Sunday, December 30, 2012

Godiva and the Photoshopped Camera Lens

Godiva has always been a pretty solid manufacturer of chocolate candies and other sugary goodies.  That's why I was so shocked when I ripped into a bag of milk strawberry truffles to find this:

Apparently they had their caramel diarrhea filter on

I've sent these pictures to Godiva for an explanation because if you've been reading this blog long enough then you know how much I dislike trick photography and deceptive advertising.  However, I'm not passing judgment yet.  I want to see what they have to say...THEN I'll pass judgment.  Giving me something brown when it should be pink is unacceptable. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Second Most Wonderful Meal of the Year

The first being Thanksgiving of course, but we established that a long time ago.  So, CHRISTMAS!  Hope everyone had a great one.  You know I did and I've got the pictures to prove it...

...unfortunately, like a total dumbass, I forgot to take a picture of my uneaten Christmas meal.  Yeah, I don't know what happened either.  So we've gotta be a little creative here:

I reconstructed my dinner plate with leftovers.  If Marty McFly were time travelling back and forth he wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

So we've got a 15 pound turkey which was outstanding of course, mashed potatoes cooked by me, which were outstanding of course, stuffing, sweet potato "stoplights", and a Christmas Sandwich. 

The table before it got all messy

On the flip side

Dessert - cherry and blueberry pie

Double the pleasure, double the fun

All American Dessert - Christmas Edition

Unfortunately the All American didn't turn out the way I had hoped.  First of all I forgot to put the grapes in which pissed me off.  Second, I used a different brand of poundcake which didn't seem to absorb the whipped cream very well.  I mean, yeah, it still tastes good but I dropped the ball.

Leftovers

More leftovers

Ok, so I actually did take a picture of my dinner...when it was half eaten.

I love my fans, that's the only reason I would post a half-eaten plate of food.  Fart jokes and carbohydrates have gotten Greg's Gourmet this far, so why not some half-eaten meals?  

Anyway, hope everyone had a great holiday!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Eve/Eve of Christmas Eve

I'm really not a big fan of Panda Express.  There was a Panda at State while I was there and it was always one of the busiest eateries on campus.  My suite mate would eat there virtually every day, pigging out on orange chicken and then clogging the toilet later in the evening.

When I'm up in Valencia we sometimes get Panda for dinner at which point I feel underwhelmed, kinda like when you realize that regardless of who you vote for in an election you're still probably voting for a douchebag.

It's been a longstanding Jewish tradition to have Chinese food for Christmas Eve dinner.  Unfortunately one of the few drawbacks of San Diego is its seeming lack of quality Chinese food.  When the Union Tribune, with over a million subscribers, lists Panda Express as the best Chinese food in the city then you've got big problems.  I mean, the Union Tribune is a complete joke of a paper and everyone knows it, but still.  Either way, I've gotten used to Panda on Christmas Eve the past couple years because I realize it's just an appetizer for the REAL meal the following day.

Panda Express is Chinese food in the theoretical sense

I'll post Christmas food pictures next time.  Instead I wanna take a step back to the meal on the Eve of Christmas Eve, which of course has to be In-N-Out:

Most states don't even have In-N-Out...LOLOLOLOLOL

Double-double and Animal Style fries - can't beat that.  Well, except maybe this:

If it had about 98% less fat I'd probably eat this everyday

Just needed to post that for good measure.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Apocalyptic" Gourmet

So yeah, the Mayans were wrong.  Remember a couple years ago when the movie 2012 came out at the height of all this hype?  And all anyone can remember now of that movie is how bad it is?  Yeah...

Anyway, just in case the world did explode I decided to go on an all-out eating binge.  My thoughts were that if the world blew up then at least I enjoyed some good food.  And if the world didn't explode then it's just a typical Greg's Gourmet day.  Naturally I had to start off with some McD's:

The grease on the right burger serves as a mirror so I can see my multiple chins form in real time

A pair of double cheeseburgers and fries - 100% of the time it's a good meal all the time.

Dinnertime: Another favorite meal of mine - Mac N Cheese:

Good as a 5 year old, even better now

If you've never read my post on how to make really good Mac N Cheese, then click here to check out the instructions.  I mixed some meatballs in here for extra flavor and texture.  It was nice.  But what's a couple hearty meals without an even more hearty dessert?  SCONE TIME!

A scone to close the binge - good deal

Just your ordinary gigantic scone from Charlie's Best Bread.  You know, the usual.  

As I said, just another day for Greg's Gourmet in the event that Luke Skywalker didn't fire a couple photon torpedoes into the Earth's core. 

Happy holidays everyone!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Return of the Lumberjack

It's amazing to me how long ago it was that a little lakeside joint called Lake Murray Cafe used to be my Seinfeld equivalent of the coffee shop.  It's been two years since they sold me half-baked dinner rolls for Thanksgiving, effectively ruining our appetites at dinnertime as well as leftovers the following day.  That was the last straw in a steep decline for a restaurant that was once known for delicious and generous meals at low prices while complemented with amazing service.

Over time their portions got smaller, their food quality got crappier, and every time a new waitress/waiter came on there just seemed to be a lack of interest that previous servers had.  Their French toast once gave me violent food poisoning and the owner is successful but a questionable decision maker.  Think Mark Suckerberg; worth billions but has no idea how to run a company with a positive brand image.  Seriously, what good things can be said for how Facebook is run?

Anyway, we decided to check out the Murray just for the heck of it.  I ordered the classic Lumberjack, which is 3 eggs, 4 strips of bacon, 3 sausage links, a half plate of potatoes, and 3 plate sized pancakes.  We used to make it a competition to see who could down it and if you failed then you got made fun of.  This trip I calmly downed it pretty easily:

The meal's borders go to the pancakes

You know what?  It was really, really good.  It captured the quality and charm that used to be the reason we would come here a couple times a month.  Really delicious.  It was 2 dollars more expensive than it was the last time I had it but whatever. 

But there was one flaw at the table that we anticipated.  See those giant plate-sized pancakes that came with my meal?  Okay, so, my friend Josh ordered a Chorizo Scramble which also comes with pancakes.  For a long time pancakes came in one size: big.  And with the Lumberjack that still rings true, but with other dishes?  Check out this meal I had last year that shows the kind of crap they're pulling.  Yeah, they're plate-sized pancakes, but that's like a frickin' plate you'd use for a cup of frickin' tea.  Those are frickin' frozen aisle pancakes.  ON THE SAME TABLE! 

This is what I'm talking about.  I understand that food is getting more expensive but how painfully stupid is it that the owner of this joint actually approves of having two servings of pancakes at the same table in different sizes?  Gordon Ramsay would be blowing his top with all kinds of British swears and taunts. 

So, yeah, it was good.  But this place seriously needs new management.  Like, really.

Seriously. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Ultimate Scone

I know I post a lot of these, but check out the size of this beauty of a scone I picked up from Charlie's Best Bread in Pacific Beach today:

It's nearly the size of the whole frickin' plate!

I had my palm wide open, fingers spread and they barely surfaced outside the rim of the scone.  That's how absolutely massive this thing is.  Big and beautiful.

By the way, does anyone have any recommendations on where to purchase good dinner rolls?  The past few years we haven't been very successful in finding quality dinner rolls so I'm open to all suggestions.

Eat on!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving in HD!

Also known as...

THE BEST MEAL OF THE YEAR!!!  IN HD!!!

This is THE day of the year where it's acceptable to eat like a pig and we here at Greg's Gourmet believe in taking full advantage of this opportunity.

Leading off we have a low fat veggie roast topped with a cauliflower puree:

Just kidding.  It's a 15 pound turkey, of course!

Let me tell ya - this turkey was delicious.  I say was because the only thing that's left are the wings - we don't mess around with food in my family.  The leftovers lasted all of a day which must be some kind of new record.

The setup.  We got about three dozen dinner rolls just to be on the safe side

*Mouth orgasm*

Believe it or not, this was the only plate I had last night but don't be deceived; there's a lot of food on that plate.  The turkey leg still had meat that had been attached to the abdomen, and the stuffing/potatoes take up half the plate.  This was a very filling and overall really orgasmic meal.

The All American Dessert - Thanksgiving Edition!

You may remember the above as the red, white, and blue All American Dessert that I make every July 4th.  This version features seasonal orange and black cherry Jello, Angel food cake, whipped cream, bananas, blackberries, kiwis, and maraschino cherries.  Having this follow the above plate is like a double mouth orgasm.  Simply out of control.

Now as I said, 24 hours later most of the leftovers were gone and one of the main culprits?   CHRISTMAS SANDWICHES!!!

Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy stuffed into a dinner roll

If I had a sandwich shop these would be the hottest selling seasonal item

My leftover plate from this evening.  Look at the size of that frickin' leg!

Given that the leftovers were gone faster than Mitt Romney's political relevance, this was obviously a wildly successful Thanksgiving.  Can't wait to do it again for Christmas!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all of my family, friends, and fans who read this page - I hope you have a most Happy Thanksgiving!

Greg's Gourmet is a little hungover from turkey and champagne at the moment but there will be plenty of pictures of food, food, and a little more food tomorrow!

A holiday where we eat as much as we want?  EXCELLENT!!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hostess Shuts Doors

HOSTESS.

HOW COULD YOU???

I can't begin to tell you how really frickin' angry I am right now.

Well, okay, not to the extent of sticking a TV remote up my ass but...

I REALLY AM FRICKIN' PISSED.

People are paying an average of $30 per box of Twinkies on eBay.

Stocking up...in HD of course lolz

How could this happen?  Hostess?  The makers of Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, Chocodiles, Donuts, Donettes, Fruit Pies, Snowballs, Cup Cakes, and Zingers.  All gone like that.

Logically all of these will be bought over by someone or another and they'll BRB but in the meantime it's like WTF yo?

Apparently the bakers union had been on strike in a contract dispute.  Hostess wanted to cut their benefits and pensions due to financial issues over the past couple years, including filing for bankruptcy in 2004.  Hostess wanted the bakers to take some cuts, the bakers said no, so now no one has anything.  18,500 people are out of a job and now no one gets any Twinkies or Ho Hos or Zingers.

This is the kind of nonsense our politics have created and yes, I actually am blaming the political landscape.  In Washington there's been this attitude of all or nothing over the past few years without any compromise.  Sure, you'll get the eggheads saying "we're happy to work across the aisle...as long as they agree with everything we say."  As a result nothing gets done.  That's not political opinion - that's fact.  You have to work together to accomplish things.  If you have 50 cents and your friend has 50 cents and the two-pack of Twinkies you're after costs a dollar, YOU HAVE TO COMBINE FORCES.

I guess in a way I respect Hostess for calling the union's bluff but I don't like what it lead to.  Circa 2002 the MLB Umpire's Union or whatever it's called wanted to negotiate new figures for a contract even though it wasn't a collective bargaining year.  The MLB refused to listen, so 20 or so umps turned in their resignation papers with the idea that with half of the umpire force threatening to walk off, the MLB will have to listen to them.  Well...the MLB accepted their resignation and 20 people were promptly out of a job and that was the end of that.  New umps were hired and blah, blah, blah.

The difference is that the MLB could always hire new umps without breaking a sweat.  Hostess, not so much.  That's why I'm furious that both sides couldn't come to some kind of compromise or find another way to take care of this.  I don't know the specifics of the bakers' benefits so I can't say if they deserved more.  But right now no one has anything so...

Hostess will be missed.  But do not worry - there will be others.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More Greg's Gourmet HD Fun

I seriously love this HD camera, and by HD camera I mean IPhone 4.  Here's some delicious crap that I've downed since the 4's arrival.

I can practically see my ass getting bigger before even eating these

Look, I love McDonald's and I don't care who knows.  So bite me.  I also love how there's a reflection bouncing off the grease on the buns hahaha

Don't listen to the box, just listen to me

I looooove Mac n' Cheese.  I've mentioned this in the past that the best way to optimize those cheap boxes of noodles and powdered cheese is to avoid following the instructions.  Instead boil the noodles for 12-15 minutes, mix in some real cheese, mix in the cheese powder, add butter, add milk, then add some tasty stuff like BBQ or hot sauce to enhance the flavors, and finally throw in some seasoning - I like salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.  I also mixed in some Pizza Rolls, but meatballs, hot dogs, sausage, and chicken work good as well.  Jalapenos do not.  As you can see from my site I'm a gourmet chef so I obviously know what I'm talking about.

Pepper jack isn't good for photo opportunities

I've mentioned I'm just an average fan of Ruby's.  It's not great but it's not bad.  It's also right next to the movie theater so it's convenient to go to after catching a flick.  The unlimited fries are a good touch.  The shakes are good, too.  But I'm not a fan of their double cheeseburger where they serve you two smaller patties than they would for a single.  Seriously, guys?  What's up with that?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More Tricky Photography

UPDATE!  Blue Bunny responded to my inquiry.  Apparently the lack of pecans could be due to a switch in manufacturing cycles or something that could reduce the amount of nuts per tub of ice cream.  I appreciate their response and coupons - but if this is a known issue then why does it keep happening?

Here's a picture of a carton of Blue Bunny ice cream, a company that brands itself as "Premium Ice Cream."  I had never heard of it before but think it's cool that their ice cream doesn't cost a hundred thousand dollars like ever other brand these days.  The no sugar added probably contributes to that.  Anyway, take note of the supply of the pecans in the picture; there are more pecans there than there are conspiracy theories about the presidential election results:

"Wow!  Look at all the pecans!  I can't wait to open this up and-"

"...I didn't know Butter Pecan was another name for French Vanilla..."

Blue Bunny, seriously?  We're maybe a fourth of the way into this container and I can only see the asscrack of one lonesome pecan there off to the side.  I realize food rarely looks like its packaging but...jeez.  I mean, come on, guys.  This isn't even close. 

So to counter that he's another HD picture of the beautiful $5 Meal Deal from Albertsons that I would eat every day if it wouldn't turn me into Jared from Subway:

"100% of the time this is a great meal all the time"

Take note of the wings: 7 OF THEM!  Plus the massive amount of wedges and mac n cheese for only 5 bucks!  AND IT'S IN HD!  That, my friends, is the taste of AWESOME!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Greg's Gourmet: Now in High Definition!

My loyal fans and readers, prepare to be jealous, for I have upgraded...to the I-Phone 4.  I know what you're thinking...I must have waited upward of two minutes online to place my order and spent a grand total on nothing for the retail price, but it's well worth it.  Honestly, I'm not big into these so-called smart phones.  They all look the same and do the same stuff.  It's really the HD camera I had my eye on so then I could do things like this:

Food tastes so much better when it's in HD

Awesome. 

I still have to shrink the pictures to maintain website efficiency, but you get the idea.  

GREG'S GOURMET HD FTW!!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Gourmet Classic "The Plan"

Wanted to repost this classic from last October about a massive Halloween assault of eggings and silly stringings that never happened because my friend and I were good kids instead of little buttholes.  Enjoy!

Halloween is one of the holiest days of the kid calendar, behind only Christmas and the last day of school.  Christmas = presents.  Last day of school = freedom.  Halloween = junk food.  However, as childhood continued on, you may have learned that Halloween meant something else: that "trick-or-treat" isn't just a greeting - it's a warning.  And when you turn 13 you suddenly realize, hey, not only can you eat a lot of candy on Halloween, but you can also hellraise and not get in trouble!!!  This post is about an assault of silly string and other nonsense that my friend, The Cup (a character he played in one of our childhood movies), and I planned for Halloween 2000 but never actually fulfilled.  This, my friends...is The Plan.

This epic Halloween attack received an ingenious title that took seconds, possibly even minutes to come up with

So here you go, in full, the complete battle map of The Plan:

Click for a larger view - you'll wanna see this penmanship

At 13 you're at the age where simple things take on a greater definition. Looking back, I don't know exactly why we came up with this plan, but if I had to guess it would be that at the time there was a lot of moving going on in the neighborhood and a bunch of babies were moving in.  This was unacceptable, so The Cup and I had to establish ourselves as the bosses of the neighborhood.  One way to do this was to launch assaults on Halloween...or something.  By the way, regarding the map - due to the size of the paper, I had to scan it in fourths and then put it back together in Photoshop.

Anyway, this is a map of our neighborhood.  It's basically a circle of houses harbored beside Highlands Park.  Truth be told, trying to decipher the symbols and coding on this map is like deciphering Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.  While I'm not 100% sure on any of this, here's the color coding key to the best of my ability:

Purple = Starting point
Blue = Base
Green = Stringing
Orange = Hiding Place
Black = Some sort of mayhem?

I'm guessing black was another mischievous deed, like egging or t-peeing or something.  The problem is the black X's are in pretty arbitrary spots so I'm not exactly sure what the dealio is.  The starting point was at the dead end where Rolf Geezen used to live up until 4 months prior to the scheduled assault.  My house was to be used as a base and you'll see that I blurred out a few other houses that had names attached.  These were considered "allies", or, houses of people we knew who we figured wouldn't be offended if we hid in their bushes while the cops scope out the kids who were silly stringing 4th graders.  

The starting point as well as our base

This section clearly shows how serious we were

As you can see, we went into great detail for the park drawing, including little pictures for the tennis courts, bathrooms, and the Snack Shack (a place we were regulars at).  Again we also find several orange and black X's as well as a rare green one that I had previously overlooked.  Best guess - the orange is hiding, the green is for silly string, and black is for I don't know.  

A stringing target in the middle of the street.  I'm sure that would have had zero repercussions

So the plan of The Plan was to circle around the neighborhood, launching these rogue attacks...because in the event we get caught, no one would be smart enough to figure out that we're just going in a circle.   

We drew The Plan up in mid-October and, due to its intense secrecy, decided it would be wise not to have our names on it.  So we white-ed out our names since no one would notice the blotched white stuff and wrote our aliases, Joe Schwartz and Rob Schmit, founder and co-founder, respectively.  But wait!  We couldn't leave this plan in clear plain site for anybody to find.  That would be like inviting the Nazis to a meeting about the Manhattan Project.  So we rolled it up and hid it...in the bushes in front of my house...since no one will EVER think to look there and even if they find it, ha!  Our names aren't even on it anymore!!!  Flawless, perfectly executed plan.  

At the end of the day this plan was pretty much an afterthought.  We had a can of silly string but I think it was defective.  In reality, the plan was about as legit as saying that Ashton Kutcher is a valid replacement for Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men.   It's funny; when you're 13 the world is a big place and everyday you explore something new.  On this particular day we thought we could be tough guys but in reality...we were good kids.  It was all talk.  We were both brought up right.  Throughout childhood you think up crazy ideas and plots no matter how bizarre, inconceivable, and nutty they may be.  Childhood is a time for wonder...The Wonder Years, if you will.    This was our bizarre, inconceivable, and nutty plan for that one day.  Sure, in another dimension we probably went through with it and wound up in juvenile hall, but that's neither here nor there.

Again, maybe we were a little upset because there weren't a heck of a lot of kids our age in the neighborhood and Rolf Geezen had just moved away, so thinking of a way to "take over the neighborhood" was our response.  That's really my only logic for it, as that philosophy also paved way for the formation of the Gatorade Mafia, a gang of 14 year olds who would regularly be at Highlands Park during baseball season and do tough guy things such as eat candy, drink Gatorade, and talk trash to the players from behind the backstop.  But that's a story for another time.  

You're probably wondering what we wound up doing instead on that Halloween night.  Well, isn't it obvious?

We went trick-or-treating!

Thanks for reading!

Candy Mountain

Just felt like posting this :-)


Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH!: Is Gordon Ramsay Spreading Himself Too Thin?


I'd like to share with everyone an article I wrote on Gordon Ramsay's massively expanding popularity and the damage it may be doing to his reputation.  If you followed my MasterChef and Hell's Kitchen nightly recaps then you know how critical I was of Ramsay this season for the deterioration of what were once his "world class standards".  This article first appeared on Pulsify.net, a tech website I'm writing for.  Check it out when you have the chance.

THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH!: 
Is Gordon Ramsay Spreading Himself Too Thin?

I can't take it any longer. I've seen every episode of every season of Hell's Kitchen since its inception in the summer of 2005. An astounding ten seasons later, we’ve arrived in the midst of the inevitable decline from quality reality television show into the realm of piece-of-crap-even-watching-toadstools-grow-is-better-than-this-nonsense.

Let me break it down for you: people love Gordon Ramsay because of his no-nonsense attitude, his arsenal of creative insults, and his array of multiple personalities that he can switch on you faster than Mitt Romney can refuse releasing his tax returns.

The truth is, however, that Hell's Kitchen has been doing its best impression of Titanic's maiden voyage all season long and finally hit the iceberg when it crowned Christina as the season 10 winner. I can't help but wonder how many miles beneath the ocean's surface this show will continue to sink. Why is Captain Smith letting this happen? The answer is easy: Gordon Ramsay is spreading himself too thin.

I started pondering this after the second "To Be Continued" episode of the season, where we were in the midst of a fashion show hosted by a guy with one of those noses that you'd love to test the resistance of with your fist and some woman who was doing her best impersonation of a mannequin. We went straight to a TBC right in the middle of this circus, one of six this season. For those counting at home, that's one out of every 3.3 episodes that doesn't give us an ending with the most outrageous being the second to last episode, cutting right before announcing who would be cooking in the finals. Absolutely disgusting. It seems that the editors have spent more time this season creating conflict that's not really there and transforming Hell’s Kitchen into some kind of coagulated skin mold that you’d find on one of the fake tans from the orcs on Jersey Shore.  

But it's so much more than that. This season's selection of contestants is the worst it has ever been. Christina and Dana were the only legit contenders (though I wonder why Dana would always yell while speaking to the confession cam. It’s like she was pretending she was acting in the first Austin Powers film since she apparently HAS TROUBLE CONTROLLING THE VOLUME OF HER VOICE), Kimmie's vocabulary consists of the word "bitch," followed by whatever incoherent sounds hicks regularly emit from their mouths, Robyn must have missed the memo that you only need to take one 5-Hour Energy Shot at a time, Roshni is short, Clemenza is big, Patrick looks like Eddie Van Halen, Danielle looks like she's about to cry at any moment, the Rolls Royce of cooking left too early, Barbie is a contender only because everyone else sucks, Tavon I liked because he was so terrible, and Justin, Chris, Don, Brian, and Guy are all the same generic white guy because none have any distinctive personality. Heck, I can't even remember who Chris is or if Chris is even a guy for that matter. Oh, and Briana is hot.

Seriously, with the producers (i.e. Ramsay) sacrificing quality entertainment for a couple loud-mouths bitching back and forth at each other, the product suffers. Look, maybe some people enjoyed hearing Kimmie talk about how easy it was for her to down five lamb testicles during a punishment. Maybe some people found the battle of Caffeine vs. Fried Chicken (a.k.a. Robyn vs. Kimmie) entertaining. Maybe some people actually think Justin has a personality. But me? After 10 seasons of an otherwise really entertaining show, Hell's Bitchin' is now the equivalent of a garden salad dressed with rusted nails extracted from a septic tank.

But the thing that clinched it for me more than the boring contestants or the TBCs every 3.3 episodes or bringing in Lee Dewyze as a VIP (which is even lamer than when NBA bench scrub Sasha Vujacic made an appearance a few seasons back) occurred in episode 12 (which ended in a TBC, coincidentally) was when Gordon Ramsay, literally, mailed it in. In this episode, each team was asked to assemble their own menus for the next dinner service. Usually a pretty cool challenge, right? But what was so painfully vexing about this scenario is that Ramsay wasn't anywhere to be found to deliver this news to the contestants. You'd think with this being Ramsay's kitchen, Ramsay's show, and one of these people will be Ramsay's future employee, he'd be around to monitor everything. But no, you'd be wrong.

Instead, a package was mailed to the dorms containing an iPad and a pre-recorded message from Ramsay informing each team that they were to make their own menu for the next dinner service.

Ramsay mailing it in.

But it gets worse.

Ramsay didn't make his "official" reappearance until just minutes before Hell's Kitchen was to open its door for dinner service. It was at this point that he sampled the dishes put together by each team that were going to be served to the customers THAT VERY NIGHT. Like, within a few minutes.

Naturally, both menus kinda sucked.

But think about that for a second – here's a guy who has "world class standards" and he puts the responsibility into these two teams of amateur chefs to create their own menus, yet he doesn't try them until the doors to Hell's Kitchen are about to open? Dude, even the people who accidentally include rat testicles in a bucket of fried chicken have higher standards than that. If I'm going into a fine dining restaurant and am about to spend 40 dollars on a piece of meat that weighs about as much as a clipped toenail, then I want to be ensured that the meat is ACTUALLY UP TO STANDARDS!

So, why wasn't Ramsay there to announce the challenge? Why did Ramsay not even try the dishes until dinner service was to begin? It's because he's got 6,000 restaurants and 5,000 reality shows to manage. He's a busy guy – I can appreciate that. He's got places to go, people to see, things to destroy. It's cool that he gets around. But his diversification is beginning to compromise his work and "world-class standards."
Case in point: Hotel Hell. Naturally, Hotel Hell premiered in two parts, much to my displeasure, but for a series premiere I'll give it a pass. Why is this show necessary? It's two hours of name-calling with a couple segments dedicated to the kitchen, and for twenty minutes it's like we're watching Kitchen Nightmares in a different candy wrapper. It is kinda funny to hear Ramsay call people bastards in that proper British accent of his, but I just don't see the purpose of this show. Oh, by the way, the premiere featured a shot of a naked Ramsay stepping into a bathtub.  What in the name of Anthony Wiener are these people thinking? What’s the purpose of a naked Ramsay, other than to make me vomit in my mouth?

The blur is a target: vomit here.

But it didn’t stop there. Each episode in the six-episode premiere season has included some sort of a naked Ramsay shot. Seriously, guys, this program is called Hotel Hell, not The British Guide to Brothel Transformation & Improvement. In all fairness, it looks like Ramsay is having a good time with Hotel Hell, which alone makes it a watchable show because his passion translates to entertainment. But what I can’t fathom is that he’s going around telling professionals that everything they’re doing is wrong, yet here’s a guy that’s letting his own product suffer because of his lack of dedication to one project at a time.  

It seems that MasterChef has taken over as Ramsay’s bread and butter, as it requires the most energy and effort than all of his shows. But there’s still problems that could be fixed with a little of that good ole fashioned concept, shoot, what is it? Oh yeah: creativity.  For example, MasterChef has bastardized the concept of product placement this season, most notably with the steaks supplied by Walmart. “You will be cooking steaks provided by Walmart” is the common phrase with the corporate logo right beside the beef. I mean, really, guys? That’s the best you could do? Seinfeld was a master of product placement and I think it would serve Gordon Ramsay some good to watch a few of the classics (“Who’s gonna turn down a Junior Mint? It’s chocolate, it’s peppermint, it’s delicious!”).

Don’t get me wrong; MasterChef had a terrific third season with Christine, a girl who has been blind since 2003, dominating the competition. But the show that generated Ramsay’s initial popularity in America is suffering. Badly. That’s what brings us full circle to the show bottoming out during winner Christina’s (yes, it is kind of confusing: Christina with an A won Hell’s Kitchen; Christine with an E won MasterChef) victory celebration. Don’t get me wrong again; Christina deserved to win, hands down. She was terrific all season and is probably one of Hell’s Kitchen’s best chefs ever. But the fact that she was going up against a guy with zero personality who was barely even featured in the early episodes this season made for a real lackluster finale.  Seriously, I couldn’t even identify Justin until halfway through the season. That’s how boring he is. Reality shows are supposed to be known for gathering terrible people and putting them in a small room together for a drama-drowning battle royale in front of millions of home viewers.

That obviously did not happen this season and the show might have gotten away with it if this wasn’t a joint effort of suckiness from the casting people to the editors all the way to the executive producer, Mr. Gordon Ramsay. This is what happens when someone has absolute control over something and/or surrounds themselves with yes men. See also: Emperor Palpatine.

Insert bodily function joke here.

But maybe there’s some good news on the horizon. For example, Jean Philippe is scheduled to return as the Hell’s Kitchen MaĆ®tre d’ next season, assuming the reports from Twitter are correct (as they so frequently aren’t). Also, season four, which in my opinion was the second worst season of Hell’s Bitchin’ up till now, was followed by the show’s best season ever. I think the crap editing this season is like the producers admitting to a lack of content, so if Gordon Ramsay and his people are capable of improving their own work rather than that of others, then there’s still hope for Hell’s Kitchen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Homemade Pizza

Shortly after my birthday I chronicled the process of making a homemade pizza - a first for me.  The whole process had mixed results.  Ultimately the pizza tasted good, but making the dough was more annoying than the moderator interrupting the candidates during a presidential debate.  So to crack down on this difficulty it was decided that the middle man needed to be eliminated, i.e. buy dough that was ready to cook.  The results have been most excellent:

Aloha

Above is a Hawaiian pizza with Canadian bacon, sliced pineapple and red onion.  Yeah, still working on getting the dough in a perfect circle but it tasted quite nice.

Circle construction is gradually improving

Went with a classic pepperoni sprinkled with a variety of seasonings and, once again, it was very tasty.  Among the seasonings were cracked pepper, basil, and garlic powder.

Honestly, it's a lot easier to make a pizza when you don't have to worry about getting the dough right.  It's seriously a difficult process, what with getting the yeast to rise, getting the dough to be, uh, doughie, and then timing everything perfectly AND THEN you can go about baking.  

A salad?  On Greg's Gourmet?  Are we in the Twilight Zone?

This is a salad my mom made and insisted I take a picture of.  It features chicken, bacon, almonds, olives, tomatoes, apples, and avocado.  And you know what?  

It was actually really good.  Yes, I liked a salad.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 8, 2012

94th Aero Squadron Review

Everyone knows how much I love a good deal.  Everyone also knows how much I love a good prime rib.  And everyone should know how much I loved the All-You-Can-Eat-Prime-Rib-Buffet-for-$11.75 before it shut down (fun fact: I once ate 4 steaks in one sitting).  While it's hard to find a similar buffet, I've found possibly the next best thing - an early bird meal purchased for $16 between 4-6 PM that includes a nice slab of prime rib, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, soup/salad, and dessert.  Bread is also included for the table.  Ladies and gents, I give you the 94th Aero Squadron.

Soup doesn't generally excite me unless I'm watching a Seinfeld episode and nobody really cares about salad, so usually the appetizer is a wash.  But the 94th features an amazing beer cheese soup that's almost a meal within itself.  Observe:

Mmmmm beer.  Mmmmm cheese

This stuff is so heavy and warm that you can feel it pumping throughout your body.  I'd imagine this would taste even better on a cold winter evening. 

The main course, of course, doesn't need much explanation:

Orgasm

And here's dessert, even though the picture kinda sucks cause my camera doesn't have a flash and the restaurant is very dimly lit:

Chocolate cake with a chocolate sauce

So 94th Aero Squadron is situated beside Montgomery Field and takes on a complementary World War I theme and atmosphere.  Being a history buff, I absolutely love the decor.  There's plenty of decorations of the era from the military to aviation to politics.  A portrait of Woodrow Wilson rests behind the front desk.  Overall a nice ambiance.  

Does the food live up to the atmosphere?  Unfortunately it's not always a sure thing.  There's been times where the food was excellent, yet for some reason it seems like the kitchen here struggles to cook meat at the proper temperature.  I always ask for medium and almost always get well done.  At a family dinner not too long ago my sister asked for well done and got rare.  Pretty fundamental stuff here.  There's always the thought that "well, you can just send it back if it's not cooked properly" and if it's undercooked I would agree.  But here's my issue: if it's well done (and there's no doubt about it - medium should have some pink and the steak I received had none) and I send it back then that means they have to fire up a whole new slab of meat and I'm sitting there waiting while everyone else is enjoying their dinners.  It's inconvenient and annoying.

And it's not like the well done steak doesn't taste good.  Well, okay, one time it didn't taste that good because they didn't season it properly - but otherwise the well done steak tastes fine.  It's just that I like my meat to still be kicking a little bit, you know?  And it's just really annoying that you can order a steak at a certain temperature and it'll be a total crapshoot whether or not that's actually achieved.

However, I would like to give a special shoutout to Kevin, who works as a server at the 94th.  Kevin is the epitome of quality customer service and may be the best server I've ever met at any restaurant, ever.  The experience he provides alone is reason enough to continue to come back.  Yeah, the steak may not be cooked as a perfect medium, but the food is still good, the atmosphere is nice, it's a big parking lot, and when Kevin's working the tables it's a real pleasure.  After I get my corporation going I'm gonna hire him for our human resources department.  

So - 94th Aero Squadron.  I'd recommend it.  It's a nice place, pretty typical menu, but it's a good place to go for a quiet night out. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

JRDN Review

I had the best time at JRDN in Pacific Beach, but I was also with a VIP in whatever sense of the word you want to interpret that, so my experience may be a little biased, just FYI.

JRDN's a stylish restaurant/hotel right on the water that serves sandwiches by day and steak by night.  It's got a simple menu with lots of big words that I can barely pronounce, so that tells you that everything is probably really, really good.  Keep in mind my phone is operating a bit slower these days so some of these pictures aren't the best quality since I can only hold my camera over the table for so long.  But let's get into it!

Okay, so, leading off I had something that I've never eaten before: Quail:

Bitesize bird

The quail was outstanding.  May just order a couple of these in place of an entree.  Beautifully cooked and seasoned with an orgasmic crispy skin and cherry sauce with a rice-like stuffing.  I'd snack on these likes apples if I could.

Mussels with garlic bread

A tray of fine cheeses imported from Norway, Sweden, and the Andromeda Galaxy

The cheeses and mussels went hand-in-hand here.  You took some bread, cheese, and mussels/sauce and combined them altogether into some sort of perverse flavor orgasm. 

The appetizers were very impressive.  I'm not really an appetizer guy but holy crap I would seriously consider just getting apps the next time I go here.  But the entree was just as impressive as I partook in something else that I've never eaten before: Duck:

Duck breasts would definitely benefit from implants

The duck was most outstanding but what's possibly more impressive is that I actually unknowingly ate some mushrooms.  See those stringy things beneath the peach at the top of the plate?  I had no idea that I was eating arguably one of the most disgusting foods in the universe, but I apparently I was.  And then someone pointed out that they were mushrooms and that was the end of that.

Halibut

Swordfish

Mandatory steak

All solid.  Next time I think I'll go for the steak since, you know, I'm a steak guy.  But what great meal isn't complete without a sweet, tasty dessert?  

Ah yes, the dessert tray

What's better than drooling over the dessert tray?  How about eating the entire dessert tray?  This was totally awesome - got to have a bit of all of the above.  You see that cheesecake in the upper left?  Peanut butter and jelly cheesecake.  Pretty twisted but good.  

So yeah.  Really good place and delicious food.  If only they had some quail snackers then they'd be the best.  

JRDN in Pacific Beach - no vowels - check it out.