Adelle – Now that’s a dish . . . “like napalm in the morning”

adeleRelax everyone – I’m not going where you think I’m heading. I am hopefully about to grab your senses and your emotions and tear you down, drag you through the gutter, pick you up, wipe you off and build you back up. Ok, I may not do all of that; but, when you speak of music perfected through incredible vocals and unbelievable intonation and the vocalists ability to tweak their voice that creates an emission of perfect pitch . . . it is like that ability of a fine chef to tweak flavors to the maximum extent, yet not overpowering one specific flavor that makes it stand out . . . unless that flavor was to be specifically emphasised or that note was to have a specific accent. Are you with me here?

grant-achatz-nextNow take Adele. Listen to her ability to bend and shape a specific note, emphasising the accent, bending the intonation and presenting that note with an emotional passion that captures her audience like nobody else. Combine that with her ability to write moving, powerful songs and present them in a captivating manner. Is music different from food? Is Adele different from Grant Achatz? Is Alecia Keys different from Bobby Flay? Is Michelle Cerneant different from John Mayer? I think the answer that the professor is looking for here is, “NO”! Each of these wonderful artists, composers, writers and chefs have different skills that accomplish one similar thing . . . they capture and satisfy their audience.bobby flay

Now take any one of the musical artists named above and listen to them in a car or home through a standard automobile’s factory installed equipment available in a basic model of that particular brand. Crank up the volume on those “full-range” speakers . . . listen to the wonderful voice and emotional outlay of each of Adele’s songs. Now play that same song on a premium audio system installed in a Lexus, Mercedes or Porsche. Listen to the same recording on a professional audio system in a music studio, audiophile’s (look that one up you tweekers) home or a concert venue. Enjoy Adeles’s music at audible levels that challenge your humanly perceivable audible range of 20-20,000 hz, crisply reproducing each frequency with unbelievable clarity; and since the music was produced by the finest engineers in a studio environment, each note is perfectly reproduced with just the right accent, intonation, volume, amplitude and pitch . . . at just the right moment.

Why cannot the emotional enjoyment of food and beverage be the same? When you bite into something, relax a moment . . . relax . . . savor the flavors, the seasoning, the herbs, the salt and pepper that is helping accent whatever it is that you just stuck in your pie hole. a-wine-tastingWhen something is incredibly reproduced with just the right amount salt, just the right amount of pepper detectable  in the back of your throat, the hint of an added spice or freshness of a special herb, the perfection of the broccoli cooked to retain the color, but also the texture and perfect “aldente” bite, that perfect bite of the Prime New York or Fillet. The umami! Everything served perfectly, at just the right moment, in just the perfect ambiance . . . the perfect plate. When you listen to the most wonderful music being reproduced through sophisticated audible surroundings . . . or even a perfect live “unplugged” set, you are momentarily taken into the same world as that perfect bite of food. Your senses feel the same thing . . . they travel a similar rollercoaster of emotions. Now I ain’t no scientist, nor am I much of a linguist . . . or writer for all that matters; but, I am an avid follower of many things . . . food and music being just two. I’m sure there’s some stupid Harvard or Yale study that came up with a connecting nerve in the base of the thalamus gland that now has some name connecting all of this emotional crap; but . . . Now if you really want to spark emotion from me, add in the element of fresh burned JP-5 jet fuel. 061201-N-8158F-147

I wonder what gland gets excited with JP-5? Sailors . . . help me here!

apocalypsekilgore1It’s like Bobby Duvall saying, “Napalm in the morning . . . it’s like victory!”

Powerful Stuff!

I guess what I’m saying with all of this is, music and food definately go hand in hand. People will say that it has to be opera, or classical . . . Whatever! When emotional music strikes the heart hammer of our senses, it can move us in such a way that we remember each word . . . each note . . . each breath sung into the studio’s ribbon microphone, like in Pink’s “Glitter in the Air”, we become emotionally taken to a place that is like no other.

Pink Singing

When we place something in our mouth and allow every sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami component of whatever is that is now to take hold, we also escape for a moment and have really only one thing to say if its perfect, “Wow!” And if the chef happens to be standing by, he or she is watching your face to see your reaction. Did you just roll your eyes into the back of your head . . . slightly sloutch your shoulders, bend your knees? Or did you thrust your hips forward and pump your fist in the air? Maybe a high five to the cook also standing next to you. Because as the chef, you realize you just nailed it. Cause when you nailed it . . . you realize you just made a new hit song that hit your listeners ears for the very first time.FrankSinatra9

I think the sensation of great food and great music will always go together. I feel both can always be made better depending on the method of presentation. Eating the right food while listening to the right music with the right audio system, in the right environment (e.g. ocean view, with waves and breeze); and the food being cooked to perfection, perfect temperature, perfect flavor, perfect wine or spirit, a perfect composition, a perfect song . . . a perfect moment!

Slow down . . . enjoy what someone just created for you.

Artists . . . give ’em some love, and money!



The NEW Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen, Vista, CA . . . a night to celebrate.

For the most recent review (09/08/15) of Flying Pig Pub and Kitchen in Vista, CA click here:

As I had expected, there were absolutely no disappointments this evening being invited for the second day of this soft opening. I had just been astonishingly notified of being published that day and bought 20 copies of the release; when earlier that week, I was emailed an invitation to The Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen’s debut soft opening dinner. Coincidently they both happened on the same day. The food at this event was complimentary as they would break pretty close to even with the drinks as my wife and I each had two. But the remarkable food, ambiance and service made this day even more special for the wife and I as Roddy, the owner, high fives me upon breaking the news to him.  He had recognized me and possibly knew of my arrival, but showed up, now cleaned up a bit after working so hard on this opening, well into the final bites of our entrées. He looked very tired as I am used to seeing him having always been; working and perfecting so diligently at the Oceanside, CA location for the last three years. pig0 I had finally met Roddy’s wife Aaron. I witnessed her polishing wine glasses with staff . . . scratch that . . . team members as she had obviously shown them the right way of doing things at this very eclectic, energetic and engaging dining establishment. For you folks that have visited their Oceanside location, as most of us had been that were here these last two eve’s. The furniture matches, the cloth napkins matched in a couple of themed colors; but the service ware, fixtures and art are very much reminiscent of the Flying Pig brand. Roddy and Aaron had put together a wonderfully open . . . and I mean very open, busy street side upscale dining facility that features the vault door of the previous bank that occupied the building for years before. Even the ceilings have been handled by vaulting and painting. That vault itself had been converted to a duel refrigerator and wine cellar and the door relocated (affixed) to the front entrance of The Flying Pig. pig3There appears to be plenty of parking however I saw this sign at the far end, so be careful until Roddy takes care of that confusion. pig4The exterior of the building is a bit rough yet, but coming along on track for their Grand Opening Monday 10 August 2015. Their hours appear to fixed at the same 4:30 until . . . There are retractable roll-up bay windows surrounding the bar area that has 1/2 seating inside if they were closed, and the other exposed to the elements. With the windows open, you modestly hear the traffic inside the restaurant but can also enjoy the large amount of surrounding patio outside with a service area of the bar that could be used for private events. Being there for the arrival of Roddy, as he moved a patio umbrella to shade the diners inside. Possibly that was an overlooked shade issue coming from that direction in the late evening. Looks like Roddy is on it. The sun/shade issue made a very difficult time taking pictures of the beautifully-plated and abundant food as was presented. pig6My wife began to question the story of Chef Mario. We were told by the well-trained staff about the brief history of Roddy, Aaron and Chef Mario’s coming together. We became interested in just where he learned to cook and where he has worked, because these are masterful pieces of culinary work that has long fascinated my education. What I’m saying is I would witness these creations by only a small handful of students while I attended Culinary school; some of which I could never keep up with culinarily. I would like to have an opportunity to talk with Chef Mario someday and see his new kitchen and those secretive vault doors, aka the walk-ins. What a smart and practical application and use of a dead space otherwise. Chef Mario and team served us very moderately priced Crab Stuffed Squash Blossoms, the evening’s distinct standout plate. pig11The crab was very obvious and noticeable through the politely deep fried shell of batter. The plate was very light partly due to the garnishing of very thin slices of Jalapeno, Watermelon Radish and wedges of tender Mango.  A wonderfully executed plate. The appetizer I chose were the Heirloom Tomatoes. The complexity of flavors of the HUGE, GIANT two slices of Heirloom Tomatoes with fresh hand made-in-the-kitchen Burrata that I ordered for my starter. By the way. they are entrée salads and appetizers. pig2Their menu calls them light fare, but at the lighter prices, I would have thought them to be light on size . . . clearly not! I even told Aaron I felt as if the prices could possibly be elevated just slightly. I had since realized that we had spent $100 (if we would have been charged for the plates) for a dinner that included two-entrée salads and two entrées, with two drinks each. Then Roddy had topped it off with a piece of Pecan Pie that was a nice treat at the end. Including tip at 20 percent, I valued the evening as perfect for two target-market patrons. I would have spent $120 including tip that night. I think that’s well priced now that I think about the demographics. But all of the plates are quite large portions like the very thick cut Pork Chop that was cooked perfectly medium; signature of the Pork Chop from the Oceanside location. This location’s Chop was treated to garlic and mild mystery green olives with an unknown or otherwise unrecognizable origin. Like the Pork Chop at the Oceanside location, this particular plate here had a creamy Polenta that melded the flavors of the plate as if they were one. We really had a hard time finishing all of the food as the last bites if the very tender and moist Pork Chop finally were cleared.pig10 Finally our last plate was a very tender, cooked perfectly to medium-rare, Roasted Tri-Tip atop very creamery mashed potatoe with medium-sized sautéed Portobello Mushrooms. With just the right amount of sauce for the plate from the steak and the sautéing of the mushrooms. A wonderful plate. The wife and I had questioned about a Branzino (European Sea Bass) dish for two offered on the menu that indicated a Chimichurri marinade. And, if you know our background, would fully understand why, we wanted to taste Chef Mario’s Chimichurri. It was almost natural for us to be saving a piece of that Tri-Tip for an opportunity to taste it dipped in Chimi. pig17Anna, our server, was very nice and very friendly explained that she had only eaten at the Oceanside location and had tried many of the meals there, but had not tried the Chimichurri. She had explained that the staff at the Vista location had tried most of the dishes but simply ran out of time before the opening. She then gladly went back to the kitchen to see if she could find some for our sampling pleasure only to return empty-handed as the Chimichurri was only used as a marinade for the fish plate, and so we are to be unlucky tonight.pig13 Upon our departure we wished all of the staff well and especially to Roddy (get some rest dude) and his wife Aaron (probably the real strength) well in the years to come; telling them both we would definitely be back because of the very fair value (price and plate sizes) for that level of culinary treat and warm experience at their new facility. For some reason my wife argued that $20 tip. She thought it should have equated to $50 at least since we didn’t pay for the plates. I argued that by telling her it was $100 worth of food and drink and the tip was correct. I mean Anna our server was great; however, certainly not worth the $50. I guess I’m Richard again. Another controversial issue was the fact there was not yet any noticeable audio system. The wife said it’s better without. I, on the other hand, will win that bet. And finally, one last questionable argument were the plates of clear glass in the women’s restroom on the wall. My wife argued that if she had some lipstick, she would have left a message like “CritDicks”. I, argued, “what do the guys use?” As the men’s room also had those plates of clear glass. SHARPIE!!! This will definitely be one of our all-time favorites, just as the Oceanside location has long been on that list. Good luck and dreams. I’m definitely gonna give this one to Roddy and Aaron! flying pigflying pigflying pigflying pigflying pig A full five Flying Pigs Dicks

The Mongols say . . , Thank You !

Possibly just getting back into this writing thing . . . it hurts.


First thing when I got home today was get on this thing and see what my stats look like. I began to look at my site’s most visited pages and found some very interesting things. Seems there exists a mystery as to the words I use and other persons search terms to get them to my site. Terms like Jack Daniels, Mongols and Mexican liquor bottles.  Our Mexican liquor bottle opening video on YouTube has received nearly 1,700 views. You can see it here: I just watched it . . . stupid humor.

In passing the search terms, I happened upon the CritDicks profile “About Us“. There, at the bottom, I found all of the wonderful comments folks have posted about my site and my writing over the years. It was then I decided to share my thoughts for the night . . . should they last! First I want to say “Thank You”! It was also then I began to think why I haven’t been keeping my loyal fans full of my weekly stories, that have been slowly tapering off since my father’s passing just last month or so. Probably more “or so”. I actually haven’t been cooking or writing since my graduation. I also have almost lost a desire to pursue any thoughts of ever entering the FB&H industry. I have though since purchased a few more “gotta have” kitchen gadgets. Like the very cool induction burner. I’m not too sure I’m used to it though. Kinda tricky with the “on-off” cycles. Well, that’s what I noticed about it.

I’m really not sure why this bazar behavior. Perhaps it’s everything going on . . . Dunno. One thing I do know is . . . I have a fan base I enjoyed sharing my culinary adventure with beyond that which many may believe they have a following. What? Yeah, I said you . . . my viewers and readers are why I’m writing tonight. I don’t necessarily have any inspiration to write tonight, perhaps it’s just writer’s block. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t visited any restaurants lately . . . nonsense, I’m actually sick of going out . . . , . . . I think I’m mostly sick of paying for it. I think I permanently spoiled my family.


public house curbside3

If you have been holding on, you’ve noticed I found use for those preserved lemons. Seeming just about everything can be made interesting using preserved lemons . . . except, maybe hotdogs. Dunno, haven’t tried it. I have been using much time catching up on the endless yard-work around this place. Thank God for weed killer. Also, lately, thank God for strong boys. Yeah I recently have also been off-handedly been diagnosed with a compressed sacrum. Yeah, my tail. Turns out my lower back pain for sometime has been attributed to that little thing . . . I hope that’s little . . .

Anyway, I wanted to get this out tonight quickly. I have my hoodie on and the headphones in. Everyone else was currently out! Yeah, that’s the way I like to write. I think I can also attribute my blank head from the endless activity around this house lately . . . the furniture . . . the boxes of?, has been accumulating steadily since around mid-year last. Oh well, sell everything!

Which also reminds me. I recently got a new very badd ass truck to replace my daily driver. Don’t ask how I got it . . . just hope I enjoy it as much as my old Avalon. I really miss the JBL audio system that was in there. But I’m now working on building a JL Audio system around my stock head unit (full-on navigation, Bluetooth, the works) and subwoofer plastic compartment built specifically for this vehicle. My hope is to somewhat recreate the JBL experience with the JL Audio system, yet maintaining cost minimums and retaining all of my usable space in the 2011 F250 Lariat, 4X4, 6.7L Turbo PowerStroke. There’s another complete story around that one. Nor will I show it. What I will show you is THIS


This is the 2001 Suburban, 2500, 4X4, 8.1L very badd ass, and very proven, truck that used to pull my trailers, boats, bikes; and has still made it through nearly every imaginable obstacle like this: I’m really gonna miss her. I think a lot of people are. I’ve had her for over ten years.

Have fun! I hope to be back here soon . . .


I think I have a smile on my face . . .

Lemons again? The Birthday. Customer experience. Olive Garden Restaurants.

So I used them again. The preserved lemons made their way back into the mealset, Tonight I used them in the teriyaki marinade of these breast strips. I think I may have found my new meat.


As part of my son’s birthday, we give the kids an opportunity to select where they would like to go for dinner. Benihana . . . I think not, tonight! Olive Garden (San Diego, Tri-City, El Camino Real shopping mall) happened to be the selection for us this evening. We are a party of 7 so I expected a small wait. No problem, I’ll see you at the bar.

Once at the bar I noticed a small group forming around me since my son, now 21, and his brother, now 26 dummied up . . . and I mean dummied up to the bar and quickly pointed at me and said, ‘on him”, as I ducked my head anticipating an expensive night.

Once at the bar and gaining control of the bartender that night, I asked what he had in bottle beer. I’m sorry, I don’t remember his name; “The bartender” hesitated just less than a moment and I didn’t want to appear ill prepared, so I trumped his hesitation by claiming I’ll have a (something on tap). The bartender was quickly getting busy yet countered by saying, “I was catching my breath” and began to rattle off the entire bottled bear menu . . . then proceeded to open the fridge directly in front of me so I can make a visual selection.

Just about that time I met Seajay, the Manager that evening as he assisted the bartender by ringing up his bar tabs and identified my beer by leering at it with some serious “stink eye”. I noticed his momentary ponderance of evidence in front of me and claimed, “hey, did you just give my beer stink eye?” Seajay and I began a night of friendship and introductions to other staff members such as Scotty, our server. Seajay assured us, once we were seated that Scotty, would be taking excellent care of us that night . . . and that he did!

Scotty professionally dealt with every table scenario encountered, like a lactose free selection and the serving, and quickly replacing, an incorrect beer order. Not one instance went by that Scotty wasn’t on it, from waters to extra sauces. He even got my special order right . . . albeit, the butter was burnt, by still edible.  Scotty made my visit easy . . . especially when giving him the tip. Wow and an extra $10 on top of the already rounded 20+%. Scotty deserved it, yet Seajay, the manager deserved it as well. The manager precluded my visit by quickly accepting my stupid “Dick” humor and taking one of my business cards while at the bar.

Just as we had entered the car to go out that evening, my son picked up a book I had placed behind the passenger front seat in my truck. The book was titled something like, ” Managing the Customer Experience”. I explained to my son about meeting the expectations and maintaining the customer experience we expect from going to “Olive Garden” that evening. I explained that we have had experienced Olive Garden in the past and we are arriving with an expectation of what we had previously experienced before at other Olive Garden locations. I then explained about the customer experience and meeting or exceeding that expectation to achieve the “experience” we had before during our visits. Well tonight was a perfect example of our experience . . . a perfect example of providing the customer experience we hoped for; yet exceeding that expectation to provide a wonderful evening for my family. Perhaps that equates to Olive Garden’s slogan “when you’re here, your family”.

As for those lemons. Keep using them in new stuff . . . try new combinations. The teriyaki tonight was good, yet could have used more lemon. It really began to cut through the teriyaki and brighten up the dish. BTW, the breast chicken meat was super moist and delicious. I normally always use thigh meat. Not tonight. The green beans, perfect. And the rice was nice and sticky. And this food was a “must cook” tonight combo before everything turned south in the fridge.


Showing up “Spectacular!”

RoTelVelveetaWell if you know the history, you would better understand. I can’t just arrive at an event with just a bag of chips, I have to have them (the chips) arrive in spectacular fashion. They cant just be thrown on a the table with some jarred or canned salsa or cheese. No it’s gotta be a chip throwdown. Now that I’ve got this education, people expect to see something . . . something . . . everything! The word gets out even before I arrive. I’m labeled somekind of “chef”. But I’m not . . . I don’t necesarrily like being called a chef, and I have never worked in the industry. I was never working in the capacity of a chef, therefore I feel as though I am undeserving of the title. Yet, I arrive, and people already know, they are expecting something from me. I can’t just show up and plop a bag of chips on the table. I have to show up and somehow be spectacular.

“Bring some cheese and crackers”, she says . . . knowing it’s me . . . my bestest friend, knows I know. How does she know? Her son too graduated from the same university as I. Her son too graduated with a BS degree in Culinary studies. Actually he chose the hospitality side in which I had considered marrying with my previous aviation degrees. For that I had figured they married well in the airline industry. But no, I went Culinary Management. Her son is off to a rock solid career as a result, already a Sous Chef at a notable retirement resort community here in San Diego.Moscato

Well, I show up with some crackers and cheese. Actually, wine too! I had used a bit of my education to marry a slightly melted Brie cheese, pomegranate seeds, fresh squeezed lime juice with lime zest garnish. It was around the holidays so the colors were white, bright/deep red and green zest. It was a pretty plate. Sorry no picture (I don’t normally take pictures of my presentations at parties). Now what are your expectations of taste? Rich buttery cheese, bitter-sweet pomegranate crunch and tart lime. But see, I needed to break up the elements of those flavors and introduce a sweet element. My son had purchased a very sweet Moscato D’Asti  from Italy. The comments were very positive. It was a wonderful combination . . . but you had to try it with the wine, otherwise it was seeming meaningless. Then, after you tried the first bite, I could care less what you did.

Next time, I’m showing with some raw squid and pickles. Let’s see if that gets a reaction . . .


Recognizing Awesomeness – The Passing . . .

If you are a regular to my endeavors you should have noticed a reasonably significant change in the quantity and diversity of my latest writings. Yes, things have been going on. Just before Christmas of 2013, I had just graduated with some degree I was told came with a piece of paper. Shit, 3 months later and I think they may have reconsidered.

Just before the holidays began last year, my father (91) took, what all of the family thought to be nothing, a small spill. Turns out weeks later developed into a pulmonary embolism. That, combined with his previous 3 open-heart surgeries, had finally taken their course for the big guy. My father passed away just a few days ago.

Dad and his paella

You see, my father was an older-day culinarian. Why do I say that. Older days . . . , if I may call it that, didn’t recognize that word . . . culinarian. Yes, I’m sure it was a word, a life, a habit . . . whatever; but, was “culinarian” as universally recognized as it is today?

My father, whom I share the same name . . . , yes, I’m a Jr., also shared many things. First, I now have immediate possession of everything with his name on it. Do you know how much shit that is? Half of it, is not discernible without his “D.D.S.” or something like that to identify it as being specifically his. So now I have all of these engraved pens, placards and awards from just about every conceivable place of volunteer or  history that his life brought forward. His legacy rests with me. I too, have his name. I too share similar passions about food. My father helped me create and perfect my signature “Sea Monster Ceviche”. He would like textures and extreme flavors. He would pick out the raw (now cooked from the citrus) garlic and the Serrano slices. He would back away from some stuff with his characteristic “uuah . . . huh . . . huh”, indicating that bite was a bit hot . . . or? Then he’d go back in for another sample.

He used to love going to the beach to meet us every time we went . . . then the years started catching up to both Mom and he, . . . and he would still go . . . he and Mom would just leave earlier because of the cool air settling in along the beach sand. Often times he would hear that I had a campsite on the beach and he was there waiting for me to arrive. Dad loved being in the sun . . . the outdoors; but especially warming himself in the sun. If you knew my dad, you would have probably witnessed his afternoon nap on the patio, asleep in the sun. Dad!

My father found out we were making paella on the beach one day; and, . . . as in Dad’s spirit . . . was always at the campsite, stubbornly working his way into whatever we were cooking . . . and would reach in and grab a taste as he welcomed your hug. Raw, frozen or cooked . . . he would be the first to sneak tastes of everything. He was one of my biggest CritDicks. My dad used to eat and cook. I watched him over the years. I grabbed ideas, techniques and ingredients, . . . because he too, could not follow recipes. He too would grab ideas and techniques, but the ingredients always took a velocity of their own. Read my previous blog to learn more about velocity.Dad and his paella2

My dad chewed my ass, hugged me and kissed me as Italians do. He looked to me for car repair advice. He often times would help me work on the cars . . . but only after retirement. You see, he was a Dentist. He practiced for years and I was also his Guiney pig. Since I was the youngest, I always got to be the experiment of his latest oral rejuvenative equipment; whether it was the Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas) or the shockingly cauterizing machine. I was the one that was available. I was the kid that hung out in his office and played (broke) with all of the equipment. There are a lot of memories about my father. I remember him breaking his pinkie finger once while riding dirt bikes with us when my sibling brother and I were transitioning through that phase. That was the last time Dad did anything that could ruin his fingers . . . those were his livelihood as a Dentist.

I say he was a culinarian. I say that because he would eat everything. I don’t care if it’s an eyeball or a tail. . . earwax to toe jam . . . my dad was gnawing on it. He grew up old school, eating every part of the animal . . . because that’s what they did, or their families did to get through depressions and wars. Speaking of which; he too was a veteran. Another WWII vet and Korean War vet has been piped over the side. My father served in both the Navy and the Air Force. It wasn’t until just a few short years ago, he was convinced by me to sign up for benefits from the Veteran’s Administration (VA). I had tried for years, but that wasn’t in his plan . . . so it threw him off. Dad was stubborn like that . . .

Dad’s final days were tough for him. He was very active with his mind and body. When he fell ill, I witnessed his frustration with being unable to not do what he used to. I have said recently, “the most pain he was in, was when he was not in pain”. Meaning, the various hard times he had with his recent health, were mostly masked by the various narcotics that were being used to keep him comfortable. When he was alert and not being sedated, was when that frustration came out and he would again writhe in pain . . . mentally. Luckily, his time confined to a bed only lasted about 4 months.

Over the years my mom and dad had moved next door to me, then we moved slightly across town, then they moved to a smaller, more carefree facility. The food was always prepared and my father was officially out of the cooking business. He tasted all of my food as I attended culinary school, the good, the bad and the ugly. From Dad’s bed, he smiled when I told him I had finally graduated from school. While in bed watching the 2013 Super Bowl (played January 2014) he ate more of my Sea Monster Ceviche. The characteristic “uuah . . . huh . . . huh”, came out and he said, “enough”. He just didn’t enjoy food anymore. That frustrated him even greater. He would be able to smell things, but couldn’t taste them anymore. He gave up trying. It made him weaker . . . Well, I’ll never get to show him my graduation paper.

Dad and his paella3


Dad is missed. He will long be missed by the countless people he has touched. They all say he was special . . . he was! Dad was Awesome!


“Culinary Velocity” – defined!

Velocity diagram 1Why do we struggle with our art? Are we not worthy of such emotion? Lady Gaga recently said on a Howard Stern interview that she feels such deep emotion when engulfed in her art. At that moment, I began to think about the culinary arts . . . or science; and about what it takes to evoke emotion as a culinarian. Is this an art? Is this a science? Is this the only life evolution that culminates the two on a level only comprehendible by those that understand this modern-day extrapolation of ideas? Think about it. Is the culinary art, the only art that can bring in attributes . . . heavy attributes (bull shit . . . “serious attributes) from the sciences? Wow! Do I recognize that as being “velocity” in the culinary arts? Interesting stuff here jack!

So just what is culinary velocity? Velocity is defined as speed with direction. Culinary velocity can therefore be defined as “directed influence”. Such would be the case with molecular gastronomy where science meets art in the form of creative experiments with food . . . presented in a very unique way.

Let us now look at the marriage between music and food. Did I not make the correlation between the two sometime ago when I married Adele and Chef Achatz? Such is also the case with the direction I am attempting to steer my ship. Seems everyone enjoys great food and everyone also greatly enjoys great music. I happen to also enjoy other things, . . . like miracles of engineering feats as well as scientific things like what can be found on the Discovery Chanel. Am I weird or, are there extremes from many influences that shape us, . . . that point us in the direction, yet maintaining a speed at which we choose.

I have found I tend to enjoy great musical performances regardless if live or a studio recording. Living and breathing are hard enough on our body and emotional factors that influence our behaviors tend to create stressors that tear at the body even more. Part of our lifecycle REQUIRES us to replenish our nutrients with food. Sensory factors enhance or lives like taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. Cooking our food helps prevent disease and allows us to consume things that would otherwise be toxic to our bodies. Adding in the sensory factors of taste, touch, smell and sight can be accomplished with just one plate of food; only a sizzling platter of fajitas (or similar) now brings in the hearing portion of this equation. Extrapolated, this equation can allow a musical performance to evoke climatic crescendos of a culinary performance; and likely a similar reversal if performing each live in front of the guest. What I’m talking about here is a live musical performance and live dining performance married in the same event, in a setting of additional sights, sounds and smells that can bring on eye shutting, illusionary thoughts of ecstasy.fajitas

In this case I talk about culinary velocity as being my self centered desire to achieve that ecstasy in some fashion, form or cause. I think there is a place, yet not established, that can resolve my culinary velocity. That of bringing a passionate blend of a great musical performance and a great culinary performance in one setting that enhances the mind, and allows the spirit to open and become enveloped in these married performances . . . on a recurring basis. Something that can be perfected enough that its weekly routine would become synonymous with perfection . . . and anticipated by its guests to get the same quality (or better experience) every time. Think about the possibilities. Now again think back to a married performance of greats like Adele and Grant Achatz. Can this not be achieved?


What’s in my EYE? . . . passion . ,

Bug and Thing Jan 15 20141.jpgSo I guess I’m now 52. Too easy to lose track. Could be still 51 . . . Now that I’m done with culinary school I find that I again have a garden . . . sucks when it’s 2.3 acres. I have again realized my badd ass VW’s are both running and I have found all of the old parts . . . almost all of them. I don’t know quite what’s there, but everything looks familiar. Scary!

I have now found that 2014 presents, yet a new venture into the world. First is trying to remember to put “2014” instead of “2013” on those bouncers. I have also realized that I have a family. It’s all messed up, . . . but it’s a family. I have found that my two Great Danes have found themselves back onto our bed somehow. I have also realized that I have been getting very good rest nowadays.

As of this day, I’m still waiting for my paper degree to show up. Hmmm, maybe they reconsidered. Oh well, another day goes by and I have also found that I don’t constantly think about culinary adventures . . . or ventures so much anymore. I do, however, still have a passion that still seems to burn inside of me. Perhaps it’s this distorted sense of reality that exists here at CritDicks. Am I, who thinks , , , I am?Curlyhoward

Let’s move this forward and expel what really matters . . . food. While I sit here and type this (and I still suck at it), I’m trying to figure out why I have been able to lose weight coming out of the holidays; and yet it was right in the middle of them that I peaked at my highest poundage. Today, I even did a full set of pushups to hone this big boy. Hey, STFU . . . right smack in the middle of the holidays . . . , I pause for one day and have an Angiogram. Those are always fun. I think the guy shaving my groin area was having a little too much fun. I digress, . . .

So coming out of the holidays . . . like Monday, I’m being electrocuted and needled for a neurological disorder that causes neurological disorders. For four hours, this “resident” gets his way with me, electronically. And there’s this ‘nearly dead’ 84 year old Neurologist” standing watch over “Bucky”. I don’t really know his name, but he was reading the complete procedure from a book. Shit, I only put in for 1.5 hours of sick time . . .    Yeah sick,  . . . like watching and feeling my arm instantly “high-5” this resident.

I now look here at what I have, . . . and am happy. For this smart sole understands the way to my desires, . . . is through Her desires. I’m off now for a couple days to take a short trip to Lemoore, CA. Thank God it’s short. “Ain’t nothin’ out there but dead sheep and vultures”. Hopefully I’ll discover somewhere to rage about . . . probably not. Then our trip takes us ‘just as flippin’ quickly to the coast again where I will hopefully meet up with some family. Doesn’t matter this weekend, cause ’em Chargers failed again. Deservedly so . . .

Have fun !   Quickly ! ! !

2014 is about to get serious!


The love – Peace and Love . . . Baba Booey!

Ok, so I did it. I dropped the “Howard” bomb. Whatever . . . get over it! As I was thinking of this, I began to think . . . and think some more. I don’t think (LOL) that I have ever put so much love into anything I have been willing to give to another. I don’t know, maybe it’s this culinary bull shit I have learned over the last 3 years. Maybe it’s the perfectionism in me . . . the aviation maintenance side of me . . .


I made a small batch (9 jars) of preserved lemons from a “wire gone crazy” Meyer Lemmon dwarf I had recently replanted a year ago. I must have picked nearly 50 pounds of very ripe (I mean, now!) Lemons from the tree my father and mother had given us when they moved. Looked down one day and noticed several ripe hangers. A week later I went down there with two Claim Jumper sized left-over bags and immediately called for back up. I filled 5 large plastic grocery bags. I quickly dispersed them throughout the community retaining just enough for my personal uses.

A day later I’m looking at my preserving to pick out just the right jars to be given to special friends. There are subtleties in each hand-crafted jar. The contents are the same; lemons, salt, rosemary. The appearance of lemons, a bit of rosemary pressing up against the glass. Recognizing the different characteristics placed each jar in a hierarchy amongst the rest. “Which one will he get”? I quickly realized I had felt this overwhelming feeling of confusion. Which of my friends deserves the best packing . . . ?

Silence now, as the brains over-power-ment has finally subsided to release you back to reality. “JUST give ’em a damn jar!!!”


Dicks – I wish you all the happiness in 2014

A year of Dicks – We eat . . . therefore we think!


You know who you are. If you have met me before and were given a CritDicks business card, then you should know I approve of your business when you see me walk through the door the next time around. There are a great deal of establishments we, and many others, visit without even a moment’s thought. A hot dog at Costco, a pair of tacos at Jack-in-the-Box or maybe a bag of pistachios while waiting for the lecture to begin. We eat . . . therefore we think!

I visit places . . . that I don’t even like. And yes I can probably say I eat their food too. Whatever! What I want to say is I eat at various places throughout time that I don’t always get to acknowledge. Places like Curbside Café in Vista, CA. I think I have been there a 1/2 dozen times now . . . always a treat to eat there. I feel bad because I don’t often times get to spend enough moments with an owner or chef where they remember me. Or . . . , they remember me as that “blogger” that dumped his stupid business card on them. I know I may sometimes come across wrong . . . I think that’s my wiring. I’m also very social, so I may get talking with a server and a General Manager may be giving me stink eye over his/her bifocals . . . because they’ve seen me before! “WATCH HIM” . . . he’s sneaky! Perhaps one day, I will feel welcomed as a writer when visiting an establishment. Actually, I have . . . now that I think about it! “Steve and Steve” remembered me while visiting with Underdogs during a food truck and music festival. Steve immediately recognized me and the stories began . . .

photo2   There are so many attributes of 2013 that I needed to include in this blog somewhere, but now I’m approaching a new vector in my life and must quickly scan whatever pictures I took and try to recall stories of those memories. There were so many stories to tell . . . but I just fell plain flat. I had serious burn out and needed to clear my mind. Glad it really only lasted a few weeks, during which time I was able to even slip in a quick retreat at Lake San Marcos, in San Marcos, CA photo3photo 1We were treated to a very large lofted ceiling, luxurious post-modern retro decorated room overlooking most activities in the area and the lake. Our room had a large balcony that overlooked the adult spa and “wooded” fire ring (pretty cool). Our deck was open to adjoining decks and had some really cool chairs. Look ’em up. They are very heavy and sturdy and made from post consumer plastics, made to look like wood and painted. Quality! Other quality amendments in the room included a 60″ thin-edge HDTV with HD service! Top Notch! photoThe room was simple, elegant and included a remodeled bath featuring a large wall-to-wall glass-encased shower, LED lighting and new plumbing fixtures. Water pressure was fair. Service was very good and unwavering . . . trust me . . . I tried!photo5

We also ate at a place called Thai Garden in Oceanside, CA were we were treated to some lovely plating of authentic Thai cuisine and an educational owner that brought us a chili from his back yard explaining, “the top of the flair is sweet, the rest to the stem is very hot”. Taken with caution I tasted the sweet, but could already tell the hot area was with the seeds, and needed to stay there today. This kid must’ve had a hangover. photo6Oh yeah, I attended my graduation . . . yes, I sat in the back and congratulated all graduates for this day was for them.

As part of my graduation celebration, I also will soon have a Daughter-in-Law that shared in my graduation, by graduating herself from Cal State San Marcos. My gift to her . . . and myself, was to take her out for a nice meal . . . somewhere fancy. Normally I don’t put pictures of persons I know, but the day was spectacular, one of Oceanside’s finest. photo7Due to all circumstances, we elected to have lunch at 333 Pacific, and Chef Brian Hyre greeted our table and announced each arriving course from our skillfully coordinated Prix Fixe menu. Skillfully coordinated means I spent the last 3 or 4 days trying to contact the Chef by whatever means to ask him to do me the favor, having explained the circumstances and that I wanted the meal to be special. Chef somehow felt obliged to fulfill with my request. Not something often found out there anymore, unless at a real small mom and pop’s brick and mortar. Chef Brian is, as most good chefs, are always super busy, so their moments are very special. Chef Brian also hooked us up with an amuse bouche of 333’s signature Sweet Chili Calamari. Ok, now I have tasted the best. Previous calamari crown was held by Blue Water Seafood in San Diego, but now 333. It was just so tender . . . so tender, with the Sweet Chili dipping sauce. You know, when Chef Brian and I briefly discussed what I wanted on the menu, I asked Chef to “clear out the fridge” . . . he knew exactly what I meant. I think at that moment, Chef Brian knew I was someone worth meeting. Thanks Chef Brian! A true professional! Oh, BTW; there was also a finisher of fruitful frozen Mango puree on a frozen Coconut milk shell . . . something like that. Heaven!

To top everything off, I had a wonderful Christmas holiday celebration. I am very much looking forward to 2014 and all of the antics that should be displayed by all.


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