Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend Eats

Elizabeth had a half-day on Friday and we'd planned to get lunch together. I was hoping we'd meet up around 1:30. But she kept getting calls at work and didn't leave when she'd planned to, and then of course the holiday weekend traffic had started to get bad, and she didn't get home until almost 3:30. And I was famished.

When I'm that hungry, usually only a burger and fries hits the spot. That sounded good to her, too. So we headed down to In-N-Out. I got a Double-Double animal-style and animal fries. (Elizabeth had a cheeseburger and animal fries.) I inhaled my food. I'm sure it looked gross. I don't care, it was delicious. I finished off Elizabeth's fries, too.

Friday night was an early night. I was drained of energy. I cooked the Trader Joe's feta cheese and caramelized onion bites that were in the freezer. As usual, they were delicious, as was the new twist: I added some of my new best fried, Tabasco's Buffalo sauce, to a couple of the pieces.

Saturday afternoon I wanted a simple lunch. We batted back and forth a few ideas then finally decided to go to Wendy's. Back in January, I tried their Asiago Ranch Chicken Club and was disappointed - it wasn't spicy, as I'd requested, and the cheese was flavorless. But I decided to try it again.

And this time it was great. I mean that, great. The bacon was disgusting and I removed that without taking a bite - along with the tomato, as always - but the chicken was tender, crispy, and very spicy. I'm not sure I have ever had a fast food chicken sandwich this spicy before.

I took the bottle of Tabasco Buffalo sauce with me so I could try it on a spicy chicken nugget. Elizabeth thought that was dorky of me. She may be right. But it was delicious. I told her I might start wearing a Tabasco belt holster everywhere I go so I can add this sauce to everything I eat.

"How did I get so lucky?" she asked.

I think she was being sarcastic.

In the afternoon we headed over to our friend Dave's house for a barbecue. First we started by having some drinks on the deck at the top of the property, overlooking the valley.

Elizabeth and I went by BevMo beforehand and she bought plenty of beer. Including a variety pack of New Belgium beers. "We are going to a party with some of the biggest beer drinkers we know," she said. "We should bring plenty of beer."

So she also bought Dixie Beer (for me) and Purple Haze (for her).

Carla went by the massive Whole Foods on Arroyo and bought several kinds of cheese: English cheddar with mustard, blue cheese, Humboldt Fog (my request), brie, Wensleydale with cranberries, and Jarlsberg. It was all great, but my favorite, as usual...

... was the Humboldt Fog.

Rob was drinking Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Someone brought Pilsner Urquell. I do not know who, but I had one before the night was over.

Pacifico is always good.

This is the kind of party it was: even the babies were drinking Pacifico.

("Are you going to put that picture on your blog?" his mom asked me.

"I hadn't planned to, but I will if you want," I replied.

"Go for it," she said.)

Tracie brought Fat Tire and Blue Moon. 

"If I open an MGD, are you going to take a picture of that?" Rob asked.

"I sure am."

The only beer I saw that I do not like was Sam Adams. But I took a picture of it, to be comprehensive.

Tim brought three bottles of Jade Mountain cab. Everyone loved it, although I was in a beer-drinking mood so I only had a small sip. (Beer and wine do not mix well in my body.)

Dave grilled a plethora of sausages but he asked me to watch over them for the final minutes of grilling. Which I did. I then cut them all in half so that everyone could sample.

Rob is a vegetarian so he had a Tofurkey sausage. I would love to write something snarky, but he ran the Mt. Wilson Trail Race Saturday morning and here he was chilling with us at the barbecue in the afternoon. If I had run the race I would be still be on the mountain; I am in no position to comment on his lifestyle choices.

One of the sausages was a jalapeno sausage, "as spicy as any sausage I have ever tried," Dave said. And, while these are certainly not the spiciest I have ever had, they do bring the heat. Which I love. I took one piece of the jalapeno and one piece of the "Mild Italian," as did Tracie. But after one bite she said "I don't think I can eat this!"

So I gave her my mild Italian piece and she gave me her jalapeno piece, which I ate and loved.

Dave grilled some ribs and they seemed popular, but I was already stuffed and couldn't eat any more.

My friend Clare showed up with a fruit and vegetable salad she made, so I took a picture of that, too.

Also Caprese.

I was in the living room when I heard a knock at the door so I opened it. My friend Dave (I have about ten friends names Dave) was there. 

"Excellent," I said, "I was just thinking this party didn't have enough beer."

I ate a lot on Saturday, so for lunch on Sunday, I did not want anything heavy or fried. I was by myself and chicken fajitas sounded great: I cooked chicken breast meat in the wok with onions and peppers and piled it all into a tortilla with Taco Lita hot sauce. It was very tasty. 

Sunday evening we sat on our patio and had some wine with Tracie and our neighbor Harold. The wind was absolutely howling, as strong as I have seen and felt it in months. We started talking about what to do for dinner. Earlier in the day I had been over at my parents' house and my mom offered me the four chicken pot pies in her freezer, from Moffett's Family Restaurant in Arcadia. I offered to cook them. 

"Oh my God," Tracie said, "I haven't thought about Moffett's in years. My sister's first job was working there when she was a teenager."

I brushed the tops of the pies with butter - the box says to use milk, but I figured butter wouldn't hurt - and baked them in the oven for 45 minutes. They were delicious, full of chunks of white meat chicken. I probably could have eaten a second pie. Everyone enjoyed them. 

On Memorial Day, Elizabeth and I decided to go somewhere outside of Pasadena for lunch. So we headed up to Montrose, thinking of eating at Zeke's Smokehouse. It was crowded and we stood inside for a few minutes. No one acknowledged us. I freaking can't stand that. You don't have to seat me right away, and you don't even have to say "I'll be right with you." But when you see that I'm waiting and you look right at me and can't even be bothered to say "Hi" or even smile, I suddenly no longer want to eat in your restaurant.

So we decided to get tacos instead. As we usually do these days, we headed to La Estrella. Elizabeth ordered her usual: three carnitas tacos. I was going to get my usual as well - three al pastor tacos and a fish taco - but then I had another idea: a quesadilla. I've started eating the al pastor quesadilla at El Taquito Mexicano and I love it. Since I like the al pastor better at La Estrella, it stands to reason that I will like the quesadilla more as well, right?

Interestingly, it was not as good as the al pastor quesadilla at El Taquito. The meat is great but the portions of meat and cheese are much smaller, no one asked me if I wanted onions or cilantro in my quesadilla (which I am always asked at El Taquito) and the tortilla was barely grilled. It was floppy and fell apart quickly.

So I will be sticking with the tacos from now on at La Estrella.

By Monday evening, I definitely had no energy to do anything fancy for dinner. It was one of those let-me-look-in-the-fridge-and-come-up-with-something moments. There was a family-size mac and cheese in the freezer and a baseball game on TV. Both of those things require almost no effort, so that's what I did. The instructions on the mac and cheese said to cook it in the oven for 53 minutes, a wonderfully specific time. (I actually cooked it 54 minutes because I was distracted while watching a particular at-bat. No damage was done.)

Of course I doused it with Tabasco Buffalo sauce as well. I might have a problem.

I was still a little hungry so I steamed two Trader Joe's pork buns. I couldn't bring myself to add Buffalo sauce to both of them... so I only added it to one. For the other, I made a mustard/ponzu sauce. Both were delicious.

It was a great weekend for me. I hope yours was nice, too.