From My Wok to Yours - Taking the Mystery Out of Everyday Dining and Meals!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Chinese Food, Cafeteria Style

 I was invited out for lunch by Renee, one of my long time friends, and we decided that I would introduce her to Pei Wei Asian Diner. As she had never been there, I felt that it was only fair to introduce her to something different in the world of Asian food.

Our meal started with an order of edamame, and I ordered the Pei Wei Spicy, which had fried chicken, sugar snap peas and carrots and was drowned in a spicy chili vinegar sauce, with brown rice. Renee had the Dan Dan noodles, which were egg noodles topped with chopped chicken that had cooked in a garlic soy, served with scallions, bean sprouts and cucumbers.

Ironically, we both noted that the meal, while tasty, was loaded with sauce and sodium, making it a rather unhealthy meal. In fact, the most healthy part of the meal may have been the edamame, which is high in protein.

While the traditional Chinese food is very healthy, with an emphasis on vegetables, with meat being utilized more as a “condiment” than the main focus of the meal, the Americanization of food has resulted in an end result that is higher in fat and calories, and as Pei Wei proved, much higher in bold flavored sauces and seasonings.

(A little secret: Those of you who are brave enough to try and eat with chopsticks – do so!! A diner generally eats more slowly, since it is more difficult to grasp larger quantities of food than would end up on a fork. Also, using a pair of chopsticks also reduces the amount of oil that ends up being consumed.)

After the meal, I was left wondering what some of the healthy options might have been for the meal, and how that would possibly work into my campaign for San Antonio City Council. Cafeteria food is generally considered the subject of rude jokes and grim recollections from yesteryear. Think of it as a popularity contest between hospital food and prison chow, with cafeteria food making a surprising showing. But whether or not more exotic choices, such as sushi, or even a vegetarian stir fry could be added to the menu of a youngster’s cafeteria fare is nowhere near the forefront of many schools’ considerations.

The Texas Department of Agriculture reigns supreme over the Public School Nutrition Policy. Their guidelines are set up to appease the parents, administrators, school officials, health professionals and lastly, members of the food industry. Foods MUST meet the TPSNP standards if made available to students of school campuses.

With this in mind, it seems, sadly, that Asian food in the school environment may generally only make an appearance during a class or school heritage enrichment program. Such programs must be officially scheduled and part of the written curriculum, which then means that administrators have the authority to override a teacher’s decision to have such an event. Foods brought to such events must clearly identify nutritional information, especially if cooked with a potential allergen, such as peanut oil. Sadly, this tilt towards healthier dining options does not eliminate vending machines with sodas in them, or salty or sugary snacks.

In all reality, since so many of the public school systems release their menu early, allowing parents to decide whether or not to send their child/ren to school with a sack lunch that day, it is feasible to incorporate tasty and healthy dining options which COULD include the occasional Asian food choice. Asian foods can be mass produced on a scale to feed kids running through the line at a breakneck pace, so the evolution of cafeteria food is due to allow this kind of tasty transition. After all, “healthy” does not have to mean “not tasty.” It could also give nutritionists additional options as far as offering a meal that is simultaneously cheap, appealing and nutritious.

We can’t be fooled into disguising healthy food in pretty presentations, though. It needs to be understood that children have become more sophisticated in their tastes (try dining with mine) and thus often welcome new offerings such as sushi and chicken satay. Just don’t expect to see it in a cafeteria any time soon. Kids will also be able to identify the faux foods, like peanut butter made from soybeans, or low fat cheese pizzas. Forget about trying to offer a tofu burger. Therefore, if we were to offer a chicken stir-fry, it would be just that. Small pieces of chicken, stir fried with a minimal amount of oil, and loaded with vegetables that kids generally will eat at home.

Sadly, this taxpayer subsidized meal is often times the most healthy, nutritious meal that many of our children will get in a day. Thus, it is important that it be palatable, if not memorable.

This is what I would LOVE to see in a cafeteria – definitely a list of some of the healthier choices:

• Egg Drop, Miso, Wonton or Hot & Sour Soup.

• Stir fried, steamed, roasted or broiled entrees, such as cashew chicken, shrimp chow mein

• Steamed or baked tofu. (Yeah, right)

• Entrees made with lower sodium or lower caloried sauce, such as ponzu, rice-win vinegar, ginger and wasabi

• Steamed brown rice

• Edamame

If we do see anything, as long as it is not a fried, drowned option, it may pass. Skip the fried rice as well. And the egg roll. And the sweet and sour sauce. Sorry gang. We will figure SOMETHING out…

Until then, Good Eating, Friends…

Pei Wei Asian Diner on Urbanspoon
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Demise of the Buffet

Yesterday, one of my new employees asked “Where can I get a great Chinese buffet?” I could not help but cringe, as, here in San Antonio, truly, there is no such thing. I have visited a couple here in town whose food has left much to be desired. They are a veritable hodgepodge of flavors that ended up tasting the same, regardless of the actual menu name.

Rudy and Jerry were determined, however, to get their mitts on a buffet, so I suggested Golden Phoenix, which is down the street from the office. (Okay, more like 10 minutes away.) I seemed to remember bringing some of their food to my wife’s office, years ago, and enjoying their hot and sour soup to excess. (The memories of heartburn still linger.) So I figured, why not, it’s been a few years since I have been here, let’s give them a try again.

I should have let them go their own way, and I should have fended for myself.

The restaurant, while recently remodeled and pretty, was the typical buffet, with islands of food in spread out across a broad expanse across the dining room floor. The food, in fact, was the first thing that I saw when walking into the restaurant.

There was plenty of food, including enchiladas, baked fish, sushi (that looked unappealing) and chicken nuggets, as well as the typical assortment of “Chinese food” to appease the locals. I helped myself to a spoonful of Kung Pao Chicken, Broccoli Beef, and Pepper Steak, a skewer of teriyaki chicken, and a few sautéed green beans.

I am already not a fan of “all you can eat” concepts, and the idea that so much of this “food” is available for people to fill up on is a bit horrifying, as the food I ate was the typical generic taste. If I had been in a true “analytical” frame of mind, I would have gotten a separate plate for each menu item, with a generous portion of soggy white rice to go with it.

But alas, I did not do so, and after about one mouthful of each item, I lost track of what flavor profile I was supposed to be enjoying. The broccoli beef was salty in flavor, the pepper steak was not peppery, and there was no “POW” in the kung pao chicken. I worry that they toned down their seasoning in the hopes of not offending the sensitive (hah) San Antonio taste buds.

Where had good Chinese food gone? Definitely not the way of the buffet.

The place was spotless, not just at the time we were there, but probably always as it was 'voted the cleanest restaurant in town' by a local newspaper. What also impressed was that the hot food was hot and refreshed every few minutes.

At that time food offerings, except for at the salad and dessert bars, were almost all Chinese though there were a few Canadian and universal non-Chinese dessert items included. The Mandarin buffet honored Chinese cuisine. Why is it that good things cannot last? On this visit there were more non-Chinese items being served and there was some slippage in quality.

Much has changed in the buffet restaurant scene and all is not for the better. Now there is a proliferation of buffets. Within a fifty mile radius of my suburban home, there are more than fifty; and they are not all equal. Some maintain food and ambiance standards, others are messy. Some are inexpensive while others cost the price of a meal in a good full-service restaurant. Some food served at them is more authentically Chinese than others. And, most recently these Chinese buffets are becoming a United Nations. One honestly put a sign outside that said 'international.'

Why this growing phenomenon? These restaurants speak to the shortage of trained staff and owners need for more income. Most importantly, they speak to the demise of the mom and pop Chinese restaurant. On the customer side, people want more variety at their meals, want a perceived bargain, and they love pigging out. Perhaps these buffets also shows that all too many people do not care about freshly made hot food and even that some do not know good food from mediocre.

Chinese buffets have greatly expanded in number and number of food offerings. No longer are non-Chinese items restricted to dessert selections. In our area, these buffet eateries first added Japanese food items, then one by one, foods from Korea, Vietnam, and elsewhere in Asia. Most recently we have seen Italian and other European food selections, even South American and African foods. Common signs outside buffet restaurants read 'Chinese, Italian, and American items daily' or 'Chinese and Japanese food, here with a complete sushi bar.' We most particularly like the one that says 'Foods of twenty counties available on our buffet tables.'

Many buffet restaurants do catering on and off site and when they have a few parties to attend to, the restaurant customers fend for themselves. We have seen senior citizen discounts of ten to twenty percent, places with twenty to two hundred different food items, special prices for children, and costs listed with and without lobster. We also know of places that feature all the snow crab legs or all the lobster you can eat. Some have fruit bars with canned selections, other include a few fresh items and advise how healthy their buffet is. Many provide complimentary soda and tea, with or without free refills, most charge for coffee, and all tab the alcoholic beverages. A few have Mongolian barbecue selections or roasted meat prepared and sliced in full view. Still others provide hard and soft ice creams. And there is more. They are offering more and costing more, too.

In some ways these buffet restaurants speak to galloping changes in Chinese and all food, the increase in variety and preparation requirements, and other expectations folk have. As has the local supermarket that sells frozen dumplings, frozen Chinese TV dinners, and varieties of tofu, they are expanding their offerings. They are meeting the competition be it restaurant or the local supermarket's take-out selections.

As each city, state and country increase their ethnic populations, people learn foods from neighbors and friends and want to share meals with them. Everyone travels more wants to eat foods they tasted elsewhere. With more mixed-ethnic families, people want different foods to please everyone. The mixed buffet restaurant meets these particular needs. These are things small local Chinese restaurants can not do.

I wonder what local children think is Chinese food because many Chinese buffet restaurants bill itself as Chinese and food choices run the gamut from Sushi, found on the dessert bar, to Buttered Potato, Corn on the Cob, French Fries, and Onion Rings. These were next to Vegetable Lo Mein, Boneless Spare Ribs, Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce, House Special Mei Fun, Happy Family, Chicken with Garlic Sauce, and Stewed Sweet Potatoes.

I have been confused as the sushi was next to Canned Peaches, Carrot Cake, Chocolate Pudding, Fresh Cantaloupe, Pickled Carrot and Daikon Sticks, and a choice of vanilla or chocolate yogurt. I have seen Steamed Dumplings next to a tray of Jelly Donuts. The beverage area crosses cultures, too, mixing Orange Soda, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and other carbonated beverages with Chinese or American tea, and coffee your way, Cappuccino to regular.

We can only wonder where the buffet syndrome is going. Also wonder about its impact in small cities and towns. It has been spotted in one European city and may be in others. Clearly, we have to make a trip to Asia and see its impact there, if any. How is it doing in your neighborhood?

Until Then, Good Eating, Friends…

Golden Phoenix on Urbanspoon

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a pie must be there on the second tuesday of the chinese new year

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Extreme Dining, Dumpling Style

This past 4th of July, the I.F.O.C.E. (International Federation of Competitive Eaters) held their 95th annual Hot Dog Eating Contest. This stunning display of hot dog consumption was held at on July 4th, and is regarded as the world’s most famous hot dog eating contest. Indeed, it ranks the highest in popularity in speed eating contests, with this year’s event being attended by 40,000 people and viewed by 1.67 million people on ESPN. The winning tally? 54 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. That is the equivalent of 1 every 11.11 seconds. Seriously.

So after reading about this competitive engorgement, I thought “Surely there are limits to what people will try to eat, and I am SURE that Chinese food is not in that category.” Boy was I wrong…

Chinatown’s 'first-ever' dumpling eating contest was held on June 28th, 2003 in Manhattan’s historic Columbus Park; it is at the junction of Mulberry, Bayard, Baxter, Mosco and Worth Streets. The contest was part of Chinatown Summer Festival 2003, a celebration hosted by Asian Women in Business. I e-mailed them for more information and sent a link to this blog with an inquiry about their dumpling eating marathon. To my happy surprise, after only 2 separate inquiries, and 2 weeks later, the President of this organization responded and gave me plenty of additional information.

Thousands of people filled the park throughout the day and evening. The wholesome vegetarian dumplings, donated by Brooklyn’s Twin Marquis, one of the largest commercial manufacturers of dumplings and noodles in the Northeast were steamed at nearby restaurants and carried into the park.

On hand for the unique occasion were the Shea Brothers, founders of The International Federation of Competitive Eaters. This group is most renown for reviving Coney Island’s aforementioned Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating contest, which has been held at Nathan's Famous at Surf and Stillwell Avenues each year since 1916 when Nathan Handwerker heeded advice from entertainers Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante to open a hot dog restaurant. This was held for many years by humongous men. Only one woman has ever been Champ, a German in the 1930's. About five years ago, Japanese competitors started flying in for the event. They have been trouncing their three- and four-fold larger opponents ever since.

Nathan’s, and the World’s Record for hot dog eating, stands today at sixty eight hot dogs in ten minutes. The staggering number is held by Joey Chestnut, defending champion of 4 titles. The record for most consecutive annual victories is Takeru Kobayashi, with six, who weighs around one hundred thirty pounds, and can gain eight pounds during the event. About seven years ago, Kobayashi competed in Fox TV’s 'Man vs. Beast.' He was bested by a Kodiak bear that mawed fifty franks in under two minutes.

In Japan, eating competitions are an older tradition, and extreme eating seems to be something of a Buddhist discipline. People there are well aware that one-hundred-pound guys in top physical condition can easily out-eat quarter-ton Sumo wrestlers. It seems fat prevents the belly from being stretched to its total capacity. Alas, no Japanese professional eaters showed up in Chinatown but they had their reasons. After all, the next weekend was the big 4th of July defense. I guess that year Kobayashi stayed home, sticking to his pre-event regimen of stomach-stretching with cabbage and water. He won the Nathan’s contest again, but fell far short of the last year’s record intake with a mere forty-four dogs, some thirteen thousand calories.

There were six professionals in Chinatown, and a slightly greater number of amateurs, also testing their gullets. All competitors were required to sign an 'Acknowledgment of Risks' and a 'Waiver of Liability' including personal injury, illness and possible loss of life, which might result from participation in the contest. It is obvious that this freakish type of dining is gluttonous and in no part condoned by Wokking on the Run’s healthful approach to Chinese cuisine.

First of the big men to arrive in the park was Ed 'Cookie' Jarvis, an affable-enough thirty-seven-year-old who strategizes seriously. I got to chat with him before the crowds gathered. Cookie had already checked out the food of the day and liked the look. “They are well lubed,” he counseled.

Cookie predicted he would eat one hundred twenty in the eight-minute contest, roughly six pounds. He entered the arena with a shiny metal scoop, but abandoned it in favor of a hands-on method, dropping to one knee when the bell rang, and standing up once or twice during the eight-minute bout to shake the al fresco luncheon deep down into his massive system. As it turned out, Cookie won the event with ninety-one dumplings. That is roughly one every five seconds over the eight minute span. Later, he told me he had eaten a bowlful of twenty before the first minute was over.

After he was announced winner, Cookie, who prefers to pound down sweets, left the stage only to reappear moments later, brandishing a large chocolate covered cannolli. He exhibited great pride when the audience gasped as he gnawed away at the Italian calorie-bomb just a few minutes after downing nearly eight dozen dumplings.

Effervescent showman George Shea, of the International Federation of Competitive Eaters, was resplendent in his much dry-cleaned blue blazer and straw skimmer. ESPN did not fulfill their promise to cover the event, and the Guinness Book of World Records was conspicuously absent. Still, Shea remained unfazed at the microphone, exhorting the expectant New Yorkers.

When the crowd counted down to zero and the frenzy began, the pros hunched their haunches and squeezed in at the middle of the table. The awe-striking sight made it clear was not going to be any old state-fair huckleberry pie contest.

The runner-up to newly-crowned Cookie was thirty-four-year-old Eric 'Badlands' Booker, who ate eighty-five dumplings, one at a time, left hand, right hand, left hand, right hand, all the time grooving to his Walkman. He slowed toward the end but never stopped. Eric is a hugely happy fellow with a baby-faced grin. He could be seen scarfing massive quantities of food for national audiences during regular appearances on MTV’s Carson Daley show. Booker, who is also world Burrito champ, thoroughly enjoyed himself, quickly covering his hands and arms to the hilt with glistening soy oil.

There was but one female among the eight amateurs, none ate more than forty-five dumplings. Many of the rookies made the glaringly amateur error of chewing instead of simply inhaling the slithery crescents.

Next, a second contest, three minutes in length, was opened to the public. Many young men and women competitors stepped forward with gold and glory in their eyes. Enthusiastic entourages cheered mightily for favorite big eaters, but the youngsters could not keep pace with several middle-aged men who appeared in excellent condition. A couple of homeless men even joined the fray, but were soon outpaced.

The winner of the amateur competition slurped at the same pace as the pros but this bout covered less than half the time-span of the pro contest. The slim and serious competitor managing to consume forty-seven dumplings in three minutes. A Latvian man, used to his native pirok, hung tough for a second place finish with thirty-five. The rest of the field, however, included many young kids who had bigger eyes than stomachs. They turned in disappointing totals and most looked the worse for the wear and tear.

There were plenty of dumplings left over and the organizers happily shared them with the quasi-hungry crowd. It is clear that many young and old people the world over have a great time watching eating contests of all description. It is also clear that many people do not.

The prizes, including a good sum of money,  trophies and canned Chinese bird's nest drink, seemed pale incentive in the face of the good old dumpling, a technique of cooking minced food in dough that is shared by dozens of international cultures. The accomplishments of Cookie and the other competitors notwithstanding, the real hero of the day was the dumpling.

Since then, many different people have entered in, and won, the Annual Dumpling Eating Contest.  Champions ‘Fabulous’ Floria Lee and ‘Gentleman’ Joe Menchetti should return to defend their titles this year.  I may actually follow their progress.

While the event was a great way to encourage awareness of Chinese food, its overall results do little to express the true joy and benefits of cooking and eating Chinese food. It is certainly fair to assume that speed eating does not allow the food to actually be tasted or enjoyed.

So for us common folk who prefer to dine at a leisurely pace and fully enjoy the experience of dumplings dipped in a spicy sauce, chewed and swallowed, life as we know it will continue.

Until Then, Good Eating, Friends…

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chinese Food in... Venezuela?

Yuleima, one of my good friends here in San Antonio, emigrated to the United States from Venezuela, and during many of our conversations about what life in Venezuela was like, food invariably became a general topic of conversation. I heard tales of great food in scary conditions, and scary food in great conditions in her homeland, and since then, I have been intrigued. She and her family had me convinced to go on a trip to see the sights of Venezuela, and on the bucket list it went. So a little digging, research, and hours on the phone with travel agents, consular employees and book archivists became my favorite activity.

North Americans who live in big cities where Chinese food thrives may take for granted the gourmet abundance with which they are surrounded. Not so all our fellow Americans in the Southern hemisphere. In Venezuela, for example, one can be hard-pressed to find authentic Chinese fare and I have heard that there is none that is extraordinary even if I were on a ten day junket from Caracas to Chichiriviche and back. That is not to say I would not eat well, as there is plenty of vibrant and succulent Venezuelan cuisine at every corner.

This is a country that reveres corn and prizes beef, a place where people wolf down cheese until 'after' the cows come home. To wit, one high-class restaurant forces four full tablespoons of grated Parmesan onto each small salad. So it is no surprise that Venezuelans are neither familiar with, nor particular to the dairy-free Chinese style of eating. Still, the Venezuelan national dish, Pabellon Criolla, a large scoop of white rice surrounded by deeply-spiced ground beef and stewed black beans, plantains, and white onions, is not unlike a typical Chinese lunch plate. Accompanied with aretitas, luscious baby corn patties and supersweet cheeses and creams, Pabellon Criolla shimmers at a restaurant overflowing with sheer Venezuelan class, the El Tinajero de los Helochos in downtown Caracas.

As San Antonio is a travel hub to South America, is not a bad place to do research about the history of the Chinese in Venezuela. My search for statistics on population, immigration, principal occupations, history, and number of restaurants began at the Museum of Chinese in Americas, continued to the New York Public Library and the Venezuelan Consulate, and concluded with queries to a variety of authors and professors. Many queries but only one slim fact was revealed. In the year 1847, many Chinese men went to South America, a few as hopeful merchants, but most in the 'coolie trade' to dig guano, though mainly to Peru and Cuba, says Lynn Dan in the book Song of the Yellow Empire.

Hers was the only bonafide fact. Venezuelans can tell you about the difficulty of getting official information, and admit to being notoriously hard to poll accurately. Though a Caraceno, or native of Caracas, cabbie postulated that the Chinese are everywhere but they keep to themselves; and a consular representative told me that many Chinese own and operate supermarkets in small towns.

My conversations with Renny Barrios, who has traveled through also emigrated to the United States from Venezuela, but now lives in Nevada, provided the subjective data. He remembers being surprised, about a decade ago, when he met an Asian man who spoke flawless Venezuelan with an especially thick Maracaibo accent. Turns out the Chinese man was born there in the 1970's, to immigrant parents, and he spoke eloquently of isolation.

Renny believes that Chinese immigration, mainly Cantonese, began in the 40's and 50's, and reached crescendo in the mid 70's in connection with the oil boom. He said that the Chinese shops in Venezuela are not so much supermarkets as purveyors of everything inexpensive for the home, from soups to mops. He added that more prosperous Asiaticos work in electronics. While there are Chinatowns in the major cities throughout Venezuela, they are non-descript and in non-touristic parts of town. Although his sparse encounters with Chinese Venezuelans did not yield much, I did learn that they are uniquely laid-back, gracious, effervescent, and seemingly unconcerned with the concepts of promotion and marketing so prevalent up north.

The city of Caracas has about five million inhabitants. That’s as official a statistic as anyone can get! There are just under a hundred Chinese restaurants in the 1999 telephone directory, a few of which are chains. There are no Thai, Korean, or Vietnamese spots listed, and only eight Japanese restaurants.

One typical small Chinese restaurant, with its fish tank traditionally placed in the entrance to block evil spirits, was painted with a scene of Venezuela’s fabulous Salta Angel or 'Angel Falls' and the mystical Amazon Jungle. Aside from an authentic looking photograph of Mao, the stereotypical and tacky decor here and in many other 'chop suey palaces' seemed to indicate that the Bronx’s own Orchids of Hawaii company must have done well in Venezuela a few decades ago. Sadly, the arts and sciences of Chinese cuisine in Venezuela appear to be in a state of stagnation.

Still, as is the roving restauranteur’s want, menu offerings are well adapted to local preferences. A typical lunch special found is for Cream of Corn Soup, Fried Rice, and Egg Rolls, oddly called Lumpia, which is what Filipino’s call their take on the egg roll. Common main course choices included Chop Suey, Lemon Chicken, or Sweet and Sour Chicken. Most Chinese restaurants also provide Platos Internationals, not unlike the American food offerings on Chinese-American menus, and typically include Shrimp Cocktail; Chicken, Avocado, or Mixed Salads; Beefsteak (Biftek de Solomo); Fried Fish and Chicken; and Grilled Meats. It is standard for local desserts to appear on Chinese-Venezuelan menus. Common ones were Tortas or their cakes including cheese cake. Cascos made from local guayaba fruit; and Quesillos, a flan-like dessert without cheese.

I learned through my halting Spanish that both the consular representative and Mr. Barrios have been correct. For at least two generations now, Chinese people have kept to themselves while spreading throughout all parts of Venezuela in the retail grocery business.

I also learned some Venezuelan transliterations of Chinese words into Spanish. Taufu for tofu, caujada de soya for beancurd cake. Difficult words to translate include jajaticos Chinese which are their much-loved corn, the baby corn variety, also available as Sopa Creme de Jajato or Cream of Corn Soup. Given the Venezuelan penchant for corn, it is easy to understand why this baby version is their favorite part of a Venezuelan-Chinese meal. But is there any use of this baby item in their native dishes?

It is said that Venezuela’s closest coast to Beijing is nicknamed China, and that is about as close as it gets. It is even hard to find ginger ale in this solidly western land! Perhaps the best advice would be to try making your own Chinese-Venezuelan food by substituting the national condiment, huasacaca for any Chinese dish you might accompany with hot pepper sauce or roasted salt. One abuelita, or grandmother, gladly shared her family recipe. It is as follows: For guasacaca verde, the green variety, blend finely chopped garlic, a little diced onion, mayonnaise, cilantro and a bit of green pepper into a smooth celadon green condiment with the consistency of thin yogurt. They have a red variety, too. Try dipping some Fried Tofu in it, and wow, what an explosion of flavor!!

Until Then,  Good Eating, Friends...

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Good Enough For Us?

The following was an actual conversation that I had with Katie, a good friend of mine whom I have known (and worked with) for 6 years. She and her fiancé, along with many others, were instrumental in helping make my restaurant, Chino’s Café, successful.

I have always known Katie to have a critical palate, as it applies to food, and she has never shied away from expressing her true opinion.