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eG Foodblog: mizducky - The Tightwad Gourmand turns pro


mizducky
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From where I live in Mission Valley, it's a straight shot westward, via the I-8 and Rosecrans Blvd., to the short causeway leading out to Shelter Island. This island was little more than a sandbar before it was built up in the 1950s with material dredged from the bottom of the harbor. Now it's home to a bunch of marinas and resort hotels, many of which have, or are growing out of, tiki/Polynesian themes.

The sun was setting as I arrived on Shelter Island ...

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... and turned into the parking lot for the Humphrey's resort/restaurant complex:

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You can see from that pitched roof that Humphrey's used to have the tiki theme going on too. But somewhere along the line they decided to transcend that, and now their Backstage Lounge has more of a golden jewelbox look going on:

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Humphrey's is also home to a wildly popular outdoor summer concert series that draws lots of national pop, rock, and jazz acts--one of the first concerts I saw in San Diego was when Cheap Trick played the Humphrey's outdoor stage in 2002 (they kicked butt, by the way; I managed to catch one of the dozens of signature guitar picks lead guitarist Rick Neilsen always pitches into the crowd :wub: ). Thus the "Backstage" in the indoor lounge's name, and the numerous larger-than life photo portraits on its walls of artists who have played the outdoor stage (that's a portrait of Alice Cooper in the shot above).

I grabbed myself a seat and placed an order with one of the cocktail waitresses, and soon my dinner and drink showed up:

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Heh. This is a far cry from the crappy beer and dodgy burgers I grew up associating with rock'n'roll bars--the lounge definitely benefits from being next door to Humphrey's dining room, which has won various accolades in local magazines. What we have here is their warm scallop and shrimp salad, on a bed of baby spinach with a garnish of mango and pickled ginger, along with a very respectable Manhattan (with just the well bourbon--I'm not remembering what their well bourbon is, but it does quite well for my purposes). I ask for the salad with the beurre blanc sauce on the side--I imagine someone back in the kitchen might be having a fit over that ("dammit, it's not a warm salad anymore if you don't put the warm sauce over the &%$ing greens!!!"), but there is already a light ginger/sesame dressing on the spinach, which is plenty of dressing for me. Plus I prefer enjoying those nice big barely-cooked scallops in all their pristine beauty.

And then I sat back and enjoyed my friends in Rockola as they kicked into action (apologies for the blurry photo--I was trying to avoid getting flash in their eyes):

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This evening was a special show, Rockola's sixth annual George Harrison Birthday Bash (those of you who are heavy-duty Beatles fans will no doubt point out that George's birthday is back in February, but this year the guys had several different halls fall through for the February 24th/25th weekend, and so finally had to go with being one month late). Rockola's forte is highly accurate recreation of Beatles and other songs from the 1960s and early 1970s--not going for the Beatlemania mimickry, but rather for fidelity to the sound and feel of the music. They are aided and abetted in that effort by great vocals--guitarists Bob and Mark do eerily accurate John and Paul vocals respectively, and bassist Doug does a pretty decent George. Bandleader Bob is also a real stickler for accurate instrumentation: for instance, for this show they brought along sitars and tabla to play some of George's Indian-inspired stuff, an autoharp for "My Sweet Lord," a horn section for songs like "This Song," and even a pair of boots for the bootheel-percussion on the early Harrison-penned hit "Don't Bother Me." These guys are hard-core.

I got Bob to hold still long enough to give me a Rockstar Attitude pose:

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Yes, that is a bathrobe he's wearing onstage. It's a long-running in-joke associated with the annual Harrison show; I'm sworn to secrecy as to the details of the bathrobe thing, because Bob gets a kick out of all the theories fans offer about its significance and possible Harrison tie-ins--Beatles fans just go to town with that kind of stuff! :laugh:

After an evening of great music and other assorted merriment, I ended with a nice cup of coffee:

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I'm impressed that even the coffee in this joint tastes good--buying and making good coffee is one of those details that tells me the kitchen is paying attention.

And so to bed, as someone once said ... :wink:

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More details on your congee, please!

Oh, and the dim sum looked wonderful. I've been trying to talk my family into doing dim sum on Easter, but no, we hafve to go to a relative's house. (This relative can't cook, and we will eat off flimsy paper plates perched on our laps.)

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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More details on your congee, please!

Your wish is my command, o Madame Blog Wrangler! :biggrin:

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I prefer my congee on the chunky side. My method is to put a scant 1/4 cup of raw white rice in four cups of boiling broth--I didn't have any suitable batches of leftover broth available, so I went with one of my favorite secret weapon ingredients, Better Than Bouillon's vegetable base. Then I turn the pot down to way low, cover it, and let it simmer away for a couple of hours, giving it an occasional stir, until it thickens and the rice starts breaking down a little. This batch I additionally flavored, once done, with a big cube of chile-flavored fermented tofu, and garnished with a little bit of roast duck left over from yesterday's dim sum feast. Note also the big glassful of Crystal Light knockoff in the shot. I'm making a point of it to pound a lot of fluids today, the better to help clear out my system after the past day's excesses. Erm, yeah, I did have more than one of those Manhattans last night. :laugh:

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I've enjoyed reading your blog, and I'm currently stuffed from being inspired to go eat dim sum today. :smile: Your weight loss is impressive, and please pat yourself on the back for doing so well. I find it even more impressive with your knee problem, as I have a torn meniscus also and find it really interfers with getting enough exercise. I went shopping yesterday and found two types of shirataki at the supermarket-Orchids and House Tofu- and will give them a try in the next few weeks. Thanks for the idea ( I think-I read the post that said they smell like dirt! :shock: )

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Erm, yeah, I did have more than one of those Manhattans last night. :laugh:

I've never been able to have only one Manhatten!

I love congee. You can toss almost any leftover in (early or late in the process, depending on the leftover. Cheap, as well. I rank it up with frittata as a "clean out the fridge" make-over meal. BTW, how salty is that better than boullion stuff?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I grabbed myself a seat and placed an order with one of the cocktail waitresses, and soon my dinner and drink showed up:

gallery_28660_4357_211934.jpg

I spotted that plate design in one of your earlier blogs. I still want some of those!

I haven't had much time to participate in your blog, but I've really enjoyed reading along. Keep up the good work, in all phases of your life! Thanks for blogging again!

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

Follow us on social media! Facebook; instagram.com/egulletx; twitter.com/egullet

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Erm, yeah, I did have more than one of those Manhattans last night. :laugh:

I love congee. You can toss almost any leftover in (early or late in the process, depending on the leftover. Cheap, as well. I rank it up with frittata as a "clean out the fridge" make-over meal. BTW, how salty is that better than boullion stuff?

The Better Than Bouillon base is admittedly quite salty, though not nearly as bad as those salt licks called bouillon cubes, and a whole lot tastier. I wind up using it at about half-strength compared to package directions, and find that it still gives plenty of baseline flavor on which to build other dishes. One of the first times I ever used it was for a batch of lentils; I wound up basically inhaling the whole batch in one sitting, it was so good. (Erm, that was pre-weight-loss regimen ... :laugh: )

I grabbed myself a seat and placed an order with one of the cocktail waitresses, and soon my dinner and drink showed up:

gallery_28660_4357_211934.jpg

I spotted that plate design in one of your earlier blogs. I still want some of those!

Alas, I remember going looking for that pattern on-line myself, when last you asked about it, and coming up empty.

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I speak to you as a man who has eaten more meat

Than you could shake an androgenous country-slash-torch vocalist at

I accept my fiery fate:

One less day of living per bargain burger plate

Top of the food chain (for now)

But soon to fall to ashes at the hoof of the vengeful cow

Studies indicate:

The cow may have wrath but she does not operate

in the realm of the sophisticate

And has she the capacity

to distinguish 'twixt broth-dribbler me

and the vegan in booth three?

Time to leave your iv'ry tow'

Watch it Tex, it's inex', the day of the cow

Despite one's best intentions we might all burn equally

So though not P.C. it's hearty Arby's party time for me

You can jump all you want but it's the day of the cow

--From "Day of the Cow I", by Mike Keneally, absurdly-gifted guitarist/keyboardist/composer/performer whose music does marvelous things to the inside of my head; former stunt guitarist for Frank Zappa; longtime San Diego resident; and a genuinely nice human being who I am proud to call my friend. (Lyrics quoted with Mike's gracious permission.)

All of the above is by way of introducing a question that may well be wandering across all of your minds--it does occasionally wander across mine: "Ellen, with all these vegetables that you eat, and all that meat that you're no longer eating, why don't you just go whole hog (so to speak) and become a full-fledged vegetarian?"

Well, the simple (or rather oversimplified) reason is: because I still like meat too much to give it up entirely.

The more complex answer: I have in fact tried to go full-on vegetarian at several points in my life, and just wasn't able to keep it up. I'd get a few weeks into it, and the cravings for meat would just get so strong that it was no fun fighting it anymore (I now recognize that as the Lizard Brain switching into full-on Tyrannosaurus mode).

It's been my (admittedly anecdotal) observation that some people simply have a physical preference for or against meat-eating. We are not all cast from one mold, metabolically speaking. Some people actively thrive on a diet free from animal products; others just can't function at their peak on such a regimen. (And I was pleased to discover, several years ago, that my supposition had some support from natural/macrobiotic cookery expert Annemarie Colbin; her book Food and Healing has given me a lot of food for thought, so to speak, as I stumbled my way towards my current way of eating.)

Anyway, I have come to the conclusion that I am in the need-to-eat-meat camp. Even these days, when I'm eating very little meat, and frequently have days that are completely meat-free, I do notice subtle, almost indefinable, positive differences in my state of being when I do have a serving or two of meat. But it actually only takes a little meat to make me feel like I'm on the beam. If I go overboard with it, especially these days when my day-to-day eating is so... well, "clean," for lack of a better word, I can also tell the difference--and it doesn't feel good. Interesting that as I continue on in this process, my bod is actually self-selecting for this low-meat but not no-meat regimen.

So, yeah, I do still eat meat; I eat it in small quantities, and I keep eating it because it continues to be right for me at this moment in time. If that should change for any reason, then I'll change too. And if it works for other people, then great; and if it doesn't work for other other people, that's fine too. The bottom line for me here, as in all food decisions, is: each person is their own best judge of what foods work best for their own unique condition and circumstances. There is no one-size-fits-all magic bullet that works for all people in all places in all situations. So--of all the stuff I've been spouting off about here and elsewhere in this blog, on eGullet, or wherever, please feel free to take whatever works for you, and don't sweat the stuff that doesn't work for you. And that's what works for me. :wink:

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Okay, I'm finally leaving the house to head off for chorus rehearsal. While I'm gone, if there are any remaining questions you'd like me to get to before the blog finishes up--or if you asked something awhile back and I missed it--please post and let me know.

See you all in a few hours!

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From where I live in Mission Valley...

Ellen: May I ask you one more question before you close up shop? Since you live in Mission Valley...

In the early 80's we used to go to a disco place called Fanagan's (or something like that?) north of Mission Valley mall, near Friars I think. Is that place still there? Or has transformed into something else now?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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So by trial and error, I see that you have come to follow Michael Pollan's advice:

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

And it appears to be working spectacularly for you. Congratulations again. You'd probably agree with this statement too:

"Everything in moderation, including moderation."

Unfortunately, my trip to the Left Coast in about a week and a half will keep me well to the north of the Land of Eternal Sunshine, so I guess I will have to arrange a more southerly swing in the future.

Thanks for sharing some wonderful food and scenery with us, and see you on the boards.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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My closing comment (since you still don't have a source for those plates :angry::laugh: ): I really, strongly get a bang out of the lyrics you quote and the music you dig so thoroughly. Thanks for all the good quotes and references...

...even if I've still got "Fish Heads" stuck in my jolly jolly brain. :blink:

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

Follow us on social media! Facebook; instagram.com/egulletx; twitter.com/egullet

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Terrific Blog, Mizducky.

It has caused me to feel life will not be complete without another trip to San Diego and "environs" - as one used to see on maps and roadside signs.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Ellen: I really wish you'd make a return trip up here to the Seattle area, because I'd like to party with you, girlfriend! Great week.

Cheers,

Carolyn

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

J.R.R. Tolkien

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Erm, yeah, I did have more than one of those Manhattans last night. :laugh:

I love congee. You can toss almost any leftover in (early or late in the process, depending on the leftover. Cheap, as well. I rank it up with frittata as a "clean out the fridge" make-over meal. BTW, how salty is that better than boullion stuff?

The Better Than Bouillon base is admittedly quite salty, though not nearly as bad as those salt licks called bouillon cubes, and a whole lot tastier. I wind up using it at about half-strength compared to package directions, and find that it still gives plenty of baseline flavor on which to build other dishes. One of the first times I ever used it was for a batch of lentils; I wound up basically inhaling the whole batch in one sitting, it was so good. (Erm, that was pre-weight-loss regimen ... :laugh: )

I grabbed myself a seat and placed an order with one of the cocktail waitresses, and soon my dinner and drink showed up:

gallery_28660_4357_211934.jpg

I spotted that plate design in one of your earlier blogs. I still want some of those!

Alas, I remember going looking for that pattern on-line myself, when last you asked about it, and coming up empty.

Perhaps these are what you're looking for? They aren't that pretty warm color but still... :smile:

Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

Twin Peaks

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Once again, folks, many thanks for all of your thanks! It's been a pleasure blogging for you all. Though I confess it will be nice to go back to a slightly more private lifestyle!

And while I obviously do a bunch of dining out as part of my food writing gig, I also confess that I think I've temporarily burned out on this whirlwind of dining and partying. Witness this evening: when I finished with chorus rehearsal, I toyed with the idea of eating dinner out to give you one last restaurant photo op ... but both my bod and my belly were sending out weariness signals, so I came home instead and simply defrosted a little pork chop and threw it on my roommate's George Foreman Grill:

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The side is the last of those king oyster mushrooms I braised during the veg-cooking frenzy the other day. Not the most photogenic dinner on the planet--brown, brown, and brown!--but low impact, and it hit the spot.

Responding to a few more posts:

Flanigan's?

Aaa! Thank you Kathy! That's it. (Being a Chinese, I always skip the "L"s and the "R"s... :biggrin::biggrin:

Hi, Ah Leung--alas, Google doesn't turn up anything named Fanigans or Flanigan's currently in San Diego. That whole stretch of Friar's Road north of the Mission Valley Mall probably looks way different from when you lived here--it's now wall-to-wall brand new condo complexes, interspersed with more shopping centers. And since I've only lived here since 2002 I don't know what was along that stretch before they apparently knocked it all down to build the new stuff.

There is a branch of the Bennigan's restaurant/tavern chain just east of the Mission Valley Mall, on Camino del Rio North. But as far as I know they don't have dancing there. For that matter, I have no idea how long it's been there ... but that seems to be the closest thing in the area to what you're remembering.

Ellen:  I really wish you'd make a return trip up here to the Seattle area, because I'd like to party with you, girlfriend!  Great week.

Hey, that may yet happen one of these days--I'm way overdue for a visit back to the Pacific Northwest. Whenever it happens, have no fear, I will give you all plenty of notice. I like the way you PNW eGulleteers party too! :cool:

Smithy and MizD,

Might these plates be the sort you might be looking for?

Perhaps these are what you're looking for? They aren't that pretty warm color but still... :smile:

Aha! Great minds think alike! :laugh:

Actually, in normal bright daylight the Humphrey's dishes are black and white just like the ones you both turned up. It looks like the keys on the Humphrey's dishware are a little fatter than those down that link, but that might just be an artifact of the photos. In any case--score!

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Okay, now I really have to go finish up my restaurant rec so I can get it posted ... but I'll continue to monitor this topic for any final comments before it shuts down, which I think happens sometime tomorrow. And if for some reason I don't get in here again before it closes, I'd just like to take this opportunity now to thank everyone once again for reading, for commenting, and for well-wishing. This was a really beautiful and rewarding exercise for me, and I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to go on at such length before such an appreciative audience.

Cheers,

/the duck

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MizDucky,

I was inspired by your experiments when I was shopping yesterday and I picked up some light garlic & herb Laughing Cow cheese. Despite my need to cut back on fats I feel like I would die if I couldn't have cheese, and I like your idea of a flavorful compromise.

Regarding your lovely soups, I have a father with weight problems, heart problems, gout and a bit of the IBS. His home diet is not the most adventurous although I know he loves foreign flavors (he introduced me to many of them). Your philosophy about meaty flavors vs. all that meat plus lots of other good things has also inspired me to gift them with an Asian cookbook. If he can work out flavor additions that won't wreck his tummy, you will have helped make yet one more diet more happily delicious!

Thanks for blogging :smile:

To hell with poverty! We'll get drunk on cheap wine - Gang of Four

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(...)

It's been my (admittedly anecdotal) observation that some people simply have a physical preference for or against meat-eating. We are not all cast from one mold, metabolically speaking. Some people actively thrive on a diet free from animal products; others just can't function at their peak on such a regimen. (And I was pleased to discover, several years ago, that my supposition had some support from natural/macrobiotic cookery expert Annemarie Colbin; her book Food and Healing has given me a lot of food for thought, so to speak, as I stumbled my way towards my current way of eating.)

(...)

Ah! So true! At the closing hour of your blog I just HAD to jump in. Thanks for sharing this week of food and life and gorgegousnes with us. And YAY for losing so much weight!

To the above observation, I can only say that I was born and raised a vegetarian, never had a single bite of meat and had been heavily overweight for at least my entire adult life. Up until about two and a half years ago, that is. Around that time I suddenly started feeling SUCH a strong craving for MEATMEATMEAT that I could't just ignore it. So I stopped being a vegetarian.

I am now a carnivore to the bone- I like my meat and I like it red- and I lost over 40 kilo's in the course of a year, without any diet or effort whatsoever. So my new 'rule' for healthy living and eating is that if you totally honestly listen to what your body asks of you, there is no going wrong...

Anyway. Thanks again, and I wish you strength and health and lots more less of you :smile:

Edited by amapola (log)
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