Sunday, October 30, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
But lately, when I dream of pizza it’s the bubbly, blistering kind that has been baked to smoky perfection. The thin-but-still-sturdy type that’s topped with simple, rustic ingredients, good sauce and good cheese. And no one does it better than Pizzeria Delfina, in my opinion.
While my tastes in pizza have changed (and keeps changing) over the years, the one thing that has stayed constant is my must-have-with-pizza beverage. It’s root beer. It’s always been. And Defina serves Captain Eli’s – an herby handcrafted soda from Maine that definitely holds its own.
We started with sand dabs which were fried and served with aioli. If there were more in our party that evening I would have liked a salad (there was one with tuna that sounded particularly scrumptious). But after the one starter our party of 3 went straight to pizza.
First came the special pizza of the day which was topped with guanciale (Italian bacon made from pig’s jowls), onions, panna (cream) and lots of black pepper. I appreciated the uniqueness of the ingredients and flavor but somehow it didn't quite seem like pizza without the tang of tomato.Next came the margherita which my buddy LL had the smarts to ask our server to bring out only after we’d completely finished our first. Which meant it came to the table it was blisteringly hot, fresh, and eyes-rolled-back-in-your-head delicious. The crust was a chewy, crackly perfection with sauce that was pure tomato. And the glistening circles of cheese, basil and drizzle of olive oil all added up to something special.
Special enough to be my pie a la mode ('of the moment,' not the dessert!). As I mentioned, this place is small (with 20, possibly 25 seats max), the wait can be long, and it's unfortunately in a not so parking friendly area. But I can't wait to grab some friends and go back again.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I don't know why I've never gone to this before. 5 straight days. 24 competitive barbecue teams. Over 500,000 rib-loving visitors. This is a big deal!
Officially it's called the Nugget Rib Cook Off and it's been happening every Labor Day in Sparks, NV since 1989. Maybe it had something to do with my past (I spent a couple of challenging months as a hostess at Tony Roma's back in college). Maybe it was thinking of the sheer messiness of eating ribs that made me nervous. But either way, I'm glad I got over it. It was one of the best experience I've had all year.
It got even better when friends texted to say they were joining us . Can I take a minute to say just how awesome is my friend T is? It was the weekend before her wedding and while others might have been busy bridezilla-ing it up, she and her equally awesome now-husband, E, took a break from RSVP wrangling, seating chart-ing, and favor assembling to enjoy some ribs with us.
It's held on the plaza outside the Nugget casino, and draws a huge crowd. It’s a bit intimidating to negotiate the (at least) 4-block long stretch of barbecue, beer, lemonade, fried pickles, funnel cakes, garlic fries, and ice cream vendors. Even more intimidating as almost every vendor has a mountain of trophies and awards displayed out in front – making it impossible to choose which one to try.
It's also like 95 degrees! As a newbie I let T, E and MFM (who had all been before) take the lead. MFM and I went a day earlier on Friday and tried the slightly sweet and perfectly unctuous ribs at Texas Thunder. We also tried the slightly dry (in my opinion) but still tasty sampler at Famous Dave’s (who knew they had competitive barbecuers in Minnesota?).
But when T & E joined us, the real eating began. We had a strategy. We separated and got a variety of offerings from as many vendors as we could handle – trying a range of items including pork and beef ribs, a pulled pork sandwich, chicken, beans, mac & cheese, hot links, and cornbread – and met back in the middle to share.
We noted that next time, we’ll take cue from an Asian family we saw – who came totally prepared with tongs, platters of rice, and markers & name cards so they could remember who to vote for!
My favorite? The delicious, finger-licking ribs from Ohio’s Desperado BBQ got my vote for best ribs. It also gets bonus points for its catchy tagline ("Lick my ribs" - I'm still kicking myself for not buying that t-shirt). All attendees were able to vote for the "People's Choice" award, and Bay Area’s Back Forty BBQ ended up winning the entire competition.
And just in case you’re wondering how many days one can go before getting barbecued-out, for me the answer is exactly two. By Saturday evening all I wanted to do is look for a place to eat pho!
Sunday, October 16, 2011
CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS
CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE INSTRUCTIONS
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Having watched that very episode recently, I can’t say I totally agree with the critics who said that show was full of corny, touristy places. (I fully support his inclusion of House of Prime Rib, for one). Plus if it wasn’t for that show, I would never have known about That’s It, home to one of the biggest, most gut-busting tortas I have ever seen.
It’s called the Cubana and it’s easily a sandwich for 2-3 hungry people. It has: a breaded beef cutlet, chorizo, ham, eggs, a hot dog, cheese, jalapenos, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo and avocado on a soft roll. Seriously, this sucker is at least 8 inches long and 5 inches high.
It’s also surprisingly tasty. Yes, it’s sodium laden and ingredient-heavy but still manages to deliver discernable flavors and textures (crisp lettuce, creamy avocado). I’m a fan! Amazingly, MFM ate it all by himself while a friend and I shared a (also ginormous) chicken cutlet sandwich – which was also good.
Located in a liquor store on a busy Mission corner, you might not realize this haven for huge sandwiches exists. Enter the store and to the right there’s a counter in front of a small grill. You place your order and the friendly torta lady (I read on a blog that her name is Alicia) makes your sandwich. The store is tiny - but if you're lucky you can score one of about 4 seats to enjoy your meal.
It's not a place you can eat every day, but I'd go back again, especially if I was very, very, very hungry.