Pho Q day and the powerful Jackie Venson

I had to explain my self several times on this one. First of all, just how do you pronounce the word for a type of Vietnamese soup, typically made from beef stock and spices to which noodles and thinly sliced beef or chicken are added. I’m talking about Pho. Often times mispronounced by the non-savvy foodies or others unaware of the proper pronunciation or those that just don’t speak Vietnamese.  This may help: and it perhaps will assist in the remainder of this story.

Pho. Did I just eat a very good lunch or am I having the best day ever? What started as a wonderful celebration for a soon-to-be mother and her yet-to-be born infant girl, found me scrambling to get away from the situation if I knew what was good for me. Yup, a baby shower was imminent and I was not part of the equation.

Be that I had to make haste and keep away from the “honey do” list early that Saturday so I didn’t get sucked into the party vortex of the wife’s wrath, I disappeared and took my credit card with me. What am I going to do? I know I had plans for attending an event later in the evening but I now had about seven hours of playing the keep away from home game for the day. Luckily I had a couple of ideas.

First order of business was to ensure I had a full tank of gas or at least enough to accomplish the day’s activities since I left the house at about 10:30 am that day. Second was to realize I was driving around in my truck . . . and yes it is a pretty nice vehicle that includes almost every imaginable upgrade to include the ability to watch DVDs while moving (illegal in some parts). I then began to realize that I was driving a Pho Q truck. I had just installed a new internet at the house and new satellite television service throughout every bedroom . . . this just kinda started my philosophy about the Pho Q day, having stared off across the view I have from my backyard; I raised both of my hands with middle fingers extended and thought aloud “Pho Q” while watching the freeway traffic go by.

Now I’m lost in this small time away from home with nothing more to do but explain myself. Having recently changed internet providers at my house left me without the ability to see my computer screen on my office big screen (60″). The internet service technician recommended I take a quick trip to an electronics store and purchase a specific connector to resolve my issue. No surprise, they didn’t have what I needed. I sat in my truck and surfed the internet on my smartphone and found the cable I needed to do the job at another much larger store across town. I thought to myself, “I don’t want to drive all the way over there”. Just as quickly I realized I have seven hours to burn and found myself lazily taking a leisurely drive to fetch the component, yet having now realized I just passed an off road parts store that I’ll hit on my way back.

Computer component in hand and a quick stop to purchase a “leveling kit” for my truck (a 2.5″ spring spacer), I realized I am hungry, need to use the restroom and I’m just two or three blocks from the best brewery in all of the nation . . . well, maybe not ALL of the nation; but just down the road from Stone Brewery where I know I can get a decent meal, beer, use the restroom and waste more of my day. So off I went.

Having a solid plan now for the remainder of my day I eagerly scope out the best seat in the brewery in which to have my beer, order something from the menu and prepare myself for a nap in the dirt parking lot. I grab an open seat at the end of the bar that is closest to the entrance of Stone’s World Bistro and Gardens, only to quickly realize I am next to the most convenient location for all of the tourist bus brewery hoppers from which to order their first beer. So I made the best of the situation, ordered Stone’s Unfiltered Drink By IPA, a BBQ sandwich (I should have ordered the Lamb Meatball Sandwich instead) and began passing out cards and talking about my Pho Q day. I met some wonderfully chatty people at that end of the bar and began to explain my day, why I’m drinking this particular beer and where I was heading tonight. So it was all good. While at the end of the bar, one of the bus tourists offered to buy me a beer and of course . . . I took it; but not without a question to Wil, the very busy bar/beer tender that quickly dropped off what appeared (I didn’t actually see him do it) to be one of the mis-pours that were sitting below the busy tap handles. He dropped off a clear something that was without head. I questioned his pour since I ordered an “unfiltered” beer and the first correct pour showed signs of it’s cloudiness, but this one was of similar color, but void of both cloudiness and the foam. And how can a Sailor drink to the foam . . . ?

I pointed out the shortcomings to Wil at that moment and he began to defend his actions as if I was some slough from the party bus; he was very busy and had become somewhat stern and abrasive from this customer’s perspective (me). I later had a talk with Wil about his actions, after he of course poured me a fresh beer, and we both agreed that my “Pho Q day” was quite worth the attitude, but not Wil’s perceived bad character. He apologized and wanted to ensure I had a good experience while under his watch at Stone. Wil was a good guy . . . look him up.

Stone’s Unfiltered Drink By was introduced to me the night before when I narrowly escaped being caught up in some of the family’s arrival into town for the baby shower. Now at my local hangout, The Hole, my bartender that night brought a glass over and said, you gotta try this one. That night I more than sipped my beer while listening to some serious Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson covers being played by Left Coast Willie and Friends. Seems that band has either gotten much better over the years, or I have learned to like country just a bit more. Left Coast Willie was spot on with their renditions of country and western favorites while playing to a very full house at The Gopher Hole.

While at The Hole I sat and reminisced with a compadre while he ordered a steak dinner. I heard him order, “medium rare”. I thought to myself, “let’s see what this brings” as I had just recently looked over the minor changes to the menu during my last few visits and noticed the 8oz steak dinner price was $15.95. I wondered what kind of dinner would be brought out. Someone had also recently told me that the steak was “not bad”; but I long had difficulty bringing myself to eating a steak there, when I can grill one up myself at home, and know the quality. To my surprise, this is what was delivered.

 The steak was perfectly cooked as my friend cut into it, but I didn’t want to totally invade, so I only took the plated picture. He also said it was very good, but I could see that his knife didn’t just glide through effortlessly. It appeared to be a thick cut of sirloin and very lean. I did make my way back to the chef and passed along my friend’s comment about the awesome job that came from the kitchen. I think the kitchen is getting better at The Hole, or I’m getting weaker.

That Friday night I went home, carefully found myself to bed after drinking the 9.4 ABV beers and awoke the next day to begin the horror of the reason why I took a Pho Q day in the first place.

Saturday morning began as usual, but the environment quickly escalated to include demands for choirs to be accomplished and the “honey do’s” to be executed. I quickly began what was expected of me and thrust toward my hasty get away for the beginning of this fine Pho Q day (refer top of story) and landing me right back here at The Hole one more time for a fresh entertainer. This time Jimmie from Cattle Call Events brought one of his returning guest performers from the musically influenced city of Austin Texas. Austin has quickly become known for it’s eclectic young lifestyles, heralded cuisines and being the “Live Music Capitol of the World”. Well, I don’t know about all of that, but I do know that Austin Texas is where Jackie Venson is from, and the city in which helped shape her very powerful and soulful music.

jackie 1She quickly overtook the ears of us in attendance and eagerly played cuts from her well-produced cds. Jackie has quite the background and sounds to back that all up. We were very fortunate to have had the opportunity to close out my Pho Q day with another cold unfiltered beer, and the fresh sounds of her life-inspired blues. Jackie Venson was a force to be reckoned. She definitely left her Austin mark on all of us here in San Diego. Please do check her out at You may also like to hear her tell her life story while she entertains you with her art. Good stuff here: Also, Jackie has done a great job on her two cds. Please check them both out as she has a very wide repertories of her genre. We were all very lucky to see this artist; problem is I didn’t get much time to talk with her.

A perfect ending to a somewhat perfect day.











Plowing through the holidays

It has never seemed easy to adjust and reposition myself following any of the holidays since I began to write several years ago. This recent holiday season appears to have been no different. I begin to wonder if it’s the drama, or the constant busyness entertaining the family and friends; perhaps the shopping and the setting up and tearing down of the holiday decorations. I’m not sure.

I had taken a few pictures of things as 2015 screamed by hoping to get a moment to myself to recollect what it was that I had witnessed or experienced. Perhaps it was a great meal, moment or adventure. Perhaps it was something to remember I was to avoid. I recorded the moment only to realize many times that it’s time for a new smartphone, one which the camera gives a good focus. Mine seems to be dying and requires me to smack it against a hard object now and then to free up the focusing mechanism, Otherwise I think I’ll stay with the Apple products vice returning to an Android. The IPhones are less “buggy”, yet remain cutting edge enough to maintain a competitiveness with the best of the smartphones.

Del Taco 1I saw 2015 finish only to leave me now staring at a speeding 2016 and I had only watched as the days were rapidly passing me by without a single word from my thoughts. Here I am nearing the end of the first month of 2016 already getting ready to set up holiday decorations again if I don’t slow down, fix what is broken and better prepare myself for what is in store for this year. It’s hard, but somebody needs to do it. And yes, everything seems to be breaking already including every known appliance and automobile.

One of the things I did notice during my holiday culinary adventures was a neat idea that I witnessed actually working. Something so simple it fascinated me to sit back and watch myself (customer), my wife (customer) and other customers performing the same procedure without thought. What was once a seemingly abundant commodity in fast food, now appeared to be perhaps the difference between making the bottom line in the black, and stumbling across that line in the red.

After ordering from the counter as I had done in the past at a local Del Taco (no, I don’t eat there often . . . maybe once in a two or three year’s time), I had loaded my hands with packets of “Del Inferno” hot sauce, regular hot sauce, mild hot sauce and ketchup, thinking the usual of taking some extras for the car or home. I mean, why not? Isn’t that the usual routine when visiting anyplace that “gives away” such accoutrements to help the fast burger, fries, burrito or taco? I also grabbed a few napkins, a couple of forks and sat at my seat only to notice there was a basket already at my table with all of the pre-packaged condiments ready to go. Here I sat with a handful of the packets staring around at the other tables wondering if my table had somehow ended up with the special basket and it needed to be returned to the counter where I had first stocked myself. No, these baskets were on each table and there was a nice older lady taking each basket away one at a time, cleaning the table, restocking the basket and preparing the table for the next guest by placing that freshly prepared basket back on each table.

I then realized that I didn’t need the condiment packs I had grabbed earlier after ordering. I proceeded to place them neatly into the prepared table basket as I didn’t want to disturb all of the hard work this nice lady had already performed. I then noticed another table that had recently sat down across from us was performing the exact same routine. They had returned from ordering with a handful of condiment packs and were now placing them back into the table basket. Hey, maybe this store owner or manager had seen the costs associated with those packets of hot sauce and ketchup (probably required of the franchise) to be a pretty penny for meeting that bottom line profit margin. Perhaps that store owner or manager was just following corporate protocol. I don’t know since I don’t visit Del Taco often unless I am specifically craving their fries, nor do I care to pursue the research of this matter. I just thought it to be a great money saver since those packets can’t be especially cheap. Del Taco 2

I then found my self placing the unused forks and napkins in that tray as well once I was done eating. I don’t quickly know of the sanitary guidelines or regulations regarding the reuse of unused plastic forks or napkins, but the unused pre-packaged condiments are fair money to be saved. An interesting concept that I’m surprised isn’t mimicked more often at other fast food dining establishments. Yet this could be perhaps somewhat tricky because no restaurant owner wants to be pre-labeled as being cheap to their customers.





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