Prohibition – An Era – Maybe should have stayed that way

Prohibition Brewery. Catchy name, and with several more Prohibition era touches on the interior, I would have thought they would’ve paid more attention to the dining experience..

Friday night, 6pm, and one of the few “breweries” in the San Diego that have a service menu, it was somewhat busy but no wait at the door…in fact, we were not greeted. There begins the Prohi-problem. The wife and I have been here a total of four visits. The first (11/11/2011 at, of course, 11am) was for “soft” opening day. Again a visit later with some friends, only for a beer. That second trip revealed an empty “home-brew” menu, yet they offered many supplements, including Coors Light…really? I have read on several other blogs that this seemed to be a regular occurrence. This is a local brewery for us, being only a few miles from our house. Again, another visit soon after the New Year, when we were told their menu was going to get some “great” enhancements. We saw none except the menu now being laminated and several of the home-brew empty.

Today’s trip was to be a quick drink on the way home with my wife and I to meet up with some friends. I  noticed they had a nice new sign on the back wall and added a couple new tables in that area as well. Still, the picnic benches prevailed. I guess they are OK for a bunch of beer drinkers, but lend nothing to a dining experience. Still the same laminated menu…

I noticed they had their “Red” (a norm) and another “IPA” brew that is not their norm written on the chalkboard menu. I also looked in the back and noticed a brew of “Oatmeal Stout” in the making. That’s good, because, at least they’re working on their beer…which is not bad. I don’t think any of their home-brewed beers are bad…in fact, possibly on the “good” side. I asked for a sample of the Red and a sample of the IPA. I noticed that my samples at our bar area table were half the size of the samples that were being poured for, what appeared to be, the locals and regulars actually sitting at the bar; where I also saw the owner spending most of her time while working the keg flow. I even saw her later pour a pitcher for a table-dining area patron. Beginning first by working a different keg’s flow; poured that out, then using the same pitcher to conclude the patrons pour from a different tap. Now being a beer drinker, that’s not that big of a deal for me. I then observed the head of the beer not surface correctly. I saw her actually, now using the not properly “beer clean” service pitcher, boost shots of the tap into it to make it form a head. I saw her carry that pitcher back to service patrons in the regular dining area. Again, not that big of a deal for me being a beer drinker, but being a beer drinking foodie, I know that the lack of professionalism in that practice is completely unacceptable for someone who would be expecting something better. I throw the BS flag.

We ordered a couple of apps from the chalkboard “special” menu. It’s good that they are fishing for new menu ideas…or promoting the “going bad in the back” ingredients. A “norm” for restaurants. The Spinach/Artichoke dip tasted great, if you could make it past the hour-stale multi-colored tortilla chips. The chips were, again from my initial Yelp blog, probably bought at Costco, although I’ve never seen them sold there. We also ordered the Bruschetta, which was a very feeble attempt at utilising the day-old sandwich bread they use for the Philly Cheese sandwich, yet cut on a lengthwise bias. An interesting plating…none the less. Then the liberally…I mean way too much, poorly reduced, balsamic vinegar over top of jar’d Costco pesto, melting the modestly cheesy tomato topping in the broiler. Friggin bar food…still sucks overall. It was not even remotely good.

I will probably go back; however, only because it’s local, having good friends, and the beer is good…or at least acceptable. At least they serve Stone IPA…as long as they don’t do that foaming thing for the head. Please, at least learn correct sanitation and service protocols and standards… from the owner even. The owner never made her way around to the tables within the bar area to acknowledge the patrons. The only time she made her way from behind the bar was to help bring plates out to the presumably long waiting guests in the dining area.

Again, a blog that is much longer than the establishment deserves.

They only get a half-glass of stale beer.


What’s “eating” you?

Tonight’s creation. I didn’t feel like cooking, but I had to make something to have left-overs for the remainder of the week.

Take two Rock Cornish Game Hens (cute little buggers). Why are they called “Rock”? They are actually just very young chickens, that’s what makes ’em so tender. Hack those “babies” in half along the back (not breast) side. Salt and pepper to your desire. Pan seared both sides with about two tablespoons of olive oil in a wide rondeaux (large, flat, 3 inch straight side pan with a lid). Or just find a pan that works…really, it’s not as complicated as I make it to appear.

Look in the closet and find something to throw in the pan to make a sauce…Aaaa Haaa! Two 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes and one 7 oz can of Herdez Salsa Ranchera and a couple of bay leaves. Throw it in, bringing to a simmer and cover it. Cook it for a while…probably about 45 minutes. Check for salt, pepper and doneness (what…is it 165 degrees for poultry?).

Remove the birds and place on a foil lined and cooking sprayed tray and stick it in the toaster oven to brown.

Add 1/4 cup of red wine to your sauce. Keeping the lid off, reduce it down to a nape (clings to the back of a spoon, for you non-culinarians) consistency, checking for salt and pepper again. Well, the sauce never really napes, so reduce it down. I smashed my diced tomatoes with the back of the spoon while checking for the nape consistency. You can puree it with your Hitachi Magic Wand if you’re into that.

Once the birds are browned nicely, plate the birds. Pour the sauce over the birds and squeeze some lime over it (if you drink, …you’ve got limes). Garnish with chopped cilantro. Now in Emeril’s words “BAM!” Show that to your kids.

Tonight we get the best available frozen corn – microwaved. Then some canned Ranch Style J

alapeno Pinto Beans – microwaved.

The birds are just a tad on the spicy side…just enough to notice, but not too hot for the kids. Really turned out pretty tasty. The kids said it was great!

Have a great night.


Martini – Perfect ! ! !

So why not say “The perfect Martini”? Because…

When you’re engaged with a Martini, it’s another world. It’s like being engaged to a Vegas stripper for the moment…or the night. Yes,…I’m currently engaged. There maybe another engagement yet tonight.

How to make the perfect Martini…I know that’s what you’re expecting from me. Well, mine is of a simple varietal. Two kinds of olives (hallucinogenic after also “engaging” the drink), Jalapeno stuffed, and Garlic stuffed olives. Two kinds of liquor tonight. Not normal; but, Bombay Saphire (50%), and Stolichnaya (50%). Normal would be 100% Saphire (100 proof). I wanted to write this so I’m diluting it a bit.

What’s your’s? What would you pair this bad boy with? STEAK ! ! ! Hell Yeah!… Not tonight! It’s left overs…

Why does the Martini gotta be all that? Because…that’s what a Martini is…”all that”.

The perfect Martini is made by the perfect “Mixologist”. I’m not kidding. The quality of the Martini is directionally proportional to the “love” that was put into it. The liquor, the glass, the ingredients, the conversation and the bartender. I’ve had them from the most famous bartenders in the world…Ok, maybe my world. The Bartenders have stories…and that’s what can make a perfect Martini. But only if the other elements are carefully executed…the glass, the liquor…the end product! Where and when you’re having that perfect Martini also matters. It’s a demented world…but someone has to live it! I’m livin’ it baby!

I enjoy mine on the patio…the sun…the preparation of dinner…the late afternoon conversation with my wife. She usually concludes…”how many is that?” “Why, this is my first…”, I usually always reply.  … gotta play it safe, you know.

What you see in the picture is a “smokin’ Martini”. These are the bomb because they are friggin “fun”. To have this arrive at your table is awesome. To grab your glass, raise it for a cheer “Salud”, is the best. Again the spirit and atmosphere of what you are engaging in,… is what a Martini is all about.

Put in it, what you want. Dress it up…make it steam..create the perfect combination for your opportunity.

So until the next round… “Salud” ! ! !

Drink one for me…I’ll be having one for you.


Supporo Sushi – Don’t tell me “all you can eat”…I’ll hurt you!!!

Wow, a sushi house with Japanese chefs. In Murrieta,…hell, anywhere in Southern California. At least they looked Japanese…maybe I was fooled…

We happened upon this place via is a service my wife bought into a few months back as a coupon gimic thingy. Anyway, we had expected to use our coupon at Supporo Sushi, 39252 Winchester Road #137 Murrieta, CA 92563. I couldn’t find a website for them. Well, I guess the remainder of this blog will poke fun at the adventure of our night…Babe, read the coupons next time.

Our first encounter was with one of the new hire. A young lady that explained the “all you can eat sushi”, saying that they have to charge you $.50 for each piece over a roll that is left over. “You can order, whatever, and however much, you like from the order sheet”. I thought to myself…, “well damn, I can throw some sushi”. I think it was $21.95; which is less that Onami or Todai…and their stuff is mass produced. At what, I think they’re $24.99.

I began to pick and choose. I think I ate 3 rolls and a couple other finger rolls that were actually quite tasty. I think the wife ordered some Panko Shrimp that were pretty good as well. Great Panko batter. The other Tempura veggies were fine, not remarkable. Batter was fine, and they were cooked to perfection.

Now the problems kick in. Problem one is the oysters…damn good…, good size…, I must say; but were limited on the “all you can eat”, to just one. I mean it was that good. Already prepared with Tabasco and scallions. It was really good…the highlight.

They brought out my various rolls and Nigiri. I tore those bad boy’s up. Not bad…not standout. I had to ask twice for my order sheet, so I could look at a second round. Well, finally got it. I was very full. Do I go for another?…nah, already stuffed.

The bill comes and it’s $8 short of $100 so we could use two $25 coupons. The wife orders a roll for the kids at home and I finally order another roll for myself thinking, I’ll eat two pieces and take the rest home for the kids as well.

Now…, I understand why we are called “CritDicks”. I should have recognized, from a F&B business perspective that they’re trying to make money…but I didn’t. I was going to get whatever I could from this “all you can eat”. We even kept making fun of the chef’s. They must have been thinking “that dude already ate a shit-load…don’t give him his ordering sheet…he’s not gonna keep going…is he???”

So  the wife orders the other roll, I order another roll and the floor supervisor comes over and says the coupons are only one per table. “Ok fine…”, the wife says. The supervisor comes over again and say’s “and the all you can eat, is not accepted with the coupon…it’s going to be full price”. So, now the wife tries to make claim that she handed the coupons to the server at the begining…before we even ordered, and didn’t say anything to us…blah, blah!. A bunch of BS…and I’m starting to get upset, because I don’t really know what’s going on…I just want my friggin sushi.

So we get ready to leave, and I ask for a box to put my remaining 3/4 of a roll for the kids. Then the server tells us she has to charge us for the remaining pieces. “WHAT?” I now go off.  I grab my jacket and start to head for the door. Remember, we already paid. The poor young waitress catches my blast and say’s “I’ll just get you a box”. I’m already out the door… Poor gal must have been thinking “what a “”DICK””!

Turns out, the wife’s sister (yes, that would be my Sister-in-Law), read the coupons just after the initial order was taken. They knew all of this, but were playin’ the waitress because she was a new hire…but the boss caught all of it. So, hats off to the boss for being prudent. Baaadddd Wife!

All in all, My first impression was good, but turned sour as the night went on. I’m glad I didn’t blast the restaurant last night. The sushi wasn’t the best…but it wasn’t the worst. For a small place out in no-where, Murrieta, it wasn’t that bad. And, the satff was Japanese. That’s good.

I say, check it out for yourself. “You make the call”. (NFL)

I should have been more responsive to the F&B business…”BAD FOODIE”

Yes, and I know Bruce Lee is not Japanese.


BBQ – Enzo’s – Oceanside…Where’s Simon?

Having our (wifey and I) craving for BBQ, we couldn’t navigate our way to our normal hideout (to be addressed later). Running errands in the North County (San Diego) we decided to try another BBQ joint on the way to the “tax man”. I remembered of a place nearby his office, so we said we’ll give it a honest test. I also know it to be somewhat popular, enough for the owner to purchase a small Italian/pizza eatery right next door and subsequently close it for expansion of Enzo’s into a little larger arena.

We decided to get there just before the lunch-time rush; literally right behind us, because the place began to fill quickly just after we sat at the bar facing the open kitchen. As I peered over the counter at Enzo keeping a watchful eye on the prep-cook’s creation for us, he noticed me and said playfully “you trying to steal my recipe?” My reply indicated I was watching him…watch his cook. At that moment I also noticed there was burning wood on the grill. I first thought he was igniting it to use in the smoker, later realizing it remained on the grill our entire visit. Now I realized this was to create smoke into the vent system to attract additional customers from the smell of the smoking wood, presumably hickory.

I also noticed Enzo had kept the pizza oven from the previous Italian place. I looked on the menu to find that he still offers pizza as “flatbread”. I don’t know if they’re any good but it must have previously drawn enough of attraction to maintain its occupation in the kitchen…and the menu.

The wife ordered the $9.95 “6-year anniversary special” that we were to share. It came out as two plates. She didn’t think that her tab of $37 was high for one special, a beer, soda, onion rings and an extra side of coleslaw. Whatever, it is…what it is! The two (now) plates of two ribs, pulled pork sandwich, small coleslaw and beans sat before us. The baby-back pork ribs were quite skimpy on the proportion of meat to bone. In other words, they were weak. The meat was somewhat tough and the BBQ sauce lacked vibrance. The pulled pork sandwich was on a toasted (looked like) egg bun, and the meat was pretty tasty and tender, much more than the ribs. The onion rings were said to be “beer battered” but really didn’t have much flavor as I needed to add salt. The ranch dressing had a hard time staying on the ring (runny) as I tried to cross my plate for a bite after dipping. The slaw and bean servings were very small (2 oz cups). The beans disappeared quickly in the broth filled sample. The taste was fine…but only had two small fork full.

It appears Enzo had increased his beer selection enough to add the words “Ale House” to his signage and he had several on tap.

Our visit was a bit of a let down compared to the “ole standby” and I think I’ve wasted more time on this post than it was worth. However, he’s the only BBQ place in that area and probably should remain where he’s at, because there’s no competition that I’m aware of.

Not a bad place to eat…just not worth revisiting for any kind of hope!

Enzo only gets two strips of bacon for this trip!


Recognizing Awesomeness – Military Instructors – and those that serve.

First off, I’m old school military…that’s pre-“Tailhook”… In other words, I’ve been there, done that, seen it, and been through it all. I also saw many changes for the better (that’s my politically correct statement).

Now, being an instructor of military doctrine and having endured (and you know what I’m talking about…if your are military) in several…ok many, military provided classes of various curricula, I know the meaning of “Awesomeness”. Well, in this particular case, there is a certain amount, or level, of respect that is given the instructors of the various military doctrine (courses)…as is the respect given back to those that serve and carry out the orders and instructions of the teachings. That’s what we’re all in this for. We just do…

One of the first teachings in any military course being presented, are the ground rules of the class. The response to emergencies (i.e. fire exits), restrooms, smoking and the use of electronic devices in the class room (i.e. cell phones). Generally, it is announced, prior to any pertinent subject curriculum, that the use of cell phones, laptops etc., is to be somewhat restricted or not otherwise authorized. Meaning, “put it on vibrate, off and the like.” Further stated “if you need to take a call, go outside”.

This particular instructor had his cell phone on vibrate atop his teaching podium that reverberated loudly in the class disrupting his, and the students, concentration. He said it was, like “super” loud…Cheap ass podiums!

There is also a somewhat unwritten code of doughnuts, or other assundrious (sp?, Google didn’t even pull that one up) penalties that may be necessary to be upheld, by violators of whatever codes become violated…throughout the service…for whatever reason…that happens to be appropriate. It is one of those laws or codes that is rarely ever strictly enforced. It’s just a code of ethics that can become a point of ridicule at any give moment, should the penalty never be satisfied. It’s part of the military code…or something like that. I really hope I’m not violating one of those codes.

This poor instructor bought for the whole class today. At least he bought good ones…from a good Korean (owned) doughnut house. I swear, for some reason, they (Korean owned doughnut houses)  just seem to make the best. Don’t quite know why…they just do!!! It’s like night and day. Now you know the secret to having good doughnuts in the workplace…have a Korean make ’em.

Hope I didn’t offend anyone. Just remember what you’re reading – “CritDicks”…

Call out to military instructors and those that listen to our stories (the instructors’ stories, that is). “Awesome”. You guys always seem to ROCK!


Recognizing Awesomeness – Stone Brewing Company

Need more be said?

Went here for a “final” of one of my classes. Had the premier tour guide, Ken Wright – “Minister of Evangelism and Indoctrination”. This dude gives a great tour. Funny as

Sh#$! He’s featured in most of their promo videos.

Other than constantly expanding and watching them case-up the AB, nothing new to report…just “Recognizing Awesomeness” ! ! !

St. Patricks Day is…OVER ALREADY!

How many of you made the “Traditional New England Boil”, as it was called going through “American Regional” cuisine, if I remember. Please, fellow culinary student followers, correct me if I am wrong.

When I went through the class, I thought to myself…what?  I thought this was a traditional Irish (II…roll the tongue a bit…rrrr…isshh) meal. Turns out this is a bit of a HOAX! Prove it or dis-prove it here on CritDicks!

Is this an Irish (don’t forget to roll the tongue) tradition…or an American take, on an Irish (tongue roll please) HOAX! I want to hear about it. BLAST AWAY!

Drink one of my St. Johnny’s Day Sunrise and figure it out.



Store bought…on St. Patty’s Day? Really? And actually brought them to a culinary student’s house…that has a blog…and didn’t expect to get blasted… Really?

So what about baking? What about the fear of getting blasted? Why is this young female that should have baking…at least CUPCAKES figured out.

Then you bring them to a house that is quickly getting populated by all of your friends…in the blogger’s house. Making green beer and green cocktails…really…store bought?

How dare you.

You should be ashamed.

You will now have to redeem yourself.


Not such Irish Luck

Not such Irish luck!


When one thinks of the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry, it’s easy to become lost in the importance of, and the vast expanse of it in our daily lives. The fathoms of this vast, abundant culinary diversity should be quite evident; since really all it takes is to drive down a street or freeway, seeing all of the various fast food or stand-alone restaurant signs that abound within our visual scan of the spectral horizon. But, think for a moment about the expansive underground…if I may call it, of some of the unseen or behind-the-scenes food services that take place everyday…everywhere.

I’m writing today about Tri-City Hospital in Carlsbad, Ca…, or is it Oceanside…or is it Vista, CA. Hence the name Tri-City. I think it sits right on the cusp of all three cities. A hospital is one of those unseen, unheard-of, undesired components of our everyday existence that we forget about… until we need it. It’s one of those segments of the F&B industry that is not glorified by the Food Network or Cooking Channel. It’s not one of those places that we seek out in search of just the right meal for an anniversary or other significant celebration. It is not one of those types of businesses that every culinarian dreams of “owning my own restaurant”. This…, is the food that is designed to be nutritious, nutritionally well balanced, catering to special patient needs, and yet . . . good?

Think about the kind of person it takes to become devoted to working in this environment; an environment that is truly of a service to the patron. The epitome of service…, to care for the sick, weak and possibly dying; with no chance of monetary reward other than some lousy hourly wage. Not even a chance of getting some shared fragments of the wait staff tips. To become those that become critically ridiculed by the sick family member, the loved ones, other family members and friends of the incapacitated, diseased and the terminally ill. Often times, these family and friends are the ones becoming critical of the food that is being consumed, only to add fuel to the fire of those that lay in the sick bed. Collectively, including those in the beds, can be safely referred to as “assholes”. Those patrons that chefs, cooks and staff have to provide for every day, around the clock, with a variety of culinary expectation from around the culinary spectrum. I call them assholes because every one of them has some form of opinion…including me, and they all stink!

Think for a moment about what you picture as hospital food, the way it looks on the plate when revealed from under the mystery- dome, the moist towellette nearby on the tray waiting in the wrapper, the saltines…or salt-less tines, if on a doctor’s cardiac selection, the orange juice carton, the milk carton, the straw,…remember just how absolutely great that meal was. Think about the last time you had a stay in a hospital bed. Think about the tasteless, luke-warm, colorless and texture-less crap that sat before your eyes and nose. Lurking and waiting for your liberally salivating glands.  At least 4 … maybe a  5-star delight. Remember thinking “this is bull shit…give me a friggin’ burrito!”

Yes, I’m writing this while helping to comfort a sick loved family member. I sit writing while waiting for the next culinary treat to arrive around dinner time, so I can try that offering. Earlier, I remember the hospital staff coming in the room to take the next day’s food request from my sick family member. “For breakfast, would you like scrambled cholesterol free egg whites or oatmeal?” “Orange juice or apple juice?” “Coffee or tea?” “Milk or water?”. “Fresh fruit or applesauce?” “Toasted wheat or toasted white bread?” “For lunch… forget it!!! I was exhausted from just listening to her. How do you think the sick was feeling right now…probably sicker-er…er. This went on for a good ten minutes.I was listeneing to this and… I was being a critical dick! “Just friggin’ bring her some food…whatever it is”, I thought…”just shut up…I’m getting a headache”, thinking about the variety of choices and options being offered, specifically designed around a predetermined set menu of culinary offerings for just that one single day. Now multiply that by seven. I remember putting a 7-day 3 meal menu together in one of my classes. That was very burdensome.

Let’s pause for a moment and go get some lunch downstairs in the cafeteria. This is the place that serves food to the visitors of the sick, and any of the hospital staff that decides to eat there. Their menu alone had a set variety specifically around a cash (or credit) and carry…or dine-in philosophy. This was a restaurant. But behind the restaurant was the hidden industry prepping those specifically designed meals to cater to those in the beds upstairs. At Tri-City Hospital, the cafeteria setup included a substantially diverse menu with freshly and semi-freshly prepared or unprepared items. Some of which are cooked right before your eyes on the hot grill or the 365-degree deep-fat fryer. Maybe a salad bar suits you…maybe a pre-packaged sandwich and a bag of chips. Maybe a bottled water and candy bar. Whatever it was…there was a huge selection to satisfy my desires as a walk-in patron. For today was Saint Patrick’s Day…,they even had menu items centered around this festive annual celebration to include the ol’ standby, Corned Beef and Cabbage…etc. They even had made a “Traditional Irish Stew”. I tried that one but it wasn’t much of a standout. Palatable but not something to write home about. I also had some kind of chicken sandwich with bacon and sautéed spinach, served with tater tots and a well presented plate beautifully garnished with perfectly sliced tomatoes and vibrant green leaf lettuce. Very tasty.

Returning upstairs, the lunch meal had just been presented to the patient in typical hospital fashion. Rolling table carefully positioned. Tray placed in an inconvenient location scattered amongst the facial tissue, water cup and straw, the reading glasses etc. As the bed back is raised into an uncomfortable position, the staff member asks “are you comfortable?” “Anything else?” I’m again thinking to myself, ”You know what?…, just get outta here”. I remember that when I was in the bed, it was just easier to adjust myself after the staff member left, so I can get just the proper angle, the right amount of leverage, just the right placement…of my flavorless Jello and bullion. What misery!

Well the dome was lifted…the great “Mystery dome”. The insulated food transporter thingy that is supposed to keep the hot food hot…I believe +145 degrees (if I remember, hot service table temp). Well, it steamed, so I assumed it was hot. As I began to write about my cafeteria experience, my loved one kept saying how delicious things were…so I decided to investigate. I immediately targeted the steemed asparagus spears to check for proper doneness…perfect. I mean really prefect. I could not have imagined them any more perfect. They were a little pale, but what’s to be expected for being cooked downstairs and transported up after probably a half hour or so. Good job. I then targeted the sliced roast pork loin with some kind of cranberry glaze. Not too bad…not too dry and just the right amount of sauce to help choke it down. It also wasn’t bad.  The plate was laid out hospital style, with menu items segregated carefully but not artfully. Quantities of items were proportioned properly and the plate was also hot. My loved one kept saying that things were very good, and ate a good sizeable amount.

Well, if this is what a hospital stay is all about nowadays, then things are looking pretty good. The staff behind the scenes, preparing these meals, the directors of culinary activities, the nutritionists, the serving and cleaning staff all need to be commended. I know this writing may fall on deaf ears, but remember the work that goes into these operations, the training that many…if not most, of the culinary staff possess and the degree of professionalism in the kitchen. Remember that not all culinary dreams end up on “Chopped” or  “Top Chef”. Not all of the dreams of owning one’s own restaurant can happen overnight. Not everyone in the restaurant, food and beverage industry can be glorified…but their existence can definitely be justified.

Thanks to the staff and operations of all underground food and beverage culinaires!!!

These folks get all four leaves of the clover!



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