Thursday, April 30, 2009

My favorite place in and around Huntington Beach

Whenever you move, one of the things you lose is the favorite places you like to eat at. You have to start the list from scratch.

After I moved to Huntington Beach, I found 3 places that I would recommend to anybody.

85c cafe. About 7 miles from me. Its the same chain that is in Taiwan. It opened last year in Irvine. It could be that I am biased about the desserts here. 85c and Taiwan are good memories of mine. But what you can't argue is the energy of this place. Its electric. And the pastries here are cheap and top notch.

Ajisen (noodle place). Same plaza as 85c cafe. I only went there once, and the ramen noodles seemed more al-dente like angel hair pasta. But the soup and the meat of the royal pork ramen (I absolutely wouldn't recommend anything else) is to die for. Its just one of those things that you eat, and then a day later a knot in the back of your brain shows up. And it keeps reminding you of that dreamy experience. And all you can do it just satisfy the calling, to quiet down the urge before it drives you crazy.

Alertos - on Brookhurst that is closer to the 405 - The burritos are as good as San Diego's quality. The portion is about the same because they don't serve you large burritos in San Diego anymore (except maybe JV's).

Still haven't found a good pho place. The $3 pho place is not consistant. Although its cheap, sometimes its good, sometimes you leave there unsatisfied. Not worth $3.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chicken Piccata on Pesto Ravioli with Green Beans

All the ingredients are from a Trader joes which is just a hop skip and a jump outside my door. It takes about 5-10 minutes. Boil the Pesto Ravioli, simmer the chicken tender with some chicken stock with some saffron, covered in piccata sauce. After it has reduced (and the chicken cooked), add the green beans. Then pour the sauce, chicken, green beans on top of the ravioli. I always seem to lick my plate clean with this dish.


I found a really quick way to make a delicious meal. Start boiling the fusili. Just fry freshly chopped garlic in olive oil until golden brown, add some white wine (any will do),. add a tablespoon of grated parmesean. Reduce into the same consistancy of the sauce. Add any trader joes red sauce out of the jar. Don't net it start boiling. I think you can kill the sauce that way. Then add some cajun andioulle sausage at the very end so that the fat inside melts, but make sure its not too hot that the sausage starts releasing all of the juices.

Lomo Saltado

This is my favorite Peruvian dish. Its probably the favorite dish of every Peruvian you'll ever meet. I followed the recipe online and it was terrible. I found where the elusive flavor came from. Its soy sauce, oyster sauce, and vinegar. And you gotta cook it on a wok if possible. But without a wok, it can still be good. I'll have to try the new recipe sometime.

Roast Beef Sandwich with Sharp Provalone on Sourdough Bread

All I did was slice very thinly some onions, wrapped it up with the roast beef, toasted the sourdough and the sharp provolone, and it was heaven. As long as the roast beef is good, you don't need anyting else. It is a perfect sandwich. Probably the best sandwich I can make.

Red Bean Soup

I tried it different ways this time. I blended it in a blender, and the consistancy was like lobster bisque, but of course red bean soup flavor. I thought it was pretty good, but I wouldn't really eat it as soup. I'd be good as bun filling, or frozen (with added sugar) as a icy treat.

Hell's Kitchen US (Latest Ep)

Danny is definitely the certified cooking prodigy. He's never received one bad comment from Chef Ramsay it seems. He does have his flaws. His leadership seems very suspect. He doesn't seem like the leadership type. But I don't think he'll have any problems gaining full support for the final episode. Its been pretty clear since early on that it'll be Danny and Paula at the finale.

CSI (Latest Ep)

I really liked the episode before this episode with the star trek mockery. I guess its the inner awkward nerd inside me that want to get with a hot lab tech in the office.

Hell's Kitchen UK (Latest Ep)

I am in love with Danielle Bux. She looks more amazing on this show wearing a chef's coat rather than her lingerie foto shoots. More focus on her face, less focus on her body (which is also just as amazing).

As for Marco Pierre White, he's an amazing individual. When he's in the room, everyone is in his reality and space. He is a leader among leaders. I'd love to dig into his brain. I'm guessing he's not the type that is willing to break it down, but he'd rather give you stories and expect you to figure out how it all matters over time.

The Deadliest Catch (Latest Ep)

Why do I like this show? I'm not sure. Maybe its because some episodes, they pull dead bodies out of the water. Or maybe I just like the idea of catching a cages full of king crab. Its probably both.

Earth Investigated Time Travel

I really like these shows that talk about worm holes, black holes, time travel, atom splitting, the 4th dimension, infinite dimensions, parallel universes, string theory, electromagnetism, gravity, etc. I think I may have considered majoring in it if I had the same love for it as I do now in 1996. This all sounds like science fiction, but its no longer science fiction. Its the latest theory.

The Ultimate Fighter (Latest Ep)

I don't like these immature pranks in the house. The fight this week was good.

The Celebrith Apprentice (Latest Ep)

I've been saying how much I hate Annie Duke on this show, but I'm starting warm up to her a little bit.

Rhythm Heaven (DS)

I don't know why I'm fighting myself to not love this game. I can't play it for more than 20 minutes. But there are definitely some addicting elements to it.

Monopoly (iPhone)

I love this game. It has easily consumed 40 hours of my life.

Patapon 2 (PSP)

I'm about 90% complete. Don't seem to want to go any further. I don't know why. I'm sure I'll beat it someday.

I'm making my own sourdough starter

I'm about 24 hours in on my sourdough starter.

But let me backtrack. What is a sourdough starter? Its referred to as "the sponge". I have posted about it long before how I thought it was a subject that should give you goosebumps.

A sourdough starter is usually a mixture of flour, water, and yeast. It is literally alive, and you need to keep it alive if you want to continue to use it. Kinda like a caged creature, you keep it alive by feeding it water and flour. And whenever you want to make sourdough, you take a little bit of it, and give it some time to grow back what you took.

So this means the sourdough we are sometimes eating is from a concoction of fermented flour that has been kept alive in someone's kitchen sometimes for years (and in extreme cases, it could possibly be from a famous sourdough lineage that is decades old).

After I made french bread a while back, I decided making french bread really wasn't for me. To be honest, I didn't like how long it took. I liked the kneading, but I didn't like the mess it made. French bread is relatively cheap $1-2 for a large loaf, and arguably, its cheaper to buy French Bread than to make it.

A good loaf of sourdough however seems to be a bit more expensive. Generally starts around $3 at Trader Joes. I even saw it for $8 at Ralphs. Totally outrageous. The irony of all this is it looks like sourdough is much cheaper and easier to make than french bread. So that's why I decided to investigate this further.

This video below shows you how to make a sourdough starter. The reason that this video inspired me was the simplicity of it. Just water and flour. How beautiful is that? Total work involved is a few minutes tops (although you let it sit for a day or two). It would be awesome to have sourdough year round for very little cost. I just need to go to Costco and buy one of those industrial sized bags of flour. Well, I won't go that overboard until I see if this starter can produce sourdough I want to eat regularly. I'm really hoping this works out. Plenty of people seem to say that this is definitely the right method, as simple as it is. There is another video on youtube that says you don't need to knead the dough before you throw it in the oven. That would be amazing if I can just have a fresh loaf with minutes of physically involved preparation (still need to let it rise for half a day) in a single shot. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The demise of the food network

If you haven't heard, the food network has pretty much been unwatchable for the last few years. I used to just keep my TV tuned to the food network from 1999 to 2005, now I can't remember the last time I tuned in.

I never really gave it much thought on how this happened. Its not like I lost interest in cooking of food. Its quite the contrary. I have more interest in cooking and food more than ever. But after I have gave it some thought on why I no longer watch that channel, I am disgusted at the people in charge of the food network. You tune in these days, and you find shows on how junk food is made. Then there are cake making competitions where they seem to make cakes that almost appears to be unedible and resembles plastic and glass. Sandra Lee is showing you how to make a breakfast in bed with canned peaches, a bucket of cool whip, and a squeeze bottle of fake honey. I loved the original Iron Chef, but I loathe Iron Chef America.

And last but not least. Good Eats. It used to be a show I loved, but it quickly lost credibility with me when I finally decided to try a recipe from the show Good Eats. It was terrible. No, its not because I'm that bad in the kitchen. Whenever I try a recipe for the first time, I follow it down to the exact details. I don't substitute, and I'll go out of my way to get all the ingredients, even if they are exotic ingredients. After trying the recipe, I realized that the recipe was just made for TV, and would not be a recipe anyone would consider repeating (or refine) after you've tasted what may come out of that recipe. I'm sure not all recipes of Good Eats were heartless recipes, but all it took was one recipe to make me realize that Alton Brown was not the gastronomic einstein that he was making him out to be. A few years later, I saw the TV biography of Alton Brown. I saw that his credentials were things in cinematography and photography. And that he had only joined a culinary school with the goal of producing his own cooking show. It made perfect sense. There is some educational value on that show, but if they are going to fake about the food, I gotta wonder how much of the science wasn't just fluff. Just like everything on the food network these days, its all about entertainment value, and there is very little importance on the actual food itself. This is why I stopped watching. The food network has turned into the fake food network. Food has become secondary. Entertainment value seems to be everything. I feel betrayed as a viewer.

I think the type of cooking shows I'm looking for these days are by people who can cook like Anthony Bourdain describe in Kitchen Confidential. People who can cook on the line, have leadership skills, and can excute any dish they can conceptualize with speed and accuracy. In other words, chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White. Underneath all that cursing, trash can kicking, and food spitting, Gordon Ramsay has some serious cooking chops from years on working on the line. You get to see very little of it on Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, but you can see a lot more of it in his UK shows. You look at all the bios in the food network website, and you quickly see that none of these people are qualified to be teaching you anything. Mario Batali, Ming Tsai, Emeril Lagase, and Sara Moulton (All the people I used to watch) seems to have gotten the boot or left on their own accord. And it even gets worse. You have people like Robert Irvine who seems to been revealed to have a fake resume. There were rumors that he was going to get the boot, but no, he's still on the food network. And oh yeah, that food guy from Queer Eye from the Straight Guy has a show on the food network too. Wasn't he more like a foodie than a cook? I guess it doesn't make a difference anymore.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The problem with British humor, and why British comedy is always a bit dry

Don't get me wrong, I do love the accent. The accent may just be an evolved form of the English Language. The accents give you character. And it says a lot about you. Especially where you've come from, where you've been. That's huge when it comes to communicating with people. Hey, you got that same accent as me? You must be from xxxx. Instant rapport. Bloody brilliant as they would say. And another great thing about British/English accents is that it makes you sound proper.

The rudest people on television, the ones that can get away with it anyway, all have British accents. Why? They can dish it out, and not sound like like a raving lunatic who has lost their patience, but more importantly, their mind. They can say the most terrible things, and they won't get stabbed in the neck by someone on the receiving end. Its not like they can turn tirades into sunshine and butterflies. What I mean is when they say terrible things about you, the accent takes the edge off. Because it sounds sincere, proper, and educated. Take for example Simon Cowell, Gordon Ramsey, Piers Morgan. Can you imagine if these guys did their jobs without the accent? It would be a disaster. But with an accent, they are able to do something someone without an accent will never be able to get away with.

But there is a downside to these accents. And its the comedy. Can you imagine if Chris Rock, Dave Chapelle , or Joe Rogan had a British accent? They'd be terrible. Take for example Ricky Gervais, a popular British comedian. Is this guy supposed to be funny? Well, he's ok. But he'd be way funnier without the accent because his vulgarity wouldn't be toned down with his proper English. I'm sure there are funnier British comics out there, and everything I said here is not as cut and dry. But I'm sure is some truth in a lot of things I mentioned.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I feel the camel's pain

He's saying, "I'd rather die than carry this woman in these conditions! Just kill me now!"

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tyson 2009 Review

I had a chance to see this early before the release and I must say it was pretty eye opening. I've seen other documentaries about Mike Tyson, and know about his life story. The difference with this documentary is that its him telling the story with his own words. Not a story by someone who thinks he has a good understanding about him. What I learned was that he's not a boarderline mentally handicapped individual. The media portrayed him as some kind of a fighting prodigy with a mind of a 3 year old child. Sure he has a bit of a lisp. And although he is not a genius, he's a man who understands himself very well. When he's using those big words, he's not trying to sound smart. He's just doesn't stop himself from trying to get the other person to understand just because he can't find the right words.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A query for the ages

On a normal day, I write about 10 different queries sql queries. And they mainly are composed of selects, updates, deletes, and inserts using things like inner joins, inner joins of inner joins, where, like, top 1, orber by, group by, count, max, etc., etc. I've gotten really good at it, and can do these half asleep usually error free the first time.

Today though, I had to branch out of my comfort zone and use for the first time (on top of everything above) coalesces of coalesces, outer joins, cases, havings, and more in one single query. Been working on one query pretty much all day, and I must say I'm proud of it. I'm taking mutiple queries, and queries that would branch off after another query, and turning something that would require a minimum of 1-2 seconds to complete into a complex recordset that gets formed in one shot.

Another thing I decided to do is improve my javascript skills. I'd say I know html, css, T-SQL and ASP inside and out, and can practically look at any web application/site and break it down and remake it from scratch. But where I never really concentrated too much time was on javascript. If you want to do anything interactive after the page has loaded has to be done by javascript. And I felt hungry to learn this weekend.

Another thing I played with yesterday was XML. I've been avoiding XML like the plague because everything I do, I always have a SQL Server backend. I have to say that with everything I've tried so far, making, reading, adding, deleting, and editing XML with code, I really hate the syntax. I feel like I can write a more simpler and easy to version of xml if you give me a few hours. One thing I wouldn't do is use words like childNodes, createElement, appendChild. I think we have more meaningful and shorter words in the english language. The word Elements or Nodes doesn't add to or take away from visualizing the structure of the data. Its like adding confusion to your code by writing confusing comments and being too general. Childs should have parents. If you're going to have a root, you should have trees and branches, not childs. And the whole thing about converting to XSLT to do stuff with it. As if loading an XML file and parsing through strings wasn't inefficient enough. After I got there, I decided these guys are just whacking eachother off trying to invent names for the smallest of things. The best thing about XML is that its universal. But I'd say if they really collaborated, we can achive something a lot more sophisticated, a lot more powerful but easy to use as sql queries and recordsets, a lot faster, and a thousand times more efficient. All the big players of every framework need to have a big sitdown and hash out a killer standard that should last through at least a decade.