Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pickleman's Gourmet Cafe

This was funny, because my wife and kids were originally sitting in the shade at a nice table in Kirkwood, with the intention of going into Kaldi's and picking some great tasting food. I hear that the food is great and while I only have tried a scone and some cookies, I was eager to try some more umami-related food. I was not initially impressed with their menu. Nothing against Kaldi's, really. But when I was looking for something more than just a veggie burger or spinach turkey sandwich.

So, I went to Pickleman's, next door. I liked the way it looked on the inside and found myself ordering some addictively good sandwiches for my sons: the Pizza Guy. The Pizza Guy is a sandwich where it has tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni on a bread that is then rolled through the oven. Not only does it look like someone folded over a a pizza slice, but it tastes, just like pizza. An awesome 3 out of 5 for me.

I looked around and wanted to have an adventure. I decided to get me one of their inventions. I chose the Pickleman's Italian Club, minus the cheese. I loved it, it was delicious and a good sized sandwich.

This was a really good sandwich. I would recommend this in an instant. An easy 4 out of 5 for me.

So, there you have it. If you are in Kirkwood and looking for a good meal, go to Pickleman's.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The best of Bravo!

Last Saturday night, my wife and I joined some friends for a night out.  We went, to Bravo, in West County, and was a time to erase all previous visit experiences.  There was a lot of different variables this time, that may have helped make the whole event better than previous ones.  First of all, it was in the evening, it was a nice night, and we had outdoor seating.  Then a few minutes after being sat, the Manager, Dan, came by and introduced himself to us.  That is a first and marks a great restaurant knowing that the Manager cares about the customers enough to at least say "hi" or introduce himself.  When I worked at Buffets Inc, so long ago, one of the rules we had as a Manager was called "The 6 foot rule."  The idea behind this rule, was that if you are within 6 feet of someone, say "hi" or ask "how are you today?"  It wasn't a big deal, but just having a Manager talk to you at least once shows that if you did need anything, he would help out.

So, as we were starting to look the menu over, we had perhaps the most knowledgeable and friendly waitress watching our table.  She was very friendly, gave us her favorite items on the menu, mentioned that she had just about tried everything on it and was overall, the kind of service that you expect in a super and expensive dining setting.

So, a sign of a great service staff is how far they are willing to go to help someone.  In this case, my wife didn't know which type of wine to get, so the waitress brought out 4 samples.

After we had made our selections, we ordered an appetizer: fried calamari.
They were good and soft, not too chewy like they are most of the time.  The spicy white sauce went well with them.  I'd give them a 3 out of 5.

I ordered the

Chicken Fra Diavolo Campanelle

Sauteed shrimp or chicken tossed in a spicy tomato cream sauce with bell shaped campanelle pasta.

Sounds good, right?  It was very good, no problems with anything on the dish at all, an easy 4 out of 5 stars.

My wife ordered the 

Citrus Crusted Grilled Mahi Mahi*

Topped with a zesty citrus crust served with sauteed fresh vegetables, farro, orzo and lemon butter sauce.

Now, to be fair, my wife did say that it was cooked perfectly and had great flavor, but only wished that it had more citrus flavor to it.  She gave it a 3 out of 5.

Here is the thing, the amount of kindness and expertness that we had at this dinner, made up and made us forget about past visits.  From the moment we walked in, there was nothing but attention on us, and the other customers.  I don't really don't know what else to add here, everything about this visit to Bravo was great.  No complaints.  Now, I would recommend that anyone in the area, go there some night when you want a nice and quiet meal on a nice evening.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hey everyone, I've hit it big, sorta.... has agreed to make a new section just for my blog and writings.  Check it out at:

Thursday, July 26, 2012


This past week, I have had a great opportunity.  I had the VP of Web Operations at, enjoy my blog so much that he wished to create a whole new section on the site and allow me to write for it.  So, I wrote an introduction article and thought I'd see how it goes for a few weeks, which is what they wanted me to do as well.  What struck me immediately, was the amount of people who question, doubt and call "Fraud!". 

I do like to write and I do like to eat and I do like to cook.  One of the things that I'm not a huge fan of, us when people write about topics that they haven't really experienced themselves.  What I mean is this:  I call myself a credible writer for restaurant reviews, having some fundamental knowledge on how a restaurant works and should be run. I also think I am capable of writing about cooking and other foods, as I am also an avid cook and experiment a lot with various ingredients.  I've worked with food, studied food and eat food.  I think this makes me capable of lending some truthfulness to writing about food. 

Are the best baseball writers merely fans?  I would say the best sports writers are those who have at least tried the sport at some time; not even professionally.  I don't know enough about football to write about it. (Truth be told.)  But still, you don't see me writing about it.

I have heard from a lot of people who think their idea of reviewing a restaurant is saying whether it was "good" or "terrible" and that's it.  These same people only have experience eating food as their wife or girlfriend do all of the cooking and their idea of fine dining is Hooters. 

While some may not believe me, when I explain about bad service at restaurants like 1111 Mississippi or bad food at Johnny's Pizza, what matters to me, is that I try to show some evidence, be it through photos or just other witnesses with me.  I try to make my posts seem credible.  I am not being paid or given a free meal to tell the world about how great the food is somewhere when I know it really isn't.

With that off my chest, I will say this, I don't review bars.  The food at a place like BoBeck's is probably no different than the bar food at Show Me's.  Most bars in St. Louis serve the same type of items and there is a minimum amount of difference.  I know you certainly can't review the beers, well you can, but on what factors?  This beer is 30 cents cheaper here than there?  Some things are the same.  Beers tend to be the same.  A Bud Light at Growlers is the same as a Bud Light at Top Shooters.  You can't really say one is better than another.  So, the only thing you can look at then, is the food quality, taste and service.  And even then, a regular burger at one place, even with a different taste, may still only be as good as a regular burger at another place.  So, which bar is better?  I would say that there are close to 5,000 bars just in st. louis, so checking each and every one would be impossible. 

So, there you have it.  My ranting.  Feel free to email or leave comments.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

thanks for hanging on

Thanks everyone for hanging on here.  I have had a crazy week.  A great site catering to the younger generation of St. Louis, has picked me up as the sole writer for their STL Eats section.  They never have had a writer about food in st. louis yet and the VP of the site loves tasty-magazine and he picked me up.  I have been writing on there.  He only wants me to focus on stl though, so if there is something I write about that doesn't have business in st. louis, then I'll put it on here and still post something on there.   I can write two separate things, right?

This past weekend, my family went to Chicago for business and while there, we were able to eat at Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill and go to another restaurant and order an 8 pound burger.  I will have pictures in a post next week and we are all set.   

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Again with the Bravo?

Yes, I did go to Bravo! again. The thing is with this restaurant, is that because it is part of a mall that we visit at least once a month, this restaurant becomes one of the options of places where my family and I can eat. If you have been reading my posts, you would have noticed that I have been there at least twice so far. The first time, I just had my wife and I and we had great service and the food was good. The second time we went, the food was bad and the service was horrible. We also had our kids along on that second time. We couldn't get into CPK (California Pizza Kitchen) and so we went to Bravo! again. I have to say though, counting this review, Bravo! is now 1 for 2; one win and 2 losses.

If this is your first time reading about this place, it is like a more fancy Olive Garden. They claim to have better or more authentic Italian food and they do have an open kitchen, but the service lacks. My two kids and my wife show up, ask for a spot and are asked to follow the hostess to the very back of the restaurant, where there are some booths available. She first tried to sit us in a booth, that was against a small wall and on the other side of a wall was a party in the banquet room, complete with presents waiting for opening on this small wall. The first thing as asked if we could move booths. I don't know what she was thinking, but if you take any young child and place them next to a wrapped present, it is nigh impossible having them not trying to open them. Not to mention that the booth was behind a large table, with at least 10 people sitting there, which I hate, because you feel so cramped.

We got a booth further down and as we sat, almost immediately, the waiter was on us, asking if we were ready. We told him what drinks we wanted and ordered for the kids, in hopes that their order gets in and moving along so they don't starve. Within minutes, a different server arrived with the food for our kids, which was great. But he didn't take our order. Instead I watched our server tend to the large party behind the wall. Here's a tip: if you have a large party in your section, then please do not sit anyone else in your section. My wife ad I normally tip the regular 15% but if the food is good and service good, we do 20%. Well, the server seemed that he was willing to sacrifice us and not care about us, so he could get the fattest tip from the party. Who cares about us, right? So, we wait and wait and wait and someone comes by and brings us a second basket of bread and we wait and wait. 10 minutes goes by and the waiter hasn't been back to our table to take our order. My kids are complaining about being full, and half of their food is gone. So, we are waiting and I'm looking all over, from our seat, for our waiter. Then I spot him: he is over at the other end of the restaurant, helping the bar-tender dry glasses and chatting with her.

So, the hostess comes by our booth, as she finished seating someone and then walks back to her station. I stop her and ask her: "our waiter has been sitting over there at the bar for almost 10 minutes now, could you please let him know that we have been waiting here to order." She goes back, tells him and he looks back at us, and finishes a few more glasses. Then he comes over like nothing happened. He takes our order. My wife wanted a salad with some lobster bisque soup. I picked the Chianti braised beef ravioli. I was a bit disappointed by the time the food came, a mere 10 minutes later.

Well, what did my food look like?

This is my ravioli, and let me say that it wasn't worth $10.75. The ravioli was good, the large amount of fresh Parmesan cheese on top, over-did the flavor of the beef. The orange chunks are the diced pieces of sweet potato that have been in a very rich and bad tasty cream sauce. The sweet potato, tasted off, as in, rotten, nasty, like trash, and it smelled fresh. It was the combination of the potato and that sauce that made it bad. I'd like to give this dish a 2 out of 5.

My wife's salad and soup was here:
My wife thought it was okay as well. But not that great, I'd say it looked like a 3 out of 5 for her.

What does this mean for this time>? Well, this means that out of 3 visits, we have had two bad ones. Will we return? Probably not now. In fact, we may try to actively avoid it now.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why haven't you been here yet???

Ok, from a completely objective point of view, you have to go to Tokyo Sushi, on Lindbergh, in St. Louis.  My wife and I have been there many, many times and we have NEVER had anything bad.  They are super friendly, will fix any issue without hesitation and will help you out.  I know we have been going there for many years: from my kids both in high chairs and car seats to using their own chairs and working on chop sticks.  This place is always a winner and if you haven't been there yet, then what are you waiting for?

We normally sit at the bar, because I enjoy watching the chefs prepare the sushi.  (It really is an art form.)  So, we go and watch and almost always have the same server; Hugo, I believe his name is, or at least that is what I think he signed our bill as.

I normally always order the chicken or steak teryaki and this time did something different by selecting the yaki soba noodles with chicken.  Seems like a good idea and this is the giant plate that came out.
This is a large plate of food.  It was enough food for me to eat half of it, take it home, and then give the second half to my kids for their dinner.  It is a good amount for food for a really good price.  Not to mention that it was delicious.  I would give them stars on my scale but since we have been there so many times and they are perfect every time, they don't get counted, just 5/5 every time.

My wife picked up a sashimi sampler and this is what it looked like:

So, go here now:
I can't say enough good things about this.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

4th of July

I hope everyone had a good one and I hope that everyone had a stuffed belly afterwards.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The flaw in Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers is a great thing, in that it keeps people counting points instead of calories in hopes that they lose weight when they become aware of how much they are eating.  Instead of having candy, cookies and cheese all day, people see that a point cap, prevents them from pigging out on unhealthy foods and staying within a certain range, which can really be mimicked by watching and counting calories.


What is a bit troublesome for Weight Watchers, is that it is entirely possible to ingest hundreds of calories, for 0 points.  So, you have a cap of 28 points per day, but can eat as much fruit as you want because it has 0 points?  Is that true?

So, my wife wanted a snack and I thought that I could probably make one for 0 points.  So, I went to work.  I started by taking out some strawberries and blackberries:
I also had a peach but didn't use it.  Now, a cup of blackberries and a cup of chopped strawberries have 0 points.  But eating them plain is boring, so what could I do?

I put them in a pan, and let them start to cook.
I decided a banana, sliced up, would work well.  Do you start to see where I am going now?  Warmed up fruit.  I was first thinking of crushing this all into a compote, but changed my mind to make something sweet but with 0 points.  I know, vinegar.
While a few tablespoons of Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar may have a few points, spread out into serving sizes would give each serving 0 points still.  So, some of that was added in to help the fruit cook down and reduce.  Just when I had enough acidity to bring more depth out of the fruit, I added something sweet: flavoring.
This caramel extract has no sugar or points or calories.  So, what have we got here?   0 points of fruit, vinegar and flavoring makes a large bowl of 0 point food, really.
My problem with this, and the way that Weight Watchers does this, is that while this has 0 points and technically one on Weight Watchers could eat all they wanted without impact, it still has calories.  There is at least 310 calories in fruit and then you have the balsamic vinegar at about 15 calories a tablespoon.  I'd say I have two tablespoons in here and then you finish with about 340 calories for this.  Now, while it may have 0 points, it has 240 calories and so if you were wanted to, by Weight Watchers, you could eat 10 of these throughout a day with no points but you would gain almost a pound of fat due to the 3,400 calories.

So, is it flawed? I'd say.  I just have to develop a better diet solution that actually works.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A needle in a haystack

I'm not going to go on about the dangers of high fructose corn syrup.  I'm not.  I can't stand the commercials that come out when more and more people are disapproving of this ingredient.  So, when I'm in a store and find a giant aisle filled with snacks, it is like finding a needle in a haystack, when I look for a snack product with no high fructose corn syrup.

This picture on represents HALF of the aisle.  There is probably a million calories right there, in that picture.  So, after 5 minutes of searching, I find this:
Out of everything, I find one item with no high fructose corn syrup.  What is interesting, is that I have never seen a single product from Entenmann's that has been without high fructose corn syrup, before this day.  All of their other products still have it.  I love donuts, but even the local grocery store claims that they bake their donuts fresh each morning but they have high fructose corn syrup in them so I know that to be false.  So, if you are looking for donuts, these Entenmann's "Softees" are good and without the hfcs in them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ratatouille? Low points?

So, while my wife is on weight watchers, I have been thinking of low point foods or meals to create.  One thing that came to mind was ratatouille.  In my version, since my wife is allergic to eggplant, I used Roma tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash.  I had some vegetable pasta sauce and used that on the bottom of the dish, then sprinkled about a pound of cooked ground turkey.  Then layered the vegetable slices.  What this looks like is this:

Now, in the oven it goes, and I certainly forgot what temperature and how long, but after that it looks like this:

Now my wife made the tomato sauce on the bottom and said it was a point per serving.  The ground turkey added another point per serving but the vegetable layer adds no points.  So, large servings could be eaten for less than 3 points.  Nice huh?  If anyone needs a recipe or questions, just let me know.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Taste: Flawless Victory

The problem with starting off with a title obviously inspired from Mortal Kombat, is that you are now required to use more references of the game series or franchise in your review or metaphors.  I can't.  Well, maybe I can. "My past visit to Taste was like a Johnny Cage ball-breaking punch."  ---In a good way. (As in, when you are playing Johnny Cage and are able to use that un-blockable move that will cripple every opponent, except Sonya Blade of course)

This past Saturday night, I went with 8 other people, which was the largest group I have been to for fun at a restaurant, and we were treated like gods.  Nothing was bad about the whole entire evening, except the rain storm as we were leaving, but I bet that if the Manager at Taste that night could have changed it, he would have.  As my title alluded, the whole night was a Flawless Victory and was so good, I can still hear Shang Tsung laughing in the background.

We started by making reservations for 6 people, a day ahead and that number eventually grew to 9 people.  There was never an angry, dismayed or even a breath of annoyance from the host on the other end of the phone and I was actually amazed that he didn't even make any remarks to me like "are you sure this time?"  He was perfect on the phone, so from the start, everything was working good.  We did the valet, got there without a hitch and a had nice spot upstairs, where we never had been before. 

If you have never been to Taste, there is a small food and wine menu and then a larger menu for cocktails.  On one side of the cocktail menu, there is a list of "Classics" where you will find such drinks as the Cosmopolitan, Old Fashioned or even a Mint Julep.  On this side of the menu though, they also have the estimated date of creation.  Last time we were here there was so many drinks and so little time.  Also, last time I was here, I wasn't feeling as brave as I was now.  So, as we sit down and the waiter asks what I would like, I order a drink, but not just any drink: the Ab-duck-tion.

This drink is made with duck fat infused Grand Marnier.  The first sip is flavored with the citrus and after that you get a hint of creamy duck fat.  It wasn't overly powerful and still subtle with good flavors.  It was a great idea and a great drink.  Hey guys, that's a 5 out of 5 stars from me!

My wife and I order some "snacks" as our appetizers.  We ordered the "Pig Pop" which was basically freshly made pork rinds and an order of some fingerlings in a Spanish sauce.

 These are freshly made pork rinds.  They are salty, spicy and oh so piggy.  Nothing like pork flavor.  They were very tasty and I'd give them a 4 out of 5.  The other thing we ordered set the precedent for the meal.  It was chopped up fingerling potatoes which were cooked perfectly and had this incredible sauce on them. 

 They called it "Spanish Sauce" but it was a mixture of spicy goodness in liquid form.  It was so good, that a friend of mine named Franco, whom was sitting with us, declared that all french fries for the night have that sauce on them.  The potatoes with Spanish Sauce were easily a 4 and 1/2 stars out of 5, they were so delicious.  My friend was hoping that they would now serve french fries with the sauce, a dish he created and we lovingly refer to and call "Franco's Fries".

So, we ordered some more foods, looking for things to try and see if the chefs could top the previous dishes.  Each time, they were able to do so.  I wanted to do something different and while I attempt to try new foods every time I go out, obviously some places have newer foods to try than others.  What I mean by this is while a random burger bar may have a new kind of condiment for their beef patties, it isn't as new and not as a new flavor than something like say...beef tongue on a potato rostini.

Okay, what we have here is the beef tongue dish.  What I received was this and after ordering and looking at it, I picked off a piece of the meat on top and tried it.  It was weird.  To me, the shaved meat on top tasted like the most tender pastrami ever and for others, it tasted like the best braunshwieger.  It was awesome and then that is when it was pointed out to me, that the great tasting shaved meat was actually beef tongue.  This was the first time I had ever eaten tongue and it was freakin' awesome.  I couldn't believe it and even bothered to try the fried potato item on the bottom of the dish.  It was so great and delicious and I have nothing to say bad about this dish.  It is like going through a whole game of Mortal Kombat, while taking advantage of the glitch which allows you to use Liu Kang's dragon kick move repeatedly over and over and beating every single opponent.  It was perfect and I loved it.  So, an easy 5 out of 5 on this.

Then there was the lamb sugo with toasted bread.  This dish reminded me of the last time I ordered beef marrow.  
  What we have here is some great tasting ground lamb, with some spices and vegetables.  You scoop it out of the skillet and then spread it on the bread and it is like a billion times good.  Um, can I give this a 4 and 1/2 stars out of 5.

Now, I didn't order this next item, but should have.  This was the pork burger and the large hungry mouth moving towards it, is exactly its fate.

Ok, let me give you an idea of what this burger is like: imagine your most favorite and happiness moment ever.  Now, take that moment and put it into a burger with perfectly cooked bacon.  Now, the hungry mouth belonged to my friend Franco and while he loved his burger, he still offered a bite to anyone at the table.  The burger went around the table and after 4 other people besides him took a bite, we all had one thing to say: "Oh my god!."  I'm not joking, we all 4, all said independently, "oh my god!".  It was incredible and so delicious.  It was amazing and this single dish was by far better than any dish I remember having at Niche' (Taste's parent restaurant).  This was an easy 5 or even 6 stars out of 5.

What else was eaten?  Well, someone else at our table ordered the curried cauliflower and it was awesome.

Also, something that I though that would never work was my wife's drink.  I didn't catch the name of the cocktail, but it had a sliced jalapeno in it.  I looked at it and thought about how spicy it could be.  But then I tasted it and it was great.

Besides the rain and the thunderstorm, the only other negative thing was the fact that I met and talked with the manager of the night and then forgot his name afterwards.  I think it is bad form to talk about how great everything was and not give high-fives or a cookie to the manager for running such a tight ship.  To the manager of Saturday night, it was great, everything was great and I would say near perfect.  Taste may be my new favorite spot for groups and just going out.  I loved everything and it is easily the best bar in st. louis.  I will tell everyone to go there.  I'm just sorry I forgot your name.  As for Ted, every drink was made perfectly.  Not a complaint.  You guys rock.  Flawless Victory.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Historic Main Street

My wife and I had a few hours to spend on Historic Main Street in St. Charles.  This was my first time and we were not really there for the food, but more so for shopping or window shopping.  This was more of a reconnaissance trek.  We went to see what was there.  We did see some very and I mean, VERY, interesting places but the best one was the Man Cave.

 Inside this historic building, was an old car, some old tin plates depicted pinups with humorous and some anti-female slogans and some old car-related nostalgia.  The place was pretty small.  What got me the most was the owner, who came out to greet us.  I was expecting more of a friendly shop owner, which was a change from what we had experienced so far. (See The England Shop.)  The guy comes out and he first asks "you don't see any candles or stinky jewelry in here do you?  This is the only place you can see on this street that doesn't sell any of that girly crap.  I suggest you get yourself a 6-pack and come on back and we'll drink it here while your little woman goes out shopping."

Well, we left the store.  Not just because the guy was like that, but because my wife was holding her tongue the whole time and I did want to bail her out of jail after she decks this guy.  Really?  What moron of a shop owner insults a probably customer?  Also, a week before Father's Day, who knows how many women think that this shop has the perfect gift for their husband and they get an ice cold reception from the obvious bachelor running it.

It was fun going into the small Espresso shop right off of the cobblestone street.  It felt a bit out of place, like a 1960's police box in the Dark Ages. It was perhaps the only air conditioned area we had stepped in and was attached to 2 more stores: one for hot sauces and one for coffee flavors.

It was weird, a coffee shop in the middle of a historic area.  It had good drinks.  Anyway, it just wasn't as busy overall, as a historic shopping area could be.  It was weird.  We did see plenty of small bars and restaurants and think we will be going back soon to try some of them.  If we do go, I'll let you know how it went.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Two things that are starting to annoy me.

Okay my wife and I normally have the television on all through the night. She grew up sleeping this way as it gives her a background noise and light in the room.  I admit that it took some getting used to, considering my idea of a perfect atmosphere for sleeping is a completely dark and quiet room, but I am slowly getting used to.  So, we used to sleep at night with Nick at night on, but during the night, all through the night, they play Friends. I'm sorry, I may have watched that show a bit when it was first on, but now I don't care at all for it.  So, I don't want to hear the characters wine and talk nonsense so I have been turning the channel to the Cooking Network.  Its like channel 113 or something like that on Dish network.  Anyway, so we fall asleep with some replays of Iron Chef America or some Foodology shows, which is good.

What is not good, is when I wake up in the middle of the night for any reason and this awful show is on.  The show is called Nadia G's Bitchin Kitchen and while most guys would have no problem watching a show with a young, funny blond chef who wears heels while cooking, I am okay until she starts to talk.  I'm sorry.  I really don't know how to say this in a nice way but after watching years and years of food network's next food network star and seeing what they go through, this woman would have been kicked off after day one.  The show reminds me of Beakman's World, for cooking with a strange woman.  The show would have Nadia cooking and telling the camera about how she likes her meat tenderized and then the camera pans over to a guy in a meat locker, with his wife-beater shirt, punching the steak and talking about how he likes to tenderize the meat.  Whether the guy is really Italian or not, is besides the point because everyone has this over-the-top accent going.  The dialogue reminds me of the old movies where they make fun of the Italians in New York.  They start every sentence with "Yo! Check this out!" and then end it with "you know what I mean?"

What is nice to know, as her site just showed me, that the over the top accent and mobster references appear to be an act and she appears to be normal in some instances.  I highly suggest that she stays that way.  I'm sorry, but according to her site, she has a video suggesting that "some are calling her the Julia Child or the next generation."  What?  An icon who made a complicated way of cooking easy to understand for everyone else is being compared to a woman who runs a show at midnight?  If Julia Child's show was re-run on food network, it would get star billing and be before nightfall, most likely.  Not after midnight.

I'm sorry, Nadia, nothing against you personally, but I'd rather watch a marathon of Anthony Bourdain than watch your show.


The proper spelling of words is what separates us from the tweenies.  You know those girls who can sit there on their phones and text the whole Tale of Two Cities in 5 minutes using every kind of strange words and abbreviations?  These are the ones I am talking about.  The ones who spell "great" as "gr8" and the ones who can text "titc" for "that is totally cool."  Now, the typing skills of teen girls aside, using proper spelling and grammar seems to have become a lost art for our American society.  It is such a case as a local gym or fitness club, has used a large grammatical error in their company name and logo.

So, you want to know something comical?  Do you know how you pronounce that word?  It is Xist, as in "Cyst" or "Sist".  It is not "ex-ist" as the makers wanted it to be.  Think of other words that follow this example: Xloid, Xenophobic or even Xeme.  When an "X" is the first letter of these words, it takes on the sounds of a "Z".  It is not an "ex" sound and then the rest of the word.  Check this out:

That above link does the correct pronunciation for words and in this case, just as I mentioned, the name of this fitness area is "sist".  I don't think that the company thought of their gym as being named after a medical item, that isn't a pleasant one.  Or maybe the owners of this gym didn't bother to think.  Here is the thing: if they wanted it to be pronounced like "exist" then they would have had entered a hyphen between the "X" and the rest of the word.  Then it would have been "X-ist" and pronounced that way not like "sist".  This just proves that you don't need a college degree to do the marketing or run a business.  I love driving by this billboard on the road and seeing the rest of the sign: Don't just exist; Xist.  Don't just exist, become a cyst?  Really?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Frozen yogurt?

My wife, who is on Weight Watchers, wanted a low point and thus low calorie snack.  She purchased some cultured milk drink and I put together what is to be an awesome frozen yogurt snack.

Now, what is so cool about this stuff, is that it is just like some super yogurt.  It is plain flavored, but has low calories, high good fat, high carbohydrates and high protein: like good yogurt.  It is also filled with Probiotics, which most yogurts are not as they destroy them.  I don't think most people realize that the probiotics are what makes yogurt so healthy.

So, 3 cups of the above item mixed in a bowl with 1/4th cup of this stuff:

This is whey low powder.  It is a mixture of fructose and lactose and is very low in calories and has low GL's.  It is very diabetic friendly because it has 1/4th of the carbs per gram of regular sugar.  What also makes this interesting, is while it adds sweetening flavor, it also reduces blood glucose levels.  This makes it great for diabetics and it has been testing on type 2. ( )

So, this one says it is specially made for ice cream so that is what I did with it.  Also, I did add 1 cup of squished blackberries.  When it was all finished, it turned out to be very smooth.  Not only that, but this recipe made 6 cups of frozen confection.  What the remarkable thing is: is that each cup counts as a serving size with only 73 calories!  No ice cream has 73 calories a cup!

For recipe information, let me know, but each cup turns out to be 2 weight watcher points.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Weird stuff of Global Foods

So, this isn't a jab at other cultures or meant to be racist or sexist or culturist or anything like that, but I find some things from some different countries to be strange or unusual to what I am used to. So, the title isn't meant to offend anyone, just state an opinion.

First up, melon cakes:
These say that they are the melon taste with a spongecake and I was expecting something, well, more .....spongy.  What was in the package, was a hard cookie, like a meringue cookie.  It had the airy-ness of a sponge cake but was hard and crunchy.  They have that taste of the Chinese melon cake and taste just as sweet.  It was the dry crunch that I was not expecting.  They are a 3 out of 5 for me.  Make sure you have a large glass of water nearby.

Found in the Asian aisle, I had these Sunflower crackers.  They taste like a slightly sweet cracker with a cheap mango creme in between.  The creme is reminiscent of the sandwich wafer cookies.  They are good but not super good where I would eat all of them: a 3 out of 5 for me.

Now the last thing I tried was one of Korean origin:

Yeah, like so many Asian things, I guess this is the traditional version of an energy drink.  This drink, tastes like bad ginseng, almost a strong root/tuber flavor.  It tastes like the stems that are on a parsley plant with an aftertaste of sugar. It was sweet but as I thought about taking a second sip, I still tastes the first in my mouth and chickened out.  I think this gets a 0 out of 5 for me.  Sure, ginseng is supposed to be a near magical herb for strength and vitality, but I'd rather take vitamins every day than to drink one of these.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Again with the Farmhaus

Let me say that for the price, Farmhaus has some great food. I know that you can pay more at other restaurants but at Farmhaus, someone who makes less than $28K a year can have a nice night out and be treated like royalty. Not only were we treated nicely, but I asked to sit at the bar where we had perfect view of the kitchen.

In fact, the out of focus server coming up towards the camera was our server for the night. His name, as listed on the receipt was: Scratches. So, after a pleasant conversation with Scratches, we ordered our drinks, in this case, a bottle of their brew, specifically brewed for them. This one was called "Perennial Brew for the Crew".

The driver of that tractor, with the fish in his hand, was modeled after the head chef of Farmhaus. How cool is that? This drink was good, a nice medium bodied, full-flavored beer. Perfect for all of the pork products that I could envision eating from the menu.

We started our meal with their version of Scotch Eggs: Huevo Ranchero.

This was a large perfectly cooked egg inside of a sausage and bread crumb breading. There was a little micro-green salad, some awesomely tasty bean sauce on the bottom with some cotija cheese all around. This was big and good, a good size for two people to share. It was a good 4 out of 5 stars.

My wife ordered a fish dish showing off Halibut.
Besides the fact that my wife loved it so much that she tried to get as much of that sauce as she could, I liked it as well. More and More when we go out, I try some seafood. Now, to be honest, some of it I like and some of it I don't like but I don't feel bad about it because at least I have tried it. In this case again, I liked the fish. It had these large pieces of sausage along with it which went well with the seafood. A 4 out of 5 stars.

Now it was time for my take. I ordered the Pig Toast to start off my night.
The description on the menu said "Pig Toast" with the words "Butcher Sauce" under that. I had really no idea, but it said "Pig" in its name so it has to be good, right? This is what came out. It was a toasted bread with a pork sausage-like patty on it. On top of that was something reminiscent of a chicken salad and I still have no idea what it was and then some lemon greens on top. Sure, the toast may look burned in some areas, but that didn't take away anything from this dish and in some cases, added more to it. Each bite was first experienced with the hard crunch of the toast and then a perfectly melt in your mouth tenderness from the pork and finally cooled off with the white sauce on top and the greens. I would compare it to eating a piece of warmed foie gras on toast, with a lemon or acid on top to help fight the richness. A perfect 4 out of 5 for me.

I also then after this, received the Berkshire Porchetta. As Scratches told us, this was their version of a Korean steam bun and this one was filled with the most delicious BBQ pork as ever. This was a very tasty dish as well.
See those giant and fluffy white steamed buns? What about that perfectly cooked pork, complete with that super tender and melt in your mouth pork fat. Ahhhhhhhhh. (Insert sound or image of Patrick Star with mouth open and drooling.) So good, only wishing that places like Wei Hong would carry this steam bun. This one gets a 4 out of 5 for me again.

So, if you are in the South City area, please go to Farmhaus. They get the best local and seasonal goods for their food.

PS: I didn't list it up there, but this is the only restaurant that I have ever been to that allowed you to purchase beers for the kitchen staff. That's right, I added 3 beers onto my bill, and even watched the chef who was expediting orders take a swig or two out of his Corona. What better way to guarantee that your food would be delicious, than to allow the kitchen and dish-room crew to drink while they work.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sweet Home Chicago....

About 2 weeks ago, we drove up to Chicago, for business. But, we couldn't just eat anywhere. No! We had to eat at some fun places.

This was the 8 pound burger at Jake Melnick's. It was a weird night. We walked in, 7 or 8 of us and asked for one of the open tables. The hostess told us that all of the open tables were reserved and had people already there. We stood and waited and waited and no one showed up at those tables. I confronted the hostess and found out that the kitchen was short-handed so instead of just telling everyone that food was going to take a while or call in another cook, they decided to pretend that there were people sitting at some tables, so they wouldn't get real people in and ordering. The absolute stupidest thing I had ever heard of and I had to tell everyone. Their only savings grace, was their 8 pound burger which 3 grown men, 2 grown women and two kids ate for the night and we still had more than half to take home with us.

The burger was a cheeseburger and really wasn't that good, at least I didn't think so. I'd give the service and the food at Jake's a 3 out of 5. In fact, had I not asked the hostess about the invisible, imaginary people at the tables, we would have left.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Back to Bravo, number 4

After 3 trips to Bravo, from my family, I was contacted by the manager. She seemed upset that we had a bad experience and like any good company which prides itself on great food and service, she apologized. Furthermore, she invited me back for a meal. Now I know that this is most likely an attempt to do-over my meal, I will review and explain everything that takes place as well.

To sum-up:

The first trip was just my wife and I. We had a server who was not only very friendly, but very knowledgeable. We had no issues at all and because of that first visit, we deemed Bravo a very fun and cool place.

The second trip, my wife and I had our two kids and a stroller. Not only did the server not know how to deal with the kids, but she also spilled a drink, a soda, all over the stroller and my seat. I remember cleaning up soda and ice for most of the meal. By then, I really didn't feel like eating because when the kids don't get occupied with their meals, they get bored.

This last time, the third time, was an issue where the sever did get the food for my two sons and was friendly, but seemed more interested in the large party next to us and chatting with the bartender near the bar. It was so bad that I actually had to wave down the hostess and ask her to get our server. I remember watching her walk up to the server, still at the bar on the other side of the restaurant, and tell him that we were waiting and ready. I remember him looking back at us, at our table, and then going back to chatting with the bartender. I hope he got her number, because he seemed more interested in chatting with her than dealing with us. As if that wasn't enough, when he came back, he didn't apologize. He acted like it was our issue "Are you guys ready to order now?" Of course we were ready! We were ready 15 minutes ago, when you walked by our table.

Anyways, that is where we are at now. Two bad times out of three. So, let's hope that this Saturday will change the ratio and give me some faith to put back into this restaurant.

Monday, May 7, 2012

This tastes just like girl scouts...

Cookies, that is. This tastes just like girl scout cookies. I'm a sucker for girl scout cookies and they are my weakness. I have seen copycat recipes online, tried them, and had to eat the failed result of a cookie. Nestle, did something evil, they made candy bars with cookie themes.

Ok, first off, the "Caramel & Coconut" cookie, taste just like the "samosa" cookies. Everything tastes exactly, EXACTLY, the same. The "Caramel & Coconut" bar was by far my favorite. (I actually purchased and ate two of them)

The next one was the "Peanut Butter Creme", which tasted just like the Do-Si-Dos™. I love me some peanut butter.

The last one was the "thin mints" and unlike the other two cookie inspired bares, in this one, they just called it Thin Mints. This was actually easy to do because the other two cookie names are trademarked and they couldn't trademark the name "thin mints", likely because it was too generic.

So, anyone reading this and anyone that loves girl scout cookies, I highly suggest getting these Nestle Crunch bars.