Why I Was Bummed on Kogi Korean BBQ in Los Angeles

The Kogi Korean BBQ truck is synonymous with L.A. food truck culture (dare I say pioneer?), and over the last few years my rabid worship of truck dining had been tainted by the social-media savvy truck on the move through the City of Angels. I had never run into them or their world-famous tacos or burritos, and this saddened me deeply. Plus, Korean BBQ being the most insane cuisine known to man, I knew that I could not rest until I had sampled what may very well be the best (or at least best known) Korean BBQ truck on the West Coast.

When I saw them pull up outside Agenda yesterday, despite the insanely long, slow moving line, I knew I had no other option than to buck up and snatch the opportunity for life-changing kimchi! The line slowly shuffled forward, but despite rumblings in my tumbly I stood my ground. I knew, I just knew, that the wait would be worth it.

Happily, I'd made sure that the Visa/Mastercard sign was hanging in their ordering window, and even from wayyyyyyy in the back I could see cards being swiped. Oh happy day! The last of my cash had gone to parking, so I was in luck bearing plastic. Or was I? 

After approximately 4 million people had ordered and walked away smiling, I was close enough to the front to let the smells of spicy pork and short rib wash over me. I could see the ice-cold beverages glistening under a sheet of ice, and I already had my eye on a refreshing orange soda to wash down my forthcoming short rib burrito with kimchi. As I stepped to the front of the line after OVER AN HOUR in line (yes. I was patient!) I was greeted with a snarling man barking out "Cash only. Machine just went down."

What?

What do you mean, no credit cards?

There was no sign out front.

There was no announcement made.

I was literally so shell-shocked that I just stared at him and said "What?"

"Cash only."

"I... I just waited in line for over an hour."... at this point my knees were getting weak. All that I had anticipated, all that I had dreamed of, was about to be snatched away from me by an unsmiling order-taker looming high above me from a sticker-covered truck. I could immediately see why the line had moved forward so abysmally slowly. Inside were a bunch of loitering cooks that obviously couldn't see the snakelike line sneaking into the convention center, or they were so used to the demand that they just didn't give a crap anymore.

He shrugged. "I can try the machine, but it won't work."

I figured at least trying would be better than me jumping through the window and causing a scene, so I handed over my card and crossed my fingers. I could feel my blood pressure rising as we waited for a beep from the machine, and the entire scenario ran through my dazed head. It's the 21st century! What business in their right mind shows up to an event without a backup plan?! Where's the courtesy "cash only" sign? Where's the communication with loyal customers?! Where's the thoughtfulness for those like me (for surely I wasn't the only one without cash!) who waited uncomplainingly patiently in the longest line in history?! And although I can be pretty feisty on the (wonderfully anonymous) internet, I never. Ever. EVER. make a scene during foodservice. I've worked too long in the industry, and despite my obvious business logic, I did understand that it's not THIS guy's fault that the machine crashed. 

What pissed me off was his attitude. His absolute nonchalance and apathy blew my mind. I had built up this vision of legendary Korean BBQ that I had been looking forward to for YEARS, did my waiting time, MADE SURE that plastic was OK, and got completely slapped down by a guy who just couldn't be bothered with a little bit of A) customer service or B) A FREAKING BACKUP PLAN. Shit happens, I get that, but this was unacceptable.

I'm happy to say this story has a happy ending. I'd been chit chatting with the group of venture capitalists behind me for the better part of the hour, and since my interaction with the truck dude actually only lasted a few seconds, they stepped right up to save the day. I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard these sweet, sweet words...

"Oh, no way that's happening. You just waited for over an hour. You're on our tab."

Seriously, even a day later I am overwhelmed with absolute gratitude for my angel investor. Not only did he spare me complete humiliation (there are few things more embarrassing than not being able to pay for something you thought you could), he fulfilled a dream I'd had that had quickly turned into a nightmare. He even leaned into the screen at the back of the truck and encouraged them to put up a "CASH ONLY" sign (which apparently was not the obvious thing to do?) and was greeted with blank stares and turned backs. 

The burrito was absolutely worth the wait. Juicy, tender, full of flavor... it was everything I had hoped for. Unfortunately, it was tainted with a very, very bad customer experience, one that I  hope no one else has to suffer through. Believe me, they aren't the only truck in the world that has suffered through issues with credit cards, but the attitude is what turned my opinion VERY quickly. I can absolutely deal with problems outside their control. It happens. But what they CAN control is how they present it to their loyal customers. And that's why I was disappointed with my first (I can't say only...) Kogi Korean BBQ truck experience.

HUGE thanks to Richard from Irvine. Seriously dude, if I ever need capital for something, I've got your card, and I promise there will be $10 in the mail to you soon. Decent people exist, hooray!

Top 10 San Diego Food Trucks

It's no secret that I'm a legitimately crazy person- just most notably when food trucks are involved. If I could eat at a food truck for every meal every day, I would without hesitation. I'm not quite sure what my fascination with the mobile revolution is, but maybe I'm just enthusiastic about any major trend in American dining and I happen to live in a place where it's nice outside constantly. Maybe.

Anyhoo, this list has been a long time coming for me personally. I'm sure that many, many people would disagree my list below or want to throw me off a cliff for not mentioning their absolute favorite San Diego food truck, but no matter. I've done the research (a.k.a. stuffing my face) as much as I can, and with my (limited) knowledge and (unlimited) enthusiasm, I've come up with what I think are the best San Diego food trucks around.

My somewhat loose criteria are things like a mix of menu options (creativity, number of dishes, rotation, etc.), locations (more mobility is a good thing), cost (over the top gourmet food trucks really might just be missing the point), taste (duh, but also very arbitrary), friendliness (you can tell the legit people who are stoked on what they're doing vs. those cashing in on a trend who carry the shit kitchen attitude to the streets), and marketing (some have got it and some don't. Not a dealbreaker, but everyone likes a fun truck gimmick). I didn't make an actual grading scale or anything. I just know what I like and have no qualms about telling you what you SHOULD like.

I'll also note that I personally tend to gravitate towards the more gratuitous trucks (sorry MIHO - I tend to dig cheeseburgers more than beet salads) and more savory than sweet, so even though there are some BOMB dessert trucks on there, I'm gonna lean towards the lunch/dinner ones and leave the dessert trucks to another post. Last disclaimer: I haven't eaten at EVERY SINGLE food truck in San Diego. If there's one that I absolutely MUST TRY and I really should kill myself for writing this without trying them, then let me know (minus the death threats, please). There's always time for Round 2!

Without further ado... the top 10 San Diego food trucks.  

10. Asian Persuasion
This truck is solid. Their pork sliders are seriously amazing, their sauces are great, and even their complimentary won ton chips with sweet and sour dipping sauce aren't your run of the mill stale chip shards so often served at shitty Chinese restaurants. There's certainly a time and place for cheap Chinese food (you know the kind- the farty, bloat-inducing, MSG-laden limp beef with soggy broccoli that you really shouldn't enjoy as much as you do), but Asian Persuasion hits it right every time. They really could work on changing up their menu a bit, and I've heard a few horror stories about working with them to arrange an event, but overall, top notch stuff. Definitely the best Asian food truck in San Diego.  

9. Mangia Mangia
Italian staple of San Diego. They're at every food truck gathering and their staff always has big smiles on their faces. There's no real surprises (ever) on the menu, but what you get it always stationary-restaurant quality fresh ingredients from friendly people. Two thumbs up.  

8. MIHO Gastrotruck
O.G. S.D. food truck. Everyone knows 'em, everyone loves 'em. As far as I'm concerned, MIHO speared the food truck revolution in San Diego. They are to San Diego what Kogi is to LA. They're all over the place, they give a crap about sustainability and local sourcing, and they are creative as hell on their ever-changing menu. A little pricier than run-of-the-mill trucks, and this isn't the place for gluttons (woe is me), but their marketing hits it spot on. Not to be missed.  

7. Operacaffe
Their meatball sandwich made me want to cry. Placing them over MIHO will be sacrilege for some (despite their excellent cuisine), but what can I say. I'm a sucker for them. I also tend to run into them more than other trucks, which makes me pretty brand loyal. Seriously. Get the meatball sandwich.  

6. New York on Rye
Most legit Jewish deli style sandwiches in San Diego since the German deli on 30th in North Park closed. They don't toast their bread (legit!), they have big ass pickles (legit!), and they pile their thinly sliced meat to the sky. LEGIT. Pastrami on rye and Ruebens are NOT to be passed up. Dammit. I'm salivating.  

5. Devilicious
Another San Diego fave! They're nationally known and adored, plus babes man the truck. My only qualm with them is they steer a little too far over into the crass gratuitousness with their signature butter poached lobster grilled cheese sandwich, but I mean, seriously? What's not to like? I'm SUPER bummed that their kimchi dog didn't stay long on the menu because OMIGOD, but you will never, ever, EVER be disappointed with ANYTHING you get off this truck. Plus, their logo of a baby devil eating a sandwich is rad.  

4. Mariscos on Texas
Yup. I gave a "roach coach" the #4 spot. Wanna know why? EVERYTHING HERE IS BETTER THAN ANYTHING YOU'VE EVER EATEN. What they lack in marketing or even menu rotation is 100% made up with their food, plain and simple. Do yourself a favor. Drop what you're doing and drive to the liquor store on Texas and Meade. Park. Get ceviche. Also everything else on the menu. Do not trust the white man with your ceviche. Only trust Mariscos with your ceviche. Eat it. Order more. You'll thank me.  

3. Super Q
BBQ fans from the South, rejoice! Your time has come to SoCal on 4 wheels with Southern hospitality to boot. Best BBQ truck in San Diego. Everything is slow cooked and an extra bonus is they don't take forever to make it for you. It's not fussy and it's not rocket science. It's just damn fine eatin'.  

2. Hoangies
Banh mi sandwiches are maaaaaaaaaaaaybe my favorite food ever, so I'm perhaps a little biased on Hoangies. Nah, it's just that good. The menu is straightforward, and even though I have to admit that it's not the most unbelievably authentic banh mi in the entire universe, it does the trick and then some. It's family owned, they roll all over town, and it legitimately makes me weep when I see them. I'm ALL about Hoangies. I want everyone and their mom to patronize it. The people rock and are always super appreciative, plus they remember you! I may or may not have freaked out with ecstasy in front of them more than once (which tends to make an impression), but I think I bankroll them pretty hard so whatever. Fun fact: I almost wrecked my car when I drove by them one time, started screaming, pulled an illegal U-Turn, and then hopped my way across the street in glee. I. Fucking. Love. Hoangies. They ALMOST made it to my #1 absolute favorite food truck in San Diego spot, but there's only one other place that is higher in my heart.  

1. Tabe BBQ
Korean BBQ. Are there any sweeter words in the English culinary language? I'm honestly having a hard time not jumping in front of a car because I don't have a plate of sweet pork in front of me. Tabe's marketing sucks, they're hard to find, and their menu never changes. WHO CARES. It's absolutely, unequivocally, the best truck in San Diego, I'd wager it would give any truck in the country a run for its money. It gets overlooked because their branding is garbage and it honestly could pass for a roach coach, but it's so, so, so much more than that. I honestly pity you if you've never experienced the glory of Tabe. I VIVIDLY remember eating it for the first time and after my first bite I had a revelation. I've eaten some damn fine food in my life, but there are very few things that come close to Tabe. Tabe, I love you.

PLEASE feel free to recommend your favorite food trucks and dishes to me! I can always use a good excuse to check out a new place.

Flavors of Yeast

White-Labs from Dennis Stein on Vimeo.



San Diego Beer Week is coming up fast, and November 4-13 can't get here soon enough! Events are still being added to the calendar, and the one that we're most excited about is the "Flavors of Yeast" presentation by the Head of Laboratory Operations at White Labs, Neva Parker. It's certainly not going to be the run-of-the-mill drinkfest (NOT that there's anything wrong with that!) that will be taking place all over the county, rather a more science-y panel for serious beer lovers, home brewers, and just general nerds alike.

On Wednesday, November 9th from 6-9pm at Sea Rocket Bistro, $20 gets you into the talk (plus hors d’oeuvres) that will cover topics like cultivating yeast and the different properties that strains provide to beer styles. As a bonus (and learning experience of course), attendees will slosh down side-by-side a 'base beer' that was created identically in every way except yeast strains, so the individual flavor profiles can be explored and discussed as a group. Yeasts include:

WLP530 Abbey Ale Yeast
Used to produce Trappist style beers, distinct for their clovey, estery profile. Fruity and alcohol tolerant (up to 15% ABV). Excellent yeast for high gravity beers, Belgian ales, dubbels and trippels.

WLP810 San Francisco Lager Yeast
This yeast is used to produce the “California Common” style beer. A unique lager strain which has the ability to ferment up to 65 degrees while retaining lager characteristics. Can also be fermented down to 50 degrees for production of marzens, pilsners and other style lagers.

WLP655 Belgian Sour Mix 1
A unique blend perfect for Belgian style beers. Includes Brettanomyces, Saccharomyces, and the bacterial strains Lactobacillus and Pediococcus.
(info from the Sea Rocket event page)

So if you're a beer lover, science geek, or just someone who wants to know more about the weird little creatures that help the more popular hops + barley become beer, head on down! I'll be there with pocket protector and pint!

Fleet of Eats: 57 Degrees 3rd Friday Food Truck Gathering

Food truck fever has hit San Diego HARD, and this is in no way depressing. Besides the individual truck schedules, there's plenty of "gatherings" where an assortment of trucks get together and create a mobile food court to the delight of locals. One of the ones that I kept missing was the 3rd Friday Gathering at 57 Degrees in Little Italy, but NOT THIS TIME! Parking was a challenge, especially since the closest trolley stop is out of commission for awhile, but we managed to hoof it, fork over the $2 entrance fee, and beeline it through the wine bar to their back parking lot filled from end to end with mobile yumminess!

I knew that I wanted to see what every truck had to offer before committing to anything, so we started with the Eat at Recess Truck, Operacaffe, CurioCity, Tabe BBQ, MangiaMangia, Food Farm, the Gathering Spot, etc. etc. etc. (one immediate complaint is that the list on the 57 Degrees website wasn't really accurate). However, that didn't REALLY matter since there was plenty to choose from and to kick things off we got the Fried Pizza Dough stuffed with cheese from Operacaffe Mobile.

It was pretty much exactly what you'd expect- doughy balls of fried goodness with bubbling cheese spewing from the tops like tiny volcanoes with a side of marinara for dipping. Hot, cheesy balls. What's not to like? We munched on these as we studied the rest of the boards for our entrees. One noteworthy trend is that almost every single truck had some version of sliders and/or parmesan fries (some with, some without truffles). I guess it makes sense since sliders are a little more manageable on the go, but come on people! A little variety would be nice!

Next up was the Spicy Brat from The Gathering Spot Bistrotruck. It seemed to be the recommended dog, and it sounded pretty unusual/great with cream cheese spread and a jalapeno/onion mix. When we got it, I was pretty disappointed with the grayness of the brat, generic cream cheese, and limp, leech-like jalapenos that looked more like sad kelp than spicy pepper. It wasn't spicy in ANY respect, and was just pretty bland. Disappointing. (HOWEVER - we did run into this truck the next day at Green Flash Brewery and decided to give it another go. Their Slidertini with angus beef, dill aioli, sauteed mushrooms & onions with a block of cheddar toothpicked on top was GREAT. Shockingly tender and the perfect amount of dill - which I find can be easily overdone. Not to be missed!)

By now Ashton-the-sweet-tooth was itching for some dessert, so he headed over to The Chubby Truck for their fried cheesecake with either strawberry compote or chocolate dip. He brought back what appeared to be two egg rolls with a cup of fudge, and I felt like I was back at the gluttonous state fair in Del Mar all over again! Things like this are fine in their own way, I suppose... I mean, yes, it was fried cheesecake. Great. Nothing surprising, and honestly just a little gratuitous. The rest of their menu looked pretty amazing, so I'm anxious to give this new truck another go and get one of their tasty-looking burgers next time!

Last on the list was Tabe Korean BBQ, which I'd had once before and LOVED. To wrap things up we got their Tabe Asada Fries with the sweet pork, and let me just tell you that I give it the rating of "Die, die, must try!" Perfectly tender, sweet and just a little spicy, their pork is drippingly fantastic in everything they offer. It's going to be difficult for me to get any other their other meats because their pork is stellar! The little side cups of hot sauce, chili garlic spread, and spicy aioli were all delightful in their own right, so just do yourself a favor and get some Tabe. Korean BBQ, my new favorite food group?

Ramblin' on with SD Food Trucks

There's just something about the fast-paced food slingin' and militant compactness of food trucks that completely appeals to me. With a smaller menu, I feel like creativity, seasonality, and just plain fun come into play more than stationary eateries. I've already raved about San Diego's Devilicious truck (and I think I'm just one voice in a crowd on that one), but at this year's La Mesa Oktoberfest I noticed that the Asian Persuasion truck was parked next to Devilicious. Being the indecisive fatty that I am, I decided to get something from both trucks just to piss my muffin top off just a LITTLE more.

After a few of my friends embarrassed themselves by being totally unoriginal and getting the Butter Poached Lobster Grilled Cheese from Devilicious (I'm just being a bitch- it's #&(*@&ing amazing), I got an order of the Parmesan Truffle Fries to share with the group and the Shrimp PoBoy for me. It was the pickles that really sealed the deal for me on that one, and I was NOT disappointed. HUGE breaded shrimp were falling out of the baguette, which was smeared with a delicious aioli and red onion with a dark green salad on the side. Seriously. Really, really good. The fries had more of a truffle flavor than I was expecting, but believe me that's not a complaint. Utter bliss.

The $6 Bankok pork sliders from Asian Persuasion came dolloped with spicy mayo and daikon, and with their hint of ginger and side of wonton chips + sweet & sour dipping sauce I was SOLD. Hands down the best dish of the night. I was BLOWN AWAY with how tender the pork was, how wonderful the Hawaiian buns were, how perfectly seasoned everything was, and even how fresh the wonton chips were! Seriously! Home run! I can't WAIT to try that truck again, and maybe get the FOB tacos or the burrito. I don't know, I just can't decide. I just love how San Diego food trucks keep delivering.

Yet-To-Be-Named-Beer Club Meeting #1



Ever taken a brewery tour alone? Do you drink $20 bottles of craft beer in your living room and describe its subtle nuances to your only companion- your cat? Ever be "that guy" sitting at the bar and drown your lonely sorrows into a tulip glass of a perfectly poured aromatic IPA? We have! Be lonely no more, the Yet-To-Be-Named-Beer Club was created for that very purpose- bringing together craft beer lovers who just want more friends to share it with. The inaugural meeting was held in our living room last night, and 12 beer enthusiasts from all walks of craft beerdom joined us with bottles of weird, wacky, and interesting bottles to share and discuss.

5 hours, 3 cheeses, 2 salsas, and 20 different beers later, the meeting was called to a close and the last attendees stumbled from our apartment into the night. The meeting had kicked off with a blind IPA tasting, and it proved to be more challenging than expected. However, member Stephanie took home the top prize with 3 out of 5 correct and brought home her prize bottle of the 2nd generation Life & Limb collaboration by Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head- well done Stephanie!

By the end of the meeting most of us found ourselves too deep in the cups to properly set the schedule for the next meeting, but future plans include group brewery tours, blind tastings, homebrew collabs, bar outings, group BBQs, and more! Below is the list of the beers enjoyed (and completely drained) by all, including the IPA contestants:

1) Aecht Ochleaterla Rauchbier
2) Rogue: Hazelnut Brown Nectar
3) Russian River: Redemption blonde ale
4) Russian River: Damnation golden ale
5) Avery: The Reverend belgian-style quadrupel ale
6) Great Divide: 17th anniv. Wood Aged Double IPA
7) Bootlegger's: Black Phoenix ale with coffee and chipotle peppers
8) Lindemans: Cuvee Rene gueuze lambic
9) Hitachino Nest: White Ale
10) Ballast Point: Black Marlin porter
11) Magic Hat: #9
12) Lagunitas Hop Stoopid IPA
13) Sam Adams: Black Lager
14) Sierra Nevada: Torpedo Extra IPA
15) Brew Dog: Hardcore IPA
16) New Belgium: Ranger IPA
17) Russian River: Blind Pig
18) Wells: Banana Bread Beer
19) Wade and Dan's homebrew (honey wheat ale)
20) Ashton and Beth's homebrew (summer wheat)

Beers from all walks of life were represented, and with autumn quickly approaching the tentative theme for next meeting is Harvest/Oktoberfest beers. There's plenty of wiggle room and all beers are welcomed with open arms! Membership is open to all who
1) love beer and want to learn as much as you can about it
2) want more friends to drink it with
3) are willing to meet around once a month
4) occasionally host meetings (this means providing snacks and arranging games/events/prizes)
5) bring at least a bottle to share each meeting

That's it! Join us today- bonus points if you think of a good group name!

Suzie's Organic Farm Pedal, Pick & Grin



If you didn't make it to Suzie's Organic Farm in Imperial Beach yesterday for $2/lb tomatoes and $3/lb peppers (both of endless varieties) then you TOTALLY MISSED OUT. Bike parade? Check. Bluegrass band? Check. Tromping through rows upon rows of completely organic produce just picking whatever looks delectable? Check. I've been a lazy slob about signing up for their CSA, but laze no more, after yesterday I am a believer. There's just something about eating something that you pick, and I'm sure if you grow it the feeling is intensified by a bajillion. It was a glorious day as horses trotted by, kids created dirt tornadoes with their bikes, people of all ages gripped their straw hats and knelt to gently twist and remove a fat and hearty jalapeno, bell pepper, heirloom tomato, or fresh okra bite to take home and enjoy however they saw fit.



For us, a pizza was our ultimate creation. We snagged a garlic and herb pizza dough from Trader Joe's and after letting it rest for 20 minutes, we divided it into 4 mini pizzas and started the grill on medium high. While the grill heated up, we sliced and diced some of the amazing deep red tomatoes and a variety of yellow, orange, and green peppers for toppings. After laying the rolled out dough onto tin foil on the grill, we let them sit for about 3 minutes and flipped them, revealing a golden brown crisp crust. We immediately spread some fresh pesto on the crisped side, liberally sprinkled some feta, and then laid the tomatoes and peppers across the whole shebang. After another 3 minutes of toasting, we removed them from the grill and crowned each one with some torn fresh basil leaves and feasted.



As the first of many dishes this week that will feature our bounty, it was a success! I can't wait to keep nomin' on our stash, and I definitely look forward to continuing to patronize Suzie's. All hail San Diego local organic farms!

Anthony Bourdain at El Bulli

No more dips, pinches, smidgens, or smears will be garnishing monochromatic china as the best restaurant in the world closes in 5 days. Anthony Bourdain will be one of the last people to eat at the famed El Bulli on the Spanish Coast, and the Huffington Post has a wonderful teaser of the episode of "No Reservations" that was filmed there in its final throes of restauranteur glory, before re-opening in 2014 as a gastronomic think tank and creative center headed by current world-renowned chef Ferran Adrià.



If you're unfamiliar with El Bulli, it's really too late to explain. It will just bring to light the misery of missing out on a limited-time lifetime experience, leave your eyes wet with longing, and your mouth hungry for phantom flavors that a favored few in the eyes of God have ululated in orgasmic pleasure over.



While the first video was informative, I found the second video to be kind of adorable, portraying this titan of the kitchen as quite cuddly looking and inspiring. I look forward to the full episode!

Twix Cheesecakes


I really, really, REALLY need to try this recipe. I rarely crave sweets, but when I do you better pray there's some within arm's reach if you don't want to suffer my hunger wrath. This insane looking recipe for Twix Cheesecakes on the baking blog Gingerbread Bagels looks easy to make and unbelievably decadent.

You can snobbily turn your nose up to candy as an unsuitable dessert item, but I figure candy is good and if it ain't broke then don't fix it! I'm not the hugest fan of Twix, but cheesecake + Oreos + Twix = no way that it can be anything but over-the-top mouthwatering and wickedly hedonistic. Visit the full post here: you can bet when I return from Atlanta this weekend that this is on my agenda to tackle!

San Diego Fair 2011

While last year's food-themed county fair raised the bar for all things artery clogging yet tantalizingly irresistible, this year's San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds continued the American tradition of crowds, grease, and obesity with some classics like the deep fried Klondike bar, deep fried pickles, deep fried twinkies, and the much-anticipated deep fried Kool Aid! Personally, I don't find even the liquid version very appetizing, so despite heavy hype I passed in favor of some alternate fried goods:

My first instinct proved to be a fulfilling one: deep fried cheese curds! These squeaky delights are delightful fresh AND fried, and for $6 I was rewarded with a generous portion leaving me literally choking for more.


We indulged in a few standbys like fried pickles with ranch dipping sauce, funnel cake, but the one that took that cake was the Baby Ruth stuffed fried jalapeno served over a bed of sugared churros. Holy crap. Honestly, I really thought it had a fighting shot of being sinfully delicious based on the fact that I like jalapenos, sugar, churros, fried, and Baby Ruth bars, but although my jaw chewed and chewed, my brain just flat out refused to let that sloshy mass pass through my rapidly shrinking throat, and as you can see after one bite, my hand was shaking so much from the sugar I couldn't take a clear picture.

All in all the fair was a success as usual, and I'm anticipating another binge next year. Hail America!

Eleven


Image from San Diego Beer Blog

If you're searching for a bar that really takes that extra push over the cliff, Eleven at 3519 El Cajon Blvd is the place you'll find it. The location has been home to more than a few bars in its day, but it seems that happy patrons have found a permanent home with Eleven's gritty feel and pleasantly surprising beer list, many nights with live music as well.

In my ripe old age of 26, I consider my self a bit beyond the dive-bar-excursion-for-dive-bars-sake, but Eleven is a bright anomaly in the dive bar beer business. I'm a huge fan of their 25 oz. Eleven Lager Big Beer Mug for $4 during Happy Hour ($5 regularly)- it's a standard lager brewed nearby and for the amount of suds you get it's by far the best deal in the place. Not to say that their beer list is anything but appropriately priced- for the selection it's well within range of really-cheap-to-still-pretty-cheap for anything available.

The thing that really gets my blood boiling (merrily) is their food truck parked outside. It's not so much of a food truck as just a mobile kitchen that I've never actually seen anywhere but outside the bar (I could be wrong, just my observation), but for the late-nite patron who craves something more than just the regular fried bar fare, in this foodie's humble opinion, the Eleven Food Truck boasts a small but solid menu. You can choose from two cheesesteaks or three burgers, and either regular or sweet potato fries (that's it), but once you've had the Fuego you'll realize you don't need anything else.

The Fuego is a stomach churning conglomeration of jalapenos, serranos, and Anaheim chiles on a slimy mess of steak (or chicken if you fly that way) topped with a heaping amount of pepperjack cheese and chipotle aioli crowned with toasted jalapeno bread and served with a side of their surprisingly tasty shoestring fries. I understand that the mere minion might not be able to handle this gut-wrenching, brain-puckering sandwich of ballsy greatness, but if you fancy yourself a crazed spice addict then this is most certainly the sandwich for you. Wash it down with one of the Eleven lagers and I fail to see how you are headed for anything but bliss (and maybe the shitter).

For $9.50, this sandwich easily feeds two late-nite munchers or one hungry daredevil, but my advice to you is don't forget the beer for a tsunami of relief. Eleven has a cheap and abundant selection, so when your eyes start to tear and your nose drips with sweat from the fiery goodness that is Fuego, point to the nearest tap and enjoy the ride.

OMG

Sup ya'll?? A LOT has happened since the last post, up to and including marriage and a ton of meals! I'm feeling a bit rusty but I've had a few things catch my eye lately and I can't resist sharing them.

First off is this great-sounding recipe that I StumbledUpon (if you don't know what that is, sign up immediately and prepare to be addicted) that I can't wait to try. Straight from The Pastry Affair blog, it's Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread and it sounds amazing. You can skip through the entire article which goes on about dry pancakes and whatnot, but in the end I can't help but anticipate this tasting like a savory version of my mother's fantastic monkey pull apart bread. Super stoked to give it a whirl. (Pastry Affair- I hope you don't mind me using your picture- it just makes me drool!)


Secondly, The Daily Meal had two articles that tickled my fancy, the first having the tantalizing title "4 Restaurants Where You'll Never, Ever, Get a Table", which goes into ridiculous detail on 4 of the zaniest, most absurd, downright daffy "restaurants" (which seems to be a loose title) from around the world. From a terrifying white water rafting destination to a beauty requirement, if you pass the test, get selected at random from a city of millions, or even survive, you aren't guaranteed to have your tastebuds tickled. A challenge- most certainly!

The second article is merely a categorized list of the 150 Best Bars in America as chosen by The Daily Meal, and while obviously New York and LA dominate, there's a great selection from even the corners of suburbia and the tumbleweeds of Middle America. I for one might prefer a jukebox bar over molecular mixology, but even if you're lookin' to get lucky there's a bar for you!

Lastly, another addiction (Incredible Things) led me to a miraculous discovery of a bottled iced coffee only to dash my dreams by alerting me to its location- Australia! I'm partial to the chilled version of my daily cuppa joe, and the thought of having it potentially ready made at my beck and call was enough to get my synapses doing Jazzercise. That bottled Starbucks chilled junk just doesn't get my mojo going, but until One Tree Coffee is available Stateside, I suppose my cold brewing will have to suffice. Plus, I think we can all agree this is a pretty snazzy looking bottle (courtesy of Incredible Things)


That's all for now- I solemnly swear that I am up to SOME good and won't leave you hanging for another few months.

Rings for Foodies

Today's Incredible Things email literally made my jaw drop and eyes goggle out in wonderment! (By the way, if you don't get this daily email, SIGN UP NOW.)

Photo from Incredible Things
Kawaii Handmade Food Rings are quite possibly the most perfect gift I can think of. Around $10 and with a variety of designs from pancakes to miso with a heavy emphasis on Japanese cuisine, it's a good thing I saw this late in the day at work because I'm sure I could not have resisted the urge to oogle all of the AMAZING and TOTALLY AWESOME and RIDICULOUSLY COOL designs, all of which I must own soon! Here are a few of my absolute faves:

Coffee & a Donut Ring

Coffee & a Croissant Ring

Beer & Takoyaki (Octopus dumplings!) Ring

Floating Ring- Pasta (I love the floating fork!!)

Green Tea & Sweet Potato Ring

Sushi with Chopsticks Pendant

Miso Soup with Crab Legs Ring!!!!!!!