mmm-yoso!!! is a food blog. Kirk and Ed(fromYuma) and Cathy are the usual bloggers. Things pretty much work out that when one doesn't feel like (or can't) blog, one of the others has something they can post. Today, Cathy is writing.
A few weeks ago, The Mister and I were headed to the Vallarta Market in Escondido, planning to eat lunch beforehand either in the store (link is about a different location of Vallarta; but the food court inside all stores have the same food selections) or at the Farmer Boys, which shares the same parking lot...However, seeing this signage at J&M's (also sharing the same parking lot)...well...had to stop. The week after we had been here, this small ad appeared in the Union-Tribune. It looks like a June-only promotion. When looking at the regular menu, chili is not listed anywhere.The interior decor is newer, neat and clean, there is a separate closed room for meetings and wonderful friendly waitresses.
Some of you may remember there used to be a Spires Restaurant (a small Southern California chain of Traditional American Diners, since 1965) in Escondido which burned down in 2012. J&M's opened here in 2013 with the same owner and many of the same employees.
The regular menu is straightforward and has two 'added value' menus at the back for both breakfast and lunch (these special menus are served anytime).Therefore, breakfast it was. The #3 ($6.99). One and a half slices of French toast with two eggs and bacon. This was great, just enough and everything fresh, tasty and quality (and perfectly poached eggs).From the 'regular' menu, the appetizer of onion rings ($4.99). One size only. 20 fresh breaded and perfectly fried whole slices of onion. For the first time ever, The Mister and I did not fight over who got the last one; we were full from sharing this giant serving. THE chili bowl ($5.69). If you know, or care much about chili...this is great. No beans, tomato, peppers (just a hint of the typical mild/red bell pepper flavor and possibly Anaheim chilis), onion, spices of cumin and garlic with a bit of chili powder heat. This would be perfect on a cold day.
We will be going back soon, in case the Chili Extravaganza really is over at the end of the month.
J&M's 1215 E Valley Pkwy Escondido, CA 92027 (between Harding and Ash) (760)745-3710website open 6-11 daily
You remember Pho Tu Do? I'm not why the folks there decided on changing over to a rather generic sushi joint. But they had a decent run of 8 years or so. I'm not sure if the rather unsavory named Twisted Sushi opening across the street had anything to do with things, but now the place is becoming Yakitori Ramen Kanpai Izakaya. I'm also not sure if this place is associated with Kanpai in Chula Vista, but I'm sure Eater or someone will have the scoops.
What struck me as interesting was the sign to check out Fish Attack? There's a story here somewhere.....
5430 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
Havana Grill Coming Soon:
At least that's what the sign leads you to believe.
Seems like a bit more work yet to be done.
This was the location of the ill fated Casa Medina. Which I think has relocated inside the Indian Market.
Remember this place from a post last year? This is a location of the former; horribly bad VIP Oriental Buffet. Around July - August of last year, the place turned into something called Gourmet City. I pass here almost every day and have rarely seen a car parked in front of the place. I brought the Missus by early one evening; She took a look in the empty restaurant, turned to me and said "no effin' way....." The place really looked like a front for some nefarious operation. Money laundering? Human trafficking? In the end, and you will have to stay to the end, we found out how this place stays afloat.
Anyway, I queried my friends and found two takers who were up for a visit; Xiāngjiāo has been missing China, and John who I kid quite a bit about his questioniable taste, but never his good nature and friendship.
We got there at 545 and the place was empty......a huge empty restaurant.
Looking at the menu, it became apparent that this place was mainly for hot pot, with a good amount of Sichuan with some miscellaneous dishes thrown in.
So of course we went with hot pot....with some miscellaneous dishes thrown in.
If I can recall their prices since it's been awhile, the costs here are a bit lower than Little Sheep. Also, they have a larger variety for their Yuan Yang Guo - Split Hot pot.
Also, unlike just about every hot pot place in San Diego; there's a huge condiment/sauce bar which totally reminded me of China. All the usual suspects except fermented shrimp paste....there was sesame paste, fermented tofu, leek sauce, sa cha sauce....though some of it was rather watered down like the fermented tofu.
We chose the "Chongqing Old Spicy Pot", basically an extra spicy Mala Guo, and the "Oxtail Tomato Pot" which actually looked kind of greasy.
The Oxtail broth was quite fatty, but very mild. The spicy broth was better. It was full of Sichauan peppercorns making it nice and numbing, but lacking heat and complex flavors. We went to the condiment bar and got a half bowl of chili oil adding it to the broth which at least brought the heat.
The meats were nothing to write home about. Definitely not in the same league as other places.
The rest was a n interesting combination of items; Xiāngjiāo staple which took her back to her favorite hot pot shops in Beijing, the potato. The most interesting item was something I hadn't had before; the pork rinds. Placed in the broth for a few second; they absorbed flavor and attained a strangely pleasant texture that was soggy-crispy-chewy in spots. My usual favorite, the spongy frozen tofu was fine, though the broth just wasn't lively enough when absorbed into the bean curd.
My favorite moment was attained near the end. The spicy broth had reduced by about half into almost a gravy like texture. The young lady was going to refill our broth but we stopped her. I put the noodles into the potage and it sucked up all the Sichuan Peppercorn-Chili-meat flavored broth. Poor JohnL. He almost put the noodles in the broth at the beginning and both Xiāngjiāo and I raised our voices in protest. Such are the unwritten rules of huo guo.
In the end the hot pot was ok, nothing amazing, but perhaps I'll try it again.
Of course we ordered some other stuff. The Chengdu Taste copycat "Toothpick Mutton".
This could almost be the perfect beer dish. But in this case, the meat was too tough, it wasn't salty enough, nor did it have enough cumin to satisfy my preferences.
The good; I loved the cut, nice slices, crunchy tendon. The flavor left much to be desired, it was, well, bland....like really bland, no heat, what ever happened to suan tian ku la xian?
Lastly, and sadly, another item I basically forced down the throat of Xiāngjiāo and JohnL was the Shenjian Bao. I felt bad guys, my apologies.
You know. I've had some good SJB in China, even some decent versions in a food court in Alhambra, to this day JohnL's sister claims it's the best thing we had on our food crawl. Heck even my Mother In Law got in the act (we need soup next time). You could tell these were hand made.....though sadly so. The sizes were grossly disparate. The dough was awfully gummy, a problem with the steaming process; the filling too tough and without flavor. So I committed a sin. I poked holes in the SJB and dumped them in the mala broth.
Quickly pulling them out and dumping the vinegar on them.
The service......well if you like SGV like service you'll get it here. It's typical.
As for the secret to this restaurant's existence I noted in the first paragraph? Well, we were getting ready to leave at 730. The place was empty except for one other table. I was still at a lost as to how this huge property could exist for a year with business like this. When 30 people walked in the front door!
We walked outside and saw a bus parked in the corner. My goodness...this was THAT restaurant! In our travels, the Missus and I always note the xxxxx (fill in the blank) tour group restaurant. Whether in Portugal/Spain/Greece/Turkey there was always THE place that served the Chinese/Korean tour groups. I had always wondered where that place was in San Diego. At least for this day, I knew where the Chinese tour groups were being fed in "America's Finest City". It was Gourmet City.....
Gourmet City 5541 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
I was really craving a Lahmacun and Sultan had always made a pretty good one. It is in fact, better than many that we've had in Turkey. It's a tribute to the food Sultan makes that inspired us to travel to Turkey. Still, the location always seems to be a hassle. And for some strange reason, I'm worried that someday the place may jump the shark. I hope not....... Yet, I shouldn't worry, especially when I get antepezme (acili ezme) as super spicy as this.
Whoa, this was much more spicy than I recalled. I'm wondering if it's me, or if they've really turned up the heat on this. Still, it was wonderful with the lavas.
Of course I had come here for the lahmacun.
The Missus was working so I sent Her a photo and a caption; "as good as ever". Yeasty, savory, and so satisfying. The spices were right on; adding a nice complex component to this $4 bread topped with spiced meat.
As I was finishing up, I felt a hand on my shoulder and another hand placed a plate with a baklava in front of me. It was the owner; one of the nicest folks....... He had a seat and we chatted for a while....first things first you know; the inquiry about how our families are doing. Then about how business was....I was a bit worried since it was 530 on a Friday and the place was empty. He smiled and said, "it is great....right now because it is Ramadan there is a line outside the restaurant at 8 every night". The baklava was fresh, still warm, crisp, light, and satisfying. Much like my visit.
I gotta drop by more often.
Sultan Baklava Mediterranean Cuisine 770 4th Ave San Diego, CA
Thanks for (continuing to) dropping by mmm-yoso!!! a blog about food. Today, Kirk as well as Ed (from Yuma) are both resting and Cathy is filling in with a post long on photos of an event and of food.
Last Saturday, it was 'that time' of the year- the first Road Test of floats which will appear in the 127th Tournament of Roses Rose Parade which will happen on January 1, 2016. The Theme for 2016 is "Find Your Adventure", which will guide the activities and designs for floats.
The parade is being sponsored in conjunction with the National Park Service, a bureau of the Department of the Interior. The National Park Service, formed in 1916, preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.The Mister and I left home early, stopped for a quick snack (you'll see, below) and arrived in Pasadena just in time to park, stop at Starbucks, walk over the Metro tracks and South on Raymond Avenue, where the floats were lined up for their 7 a.m. Road Tests.This is the Shriners Hospitals for Children float entry (I haven't found a title or artist rendering for it) in a 'ready for foam' stage of construction. It looks like a Shriner Bear in a fire engine. You can see the small rectangular cutout in the front, where the 'observer' will be looking out onto the parade route so he can tell the 'driver' of the float if there is a reason to slow down or speed up.This is the City of Los Angeles 2016 float in its most basic stage of construction. The float is titled "Discover Los Angeles" and you can see several things: a sunshine, maneuvered to its low position so as to meet the height requirements along the Parade Route; to the left, an outline of the Capitol Records Building and just underneath that, the "spotter" for this float, in a red shirt...while just to the right of center (behind the man on the bicycle) are seen the legs and arms of the 'driver' of the float. Even at this point, the Road Testing has them communicating via headsets.This is the Lutheran Hour Ministries 2016 float entry, "Jesus is the Light of the World", foamed and ready for color. That's a lighthouse in the back, with the top down, a position tested for the float to be able to fit along the Parade Route.This will be the 2016 entry for Rotary International. This float, in its foamed and 'cocoon' stage (I haven't found a title). I can see a cute squirrel and snail as well as a grasshopper and lovebirds. "The Tree of Life's Adventures" is the 2016 entry of the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, another Service Organization. Colors are marked for decorating and the rectangular slot for the 'spotter' is just under the 'deck' in the center; quite well disguised.The Kiwanis entry, "Children, Our Treasure" looks like a bright, fun float. Here, it is backing into the construction/decorating barn (at Phoenix Decorating Company), fitting through the doorway which is the maximum height and width every float needs to be able to collapse down to along the parade route.Lions Clubs International is showcasing more of their philanthropic work with "Camps for All Abilities".Finally, the City of Alhambra's 2016 Rose Parade float entry is "Parks Make Life Better" and is a small diorama of the City archway, along with park benches, climbing tower, slide and soccer net.
I know, you are here for the food. The Mister and I haven't been on a 'road trip' since January and didn't want to hit traffic. Most of the food we bought was consumed in the car while driving.
We stopped first at Cream Pan, which opens at 6 and is convenient from the 5 freeway. This wonderful Japanese Bakery has changed just a bit, adding the dumpling warmer/reverse refrigerator and removing some of the interior seating. The ham and cheese croissant is still $2.50. The pecan cinnamon roll is now made with chopped pecans instead of halves. Both are still wonderful and amazing pastries. We also purchased some sesame rolls for meals at home, and no strawberry croissant!
Cream Pan 602 El Camino Real Tustin, CA 92780 (714)665-8239 Open 6 a.m.-4 p.m. seven days
After the floats, we drove up Lake Avenue to the original location of Roma Market (link is post about the Escondido/San Diego County location). The Pasadena location is only about a block North from Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, where we stopped about two years ago. This store is smaller than the not large Escondido location and more interesting. Mr. Rosario Mazzeo, who has worked here since the 1950's, was busy preparing "The Sandwich"($5.50) as well as working the deli counter. He is very friendly and said to us "this is what I do, all day, every day". The simple three meat, one cheese, olive oil on a fresh Italian roll sandwich is perfect. We also purchased one fresh made Burrata ($2) to bring home.
Roma Market 918 N. Lake Avenue Pasadena 91104 (626)797-7748 Website
Following Roma, while eating the The Sandwich in the car, we drove to the Saturday Pasadena Farmers Market, which was enveloped in fog. The overcast day made the fruits and vegetables bright. We stopped at the one vendor who has prepared Mexican food and purchased a chile relleño burrito ($2.50). It's not large but is filled with flavor; a good snack while walking around.
Pasadena Saturday Farmers Market Parking lot of Pasadena High School.
Soon enough, we were headed East on Route 66. The line at The Donut Man was around the side, back into the parking lot. Being able to watch the bakers in the back was fascinating. We bought two donuts and headed home.
The Donut Man 915 E. Route 66 Glendora, CA (626) 335-9111 Website
We made our final stop at Tom's Farms, because we got to the 15 after a *lot* of traffic and honestly, I needed to use 'the facilities'.
We grabbed some ring bologna to go with the bread and cheese and veggies that had already been purchased that morning and headed home. Got back just before 1 p.m..
Tom's Farms 23900 Temescal Canyon Road, Corona, CA 92883Website
Recently, a regular reader who once in a while comments "TB" sent me an email. He was on a mission....actually he was in search of something. Omurice. Unfortunately, I'm not an expert on Omurice....for some reason I've never taken to it. I did know that Izakaya Sakura served several versions of it; but our "FOY" was looking a straight forward demiglace, not a super tomato-y "hayashi" versions places here serve.
There were indeed a nice variety; white sauce, curry.....but no straight up demiglace. I went for the Hayashi Omurice....I think they translate it to "Beef Hash" or something like that on the menu. I'm glad the egg was stuffed with plain white rice, because anything else would have just been overkill. I found this much too sweet, kind of greasy, and just not my thing. But heck, it doesn't hurt to try, or in this case retry something I hadn't had in man years.
So what do you get after the defacto "Best Restaurant in the World" (could there really be such a thing?) closes and three of the Chefs de Cuisine (Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas), with over 45 years in the hallowed kitchens of the restaurant decide to collectively open up their own place in Barcelona?
You get Disfrutar, which opened at the end of 2014. When planning for this trip, I decided on three upscale dinners and Disfrutar was one of them. We took the metro to the Hospital Clínic stop which is just a few blocks from the restaurant.
The restaurant looks fairly small from the outside but the dining area is actually quite large. We had arrived at about 8pm, pretty early in Spain, but were relieved to see at least two parties had arrived before us. Being led to our seats, the Missus had a stroke of genius....She asked if we could sit at the bar instead, which is actually the dessert prep area. We were cheerfully accommodated. Like Suzunari and Wakuriya, sitting at the bar watching the food being prepped with precision and skill is a treat.
Also a treat was the service, which we found unpretentious, relaxed, gracious, well paced, knowledgeable, and very pleasant. We enjoyed the service at Disfrutar the most of all the high end places we visited on this trip, which says quite a lot. All questions are answered with enthusiasm and recommendations are made as to the best way to enjoy each dish.
There are two tasting menus each evening; the Menu Disfrutar (68 Euros) about 19 dishes and the Menu Festival, which is 25 (98 Euros). You know which one we chose, right? The serving style is perfect for us; almost family style. The Sommelier, understanding our taste in wine, made some great recommendations, which paired well with our meal.
Enough you say....where's the food? Anyway, here's the deal. I don't want this to be bedtime reading, so I'll try to keep it pretty straight, short, and sweet from here on. I'll highlite our favorites and those we didn't care for as much.
Things started with a foamy Melon Caipirinha, Liquid was poured into a cup of ice, yielding something that frothed up and was nice, with the jellied melon-mint-salt cubes rejuvenating your tastebuds.
Our first bottle of wine.
Our Server brought us what looked like a bowl of black rice. He shook the bowl and up rose "The Beet That Goes Out of the Land".
The balls were light and crisp, the flavor of intense beets coming through. The Missus, who has several times told me; "I hate molecular gastronomy" was sold! This is what I call soulful transformation. We were actually shown how this was made. A beet meringue was created, then dehydrated.
Crispy Bow with Iberican Bacon.
Crisp strand of what was like chicharron with a sticky, thin, slice of jamon on it.
Another flavor explosion; Caramel coated hazelnuts with elderberry.
Another great dish for us; Tomato Polvoron and Arbequina Caviaroli.
A polvoron is basically a shortbread cookie; the texture was similar to that, but with a wonderful deep tomato flavor; a "cookie that spreads edible sunshine", the olive oil caviar, a product of spherification added the fantastic grassy-peppery flavor of good Arbequina Olive Oil.
What I was told is a classic El Bulli dish - Transparent Pesto Ravioli.
Made from oblate film, the stuff folks use to help them swallow meds, is used as a wrapper for pine nuts and basil. It is dipped into a parmesan jus, the wrapper starts melting and basically melts away in your mouth. Nice flavors of pine nuts and parmesan.
Another favorite of ours; from what I was told later another classic El Bulli item; Disfruta de la Aceituna.
Spherification at work again. Two cocoa coated "olives", one contains a concentrated olive flavored liquid, the other a blood orange concoction. Amazing and intense flavors that just explodes upon breaking the cocoa butter crust.
Smoked Idiazabal Cheese Bisquit with Apple.
Looking all the world like a simple cookie with frosting; the creamy unpasteurized goat cheese, with a nice smoke flavor was a surprise. The tart cider aperitif helped balance things out.
Next up, an amazing dish; Crispy Egg Yolk with Mushroom Gelatin.
Think egg yolk tempura; crisp and light on the outside, soft and oozy when you bite into it. It's a fabulous bite. The eggshell holds a mushroom gelee that was full of savory mushroom flavor.
Seafood and Avocado Merengue sandwich.
This was a bit fishy and rich, the Missus could only finish half of this tiny flautas.
For some reason we didn't take to the overly salty and fishy anchovy part of Anchovy and Almond Mato with Truffle, Fir Tree Honey, and Pine Nuts.
Too many strong flavors and textures. This just didn't seem to go together real well.
The Missus was really worried about the Marinated Oily Fish with Cauliflower Tabbouleh and Mushrooms. First, She's not a big fan of mackerel and also not fond of strong parsley flavor.
So this was a wonderful surprise for Her, the fish rich, not too fishy, tender, the oil negated by the acid and the savory mushroom jus. The tabbouleh was delicious, the cauliflower seemed the perfect foil for the parsley. This was delicious.
In turn we weren't wow'd by the Macaroni Carbonara.
Gelatin based noodles, parmesan and pancetta were combined with a parmesan-truffle foam, which became the sauce. The "noodles" didn't break down quick enough and the texture was like eating plastic.
The Vegetable Sashimi served as sort of an intermezzo, we loved the pure flavors of the vegetables combined with the sauces/seasonings each one was graced with. Those tomatoes were amazing and the combination of cucumber with mint just worked right.
The Scallop Marrow with Osetra Caviar was fine....this really reminded me of swordfish bone marrow, which I actually prefer to this. I thought it needed less salt and a bit more citrus or acid.
Mussels with Peas in Salsa Verde.
Asparagus in Fennel Meunière with Trout Eggs.
The trout eggs added the zing to a rather mild dish. For some reason we didn't enjoy the flavor of white asparagus with fennel.
Deep Fried Monkfish "Ssam", I'm guessing from the Korean Bossam as this came in the lettuce cup.
Loved the fry job on the monkfish, the flavor came through, it was moist, a perfect piece of fried fish.
We both thought the Unilateral Langostine was a bit overcooked for our taste.
But man, the Perigueux Beef was amazing.
You wrapped the slices of beef around a little crouton and foie gras and had the perfect bite(s).
Nice meal, eh?
But it wasn't over yet.
You know I'm not a dessert kind of guy; but man, some of this stuff was plain amazing. The photo above is of the "Tangerine", a frozen tangerine rind which bears a granite, rose jelly, and a parfait.
Chocolate Cheesecake Cornet
That's Catalan Cream Bread, which came with Blood Orange Couscous.
We saw one of the Chefs placing what looked like chili peppers on a plate. We had no idea what it was. It turned out to be my favorite dessert item; Chocolate Peppers, olive oil, and salt. Man, what a combination! The sea salt really brought everything together. Like I said, I'm not a dessert guy, but this was really, really good. This was the perfect whimsical, fun, but delicious dessert.
As for our after dinner coffee? Well it came in the form of Coffee Profiteroles. A nice way to finish dinner. And though it seems to be a lot of food, we weren't stuffed to the gills, which I think is a tribute to the pacing of dishes.
As we finished up our dinner, our wonderful Server told us to follow him and took us on a short impromptu tour of the kitchen. The place was packed with customers greeting their dishes with wide eyed anticipation.
When I quickly mentioned the skill it takes to make these dishes, his answer came quickly; he pointed to his heart and said, "we are always reminded, it must come from here." Ah, a perfect end to an epic and wonderful meal. One of a trio of unforgettable experiences. We will not forget you Disfrutar, as you are unforgettable. Might be the best 250 Euros I've ever spent.
Disfrutar Calle Villarroel 163 Barcelona, Spain
Heading back to our apartment, we decided to take a walk around Sagrada Familia, which looked quite beautiful without the swarms of tourists around.
The Missus turned to me and said, "ok, we've had a great dinner. Now we're burning it off tomorrow!"
The AVE High Speed Rail took us to Barcelona in a bit over 3 hours from Madrid. Strangely, it seemed a bit longer than that. For some reason, the Shinkansen in Japan felt more comfortable and faster. Regardless, we ended up at Barcelona Sants Station and with no trouble were able to get a T10 mulit-person metro card, which was great because we could both use the card for fares and also saved us a bit.
In one of my Madrid posts, I mentioned how the dogs in that city seemed quite rambunctious. Meanwhile, in Barcelona, the dogs seemed more relaxed. We saw several, like this one, riding the metro with no problem.
As much as I had read, or heard, nothing prepared me for the first time I set eyes on the place. We exited the metro station and headed off in the direction of the apartment we were staying at. I turned around and was just awestruck at the sight of Sagrada Familia. The Missus was busy heading up the street when I told Her, "turn around......turn around." Her eyes got quite large, jaw agape, all She could mutter was "oh my god......" As we just stood and stared for a few moments.
Such is the effect of Sagrada Familia. Love it or hate it, I doubt you'll ever see anything quite like it.
We had a bit of time before checking in and were getting hungry. We had "big" dinner plans so finding something simple and unpretentious like this little shop fit the bill. It was quiet, an older gentleman reading the paper having lunch, another guy having a beer at the bar.
The young man working the front bar was very nice and we took a table in the rear of the place so as not to get in the way. There was a menu "del dia" - menu of the day available, along with various small dishes which we felt was more suitable for us.
The Missus was still feeling like Pimientos Padrons so we got that.
Not as salty as other versions, this had a nice "zing" due to the addition of red peppers. Nothing amazing or surprising, but simple and tasty.
At this point, we had a little travelers malfunction. I had done a bit of research on Catalan Charcuturie and was excited when I saw this:
What the Missus and I didn't pay attention to was the top part which said......
Entrepans....."between bread", Freds "cold", so we were caught off guard when sandwiches arrived. What could we do but just laugh at ourselves and be happy we ordered "petit". Simply meat and bread.
Fuet is a dry cured thin sausage that reminds me of pepperoni.
The butifarra is the serious sausage in Catalonia. This was the "blanca" or the white version.
Soft, coarse ground pork, with no paprika, which is why it's called "blanco". Nice and ham like.
The Catalana reminded me of salami.
It was more than enough for lunch and would hold us over until our 830 pm dinner. We finished off with some espresso and headed off to the apartment.
We were located 1 block from Sagrada Familia. In fact, you could see the one of the spires from the window!
After settling in and freshening up, we decided to walk over to Sagrada Familia, just to take a look around.
Even though Antoni Gaudi's grand work is not yet finished; he became involved in the project in 1883 and worked on it until his death in 1926; 43 years, the Church has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was only 25 percent completed at the time of Gaudi's death and work continues to this day.
The church is made up of three facades and will have 18 spires, when and if it is ever finished. Only one of the facades bears Gaudi's direct influence; that is, was almost complete at the time of his death. My least favorite façade is the Passion Façade which was completed by 2005. It is quite plain, but somewhat dark and grim.
I could write another two thousand words on the place, but why not read this or this.
My favorite view from the other side of the pond in Placa de Gaudi. It shows the rich and complex design of the structure as it seems to reach for the sky.
It's also far enough to escape the tour buses and the masses, where you can watch the old-timers playing bocce.
Or just shooting the breeze.
We ended up not doing the interior of Sagrada Familia, perhaps on another trip...you need tickets and all that. We headed back to the apartment for a short nap before dinner. And oh what a dinner it would be......
mmm-yoso!!! A food blog with variety, not templates. Kirk is catching up with his jet lag and Ed (from Yuma) is doing his 'research' so as to write some more interesting posts. The post today is written by Cathy.
The Mister and I dropped in last week and here's a peek at *some* of a lot of activities (and only two food items) going on at this 2015 County Fair. There will be a part 3. Parking in the free lots means you are dropped off at the front entrance gate. You get this viewpoint if you were lucky to ride on the top level of one of the Double Decker buses that are used for the free transportation. Stepping into the first building to the right of the entrance, you'll see the Theme Exhibit with displays and education of County and World's Fairs and Balboa Park, where the Panama-California Exhibition was held in 1915, celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal and touting San Diego as the first port of call in the USA for ships going North after transversing the Canal in the Westward direction. Walking to the left from the main gate entrance is the Paul Ecke, Jr. Flower and Garden Show, with displays centered around the theme of "A Walk in the Park". (Keep this area in mind when I begin to speak about the food at the fair, below.)The Floral Specimen Contest inside the Sleep Train O'Brien Hall (first building on your left after entering) has amazing displays of varied beautiful stems as well as other floral and design contests. Design in Wood Competition this year has a Fair Theme Division and this beautiful bench is so much more than just seating.
The Photography and Art competitions, Home and Hobby, Gems and Minerals are all to the right after the entrance (past the Theme Exhibit building). There are, of course, carnival rides, games of skill (or chance) and animal judging (animal auction is July 4).
I suppose you are more interested in the food items here. There were several things we wanted to try, but it came down to only two meals. First, a decent shared snack.Inside the Paul Ecke, Jr. Flower and Garden Show area, cornered by Bing Crosby Hall and the O'Brien building, you will find this setting. Where for $10, you can purchase this meat and cheese box or a fruit and cheese box. (The beverage shared was a very nice Sangria).
There were two salamis (one fennel, the other more of a hard salami) two cheeses (smoked Gouda and Provolone) fresh baguette slices, peppers, artichokes, olives and capers and some very fresh sweet cantaloupe. This was an excellent find and we will stop in again on one of our next visits to try the fruit/cheese box and some wine...
But it just wouldn't be the Fair if we didn't turn at the first right from the Midway... Yep. We did. $12.75 with tax. Low carbs! Enough for two and it counted as dinner. This was easily one pound. Great, smoky pulled pork lightly mixed with a spicy-sweet BBQ sauce; really good. That was placed on top of chili beans (slightly spicy) which were placed on top of crunchy, large, spiced with dry rub pork rinds (the rinds that did get 'wet' from the chili beans were tasty and another texture) all topped with a very nice, fresh slaw. This was an excellent meal.
There is so much to see and comprehend as well as taste that one day just doesn't do it. The daily contests, the competition entries, the skills and hard work all year have been preparing displays.
The funniest little discussion I had about this place was with a Midwesterner, who thought Quality Taste Pot, was well, something totally different. No, not quite, though good hot pot can be addictive.
It took a while for me to talk the Missus into coming here. She's been down on the Chinese food in San Diego for a while. Plus, the weather has to cooperate. We're not "hot pot is a way of life" kinda folks and have to be in the mood for it.
But since the place has the blessing of both Kirbie who has made multiple visits and Faye we had to get here eventually, right?
This shop was home to several iterations of China Chef, which, in spite of having a menu that was all over the place did have some decent dishes. I guess Hot Pot is the way to go these days.
The interior has been redone; understated, clean, and bright. I recognized the woman here as a former long time employee at Little Sheep. She was one of the really nice women who worked there.
Of course we came for the hot pot......but Kirbie raved about the Salt and Pepper Chickens Wings. And you know me and chicken wings, so......
The texture of these were outstanding, light, crisp, and very moist. A little short in the flavor the two times I had these, but quite good. One key point; eat them right away, don't get them to go. These get soggy and take on a greasy texture fairly quickly. Very nice.
DO NOT get the Yang Rou Chuan. In fact, I'm not sure why I ordered it.
Tough, dry, and short on flavor. 'Nuff said. We were really here for the hot pot, right?
We got the Special Tasty Pot - $14.95 for dinner. The Missus got into "Chinese" mode and quickly complained about the portion size....which ended up being enough for the two of us with the Chicken Wings.
I quickly mentioned that one of biggest complaints about the state of Chinese food in San Diego is the emphasis of huge quantities over quality, so we needed to give this place a chance. As you can see, this is not yuan yang guo, but a straightforward broth; decently flavored, quite low on scum. The proteins were passable, though only three slices of pretty good intestine and three slices of beef which for some reason dries out quite quickly. The dipping sauces were also passable, but not outstanding, the sa cha sauce was my favorite. The Missus hates fishballs, which were fishballs. She quickly got the half boiled egg, which She said was Her favorite. Too much udon noodle overall.
Overall not bad. The broth was probably the best thing about the hot pot.
So, I decided to return with YZ and Lily for lunch where the hot pot is $4 cheaper. YZ just loved the chicken wings and we thought the Special Tasty Pot was....well, they had the same opinion as I did.
We also tried the Lamb with Pickled Vegetable.
This was quite good; except for the shellfish which were past their prime. The lamb was nice and gamey, which I love. The suan cai was kind of weak, though perhaps I'm kind of picky since we make this at home; about 7 batches a year. This suan cai didn't quite have the nice, deep fermented flavor of good suan cai. Still, this was decent, and we'd probably return when the weather gets a bit chilly....though I do prefer mala yang yuan guo.
Service was decent, not overly friendly, not terrible. Perhaps worth a try.....
QT (Quality Taste) Pot 9225 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126