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.


What is “hospital time!”

I have spent a very fair amount of time at the local hospital recently; Tri-City Hospital.  Have you ever wondered why everyone hates taking the quick trip to the emergency room? It’s not because of the cracked-out meth freak sitting next to you attempting to bite his own elbow; or the guy sneezing, that has figured out how to graffiti using the space between his fingers as an HVLP paint sprayer. No, the reason is because of “hospital time”.

monkeyI’m getting the picture. I believe hospital time’s equation looks something like “hospital time is = or > stated time, plus two hours”. You see, I think it has to do with processing of patients and availability of resources. There should be no doubt that more staff and larger facilities wouldn’t solve the problem. Perhaps That would only change the equation, not resolve “hospital time”.

During my visits . . . with an ‘s’, I had casually asked several staff on the hospital floors if they know what “hospital time” is and if it exists in their profession . . . or, perhaps in this hospital. I feel the overwhelming response favored the existence of hospital time in the hospital. But just how was it explained back to me? Many just chuckled and snickered, then would claim about an hour-and-a-half; explaining to me that “it’s the time that you wait”. But since the hour-and-a-half that you wait is never an accurate number . . . remember, we’re talking quietly while in the emergency room area . . . among all the sick, screaming, and drunk . . .

Crowded emergency room waiting area.The time you wait can be a long time, so let’s use my equation. If that staff member said it was an hour-an-a-half, let’s plug that in. A simple high fever and crankiness for a toddler can take an hour-and-a-half. Add two hours because you’re in the emergency room. So, at a minimum you’re drinking a minimum of one cup of coffee from Eric outside in the coffee cart. Now, let’s consider a slightly different scenario where a young Pop Warner football player comes in with Mom and Dad just after being injured in the big game. The child and mother are favoring his leg. 1.5 hours + 2 hours = 3.5 hours. During the visit, the doctor orders a CT scan of the knee that is now dependent on that department. Different department is just like starting the equation over. Let’s see, that’s 3.5 hours to start. 3.5 + “1.5” hours (staff) = 5 hours . . . oh, don’t forget the addition of the “plus two hours” for a total time this evening of 7 hours or two “grande” sized lattes and mochas from Eric.

I’m going to say the staff is correct claiming hospital time is 1.5 hours. Yet I feel I am also correct is adding the 2 hours atop the stated time. The way I see it is the immediate moments spent in the emergency room waiting area among the infected, seemingly pale in comparison to the amount of time spent looped into the emergency room stronghold, for them to finally say . . . “you need see a specialist”, but give a nice $850 parting gift that supports the knee while waiting for the consult appointment.splint

Good thing there’s decent food for many of those hours available in the cafeteria. Tri-City’s café is a very decent support system below decks.tricity


Can’t order your food on line? Call 1-800-Verizon

Customers can expect to remain confused unless the customer calls 1-800-Verizon, or some other number that comes up when searching with your browser. Verizon has done it again, created stalwart technology that is totally unusable to the common consumer. Yes, Verizon created a support website for their service and supplies that becomes a giant loop of endless clicks leading to the end of the internet. Yes, I think Verizon actually has created the end of the internet.

I understand the use of technology to reduce workload, increase efficiency and streamline repetitive informational technologies. Well that’s all fine and dandy, but what if you have a unique situation that you believe warrants the ever-personal customer interface with a real human? Just so happened to be my case just the other night; having an above normal internet usage bill recently and a significant service degradation of my installed Verizon HomeFusion Broadband, a residential internet solution that uses Verizon’s 4G LTE network to bring reliable, high-speed internet service to customers with limited broadband options . . . and when working properly, provides super-fast internet. Super-fast speeds that are only compared and rivaled to that of cable, T-1 or DSL service. Now one thing I am not, is a technology geek; but I did just stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night so I should be good to go for the remainder of this post.

I just know I used to have an incredibly fast system that costs me a lot of money, and if not managed properly, . . . cost A LOT of money. Like a $380 bill that was ONLY for home-use internet service. No phone, no television, and no cellular phone service. Yes, I paid $380 for data only to my home internet, so I have become used to monitoring the system quite closely and my kids . . . even closer.

Once I figured out that the best way to contact Verizon directly was obviously not through the internet. Going to  proved an hour worthless of many attempts to find a phone number on their website to speak with a human, presumably in some other country where the labor pool is abundant and cheap.

Tonight was just a bit different since once I figured out that 1-800-Verizon would quickly link me to Geon (pronounce: Jee-On, like neon or Deon). Geon spent a good 3-4 hours relentlessly pushing the limits of my sobriety and the limits of my bed-time hour. Geon had me checking everything imaginable that could be influencing several website’s data to suddenly halt when attempting to access that information using my Verizon 4G LTE service. Websites like Facebook were found to be restrictive in displaying all content and YouTube no longer plays videos for some mysterious reason. Hey, I don’t feel so bad right now, ‘cause we tested every component in the 4G broadband system installed in my home computers, and Geon couldn’t figure it out. The night finally concluded with Geon testing all of my communication speeds in my home. Each method of test produced stellar wireless speeds, but the display of any YouTube video or some of the content on Facebook seemed futile. But no matter what we did, or how long we stayed at it, Geon provided me with an exceptional customer experience.

During the 3 or so hours, Geon mentioned he was located in Albuquerque, NM and I mentioned my entire life story. The old saying goes, “better grab a Snickers Bar” cause I was not going anywhere for a while, so we would just talk while we surfed the internet and tested my connectivity speeds. Yeah, we told a lot of stories in between re-booting my desktop, grabbing a beer, re-booting my laptop, taking a bathroom break, grabbing a beer and re-booting the Home Fusion system. I was even able to get Geon to do two things. First I asked that he read a bit more About Us at I don’t know if he did yet, but then I asked that he look up “banana in the tail pipe” on you tube. Geon said he had to be careful and watch his back because his supervisor was looming; so he probably won’t get a chance to go until he is off. Here’s a link if he needs it.

I guess this story is about customer experience. Why does it seem so often I tell stories center around customer experience? Because I’m a customer. It was probably one of the most valuable things I learned while in school.

So who cares?

See, I can do it too . . .


Expansion too fast? – Sublime Ale House / Tavern – San Diego, CA

Is there a right time to complain while seated at a restaurant? Many owners and managers will make the blanket statement, “if you have an issue at a restaurant, then, while you’re at the restaurant, when the incident happens, is the right time to bring it up to management so they can remedy the situation”. What if you bring the incident up to the server and the manager seemed aware, but never approached the table to ensure the customer returns another day?

A similar incident happened just the other night. Finally, another son turned 21, so it’s now up to Mom and Dad to take him and the family out for dinner. Tonight’s choice was Sublime Ale House in San Marcos’s famous Restaurant Row near San Diego, CA. What all seemed to be going smoothly for the first 10 minutes turned horribly wrong once the food was ordered.

Ensuring each of the family members arrived at our house so my wife could play designated driver caused us to get a slower than normal start on our evening. We arrived as a party of 8 without reservations on this Tuesday evening following the MLK weekend. Seating was not a problem with the many picnic style benches and tables. I had disappeared momentarily while our server Dave dropped off the menus. A quick glance at the menu upon my return, I had discovered that most everyone seemed ready to order once Dave had arrived again after about another 5 minutes. Dave took our drink order and placed it in the POS. Soon thereafter, Dave returned to start the dinner order. I ordered a couple of pizzas for the table and there were a variety of sandwiches and salads ordered as well. Dave disappeared and our drinks started to roll in about 15 minutes after the entrées were ordered, just as we began to wonder why the pizza holders were already out but no beverages, except a couple waters and the beer that was ordered before the main party was seated.Sublime1

Moments later the drinks arrived. After we began to taste our beers, a call from the table came, “hey, we should’ve ordered appetizers”. I told my son that the pizzas should be here any moment . . . but we kept waiting, without any follow-up from Dave, and thinking the soup should have also showed up by now, unless it was fired at the same time as the regular entrées. Timing this evening was seeming beginning to falter.

Well, we finally got our three large pizzas. We finally got our drinks about 20 minutes into seating and our pizzas as the appetizer about 30 minutes after seating, just about the time we began to wonder of their whereabouts (20 minutes is good). Then each of us at the table began to wonder where the entrées were hiding since each of us at the table already had two slices of pizza each (about 45 minutes in). Just as we began to wonder, the entrées began to arrive. My son’s Prosciutto and Egg burger was served just above room temperature and seemed as if it was meant for another table under the heat lamp. Considering the wait time for turnaround, my son decided to eat what he was served. Yes his fries were also cold, but crunchy. He even said they were the best french fries he has ever had. Dunno, about that one???

We didn’t immediately complain. Looking back, I feel my complaint about a burger seemed small in comparison to the fact that our table had now consumed every one of their beverages including most of the water on the table. I didn’t notice this happening, but I did notice that my beer was empty and I was finishing my water. I asked if anyone had ordered another drink and the answer was, “No, no one came by”. Just as I was finishing my water, I began to slurp in the general direction of another server who came over to check on our drinks. I saw our particular server around and was surprised there were no other drink orders taken.

I pointed out the table status to Chris and explained that no one has been by to top off water or take another drink order. I also told Chris to order another round of drinks complimentary of Sublime, because that was a clear service failure . . . and to get water out as well. I then saw our server and explained that our table went without drink for some time. He dropped off what was in his hand and immediately came over to start taking another drink order. I told Dave that Chris had already taken our order but had not refilled our water in the meantime. Even the water took a long time . . . WTF? Speaking of that; I didn’t have serviceware and asked my wife if there was any available. She said the table was told, there was no more and he’d (don’t know who) be back with more. Anyway, I ate my pizza with what I got from the bar.

Well, our second round of drinks finally arrived as did the water, now making its way to the table. I told Dave and Chris, and they must have talked with the Manager, to keep our drinks full (meaning mostly water and sodas) for the remainder of our stay. At one point, I believe it may have been the Manager approached the table after eye-balling me and asked very simply, “So, . . . are we going to be ordering any more drinks?” Our collective answer was, “no”, and he left. No other mention about our tab, or our food or our drinks.

Sublime2The check arrives and it was calculated properly without the addition of a second round of beers. I gave the server a $20 tip on a $175 bill. Hopefully he understands his was not good service. I hope Sublime also understands that they have a service problem. Just read any number of posts and Yelps about them. As I read some of those Yelps; and if I remember correctly, Sublime has a significant history of slow service, but this was Tuesday night and the restaurant was only about 60% full. My previous visit also resulted in significant service delays, like . . . really long waits between drink order, food order, drink arrival, food arrival. Perhaps it’s part of their business service plan . . . to draw more drinks out of the customers . . . but then why did our drinks go empty? And, then they had a problem bringing water as an interim. I really just don’t think they have their service structure set up properly. It was very bad service. Then to top it off, if the Manager knew there was a service problem, why didn’t that Manager approach MY table to ensure this customer returns. I hope that manager realizes our $175 cover could have been much closer to a $300 cover should the extra round of drinks been calculated in and possibly another (3rd) round for some of us. I really hope Dave realizes his tip could have been closer to $60 or more for exceptional service and a total bill properly calculated to include the comp’ed drinks.

So my question still remains; Am I wrong not to bring up this evening’s failures to the Manager to allow him/her to rectify the situation, better ensuring I return someday to spend another $300? Nonsense, that Manager (weak! , in my opinion) knew about the situation, because the Manager would have to have approved the full table of comp’ed drinks. Then why didn’t the Manager approach me? I think, if I was the manager, would have ensured I (as the customer) returned, especially knowing that I have another son yet entering the food and now “drinking” world.

Do I think this is another case of a restaurant expanding ahead of themselves? Perhaps. Sublime Ale House now has an off-branch called Sublime Tavern (Summer, 2013) located in Del Mar, CA. I have not yet visited the new joint, and I may not anytime soon. Unfortunately, quality of customer experience is what has dropped. I know that Sublime has a good concept . . . but, if you can’t continuously bring quality to that customer, I can only expect the new place may soon close. We’ll see.


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.


Food and Beverage – Social Media . . . it’s up to me!!!

I think it’s probably about time we started taking a closer look at just how important “social media” really is to the FB&H industry. First of all, let me guide you into this. I will be looking at this from the consumer’s eye. Remember I have no industry experience, so to speak, so I will explain this from my eye.

bloggingAs a consumer, when I decide to target a restaurant or other establishment for the night I usually start out by looking them up on the internet. Whether I get the restaurant’s name from an add or a business card, or I begin with a general search word on Google. Say I want to eat Thai in Vancouver, BC. I type a couple of key words  into the search block and I’m off and running. Since starting this blog, I have attempted to track the traffic that comes into my website, and from where. I know there are more advanced tracking tools that can be purchased through the internet, but I only have basic services. Please remember, I’m just an average consumer with above average knowledge . . . so I have been told.

I then began to think about the possibilities of following successful bloggers as they navigate new and old social media trends; and the effectiveness’s of those trends on the FB&H industries and small businesses. Without really having an in-depth look or education in “social media” specific studies, I have taken to this idea while perusing my culinary degree. I have noticed that there is definitely a significant social media experience for the Food, Beverage and Hospitality (FB&H) industries . . . at least when viewing it from a retail consumer standpoint (e.g. , searching for “restaurants and bars” vice “restaurant service equipment repair”).

Let’s see, I have this blog attached to Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. The latter is under my personal page, and I currently choose to have this blog as one of my current professions. I own the domain name (I don’t know . . . that’s just what they call it) I own that! When I type that on any computer, my website . . . this blog, should come up . . . and it does! Now, what I write and how I communicate with my public is up to me. But what is important? What are all of the tricks? Which social media interaction methods are most effective for the food and beverage industry? Yes we could add “hospitality”, but just ride along for now.

So as I’m writing this I’m thinking this should just be an idea spark for another TV show. That’s what I think this could be. I think about how many other folks have turned to blogging in the last 5 years . . . 10 years. How many have claims to writing about Food, Beverage, and Hospitality? I was just surprised to see that “Food” was still relatively small compared to “News”, “Music” and “Photography” for the amount of posts contained on this host’s server, How many successful bloggers are out there? . . . I mean, how many successful writers are out there that also have a blog? How many started off as a blogger? How many started off as an airplane, environmental, teaching and now . . . culinary professional. Not to say I’m really a professional; work with me, . . . I was caught up in the moment . . .

I guess I just wanted to stake claim to this TV show idea and let my audience know that I can continue to write, even after taking a moment for the end of 2013 to come to a close. I find that I am having a wonderful holiday this year and very much look forward to 2014. I hope I don’t lose any along the way.


The Big Table Dance.


This was definitely a night to remember. Tonight was to be my last event in which I would probably ever don the coat or toque of a chef or cook. Well, as I’m finding out now . . . that doesn’t seem to be the case. I ask, does this keep going? Is it my stupid passion?. Am I looking for something else? I have a feeling you’ll be reading much more since my schooling ends just before Christmas.

At the beginning of this quarter I regretted having to don the uniform ever again, but was basically forced for the purposes of this last class. This class was focused on event planning and execution. I had vowed to handle the business portion of the events; further allowing the real culinary gang (students) that actually have a long standing desire to work in a kitchen, the opportunity to learn and grow their craft . . . and hone their skills.

Since this class is focused on setting up and executing events, this final event was to be the crown jewel in which we can showcase many, if not all of the things we have learned since beginning this culinary school adventure. Today was being hailed as an event for the culinary competition team for our San Diego campus of the International Culinary School at The Art Institute. We were led to believe this event was for our “hot team”, as they were to be cooking for their families in order to show them what their competition would involve. We (our event class) were merely providing the party (event) for the hot team to cook. Turns out this was all a carefully fabricated horns waggle. Yeah, we were railroaded . . . flimflammed . . .

Turns out, we are putting on this event for ourselves . . .  Shit!

We were informed by our persuasive Chef Instructor just 15 minutes before the pseudo-guests were to arrive. I think everyone of the culinary students participating got a big ear-to-ear grin on their face . . . except for me. I just happened to be the only student in this class that’s actually graduating this term,  so my Senioritis was playing a big part of my unrest.dinner2

Well, now that we know the reason for setting up this table. I spent three hours polishing silver and glassware and setting this table to exacting specifications as outlined by our Chef Instructor. He explained every facet of how the service would go and be executed. He explained that we would be serving plates from the right and clearing from the left . . . (screeching halt sound). Did he just say serving from the right and clearing from the left . . . Isn’t proper French service the opposite way? I thought only glassware was to be serviced from the right. I attempted to clarify this on the internet and realized that this was a subject of much discussion that truly danced around the subject of what is right and what is wrong. Is the service from a guéridon or from plates already prepared. Is this Russian service or French? There are several factors involved when establishing how the service is to be executed and I really don’t care to research every method. One thing is for sure; our school has been putting out service from the left and clearing from the right. Tonight was completely opposite. “What gives Chef?”, I ask. Then the chef kindly reminded me that every situation may be different in the real world anyway, and flexibility in situations may be necessary. Other than him saying this, there really was no other reason for our reverse service except that he demanded that we comply with his requirements. “Roger that”, I said and proceeded to serve from the right that night . . . and it felt wrong every moment. But you know what? That same Chef Instructor pulled off that bull-shit for the event too. Finally figured him out. He’s a B. S.’er. . . I like that!dinner3

Another thing that has been brought up is the proper placement of forks, knives and spoons on the big table. I have taken many shots across the bow from folks complaining that the dessert fork and coffee spoon were to be placed atop the plate when setting the table properly. Turns out this evening’s event was to use plates available at the school that later proved to be too large for the table decorations and the plates to fit correctly, so we decided to place all of the silver to the side. Again, it’s situational and as a restaurant service, one must attempt to make everything as perfect as possible. AS POSSIBLE!!! Tonight, due to the situation, we had to deviate alot. Another factor was how much of the serviceware is available to us for this event. Remember, these classes and equipment are utilized by numerous classes, and for numerous occasions. Over the course of the last three weeks I have counted 120 forks, 40 dinner forks, 20 desert forks and 40 knives . . . once each, last three classes. Often times having to track them down from other locations in the school to make up an acceptable service place setting. Tonight was no exception. The main thing we focused on was the absolute perfection of each item placed on the table, measuring and calculating, Exact placement of each fork in front of each guest with the exact space between every component. That’s why this took me three hours. Even down to the cell-phone distance each chair arm was from the table. It was goofy crazy, but the result was spectacular. That was a badd ass table!

dinner5So now you’re probably wondering why all the hype. This turned out to be a night of service for the two classes that comprised this service. The “hot team” prepared the menu and guided the kitchen staff on execution and service. The remaining few (including me) were to set up the facility, move tables, chairs and fetch everything needed to make the event special. Once it was time for service all of the students helped on the assembly line and working the plates for service. Finally concluding on a very messy kitchen and tons of dishes. Yes we cleaned for a good hour-and-a-half afterwards.

I look back at this night and begin to grin. I think back about the last three years of this culinary education and some of the students, Chef Instructors and staff I have met through out this education. I think about what I had learned (totally another story) and how I am able to handle my own in the kitchen, in the front of the house and in the business. I can now talk the talk, AND walk the walk. There are plenty of other skilled chefs and cooks out there that can walk all over me in any kitchen; but, how many of them can do it with as much class as me, with as much skill and as much education as me. I can now literally walk into any restaurant, any food service operation or any kitchen and hold my own . . . not necessarily some one else’s own . . . but my own.

I became grateful this night . . . , because this dinner was for me.

I may not be walking with the graduating class, but I’m with them on every step they take. Congratulations!

Just remember . . . they call ’em Chefs, . . . because they work in the industry.

Hug a “Chef”.!


Happy Holidays 2013/14 . . . and thanks! . . . Dicks

Ok, this may be brief, or this may be long, . . .  but I have to do it!

The last several weeks have led us to the conclusion of 2013. I already have major plans for the 31st . . . and my wife is going to smile and … go with this one … trust me, I just think she will see it my way. That kind of 2013.

I have built a relationship with a dude named Jimmie. This dude is working his ass off to make things happen. Every time I turn around I find that Jimmie has booked the biggest and the baddest! Is that a word? Well if there is a “Baddest”, Jimmie’s Da Man.

I just found out that Jimmie, the Trail Boss for Cattle Call, L.L.C. has bagged one of the richest mixes of country-Texan- Southern Rock, Elvis and Johnny influenced / / /, not quite sure just what genre specifically they are. But I heard some of their rifs and already know this is gonna be a bash!!! LOOK  THE . . . f’, , out . . . W O W !!!    at a local joint here just below where I live.  I could walk home. Think of the possibilities.

To conclude . . . uh, for this year . . . I would humbly like to say to all of my followers and readers of my brain. Thanks! In just less than two years I have achieved over 10,000 views and have over 300 followers! . . .

I had a few goals with this post. Folks, stick with me here . . . I hope to keep it flowin’. I started this thing as a Band-Aid … to my wife’s suggestion, that I just don’t say anything when I go out with her . . . that I just write about it. “What did you say”, said You. I said, “say nothing”. What you guys already said, is already killing me.

Feb 2012 – I started writing  just after a the 29th wedding anniversary with my badd-ass life supporter . . . wife!  I Love you! . . . and no bull shit, you know that!

July 4th 2013 –  Shit, that was just 6 months ago. I think this is when it was . . .  was to have 5000 page views. I got really close, around 4600 or so. I don’t really feel like looking it up . . . nor do I rightfully feel like figuring out where I was, or what I was doing. I just know I didn’t quite make it.

Dec 2013 – (graduation day) Was to have 10,000 page views, 300 followers and be sponsored. Well, I fell just a tad short. I just don’t have the sponsor. If I could sit here and grovel.

So now I ask you, to ask yourself; do I like this bull shit? Do I like this Dick?

Whatever, follow more of my antics at; and this New Years Eve, go to Jimmie’s show at


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