Category Archives: food

Tales of Pasta and Terror

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How bad of me to skimp on recounting my recent visit to Austin and the charming Diane von Austinburg.  We had a lovely, lovely time.  Our definition of “lovely” might not match up with other’s, but do we care?  No, we do not.

Essentially the visit consisted of us visiting many of the finer thrift stores in town and canvassing their aisles while keeping up a running diss of their merchandise.  Or “merchandise.”  To quote myself from several previous times “This all looks like the leftovers from a bad garage sale.”  But that’s the best part.  We examine a mind numbing array of the chipped and should-have-been-discarded, items of dubious function, and what we were sure was the contents of hundreds of dead grannies’ homes, shoveled into the Goodwill maw by their undeserving heirs and then we don’t buy a single thing.

I did fall sort of in love with a love seat upholstered in a velour Union Jack.  Fortunately, Diane was there to quietly steer me away even as I was scheming how to ship it here, to an apartment where there is absolutely no room for it.

And then we went out for enchiladas.  Oh, such good Mexican food.  High class fare from interior Mexico, low class Tex-Mex in a joint that had started out life as a laundrymat, and a great place we love with such delicious tortillas.

Of course it was not all beat up Pottery Barn rejects and guacamole.  After all, there has to be some low point.  Who would have dreamed it would turn out to be pasta?

I was staying the very fancy Fairmont hotel.  It was excellent.  When I made the reservation, I signed up for their benefits program, which I always do wherever I stay.  Usually it’s not much, maybe a free bottled water  (Whoo-Hoo) but this time it turned out to be a goldmine, baby.  From a private registration desk (oh, right this way, Mr. mrpeenee,) and this cool concierge lobby with snacks of a most delicious nature (a dessert bar at night with these adorable miniature French pastries.  Another six cream puffs?  Why, I think I will.)   And a big, comfortable room.  What more could you ask for?

Well, that’s where the pasta comes in.  Diane works nearby and had come to meet me after I checked in.  We hit the Happy Hour snack bar and should have just stuck with that, but instead decided to slide downstairs to their real restaurant and have real food.

The dining room had a theme, which in my experience is never a good idea.   If you’re a restaurant, your theme should be “food.”  Instead, this place had the walls lined with fake facades of an old timey Texas town.  I think?  It was hard to tell.   It was very Disneyland. I was willing to ignore it and hang with Diane, but I ordered pasta carbonara and that’s where the real trouble came in.

Perhaps you are familiar with pasta carbonara?  It is one of the simple dishes that is not easy.  It consists of eggs, bacon and cheese over pasta.  The secret is how you add the ingredients, but I’m not here to give away my culinary secrets, I am here to gripe.

We both got our dinners eventually and started in while chatting.  After a few bites, i realized my pasta was missing the bacon.  Called the waitress over, explained, she took it back to the kitchen, reemerged with (possibly) a new plate, which I poked around in and announced, “This is the same thing, there’s no bacon is this either.”  She valiantly offered to make another run at it, but she had a look on her face, a look I have myself worn at times, a look that said “The chef is a screaming, egomaniacal lunatic, please don’t send me back in there.”  So I just said never mind, take it off the check, we’re fine.

Despite that, before I could finish stealing most of Diane’s excellent Asian pot thing, a manager type slithered over with a third bowl of the pasta.  You’ll never guess what was not in there!  As she was standing there, I demonstrated my now honed technique for bacon hunting.  “The chef says it’s called ‘pancetta’ and he slices it very finely.”  The whole “pancetta not bacon” pushed my blood level up a few notches and I offered her 20 bucks if she could find any of this finely sliced pancetta.  Sliced on a microscopic level, I don’t know.  I did explain the dish only had three ingredients, it seemed difficult to overlook one of them.

I waved it away.  Diane approved, noting that by then, one of the ingredients no doubt included spit.  She went home and I went back up to the fancy guests’ lobby and to wait for the dessert bar.

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mrpeenee asks “Where’s the meat?”

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…and the universe answers

The Ice Man Cometh

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I have always been skinny, but when R Man died, I sort of let things get out of hand and lost 10 or 15 pounds which put me in Gaunt territory.  My doctor has been haranguing me to gain weight ever since.  I think he just does it out of habit now.   And I have.  In fact at this last check up, I weighed more than I ever have, 187 pounds.  Doctor Man still thinks I need more.  Some people are never satisfied.

I asked him about joining the meal delivery program I had volunteered at for years.  I figured they owed me.  The good doctor said “Ugh, you don’t want that.”  Instead he suggested Ice Age Foods, which he has been using for a while.  As its name suggests, it is based on the ever so hip Paleo Diet.  I explained I do not do “hip.”  But he said it was good and good for you, low fat, high protein, blahblahblah.

Since I am above all things else, lazy, I figured a company that brings me food couldn’t be all bad so I sprang for a month’s trial.  And honestly, it’s not bad.  The odd part is that everything tastes like tacos.  Since I love tacos that’s not a problem, but it does seem like an unlikely niche to plant your recipes in.

So far I’ve had Lasagne Tacos, Pork Stew with Meatballs Tacos, Tri Tip with Yams Tacos, and Lemon Pepper Chicken Tacos, which by far were the worst.  I have never put a food product in my mouth that was as tough as the chicken.  I gnawed on it for a while and finally spit it out and it looked exactly like it had when I put in.  Plus, lots of odd little bones, possibly not even chicken.  So really it was Tough Weird Meat and Bones Taco.

Digging around on their website, I ran across this gem under the headline:

What’s with the Mexican Influence at Ice Age Meals?

So apparently I’m not the only whose noticed the taco theme.  Their answer:

most of the culinary ninjas in our kitchen hail from Mexico, Central and South America.

OK, glad you’re paying attention to their culinary background, but you do know most restaurant kitchens run on hispanic labor and they’re able to crank out French, Italian, Thai, Lesbian, whatever just fine.  Also, I want it clearly understood that had i known this company referred to their prep and line cooks and chefs as “culinary ninjas” I would have never gotten beyond that and moved on to some less ridiculous web page.  Possibly featuring naked men.

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not a taco

Since everything tastes like tacos, and since I am determined to undermine the whole “paleo” thing, I have taken to adding ground cheese to the dish and then wrapping it in tortillas.  When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  When everything tastes like a taco, I don’t know, I seem to have lost the metaphor, but tortillas improve the dishes dramatically.

So, am I going to become a loyal customer?  Hmmmm, maybe.  After all, I love tacos.  On the other hand, I really would like lasagne that tastes like, I don’t know, lasagne.  I think the real test is coming up: Thai Meatball Curry.  I adore curry, but honey, Curry Tacos is where I draw the line.  We’ll see.

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khmer warrior taco

Grocering

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I took time out of my hectic schedule of sleeping and watching ridiculously attractive boys do nasty things on Chaturbate to go to the store and buy soap for the dishwasher.  I wound up staggering back to the car with two bags full of the most random things that might be called groceries ever seen.  $76 worth of chemically processed crap.

When I got home and unloaded my haul I realized it looked like I had gone shopping wearing a blindfold and with a very sketchy idea of how to cook.  A six pack of those cheese crackers filled with peanut butter.  A box of plain water crackers for cheese, only to discover I had the exact same unopened product already at home.  But no cheese.

Let’s see, what else, Doritos.  Somehow I always wins up coming hoe from the grocery with a bag of Doritos.  I think they must hand it to me as I enter and I just don’t notice.  I seem to enter into some kind of fugue state as the doors close behind me, sealing me in with all the other shambling, clueless Safeway shoppers.  I wander the aisles, aimlessly foraging and after a while, I leave, almost always without at least one item I specifically went to buy.

but I got some nice bananas and some nectarines.  We’ll see about them, it takes a few days on the shelf to either ripen into perfection or turn into moldy knobs.

R Man and I used to go to the store each Saturday, armed with lists and sense of purpose and prepare ourselves for the week ahead.  Now I find myself looking over into other shoppers carts to get ideas about what I might want to consume.

At least I got the dishwasher soap.

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nothing to do with groceries, but who’s complaining?

Junkie

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Safeway late on Sunday night: read it and weep, bitches.  I go there so you need not.  Actually I go there because I like to take vicodin with seltzer water which means I go through quite a lot of the stuff and I find Safeway’s in-house brand, the charmingly ludicrously named “Refreshe”, to be my favorite. I pronounce it with an exaggerated semi-French accent.

Speaking of Safeway brands and the fall of civilization, the company has invaded the home turf of stoner junkies everywhere by coming out with their own line of fine, fine snack products ripoffs.  It’s called the Snack Artist and it reproduces well known and beloved junk foods.  I can personally attest to the quality of their version of Cheetos.  I don’t know what chemical crap makes up the yellow-y orange dust that clings to your fingers like super glue after you’ve put away a pound or two of them, but man are they tasty.

Less fortunate is the crack they took at Lil Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls.  I’m sure you remember how distraught we all were when the Hostess Baking Company went tits up and the source for those chocolate cake rolls with cream filling (and let’s be honest; every word in that phrase should be enclosed in ironic quotation marks: “chocolate”  “cream”) was cut off.  I was thrilled to run across Safeway’s attempt to fill the void, but valiant as it might be, the result is simply lackluster.

Still, I plan on working my way through the entire line of potato chips of many lands, tortilla chips in every conceivable flavor and ersatz Twinkies.  The only drawback (aside from possible death by junk food) is that moment at the checkout stand when you sheepishly empty your cart and you feel that everybody, the cashier chica, the bag boy, the lesbian in line behind you, is judging you based on what you’re buying.  In my case, this consists of 12 two liter bottles of seltzer and enough garbage snack to feed a small dormitory of stoner boys.  And a bunch of bananas like some pathetic attempt at healthful living.

Also, expanding on my much updated post below about Spotify, I have given up and switched back to Pandora which, I think to punish me for cheating on her, insists on playing long swatches of The Smiths.  ENOUGH, already!  It’s like living with a morose teenage girl.  Let me know when Roxy Music comes on.

The End Times, an Ongoing Report

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My dears, we must be strong and face the very worst head on: Hostess Bakeries, purveyors of Twinkies, Dolly Madison snack cakes, Ding Dongs, and other fine, fine delectables is going out of business.  A strike by its workers, falling on the heels of its bankruptcy a couple of years ago has put a stake through its junk food heart.  A workers’ strike!  Commie bastards.

You must know mrpeenee is an absolute fiend for Ding Dongs.  Their plasticy, vaguely “chocolate” exterior and whatever the hell that white stuff in the middle was: mmmm, heaven.  And now to think they’ve been done in by American’s turn to more healthful eating.  Go stuff a fucking apple in your mewling little pie hole and leave my Dolly Madison twelve pack alone, thats what I say.

Reports are already filtering in of hoarding.  Can you blame us?

The Brunch Project, episode 1

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Dress code: ties not required.

MJ has called me out on my lack of blogging.  I attempted to claim I was actually blogging by mime, but I knew the bitter truth would out eventually.  So let me just admit now that I was abducted by aliens.  Again.  Fucking aliens.

Fortunately, I was able to escape long enough to nip out for brunch with Secret Agent Fred and our dear friend Anne, the Fashion Sensation.  Unfortunately, brunch was at the Four Seasons hotel.  Many years ago, when the earth was new and so was the Four Seasons, the joint was a chi-chi place of asian fusion cuisine and lots of gorgeous deco inspired furniture in luxurious finishes like silk and marquetry in a beautiful palette of gold and verdigris and taupe.  Now asian fusion has run its course and the menu has settled down to eggs and bacon and french toast, which is ok with me, and the furnishings are looking a little tatty and worse for wear.  Here’s a free tip from mreeenee Decorating Services, ltd.:  if you go for a luxe look, you need to keep that shit up.  Chipped inlays and frayed velvet are only okay if you’re old money.

The service?  Bad.  We were there late, so they only had two other tables to work and yet they managed to avoid us adroitly.  Miss Sensation thought our waiter looked like “Maria Callas’s ugly niece,”but he reminded me of Eric Blore and sounded like Peter Lorre.  You know he watches cop shows and titters a little too knowingly to himself “Oh, right, like that’s how they question serial killer suspects.”

Food?  I suppose there was food, I don’t really recall, something about eggs benedict with a sauce that strongly resembled mayonnaise.  Drinks?  The Creature from the Blore/Lorre Lagoon denied they could make a Pimm’s Cup even as I looked past his shoulder to the bar where Miss Sensation and I had settled in a couple of weeks ago to discuss over Pimms Cups the sorry state of our respective lives.  or “lives.”

On the plus side, there was a very attractive guy near us for Fred and me to ogle.  At different points during the afternoon, it seemed likely he was going to mount the young woman he was with.  Tragically, it was no go.

In summary, the Brunch Report gives the Four Seasons a C.  And an expensive C to boot.

Chez peenee

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Dinner last night? Get real, it was Chez Panisse, of course it was delicious. Even the first course, pickled mackerel, was plenty tasty. I had tried to explain my tepid enthusiasm for the dish when I saw it on the menu (Pickles? Yes. Fish? Yes. Pickled fish? Not so much.) but I’m glad I went with it, trusting in the genius of the Chez. Even more genius were the fabulous quail. Mmm. Baby.

Yummy

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Have you ever had burrata? It’s a fabulous Italian cheese, fresh mozzarella filled with more mozzarella mixed with cream. To recap: cheese stuffed with cheese. And cream. It is utterly creamy and delicious, as are so many Italian things (see below.)

We had it as a salad tonight with juicy little tomatoes bursting with tomato-ness. There were a number of those moaning type noises one hears when the food of the gods is passed around. Mmmm. Burrata.

I Got a Party in My Mouth

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Dinner tonight was a festive salute to my white trash heritage. A friend had brought us tomatoes from her garden up in Napa, where it’s actually hot enough to grow them, unlike here. Great big ones, as sweet and juicy as the buttocks that grace the header photo above. Naturally, I made tomato sandwiches, which are simply sliced tomatoes on white bread with salt, pepper, and mayo because that’s the way my grannies made them. Deliciousness abounded.
But wait, there’s more. This afternoon, R Man demanded a run to Popeye’s for fried chicken so we had many delectable pieces left over. Well, many, until I got through with them. We haven’t had Popeye’s in four years, and then it was in the Houston airport. I had forgotten how tasty, tasty, tasty they are. Of course, I’ll probably die tonight from excess grease and salt, but let it be known my last words were “It was worth it.”

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not chicken
Popeye’s is a cultural icon in New Orleans where it originated and the offerings here are just no comparison to those bubbling out of the deep fat fryers of the mother ship. In New Orleans, I was one with my sisters who would disdainfully drive past the one on Carrolton in order to go to the one on Claiborne because everyone knew that one was better. No, these here cannot compare to those glories, but as I was tucking into my second thigh and reaching for another biscuit, I had to admit it was still pretty damn good.

Health Chat

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Tonight, we continue our occasional series “TMI Theatre.” The scene opens in Doctor Mark’s office:
mrp: Would you hurry up. What are you, a baggage handler?
drmark: I don’t know why you make such a big deal about this. You’re a gay man.
mrp: So, you have patients who enjoy this? That’s even creepier.
drmark: Shut. Up. And by the way, you win the prize for this week’s largest prostate.
Proving that snappy patter is worthless when you’re standing bent over an examination table with your pants around your ankles and the good doctor’s finger up your butt.
I believe it’s traditional to describe ones prostate at this point in terms of the fruit kingdom, typically a grapefruit or a watermelon. I prefer to think of mine as a guava. Stupid thing has never done anything for me except lead me into a series of wacky misadventures and now it demands to be taken for several walks every night out of my cozy bed and into the much less cozy toilet.
Also, you know that corn syrup ad? Yes, you do, it’s all over the Overweight Housewives Channel. It’s the one where two soccer moms are preparing to slurp down a gallon or two of some sludge based soda and one meekly advances some polite concern about consuming corn syrup as part of their bacchanal. “You know what ‘they’ say….” she mewls.
The other one turns on her and spits out, in the most condescending tone possible, a diatribe justifying the glop, including the fabulous rejoinder “Corn syrup is all natural.” So the mousy one is put in her place, corn syrup reigns and they go off to explore their new-budding lesbian love, or whatever.
Just once, I want to see the mousy one shriek “Get you, Mary. Don’t talk to me in that supercilious tone of voice, you slagheap. And by the way, arsenic, strychnine and bird droppings are all natural, too, but I don’t plan on consuming them either.” And then she would clock her, right beneath her smugly raised eye brow, knocking her to ground where she would kick her and smash her and pulverize her. Did I take my meds this morning?
Houseboy Seamus Feelpatrick assures us he never eats corn syrup.

We believe him.