Tosh.0, and a Friday night pizza

This one cost me double. I forgot this event happened, and I’m glad I perused my photos in my Galaxy S2 (yup that’s where most of my photos come from). I take a lot of photos to capture thoughts about potential stories. I’ll sometimes make notations about thoughts that run through my head, hopefully turning some of those thoughts into words that develop into stories. Often times, I look at the picture and say to myself, “what the f*^% was that all about?” Sometimes I have a thought about a situation; and in an attempt to reconcile a story from what situation just happened, I try to get my wife involved with the story to see if I can provoke thoughts about the event . . . perhaps if something is right or wrong or something was really delicious, when in fact, it sucked. Most of the time, she looks me square in the eye and says, “what the f*^% was that all about?”

Are you seeing some sort of trend here?

Well, a couple of Fridays ago I get home early and decide to make Friday-night-pizza at the house. Friday nights have long been a very sacred time for us. I have never . . . except once, ever taught a class on a Friday; and I have never . . . except once ever taken a class on a Friday. Now with only a couple of quarters and a few more classes for this degree, I’m hoping to make it through life keeping Fridays . . . pizza Fridays. Now, with barely anyone to feed in my house on those Fridays, I still like to keep Fridays a sacrilege pizza exclusive night. Make ’em, bake ’em, buy ’em or steal ’em; pizza is easy and convenient for Fridays . . . especially when there’s drinkin’ to do.Cocktails

Back to the story. I stick a frozen pizza (DiGiorno or Freschetta, rising crust type) in the oven; start off with a fresh cocktail, set the timer and forget it! . . .  Right? “Set it and Forget it”!  By the way, everyone loves pizza. I’ll make that claim . . .  Everyone! Everyone has a frozen pizza they prefer. I’ll again make that claim, because what money or time can’t buy . . . you can find it in the freezer! Again, I’ll make that claim. I happen to like the rising-crust style of pizza. I think most consistently DiGiorno or Freschetta offer the best regardless of what retailer you visit. Yes there are several on the market that are just as good . . . even better, but finding those other brands at the Dow Chemical retail supermarket chains is hard.

toshSo I stick it in the oven, grab my cocktail and peer over the couch to watch the big screen and Tosh.0 is on. If you haven’t watched this guy, you are seriously missing life . . . in action . . . at its best and funniest, CritDicks’ style of humor. Yes very demented. I check on the pizza, give it a quarter turn inside the 450 degree oven (yes I know it says 425 on the package, really? . . . I’m a frigin’ culinarian . . . I think I know what I’m doing!), and return to watching the Tosh.0 escapades. Tosh is funny, and not for the light at heart . . . or those under . . . like 35! He’s pretty harsh! I take another break from the TV and give ‘er another 1/4 turn in the oven. “Just 5 more minutes”, I say to myself. I shut off the time and forget it. Isn’t that what the commercial says? “Don’t set it, just forget it”? Well that’s what happened . . . for a long time. tosh.0Tosh.0 had us going. He had us immersed in his stupid humor and it cost me a second pizza. Good thing “everyone has a frozen pizza they prefer” (read above). We had just bought a couple for the kids . . . and Friday nights. Good thing I had a back-up, otherwise my son and wife are smart enough to know that I can probably figure out how to make a fresh dough and somehow shit a pepperoni. OUCH!

For this I give you the bad-wrap pizza

and several other masterful – hand tossed creations from the CritDicks’ ovens delivered fresh . . . in my kitchen.

Pizza1 Pizza2 Pizza3Pizza4

Shut up and call Domino’s you wuss!


A bad review can really destroy!

CritDicks GravatarWow, ran into this . . . and I know it’s gotta be true. In my professional, or CritDicks’ opinion . . . “this” is an honest post, and . . . a business stopper.

READ: “Great food, but the service has been compromised by the staff since their initial opening. It seemed to be staffed by family upon opening, but now it is staffed by people that seem more interested in eating free food, talking on their phones and texting. On our last visit, our family was treated like irritants rather than customers. Too bad since I had high hopes for a local restaurant after they opened. They will be closed soon with their current staff based on the location and freeway construction unless there are serious customer service improvements”.

WOW, that’s dangerous. These are the kind of posts on Yelp, (and I really, ReaLLy, REALLY hate Yelp) that any yahoo (Jack-Ass) can post. But “THIS” is important. As an owner , you can’t take every post and my “CrtiDick” review seriously . . . you really just have to move on. But “THIS” is serious . . . worth investigating. There-in lies the responsibility of the owners of such restaurants to read  the stuff (everything on the internet) . . . but take it all with a grain of salt. Yes, I feel you have to read most of it, but don’t take most of it seriously. There might be some underlying hints or clues as to things that might need changing. If I was to get a review about my staff paying more attention to their Facebook and email/texts, I would have to take this very seriously because “this” is our society today, that’s what they (“the kids”) do. They quickly sneak a post or text to a friend, in some kind of text “abbreviation” or “code”. It’s quick and convenient, to slip one by during the work shift. But the customers see it. This electronic media can draw the attention away from the customer experience that I’m learning about protecting each day I attend another class in this school. This crappy comment on Yelp would cause me to sit back and watch closely . . . and if it’s actually happening, then “WAM”, down comes the hammer!!!

Now, people ask me about the education I’m receiving, knowing also that I’m an educator . . . very dedicated to teaching a good class of students . . . making them (the students) WANT to be there! Learning, . . . or teaching to learners, is important to me. I really HATE the blank faces of bored students. Pisses me off! Teachers and professors look up to me with some kind of jacked-up, respectful-type of insight and reassurance that they (the other teachers/professors) are also doing a good job. I pride myself on my instructional ability, but I think I may be finally losing it! I don’t know that I still retain the “competitive edge” of a quality instructor/teacher. More of my students have started to show signs of “BLANK”. Yeah, . . . now I’m thinking that my thought about this (subject) is seriously a “lack of”, directed  by my inability to keep them (the students) engaged. I don’t think I ever made the “bad teacher list” on I couldn’t find anything. Let me know if got something good!!! Hey, also let me know if I got something bad. Anyway, I have really been interested in social media for the restaurant industry. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have the mental prowess or fortitude to pursue anything that is even close to some of the kids nowadays on sites like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. I try, but it’s really hard to keep up with the swift changes these websites pull seemingly every day.

What I do know is that social media is an extremely powerful tool in the restaurant and hospitality industry. They teach it at my school, but it’s so fresh, that there hasn’t been a dedicated curriculum developed yet for an entire class or course of instruction; plus trends in social media change so rapidly, there may be a new trend starting now. The masters of this essential restaurant marketing tool are the younger generation that often times has the opportunity to figure out the complicated task of posting everyday . . . about communicating with others (friends and on-line blogs) about what , or how those changes affect us users. They learn of new trends immediately and quickly start posting . . . or blogging so that they stay on top of things with their friends and socialites.

One thing I know is, as a restaurant owner, there are posts . . . there are good posts . . .  there are not so good posts . . . there are “CritDicks” posts . . . and there are downright bad posts, like the one in the opening paragraph. Yes, as a CritDick, I can  sometimes blast ’em! . . . But, now that I’m only five classes away from completing my degree . . . I think I can really BLAST ‘EM hard if I want. But I do need to be mindful of the bridges I burn!Johnny

To that, I give them all . . . my buddy . . . Mr. Cash ! ! !


Another dark-alley cocktail and the Beave

Met up with some good friends in Oceanside, CA. They live pretty darn close to the beach. A quick beer and it’s still early enough to catch a cocktail before happy-hour ends. Since we have no plans other than to get together with our friends, it’s out the door and head to 333 for a martini.

333Before we left the house, we all agreed that 333 Pacific is a must stop for martini. “333” is a higher-end fine-dining restaurant owned by the Cohn Restaurant Group, known for their upscale eateries. . We also know that they make a good martini from a couple other previous visits.

After 333 wins the “Best Martini” award for our meandering gala through the bum-surfer-ass-hangin’-out-chick streets of  B E A U T I F U L  Oceanside, we happened upon Harney Sushi. harney2I tried to do a quick research on this place only to find out they have a second location on Harney St. in San Diego. My assumption is that San Diego is the original location. It also supports the name Harney Sushi. Now being a good sailor I also fully understand why the “Miso” was included in the name. Miso Harney Sushi was a brief stop because we were again thirsty. I didn’t find their martinis as special as 333, but I did certainly notice their environment. I couldn’t see the speakers, but I did see the fish. Does that really matter? harney1Quite loud inside . . . but that’s the environment. I did notice that they had a terrific super-full-range sound system that was just audible above the voices. It really helped create their atmosphere and set an initial ambiance. I will most certainly go back to check out the food. Tonight’s winner for best sound . . . and best recommendation!

While we sipped our martinis at Miso Harney, we decided that we were not quite in the mood for sushi so our server pointed us down the road to a “foodie” type of place on the “south side” (that would be the southern end of Oceanside). Now being a foodie, I just had to find out what all the hoopla was about. As we begin our navigation, literally using navigation techniques . . . and our GPS on the Galaxy, we realize that we are several blocks away from our next destination. We decide to take the low road. Tremont Street is not the most illuminated street, nor the best dressed in Oceanside, taking us just in front of the train and bus station. We persevered . . ., one of us with the flash-light app going to ward off any would-be muggers deciding to lunge out from the dark bushes.

Finally we see a glow. Turns out the glow is of the heat flame torch thing on the front patio area of the Flying Pig Pub and Kitchen Well I met the owner, Roddy. He explains his name and it’s similarity to “Rowdey” Roddy Piper the wrestler. Rowdy-Roddy-Piper

Roddy asks to give him a few minutes before he can spend a moment with me to give me the inside scoop about this gastro-pub located almost at the end of town, one block closer to the water than 101 café on PCH. Roddy is very busy this Saturday night. Almost 10pm and he’s still packed full. Everyone in the place seemed to be enjoying their food . . . and drink! Roddy seems to have done a good job. He even explains that it’s way better than he ever imagined for he and his wife, “It just took off”. flying pig2Well tonight’s best meal award goes to Roddy at the Flying Pig. I’m not sure about the mis-matched silverware or the various old-school record labels hosting the day’s menu, but the food was pretty friggin great. This place is a must when in the area. Probably the smallest kitchen around. I think Roddy understands that; pre-empting our visit with his explanation about why the food takes so long. Well, we didn’t wait that long. Our appetizer came out just after we began to wonder of its whereabouts . . . a little long . . . but not too long. Hell, we just ordered another beer. Speaking of which, I ordered Belching Beaver IPA. There’s more to that story . . . someday! Our walk back this evening took us the high road along Pacific Coast Highway (the 101). A little more lighted, but a lot more freaks . . . that we could see.

So check out all of these places and stop by to give Roddy a little love. He’s busy down there and could probably use a hug.

flying pig1I feel as though I need to give this night something special . . . something really special, after everything we ate and drank and everywhere that we traveled.

Tony-AlvaI think this night deserves an old-school Tony Alva pool shreddin’, and Dirty Harry’s gun in the nose of the would-be muggers.

Make my day!dirty-harry


A day in the life . . . , and the Jack Daniel’s Girls search engine!

It’s interesting that I can kind of map out how folks visit my website.

CritDicks GravatarSay, for example, today, I see there’s been 7 fresh hits . . . just today.

I see that there’s been 3 from the U.S. I see that the search term was for a specific restaurant.

I see that there’s been 1 hit for the article I wrote about that specific restaurant.

Then I look at the hits for my “About Me” and see there’s 1, and I realize that the person is looking at the restaurant review . . . reads it  . . . and say to them self, “who is this guy?” Probably more like, “who is this jackass . . . and . . .?” Then they read my story (bio) and realize I’m not actually homeless, then give another article or two a try on my website, then they realize I’m just a big hot bag of wind . . . then they move on!

Life sucks!

Oh, and I threw the Jack Daniel’s Girls in because they are the number one hit from search engines!


A day of marketing – Yes, another school write-up!

twinkieSeemingly there are several very good examples of introduction stage products from which to draw. A couple I can think of, and it was difficult to not take time to fully describe them here, are the Twinkie (making its anticipated resurgence soon), PizzaRevPizza Rev, a fast-food, build your own (Subway or Chipotle style), 800 degree stone-oven personal pizza delivered to your table in less than 3 minutes and Fiat’s recent introduction back into the United States (although I think the Fiat is now beginning its growth stage).Fiat

I have, however, selected a new start-up food service operation near the area where I live. The young Chef, Niko, had recently opened up an “express” Italian sandwich shop inside the back (previously a fast-food Mexican take-out) of a gas station. The Mexican food thing inside the back of gas stations is somewhat popular here in Southern California. Overall, the Mexican take-out is super popular here in Southern California.

I have to tell just a bit about Niko. Niko is a young Chef that has already held somewhat impressive positions in a couple of fine dining establishments including Sushi Chef at 333 in Oceanside, CA and Sous Chef at The Four Seasons in Philadelphia, PA. Niko was notified of the very low-overhead opportunity to move back to a neighboring city near his home town in Vista, CA and open his own eatery. Niko has been at it now for about 2 months.

Niko’s menu includes several sandwiches with an Italian flair, named appropriately with some Italian slang or common words. Niko was also told by his initial start-up helpers (family and friends) that if he’s going to do Italian, then he has to have a couple of selections of pasta. Niko is currently relying on his location (a very busy gas station) to provide opportunities for sales to curious commuters, and his food being the basis for word of mouth return customers. Niko is on a very tight budget but has made efforts to advertise his service by means of fresh signage to include his new illuminated marquee that adorns the gas station’s drive entrance. I’m not quite sure if the marquee signage will drive more customers.Niko's Express Italian Deli sign I think the real purpose of the marquee is kind of like a dog marking its territory, since Niko’s hours are restricted to the gas station’s hours of operation. None the less, if you buy gas at this station, you will have most assuredly seen the signage on the side of the building that used to hail ” . . . Mexican Food”.

Niko’s food is pretty good . . . in fact, I praise his sandwiches, even attempting a home rendition of his Sausage, Pepper and Egg breakfast sandwich ensemble. Niko also uses social media for his advertisements of “specials” and other start-up information like announcing his menu. Niko doesn’t yet have his own website domain but rather uses Facebook to keep in touch with his followers I have noticed over the last couple of years, if I have a curiosity about a food establishment that I have yet to explore, I try to find their website; and if they don’t have a website (domain), I somewhat feel more inclined to discount their operation. I also notice that many (most) food businesses have Facebook pages, especially the rapidly growing (fad) gourmet food truck enterprises. These food trucks send out messages via Facebook as to their intended daily location and any special information they may want to report (e.g. menu change). This daily “Tweeting” not only informs the potential customer, but also maintains daily communication with those potential customers . . . even if it’s one way communication. What it does is “advertise daily” to a wide range of potential customers, even if that potential customer is located in Sri Lanka.  Niko recently added Cannoli to his menu in response to a couple of customer’s (I was one of them) requests. I didn’t see a Facebook post announcing that seemingly critical menu addition. Niko merely announced the menu addition in a personal message to me, since I previously wrote about his operation

Another marketing opportunity Niko could explore is surveying the customers arriving at his counter. Niko recently added the Cannoli based on a customer recommendation. Why not conduct a quick survey of his guests about the offerings on his menu while their waiting for their food to be prepared. This quick survey could ask if there was anything the customer was hoping to see on his menu. The survey could also ask about the amount of time the customer would like to not exceed while stopping for gas and ordering from his menu. This survey could be administered even before the food is tasted. Now, I hate surveys because they take up my time. But wait, I am now waiting for food, so it might make the wait seem even less. Perhaps I would actually be glad to take the survey because it means, as a customer, I have immediate input to the outcome of my food and its preparation.

Niko could also slip a small piece of paper into the customer’s food bag upon leaving, briefly announce to them that he put it there and that the paper encourages customers to provide feedback about their food and dining experience through a post on his Facebook page. Niko can always monitor and moderate their posts and use the information to enhance the customer experience, and to meet or exceed their expectations in the future. Niko could also somehow give them a discount for providing the Facebook feedback. This interaction with the customer could prove to be very beneficial because it also tags the post to the additional “friends” linked to that particular customer’s Facebook page. Social media is very powerful if used properly.


Pahoehoe – Pronounced “Pa ho – eee, ho – eee”.

plumeria_sorbet1We just came up with that today. Our culinary team didn’t like the “ho ho” sound so they looked it up . . . Wikipedia of course . . . Wikipedia, after all, IS the most trusted collegiate resource on line.

Working on class projects seems to bring out the best . . . especially when working in groups. I really hate groups . . . but this group is great. We’re working on this fancy restaurant idea positioned on the island of Oahu. You can begin reading our quest here:


Pahoehoe Island Restaurant L.L.C.

Company Description

Welcome to Pahoehoe Island Restaurant L.L.C. Pahoehoe is a Hawaiian name for a type of very smooth lava flow. Pahoehoe Island Restaurant L.L.C will be situated at the base of a sheer rock cliff on the Island of Oahu, just outside of the city of Honolulu, Hawaii. The Pahoehoe Island Restaurant L.L.C. (referred to now as Pahoehoe) idea is based on the rising popularity of product freshness, local availability and environmental sustainability.

Pahoehoe is a 100 seat full-service fine-dining establishment situated in one of Oahu’s newest resort hotels away from the crowded beaches of Honolulu; and will offer various fine-dining services such as an extensive wine list, locally grown produce and vegetables, and on-premises farm-raised fish from its 100,000 gallon salt water fish lagoon. Pahoehoe will not only be a fine dining establishment, but the Islands only fine-dining Luau featuring typical Luau entertainment nightly, but the dinner focused around a traditional Island Style banana leaf-wrapped pig that will be showcased upon its retrieval from its cooking lava pit that kicks off the nightly interactive luau entertainment. Pahoehoe also recognizes the rising popularity of the world craft beer enterprises and will be brewing their own renditions with an on-site brewery sporting a 1500 barrel per year capacity. Pahoehoe hopes to become the world’s first Michelin rated Luau Restaurant.

How’s that Sh*t sound???


Nunken Droodle and Kraw Pao – T1O (Tee One Oh!)

t1o4What the heck?

How do you come up with that kind of silly talk. I was told’ “you gotta check out their Drunken Noodle”. I was told that by two people. I also tried something called Kraw Pao. I must have spent an extra 3 minutes trying to figure out what was in the dish (the truck had Mexican takeout style pictures of the plates) . . . and then how to say the name.

So I’m back at the food trucks on the air station and I just had to try something new. Ok, what’s this stuff . . . looks like Thai . . . Speaking with the “Head Chef”, Tonny (pronounced Tony), I find out he’s Mexican . . . WTF, now I’m really confused. He says he’s Mexican Indian. Then he asks me to guess which kind of Indian. Well buckaroo, I just got back from Cancun so I guess Mayan. Sure enough I guessed right today. I also noticed that his truck didn’t have the new health rating sign (e.g. “A”) posted on the side like the other three trucks selling today. The signs are a recent law to align the standards viewed by the public for all restaurants. Tonny tells me his appointment keeps getting pushed. I can understand that because the inspectors are of course government workers and they can only work so hard, then they gotta sit down. I should know . . . I   are   one.Food rating Tonny also tells me that the new rating signs are actually just that, a rating sign. He continues to tell me that the trucks have been more closely monitored than “brick and motor” restaurants (regular buildings) for years, and they are monitored more frequently due to the different locations and events they attend. Each location and event has their own inspectors. It has been many, many years since I have dealt with a health inspector inside of a restaurant, but they should have been looking for this . . .

t1o2I don’t know what it is, perhaps a piece of wood shrapnel used to fight off the gorillas in the Thai jungles while picking the basil for the Kraw Pao. Whatever it was, it didn’t seem to have any flavor, and I wasn’t able to chew through it. Whatever, I discarded it and continued to tear Tonny’s food up. Those two people were right, “You gotta try the Drunken Noodles”. Seriously healthy portions also. I got mine made with Tofu. I swear the take out (chili dog style) box was full and must have weighed 4 pounds. The best part of the Drunken Noodles was scraping the noodles that were like stuck to the inside when I got to the bottom of this feast. Kind of like the best part of eating the popcorn, is at the bottom . . .

t1o1The other dish, Kraw Pao, was equally delicious. Let’s see if I can remember what’s in this. I had chicken. Also in this dish, served atop perfect, I think, Jasmine rice, were white onions, basil . . . oh, and that stick. Relax . . . it’s all good. A foreign object in food service is a chef’s nightmare. But shit happens, even when all of the best practices, food safety and sanitation standards and other precautions are taken. I know about that stuff . . . remember my story about the lost band-aid?


Anyway, there was only one drawback that I feel is important in my book. American gringos have something about wanting chicken breast meat. Although the chicken used in the Kraw Pao was breast meat and very flavorful, I prefer thigh meat . . . it’s one of my hang-ups. I feel thigh meat is much more flavorful, it retains it’s moisture better than breast meat, making for a better meal. Then no matter where you go, the chicken breast meat always seems to be overcooked and dried out.

Well, I really liked the food at T1O and I thought Tonny’s crew did a good job. I would like to try some other items on his menu. He’s got great flavors and good portions. Yes, I ate this for lunch two days runnin’.

I’m gonna have to give T1O, 3 1/2 wontons and an official international translator,Ali-g because the wontons are Chinese.wontons

Check him out!