Saturday, December 31, 2011

My obsession with Tasti D-Lite

I have this tendency to add disclaimers to my cooking, and stories to my reasons for some of the things I say or do. So let's give some back story on my newest craving.

In addition to dining out, television pop culture is one of my favorite things. I know I would be badass if given the opportunity on a game show (unless they ask me about Lost or the original Star Trek, then forget it). Anyway, I used to follow a blogger by the name of Michael Ausiello. He's done writing for Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide, and reading up on his spoilers always made my week. Ausiello has a few obsessions of his own: Mariska Hargitay, Smurfs, Diet Snapple, and Tasti D-Lite. That's how I first heard of this mysterious dessert. Oh sure, it's been on the East coast for years. I've just never gotten around to trying it. Even on my most recent foray into Vegas, I wasn't able to swing by the Strip location. So I did a double triple take when I spotted signage in Tustin not too long ago.

Since we live in a golden age of frozen treats, I was curious to figure out what made this obsession-worthy. Pinkberry wasn't doing it for me (not a fan of tart). Red Mango is all but nonexistent in California. Yogurtland is great, but too icy. Don't even get me started on some of the other knockoffs. So I began my initial visit to Tasti with a hint of skepticism, but Alexis quickly dispelled any hesitation with a bit of education and a lotta enthusiasm (typically left up to the customer and signage, if you've been in enough dessert shoppes).

Tasti D-Lite has a massive amount of flavors. Like 100+. Ranging from 70-100 calories for every four ounces, there are 8 options readily dispensable at any time. However, if you seek something else, they are able to recreate any other flavor in their repertoire in a matter of minutes. Seriously, how can you beat that?  Dessert on demand! I'm pretty obsessed with the Bananas Foster flavor (Nutella is close behind), because besides loving the actual dessert, I can taste the roasted banana quality normally saved for the heated version. 

They've been around longer than their competition, and classify themselves as soft serve. Not fro-yo, not ice cream nor gelato. They sweeten with sugar and other normal flavors. While it's certainly a matter of taste, my Treat Card is already racking up points. 

Alexis informed me last nite that they have a grand opening party scheduled for a mid-to-late-January weekend. Discounted tastings, entertainment and a swirly balloon will be the beacon for those who have yet to try Tasti. Give it a go, and decide for yourself.

Tasti D-Lite Tustin is located at 13662 Newport Avenue, on the Corner of Newport and Main (in the same plaza as Subway). Here is their Facebook page.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

My favorite Daly City

Toast Deli

I don't expect to catch up on a year's worth of personal blogging in a matter of days. I also can't justify discussing a neighborhood in Northern California when the general theme of this blog is Orange County. But right now, I don't mind. I'm always up here for the holidays, and dishing about any meal is better than not dishing at all. So I will talk about my local neighborhood center, King Plaza.

Located very close to Skyline Boulevard, locals may equate this center as the place where Classic Bowl is. That is true, but it also holds a number of food options. Not to completely disregard Classic (I've played many a game growing up), more than one friend has given a glowing review of their snack bar calamari.  Just sayin'. And my old DJ friend Keith Okada even has a nightclub there, so even more of a reason to linger -- especially if you like your old school mixes.

Taking up the most real estate is Manila Oriental Market (or MOM, if you're seeking a pun). Think 99 Ranch, but less corporate. Steam tables towards the front, fish mongers in the back, lots of produce off to the side. Maybe the shelves reach higher, or the aisles narrower, but they carry some serious inventory. If you're cooking Asian/Pacific Islander anything, look no further. My mom doesn't bother with most grocery stores besides this, unless it's called Costco. Only piece of advice: avoid the parking lot, if possible. Park around the perimeter of the square, unless you are that patient with searching for a spot. I'm more concerned about dinging my car or getting into a fender bender. The extra five minutes walking does a body good. I grab some chicken thighs, brown sugar, tamarind soda, fruit cocktail, almond jello mix, and sweetened soy milk before cutting across the lot.

Tucked into a corner is Toast Deli. It used to be Grain, and used to sell burritos. This is now, and they are surviving with their concept of bulky sandwich options. Is it Vietnamese or Filipino? It pulls a Kogi and does both with their adaptations of banh mi stuffed with standard Filipino fare. The favorite is their sisig surprise, shown above. Pork, egg, onion, jalapeno, spread and toasty bread. If I ate this in high school, I think I would've appreciated the cuisine sooner. It's perfect on a chilly Daly City afternoon, which is most of the time. Its salty/crunchy/spicy personality makes me happy I don't need a fork or rice to enjoy good eats. Cramped dining quarters mean take-out is ideal, but not necessary. Although if watching MTV and blaring r&b bothers you, I suggest calling ahead. I've started making this a ritual when I visit home, and the owner is always there to say hello (or good-bye, if he's making a delivery).

My last stop for this visit is Valerio's Tropical Bake Shop. Along the same part of strip mall, this is where everyone stocks up on carbs. The aroma of baking wafts from the back and surrounds their display cases and metal racks in this standing room only space. If there's fruit or vegetable present, it's wrapped and baked in pastry, if at all. All the wares are enclosed in cello or boxed in clear containers, so there's no question what you're getting. Need some pan de sal, de leche, or de ube? Got it. Chicken empanadas glow golden, smaller than Argentinean versions, but nonetheless are filled with meaty goodness.Those are my snack of choice. Unless you're a regular, don't expect customer service. Folks go in here knowing what they want, and if they don't, yay for plain labeling with English translation. I like going here after Toast so my impulsive nature doesn't take over.

King Plaza has changed over the years. My usual route (in my childhood/tweens/teens) consisted of bowling a few games with a side of fries for sustenance, walking across the street for a lunch slice of pepperoni in the pizza joint, and finishing off at Phil Mart for some coin purse candies. It was my home turf then, and it still provides my essentials now, as I lug my plastic bags into the boot of my car.

King Plaza is flanked by Callan Boulevard, Warwick Street, Shipley Avenue and King Drive in Daly City. It is off Highway 35 (Skyline Boulevard). Wear a jacket, and I already warned you about parking.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Le Comptoir at Tiara Cafe - a (belated) recap

Course one: tomato bisque, before the bisque
I've followed chef Gary Menes for the last decade, and not in a stalker sense. You see, he's the cousin of my best friend; because of her, I experienced The French Laundry back in September of 2001. Gary's worked at a number of places: Patina, Firefly, Marche, The French Laundry, etc. Thanks to him, I've found joy in many things I would otherwise hold a considerable distaste for (like lima beans, but we'll leave it at that.)

Gary's most recent venture is a pop-up inside Tiara Cafe, located in downtown Los Angeles. Named Le Comptoir (aka The Counter), it is limited to four nights a week of dinner service. We went during his second week, and while this recount isn't as timely as I would've liked, a memorable meal is always worth reliving. Pardon the dim lighting. I'll be seeking a penlight to attach to my car keys for properly lit culinary excursions in the future. 

We began with an amuse bouche of cheese and crackers. If you know Gary's preferred cuisine, it's rarely pedestrian. There's always a twist or fanciful turn to keep you on your toes. In the case of our amuse, he had arranged a small cracker to be baked with a touch of cheese inside. The miniature pillow melted in our mouth, reminding me that simple concepts can still be complex, in the hands of the right person.

Our initial photograph is the 'before' of a savory bisque. The molecular marbles are actually yogurt (white), herbs (green) and infused tomato (red, yellow, and orange). Once the liquid is poured in, each spoonful is a lottery of bursting flavor. What could I possibly relate this to, except the soup dumplings you request during dim sum. They explode better than any pop rock. As juices combine with your tomato bisque, each sphere imparts a different reaction of taste; all of them delightful to our senses.

So close, we could toss an egg.

Back in my hospitality management days at Cal Poly Pomona, our full-service restaurant, RKR, had what we referred to as the fishbowl. Simply put, it was an aquarium window built for guests to witness the magic in the back of the house. Or to just give some relief that you could see your food being made. Seated in the middle of 12 stools, this was my view most of the evening. Lettuces dividing me from the cooking action, microgreens and thoughtful plating on the other side of my hedge. A bread station would be to my right, and a grill on the flip side. We got to interact all evening, instead of just a few moments at a time. We asked him questions. We joked. We drank wine and silently drooled for the next course.

While not all courses photographed well, I must discuss the second: "oeuf sur la plat", which I think is egg on the plate. A small nest of eggs was placed between us, a prelude of what to come.The most interactive of the five, this began with chef heating a miniature cast iron skillet to an extremely hot temperature (confirming with a scanner that looks a lot like what couples use when registering for gifts). At the desired temp, the skillets are placed in front of us, and we hurriedly crack a fresh egg to fry up for a brief two minutes. Compound butter, bits of arugula, and herbs were cautiously placed atop our fry for the last half of the cooking process. The scorching heat and freshness you could taste in the yolk made for a rich, albeit quick few bites. Acting like temporary sous chefs: priceless.

Course three

His next course was an ode to fulfilling vegetarian meals. Like his Test Kitchen stint, serving up seven-course meatless dinners, and hitting it out of the park. Setting blue hubbard squash on a mound of barley with pomegranate sauce, a side of mustard frill, pickled shallots and some roasted spring onion is kind of ballsy in the middle of a hearty dinner. Yet I loved it, visually, and with every bite. The grainy texture paired with softly dense squash held a savory appeal. Those earthy qualities of our greens evened things out and kept the dish from becoming one note. It would ease us into our next round.

Ordering a cup of joe

At this point, one of us needs a caffeine perk. Why the scale and funnel? That's how Gary rolls with his coffee obsession. It was borderline humorous to see so much work into something most places take for granted. Then again, we were at Le Comptoir. Don't request seeking a subtle blend, this coffee fix is robust!

Say cheese
I'm intentionally jumping a few courses for a number of reasons. Partially because I want you to explore more of Gary Menes' cooking for yourself. Also because photographs of dark meat and even darker bon bons aren't visually stunning. Lastly (and maybe my real hidden agenda), as much as I love beef, lamb, and pork, meat-free dining can be mind-blowing, and I thought it might be nice to showcase what I wouldn't normally.

When given the choice between dessert menu and cheese course, I rarely go sweet. Glorious cheese endings are in a league of their own. Like bacon, what couldn't benefit from a little dairy? (Perhaps fish, but that's off topic). Chef Menes touts a fresh version made in-house. He plates with shaved burgundy truffles(!!), grapes and extra virgin olive oil. Oh, and a sliver of crusty crouton. The aroma of truffles alone brings me to my happy place. It kind of turns me on. Where was I? Oh, yes, the cheese. I find the umami characteristic so much more satisfying than sugary delights. And that's all you need to know.

Gary manages to take a high-end experience and make it accessible to the masses. No ridiculous reservations period, dress code, or pretentiousness required. The free, open lot parking helps, too. It's always a pleasure to sit down at his table, for I'm guaranteed to leave content.

To learn more about Gary Menes and the weekly menu of Le Comptoir, visit here.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thanks Mom! or Adobo 101

(The next time I make it, I swear to take a photo; but bear in mind, photos of brown food are rarely well-received.)

The moment my mom complimented me on my adobo recipe was the moment I decided to make it a blog post. Nevermind the positive feedback from friends, Filipino or otherwise. Her opinion mattered most. When you consider that she never actually taught me any recipes, and that this was the first time I cooked food associated with our culture for her, it was kind of a big deal for me.

I will be the first to admit this is not an original recipe. However, I do know the person who wrote it, and they're not Asian; that's beside the point (but always an interesting one to point out). Everyone has their own take on adobo. Chicken or pork? Wet or dry? How much of a particular ingredient are you using? The one I always ponder is whether to add carrots and/or potatoes. It comes down to personal preference, so take this as a starter recipe. I like it. My husband and yoga partner love it. Mom approves. 

I'll point out anything modified as we go along...


3 pounds chicken thighs (bone-in and skin on) - original says 2, but the packages I tend to find are always 1.5#. In this case, I lean towards more protein.

1 1/2 cups soy sauce - normally 1 cup only, but I up all the subsequent ingredients to compensate for the extra pound of chicken.

3/4 cup white vinegar - avoid any other flavors or colors. plain is good.

2 tablespoons fresh ground pepper - with so few ingredients, fresh is preferred.

3 tablespoons brown sugar - don't even think about white.

6 garlic cloves, minced - I cheat and use the frozen cubes from Trader Joe's. They melt right into the sauce.

4 bay leaves - whole is ideal, but the flakes mean you don't have to worry about biting into one.

What to do

Combine soy sauce, vinegar, pepper, brown sugar, garlic and bay leaves in a large pot. I like whisking everything together so the ingredients are evenly distributed and the sugar is fully dissolved. That's just my Capricorn tendency.

Place chicken, skin side down, in pot and bring to a boil. The key here is to have enough surface area for all the chicken to lay flat. Cooking this side first gives it a rich coloring, and the fat from the skin melts into the liquid (at least, that's what I tell myself). I think doing so contributes to the overall taste.

Once it boils, immediately turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover the pot. Moisture builds up. Steam builds up. Cooking in one vessel is good. Get started on that rice. My parents started using a blend of white and brown rice, which holds up well under all that sauce.

After 30 minutes, remove the lid and turn chicken over. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes. Now I don't know if I should've placed the lid back on, but I've done it both ways. The liquid will reduce a bit with the lid off, so if you like a wet recipe, put it back on.

You're done! Scoop some of that well-timed rice onto a plate and enjoy your meal. Remember to have a serving spoon handy so folks can pour some of the cooking liquid over your rice (what a waste if you don't!).

What I love about adobo is that most of the ingredients are already in my kitchen. And you really can't go wrong with meat, rice and soy sauce. The brown sugar cuts through some of the vinegar's acidity and soy's salt content, making it even more important than you think. The thighs are a darker meat, hence more flavor. And unless you plan to peel and chop all that garlic, it's a user-friendly recipe that impresses even my mom. In the words of my favorite character on Fairly Legal, "Win-win!!"

Note: I just received a book that covers cooking from around the world, and their version of adobo utilizes boneless pork belly, red onions, red and green bell peppers, ginger and paprika. They also fry up the meat first. All fantastic options if you're craving some veg (I noticed a lot of Filipino cooking is more meat-centric, or maybe it's just what's been presented to me?). I think I'll try it for some New Year's parties we're attending.

Friday, December 23, 2011

What is honey tarae?

I suppose you could call this a side view. Just tilt your head 90-degrees to the right. Trust me, if I was any more proficient at this, maybe I could figure out why the photo is determined to remain sideways.
I can tell you what it isn't; it's not a typo. According to my friend Diane, this is something she's only seen in Korea. Yet we found it post-happy hour in our local Irvine Spectrum at a cart. Not exactly the type of place that would sell such ethnic treats. Let's face it, the vendor was somewhere between Old Navy and Red Robin, with Forever XXI in the background. It was out of place, to say the least. Why hadn't I seen them sooner? Turns out they've been on site since spring, but only operate on the weekends. Sounds pop-up(ish), if you ask me.

In Asian culture, honey tarae is a traditional royal court cake consisting of ripened honey and malt. The process in which they make it sounds nearly impossible, yet believable once you see for yourself. These specific cakes are filled with your choice of either nuts or Oreo flavors, and can be ordered individually or in packages of eight.

The sole operator is a friendly chap who passed the time making these single bite morsels. Crafted from a modest piece of solid honey, he pierced a hole into it before going through the motions. It reminded me of an Amazing Race episode where teams had to create noodles from scratch. He took this itty bitty sweet, and deftly stretched it to exponential proportions in under a minute. We're talking upwards of 16,000 strands without batting an eyelash.

While the texture is definitely unusual for what you'd expect, it manages to melt better than any caramel I've ever had. Just a dollar for one of these meticulously crafted lovelies, and that includes a live demonstration. Akin to a puppet show, his hands seem to dance in front of a miniature curtain. Now THAT'S entertainment!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How Heinz continues to celebrate veterans

While many celebrated Veterans Day last week, I couldn't help but wonder how I could show my respect and support for the military. I mean, it's like what someone said to me about Valentine's Day, "I don't need a holiday to send flowers." The thought was more fleeting as the day came and went; but as fate would have it, we found ourselves seated for dinner at a local chain when the answer materialized in the form of a ketchup bottle.

The condiment company best known for french fry dipping is currently promoting "Our Turn To Serve", a witty foodservice play on words. They've teamed up with the USO and Wounded Warrior project and provided a way to give thanks to men and women serving around the world. There are two interactive methods available.

Their digital postcard option pulls up a handful of patriotic backgrounds for the choosing. With a message, it can be emailed to an active service member or veteran. Once sent, Heinz will donate 57-cents in support of the Wounded Warrior Project. The second option is a one-click gesture. Just "Like" them on Facebook, and the same amount will be given, up to $200,000. Data charges may apply if using your phone.

In Next Iron Chef (Super Chef edition) fashion, Heinz presents a patriotic plate of thanks, done two ways.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More to chew on in Irvine...

A little bit of San Diego is migrating North in the not-too-distant future, as we await the opening of CUCINA Enoteca. Featured at last week's Restaurant Rave, they ended the evening with a cooking demo by Chef Joe Magnanelli. I sampled some light bites with Carmelle, catering manager and social media director. Their ricotta gnudi ("the best vegetarian meatball", per Carmelle) was divine in its sage brown butter sauce, dusted with parmigiano and amaretti. I also took a shine to the housemade rosemary ricotta bruschetta. Decorated with fresh fig, pistachio dust and fine saba drizzle, I would eat fruit all the time if it tasted this savory.

They will be occupying a quarter of the 25,000 square feet previously inhabited by Fox Sports Grill. Features include an extensive patio, polenta bar (yes, you read that right), wine shop, and house-made grappa. While a specific date is unconfirmed, it's safe to say they will be serving famished holiday shoppers.

Spotted: Signage in Quail Hill (405/Sand Canyon) adjacent to CVS. Big bowls of broth to ease neighbors during the transition from hot to not-so-hot, or as the rest of the country refers to it, Autumn and Winter. This neighborhood center is becoming quite the multicultural food court in recent years. Lucca is still king, but we've seen movement by Turkish brand Wraps Xpress as well as O Fine Japanese Cuisine. Bacchus Secret Cellar has even brought cozy wine flights to these parts. A shiny new place to garnish and slurp, away from the bustling UCI crowd; just don't tell anyone from IVC.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Simply Nutrition

I write about food because I love food. Brekkie, tapas, charcuterie. Hawaiian, Mediterranean, comfort. Wine, Guinness, ginger ale. The list can go on and on. Maybe the toughest thing about having a passion for dining (at least for me) is trying to keep the weight off. In a blink, that pint of hot chocolate ice cream from Starbucks can evaporate, yet it takes constant discipline to maintain an acceptable waistline. On the flip side, at least I have a reason to buy new pants.

When you get past all the advice from every person trying to sell you a solution to weight loss, it always comes down to this: 

Proper nutrition in conjunction with regular exercise is key. 

It seems easy enough, but not really. First of all, it's not cheap to eat healthy. Who wants to spend twice as much at Whole Paycheck when there's a 10 for $10 deal elsewhere? How often do you want to get up before 6 a.m. to get in your WOD (workout of the day) when you could stay up late sifting thru the DVR (it is a new season, after all). We are a society that equates eating to all emotions. It's a birthday, let's have cake! A miserable day can easily translate to drinks with co-workers. We can't escape it. Food is our livelihood; it sustains and entertains until we are content. Until it becomes a habit, physical exertion is a chore. It's finding that right combination for yourself that will make the difference. 

Yet even after a certain balance is achieved, we still struggle to keep it interesting. Yes, there are exceptions. (I'm taking to you, people who can eat and do the same things over and over again.) I, on the other hand, require variety to keep things interesting. I've gone from the gym to personal trainers to heated yoga. I would never have imagined myself wanting to go to a place to get even more sweaty than I already am. EVER. Choosing between eggs and Greek yogurt for brekkie can only satiate me to a point. I need more options. This is where Simply Nutrition comes into play.

An acquaintance introduced me to this. Now before I elaborate, lemme explain something. I don't practice this five days a week. Maybe three, at best. Sometimes, I'm still hungry afterwards. Is it worth the cost? Perhaps. It's what fits into my lifestyle, and I feel better because of it. Also, if I had to choose between this and spending the same amount on Del Taco, there's a lot less guilt if I go with the former. It doesn't hurt that they have a history of success stories via their other name, Herbalife.

When I visit Simply Nutrition, it's a little like getting lunch. Personal wellness coaches welcome me, and I place my order. There are 3 'courses' to be consumed; each one serves a purpose. I can even take the last one to-go. 

  • 4 ounces of mango-flavored aloe vera for digestion. I refer to it as my shot.
  • 10 ounces of (hot/cold) herbal tea in four flavors. An energy booster than burns up to 80 calories.
  • A 16 ounce smoothie, which can be one of 17 flavors such as cinnamon cookie or wild berry. This is my meal replacement. Logging in at under 200 calories, there's 17 grams of plant protein and 4 grams of fiber per serving.

They promote 2 visits a day combined with 1 normal meal for weight loss. I opt for their "get healthy" goal: 1 a day with 2 meals. The ultimate idea is to purchase product to use at home, so you can do-it-yourself. I say, why bother with cleaning a blender when they do the measuring and mixing for me? For about $5 a day ($4 if you purchase in advance), I hydrate, put healthy stuff in my system, and have one less fattening meal. I can't argue with that. 

There's a brief presentation on your first visit, which answers a lot of questions. You can even have your BMI measured, which can be is depressing. I didn't feel any real pressure to buy product. The people are there to keep you company, answer concerns, and mix a beverage. Wait, is that like a bartender? Not quite, but during lunchtime it resembles happy hour (minus the twists of lemon and mini umbrellas).

I've been going to heated yoga for the better part of three months. Herbalife/Simply Nutrition has been a part of my routine for over a month, closer to two. Am I reaping the benefits? Yes and no. If anything, I'm managing my weight better, while stretching the hell out of my hips and shoulders. They're closed on the weekends, so that's where willpower kicks in. I do what I can, and remain positive knowing I'm choosing a healthier option on a semi-regular basis. Being a fan of delicious flavor will always be my Achilles' heel, but this helps.

Simply Nutrition is located at 14241 Jeffrey Road (cross street Roosevelt, across from Albertsons) in Irvine. (949) 670-7955. Operating hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday thru Friday.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gen Korean BBQ House & Yakitori Bar - Soft Opening

Two days ago, I had no plans to eat here; in fact, I wasn't aware of its existence. Just coincidence that my meeting was next door at Wahoo's, and that I figured out it was about to open. Ok, the balloon arch kinda clued me in. My previous experiences at Korean bbq are few and far between. There was this one place by the airport with a Korean co-worker (he did all the ordering). It reminded me of a scene in Lost In Translation, where Bill Murry's character is deciding on dinner, and all the pictures look the same. I think the other time was at the Asian trifecta of eats off Bristol/Paularino. I won't even bother to elaborate that mishap (It was me, not them.). So for me to want to check out a brand new establishment, with no idea of the menu or a seasoned bbq griller by my side was dicey.

When people talk about a clean, well-lit place, there should be a pic of Gen handy, for this is exactly that. The furniture may be of dark woods, but the walls and light fixtures are a super bright "GE is paying our electric bill" white. The space is divided into thirds - on your far right is the bar, middle has tables and chairs, and lefty is primarily booths. We are booth people, and you cannot help but notice the additional 'blocks' of light atop each seating space. Nothing to hide here. We decide to grill our gracious server and the nearest manager for more intel.

That night (Friday, September 9) was their first evening of a two-week long soft opening. While some would say that you're either open or you're closed, we could distinguish between the two options a number of ways. Tea was not available, although both hot and cold varieties are on the menu. An enticing fried Twinkie, like the other desserts, was not yet possible either. What a tease! The manager mentioned that we should also check out their bento lunches, as they are a hefty amount of eats for the price.

Related to Tomikawa in Irvine, other siblings go by the names Octopus and Sumo. They span as far north as Ventura, depending on which brand you are referring to. If you're a fan of Tomikawa, then Gen's appetizer selection should look familiar, since they mimicked it. We did order some gyoza and fried chicken to start, which were a crunchy change of pace from the rest of the menu. Everything else requires a repeat visit, since we were game to tackle their $22 all-you-can-eat feast. For the money, you receive not only 22 bbq options, but the following:

  • Rice and radish sheets for wrapping.
  • Banchan - all the individually served sides expected; we had mashed potato, kimchi, mushroom, assorted veggies and a few others. It was like Wicked Spoon at The Cosmopolitan all over again.
  • White rice upon request.
  • Two different soups towards the end of our meal. One was a white, more eggy custard. The other had a red hue that Mr. brekkie fan tried and loved. Grace could not provide the technical names, but it didn't matter. Anyone want to name for me?
  • Green salad.
  • A trio of sauces including a mild sesame oil seasoned with pepper.

Don't expect me to name all 22 possibilities, because I thought the website would have it for me, but it didn't. I recall an American kobe, shrimp, some internal organ stuff I wasn't about to touch, short rib, assorted vegetables, and bulgogi, which (surprise surprise) was our favorite. Being able to choose between eating my meats with rice, all wrapped up, over greens, or straight off the grill was pretty cool. Radish wraps gave an earthy quality, while rice wrapping endured a gelatinous texture requiring a lot of chew.

Our server spent much of her time babysitting the meat - arranging it down on the grill, turning things over, and taking a thick pair of shears to hack food to more manageable bites. When I tried to take the reins and actually do some of the work myself, Grace jumped right in to assist, saying it's what she's here for. After a couple of rounds, she would summon someone to swap out the grill for a shiny, new one. While this was a great gesture on the restaurant's part, I would've been fine with cooking off the same surface. I was more bothered by the circle of grease surrounding our grill space like a force field.

It's easy to love a place based on one meal, especially when they are trying their best to impress you. However, if dinner was any indication of how they plan to operate, I'm already plotting my next visit to the yakitori bar...they just better have tea and dessert ready!

Gen Korean BBQ House and Yakitori Bar is in Tustin, situated within a plaza on the corner of Newport and Main. It's a stand-alone establishment, adjacent to Wahoo's Fish Taco. (If they had business cards or a more updated website, I would include more accurate information.) I can tell you they are open seven days, until 11pm on Friday and Saturday.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Master Sommelier Throwdown At A Restaurant Next Week


There's wine, and then there's the Michael Jordan of wine. If that made sense to you, then you'll toast the special event being held on September 15 at A Restaurant in Newport Beach.

The first of many themed wine dinners, this is being dubbed Old World versus New World per Tony Motakef, A's General Manager. The establishment will be closed for a long evening of wine dueling. At last count, they were approaching capacity for the $145-per-plate dinner where diners will actively participate in the competition, selecting the ultimate winner.

With just over 100 individuals in the United States who operate under the title of Master Sommelier, having two super-oneophiles under the same roof is likely akin to the drama-free rapport on Top Chef Masters. Competing against Costa Mesa-based Jordan (yes, there really is one) is Mr. Peter Neptune, Senior Vice President of Corporate Training for The Henry Wine Group. Along with Chef Jon Blackford, the trio will host the Thursday soiree.

For each of the six courses specially created for this evening , Neptune will present an 'old world' wine, while the former Napa Rose sommelier is in charge of covering 'new world' styles. Guests will serve as both judge and jury, determining the best of each pairing. Bring your number two pencils sharpened, because we're getting schooled on some pricey juice boxes.

For more information on the sommelier showdown, contact Tony Motakef at (714) 322-8459.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's Tuesday....what's for dinner?

That depends. You could be at Rubio's having a $1.50 taco special (or three). Or, you could be at AnQi Gourmet Bistro having this....

Or this....

On Tuesdays, Mama is shuttled from Crustacean Beverly Hills down to daughter Elizabeth's branch of House of An for some magic in their Secret Kitchen. The specialty: roasted crab. 

While you'll have to pay a pretty penny for your seafood (upwards of $50+), I have to admit, it tastes better when they leave it in the shell. Maybe it's the sweet sense of accomplishment after you've gotten in the crab's business and dirtied your hands? Who knows. Just share the experience with a friend, so you're not playing with your food by yourself.

AnQi Gourmet Bistro is located next to Bloomingdale's South Coast Plaza, 3333 South Bristol Street in Costa Mesa. They are open for lunch and dinner daily. 714.557.5679.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

There's still time to wine and dine!

Whether you're more food truck groupie or oenophile (or both), the final weeks of summer still offer options to keep your ATM card busy. Don't believe me?

Saturday, August 27 (12 to 6 p.m.; early entry begins at 10 a.m.)

The OC Foodie Fest is back with a vengeance. Ok, maybe that's too strong a word. Older. Wiser. The team that brought you last year's literal hot mess has learned from all the constructive criticism in, and it shows. Some of the biggest changes include family-friendly entertainment in the form of local bands, a classic car show and street performers. Plus they've moved to the lot at Angel Stadium for more elbow room.

Events leading up to next week's finale included a Feed the Hungry event featuring Seabirds Truck and a date night themed Pub & Grub at Goat Hill Tavern. This Friday, James Foxall's team plans to host 500 Marines for an all-American night of baseball, complete with food truck tailgating and prizes.

More incentive to give them another chance (besides more food options) include on-site cash machines, CHEAPER parking, and the concept of shade. All their ducks appear to be in a row, so read my advice on surviving your next GFT and make me proud.

Through Sunday, September 4

Those who prefer to stay indoors can literally drink to their heart's content at The Capital Grille's Generous Pour event. Master Sommelier George Miliotes is our comeback kid with nine (yes, 9) unlimited pours for the thirsty. With a selection of domestic and international tastes, there's bound to be a varietal that pairs well with dinner. A generous pour, indeed.

For $25, our preference is a Napa Valley Cab from Freemark Abbey; Specifically, the 2003 Cabernet Bosche. Per Miliotes, this is, "Supple and balanced yet rich and intense, with dark plum and spicy black cherry fruit, firmed up with fine, strong tannins." Tell us how you really feel, George!

The party is still going on, if you know where to look. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Joe Bastianich Visits Hi-Time Wine Cellars Tomorrow

Hi-Time's Facebook page

I've been waiting forEVER for Pizzeria Mozza to open in Newport Beach. Although they still haven't announced an opening date, they are ready to share a glimpse of what to expect. Batali and his Crocs are not available this weekend. However, we get the next best thing: Joe Bastianich.

Joe, son of Felice and (culinary Italian royalty) Lidia, is also Batali's business partner. He'll be paying a visit to Hi-Time tomorrow for a special event.

The event itself is from 2 - 8:30 p.m.; however, the cellars will be graced with Bastianich's presence only between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m. He'll be discussing the wines being poured and talking about their upcoming pizzeria. Oh, and did we forget to mention the pizza samples?

Cost to attend this tasting is $30. The opportunity to speak to Joe about judging MasterChef with Gordon Ramsay and Graham Elliot (or Batali, for that matter): Well, you can't put a price on dishing gossip.....or can you?

For more information on tomorrow's event, you can click here for Hi-Time's Facebook page.

To monitor the progress of Pizzeria Mozza on their newly created Facebook page, follow this link.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wahoo! Score Dad a meal on Father's Day

Ever notice the fuss given to Mother's Day? Flowers. Brunches. Spa treatments. I agree, they deserve it all. Let's just remember to show the dads a little appreciation this weekend, too. And I'm talking more than a greeting card or phone call.

For years, I'd bounce between golf-related paraphernalia and ties. He didn't seem to mind - Dad was pleased I thought of him as I went shopping. These days, I've come to realize the importance of giving time. Although the catch was that there was never enough of it (and it had nothing to do with being free).When I visit the parentals in the Bay Area, the first question I tend to ask is, "When are you free to go out (to eat)?" Sometimes with both, occasionally with just my dad, it's our time to hang out and just be. This leads me to today's post.

So my acquaintance Lisa works for Wahoo's Fish Taco. Founded by a trio of brothers in 1988, Wahoo's took the American dream and ran full speed with it. Combining restaurant experience from the family business plus their love of surfing in Mexico, the first location opened in Orange County. Success and a penchant for sticker-based decor soon followed.

During this weekend dedicated to fathers, they've got a special. Head over to their website and print a coupon. Good for a free #1 combo just for dad, they get a choice of taco or enchilada, served with ahi rice and either black or spicy cajun white beans. Their filling options are comparable, if not better than Chipotle: carne asada, chicken, carnitas, mushrooms, banzai veggies, vegetarian or fish.

Throw in a bottle of beer, and it's the laid back way to thank him after his golf game. Or his nap.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My summer lovin' lunch - The Cabo Caesar at Sage Cafe, Costa Mesa

Hiding in the shadows of The Camp is a sit-down eatery so mini, you've probably passed it and never realized. Open since December, they call themselves Sage Cafe. Not to be confused with the one known simply as Sage, this is an anomaly in the Asian/hipster/upper echelon options within South Coast Plaza and SoBeCa's neighborhood. Normally, I have an aversion to soup, salad, and sandwich places. But something told me this would be different, so I met my co-worker there one spring morning as they were changing over from brekkie to lunch.

He couldn't help but inquire whether a breakfast sandwich was still available, which they happily obliged to. Mind you, they have one modest griddle back there, and if it weren't for our timing, they would've responded otherwise (which we know for a fact). I was in a 'healthy' mood, and settled on a salad.

Now for a salad, this was behemoth. Crunchy yellow/red bells, hints of slivered green onion and earthy pepitas won me over. The romaine and croutons were almost an afterthought alongside the other players. Grilled chicken kept it hearty, but not heavy. Their cilantro Caesar brought it all together. A dish of beauty, indeed it was.

I managed to get through half before admitting defeat and requesting a box. Fortunately, I knew all the components were sturdy enough to maintain both their texture and taste for another meal. Not your run-of-the-mill Caesar, the Cabo put a spring in my step. Being in good company and spotting a reality housewife didn't hurt, either.

If you decide to hunt them down, call ahead for their daily special. Their soup constantly changes as well, which makes the decision even more stressful for someone like myself who's a big fan of variety. Maybe it's the idea of supporting the underdog, but they fit right in to their surroundings. The anti-Panera, perhaps? *(Oh, and if you like them enough, get added to their daily text so you can debate specials right before lunch hour.)

Sage Cafe
735 West Baker Street
Costa Mesa, 92626

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Natalie Tran reminds me of home...sort of.

Some of the best finds occur when you're not looking. It holds true for shopping; and, in this case, catching up on Facebook. 

Natalie Tran is a one-woman YouTube channel who also spends time vlogging for Lonely Planet. In this clip, she's covering two of my all-time favorite topics: San Francisco and cooking a hotel room, no less.

With a Vietnamese heritage, Australian upbringing, and going to university in South Wales, one might be curious about her accent. I especially love the way she pronounces aluminum. Check out her version of porridge, bacon and eggs using a coffeemaker and iron.

How does Natalie remind me of home? Besides being Asian and cooking my favorite meal in the best neighborhood on Earth, she also makes me think of one of my childhood friends. Actually, more like two friends if you mashed up their personalities.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Surviving your next gourmet food truck event.

Maybe someone has already written about this, but I'm not gonna check. 

I hear lots of stories from friends about their experiences with GFTs (gourmet food trucks, so I don't have to keep typing it out), with varying degrees of sadness and elation. The experience cannot be the same for everyone, but we can always strive to have control over a situation where one or more GFTs are gathered. While San Francisco's Off the Grid (OtG) is no stranger to me, I did attend my first Fort Mason Friday event with gusto. Despite freezing my digits and toes, I managed to compare and contrast our experience with everything I've come to expect down in Southern California. Here's the best advice I can give for those looking to explore their next GFT event.

  1. RESEARCH - Find a list of trucks or tents (SF has lots)  attending, and study up on them. Ask your foodie friends for advice. Go on Yelp. Read their website menus. Decide on a plan of attack. Have you already tried some? Then try something new! My good friend Amber went to her first OtG already familiar with a number of GFTs. Her quote of the night was, "I need to find something I can't get at WalMart." (Note: The GFTs frequent an area by Brisbane's offices.)
  2. DIVIDE & CONQUER - Hands down the best piece of advice I can possibly offer. When I attended an 80 GFT event at Santa Anita Park last month, I brought a friend. There was NO WAY we would be able to hit a tenth of the places in the amount of time we had. We had a printed list of who was scheduled to show, and we discussed on the drive up. Our #1 priority was lining up for The Grilled Cheese Truck, notorious for their endless lines. Despite our determination, there were at least 30 people in front of us when we arrived at start time, and the truck didn't even begin taking orders for another 30 minutes! In the meantime, we tag-teamed and managed to grab eats from Lardon, Tornado Potato, and Border Grill while still in line for grilled cheese. It was a productive alternative to just standing there.
  3. HIT UP THE ATM - Maybe it wasn't well-marked, but OtG had no visible ATM at the venue. Many trucks, whether LA, OC, or SF, only accept cash (although most Orange County ones take cards). Even those that take plastic sometimes have technical difficulties and are forced to revert back to paper and coin. My eyes typically aren't bigger than my stomach, so $20-40 usually works well. Another idea that ties into "divide & conquer" is sharing your food with a friend. It cuts food cost in half, but you also need to know someone with similar taste. There's the possibility that you'll have to pay for parking, so pad your pre-determined amount by another five bucks, just in case.
  4. USEFUL TOOLS - My preferred accessory is a messenger-style handbag. It frees up my hands, giving me easy access to my iPhone (for snapshots) and cash. I can also focus on my food knowing my belongings are securely stashed. Also, something I don't do, but am always envious when others remember, is bring a portable chair or table. Dining space is pretty limited at most events, unless sitting on the sidewalk/ground isn't an issue for you. If you have enough dining companions, designating someone to handle this detail while you "divide & conquer" on their behalf is beneficial to everyone.
  5. ARTICLES YOU SHOULD TRY TO BRING - Kudos to OC GFTs for remembering cleanliness is next to godliness for some of us. The hand sanitizer they provide is a decent alternative, but handiwipes are a lifesaver. Complain all you want about OCD behavior, but I'll be the one without greasy hands after devouring my Icon chicken drumstick from Iz It. A bottled water is a neutral palate cleanser, plus saves you a buck that can be used elsewhere. Oh, and a reusable bag is great if you plan on bringing home leftovers. Throw in one or two plastic containers, and you're good to go.
  6. DRESS APPROPRIATELY - Dressing to impress is not a good idea. Ladies: pull your hair back, unless you want it to whip your face when trying to eat. If the sun is still out, use sunscreen. The best GFT outfit involves jeans; they've got pockets for money, and double as a lazy napkin. Lastly, wear comfortable footwear. You're spending most, if not all, of your time standing around. Something cushioned (Flip flops don't count.) will protect your toes from the elements and passers-by not paying attention.
  7. TIMING IS EVERYTHING - If an event starts at 5, don't show up at 7. Try to park by 6 at the latest. The first time any OtG or other GFT festival happens at a new location, they always run out of food. While they learn from the experience, that doesn't guarantee you can cruise on in an hour before it's over and expect to get what you want. All lines get worse as the event progresses. Arrive early and leave while it's still tolerable.

If you manage to utilize even two things on this list, I can safely say you'll be better off at your next GFT event. It's been about a year and-a-half since I've started getting into them, and this is all from trial and error. I still make mistakes (Open toe wedges in SF on a Friday night. Really?), but still come out with a more positive experience than if I didn't bring cash or arrive early. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

For the brekkie fans: Free Jamba Juice Energy Drink (TODAY only)

I love free stuff. If it doesn't require me to sleep on a sidewalk overnight, there's a good chance I'll be there. Take for example, my impressive haul at the grand opening of Henry's Farmers Market last year:

Those kinds of scores don't come along often, but that's alright. There's enough free stuff year-round to keep me content. Which leads me to today's special.

Visit your nearby Jamba Juice starting at 2pm local time for a very free can of their new All Natural Energy Drinks (Note: This is only for the first 100 customers, so if you're having an early lunch, it ain't happening.). Flavors to choose from include Crisp Apple, Strawberry Banana, and Blueberry Pomegranate. Manufactured by Nestle, these are created with real fruit and natural caffeine. A lightly carbonated beverage to boost the afternoon or morning slump! 

There are three Jamba shops within a 10 mile radius of me, so I'm thinking there's at least one near you. To locate your nearest Jamba Juice and read up on their new drink, you can go here. Maybe I'll have this tonight when I pull my all-nighter watching the royal wedding?

Monday, April 25, 2011

41 olive - for those with good taste (buds)

Dining establishments at Irvine Spectrum have come and gone (Fox Sports Grill, Rock Bottom Brewery, The Fish Market, etc.), but specialty shops appear to have a more lasting impression on patrons. Think Anthropologie, Vans and L'Occitane en Provence. While most storefronts are geared towards only men or solely women, the massive windows of 41 olive provide a fishbowl glimpse into a place anybody can appreciate. According to branch manager Malti Naran, even little children are game to taste testing; they also have strong opinions of what's good, too!

With a loft layout, entrants are exposed to all facets of the store from the moment they step inside. The majority of wall space is lined with dark cabinetry and an overhanging shelf. The row of metallic vessels, called fusti, not only decorate the room like a crown molding, but contain an array of imported vinegars and olive oils. Tasting cups and squares of bread entice curious appetites to sample the wares of 41 olive. I immediately gravitate towards the white truffle oil, an Italian treat containing no extracts; just a divine richness that almost makes one feel guilty for having. It is such an indulgence that it has its own pricing structure, but more on that later.

The idea for this particular shop came to Malti last year, while attending her son's graduation back East. She stumbled upon a place that enabled customers to purchase tasty elixirs that were bottled on the spot. No need to wonder how long an item had been sitting or how it tasted. It was a great find that she knew would work well, provided she found a captive audience who appreciated the culinary arts. Amid celebrity chefs, food trucks and diverse ethnic neighborhoods, they settled upon the family-oriented entertainment venue.

Flavors are as diverse as one can imagine, but the olive oils are placed into two distinct categories: varietals and infused flavors, and are arranged from mild to robust. While trying everything seemed ambitious, I sampled some unique-sounding tastes, specifically the dark chocolate and peach balsamic vinegars, made from white Trebbiano grapes. Their intensity from sipping them straight up was more than I expected, so switching back to olive oil was a perfect way to finish my tasting. At the pairing bar, they plan on holding private events for foodies looking to expand their horizons. One of their more popular flavors is the oil infused with herbs de Provence, prominently placed at one end of the bar.

Pricing for all flavors (minus the specialty salts and white truffle oil) are as follows: 375ml bottles are $17.99 and 750ml bottles are $29.99. White truffle oil has separate sizing: 60ml for $14.99 and 200ml for $29.99. Bottling, sealing and labeling occur while you wait, giving a personable feel you don't find in most stores.

During my visit, I spied a quartet of older gentlemen peering through the window, a mother-daughter team with bags in tow, a couple of college students, a young couple, and a mother and child all peruse or inquire about 41 olive's inventory. It looks as though their concept knows no bounds, or at the very least, is sparking curiosity with the home chef in all of us.

41 olive
85 Fortune
Suite 315
website forthcoming

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I Watch TV - Part Three (or My DVR is gonna HATE me)

It's the first full week of April, and what's going on? A whole lotta tasty television. Seriously! Classy chefs, frugal finders, one business savvy Aussie, and Marcel (not the monkey) are taking over cable. Check it out.

Extreme Couponing: The Series (TLC) premieres tonite! My obsession with saving money has never been so piqued as when they aired the stand alone episode in December. Now, my stockpile has enough toothpaste, shower gel, pasta and tomato products (all for under a buck) to get our household through the next year. It's original and brilliant.

Top Chef: Masters (Bravo) also cooks up another season of diva-lite culinary competition, immediately following this evening's Top Chef: All-Stars Reunion. Curtis Stone is having the best 12 months, ever. First, he kicked ass on The Celebrity Apprentice last year. Second, the man is already a judge/investor on America's Next Great Restaurant (NBC), which I'm kinda digging. Of course, the handsome Aussie has this respected gig. Stone even gets the title of spokesperson for Great Grains Cereal. Would never have expected this take-home chef to gain such momentum, but he has.   

Marcel's Quantum Kitchen (SyFy) is already on its third week, and I admit to loving the scientific side of Marcel' Kidding. His ego may be greater than the tank of liquid nitrogen in their catering kitchen, but he's earned it. Whimsical, artsy, delicious. He hits all the high notes with their menu masterpieces in this original series.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What I wake up for: The Texan at Pat & Oscar's

 Hello sunshine!

My favorite brekkies typically revolve around local joints: Break of Dawn, Plum's Cafe, 'Carolyn's Kitchen', etc.. However, I don't discriminate when it comes to my favorite meal, so I'll check out a franchise if it's tasty fare. That's how I ended up at Pat & Oscar's (a.k.a the San Diego breadstick folks).

One rainy morning, I ran into my local Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (or was it Jerry's Wood-Fired Dogs?) for some nourishment, when I spotted a sign in P&O's window "Now Serving Breakfast". Of course, I inquired. They started offering this quite recently - in the past month or so. The selections include:

  • French toast kissed with vanilla and orange
  • 'Pat's Veggie' burrito filled with mushrooms, green chiles, green onions, scrambled eggs, mozzarella, and topped with pico de gallo and avocado
  • and 'Ronnie's Special' pizza utilizing housemade dough, country gravy, mozzarella, cheddar, tomato slices, scrambled eggs, bacon and basil (Whew!)
    What took my breath away, though, was a pic of the Texan skillet scramble, which I ultimately ordered a few days later. Bits of brisket, green chiles, green onions, cilantro, avocado, pico de gallo and cheddar. Oh my. Thank you to the kitchen for making my dish even though it was 20 minutes after service ended.

    While I typically don't enjoy condiments with my food (unless we're talking hot dogs), the pico de gallo really brought together all the components. Cilantro gave a bright flavor. Avocado cut through any heat. The brisket was rather subtle, but gave the dish enough meatiness for me to savor. 

    Oh, and I forgot to mention it being served over breakfast potatoes. Everything was so tasty, I didn't really notice them, but I did love my cinnamon breadstick it came with. There's also a garlic and toast option, but I needed a little sweet treat to end my Sunday brunch.

    Brekkie is served on the weekends only, from 7:30-11 a.m. For a list of their Southern California locations, click here.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Japanese Bread darn cute!

    My acquaintance (I say that because we've never met, but are friends on Facebook, thanks to a mutual) Michelle posted this on her Wall earlier, and I just didn't think it was cool enough for the freelance blog. Looks like something one would find if Daiso and Andersen Bakery did a collaboration. 

    All together now, "Awwww!"

    *(Thanks to the folks at this website for making my day even better!)

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Sam, I am (a fan).

    Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting a culinary personality that I admire.  His name is Sam Zien, but is better known as Sam the Cooking Guy.  Now before you wonder why I'm not talking about a restaurant I ate at, I wanted to take time out and acknowledge a guy who is not only inspiring, but entertaining too.  Oh, and he has 12 Emmys for his hard work, so show some respect!

    Sam was like a lot of us, working at a place where he wasn't exactly happy at.  He wanted to do something he was passionate about, and so Sam quit his job and began working on an idea he had.  It was a travel show that would educate viewers on how to familiarize themselves with the food, culture, transportation, etc of a foreign country.  His first series of segments would be on Tokyo, and he was preparing to film a demo when 9/11 happened.  That changed everything.

    Having no current employment, a show idea that wasn't really feasible anymore, and bills to pay, Sam was at a bit of a crossroads: Settle for some other job, or try a different show?  With the support of his wife, he decided on a cooking show (despite the fact he had no formal cooking experience whatsoever).  What would make him stand out in a sea of cable and PBS broadcasts?

    His approach was to make food that was simple, yet delicious.  I wouldn't compare him to anything semi-homemade, but Sam makes a point of utilizing ingredients viewers can find at their local grocery store.  He also has some straightforward cooking techniques, which would make even the most novice of cooks feel at ease.  Sam the Cooking Guy was picked up by a local San Diego television station, and the rest, as they say, is history.

    A second show, Just Cook This!, is a national series on Discovery Health channel.  He's also got three  two cookbooks published, with a third on the way focusing on grilling.  Sam also (normally) holds monthly cooking classes, but at the moment, I believe he's on hiatus preparing for the newest addition to his family.  He did a live version of his show last month, where part of the proceeds went towards the Salvation Army Kroc Center Scholarship Fund.

    Why am I a fan of Sam?  He's a regular guy who likes to cook.  He has a recurring habit of burning his mouth when trying his dishes (it's called patience, Sam).  He's the Jewish guy who taught me how to make adobo I get compliments on.  I'm reminded that cooking is both fun and rewarding.

    If you are in Orange County, you can catch him on Cox channel 3.  Sam the Cooking Guy is 100 episodes strong and is broadcast throughout the state, as well as in Nevada, Arizona, Virginia and Georgia. Here's the link to find your local station.

    Yes, Sam.  I am a fan.  I also ate green eggs and ham in kindergarten.  That's probably why I love brekkie so much.