Archive for October, 2007

The MTV Reality Show Food Marathon

October 23, 2007

I don’t take enough vacations. So with the chance to go down to Corona del Mar for the day I pretended it was a vacation- and made it into a food marathon (obviously). I usually make fun of Newport/Laguna (for reasons MTV realized make for brilliantly nauseating television), but on a warm, relaxing day there wasn’t much to complain about.

Lunch at the Yacht Club (please note the irony) started with a cup of delicious, simple chili (pictures to come). My last chili post about Carney’s proclaimed its chilian greatness. But Carney’s chili is grease and goo, while this was chunky and fresh- ground beef, beans and cheese melded together perfectly under crisp oyster crackers. Follow that with a huge bacon and mayo filled club sandwich, some wine spritzers and take the yacht out for a spin around Newport Harbor… Not really, but that’s the type of meal it was.

We lazily made our way to Balboa Island where we found Balboa Candy. The store has every single candy you could imagine, from fresh taffy to Everlasting Gobstoppers, blinged-out candy grillz, Nerds ropes, fudge, Jelly Beans, licorice,
to gummy everything to a fridge full of limited distribution sodas. Down the street at Dad’s Donuts I got a Balboa Bar. It’s a block of vanilla ice cream on a stick, dipped in chocolate and covered in sprinkles, nuts and crushed Oreos. Not as good as Milk’s but still very good.
After that we drove up to the Crystal Cove Shake Shack, which is now under the reign of Ruby’s. Although it’s not as bad as TGIF’s or some other corporate chain it’s still not the mom-and-pop shop that it once was. That said, Ruby’s makes a good milk shake and that’s what we were there for. I was torn between the birthday cake shake (which supposedly tastes like Duncan Hines white cake) and the special pumpkin milk shake. Although October in Newport looks like mid summer elsewhere, I opted for the fall flavor.
It was very thick. After Mozza’s pumpkin gelato pie it had its work cut out for it. I enjoyed it but it wasn’t the best shake I’ve ever had.I’ll definitely be back for the rest of the flavors.
We ended at Muldoon’s. It’s an Irish pub in a shopping mall in Newport. Despite all those things working against it, the food was very good, the space is beautiful, with a large tree in the middle of the indoor/outdoor courtyard.
I forgot to take pictures, so this shot of the shepherds pie is towards the end of the meal. As are the bowls of sweet potato and French fries.It tasted better than it looked and looked better before I ate most of it…
Needless to say it was another great day of eating. And to top it off, Sunday night was Comme Ça… cheese, sweetbreads, bone marrow, braised oxtail, bouillabaisse, steak, mussels, fries, frites and more fries.


The Beginning of the Happy Ending

October 12, 2007

Please excuse the very obvious pun, but there’s a chance that it will be a sad ending if The Happy Ending doesn’t make some vital changes quickly. First off, I visited the extremely large Acapulco-converted bar before their grand opening parking lot Octoberfest party this weekend. It still looks like a generic Mexican restaurant. There’s a chance that the neighborhood and post-college draw will be so big that the enormous bar will fill up quick enough to cover costs of their large, Adidas sneaker and studded-belt-wearing staff. There’s a chance that the Saddle Ranch-esque bar will be patronized by enough shot-ordering drunkards to finance the multi-managered team of servers. First and foremost, the space is huge. There’s vast square footage of empty space between the comfortably divided tables, booths and bar. It will actually make the establishment look empty even when serving a Monday night full of football revelers. Although there are almost 30 flat screen TV’s, their placement is such that many of the tables won’t be able to view them comfortably. The fact that no one in the bar knew that it was the baseball playoffs is going to be detrimental to stealing the valuable Barneys Beanery/El Guapo/Busby’s sports bar crowd. And if you don’t want to be a sports bar, why do you have 30 flat screen tv’s?
The Wheel of Drunken (sans a stumbling Vanna White) seems like the main draw. It’s a simple gimmick that should work, but it has a fatal flaw- there’s too many options. Spun every quarter hour and featuring wasteful specials like $55 bottles of Moet, the wheel is too option-filled and could easily be streamlined. Cheap shots (less than $5), cheap pitchers (less than $10) and cheap common cocktails (Jack & Coke) would serve the spinners (chosen from the crowd) plentifully, with no need for excessive lists of unnecessary choices.
They serve fishbowls, which require extra long straws. Said straws sit unsanitarily on the bar.Free parking was a plus, but one bathroom for a space the size of a Trader Joes market seems problematic. I didn’t try the food which may be the key to the Happy Ending’s success. I wish them luck but don’t think I’ll be returning any time soon.

The 150K

October 8, 2007

Normally my references are marathon and running related (5k, 10k, 26.2 miles), but in this case the 150k stands for 150,000- as in calories eaten in the last week.
Between Comme Ça, Ludobites, Mozza and a few others thrown in, it was one of the most cheese-filled weeks of my life.
Ludobites really is a special situation. Ludo and his wife are serving Bastide-level food at one fifth of the cost by removing the expenses associated with wine, service/decor and the other ancillary elements of a great meal. It’s about great food- rich (potato salad coated in bacon), decadent (foie gras grilled cheese on squid ink bread), food alongside meats and cheese. I really don’t want to give it away, because it feels like a secret and I’d hate to see it spoiled.
Pizzeria Mozza is as good as always, with a new edition: Pumpkin Gelato Pie. I’m a huge fan of pumpkin pie in general, so imagine Mozza’s version… it’s outstanding. If it was possible I’d bring a pie to Thanksgiving dinner this year.
Add in a taco from Henry’s and a delicious homemade grilled cheese and cupcakes. Then top it all off with the ridiculousness that is Milk’s cookies & cream bar and a coffee toffee ice cream sandwich, and you push the heart’s limits of proper functionality.
My heart doesn’t hurt, but I have a feeling that I’ll be in for some bad news at my physical in a few weeks. I expect my doctor to advise against weeks where cheese is the overwhelming majority of my diet.

Comme ça

October 4, 2007

The opening event for Comme ça was a cheese, cocktail and oyster-filled affair, easily surpassing my expectations.
-the bar area is much bigger than Sona’s
-the cheese bar at the front of the restaurant means there won’t be a reason to venture past the main bar (I imagine a circular pattern; cheese, wine, cheese, maybe a restroom break at some point, cheese, wine, cheese)
-the room noise is kept to a comfortable level
-the ambiance is very homey
-the food, not surprisingly, is magnificent with the oysters, cod/potato balls and puff pastries ranking amongst my favorites
-the specialty cocktails were strong except for the cucumber-based drink which actually might be healthy…
Supposedly they’ll be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering French food throughout the day. There’s no doubt they will do great business, with lower cost items than Sona, yet the same fantastic service, food and Boule’s desserts. And yes, there will be bacon bread.