Musings and Eats with Mikey

Musing #63
December 25, 2010, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Eats, Musing

Do They Know It Christmas Time at All?

It has been a long and wet week, as the first half of the week we were riddled with relentless rain. Being in Southern California when it rains as hard (and as much) as it did earlier this week people don’t quite know how to deal. There are lots of accidents on the roads and people are just generally annoyed. But as things go, the rain went away and the sun returned to us.  It is now Christmas day, a day where (at least in America) we celebrate both family and consumerism (as opposed to religion). As an individual of Jewish heritage, I find it funny when some people are “surprised” that my family celebrates Christmas. First off, despite the amount of times I remind my friends, I am only Jewish one side of my family. Secondly, even if I were a fully practicing Jewish man, Christmas is still a day about family, cause even if you are not celebrating the “religious” aspects of the holiday, there is nothing much else to do on Christmas other than getting together with family and friends and cooking a meal (regardless of your religious beliefs or affiliations).

This year, my family decided that they would come over to my house and that I would cook dinner for everyone. This gave me an opportunity to cook something out of my recently purchased Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cook Book. I decided to make the recipe for lamb stew (french style of course). The pictures below are the before and after shots.

I thought it came out pretty great and the only things I would have done differently would be put the potatoes in about 10 minutes earlier then I did and cut the carrots a little thinner (only slightly). But all in all it was delicious and I highly recommend the cook book. Hosting Christmas dinner for my family at my condo was just another step, in a long line of steps this year, that have made me really feel like an adult (and not just some college kid in his twenties). It is a strange, and some times scary feeling, but it is a good feeling of progression in my life, and enjoyed hosting my family (and I think I did a fairly good job too). After the meal, comes the worst part of the Christmas dinner, the point when the food coma coalesces with all the wine you drink. For me, it took me out for the count. As I lingered over to my couch to watch some movies on tv (ones which I already own) I thought to myself how unfortunate it is that such a high point of food and drink ends in such a low point of stomach pains and sleepiness. Of course, I quickly fell asleep on the couch. After my power nap, I was back in action. Now I am here writing about it, and even though it has begun to rain again, it was a good day (despite the Lakers losing).

Soundtrack: Chuck Ragan – Do You Pray (off Los Feliz)


Eats #7
May 17, 2010, 3:24 pm
Filed under: Eats

Corce’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar – San Diego, CA

On Saturday night, while we were in the Gaslamp District of San Diego celebrating my birthday, we went to Corce’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar to have dinner.  We made reservations earlier in the day and we were able to get a nice table near the window (looking out to the busy downtown streets). The jazz band for the night was playing in the bar area and played a nice fusion of bebop jazz and latin jazz. We were seated in the next room, making the music less loud (perfect level for dinner conversation), but the music made for nice background soundtrack to our dinning experience. We started the meal off with a bottle of wine recommended by the waitress. I can’t recall what the wine was exactly, but it was nothing special. Despite that first set back, we ordered some appetizers. First we had some tempura fried calamari that was good, but pretty typical. After that, we had one very large crab cake that we all split. I’m not a huge fan of crab cakes, but this was one of the best crab cakes I have ever had; it was pan-seared, creating a great mix of creamy and crispy. Next up was the entrees. I ordered the grilled duck breast with crispy skin duck confit. This was the best duck I have ever had; the breast was sliced into perfectly tender little pieces and the drumstick was nicely cooked with a perfectly crispy skin. The dish also included wonderfully tasty toasted barely risotto and sauteed spinach. I thought the dish was excellent and I really enjoyed it. We ended the meal with a seasonal crisp with fresh fruit and we had some coffee. The desert was pretty much a fruit cobbler, but it was tasty and good finish to a great meal. Corce’s is not a cheap place to go, but if you have the money and want good food and good music, then I would highly recommend checking out their dinning experience.

Eats #6
April 5, 2010, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Eats

Smoked Gouda Turkey Burger

Tonight I made myself a turkey burger with smoked gouda, avocado, and grilled onions and mushrooms (pictured above). It turned out pretty good so I thought I would share with you how I prepared it. I started out by throwing some chopped onions and mushrooms in a frying pan with a little butter, olive oil (extra virgin), and some chopped garlic. While that was caramelizing, I took two turkey burger patties (less than a 1/4 lb each) and rubbed them with some salt, pepper, and worcester sauce. I then put them on my griddle pan. While I waited for the burgers to cook, I toasted the bun and cut up an avocado. After the burgers were cooked, I placed one slice of gouda cheese on top of each of the patties and let it melt. I then put mustard on the bun, stacked the burger patties on top of one another, and then topped it off with the grilled onions and mushrooms. Lastly, I placed a few slices of avocado on top of the burger and on the side I placed a couple spoonfuls of potato salad. A simple and delicious meal.

Eats #5
April 3, 2010, 1:58 pm
Filed under: Eats

Swaad Indian Cuisine

Last night we went out for Indian food at Swaad Indian Cuisine in Irvine. Swaad is probably my favorite Indian restaurant in Orange County, and I frequent it as much as possible. The night started out with some large Kingfisher beers (my favorite beer to have with Indian food). When the beer first arrived, I thought I really didn’t need to order a large beer, but as the night progressed, it turned out to be the right move. We ordered three entree dishes to share family style: Tandoori Chicken, Shahi Rogan Lamb, & Balgan Da Bharta. The tandoori chicken came out sizzling, covered in onions and peppers. We ordered it spicy and at first bite it didn’t seem too hot, but after a few minutes the heat really hits you. It was deliciously tender and we ate our way through our pain (as we started sweating profusely). The shahi rogan lamb was a stewed lamb dish that was mild but perfectly tender. It was very enjoyable. The  balgan da bharta was a roasted eggplant dish with onions and tomatoes. This one was a little spicy and also very enjoyable. With our meal we had some rice and garlic naan. By the end of the meal, our pours had opened from all the heat and I could not feel the effect of the beer at all (as I had already sweated out all the alcohol). It was an amazingly delicious meal and I think everyone agreed that the tandoori chicken was our favorite dish. Price-wise, the entree dishes are all in the $15-20 range, so it is not the cheapest place to get Indian food, but the quality of the food is very high. Everything I have had at Swaad has been great and I recommend checking it out if you are in the mood for some good Indian food.

Eats # 4
March 14, 2010, 12:39 pm
Filed under: Eats

The Hat

Yesterday I was in the mood for a pastrami sandwich, so I went to the Hat in Lake Forest. Going to the Hat it is easy to understand why America is one of the fattest (if not the fattest) nations in the world. When you go to the Hat, come hungry; you are essentially going to get a cornucopia of food. Call me a hypocrite for eating here (I’m not a fan of glutinous America) but the food is delicious. The Hat has a lot of sandwiches on their menu, but all I have ever had there is their “World Famous” pastrami dip. The sandwich is your basic pastrami dip; pastrami, mustard, and pickles in a french roll. When your sandwich arrives though, there is a mound of juicy and delicious pastrami. You literally have to dig through the pastrami to find the bread that makes up the sandwich. It is fatty, salty, and really good. Along with your sandwich, you will want to get a giant bag of french fries. My suggestion is to find a good spot on the table and just tear open the bag, letting the fries flow out. Make sure you have something to drink for all the salt you are about to intake. Then enjoy. Your stomach may not feel great after eating, but rest assured you will leave satisfied.

Eats # 3
February 28, 2010, 12:48 pm
Filed under: Eats

Part One: Skosh Monahan’s

Last night we indulged ourselves and had a bit of a foodie night. The night started out at Skosh Monahan’s Steakhouse and Irish Pub in Costa Mesa. When driving on the 55 you can see Skosh’s right off the freeway on Newport Ave; from the street Skosh’s looks completely unassuming. Walking inside you notice right away that it doesn’t look like your typical Irish pub (the kind where a lot of time and effort has been spent to make it look like a pub you might actually go to in Ireland). I think my buddy Reid put it best when he said that it looked like the type of bar where the mob would have a dinner/meeting (think Goodfellas). It doesn’t necessarily come off as a place you would expected to have great food.  We sat down to a nice selection of beers on draft. Unfortunately, they were all out of Harp (and the waitress went on to explain the intricacies of beer distribution and why the trains had caused there shipments not to arrive, which will be a problem come St. Patty’s day) but the rest of the beers on draft were all available, so no big deal. Looking at their menu, there was a large selection of food from burgers to pizza to steaks. Being an Irish pub they of course have some traditional Irish pub food, and that is where all our eyes landed. I got the corned beef and cabbage, while fish and chips and shepherds pie where ordered as well.  The corned beef and cabbage was just perfectly done and it came with mash potatoes and a really great tasting gravy. I was more than satisfied. All around the table everyone talked about how happily surprised they were at how great the food was. We decided that we would defiantly be back again to try other items on the menu. Cheers to Skosh, apparently the former mayor of Costa Mesa, for having such a fine establishment with great food that is reasonably priced.

Part Two: Hond Ya

After Skosh’s, we some how got on to the topic of Sapporo and Sake (possibly sake bombs). Which led us to the idea of going to a Japanese restaurant for drinks (and possibly more food). After a failed attempt to go Taka Sushi (it’s called something else now, but that’s what I still call it) because it was closed, we headed over to Honda Ya in Tustin (off El Comino Real). Honda Ya stays open till 1am, and because of this it is popular and at 10pm we had to wait a good 25 minutes to get a table. Honda Ya has a large menu with many interesting items, especially when it comes to yakitori. With sake and beers all around (warm sake for me as to my preference) we all quickly made our selections. I went with two items on the yakitori menu: chicken liver and pork belly. The chicken liver was interesting when done yakitori style because you get the creaminess on the inside and you get a nice crispiness on the outside. The pork belly was a thin piece, pretty much all fat, done up nice and crispy, and really salty; it wasn’t too different from a thick slice of bacon.  Overall both were good and great snack to eat while having drinks in good company. I also tried some yakitori quail egg, which was also quite good.

It may not have been the cheapest night, and maybe my stomach didn’t love me for eating so much food, but it was delicious night filled with good food and good times.

Soundtrack: St. Patty’s day is creeping up on us. Here is Flogging Molly – What’s Left of the Flag (live on the Craig Kilborne)

Eats # 2
February 21, 2010, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Eats

Claro’s Italian Market

So this blog is called musings and eats and I have really lagged on putting much eats. With that, here is a new eats. I want to talk about how much I love Claro’s Italian Market. I go to the Claro’s in Tustin (I only now realized, while looking at their website, that they have other stores in southern CA).  Claro’s is a small market that sells fresh Italian food. By far my favorite thing to do is go their at lunch and get a freshly made sandwich from their deli counter. They have a great selection of meats (especially salamis) and cheeses. I usually order a sandwich with hard salami, oven roasted turkey, and white American cheese; everything on it, hold the mayo (not a fan). It is perfection in sandwich form. Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) on 30 Rock once said, “I believe that all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich“; I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment while eating a sandwich from Claro’s. Besides their sandwiches, Claro’s has a great selection of all types of Italian food. What I particularly like is their freshly made sausages and their frozen raviolis. Everything at Claro’s is great quality and reasonably priced. I love it. If you want good ingredients to make Italian food or just a great sandwich check out Claro’s.

sandwich: salami, ham, and cheese; sausages: hot