Wondering if the year could possibly get any more complicated, any more intense or any more labor intensive. Yes this year has been rapidly screaming by because there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in each day that approaches. Before you know it, the sun is setting and again arising the following morning. At least I am allowed to wake and approach yet another day to attempt resolve with some of the most comprehensive issues having been dealt to me lately.
Having the desire to write remains with me. Having the time to write is difficult. Having a workstation to write is another story completely. Activities in my life have engulfed almost every opportunity to get my stories out, or the activities have consumed me enough to diminish the desire to write when I actually have the time to accomplish the task. I have plenty of stories that I have either started, taken pictures for or have notes in my phone or my head; but having the correct frame of mind to spew words on the computer screen seems to evade me. I either have the time to write, but lack the desire; or, I have the desire to write, but lack the time. I don’t think it’s a writer’s block, rather a block that gives me excuse to not write.
There are several stories that I am working on. There are several reviews I am working on (some very positive); and there are life stories and more about family that have to be shared.
Please bear with me while I continue to travel the western states, the North San Diego County and other parts of the nation trying new things, foods and the wife’s patience. Looks like I’ll be traveling back to Oklahoma for another peek. I’ll be traveling to the San Francisco Bay area again and traveling with only my son. I have watched some performers that were all very good; I hope to watch more.
Stick with me folks for I have not surrendered. I have just found way too much in life requires immediate attention on more of a recurring basis.
Hopefully this will all slow down so I can share what is in my garden!
But I did run into this very cool t-shirt my brother had made for me.
How true and yet so funny – found this and had to repost.
How To Eat Like A God-Damn American (Just In Time For Thanksgiving)
4 months ago by FHM
“As far as I’m concerned American food is about passion. Look at the success of Man Vs Food. What makes that show great is the enthusiasm people have for the food. And it has nothing to do with gourmet ingredients.
Sure, in Britain you over-indulge with the occasional kebab or fish and chips. But you’ve got some real catching up to do. Get a proper fridge, for starters. Secondly, your portions are tiny. Our bags of potato chips are roughly 20 million times the size of yours.
Go to a supermarket in America and you’ll see we have three whole aisles just for corn chips and salsas. And your extra-large pizzas are like the size of our small pizzas. I once ordered a pizza in San Diego and we had to tilt it to get it through the door it was so big.”
Let’s get started…
The Goober Burger & Rodeo Burger
What is it?
Think you know burgers? You’re a beefy-beginner until you come face to face with one of these meat-monsters. First up, the mighty Minnesotan goober (see previous page): a cheeseburger enhanced by a fried egg and a generous portion of melted peanut butter. Then there’s the rodeo burger (above). Another mutant, the rodeo is achieved by cramming a load of deep fried onion rings on top of the meat and then slathering the whole thing in BBQ sauce. Yee, and indeed, haw.
Christian Stevenson’s Burger Bonus:
“These guys still aren’t cheesy enough for you? Rock some cheese from inside, it will be oozealicious! Make two burger patties, then put a couple of Monterey Jack cheese squares folded up in the middle. Seal the cheese in between the two patties. Crack some fresh pepper and salt onto the burger and give ’em a good BBQ or grill. You can also pop a jalepeno pepper inside to party with the cheese.”
Bad-Ass Buffalo Wings
What is it?
“A lot of restaurants refer to their wings as ‘buffalo’. But they’re not,” says Darul Rahman, the owner of StickyWings in Lewisham, London. Buffalos don’t have wings – we’re talking about chicken, here. Darul’s wings were recently recognised as being the best in the UK. “They have to be exactly how they cook them in America,” he says. “People get addicted to my wings. They tell me that they wake up at two in the morning craving them.”
Darul’s four steps for making perfect wings
01 “Season a bowl of uncooked chicken wings with salt, pepper, garlic powder and a little flour. Place them in a fridge for 20 minutes.”
02 “Prepare a blue cheese dip by mixing up a few hunks of blue cheese, a dollop of sour cream and some mayo in a bowl.”
03 “Deep fry the wings for 12 minutes at 190ºC. Be accurate with the time.”
04 “Melt some butter in a pan. Take the wings out of the oil and toss them in a bowl with the melted butter and some Frank’s hot sauce. Enjoy.”
The Double Down Burger
What is it?
A semi-mythical food, the Double Down was originally a Photoshopped April Fool’s joke until a few particularly unhinged branches of KFC in the southern states decided to make it a reality. Essentially it’s a bacon and cheese filling inside a “sandwich” of fried chicken. The fact people are willing to burn their fingers to eat it is testament to how delicious the Double Down actually is.
Krispy Kreme Chicken Sandwich
What is it?
Fried chicken is America’s most popular home-cooked food. Therefore it was only a matter of time before some bright spark had the genius idea to combine it with that other staple of Stateside snacking: the glazed jam doughnut. Americans love three things: freedom, guns and deep-fat friers. The thinking is simple: if something tastes good then it stands to reason it’ll taste even better dunked in boiling oil.
Pile Of Pancakes
What is it?
A teetering tower of starchy goodness, the traditional pancake stack is one of America’s greatest innovations. Yeah, the French might go on about how they perfected the crêpe, but whose idea was it to pile them up to the height of a small child, drench them in maple syrup and garnish the whole thing with delicious crispy bacon? U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
It’s not hard to make your own from scratch either. Mix together some self-raising flour, two eggs, a bit of icing sugar and a large glass of milk. Pour some of the mixture into a frying pan on a medium heat and once it starts to set (after a few minutes) flip it over. You’re done.
What is it?
Americans take sports seriously. How seriously? The arenas where their college teams play American football are bigger than most Premier League stadiums. When it comes to game-day snacks they don’t mess about either. We don’t know whose idea it was to combine nachos with ice cream and chocolate sauce, but we’d like to buy them a drink.
Deep-Fried Butter Stick
What is it?
What do you mean, “What is it?” It’s a deep-fried chunk of full-fat butter, drizzled with a cinnamon glaze. And before you accuse us of making this stuff up, the Dream Stick (as we call it in the FHM office) is absolutely real. Scotland produced the first telephone. China invented gun powder. Italy was responsible for momentous breakthroughs in painting and sculpture. But only the United States can lay claim to the deep-fried butter stick. God bless America.
Philly Cheese Steak
What is it?
Get a big roll and cram it full of onions, beef and lots of cheese. The key to a good Philly cheese steak, according to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, is cheapness. “The first mistake people make is that they use good meat,” he said recently. “You need the fattiest, stringiest meat to get a proper taste.” And as for the cheese: “You have to use Cheez Whiz,” says Ed. “Real cheese doesn’t melt right.”
The Ultimate Deli Sandwich
What is it?
Katz’s Deli in New York, owned by Luke Katz, is the best place in the world to eat pastrami and corned beef in a sandwich. Katz’s get through 15,000 pounds of pastrami every week. “I’m a traditional deli guy,” says Luke. “I like pastrami. I like it on rye. I like mustard. That’s it. But if someone likes our meat so much they want to pile it all into the same sandwich? It’s an honour.”
How to do it yourself
The meat: “Both corned beef and pastrami are cured, but only pastrami is smoked afterwards. That’s what makes it pastrami. It’s important you make sure yours has been smoked properly. Otherwise your sandwich is going to suck shit, excuse my French.”
The mustard: “Don’t use yellow mustard. What colour is mustard? It’s mustard colour. It ain’t yellow.”
The bread: “It’s gotta be rye. It lets the meat flavours shine. You need a tough bread. Do not make this sandwich with white bread. When I hear someone order white bread I just wanna slap the shit out of them.”
Photography: Dan Matthews / Conor Sheehan
Typography: Joel Holland
“Why is everyone laughing?” That’s what I want to know; just why IS everyone laughing? I mentioned to the server that was holding my two plates in her hand while she propped the kitchen door open and speaking to the other folks inside the kitchen. “Why’s everyone laughing?”, she asks.
I tell the arriving server, “Please don’t stand in the kitchen door with my plates in your hand while asking ‘why’s everyone laughing?’, as if you or my food is part of the joke” . . . What, did someone just spit in my pot pie?
We found Partake at the distant end of a now emerging and popular S. Santa Fe Av. in downtown Vista, CA. I believe Partake’s location to be too far and possibly still to sketchy of a walk all the way from the likes of Starbucks, Mother Earth Brewery, 50 Barrels Winery or Flying Pig. These establishments are making up the now popular and swiftly growing area of downtown Vista’s finer dining and cultivatingly finer, more upscale nightlife.
If traveling east along S. Santa Fe, and going through the new round-a-bout, you’ll find Partake to have a large storefront, but can be easily missed. Keep going east on S. Santa Fe. They are way down there past the hardware store and just before McDonalds on the south side of the street. There is plenty of parking in the rear of the store; but we kept searching for the rear entrance . . . there is none. We hoped to find some outdoor tables on the quiet alley where we parked, but had to circumnavigate the building back to the front entrance to get in. It sure looked like there may have been something nice out back, but everything was quiet and closed up. From the inside now, there doesn’t appear to be an escape.
Upon entrance to Partake we found a sign to seat ourselves, but the staff was quick to assist us and get us started. Although there were several tables occupied and some still available on this Good Friday before Easter, we elected to sit at the bar. It was rather quiet inside with almost an awkwardness about it being so quiet and calm. The music that was playing was kind of a jazzy, feel-good music. I can’t really put a genre on it, but every time I stopped to ponder things, I kept hearing this “feel-good” music playing . . . and it was really terrible music; but I felt really good while listening to it. Uuuh yeah! I’m sure the regulars and foodites that made up the joint felt good about their wine selections, their crafted burgers and their “feel good” music that was playing from some left-over old garage boom box audio system. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help myself but to think of the staff having to listen to that crap every day. I think I’d opt to reserve stabing myself with the Chef’s melon baller.
The décor was decent as were the furnishings. I did notice that the flatware was some pretty cheap stuff; then my wife pointed out that Flying Pig uses non-matching stuff from garage sales and swap meets. Ok, you got me there; but these reminded me of flatware used in establishments that are in some very depressed areas to prevent (or minimize expense loss due to) patrons from stealing them. But they WERE wrapped in fine linen . . .
The menu presented some challenges for the wife and I as seemingly everything was something we have had before at some other restaurant. Things like Duck-Fat Fries (also several other kinds of fries on the menu), Roasted Brussels Sprouts w/Bacon and Feta (is this the only way to make them in all of Southern California?), Chicken Wings, a Baked Brie, Portobello Mushroom Burger (also several burgers and common sandwiches on the menu), several flatbread pizzas, a New York Steak w/ Chimichurri and a 1/2 chicken plate. I did say 1/2 chicken . . . not airline breast. I was ultimately surprised for Partake to be hailing itself as a “gastro-pub”; I think it’s more like a grill-pub. I didn’t see a variety on the menu that caught my eye. Nothing on the menu seemed to possess anything with stand-out qualities to hold this menu above others or to even call it unique. Just lots of common food that are offered most everywhere, and similarly prepared. The only thing missing was the fried Calamari.
The menu seemed limiting to us. The wife ordered the Spinach and Beet salad. I don’t know where the beets went but when I got to the salad, they were gone. The salad was very much presented as a large spinach salad . . . but somewhere seemed to be missing the beet feature at $12. The wife stepped away to investigate the restrooms and asked that I order something unique that we would like to try. Since everything on the menu was not unique, I ordered the special of the day, the Chicken Pot Pie. Kind of unique and certainly making a comeback at the gastro level.
Now wondering if someone had spit in it from the kitchen, I cracked the store bought puff pastry (not uncommon) shell to reveal the sweltering fresh-made chicken, pea and potato filling that was beckoning to be ventilated. Just then the owner Keith came out and warned me of the volcanic filling inside, likening the story of the Marie Calendar pot pies of his youth. As we listened to Keith’s story of how he got started and his venture to Partake with little money, all I could hear was that crappy music playing in the background and think about the temperature of my Marie Calendar pot pie. Marie’s crust is better by the way. Yeah, there was nothing special about “the special”. Yes, the pot pie makes for a great way to use up unused product, but if you offer a special . . . it needs to be special. I was reading some of the Facebook posts about the customer’s liking the pot pie, so they brought it back. If that’s the case, make it a regular or recurring menu item and keep your specials “special”. I found no reason to finish what had been served to me. Just couldn’t bring myself to push through the wall tonight. There was nothing special about any of our menu selections tonight.
Upon completion of my first beer, the server asked if I wanted another. I was just about wrapping this dinner up and declined a second beer. The server did cleverly remind me that they had several dessert offerings. Since I had read something about this chef’s forte was baking and pastry and had a previous dessert bar/restaurant (I think), I decided to give ‘er a try by selecting number three tonight; as the server knew the dessert selections and rattled them off. I elected the Panna Cotta with berry reduction. Again, another let down as the berries were an incredibly potent mixture of sweet and sour preventing any creaminess of the actual Panna Cotta to be savored. I was not impressed.
As I watched some of the patrons, and kept listening to that really weird music, I noticed some of those patrons picking through their food and nodding their heads as if they were some kind of food CritDicks. I noticed the average age of the crowd. I noticed very few of us silver and grey haired patrons. I noticed a lot of burgers, fries and mac-n-cheese being ordered. I noticed that there were two bathrooms divided up as “female” and “unisex”. I tried to wait for the unisex bathroom to become available as I stood over other patrons trying not to be too obvious as they were eating their dinners. I never got into the unisex bathroom because there was yet another female waiting for that one. The whole bathroom thing is just kind of awkward. Good thing I got the nod from my wife to use the female head instead . . . on the other side of the restaurant.
I don’t know if I’ll be returning soon. I think Partake has a large following but this could quickly dwindle as other establishments begin to open their doors closer to the action in the happening area of town.
So I wish Partake success in the future; but, perhaps it’s time to reinvent the menu . . . or reinvent the Chef. I have, in the past, written about another place (Prohibition Brewery) that I recommended a menu change. Since that time they had successfully reinvented their Chef and their clientele has skyrocketed.
Also, what’s behind those doors? See about reemerging as a hideaway with superlative food and sound.
I could only find one rating for Partake this evening.
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie. Whatever that means.
I hope this makes it to the GM.
I just wanted to take a moment to recognize one of your employees, Mr. J—– B—; and I’m sorry it took so long for me to write this. I am a published columnist of customer experiences related to the Food Beverage and Hospitality (FB&H) services industry. You see, as a customer, I believe every customer deserves a great experience. That’s what brings them back.
I was part of a training course being offered through Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Our group was there for 3 days mid week to learn about procuring government services and how to write up “Performance Work Statements”. Essentially we were there to learn how to explain in writing what it is we want from a contractor providing services to a government organization.
That nonsense aside, myself and several other civil service employees were not necessarily used to eating lunches away from our desks. Several of us ate lunch down in the Oceanside harbor the first day, but we had thought we noticed a microwave oven in the lobby of your hotel; so I made plans for myself to bring my lunch in the second a third days and sit in my car and do some work from my tablet.
For the second day of our class I had brought my lunch in the form of a plastic tupper with some left-over pasta, BBQ pork ribs and a jalapeno pepper. That morning I tried to locate the microwave to help expedite my lunch since we normally only have a 1-hour timeframe in which to get to a restaurant, eat and return to our seats for the afternoon session. I looked everywhere in that lobby area for a microwave and couldn’t find one. I even made pre-arrangements with another student staying in the hotel that had traveled in from a more distant location to use their room microwave; but before I went that route I figured I would ask the front desk just in case I happened to miss it somewhere I wasn’t looking in that lobby area.
I asked J—- who was working behind the counter at that moment if there was a microwave available. He indicated that there was not but he would gladly take it into the kitchen where the employees heat their food if needed. He asked me how long to put it on for and I said about 4 minutes.
About ten minutes went by and I hadn’t seen J—-. I asked another employee in the office area of the lobby as to J—-’s whereabouts. The other employee got up and said, “yeah, I wonder where he is”. Just about that moment J—– walked out from the kitchen carrying a plate of hot food, a dinner service linen roll with knife and fork inside and my empty tupper. The food was actually arranged and plated nicely as if it had come from a chef in a professional kitchen. As he handed it to me he apologized for taking so long because he needed to “wash the container”. I told him he didn’t need to do all of that as I was going to just eat in my car. He even offered me a seat in the dining room of the café if I would like.
Well I didn’t eat my lunch in the dining room; and as a matter of fact after eating my lunch in my car from a restaurant plate with linen napkin, I felt very awkward returning a dirty plate to J—– for him or someone else to clean. I asked J—– for his business card and told him what I do as a writer.
I was very appreciative of him treating me like . . . honestly, a guest in his home. Now that’s what this game is all about.
Please ensure this guy gets the ol’ pat on the back and possibly something a little bit special; because that’s how he made me feel, and I wasn’t even staying there.
Driving in this day was beginning to take on a very slow crawl. What the hell? Why is traffic going so dang gum slow? Who the hell? . . . Why? . . . What? . . . There’s a dang gum bus up ahead that doesn’t know where it’s supposed to be going . . . and why do I have this southern draw to my writing? Oh, that bus belongs to the band. “That must be Mr. Daniels himself”, I say to my wife. That bus up ahead was slowly inching its way into the casino parking lot and we were stuck behind it. I had a feeling Charlie would be moving kinda slow nowadays but didn’t realize his bus would be assuming the same comfortable pace. “Let’s go damn it, I gotta show to go to”, I again think to myself. Perhaps I was more interested in getting a cold beer before the show began.
This story actually begins with an old t-shirt I now currently reserve to use for sleeping. I stared at it one day wishing I had a newer version of the Charlie Daniels Band (CDB) Volunteer Jam concert black shirt. Instead the grossly faded and tattered remnant was to remain in its place in the drawer for future nightly dreaming. “Hmmm”, thinking to myself I decided to take a gander at the Internet and see if I can find out any tour information about the CDB and if they are expected to do a show anywhere nearby. I’m again thinking I have probably seen the CDB about a dozen times and I never miss a show if they are near; but my search on the internet revealed a lifeless website devoid of tour information and current stories or products for sale. I kind of just blew that off for a few weeks until I saw that shirt again. Then I performed the same website search ritual as stated earlier.
That t-shirt story continues. One day while driving home from work, I happened upon a small sign garnishing the expressway I frequent on my commuting travels. The sign read “Casino Pauma – Charlie Daniels Band – Feb 28”. WHAT??? I had just months before been concerned after the second website search for tour dates revealed nothing. I had thought Charlie Daniels’ health may have been faltering and restricting his ability to tour. I hadn’t seen nor heard much of anything accept for a television commercial I saw in the recent past.
Once I saw the sign I immediately began making plans to purchase tickets for fear this may be the last time he comes around. He’s 79 years old and many musicians of his caliber begin to significantly taper their appearances around that age. I was very happy to find tickets still available at a venue I have never been to before, and I was hoping to have a time to find another great place to see a show nearby my home.
I live about 20-25 minutes from 5 Indian gaming casinos, some of which I had written about before after attending various events, shows and restaurants. This time was my wife and I’s first trip to Casino Pauma, as it remains the only casino in the area still in a circus-type tent structure. Living in this area for so long, we’ve witnessed most of them having already transformed to brick and mortar structures over the years. We also experienced their music venues change from parking lots to building structures, from building structures to bigger building structures and a little vice versa; some for the better and some for the worse.
Inside of the casino there are three selections of food establishments and two bars. The pizza and sandwich deli offered fresh made individual sized pizzas that I have been told were very good. The deli also offers some kind of pretzels and a host of pre-made/pre-packaged sandwiches similar to what you may find at the school cafeteria. The Café is toward the back from the main entrance next to the buffet and another bar area. I never made it back there to that area other than to help my wife initially find the café. We mainly held tight to the Red Parrot Lounge bar just inside the main entrance. It was a very busy bar especially since it’s just inside the main entrance and everyone hits there first. There’s a small band stand for the nightly music and dancing and that’s where we found ourselves hanging and pre-gamming for the big show.
Now you are probably wondering why seeing CDB is so important for me. Let me date myself back several years and several venues in which I have seen Charlie Daniels perform. My first was at the San Diego State Amphitheater, unmistakably probably the best outdoor music venue ever in San Diego. My older brother had taken me when I was about 17 while he was attending the university. At that first appearance, I had really enjoyed the show that began with a solo guitarist kicking off with a very powerful rendition of Pure Prairie League’s “Amie”. I remember that day vividly as I was young enough to holler out a country “Whoooot” that even Charlie looked up over his microphone with a big hearted smile during that show.
I have seen the CDB cruise up the Mississippi River on top of a river boat. That day the boat parked directly in front of my wife and I as we were seated along the bank of that majestic waterway. I’ve seen Charlie playing along side of greats like the Marshal Tucker Band at Pala Casino’s outdoor Starlight Theater, again arguably one of the best music venues in San Diego. I have seen the CDB perform at several festivals and county fairs throughout the years. I search the band out if they hear or read they are local and even if I hear of them playing where I am traveling about the country. The CDB is the kind of musical performer that has always touched my heart singing about deep-hearted American and country stories, patriotic melodies and always showing his very strong support for America and the military. Charlie Daniels is probably the first country and western musical performers I have followed throughout my entire life. Now I find that there are so many more of the old style country singers that have run with very deep roots in the Americana themed tunes.
Casino Pauma is just a bit different than the other gaming casinos in the North San Diego region in that it is the only casino that is still currently in a tent, the only casino that doesn’t have an outdoor lounge area and the only casino that reverses its name after the word “Casino”. It’s not called Pauma Casino, like Harrahs, Pechanga, Pala or Valley View. It’s called “Casino Pauma”. I’ve always just known it as such and it’s always just been that way as far back as I have known.
Casino Pauma’s concert venue is actually a separate tent from the casino itself and you must pass through this white tent corridor to get in; they look like the kind you buy at Costco. The inside of the concert venue reminded me of a elementary school multi-purpose building as if I was getting ready to watch a Christmas play with the other 800 folks (815 seating capacity) in attendance.
The CDB started their show pretty close to the stated 5pm start time on this Sunday. I quickly noticed there was a lack of really quality sound since there were no speaker elevated off of the floor or stage area that is common for musical stages nowadays, so the sound never really got past the first several rows of seats. Not to say the sound wasn’t good, it just was noticeably inferior to the other concert venues at the other casinos that have performance stages.
Charlie Daniels never lets me down and always pays significant tribute to the military and often times other musicians he has performed with or left their mark on his soul over the years. His stories come at you quickly as he talks about what he feels and why he performs such songs on his playlist. This time he played tributes to Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. His tributes always are well performed and well received. Charlie’s band has always been very energetic and deeply into the show as they perform a number of hits and cover renditions that pay tribute or have significant country stories to tell, like Legend of Wooley Swamp, Long Haired Country Boy and his abrupt finally this night, The Devil Went Down To Georgia. I accepted his no encore finish because of the small crowd that was sold out at 800 in this venue. I would have left early also. The crowd was still very appreciative and well entertained. We stood along the back and sides near the bars (no craft beer and limited spirits) most of the show without problem and quickly exited to head back into the casino for a seat at the inside bar.
Once back at the bar, we were again quickly served as the casino band began to gather again at the stage area. I passed by them briefly and Kyle (singer) mentioned that they had noticed that it was time to get their game on since Charlie’s show ended so abruptly. About 10 or 15 minutes into their first set and a very crowded bar had several folks around me, my wife and brother-in-law included all exclaiming “these guys” (referring to Kanan Road, the band) were really shredding up the classic and southern rock tunes. I was very impressed with their strong originals mixed with just the right covers to complete an evening of country rock. They really made for a great after CDB show party that night. Check them out at http://www.kananroadband.com.
Well, I never got that T-shirt replaced, but I did get this bitchen red-neck hat for bull ridin’ if I happen to go that route someday.
Get ‘er done!
I had noticed recently there seems to be a lot of establishments offering a Cuban sandwich lately. I have even found myself attempting to give ‘er a go by preparing the first stage of my creativity, in hopes of having another opportunity to finish it (building and eating the sandwich) soon after the smoked Easter ham has been hacked up. Then all I’ll need to do is find the right Swiss cheese, Kosher pickle and proper roll since the mustard should be as plain as can be. Probably press it all between two cast-iron skillets. That’s my interpretation of a classic that has fascinated me since watching the movie “Chef”. The preview night of that movie in Orange County had the small group of us four scrambling toward an undisclosed Los Angeles location to hunt one down to satisfy our “gotta have”. Since then I have noticed more and more quick-serve and sit down eateries have the “Cuban” featured on their menu.
The movie “Chef” is about an aspiring chef on the verge of becoming great in this current social media age. That chef, played by Jon Favreau (also the director) taught his son how to make a Cuban sandwich as part of his roots inspired menu aboard the newly created food truck he had set up after being ousted by the General Manager and Owner (Dustin Hoffman) of the restaurant that began to make a name for him. In the movie, the food truck “El Jefe” now serves up Cubans as a staple of the food that Chef Carl Casper had grown up with. I thought the movie to be fun, entertaining with nuances of the restaurant business that seemed fitting at the time of my culinary education. I still enjoy the the movie today.
Well, a recent notification on social media about a restaurant closure nearby where I work had me scrambling to wish the owner and chef the best of luck last week. It seemed they had just opened that brick and mortar restaurant less than a full year ago. I’m not sure of the circumstances that evolved around the restaurant closure, but the restaurant had started first as a food truck making authentic New York style deli sandwiches with modern culinary twists from various inspirations the chef had brought along the way. That chef is how I first met the staff at New York on Rye. I met the chef and once wrote a story about his operation https://critdicks.com/2012/09/25/haulin-ass-i-mean-hall-and-oats-ooops/. I was very happy when they decided to open a brick and mortar delicatessen and their then truck commissary just down the street from my daily workplace. Don’t get me wrong, the sandwiches were probably not the best thing for my weight and health (grilled Pastrami, Corned Beef, grilled Rueben and the grilled Corned Beef Hash burrito) but they were the certainly the best . . . and probably still are the best Jewish style New York deli sandwiches in San Diego.
After reading about their brick and mortar closure I decided to pay a quick visit in transit to another work location while they still had their food truck outside the store front before seeing their customers off. When I visited that day I had noticed they added house-smoked regulars of brisket and pulled pork to the menu. I know these are popular menu items from BBQ venues and trucks in the San Diego region but I didn’t expect to see them from a New York deli. I also know that New York on Rye once had a smoke trailer they had experimented with in the past, but had abandoned that idea before opening the place in Miramar. Another item I noticed on their menu was a Cuban sandwich. Now I don’t ever recall seeing this on their menu, nor did I eat there too often (read above . . . ), but I would have eaten the Cuban had I known they had one, and Chef Rich Huarte would have probably pointed it out, since I have had almost everything else on their menu at one point in time by his recommendation.
Well I think the Cuban sandwich has permanently created an opportunity for me to look for this food truck again in the future. I didn’t get to eat one this day, since I had little time having to make haste and get to my meeting in another area of San Diego; you see the New York on Rye truck was just setting up after some required inspections that day, and I just had poor timing and couldn’t wait around. I did learn of my Chef friend Rich was no longer with the team, opting to return to his roots town on the East Coast with the store closure and be closer to his family. Damn East Coast people . . . come out to California, then go back . . . then often times come back to California scratching their heads saying “what was I thinking . . . it’s cold back there”. Also, meeting Rich was my very first introduction into the food truck business. He helped me understand the “gourmet” food truck idea. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to find him out East someday when I visit the Big City area. Gonna miss you Rich. You’re a fine Chef.
The Cuban sandwich that is on this menu appears to be part of a series of sandwiches that is featuring the smoking of meats they have recently added as part of their sandwich menu. I am not Cuban so I make no claims to the authenticity of my personal recipe desire for this particular sandwich. My understanding of this concoction of the Cuban sandwich is traditionally made from”smoked” ham, “roasted” pork, Swiss cheese, dill pickle and plain yellow mustard on a Cuban roll. New York on Rye has the pork “smoked” and pulled (as Wikipedia claims . . . is ok). My assumption is this is alternatively a good interpretation of the original and I am very much looking forward to trying this sandwich. I have had most everything else on the menu, so I know I won’t be disappointed. But how does it stand up to the competition?
I don’t know . . . ask the competitors. There seems to be no lack of them lately.
The only other thing that has me quirking . . . no, not twerking; is the pursuit of the mighty dollar and the experimentation with menu ideas. I know, as a chef, that you must and will always be experimenting in the kitchen with different flavor profiles, affinities and sometimes culinary mistakes; but I also believe in purity of the roots that begins the inspiration of an idea. I really liked the idea of New York on Rye being an authentic New York style Jewish deli. The owner said to me the first moment I met him, “We’re real Jews making real Jewish food”. That stuck with me to this day. I don’t recall the Cuban or the smoked meat sandwiches as being part of any Jewish deli I remember.