Friday, October 28, 2011
But if I am asked to write about something that I already like... well, why not? And I have liked Cholula for a long time - since first trying it when I was 17 years old at Pie 'n Burger, grabbing breakfast with some friends one Saturday morning. So a couple of weeks ago when I got an email from a PR rep for Cholula, asking if I would be interested in some free Cholula for "National Chili Garlic Week," I said of course. (If you're been reading for more than a week, I'm sure you know how much I love both chilis and garlic.)
A week or so later I received two bottles in the mail. It's been a long time since I've had a the "Chili Garlic" flavored Cholula. (Many years ago I kept a bottle of the stuff at work to use with the pizza that we would get two or three times per week... and I diced up tiny pieces of garlic and stuffed them in the bottle to make it even more garlicky.)
I'd planned to write about this at the start of the week, but I had other things to write, so today I will share with you some of the things I've eaten lately:
For dinner one evening I cooked some mini pizzas from Trader Joe's. They were very good but a little too doughy - there wasn't enough sauce or cheese on them. So I added several shakes of Cholula, which improved them dramatically.
Sir Kensington's Gourmet Scooping Ketchup, but there are a few things that I really like with ketchup: scrambled eggs, In-n-Out's fries, and definitely McDonald's McDouble. I don't know why, but I find ketchup (and extra pickles) complements it nicely. So this time, I mixed a packet of McDonald's ketchup with several slugs of Cholula. It was still good, but this was the only item here that I did not feel was improved with the addition of hot sauce.
Of course I also had to try it on my beloved Del Taco chicken soft taco. And it was delicious. Del Taco should try a promotion where they serve these tacos this way; I bet it would be successful.
I gotta say it was a good week.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
"It's really good," she said. "Even your dad liked it."
So we went to Matsuri. Only two other tables were occupied and they stuck us at an impossibly small table for two with uncomfortable wooden chairs. Against the wall were a few larger tables with cushioned benches. My mom said she would rather sit at one of those. We walked over to one.
"Is it okay if we sit here instead?" my mom asked the hostess.
"Just two of you?" the hostess replied. "No. These only for four people."
I looked around the room. There were several of these larger tables, and all of them were empty. As I mentioned, only two other tables were occupied in the whole restaurant.
"It's 1:45," my mom said. "Do you think you will need this table?"
"Only for four people," the hostess replied.
I asked the obvious question: "Would you rather have us go somewhere else than sit here?"
"That's fine," she replied, yanking the menus out of my hand.
So we left. Hey, it's their business, their rules. If they really would rather have had us sit at that tiny table than have our money, so be it.
I suggested we try Settebello, a Neapolitan-stye pizza restaurant that opened less than a month ago on Colorado Blvd in the Playhouse District. It is the third location of a mini-chain that has stores in those two other famous bastions of Neapolitan pizza: Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. (Actually, the chain is owned by Brad Otton, the former USC quarterback who did an LDS mission in Italy and decided to open restaurants in American using Neaplitan pizza styles.)
There was a parking space right in front and the hostess showed us to a table in the almost-empty dining room. I decided to do an experiment.
"Would it be okay if we sat at that table?" I asked, indicating a table a few feet away that was closer to window.
"Sure," she said, "wherever you want."
Some of the antipasti sounded really good, however all I was really wanting at this point was to get some pizza into my mouth as soon as possible. I asked my mom which pizza she was going to get and she mentioned one that I had my eye on, too. We decided to get two different pizzas so we could share.
"Would you like the pizza cut or uncut?" the waitress asked. I loved that. Neopolitan pizza is traditionally served uncut and eaten with a knife and fork. (Of course, just because I loved the fact that she asked didn't mean I was actually going to get my pizza uncut; I requested it cut.)
The server walked away and my mom and I chatted for less than five minutes before our pizzas were brought out to us. I have been served food this quickly before, but never pizza.
"How hot is your oven?" I asked the waitress.
"I think 1000 degrees."
My mom had the Vico: sausage, fennel, red onions, Mascarpone, mozzarella, and basil. She loved it, although, as I said, we were both quite hungry at this point. I tried it and, while I loved the sausage, overall I did not love the pizza. I really liked it, and the rest of the toppings were almost as good as the sausage, but the whole was less than the sum of the parts.
Each of the pizzas was thirteen dollars. That's certainly not cheap, but it's less expensive than the Luggage Room and about the same price as California Pizza Kitchen, and superior to both. (Although I didn't love the crust, it's ten times better than what they use at CPK.)
I will certainly return to Settebello again, but I don't think I will ever return for a quick lunch like this. It's not the kind of place that is made for such a meal. But a return trip with a few friends for dinner? Maybe four people so we can order several pizzas to share, with a bottle or two of Brunello di Montalcino open on the table? Now we're talking.
And next time, definitely a knife and fork for the pizza. It's not my preferred way to eat it, but when in Naples...
Posted by JustinM at 12:02 PM
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Crawfish were never something I thought much about until I started visiting New Orleans as an adult. And then I couldn't get enough. I ate a crawfish and fried alligator sandwich one year on my birthday; on another trip for Jazz Fest I ate several orders of fried crawfish tails at the Fairgrounds, wandering around listening to Chris Smither, Wyclef Jean, The Radiators, and for one song (which was all that we could take), the Steve Miller Band. Any list of the top 10 days of my life would probably include that one.
Two years ago, Popeyes decided to hold a "Crawfish Festival," releasing a few crawfish items. After several attempts, I was able to procure the crawfish tackle box, and I loved it. Last year I went for the crawfish po' boy and found it to be one of the best fast food sandwiches I have ever eaten. (And when it comes to fast food seafood sandwiches - which admittedly is a small sample - there is no question that it is head and shoulders above any other I have ever tried.)
Since I'd had such bad luck the last two years trying to find the crawfish items, I decided to change tack this year: I drove to a Popeyes to which I have never once been in my life. Almost all Popeyes items you see on here are from the Pasadena or Alhambra stores, but they have both been incredibly hit and miss lately. So I went to the San Gabriel location.
The girl behind the counter was friendlier than any Popeyes employee I have ever met. I inquired about the festival, was told they had them, and ordered a po' boy sandwich by itself. (The combo was $6.99 pre-tax, the sandwich a la carte was $3.99. Since I don't like Popeyes battered fries and I almost never get soda from fast food joints, it was a much better deal.) I asked if they had the "traveler" as well and she said no. I paid and stood around to wait.
A couple minutes later she told me they did indeed have the traveler, so I ordered one of those, too, for $2.99. She apologized for not knowing that.
"That's okay," I said. "This is the first day, right?"
"Yes," she replied, "and they didn't tell us anything about it." With my recent Popeyes experiences, this did not surprise me.
After a couple of minutes she started discussing the sandwich with the two cooks preparing the food. I am not fluent in Spanish like I used to be, but I could pick up enough to know that one of the cooks was claiming the sandwich is supposed to have tarter sauce on it while the other one thought it was supposed to be a different sauce. I interjected:
"It's supposed to have a horseradish sauce."
The girl picked up a container of horseradish sauce from under the counter. "This, right?" she asked.
"Yes, that container is supposed to be served with the traveler and the sandwich is supposed to have horseradish sauce on it."
"Okay, thanks." (The fact that I was instructing the employees on how to prepare their promotion was not lost on me.)
Not long after, my food was ready, and she handed me the bag.
"That looks good," she said as she peeked inside.
"It will be," I assured her, and took it to my car to eat. I smiled when I laid my eyes upon this:
I don't know how hard it would be for Popeyes to sell this sandwich year-round, but I'm guessing they have their reasons. Because if they could offer it all the time, I imagine they would be much more popular than they already are. I guess I have to make sure I get my fill of crawfish this year before they disappear. The promotion is supposed to be around until November 27th, but lately it seems like Popeyes has been running out of their promotional items before the promotion expires. Hopefully not with this one...