Thursday, September 25, 2008


You may be thinking to yourself, "Why is she posting about Oktoberfest when it is only September?"

Well, I'm actually posting this late. Oktoberfest actually starts in September and goes through to October. Oktoberfest is nearly done!

Let me 'splain. The ruler of Germany at the time thought the party was such a good idea and so much fun that he 1. Made the party last longer and 2. Made the party start sooner. My kind of guy.

What you need to know about Oktoberfest is below.

*Mahalo has two great pages about Oktberfest and Oktoberfest recipes
*Drink whatever beer you like, but think about expanding your horizons.
*If you want to be authentic, drink Oktoberfest. It is a golden, almost pumpkin-colored brew, strong on the hops, strong on the malt, strong on the alcohol. *
*Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest
is the gold standard, but there are several other ones out there.
*If you can get to Schafly Brewery in St. Louis for their Oktoberfest on draft, do it. It is a transcendent experience.
*Lederhosen means leather pants. They are completely optional unless you are doing Oktoberfest in Germany.
*Food should be simple, hearty fare.
*Don't let a late start discourage you from having an Oktoberfest party.
*Have fun!

I'll try to get some Oktoberfest beer reviews up this week if I can get over to my local supplier who may have some bottles left.

What a view

We hiked (OK, took the tram) to a mountain, then walked around it a bit. This was in Palm Springs, where apparently the rich are so rich they don’t need to, you know, expend energy to climb mountains. It was actually pretty cool, an amazing view during the tram ride.

Also, the trails at the top of the mountain were of many different challenge levels and could involve primitive camping for those who really felt guilty about it. It was clean, cold, dry, beautiful and the trees smelled like butterscotch cookies.

Dinner was offered at the restaurant at the end of the—er, top of the mountain.

Again, I ordered the filet, and again, I was burned. Or it was burned, rather. This time the sauce was fine, a red-wine reduction. The sauce, the scenery, and a glass of lukewarm red wine helped to make the hockey puck somewhat edible.

The view was spectacular, which made up for the lackluster and overpriced food. I’d do it again, but next time, go with the pasta.

I was reminded that there was once a time when well-done steak was the norm. My family didn’t start eating its meat rare until I was at least out of grade school. Possibly later. Of course, my father still likes his meat more well-done than my mother, but they can both enjoy a good medium-rare steak from time to time.

Thus ends the California food blog travel adventure.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Home cooking

The best meals I had were those that were cooked for me by friends. The Mister is from LA, so this trip was largely to meet “family” that couldn’t make it to our wedding. Meeting new people and being welcomed into the fold made the food all that much tastier.

But the food itself was also pretty awesome. Two friends who had just returned from eloping in Hawaii had a post-wedding shindig at their house. The husband cooked a veritable feast: Meatballs, Curried potato gratin, Shepherd’s pie, short ribs and kimchee—from the local Korean place—I actually ate kimchee and liked it—and a rich, yet light, cake for dessert. It was a feast. I wish I was still there.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Le fondue, and sushi in the desert

I like fondue, and will eat it every chance I get. What else can I say? So me, The Mister, and his childhood friend went out to The Melting Pot. I ordered an extra cheese portion for the table to ensure there’d be enough to go around, and I found a lovely Sauvignon Blanc to search for at home. Fruity, juicy, mouth-watering acidity, just how I like them.


I’ve come to the conclusion that in most any civilized place these days, you can get the exact same Mexican food and the exact same sushi. Not saying there’s anything wrong with strong margaritas, boisterous music, and cheese-drenched enchiladas. And I love a good California roll and a miso soup regardless of the state I’m in. But I was hoping, especially for the Mexican food, for something a tad more authentic. The margarita was quite nice, though, and the company was spectacular.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dining at Disneyland

We had a marvelous, spontaneous lunch at the Grand Californian Hotel’s, Storytellers Café. It’s not the uber-fancy restaurant at that hotel, so the prices were pretty decent. The styling was elegant, but relaxed. Green, and marble, but warmed up by some wood accents. The floor carpet was all letters and trains. A great place for both kids and adults to enjoy.

The food was fabulous. I had a simple soup and salad, but it was so flavorful and fresh that it was just lovely. My one beef with the vegetable soup is the menu said the veggies were to be “fire roasted,” but there was no roastiness to be seen or tasted in the soup. But, they floated a goat-cheese smeared crouton on top, so all is forgiven. The salad had bits of hard cheddar, and crunchy things that made it a taste and texture sensation.

Oh, and they had our anniversary wine. The Iron Horse Fairy Tale Cuvee, a sparkling wine bottled just for Disney. Lightly sweet, but not cloyingly so.

It is my very favorite champagne.

We went in the mid-afternoon, so the restaurant was very quiet. Also, going outside the park to eat, where it was nearly deserted, was a wonderful idea. No ticket needed to eat there. I highly suggest getting to the Grand Californian to look around and eat at the Storyteller’s Café if you get a chance.

My other meal at Disney was not quite as good. We lucked out and got walk-in tables at the Blue Bayou, the restaurant in the Pirates of the Carribean ride. So, it’s all decked out like you are on the banks of the Missisippi in New Orleans at the turn of the century at dusk. Nice ambience.

The filet itself was fine. Cooked properly. But the béarnaise, dear god, the béarnaise. I didn’t mention this to my dining companions, because I didn’t want to offend them, but the béarnaise tasted like it had been made with, not butter, but yellow paint.


I ate around the béarnaise and otherwise enjoyed the steak and potatoes, but I was sorely disappointed about the butter sauce.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Burgers for breakfast

Having never really been west of St. Louis, I had never had an In & Out Burger. So that was something on the “to do” list for our trip. Due to our packed schedule, the only time we could make it to In & Out Burger was for breakfast. Well…I was disappointed in my first In & Out Burger. Needed more salt, or more sauce, or something. I regret to inform you that I was too chicken to order it “Animal Style.”

The burgers I had at Hi Life were much better. The meat itself wasn’t as primo as the In & Out, but the thousand island was much better, and the bun was soft, fresh and sweet.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ah, California.

Went to California for 8 days. It was lovely. I really wasn’t in California for an uber-culinary experience. I was there to relax and have a good time, which I did. For once, meals were secondary.

Nevertheless, there was some good food, good times and good memories. Over the next week or so I’ll be rolling out several short posts.

Here's the first.

Dodger Dog and Blinky Beer
The first thing I ate when in LA was a Dodger Dog and beer from a hard plastic pilsner that pulsated blue light. It was touristy, overpriced, and delicious.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Uses for Pesto, part 2

Update: Was on vacation in California. Food review of that trip forthcoming.

3. My garlic scape pesto is so concentrated with garlic flavoring that it's a great add-in when you need to, er, OK, I'll say it, kick it up a notch. Bonus: The scape pesto does not have a pronounced herby flavor like basil- or parsley-based pesto does.

I've used the pesto to enliven a bowl of canned tomato soup, to mix with sour cream for a chip dip, and as a topping for gaspacho.

4. Use it to make garlic bread.

5. Condiment for prime rib or other steak, instead of horseradish.

6. Add a little more olive oil, and use as green cocktail sauce.

It's good stuff. Next year, if you see those wierd curly-Q stalks at the farmer's market, dig out your food processor and give garlic scape pesto a try.