October 29, 2009

I've Got Worms!

So I don't know what the deal is, but it is getting a little carried away. Is there some sort of insect faction against me? Do they have secret bug meetings underground, fueling a revolution? Do they plot my demise?

First it was the fly in my hot and sour soup. Then it was the worm in my tomatillo. Today, it is a maggot in my FiberONE Oats and Apple Streusal Chewy Bar.

Now I get it. I understand that pests are inevitable. I've encountered plenty in various produce. BUT IN A PREPACKAGED PRODUCT!?!?!?!

I couldn't just let this go, so I took to the web and gave the interns at General Mills a piece of my mind (as politely and professionally as a worm in your chewy bar would allow).


Dear General Mills,

I opened a Fiber ONE Chewy Bar (Oats and Apple Streusel) to have as a snack at work, when I found a maggot crawling out of the bar. I can reason with finding critters in produce, but finding one that is still alive in a packaged product makes me question your sanitation standards. I snapped a picture of the intruder if you'd like to see it. However, I implore you to inspect your products a little closer before sending out.

General Mills:

Dear Mr. Estrada:

Thank you for contacting General Mills regarding your recent disappointment with Fiber One oats and apple streusel bars. We know it would be unpleasant to find insects in any food product and we are sorry you had this experience.

Consumer satisfaction is our main goal, and we set very high standards for every item we produce. In order to achieve these standards, our manufacturing process is designed to eliminate risk of infestation. Although modern processing and packaging methods reduce the possibility of infestation at the plant level, products may be exposed to infestation in transit or during storage. We believe food manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are equally conscientious in protecting the product; however, there are many types of insects that attack foods. In the larvae or adult stage, some can bore their way into tightly sealed packages and enter the product during transportation and storage. Entrance holes are very small and difficult to see. You can be assured that our Quality Department has been notified of your report.

We will be sending an adjustment for your purchase to your mailing address. You should receive it within 15 business days.

We appreciate that you have brought this to our attention. We will carefully review all the information and follow up through all channels of distribution. We hope you will continue to choose our products.


Consumer Services

Ok, ok, ok...they promptly replied to my message, I'll give them that. And chances are, they do have a sanitation and inspection procedure in place. But unless these maggots have little pocket knives, I highly doubt they're able to "bore their way into tightly sealed packages and enter the product during transportation and storage." Sure, don't take responsibility GM. For all I know, you are with the bug revolution that stands against me! Well played bugs...well played.

Bugs: 3 Cresencio: 0

July 6, 2009

Kitchen Confessional #2: Fish Stick Jungle

We’ve all had them at least once, whether it was at a friend’s sleep-over, a local buffet or from the kitchen of our own house. A fish stick and your gullet have had to have met at one point or another. I’d be lying if I said I have never had one or two in my youth.

Yes, in retrospect, they were disgusting. I gag at the thought of having one now, but you know what? This was a time when I agreed that seafood was a food group.

True Story: When I was a young lad, I never closed the door to any food, including fish. Whatever my parents made, shrimp cocktail, grilled shark and swordfish, tuna sandwiches, and yes – fish sticks – I ate.

After a casual afternoon of playing freeze tag with the other neighborhood kids, I was finally summoned to come home and eat dinner with the family. As I walked into the house I was immediately greeted by the aroma of a batter-dipped ocean and French fries.

“Must be fish sticks for dinner,” I thought to myself, “Sweet.”

I pulled up a seat and like clock-work a plate of steaming crispy fish logs and fries warmed my nose. Like always with any dish served with fries, I began with a squirt of ketchup on a designated side of my plate and a sprinkle of pepper. Then, like a test-toe in a hot bath, the first fry went in.

Next, the fish takes a dip. Now mind you, fish sticks were considered to be equivalent to chicken nuggets back then. So just like chicken nuggets, they got the same treatment of being served with ketchup.

I took the first bite and observed the beheaded stick. Steam still flowed out from its depths. Another bite proceeded, then another, and another. Until finally, my plate was clean.

With a belly full of God-knows-what, I went for the Nintendo. Hours pass, levels of Mario, conquered, when suddenly I begin scratching my arms, legs and back, with itching worse than 1000 mosquito bites on top of chicken pox. I started sweating profusely and finally concurred with my body that something was definitely wrong.

“Hives,” my mom said. Then out came the calamine lotion.

Dots of pink charted my body and slowly, the irritation began to cease. Finally, I was able to sit peacefully. From that night forward, I never ate fish sticks again, and to my future’s dismay, I banned everything that lived in the sea as well.

For years later, I stuck with my vow never to eat seafood again. Terrible, right?

I confess that it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I jumped back on the seafood ban-wagon. It was sushi that brought me back; a simple California Roll that reached out and said, “Welcome back old friend…welcome back….AH DON’T EAT ME!!!”

It feels great to be reunited with this food group. There was so much I have missed out on. It almost seemed like a great idea to deprive myself of this treasure from the sea, because when chicken was becoming boring, reacquainting myself with fish opened a new door of flavors and recipe exploration.

Since my recent reunion with seafood, I have developed a divine love for one of my new favorite seafood restaurants, located here in Sacramento.

Pearl on the River. I can’t get enough of the fresh Ahi Tuna, delicious clam chowder, and amazing oysters. To top it off, they are one of the only places that serve my new favorite beer on tap, Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat Ale.

Yes, I’ve gotta say it’s the good life now. No more hives, no more dry heaves at the smell of seafood, no more going hungry at the cocktail party whose hour’dervs only consist of a platter of sushi and jumbo shrimp.

I'm still a bit intimidated by some seafood dishes, but without that fear, it wouldn't be an adventure.

Happy Eats!

(Photos retrieved from donandsheila.com/.../2009/03/fish_sticks.jpg and www.20minutestolessstress.com/nemo%20sushi.jpg)

June 14, 2009

Summer Seasons Yield Tastey Flavors

Sacramento natives can now be reunited with the freshest fruits and vegetables the city has to offer.

The Sacramento Farmers’ Markets are open daily in various locations from May through October, with some open all year long. The scattered locations offer several opportunities to purchase seasonal fruit, vegetables and herbs, as well as artisan breads and fresh cut flowers, straight from the growers.

Each market explodes with vibrant summer colors as this season’s fruits and vegetables come to life with peak ripened flavor. Lloyd Johnson of Lloyd’s Produce offers fresh herbs, peppers, tomatoes and popcorn. Blooming flowers from the Yolo Bulb Farm surround grower Mike Madison’s booth of fig and apricot jams, organic olive oils and ripe melons. Meanwhile, the aroma of fresh strawberries from the local growers at Sebastopol Berry Farm fills the air.

Here’s an easy recipe to use with Sebastopol Berry Farm’s fresh strawberries from the Farmers’ Market to make a tastey summer salad:

Grilled Sirloin Steak and Summer Strawberry Arugula Salad

1 cup sliced Sebastopol Berry Farm’s strawberries

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon white sugar

Pepper to taste

Salt to taste

8oz Top Sirloin

Desired arugula leaves

½ cup candied walnuts or sliced almonds

Shaved parmesan cheese

Yields 2 servings

Heat the grill. Season both sides of steak with salt and pepper to taste and grill 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness. Let sit for 5 minutes, and then slice against the grain.

While you wait for your steak to cool, mix first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Lay the mix on a bed of arugula and top with candied walnuts or sliced almonds.

Lastly, lay sliced steak on top of salad and top with shaved parmesan cheese.

Sit and enjoy.

For more information on Sacramento Farmers’ Market locations, growers and market times visit http://www.california-grown.com.

June 8, 2009

Picking a ripe Citrullus Lanatus

There is NOTHING better than cutting into a watermelon and getting that initial aroma of sweet melony goodness. Or when you split it open and hear the cracking of the thick green peel to reveal the vibrant fuchsia colors inside. The scent travels as juice escapes from beneath - the more palpable the scent the better the flavor. Care for a piece?

So how do you pick the perfect melon? Some people try their luck with a pick-and-go method. They would literally find the watermelons, randomly pick one, and go. It’s like a drive by watermelon-napping. I’ve actually seen a person pick one up and shake one. Some people lack the confidence to pick and just grab the pre-cut, pre-packaged watermelon. Pitiful, to say the least.

What I am about to reveal has been a long-time family secret handed down from generation to generation. My mother knew it, my grandmother knew it, and my great grandmother new it. Now I know it and I would like to share it with anyone who wants a tasty watermelon.

When picking the right melon one should:

First check its shape. Symmetry is the key.

Pay attention to its weight. Watermelons are mostly water so a heavier melon means a juicier melon.

Press the skin of the watermelon in various places of its surface. A good melon will not have any soft spots. Get one that’s as hard as a rock.

Notice the color. A darker green color outside offers a sweeter melon.

Also look for unusual blood-like markings, mold and rot. Obviously avoid thes melons. Check out The Rhetoric of Rhubarb for an interesting piece on Vampire Watermelons.

To check for ripeness, look for the sweet spot. Search for a yellow spot on the melon. This is where it sat during its growth period. The yellowish color indicates ripeness.

Lastly, go Matthew McConaughey on it and smack it like it’s a bongo drum. Listen for an empty drum-like sound. Like a *Toom-Toom* sound. If it just makes a dense thud sound, drop it like it’s hot and pick another.

That’s it, simple enough. Now you know the family secret. With it, you should be able to pick a ridiculously delicious watermelon for all to enjoy, just on time for the summer.

June 1, 2009

A Marriage of Tangerine and Hops

Back and side go bare, go bare,
Both foot and hand go cold;
But, belly, God send thee good ale enough,
Whether it be new or old.
--Bishop Still (John)

A new beer has emerged from the tedium of American corporate beer drinking society.

Behold, Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat Ale.

A beer best served on tap, but also great from the bottle. It offers a crisp citrus taste with a nice cool feeling of refreshment. Orange in appearance and a mild tangerine aroma, this beer would go harmoniously well with seafood, barbeque or simply by itself.

Look out for Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat Ale to hit the shelves soon and sell out in local restaurants. If it follows suit like its distinct predecessors, it should be in line to win many awards.

Lost Coast Brewery Brewmasters Barbara Groom and Wendy Pound have been making exceptionally distinguishing beers for over 20 years from the cool climate of Eureka, Ca. The demand for their award winning ales has made them the 46th largest brewery in the country and is sold in 19 states.

From their Downtown Brown and Pale Ale, Gold Medal winners at the World Beer Championship, to their Alley Cat Amber and 8-Ball Stout, also award winners, not only are they distinct in flavor and complexity, they are eye catching in character and art.

Tangerine Wheat is one of many citrus ales that is gaining popularity in the microbrewing culture. Its debut effect mimics the introduction of the incredibly trendy Blue Moon with its unique flavor and refreshing quench. Enjoy one soon to see what all the fuss is about.


May 27, 2009

As Green as it Gets

Pay close attention next time you’re prepping food, you may not be alone. Cooking with organic produce can be great for the body. Growers don’t use pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. There are no genetic modifications or variations. They offer more intense flavors and contain higher contents of vitamins and minerals - not to mention the societal and environmental benefits. However, there sometimes comes a point when "going green" can be too green. Fortunately, it’s not as bad as you might think.

Recently, I prepared a savory Chili Verde, a dish that requires tomatillos. When choosing tomatillos, you typically want to see a light to medium green color inside and out. Those showing a yellow to purplish tint on the surface indicate over-maturity and produce a sweeter flavor, which some might prefer.

The tomatillos I was preparing looked great. I peeled the husks, rinsed and scrubbed their sticky jade surfaces, and began halving for the food processor. I thought I was alone in the kitchen when I noticed a small hole in the largest of the tomatillo batch. I examined the opening, checking for freshness. When suddenly, as if being summoned from a knock at the door, out pops the little head of a plump green caterpillar. I'm sure the intruder did not appreciate my photo snapping.

Although I was not too surprised to see the visitor, I was not about to use the contaminated tomatillo in my Chili Verde. I can only imagine what that would do to the flavor. You can bet I quartered the rest of my batch after the discovery to avoid any more extra ingredients.

So next time you're strolling the aisles or visiting your Farmer's Market, make sure you examine your produce closely before you purchase. And when you are ready to cook, wash thoroughly, check for unusual marks, holes, or bacteria, and don’t freak out if you see an unwelcomed guest. They need to eat too. It’s a small price to pay to reap the benefits of growing and consuming organically grown fruits and veggies.

Safe eating my friends.

April 20, 2009

Reliving Youth

I readied my self on the starting line, beads of sweat dripping from my brow. The air was stifling. My hands were moist in an uncontrollable anticipation to hear the go-ahead. My knees angled in preparation to gun it out of the gate. Then finally,


I made a mad dash for the middle of 3 lined-up balls waiting for my arrival, and prepared to battle the opposing team in a fury of dodgeball chaos. I scanned the parameters in search of a vulnerable foe. My heart started beating rapidly, my arm steadily rising. Then suddenly, like Maverick in an F-14 Tomcat, I zeroed in on my target, locked him and wound up.

My arm delivered a swing unlike any other I had experienced. The ball, my weapon, tore through the air cutting its palpable mustiness, and it was headed straight for my opponent. Suddenly, within a millisecond, the enemy ducks, and my cannon ball NAILS another player dead in the head. In this league, that warrants an ejection from the current round.

At last, the game was over. “What next?” I asked.

To the bar.

This is XOSO. A sports and social league supported by hundreds of players from the Sacramento area - formed to “bring fun, sports, exercise, and drinks to the masses.” A league that also offers Spring/Fall Kickball, Summer Volleyball, and many weekends of Capture the Flag, on top of their many seasons of Dodgeball.

What makes these sporting events even better are the after-game trips to the bars (did I mention drink specials and free pitchers for the winning teams?) where teams continue the competitive spirit in trash talking and going head-to-head in intense games of Flip-Cup.

Then there are the occasional Sunday BBQs at the park, which I happily endorse. Yes, there’s nothing like scarfing down a burger, with a beer to wash it down, after you just ran the bases in kickball. It also gives a chance for the many grill-masters in the league to show-off their cooking abilities. XOSO also hosts many pub crawls and nights out in Sacramento’s Downtown/Midtown scene.

Want to know where to get in on all the action? Check out http://www.xososports.com/ for more info on joining the fun.

Play, socialize, drink, eat, and play some more.

April 13, 2009

Kitchen Confessional #1: The Olive of Dissonance

I often wonder if my taste buds would ever join the rest of the world and embrace the so-called mysteriously delicious flavor of the olive. I can’t deny that it’s a staple in many a cuisine. In fact, I cook with olive oil for most of my dishes at home. It’s just the actual fruit that I cannot come to appreciate. There’s something about a food that resembles the abdomen of a black widow (minus the crunch) that just doesn’t scream out, “Enjoy me on your next salad!” Not to mention their metallic taste and rubbery texture.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried olives many times. However, my pursuit to fit in and understand this ancient fruit often ends in failure. Picture a nightclub:

Once said olive enters the primary gates to my stomach and gets past the incisor guards, initial contact with my tongue occurs, and the now-mashed olive patiently waits in my body’s foyer for approval. Noticing the olives horrible style and taste, this is typically followed by a rejection to enter my stomach, coincidentally called “The Gastro Club,” where most fruit and veggies are allowed admission. More often than not, the unwelcomed guest is 86’d, and a clean linen napkin is ruined. The olive is then banished for 6 months until I’m brave enough to try to like them again.

Though, it’s not just the flavor that confuses me, but also the obsession. I have memories from the restaurants I’ve worked and the bars that I frequent, of seeing fully grown women eating these stuffed edible spheres with relentless passion, dribbling olive juice along their jaw lines, and washing it down with an extra dirty martini, with 3-4 extra olives. If I’m not mistaken, this is an olive addiction, where two olives no longer yield the desired gratification.

The mania starts young, too. It seems that every family BBQ I attend, there are at least a thousand kids putting black olives on the tips of their little olive-loving fingers – and barbarically eating them right off. This behavior carries on into adulthood, which then turns into said addiction.

However, women and children are not the only ones affected. Men also make up this strange olive obsession. Working in a pizza place during my youth, I’ve seen men demand the black rings on their pies.

TRUE STORY: A man once came into the Me-n-Ed’s Pizzaria where I worked as a teen and brought in a pizza that he had ordered from the night before. Noticing the discontent expression on his face, I had asked him if there was a problem.

“Yeah!” he said, and insisted that there were not enough olives on his family size combination. I looked in the box (more than half the pizza missing) and counted several dark loops and deemed it necessary to point this out to the angry man.

“Are you stupid or something?! There are no olives!” He refuted.

I replied, “Hey, take it easy. How about I make you another one?”

“Keep your pizza you punk kid! I know the owners of this place! And I will RUIN you!” He boldly stated as he stormed out.

My thought? Olives ruined this man’s life.

So I confess, yes I am an olive-phobe. I may not enjoy them like the rest of you, but I think O-live.

A bit of humor:

Upon researching this subject, I learned I wasn’t alone. http://antiolive.blogspot.com is a blogger who shares my disdain to an extreme.(Art from antiolive.blogspot.com)

April 3, 2009

Fires aren't the Only Thing Heatin' Up in Palo Alto

Hot sauce. To some, it is a nice addition to certain meals - but to the Palo Alto Firefighters, it is a necessity. Since 1994, Palo Alto Firefighter Lee Taylor has been growing the peppers that go into the savory sauce, right out of the fire station’s backyard. Seems odd that a person outside of the culinary field can create such a delicious recipe, but honestly, who better to make this amazing hot sauce than the firefighters of Palo Alto? These guys really know how to control heat, and it shows in their signature pepper sauce.

The sauce adds an incredible zest of flavor to all dishes. It offers a sharp and peppery tang with a medium level spiciness. The aroma alone awakens the senses and causes your tongue’s natural waterworks to overproduce in extreme anticipation of that initial taste.


-Explosion of flavor that takes your taste-buds to a new world of happiness

-Redefines “Zesty, Tangy, and Piquant,” to warrant a new word called “Zang-quant”

-Aromas awaken causing extreme salivation

-Goes GREAT on BBQ, pizza, morning eggs, potatoes, Bloody Marys, and just about anything else

-But mostly, it tastes even better when you know that all proceeds go to charity

Thank you Palo Alto Firefighters for bringing this California gem to the kitchen tables of many. To order, follow the link:


April 1, 2009

Long Live the Martini!

If you invented a time machine and traveled back 5 years, you might find a young Cresencio appreciating a deliciously cold Bud Light over a Carne Asada Torta from The Red Wave Inn in Fresno, Ca. Yes, it was a simple time, a wonderful time. A time of friends, college, cheap beer, and awesome pub grub. Back then, I was a naïve young lad and didn’t take the time to really appreciate what else existed in the foodie/bevie world. Little did I know that half a decade later, I would be writing about my absolute love for a new favorite drink, the martini.

It was 2006 and I was getting ready to catch the latest Bond film, Casino Royale. The flick was great, but one part in particular stuck with me the most. It was a quote, the sole reason that inspired me and got me hooked on my then, latest personal discovery.

“Dry Martini…Three measures of Gordon's; one of vodka; half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice, and add a thin slice of lemon peel.”

Sounded like 007 had it right with his signature “Vesper” Martini.

I wanted one. I wanted one just like it. Bond’s martini. So I tried it, a modified version, but tried nonetheless. As I raised the chilled glass up to my lips and got that initial aroma of complexity, my world changed and suddenly I was in a tuxedo. There was a gun in my sock and I was the chip leader at a high stakes poker table. I shook it off and proceeded to sip. Once the coveted liquor covered my taste buds, my tuxedo slowly started to vanish, and I was back in the faded button up shirt and the Express jeans I came to the bar wearing.

I remember thinking, “Wow, that wasn’t what I was expecting. That’s not good at all.”

Determined not to give up on the martini, I decided to take it a little easier. I made up a drink that I still order to this day and would recommend to anyone - something a little more novice.

In an order that would make Daniel Craig himself jealous, I calmly ordered.

“Excuse me. Can I get a martini, 1 part Disaronno, 2 parts Goose, splash of sweet vermouth, with a twist? Up please.” (The tuxedo was DEFINATELY back on at that moment).

It was a much better martini for a novice at the time - also a martini that even a pro could have appreciated. This very drink then launched me into my latest, long standing drinkie adventure. It sent me to a new world of class and sophistication. A world where the nice guy didn’t finish last. "A world of never-ending happiness, where you can always see the sun, day or night.” Where Sinatra tunes were the soundtrack to life, and everyone was wearing evening garb.

But how can one appreciate a martini without knowing its true origin? Well that can be difficult. According to Swankmartini.com, the martini can be credited to a few long standing claims. The first, and probably most popular, revolves around the city of Martinez, Ca. during the 1850s. It was there where gold prospectors ordered a drink named after the city. It contained gin, vermouth, bitters and Maraschino. Based on the ingredients, an evolution of the drink is definitely feasible. A simple tweek of the ingredients and BAM! You’ve got yourself a martini my friends.

Another theory comes out of San Francisco, from a one Jerry Thomas, bartender at the Occidental Hotel in the 19th century. Legend has it that this bartender is the rightful inventor of the famous drink, mixing gin and vermouth for his guests daily.

Nowadays, martinis come in various form. There are more choices in flavor, appearance, distinction, texture, garnishes, and price. One thing is for certain, the martini is one drink that has withstood time. In a changing alcohol culture of bartenders, sommeliers, mixologists, drinkologists, and this that and the other - along with its increasing popularity in movies, bars, and Rat Packs alike - there’s no question that the martini is the most popular drink of all time.

Don’t know where to start? I personally like to stick with a gin martini with little to no vermouth at all. A nice Sapphire, up with a twist does the trick, every time. Too simple? Most restaurants put their own spin on the martini. There is bound to be one out there that is just right for you. Just ask your local bartender. Most of them are just dying to show off their martini-making skills for you.

Cheers, Salud, Chin Chin, Prost, Salute, and Bottoms Up!

March 25, 2009

Double Squeeze, Double Disappointment

When I moved to Sac I was immediately on the hunt for a good burger joint. Many names were thrown out.

“Try Hamburger Mary’s," (which, now I guess, is Hamburger Patty’s) they said. "Try Sparks by ARC or Nation Wide,” others shouted.

But one name kept coming up whenever I inquired. Squeeze Inn…Squeeze Inn…SQUEEZE INN.

Many told me, "You’ve gotta try Squeeze Inn, man. You can’t go wrong."

“It was on the Food Network. It’s one of Sacramento’s gems. Guy Fierro was there!”

“Squeeze Inn saved my life, bro! And it will save yours, too.”

So, I set trajectory towards that much talked-about hamburger heaven.

It was a Saturday just before noon, and already there was a line out the door. I knew it had to be the right place, judging by the “Dive” look it had. Plus, you can’t miss that ugly neon orange edifice from a mile away.

Fortunately, the line wasn’t as long as it seemed. The foyer was as small as an outhouse and led to the hardly comparable bar, where if you are lucky, you just might get a seat. If not, you can find a place outside next to the dumpsters . . . (Literally, there were tables and chairs set up next to them). Bon appétit!

I’m always up for an adventure so I was eating this whole experience up. I sometimes get overzealous when I’m excited about food. This situation was no different, so I order a Double Squeeze (a.k.a. heart attack in a bun) and fries.

What I thought was going to be at most a 20 minute wait, turned into 30, then 40, then 60. Standing that long in such a tiny place can bring attention to the little details about a dive that most people miss when they are normally in and out.

For instance, the years and years of accumulated dust on the signs to the point where the dust and grease in the air congeals into a harmonious dark gray smudge. You see the bun dresser wash her hands from a bucket of murky water on a table beside her. You feel the musty tint of air-born oil, where the grease wraps itself around your skin and enters your pores, so much that it caused a platoon of pimples on the chins of all 4 employees and even yourself.

I try not to be a downer in these situations, because like I said before, I’m up for new food adventures any time. So, after an hour of observing, I finally get my food. Miraculously, a stool became vacant, and I went in.

So what makes Squeeze Inn so special? Many will say, “It’s the cheese.” And it is. It’s the staple to each burger. They engulf the patty with a mountain of cheesy fury. But that’s not all. They add ice cubes to the flat-stove and cover with a top. This allows for the heat from the steam to fry the cheese to the flat-top, creating a skirt of dairy that hides the goodies of the burger, the patty. After witnessing this, my heart literally packed a suitcase and threatened to leave. I called its bluff. However, I did regret ordering a Double Squeeze. Double meat, double cheese.

After the long wait, I finally took that first “mouth-watering” bite. By “mouth-watering,” I mean a tsunami of grease swished through my mouth upon impact. What’s that all about?! I ordered a Coke to quench my thirst!

With all the hype, and the time it took to get the order, I was expecting something glorious. I was expecting greatness, and nothing less. Instead, I ended up shaving off 5 years of my life for a burger that wasn’t even worth it.

My opinion? If you care about experiences, go and see for yourself. Go, so you can say “I’ve been there,” next time you see the place on The Food Network. But you will save your time if you take my word and grab some In-n-Out. They are tastier, cleaner, and you don’t have to eat next to a dumpster.

January 10, 2009

A Bad Tip is Worth a Thousand Four-Letter Words

For anyone working in the restaurant biz, you can totally relate to this article. For those who do not, take a peak at the, often, harsh realities of what people in this industry go through. This has to be one of the greatest rants I’ve ever read on this neglected issue.

Warning, please put the kids to bed before reading.


January 7, 2009

Bring on the Happy!

Financial times are tough right now, but that shouldn’t stop you from going out and having a good time. Now you can get a couple of drinks and appetizers with your closest chums or work buddies without breaking your bank!

Our pals at Cowtown Eats have compiled a database of the best Happy Hours in Sacramento. And what’s even cooler is you can search a listing for each day! With the money you save on these specials, you’ll be able to buy a whole MESS of ShamWows®!!!

Get yourself to Cowtown Eats at http://www.cowtowneats.com/ to see a list of the best Happy Hours in Sacramento.


January 6, 2009

Don't Bug Me, I'm Eating

I thought not to write about this, but how can I not? It’s too good.

So Trish, my amazing girlfriend, and I are hanging out at home, both with the day off. This is a rare occasion, so to capitalize on this event, we decide to go on a couple of dates: a lunch date and a dinner date, followed by the flick, Quantum of Solace. In this story, I’ll only discuss lunch. Well, we decided we both wanted Chinese food. She knew of a great place on the corner of H and Alhambra called Shanghai Garden. So, of course, I’m game.

So we walk up to the building, and as I do with all restaurants in Sac, I take a personal second to search for the required posting for a passing score in their latest health inspection.

“Green…awesome…let’s eat,” I think as my concern is relieved.

We get our table, enjoy our tea, and place our orders. I can already taste the food. I was soooo hungry. She orders the Black Bean Chicken, and I get the Seseme Beef with steamed rice, and we share a bowl of Hot & Sour Soup.

So we’re sitting at this worn down looking table and finally get our soup. Believe me, we were both ready to dive into that sea of hot & sour soupy deliciousness. I take the first sip from those crazy boat-like looking spoons, and enjoy the warmth that the spice ingredients offer and the flavor of the sour. I’ve never liked hot and sour soup, but since Trish introduced it to me, I’ve been a fan. So we’re sitting there, enjoying ourselves, when I take another heaping scoop of what was supposed to be soup for TWO. I bring the mini boat-spoon to my lips and out of nowhere, through my super human peripheral vision, I spot an unknown object just about to high-five my upper lip. I bring the spoon to eye level in hopes that it was an ingredient that I was spotting.

“It must be a bamboo chute,” I thought, “Or maybe some ancient Chinese herb. Please let it be an herb.”

I looked closer, and as sure as the sky is blue, this unidentified object had big round eyes, six little black legs, and clear, dirty, disgusting wings. I retracted my head so fast from that spoon and immediately lost my appetite. Trish knew something was wrong by my expression, and I told her.

“There is a dead fly in my soup.”

There was a dead fly in my soup! Looking at me, laughing at me as though it got the last laugh in a string of practical jokes. If that fly were still alive I would have punched it in its dirty little fly face for ruining my meal. But it wasn’t. This fly was deceased, and it was marinating in the hot & sour herbs and spices that I was supposed to be enjoying.

And it gets better. I tell the server about this intruder of our meal, and he comes up with, “Ok, I’ll get you another soup.”

“Yeah, sure pal, sure chief! Just 86 the fly this time. That would be great. Thanks buddy.”

“WHAT?! ARE YOU SERIOUS?! WOULD YOU EAT THIS?! GET OUT OF MY FACE YOU SERVER OF FLIES!!!” I thought. But instead, I kept my cool, and said, “No thanks, but please take it off our bill.”

We still tipped the guy. I mean, it wasn’t his fault. But needless to say, I will never go back to this place again.

Can you imagine if I didn’t see that fly? I would have eaten it, like it was chicken, or tofu. It kind of makes you think, how many times have you consumed that extra protein in your food without knowing? Just a little something to think about, or not.


January 2, 2009


Is it just me, or are there no really good, authentic Mexican restaurants in Sacramento? I’ve tried a few places but they all seem to be nothing short of an El Pollo Loco or a Chipotle. Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some Chipotle, but I shouldn’t feel like I’m on a quest for food my mom can make right at home. The problem is my mother lives nearly 200 miles away. (However, that still didn’t stop me from getting two dozen of her annual homemade Christmas tamales.)

But alas! The quest comes near a close. Could it be possible that I have found the needle in a haystack? The Holy Grail, NAY! The Holy Frijol-y of them all? Well, I can’t say it’s the place I’ve been searching for since moving to Sac, but it did strike a chord in my foodie heart. It’s a place called Carmelita’s Mexican Restaurant.

Keep your eyes open on the corner of Fair Oaks and Sunrise, because this place really is a hidden gem. As you walk through the double doors, you are welcomed with the Latin sounds of Celia Cruz and Tito Puente, salsa music’s biggest stars. The décor is reminiscent of a vacation hot spot in Cancun, Mexico. Metal artwork, tropical green plants and hanging ripe mangos take you off to a far way land.

Fresh corn tortilla chips, zesty chipotle salsa and fresh pico de gallo await you as you are seated at your table. I suggest trying Carmelita’s Top Shelf Margarita, served with Cazadores Tequila Anejo. It wasn’t impressive at first, but boy, don’t let it fool you.

I had the tacos with carne asada served with beans and rice, which were nowhere near the flavor of what a taco truck can offer, but were still very delicious. The menu was simple, reasonable, and for the most part, all looked very tasty. They even had flan! You don’t see that too often in bigger Mexican food restaurants.

The wait staff was nice and attentive and the bartender was generous. I would definitely suggest this place to anyone looking for good Mexican food, and will honestly eat there again. However, my quest will continue in finding the Holy Frijol-y in Sac.

Family owned since 1962, with two locations in the Sacramento area:

Carmelita’s Mexican Restaurant
4071 Howard St.
Fair Oaks, CA 95628
(916) 961-3327


204 Riverside Ave.
Roseville, CA 95678
(916) 783-0411