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Friday, December 30, 2011

Citrus Vodka

I know this is Jen Eats Food, but as many of you probably don't know, Jen Drinks Alcohol too. I am sure there are many of you trying to put back together the now shattered image you have of me, but on your way to get the broom, can you please refresh my drink?

I will say that although my love of food spans the entire culinary spectrum, my love of alcohol is pretty limited. I LOVE wine. And I mean love. You give me a food, any food, and I will tell you a wine that would complement it. Now, to clarify, I don't necessarily mean Osso Bucco and a great Syrah. I also mean Dino Nuggets and a $5 Savignon Blanc.

I think a good beer is one of the best things on earth. However, since my stomach does not at all agree with my head, I will have to step aside and allow others who have fought that good fight to give their expertise.

A margarita, done correctly, is fantastic at almost any occasion, but best served on the side table of the cabana I am sunning in.

This brings us to my other love in the world of alcohol. Vodka. Ahhhhh...vodka. Ever since I was a young (21 year old) tyke, I have enjoyed a good dirty martini or vodka soda.

However, it was not until the ripe old age of 33 23 that I found my newest alcoholic bestie. In the late summer heat of Nashville, TN, I met citrus infused vodka and I haven't looked back since. Well, I mean, I still have a strong love affair with wine, dirty martinis and margaritas, but if I was a polygamist, I would definitely have found my fourth wife.

My first time was with Skyy Blood Orange, but all others I have had since (citrus, orange, mandarin) bring the same refreshing smile to my face.

So here's to you, citrus infused vodka...and the happiness you bring to all! Except maybe for those who are allergic to citrus. To them, you suck.

Cheers!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Food

Now that the holiday food and/or cocktail hangover has begun to set in, it is time to reflect back on the indulgences that got us here.

Whether you relished in an elegant affair...

whooped it up hillbilly style...

Or, like most of us, celebrated somewhere in the middle, the holidays are a time for family, cheer, bright lights and most importantly, food.

I normally like to be a bit outside of the box with my dining, but during the holidays, it is all about tradition. My favorite foods are the ones that remind me of holidays past.

Thanksgiving is all about the turkey. And I would like to take a moment to congratulate my brother Jeff on one hellava bird this year. Poultry is probably at the bottom of my meat totem pole (yes, I read what I typed), but his BBQ'd version was incredible. It was smokey, tender and fell right off the bone.

And nothing complements turkey like Grandma Murillo's stuffing. Or, as some people call it dressing. (I would love to debate stuffing vs. dressing, but I don't have time to make the simple argument that it gets stuffed in the bird, therefore making it stuffing.) My grandmothers stuffing, like all of her food, is delicious, hearty and made with love.

Throw in cranberry, Paula Deen's sweet potatoe souffle, mashed potatoes and green beans and you have yourself a meal that has brought families together for years. They may be drunken and dysfunctional, but they are family.

This brings us to the most important meal of the year. The feast Jen Eats Food celebrates as the birthday dinner of our King. Christmas dinner. Although there is not a single traditional food that families serve for Christmas, it seems that each family has a tradition all their own. Growing up, we had a second turkey dinner. My husbands family has Mexican food and we have started our own tradition of prime rib. Whether it be Kung Pao chicken or chicken noodle soup, it is the meaning of the meal that reminds us of the Christmas spirit.

By far, however, the best part of Christmas celebrations are the goodies! Sugar cookies in holiday shapes, rum cake, See's chocolates, snowball cookies, pumpkin pie, fudge and many, many more! So much sugar even the Grinch gets a cavity!

So, as you begin to take down the tinsel and the tree, say goodbye to your loved ones as they travel home and pack the Dean Martin Christmas CD away for next year, take time to reflect on the magic of the season.

And for the love, go eat those leftovers before they go bad!

Cheers!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nuggets

One of my favorite things in the world are chicken nuggets. But let me be clear...not all nuggets are created equal. There are two that take the cake (food related pun completely intended). The only reason there are two is that one you can only get at a restaurant and one you can only make at home. So, here they are. And, in advance, you are welcome.

McDonald's Chicken McNuggets

Look. Can we just all agree that these are good? I understand if you are in a phase of being organic, or if you are currently convinced McDonalds is an evil corporation that is somehow a percentage instead of a restaurant that created a product clearly popular enough to create a clown-based empire, but let's get real for a minute. Chicken McNuggets are wonderful. The only thing better is a McNugget dipped in McDonalds BBQ Sauce. They are crispy, golden and made from mostly corn meal, so even PETA can't be that upset.

Costco Dino Nuggets

These are the only acceptable substitute for an at-home version of chicken nuggets. And, by the way Costco...you are lucky you brought them back. The Mickey Mouse "replacements" almost caused a revolt.

I had these for dinner tonight. Paired with Tator Tots and a $3.99 Malbec from Argentina, it was culinary heaven. And for you Judgey McJudgers, you are not a true foodie unless you can appreciate ALL types of food.

From all of us at Jen Eats Food, We wish you a lifetime of good chicken nuggets. Cheers!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Name Drop Theatre

My husband, Rob, being the hilarious man that he is, has coined the phrase "Name Drop Theatre".  This refers to the douche bags (reference Ed Hardy shirts, Range Rovers and overly waxed eyebrows) that go about telling a story in this manner: 

Normal Guy: "Hey, what happened to your hand?" 
DB: "Well, I was getting out of my Maserati, on my way to meet Brad Pitt for lunch at the Ivy and the cuff of my Armani suit caught on my Jacob watch and I slammed my hand in the door." 

Or, you huge DB...you slammed your hand in the car door.  End of story.

So, for this episode of "Jen Eats Food" (the word episode is a CLEAR hint to you, Ellen DeGeneres), I will put on my (non-existent) Louboutin's, grab my (invisible) Hermes bag and lead you down the path of the famous restaurants that I have had the privilege to indulge at.  Before you judge, you should know that Rob and I have one financial vice in life.  Good food.  Well, that and good wine, but that goes without saying since one without the other would be like Abbott without Costello. 



MY FIRST TIME


I have always loved food.  But I will never forget the first time I fell in love with food.  I was at Asia de Cuba with two of my best friends, a restaurant appropriately named for its fusion of Asian and Cuban cuisine.  We ordered what was suggested by the waiter (ALWAYS a good idea when at a great restaurant) and then it happened.  It came to the table like a culinary Buddha ready to change and enlighten our lives with its peaceful but powerful ways. 

The Butterfish.
This was by far the most delectable food I have ever eaten.  Still, to this day, probably 10 years later, the lingering memory of the Asia de Cuba Butterfish is what I attribute my love of all things amazing about food to. 

On that note, you all really need to travel to one of the few Asia de Cuba restaurants in the world and pay homage to the awakening of the awesomeness that is "Jen Eats Food".

 

TOO EARLY
When I was a tad younger, my taste buds were not ready for the appreciation truly good food deserves.  However, since this is Name Drop Theatre, I find it appropriate to mention that I ate at Aureole in Las Vegas.  Unbeknownst to me, many years later I would reintroduced to Charlie Palmer in our nation's capital and I would have yet another life changing food experience.  But at that time, I was not ready for all Aureole had to offer.

Now, one thing I was able to still appreciate in my juvenile state is their abundant wine collection and the "wine angel" that soars around the glass tower where it is stored each time a bottle is ordered.  Yes, it really is that cool. 

 

BEST RIB EYE
On that same inexperienced trip to Vegas, I ate at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant, Lupo.  I had a Rib Eye that was aged for 28 days, was the size of my plate and melted in my mouth.  As I stated above with the wine at Aureole, I was still able to appreciate that beautiful steak.  I was young, not dumb.

 

BEST STEAKHOUSE
Without a doubt, the best steak that I have ever had was a filet mignon at Charlie Palmer Steak in DC.  In fact, every bite of food was incredible; including the chocolate peanut butter dessert I had both times I have dined there.  In addition to the outstanding food, Rob got the honor of meeting John McCain while he was out front waiting for me to arrive.  (I will forever hold a grudge for that cab driver taking the long route...)  Charlie Palmer, although known for his incredible preparation all of things pork, also knows how to grill a mean piece of beef.

 

THE CLASSIC
When in our Nation's Capital, there is one place you absolutely must stop by to have a drink.  The food is great too, and you will run into many politicians (the only people that make me star struck). Its website brags the following:

"Old Ebbitt Grill is just steps from The White House and museums in downtown Washington. Established in 1856, it was a favorite of Presidents Grant, Cleveland, Harding and Theodore Roosevelt and is still a popular meeting spot for political insiders, journalists, celebrities and theater-goers.

Its Beaux-Arts facade, mahogany and velvet booths and bars set in marble, brass and beveled glass are Washington at its finest, and The Oyster Bar at Old Ebbitt is D.C.'s most famous."

And every word of it is true as this place just screams Early America.  But seriously, go to the bar for a drink...it is a wonderful place.

 

BEST JAPANESE
While in Napa with two of our best friends, we had the absolute privilege of eating at Morimoto.  I had the braised black cod and it was incredible.  Granted, any type of fish is pretty much a guarantee of incredible when prepared by Mr. Morimoto, but Rob's pork kakuni was just as delightful.  The nigiri was so fresh it was almost invigorating.  Even the white rice at Morimoto deserves acclaim. 

It could have been the excessive wine drinking over the course of the weekend, but I am putting this food experience in my top five.



BEST OVERALL EXPERIENCE
On our second wedding anniversary, my husband surprised me with a trip to San Francisco for the evening.  Dinner that night was at Hubert Keller's Fleur dy Lys.  A restaurant known for its multiple course formal French style, we joked on the cab ride over that we would hit up Taco Bell afterwards as we would clearly be starving after eating such tiny portions.  After the amuse bouche, the five courses of entrees, the cheese plate and six, count them six dessert courses, I am surprised I ate at all the next day.  We were pleasantly and gluttonously in French heaven.

Being a connoisseur of great bread and butter (seriously, if there was a way to become an expert on bread like a sommelier for wine...sign me up), I will say that it is worth the trip alone.  The salt for the butter must have been a mound of angel dust because there is no other way to explain it.  Don't tell my husband, who paid the bill, but I would have been happy with the bread and butter.  Well, that, and all six dessert courses.

The restaurant itself is beautifully decorated with Victorian extravagance.  The servers are hospitably formal and the lighting would make even the Hunchback of Notre Dame look dashing.  (Cheesy allusion intended.)  Even a horrible restaurant is amazing if I am with my husband, but I am glad I was able to share this amazing experience with him.


So, there you have it.  My culinary Name Drop Theatre. 

Cheers!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Angel Food

Angel food.  Food for the angels.  The most pure, simple and decadent food there can be.  Today I celebrate one of my favorite desserts.  This is a delicious, rich dessert that not only dances on the taste buds but is also incredibly low calorie.  In essence, it is the perfect dessert.  In honor of one of the most precious angels in my life, I present to you...

1 Slice of Angel Food Cake
1/2 Banana, sliced
2 Tbsp Caramel, drizzled on top
2-3 Pecans, roasted and crushed
1 Tbsp Cool Whip

Combine, enjoy and celebrate all of the angels in your life.

Cheers and blessings!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fried Pickles and Beer

I know it has a been a long time.  I am sure some of you have gone through withdrawals but clearly I won't be covering any treatment costs you incurred dealing with the getting the monkey off your back.  Mainly because I am back and, well...I guess that about sums it up.  So, jump back on the bandwagon, wipe your tears and let's move on.

So I thought we would rally from the long blissful hangover suffered enjoyed after the amazing party of my last post and jump right into the soul experience I had last month in Nashville, TN. 

There is only one thing I love more than food and that is the amazing people in my life (you know, the ones I still like).  One of those people is my beautiful friend Brittney whom I have been friends with for about 19 years.  She met the man of her dreams a couple of years ago and when they decided to get married, we all decided to go to Nashville to celebrate!

Besides the ROCKIN' music and the cowboy boots everywhere we turned, Nashville brought us some amazing food and drinks!

When you get off the plane, an overwhelming urge to slather some type of smoked pork, beef or chicken in BBQ sauce and then wash it down with a shot of whiskey and a beer backer comes over you.  And who am I to ignore overwhelming urges?

So, on that note, here are some of the highlights.


I love pickles.  I love fried foods.  Never in my life would I have thought to put the two of them together.  However, I had a love affair in Nashville, TN with fried pickles.  And there is no greater picture to display their amazingness than with the beautiful bride above.


Now, I am not a huge beer drinker (let me clarify...I love beer.  My tummy doesn't always seem to love it.), but as they say...when in Rome!  My beer of choice for the weekend was Killian's Irish Red.  It was a good choice.



We had an amazing dinner at Mambu once everyone got into town.  This was an old house turned into a very eclectic restaurant with delicious food and a great wine list.  I had Pan Fried Chicken with whipped red potatoes, sautéed spinach with a touch of andouille sausage and finished with a Creole Mustard vinaigrette and peach chutney.  It was southern, rich and fried...I was in love.  However, I think the winner of the night was the  Paella (Hayes St. style) with shrimp, chorizo sausage, mussels, tomato broth and saffron rice.  It was incredible and vibrant.  Mambu is a must for any trip to Nashville.



The weekend we were there they were having a BBQ festival down on the river.  The smell of hickory smoke filled the entire town.  I can't say for sure, but I am almost positive that Heaven will smell the same.  We had pulled pork, slaw, roasted corn and a whole lot of Twisted Tea.


Pancake pantry was a diner experience that everyone should have at least once in their life. A line out the door, a bossy man at the front door who tells you where to sit (and you damn well better listen to him and get your ass to your table right away) and friendly waitresses with deep Southern drawls.  On top of that, they had food that warms your soul, gets you ready for the day and possibly clogs your arteries.  In other words, the best kind.

Brittney, I love you and wish you and Bo a lifetime of happiness!  Readers, I wish for you a trip someday to Nashville to experience all of the food, drinks and Country Music it has to offer!

Cheers!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Airport Bar

I know this is "Jen Eats Food", but I thought I would give a special shout out to the best (and probably only good) thing about airports...the airport bar.  And, if you refer to the picture on the right hand column of your screen, you will see that I also love wine.  What?  This is your first time on this blog?  Part of me feels bad for you that you have missed out on the amazingness for this long.  The other part of me is jealous of you that you get to experiance all of the amazingness up to this point for the first time.

Flying sucks.  Even when you are about to depart to a warm, tropical island with the love of your life or to the country music Capital of the world with some of your closest friends (can't wait for Nashville, Brit!!), flying sucks.  Airports are crowded and loud and the flights are cramped and germ filled. 

But there is a mirage amongst the desert. 

The airport bar.  Almost every airport has one.  I have been at LAX for two hours now.  Without the Chardonnay, I may not still be sane.

So, for that reason, I thank you airport bar.

Next time you are at an airport, waiting to travel to the destination of your dreams, or to to the business meeting of your dreams...stop by the airport bar and say hello.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chicken & Waffles




I finally had, nay, experienced chicken and waffles. Let me just say that it was appropriate that it was Sunday because I am pretty sure this combination of food was made by God.

It is an incredible mixture of salty and sweet, crunchy and soft and it is all topped off with butter and syrup.

My new found love for chicken and waffles is a reminder to myself never to judge a meal before you try it.  Some of the best food comes out of the most random combinations.

Thank you, Lord, for this amazing meal...or at least for the person responsible for creating it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Best Of...Tri Tip Sandwich

Tri tip is apparently a cut of meat that not everyone knows of.  I grew up with tri tip...really great tri tip.  So, for all of the international and other-than-California followers of Jen Eats Food, google it, buy it, BBQ it and then love it. 

Tri tip is good for two things:
1. BBQ'ing (by Rob) and eating by itself (with Garrett's asparagas and DeDe Weeks' garlic bread and potatoes)
2. Making into a sandwich

A tri tip sandwich?  Where could I possibly get one?

Well, not only will I tell you where to get a tri tip sandwich, I will tell you where to get, without a doubt, the best tri tip sandwich you will ever have.  And lucky for you, you can get said sandwich at three places.

The original started in San Luis Obispo at a well known place called Firestone Grill.  Named after the Firestone Tires that went out of business in the building that the owners decided to turn into a sports bar.  After the incredible success of Firestone Grill they decided to expand to Cambria (Main Street Grill) and finally to Fresno (Doghouse Grill). 

All three have a variety of fantastic food (The Pig (pulled pork sandwich), half chicken meal and char-grilled burgers), but they are known for their amazing Tri Tip Sandwich.  The tri tip is grilled Santa Maria style (serioulsy??  Google that too), stacked HIGH on a garlic butter dipped roll and covered in BBQ sauce.  I will say that I am not a fan of the BBQ sauce.  It is very sweet and I prefer a vinegary Southern style sauce, so I order it without. When I am feeling good about my weight, I dunk the sandwich in their amazing ranch dressing, but the great thing about it is that it is delicious even by itself. 

So if you find yourself in SLO, Cambria or Fresno (don't act like you have never "driven" through Fresno), take the time to stop in and enjoy the best tri tip sandwich you will ever eat.  And if you think you know of a better one, I encourage you to buy me a plane ticket to wherever you think it "may" be, send me cash to pay for the meal and I promise to review it right here on my famous blog.  I will even give you credit.  Well, maybe.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Calories

In honor of David Letterman's Top 10 signs that America is Too Fat and for those of you who can't seem to grasp the concept that fattening foods will make you fat, tonight I will give praise to one of the best regulations our government has put into place.

Restaurants posting the nutritional values of their menu items.

To be fair, I will say that it is, at times, very confusing to make healthy choices at restaurants.  What is that?  You would like a few examples?  Geeze...it's like I have to everything for you.

Two caloric wake up calls I have had recently are as follows:

# 1
Applebees Chinese Chicken Salad
1340 Calories


Panera Asian Chicken Salad 
410 Calories

They are both amazing.  However, you can literally eat almost 3 1/2 of the Panera salads for just one of the Applebees.  Apparently Applebees secret ingredient is lard.



# 2
Prime Rib Dip
1008 Calories
(Not including Fries)

Crispy Arctic Cod Sandwich
610 Calories
(Not Including Fries)

How the fried fish sandwich is 400 calories less than the sliced steak sandwich is completely beyond me.  What on earth is in that steak?  Wait...I don't want to know.

We at Jen Eats Food are very calorie conscience, and yet, even we are surprised by the nutritional values of certain restaurant foods. 

This regulation will not only make individuals take responsibility for the foods they eat (and more importantly, the foods they are feeding their children), but I honestly hope it will also encourage restaurants to provide more healthy options.  And more importantly GOOD healthy options!

Tonight, I raise a glass to healthy and delicious food.  Cheers!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Habit

In Fig Garden Village (Fresno) is a great little burger joint named The Habit.  Fresh ingredients, crispy fries and grilled onions.

And, just for you Dave, the best part of the restaurant was that they have Coke instead of Pepsi.  The owners clearly understand the importance of quality and good taste.

Thanks, Jen, for taking me here!


Friday, June 3, 2011

A Hidden Gem

I was driving on the long and desolate stretch of 99 yesterday that was bringing me back to Fresno from Bakersfield (don't be jealous) and I was in need of a snack.  After a recommendation by a good friend, I decided to stop at Bravo Farms in Traver, CA.  (Don't feel bad...I had no idea either.)

In the middle of nowhere, across the road from a big rig car wash and gas station, was one of the greatest little treasures.  In an area smaller than a city block was a nostalgic tribute to the old west. 

I pulled into the gravel parking lot, got out (in four inch heels) and turned to see two old timers sitting on the wooden porch in front of the convenient store.  Next to them were two guys BBQ'ing chicken and tri tip on a Santa Maria style pit.  I was already in western heaven.  Then it got better.

After I bought my Classic Lay's and a Diet Coke, I went for a stroll through the Bravo Farms "town".  I will go back and spend the day in this parking lot size desert mirage one day.


So, obviously what really drew me to Bravo Farms were the signs on 99 advertising the wine tasting.  I may not have said it here before, but I have always said I could live on three things: bread, cheese and wine.


But there was so much more than cheese and wine...


A fruit stand (this was just part of it)


A coffee shop, ice cream shop and a diner...


A gift shop with nuts and dried fruits...
(The Classic Lay's and Diet Coke were still the best choice)


An incredible selection of cheese...


A store that is a collectors dream...


(And what would a kitschy store be without an Elvis display)


And last, but certainly not least, a bar.


If you ever find yourself on Highway 99 south of Fresno, stop at Bravo Farms.  There is a part of me that thinks I may have imagined the whole thing, but I am pretty sure it is there, and from what I saw, it is a must see!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Out of Tragedy....



(Thank you to all of those out there in internetland that took these pictures so I could steal them from you)


Comes Hope and Rejoicing....

Middlebury, VT



Alachua County, Florida


AND LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST
Fresno County, CA
(They also accept EBT cards...I just couldn't find a picture to prove it.)

The tunnel may be extremely long, but accepting EBT cards at Farmers Markets is one absolutely one of the best steps forward we as a nation have taken in nutritional assistance. 

Farmer's Markets accepting EBT cards not only promotes healthy food that is less expensive than grocery stores but it also puts our tax dollars right back into our community and supports local farmers.  Incredible!

Now, as I said earlier on my friend Jeff's FB post (thank you for the inspiration), if we could could just stop EBT cards from being used at strip clubs, being advertised on candy aisles or being taken advantage of by those who are scamming the system and stealing from our country, we would probably get our state/country out of debt.  But that is for another time and another day.  You know, like in 2 years when I am eligible to run for president. 

Tonight, I raise a glass to those who are responsible for instituting the Farmer's Market EBT program!  And because I am so excited about learning about this amazing program, I will raise a second glass!

Our First Harvest

This beautiful tree gave the Weeks family the first harvest in our new home! 






Now I need to learn how to make Grandma Murillo's apricot pie and apricot jam.  It is no coincidence that this was our first fruit.

(And then I need to go take my turbo SUV out for an unnecessary drive to balance out the universe from all this self sustaining hippie crap.)

Cheers to living in the country!  My heart is happy.

Monday, May 30, 2011

American Soil

This Memorial Day, Jen Eats Food honors each and every soldier for their service to our incredible country.

I will always celebrate food grown on American soil provided to us by The Good Lord and protected daily by the men and women of our Armed Forces.


May God continue to bless America, her dedicated soldiers and those who farm her land. 

Especially the grape farmers.  C'mon, I had to throw one in...

Have a beautiful Memorial Day filled with family, friends, gratitude and as always, good food!  Cheers!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Love and Food

I have eaten at some of the countries best restaurants with food created by some of the most amazing chefs. (Don't worry, there is clearly a blog in the future douche-bag-ingly letting you know each of them)  But in all of the world, out of all of the chefs, I choose one.


When I met and fell in love with Rob, I had no idea that he had the ability to create one of the only other things I am obsessed with, other than him...good food.  (For those of you rolling your eyes because you know me well enough to know I am compulsively obsessed with many things, just give me this one.  I don't want all of my blog readers to know the level of my craziness...or at least not this early.)

I told Rob that I would never critique his cooking on my blog, and I won't.  But I do feel that no blog, book (hint hint) or show (HINT HINT HINT) I have about food would be complete without me telling the entire world (clearly the audience I deserve) how amazing my husband is.  From grilling a steak to rolling homemade cannelloni, my husband is a culinary genius. 

So, I raise my glass to a man who works harder than anyone I know, is bad ass enough to pull off a white suit and Panama hat, is mafia loyal and can emulsify a bechamel with one hand with a bourbon on the rocks in the other.

No one person is more perfect as my partner (or...most likely more accurate, the one person who will put up with my quirkiness...yeah, we will go with "quirkiness").  Here's to the man who feeds my love of food and always keeps my glass full!

Tonight, I wish you all your perfect partner!  Well, that, and some really great food!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Greasy Breakfast

In an obviously appropriate follow up to my hippie bashing, I will sing the praises of greasy diner breakfast food.  Well, not so much singing but grunting.  After eating this kind of breakfast, I can't be bothered to move let along sing.  After a night of wine "tasting" with one of my favorite people in the world, I needed a hearty breakfast.

So, off to Sandy's Country Junction in Clovis we headed.

If the following picture does not make you want to deep fry the closet edible item next to you, then you may be dead inside.  (And you are tap dancing on the reminder of the little red "x" in the top right corner of your screen.)



Scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon and biscuits and gravy.  It was amazing.  Although, the best part of this restaurant was that the milk came in a glass cowboy boot. 

So, this got me thinking.  I love greasy breakfast food.  Okay, technically I love most greasy food, but greasy breakfast food deserves a shout out.  Because it is, as my kid says, boss. 

A list of reasons greasy diners are the best place for breakfast:

  1. It is real food.  There is no truffle oil, no vegetarian "ham" substitutes and no egg whites. 
  2. They have white gravy.  I don't want to get into the difference between white and brown gravy so I will just say that white gravy is amazing and we will leave it at that. 
  3. You can go looking like you just rolled out of bed (probably because you did) and you fit right in.
  4. The coffee comes in a mug and it just keeps coming.
  5. You get more food than you need, but you will certainly not need to eat again until dinner (unless you are my husband or one of my four brothers).
A list of reasons people should be kicked out of a greasy diner during breakfast:
  1. This is not French Laundry and nobody cares who you are.  In fact, the only people who get special treatment here are the old ranchers that have been coming here for 30+ years.  So take your Ed Hardy shirt and your spray tanned wife and wait with the rest of us.  Quietly.
  2. Ordering fruit instead of hash browns.  If you wanted brunch, you should go to brunch (in fact, I am a huge fan. Brunch = mimosas.)  But do not come to a diner and try to "healthy up" the food.  You ordering an egg white omelette with organic veggies just got you an eye rolling from the waitress.  And I will most likely make fun of you and write about you in my blog.
  3. Yes, the coffee sucks.  It is part of the experience.  Either have your Starbucks on your way there, or take the approach I do.  Embrace the nastiness of the coffee...you are in a freaking diner!!!  What on earth do you expect?  But most importantly...shutty.
  4. The management is aware that the waitresses are rude.  They do not need to hear it from you because they are too busy to care what you think.  But more importantly, with foods like bacon, hotcakes, chicken fried steak and white gravy sitting in front of you...why on earth are you paying attention to the waitress? 
  5. Undertipping a greasy diner breakfast waitress.  If anyone deserves a 20% tip (don't be a douche and tip less than 20% when your waitress is working hard) it is the greasy diner breakfast waitress.  She is up at 5 am on a Sunday to serve you eggs and pancakes at 10 am when you finally roll out of bed.  It is a hard job.
The only thing that sucks about this blog post is that it is Monday night and I need to wait until at least Saturday before I can go have another greasy diner breakfast.  And do not give me the "suggestion" of getting up an hour early so I can go to breakfast before work.  That is ceratinly not an option...I am super lazy. 

Here is to bacon and white gravy...and if you are lucky enough, bacon bits in your white gravy.  Cheers!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The "O" Word

Anyone who knows me knows my aversion to anything related to the "Hippie" movement.  Included in that are the myths of Organic food.

Please do not mistake this for an aversion to keeping God's green earth pure and preserved.
***Please hold while I pull out my soapbox*** 
It is the self-righteous and judgemental attitude of most "green" people. (I know, I know, not you.)  You are clearly better than me because you have your reusable bags in the back seat of your Prius. Yes, we see you, and yes, we get it. Now stop waving your arms around before your tie-dyed shirt gives me a seizure. 


Okay...enough of that. This isn't Jen Hates Hippies, it is Jen Eats Food. Geeze, folks...stay focused!

Back to Organic food.

Let me preface the awesomeness of the following words with this:  There are certain health conditions where the individuals with those conditions would actually be harmed by hormones or pesticides that may be present in non-organic food.  And for that reason, we here at Jen Eats Food salute the farmers who grow and raise organic food.  I will always raise a glass to good health!

Now, for the rest of you who are clearly wealthier than me if you insist on buying organic food because you have been convinced by Whole Foods that it far superior than non-organic food, I say this:
 
I am a huge supporter of growing your own food, supporting local farmers and eating fresh, clean food.  Especially for children. Fresh fruit and vegetables are the main reason I love California in the summer! You can make fun of Fresno all you want...but you better also give them a little shout out every time you leave your grocery store with (a lot of) your fruits and vegetables.  However, if we tried to grow all food organic, we would starve.  It would simply not produce enough.  Wash your food well when you get home and call it a day.  Plus, if you drink enough wine, I am about 98.3% sure that the alcohol in it will kill the trace amounts of bad stuff you might be ingesting.

And can we all stop pretending that organic food tastes better? Seriously. In fact, I once bought organic cranberry juice (I was in college...I was just experimenting) and it was awful. Just awful.  Watch the episode of Penn & Tellers Bulls#!t about organic food.  The "survey" they did on organic vs non-organic is classic.
 
My final request is that we all band together and agree to stop using the term "green".  I am talking about the term in general, but certainly for food.  Green fruit is unripened fruit and green food usually means moldy. So, to the green food truck I saw outside of the Riverside courthouse, no, thank you.

I am not saying organic food is bad. Let's just be honest about what it is.  There is no need to protest against or picket non-organic farmers. Besides...how many trees died to make the sign you are holding or the flyers you are handing out? Organic food for thought...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Sunshine of My Morning

I want to introduce you all to the woman who, each day, brings me and all of my quirkiness to life...the Starbucks Mermaid.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fat Free and Suck Full

I was perusing through Trader Joe's today (yes, I know...it is a little hippie, but they have good, cheap wine and amazing food...SHOP THERE) and I was having a hard time finding regular, full o' fat sour cream.  I found it, but it got me thinking.  There are certain things in life that are not meant to be low fat or fat free.  Let's do a list.
  1. Ice Cream - There is "cream" in the name.  Low fat ice cream sucks.  Stop...it sucks.  I am a huge advocate of healthy, delicious, fresh food, but ice CREAM is not that.  If you are dieting or trying to watch your weight (and I support each and every person out there attempting to live a healthier life) eat two tablespoons of real, decadent ice cream instead of the cup of low fat crap. You will thank me, and be less resentful to your diet.
  2. Mayonnaise - What on God's green earth is fat free mayonnaise?  Mayo has three ingredients. Eggs, oil and vinegar.  You CANNOT have fat free mayonnaise.  It might be something else, but it is NOT mayo. And, it also sucks. Dieting? Suck it up and choose one of the 400 types of wonderful mustard for your sandwich. Or...
    1.  Take a small piece of your dry sandwich, put mayo on it.  Put a fantastic mustard on the rest.  Eat the mustard-y sandwich and save that amazing mayo-y part for the last, wonderful bite.
  3. Cheese - Again, fat free cheese is awful.  The one thing that goes best with wine is cheese.  So, if you disgrace cheese by removing anything about it (in this case, fat) you are disgracing wine.  I am angry just thinking about that.  If you have only had the cheese that you get in the refrigerated case of the grocery store next to the pickles, you are missing out on an incredible piece of life.  Eat a good smoked gouda, a Humbolt Fog,a Point Reyes Bleu, a sharp cheddar, and a list that goes on and on.  Take chevre, drizzle honey on it and a (SLIGHT) sprinkle of truffle salt, bake and spread on a french baguette. Once again, you are welcome.  If you are dieting, order everything without cheese.  Instead, have two or three bites of really great cheese.
  4. Half and Half - Brittney, I love you more than I could ever, ever express in words, but Fat Free Half and Half does not exist.  Let's begin with what half and half is.  It is half milk and half CREAM.  There is no such thing as fat free cream.  Therefore.......WTH?  According to Rob, it is harder to understand than "Inception".  Cream has fat, so if you have fat free cream, it is NOT cream.  If you are dieting, have fat free milk in your coffee.  At least it is honest about what it is.
Wow...I am pretty much a good Samaritan tonight.  Not only have I saved you all from the dumpster fire that is "fat free" food but I have ALSO given you tips on how to enjoy the foods you love and still stay healthy. 

Food should be enjoyed and celebrated.  Have a beautiful and delicious night!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ode to Costco Cake

To be honest, I have no idea how to write an ode and I have no interest in learning.
(Rob, this means I do not need you to google it and then make me listen to its origins on our next car ride together.) 

So, really, this is going to be a rambling on the awesomeness of Costco sheet cake.

Lets go through the list of required attributes a cake must possess to be considered awesome.
  1. Size - My mom always said that too much of anything was not good for you.  This does not apply to cake.  Much like everything at Costco, the cake is huge.
  2. Flavor - You can have the most beautiful cake in the world, but if it tastes like crap, you have a beautiful piece of crap.  Costco cake is simply delicious.  Rob said it best today when he said their vanilla filling tastes like smooth vanilla cake batter.  He was quick to explain that in no way should his comment be taken as an insult.
  3. Frosting - Buttercream.  Do not try and argue with me on this one. And do not try to gross me out by asking me (as my wedding cake lady did), "So, you literally want a glob of butter and sugar on your cake?" Because, yes I do, and now you have just turned me on a little bit. 
Now let's go through the things that make a cake suck.
  1. Whipped cream "frosting" is not frosting. It is whipped cream and belongs on fresh fruit or pumpkin pie.
  2. Fresh fruit by itself is not a cake filling.  Don't try to "healthy up" something that is clearly made for indulgence.
  3. Fondant.  As much as I admire the beautiful creations that fondant creates, it sucks.  My sister, one of the most amazing bakers I know, has to begrudgingly use fondant when people, who think it is more important for food to be pretty than taste good, insist she cover her delicious cakes in the chewy, sugary, play-dough like substance.  Fondant has ruined cake.
So, unless you are lucky enough to be able to call my sister and have a cake made whenever you want, the next best thing you can do is go to Costco, pick up one of their sheet cakes, go home and  mow that bad boy down.  (And if I have to remind you that cake is fattening and that if you eat a lot of it all the time and do no physical activity that you will get fat, then click the little red "x" in the top right corner of your computer screen because you are dumb and I am not allowing you to be a part of the the Cool Kids Club that is this blog.)

Happy Birthday to one of most favorite people in the world, my dear (and radically talented) friend, Sharon!  Thank you for sharing your Costco cake with me today!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Closest To My Heart

If you are ever in Alexandria, VA, or even within two hours of, there is only one thing that you need do.  Eat at Daniel O'Connell's. 


This restaurant has been the place of two very meaningful nights in my life.  The first night was a dinner with my husband and my amazing parents-in law as we celebrated spending the week together in our nation's capital before we received news that changed all of our lives.  Today, as I do always, I remember the beautiful, selfless and hilarious Nadine Smith, my husbands (and my) Nana.  The second night was a dinner with my daughter, my sister, my coworker and my boss to celebrate my husband being admitted into the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.  Needless to say, this place has a special place in my heart. 

And, oh, the fabulousness of the restaurant.  O'Connells (or as Rob calls it, Seamus McDougals), is filled with vibrant life, fantastic food and vintage soul.  The entire restaurant is furnished with items from salvaged old ships and churches.  The first night we sat at a table that was placed on the bow of an old ship and Rob and I sat in an old church pew.  We had filet mignon and shepards pie while the folks in the bar were "Irish" drunk and wonderfully loud.  I strive for that every night.

Then we had dessert.  There were s'mores.  At our table.  S'mores.  Hershey's chocolate bars, Reses' Peanut Butter cups, marshmallows, graham crackers and a sterno.  All the wonderfulness of camping without all the suckiness of camping.  Perfection.  Add blueberry bread pudding.  Hold on...I need a moment.

Daniel O'Connells means the world to me.  As much as I love food, there is nothing better than the experience it brings with it.  Tonight, I wish all of you the love of food! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chocolate Bouchon

Yountville = Bouchon.  Bouchon = Bouchon Bakery.  Bouchon Bakery = Chocolate Bouchons.  Thank you, Thomas Keller.

These tiny chocolatey morsels are, and I am almost 97.6% sure, the closest you can get to heaven here on earth.  I even mentioned something about bathing in a tub full of them today.  To be fair, I had just wine tasted at Alpha Omega, but we all know that I am much more clearheaded once I have had wine.