlier talking too got the idea. I explained to them that they were part of the hospitality business by providing a leveled degree of security presence that make attendees feel comfortable with the environment enough so that they can enjoy their show. The cops again looked baffled at what that all meant for the hospitality business ; so I further explained that they were there, in the exact position, . . . every time I came by during each of the bands . . . my sentence was abruptly cut off as the cops quickly dispersed, knowing I was right. They are part of the hospitality business, and they better be making a presence . . . not just in one location! Then agin, if they are like my wife . . . just wanted me to shut up!

I give the whole shebang the four smashed stage guitars from Miley Cyrus.

because there was plenty of smoke and flames, and every good rock concert deserves a smashed guitar or two. The show kicked ass and I will long remember it.

The venue and show “exceeded” my level of expectation, which was one of my first lessons about the hospitality business.

Foodie

Pizza Port – Beer, Pies, and crazy busy Fridays ! ! !

Pizza Port has made a name for themselves. The Carlsbad Village eatery has been around for a long time and established themselves as one of the go to places in the beach area for Friday night.

We haven’t been there in years and a trip back for take-out reminds us that we probably won’t again for several more years.

A small pizza kitchen stuffed with more people than toppings offered on their pizzas. I think the only thing they had more of, was their selection of beer. The beer selection board was full of numerous local ales, ambers, IPAs and browns from their own breweries and a host of others. We were able to escape with a growler before we were scurried out the door with our pizzas by the mobs of standing room only crowd. Inside and out, this place was packed with beach hotties (yes male hotties as well), not so hotties and plain old pizza bellies.

The pizza is a good pie. Their crusts are hearty and textured well. One might say they are California style since they are thicker than New York style, yet not deep dish like Chicago style. I liked the crusts; although the whole grain Garlic Veggie seemed to be lacking the deeper flavor than the San Francisco on original crust. I think it was the lack of salt in the dough. Perhaps I’m wrong . . . ok, that makes twice!

Pizza Port is a place to see and be seen. Next to nothing attire is welcome and keep your eyes on your stuff . . . so many people packed in, you’ll lose your seat. But that’s ok, just hold on to your babe . . . they may come up missing.

The beer was good, the pizza was good. I’m going to give this place three warehouses. They need more space on Fridays.

Foodie

Incredible – Johnny Walker and Smirnoff Ice

I thought this incredibly interesting. My stats for the last week, and I have not posted, seem to all be views of posts from international viewers searching for “Jack Daniels”. I posted something several weeks ago that included a picture of the Jack Daniels girls.

My interest consumed me . . . however, my writing lacked. I have been busy and non-inspired. I hate it when that happens. Sorry to all my faithful.

So I decided to try something relevent to the hits I’ve been getting. I looked up the most popular international alcoholic liquors around the world. Although I was unable to find the same list I first acquired, I am able to remember Bacardi, Jägermeister, Smirnoff, Johnny Walker, Jack Daniels, Absolute Vodka, Baily’s . . . Ok, that’s the limit on my brain. I just wanted to get some of those on the list so I can see if I get more hits based on those terms. Enough of the BS! Lets talk about something that really matters . . . food!

I have been very busy making everything known to man, that involves tomato, basil and ? ? ? I have so much of those two plantation ingredients, yet we have not run out of steam with how to prepare and utilize those ingredients. I’ve just been consumed and have not sat and written about anything. Again, sorry!

Let’s talk about restaurants.

Jamrock 101, on Hwy 101 just north of Encinitas Blvd on Pacific Coast Highway (101) on the Southern California coast. Jamrock is a Caribbean/reggae themed establishment that serves up the creole/cajun/Caribbean plates that will satisfy even the most average customer. Just wasn’t for me. I thought their Jerk Chicken was weak. At the front counter they had Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning in a jar at the front counter, yet I failed to detect the authenticness of the seasoning the restaurant claims to feature.

I was also lured into trying the “special” . . . fried calamari. I should know better . . . never get the special! It was a squid steak cut into fish-stick sized tasters that were either under or over cooked with their flavorless breading (less than 3, more than 30 rule applies here). I believe that’s squid is to be cooked less than 3 minutes or more than 30 minutes to achieve tenderness. These were cooked somewhere between those numbers. Anyways, the server kicked ass. He was great except I had to ask for water twice. No biggie . . . just not a full tip! I thought their “Jerk Ranch Dressing” had flavor, just my som pointed out that it had too much vinegar. I thought it pretty good though.

Another place of recognition involves motor sports. I LIKE MOTOR SPORTS ! ! !

We went to K1 Speedway. It’s a go-cart race track on steroids. The cars are electric (very quick, very responsive, electric motors) and the track is very competitive. Ouch, this old guy has bruises all over from cornering and trying to beat my , half-aged, eldest son. He beat me by less than a second. They did, however have a full service food counter (not!) that included popcorn, nachos and roller hot dogs (those things are good though).

I got my ass beat down, and still feeling the repercussions.

Ok, I did it, and enough of this. I just wanted to vent.

Enjoy the food and services of life. Keep focused and in tune with what you eat. I’ll write about it, here at http://www.CritDicks.com

Foodie

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