Saturday, August 29, 2009

Say it ain't so

According to Yahoo! news gossip Kate Gosselin is going to return to TV. This time it's in the co-host seat.

Kate coming to "The View"
Anyone with half a brain could have seen this one coming from a mile away. Kate Gosselin, formerly of the super group Jon and Kate Plus 8, will sit in as co-host on "The View" for a few times in September. She with the spiky locks will apparently fill in for Elisabeth Hasselbeck while she's on maternity leave. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that devotees of Ms. G will want to tune in on Sept. 14 and 15 to watch their favorite supermom mix it up with Whoopi and company. And from the looks of Search, many are already programming their TiVos.

What the heck?! First off, I don't watch The View, so I guess it's not a big deal. At least she's not co-hosting an important show that I actually enjoy. But Kate Gosselin, really? The only thing that would get me to tune in to those episodes would be if all the hosts cut their hair to look like Kate's not-at-all-flattering do. That would be a site to see indeed. The whole Jon & Kate thing has REALLY gone to far. Anyone interested in that storyline is sick, just sick.

Monday, August 24, 2009

In search of a perfect burger

In this episode of "In search of a perfect burger" we headed to Ocean Beach's own Hodad's. The sign boasts "World's Best" so my expectations were high. Speaking of "world's best," I have often wondered how restaurants get that title. It seems like just about every town and every other street corner boasts a "world's best" of something. I'm just saying.

I had lunch with two friends of mine. None of us had been to Hodad's before. Typically while passing the restaurant I'm always amazed at the line; it typically snakes down to the street corner about 30 people deep. Two of us were fashionably late to lunch and the third in our party had already snagged a table inside, so the line was bypassed. Sweet way to start lunch.

The lunch special was any kind of burger/sandwich with cheese, fries and either an ice tea or lemonade. All three of us went for the special as it only set us back $7.75 each. Here's what it looked like:

The french fries were awesome. Jo-Jo-style potatoes perfectly crisp on the outside. Little slices of heaven. My first bite into the burger my taste buds were saying, "wow, this really is a great burger." Each of us ordered our burger differently. One with just no onions, another with only pickles, plus more pickles and mine with no onion, no mayo.

A few bites into my meal I was thinking, yes, this is a good burger, but the patty isn't all that thick and most of the moisture is coming from the tomato, pickles and other condiments rather than the meat itself. Yes, it was a satisfying, tasty lunch, but I wouldn't go so far as to claim it to be the "best burger in the world." My co-lunchers kind of nodded in agreeance when I voiced my opinion. We were not asked how we wanted our burgers cooked, so either they're all cooked medium-well or it's just known that you need to ask for something different.

The overall atmosphere of the place was great. There was good music playing that was loud, but not overly annoying. I was wrapped up in the company of my lunchmates most of the meal so didn't notice the clever license plates adorning the walls. Near our table a Montana plate read "PCP" and a California plate read "Pull my (finger)," which really started out as a full open hand but everything but the index finger was painted over. Funny stuff.
Final result: good burger, but not nearly the perfect burger. Still in search of....

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Project Runway returns

Boy, oh, boy have I missed Heidi and her auf wiedersehen, but she has returned at last along with the rest of the Project Runway crew.

Lifetime had a BUNCH of Project Runway stuff lined up on Thursday and somehow I didn't end up recording the actual episode. But thanks to the wonder of reruns was able to record it last night and watch it today (I also found out that you can watch it OnDemand on Cox).

Not only did the show move to Lifetime this season, but it packed up and headed west to Los Angeles. The contestants settle into their apartments and there really isn't any one person that stands out to me personality wise. Of course, as is custom on Project Runway shows the contestants have a roof-top toast with Heidi and Tim to kick things off.

The first challenge was to design an innovative red carpet look. Sounded simple enough. It could be Emmys, Oscars, MTV, Kid's Choice, whatever.

We had our first breakdown before the first challenge day was even over. Johnny the recovering meth addict started babbling about how he doesn't know who he is or what he's doing there and doesn't want to fail. Well, I'm sure nobody there wants to fail Johnny, so suck it up and "make it work."

Other than Johnny drama (haha, get the Entourage reference?) the first challenge moved along quietly. I think at this point there are SO many designers that you don't get to see a lot of the garments and it's hard for me to make keen observations.

The guest judge for the fist challenge is Lindsey Lohan. Ummm, ew. I laughed when Heidi introduced her as actress, singer and clothing designer. Uh, she designs a line of leggings. Does that really count as being a clothing designer? And singer, really? Heidi, you're too nice.

On the runway Shirin designed a silver dress with some kind of hood/cape that could be released into a small train. Mmmmm, not so much. Ari's design didn't look like any kind of red carpet dress and actually resembled one of those big puffy quilted jackets you wear when it's like 20 below. Ra’mon had my favorite design even though it really wasn't all that great and he played it pretty safe. I think Qristyl designed a dress that would have been worn by Cha-Cha Diva at the Latin daytime Emmy awards.

In the end it was Christopher’s video-music awards show dress that was in. Despite her description that her dress was for an awards show in "like 2080", Ari and her silver, shiny puffy dress/jacket/quilt got aufed.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Top Chef Sin City

Top Chef Las Vegas looks promising for twists and turns and might actually live up to "biggest season yet" claims. Photo courtesy of Vegas

I have enjoyed watching Top Chef Masters over the past two months, but I am ready for the drama that comes along with the regular Top Chef and being that this season is in Vegas I'm sure drama will abound.

Within the first few minutes of introductions there are already some chefs that are standing out. First we have the Frenchie Mattin Noblia who is dressed more like he's headed for the street of Pamplona rather than the Vegas Strip (which is quickly mentioned by another of his housemates). I feel Mattin will bring some entertainment, but nothing compared to Euro duo Fabio and Stefan from last season.

Even in the first brief moments of the show I can tell that Michael Isabella is going to annoy me to no end. He's quiet frankly a jerk and extremely arrogant. Let’s see if his cooking can keep up with his mouth.

Then we have the brother duo Michael and Bryan Voltaggio. By far these two are the best eye candy on the show. The brothers live on opposite sides of the country and haven't lived together for more than 10 years. I can foresee some words and maybe even some food flying between these two. The first Quickfire Challenge dove right into the preparation relay. Teams of four had to shuck oysters, clean shrimp, clean lobster and prepare a rack of beef. To assign teams contestants drew different colored poker chips. Robin drew the lucky gold chip which won her immunity on the Elimination Challenge. After the blue team won the relay they had to face off against each other in a cook-off worth $15,000. Jen comes out victorious with her clam civiche.

The first Elimination Challenge was interesting. Each contestant had to cook a dish that represented their biggest vice, since they were, after all, in Sin City. It looks like there are a lot of alcoholic chefs on the show because the most popular vice seemed to be alcohol. The chefs would cook at CUT at the Palazzo with head chef Wulfgang Puck being the guest judge.

Laurine became my favorite contestant during this challege when she decided to cook bacon donuts with a Belgian beer sauce. Ummm, yummmmmm! Unfortunately, Wulfgang did not share my sentiments as he threw one of the tasty sounding spheres across the room saying it was more like a golf ball. Nice try Laurine, I still appreciate the idea. And because the judges did at least like her beer sauce, I have been inspired to bring donuts and beer to my morning softball gathering this weekend as treats.

Michael V. had the funniest vice of everyone: Plastic surgery. He cooked a rack of lamb and used some fresh coconuts.

All cooking aside I have to comment on Padma's outfit. Girl felt the need to bust out the shiny Vegas sequins and ended up looking like a majorette. Not a good look.

Anyway, who took the cake this week? Kevin with his procrastination vice and slow cooked arctic char. It was Jennifer with her hot temper and brick of chile rellenos who was sent packing. Can't wait for the rest of this season.

Step right up folks

Ok, so it has been WAY too long since I updated the blog. I could make up excuses as to what I’ve been doing instead, but I’m just going to get right down to it.

The San Diego County Fair came to town as per usual at the end of June. This year I doubled up on my visits and hit the fair twice. The results: way too much fried food, but always a big smile on my face.

Trip one I took with my roommate. We went up before work on a Tuesday to visit a friend who was working at a booth, ride some rides and eat some tasty food. We played this trip smart and took a ride on the Zipper before we dug into the grub.

I have irrational fears when getting on carnival rides. I imagine the carnie who put the ride together and visualize the latch breaking or a screw coming loose sending me crashing down to the ground. But for some reason, I think this irrational fear totally adds to the excitement of going on fair rides. Of all midway rides the Zipper is my favorite; it has just enough stomach churning spins and drops to keep it interesting, but not cause me to lose my lunch (as long as I don’t eat right before getting on the ride).

I can’t remember the last time I went on a midway ride and by the time we stopped swirling and twirling I couldn’t see straight. Stepping off the ride I took a few crooked steps, but was quite satisfied with my 45 second Zipper experience. Even though we had a few leftover tickets, my roommate and I decided one ride was more than enough for the day. Onward to the food booths.

We grabbed our friend for her lunch break and the three of us set out to devour a few (OK, a lot) of calories. Having someone with us who has tried multiple food booths while working at the fair was almost an unfair advantage. The first stop was the Chuck Wagon for some BBQ beef brisket sandwich. The nice thing about having three of us is that we got to taste more without getting full too fast.

The sandwich got my stamp of approval. I love a good tender meat that practically melts in your mouth and when it’s smothered in BBQ sauce there’s no going wrong.

Next up: the “healthy” portion of our day. Our friend raved about artichoke sandwiches served by The Roxy (which is actually a restaurant in Encinitas), so even though it had nothing fried in it, we gave it a go.

This sandwich really was pretty healthy and tasted good, but just didn’t have that “fair flare” I was hoping for. The sandwich had sprouts, marinated artichoke hearts, olives, sunflower seeds, tomato, avocado (which we added as an extra) and mozzarella, all served with a whole-wheat bun.

To accompany the sandwich, we also got a basket of Tasty Chips with a side of cheddar and bacon dipping sauce. The chips were a cross between kettle chips and French fries. They were a little greasy and not as crisp as a chip and for having bacon in it the cheddar dipping sauce was a bit of a flop.

The grand finale was a batch of deep-fried Oreos. When you want something good and fried you go to Chicken Charlie’s and that’s just what we did.

We passed on the other fried items like Twinkies, hotdogs stuffed in zucchinis, avocados, Snickers, etc., keeping to the simple, or so we thought. Apparently it’s not enough to just deep fry the Oreos; in addition, they are drenched with chocolate sauce and topped with sprinkles. We asked for no chocolate sauce to try to save ourselves a little, but apparently our cashier wasn’t too smart (he also thought we tried to order Twinkies with our Oreos) and the chocolate sauce was not left off. Sadly, we all agreed that the cookies probably would have been way better without the sauce because it made it way too sweet. Oh well, at least now I can say I’ve had a deep-fried Oreo and my heart has lived to tell the story.

Trip two took place when my mom was down visiting. I’m always looking for ways to entertain my mom when she visits so I figured stuffing her with greasy, fried fair food would be the perfect thing.

Our first indulgence was mini donuts inside one of the expo areas. These little treats were a perfect start to the fair experience. The donuts are light and fluffy with just the right amount of cinnamon and sugar on top.

For lunch we returned to The Roxy booth but instead of ordering the healthy artichoke sandwich we got fried mushrooms and artichokes on a stick. It’s not a full fair experience unless you eat something from a stick. We also returned to the Chuck Wagon and each got a BBQ beef brisket sandwich (you know it must be good if I go back for a repeat). The fried veggies had a lot of batter on them, but it wasn’t too overwhelming.

After a rousing concert put on by The Guess Who, I topped my night off with some chocolate covered bacon and my opted for a corn dog. The chocolate covered bacon came packaged in a small Chinese take-out container. Inside there were about 5 pieces of delicious bacon, on the outside there was a small packet of salt taped to the box. As if it weren’t already unhealthy enough they needed to add a packet of salt?! Odd. The take-out boxes were kept in an ice cream handcart, which kept the chocolate bacon practically frozen and very crisp. I thought it was awesome. When I originally made my chocolate covered bacon I used milk chocolate. At the fair the bacon was covered with dark chocolate and I think that made a world of difference. I’ll have to use that the next time I try a batch.

There were some highlights and lowlights this year, but one thing is for sure: I can’t wait to see what they have in store for next year’s fair-food circuit