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mizducky

eG Foodblog: mizducky - San Diego: A (Really!) Moveable Feast

200 posts in this topic

My favorite things to eat then were blueberry pie, fried oysters and fried eels--but I also used to love corn sandwiches: white bread and mashed potatoes with canned corn dumped on it. (Every once in a while, we'll come back to this fascinating topic, since it seems to matter so much to certain people in the audience.)

--Frank Zappa, The Real Frank Zappa Book

Greetings and salutations from sunny San Diego!

Any of my closest friends will tell you I am not one to be easily intimidated, but I admit it is a bit unnerving to be directly following such exemplary bloggers as John Whiting. But don't worry, I'll get over myself fairly quickly. :smile:

I was originally going to subtitle this blog something like "Beggars Banquet," or maybe "The Tightwad Gourmand" (as in "you've heard of the Frugal Gourmet, now meet ... " et cetera and so forth). These titles were attempts to address the fact that, for various reasons, I live a pretty low-budget lifestyle, but still manage to have a damn good time enjoying food. In fact, I kind of revel in finding and enjoying good cheap eats, and this blog would be a chance to go on at length about that revelry with folks of like mind. For one of the many things about eGullet that has really turned me on is the great egalitarianism of food tastes here--I've noticed that many of the same people who contribute passionately to topics on five-star restaurants and rarified vintages also weigh in with equal vigor about sliders, barbeque, chili, and other "just plain folks" food.

But as to the blog title I wound up with: by the serendipity of scheduling, it turns out that I will be moving at the end of this month to a neighborhood a few miles away from the one I currently live in. That means not only a whole different kitchen, and a whole different household with different tolerances about cooking, but also a whole new neighborhood of food resources to explore. So--one of the themes of my blog this week will be taking you all along with me as I get ready to move my personal food act across town. If I'm lucky and the fellow currently occupying my new digs vacates in time, you'll actually get to see my new kitchen and what I'll soon have to work with; but at the very least I'll take you with me as I start exploring the shops and eateries around my new neighborhood. There might even be an IKEA run in there somewhere--meatballs ahoy!

I don't get to do big cooking projects in my current living situation nearly as often as I'd like, partly because my current household companion (who I've immortalized in various posts as Fearless Housemate) is really sensitive to food smells, and partly because this wacky house has a substandard kitchen exhaust fan that vents directly into FH's bedroom--YIKES! So I do try to spare the poor guy from being stanked out of his own room as much as possible. HOWEVER, Fearless Housemate will be out with his band on a gig this Saturday evening, so I plan to execute some kind of minor cooking extravaganza in his absence--the exact nature of which will be determined by what looks good in the markets, what feels good to me, my energy level by the time we get to Saturday, PLUS your input and suggestions.

As for the bulk of this week's meals: I'm taking inspiration from Pan's foodblog, in which he demonstrated the dining, take-out, and delivery food wonders of his immediate neighborhood. Only I'll have *two* neighborhoods full of dining and take-out opportunities to draw upon--my new one as well as my current one, both of which feature a fabulous array of inexpensive ethnic eateries. In fact, the teaser photos for my blog demonstrated just a small sampling of the local riches in my current neighborhood:

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The above, in order of appearance: a bento box from Nijiya Market; a medley of cold Szechuan-style appetizers from my beloved Ba Ren; and the iconic San Diego takeout meal, a fish taco combo, this one from El Cotixan, the nearest 24-hour taqueria to my current abode. And that's just for starters; within a five-mile radius of where I'm sitting right now, I can also sample such cuisines as Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Middle Eastern, Filipino, Indian, South American, Greek, Hawaiian, Jewish-style deli, several different styles of hamburger from national chains to one-of-a-kind monsters, and others cuisines that I'm still only just discovering after three-and-a-half years in this town.

Oh, and one other little adventure: on Sunday evening, I'm going to be playing Mistress of the Church Coffee Reception. The congregation of which I am a member is going to be hosting a distinguished lecturer, and I volunteered to do battle with the social hall's brand-new high-volume high-speed high-falutin' coffeemaker. I'm told it's supposed to be easy, all the instructions are written out and taped to the beast. Ooooo-kay ... so how come nobody else volunteered for this task? :hmmm: I sense a potential for this to turn into something right out of an "I Love Lucy" episode, so I'll be sure to bring my camera along in order to record any coffee carnage.

There will be other neighborhood adventures as well, depending on time, schedule, whim, energy level, and audience suggestion.

About those audience suggestions: I do hope folks will chime in early and often with questions and comments as well as suggestions. As you may have noticed, I like to have a lot of fun while hanging on the board here, and it's so much more fun when I have accomplices to help bat the conversational shuttlecock around.

P.S. Oh yeah--despite my fondness for Frank Zappa, there will be no corn sandwiches in this blog (shudder). However, there may well be some fried seafood of some sort, though perhaps neither oysters nor eels (not that I wouldn't mind that...)


Edited by mizducky (log)

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Okay, and we're already off to a bumpy start: by Murphy's Law, my elderly digital camera (an obsolete model of the Nikon Coolpix) just decided to go on the fritz, so this blurry-ish photo of my breakfast this morning is courtesy of my camera phone:

gallery_28661_3_6577.jpg

I am usually not much of a breakfast person--in fact, back when I was a Seattle-based coffee fiend, breakfast was usually a big latte at most. However, for medical reasons coffee has had to become an occasional treat at best, so if I drink any hot beverage at all in the morning, it's usually some kind of tea. Today it's an organo-groovy yerba mate concoction from a local natural foods store. Accompanying it is one of my lazy/non-morning-person's breakfast specials: a pita full of melted cheese. Today's whole-wheat pita is courtesy of the local Trader Joe's; the sharp cheddar is standard supermarket issue (Von's). I'm really not much of a cold cereal fan; occasionally I'll do hot cereal; once in a blue moon I'll make a smoothie or an omelette. Otherwise, unless I'm specifically going out for a voluminous brunch, this is about as elaborate as breakfast gets for me.

The death of the old camera dictates what one of my morning's errands is going to be: buying a simple but serviceable replacement of some sort. I already had my eye on one at Circuit City; hopefully my next post or so will be pictures with the new puppy, as a couple of my other anticipated errands includes lunch, plus an initial overview of the local cheap eats troves.

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YEAH!! I love your posts and your humor MizDucky. Please Blog on!

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Miz Ducky, blog on. Our ideas seem to mesh well, so I will vicariously enjoy southern California with you. :laugh:


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Oh this is exciting!! I always enjoy reading your posts, and San Diego is one of my very favorite places.

Would you mind sharing what neighborhood you are in and where you will be going?

We've stayed mostly in Pacific Beach on our visits, but I've also spent a fair amount of time in La Jolla and Coronado.

Any chance you can venture out for an Acai energy bowl? That was one of my favorite treats last time we visited.


Danielle Altshuler Wiley

a.k.a. Foodmomiac

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Hey! That's the same model of coffee maker that I used to have in the office.

I'm looking forward to your blog; the only time I was in San Diego, we were locked into this hotel in Coronado (where they rent the use of the phone, not just the time) and didn't get to see anything of the city much less eat anything the city has to offer.

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Oh, this is going to be fun! Blog on, mizducky! Do be sure to include photos of the sunshine, since some of us are in the middle of winter.

Will you be moving into your very own place, or will you have a new housemate whose food preferences and sensitivities will need consideration?


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

"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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Miz Ducky, I'm so glad to see you blogging!

A couple questions...how will your new situation differ in terms of cooking options? Is it just improved ventilation, or are your new roomies more adventurous all around when it comes to things culinary?

Also, how does the kitchen sharing work? Do you work out a schedule?


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Many thanks for your encouraging words, folks--I truly appreciate it.

Would you mind sharing what neighborhood you are in and where you will be going?

Any chance you can venture out for an Acai energy bowl? That was one of my favorite treats last time we visited.

I currently live in Clairemont Mesa, which for those of you not very familiar with San Diego is north of downtown, inland (east) a little ways from Pacific Beach, and just south of MCAS Miramar. It's also just west of Kearny Mesa, with its major agglomeration of (mostly) Asian restaurants and shops on and around Convoy Street. (I assume MCAS Miramar used to run convoys down that street, thus the name.)

I will soon be moving to Mission Valley, just east of that lovely landmark :wink: Qualcomm Stadium, in a little neighborhood known as Grantville. One of the major food features of that neighborhood that I'm especially excited about is Iowa Meat Farms, one of the few independent butcher shops in this town, and a place with an excellent reputation. Hopefully I will have at least pictures, and maybe even some product, to show you from this joint.

As to the Acai energy bowl--wow, I hadn't even heard of that place, but when I looked where it was located I wasn't surprised--it's right in the middle of the Pacific Beach strip, which I usually avoid like crazy due to the usual tourist conjestion. But offseason in the middle of the week, I might actually find parking down there, so I'll see if I can swing by there.

Okay, I have done battle with circuitcity.com and have been told my new camera awaits me, so off to start my errands. See y'all shortly ...

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Okay, I lied--one more quick answer, and then I'm off:

A couple questions...how will your new situation differ in terms of cooking options?  Is it just improved ventilation, or are your new roomies more adventurous all around when it comes to things culinary?

Also, how does the kitchen sharing work?  Do you work out a schedule?

The new kitchen, while smaller, is a bit more modern and much better maintained, and has a proper ventilation system. Also, my new roommate loves to cook, and isn't afeered of major cooking smells. Not sure yet how we'll work the kitchen-sharing, but as I work at home and he works in a store, plus is another musician with rehearsals elsewhere two nights a week, I'll have huge blocks of kitchen time all to myself--bwahahahah!!!

Okay, now I'm really off (as if you didn't know that already...)

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Hola MizDucky, or perhaps I should make that welcom to the hood :biggrin: I'm about 4 miles Northeast of your new digs.

You will love IMFs. A little spendy, but I've never had a bad piece of meat from them. Here's the skinny on Iowa Meats. Local restauranteur David Cohn is from originally from Souix City, IA. When he moved to SD he opened Iowa Meat Farms and went into the meat business. It was slow at first so he got the idea to open a restaurant to supplement the meat biz. So was birthed the Corvette Diner, a favorite local joint. Both IMFs and the Cohn restaurant empire grew from there. Did you know that the Cohns also own Sisel's Meats in Bay Park as well? Their steaks are good, their pork even better. Try the thick, slab bacon and breakfast sausage. They also have an amazing selection of jarred and bottled sauces of every imaginable variety; probably the widest, most complete selection in SD. Plus, their butchers are knowledgable about how to cook each piece of meat they sell and will gladly give you instructions.

A few blocks down the street from IMFs is Farmer's Outlet which is a pretty decent vegetable market with a good choice of Middle Eastern and Mexican ingredients.

Mission Gorge Rd. is home to every fast food franchise you can imagine. But tucked away in the sea of strip malls are a few interesting independents. You can get a pretty good sushi fix at Jump Tokoyo, which is right next door to SD Brewing Company, whose beer is pretty good. Happy Chef and Mandarin Szchewan will do for Chinese in a pinch, well actually, the lunch special at Mandarin Szchewan is pretty decent, but you'll never mistake it for Convoy St. :raz: For checkered tablecloth style Italian you're less than 5 mintues from 2 of San Diego's oldest establishments, Nicolosi's and Fillipi's. If you go to Fillipi's it's right next door to the seductively named Camel's Breath Inn, and if you go there, I want, no I demand, a full report :wink: But for really good Italian, try Trattoria Antica in the Von's shopping center on Lake Murry Blvd. , which will be less than 10 mintues from your door. Or keep driving East on Mission Gorge until you get to Santee and try Trattoria di VI, the best kept dining secret in East County.

Oh, and let's not forget Longhorn's for burgers and Troy for Greek, also been around 25+ years or so.

You're entering suberbia where real hole in the wall dining does exist, but you're gonna have to ferret it out.

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Kiss the ground for me, mizDucky...anywhere in San Diego will do. :laugh:

Miramar was an NAS (Naval Air Station) up until recently and I don't doubt the naming of Convoy has a military connection. There's a large military housing presence (I was going to say "navy housing" but I am sure that's expanded over the years to include the other military branches) in Linda Vista, Tierrasanta and Serra Mesa which are respectively south, far east and southeast from Convoy.

Such a small world...my SIL works at the Grantville post office.

I believe Grantville just got a new trolley stop, too, so that area is happening now. :cool:

Remember Rory's? They used to be next to Iowa Meat Farms. It was a '50's retro joint serving up hot dogs and frozen yogurt. One of the rare failed Cohen family (Dakota's, Indigo Grill, Blue Point, etc) restaurants. I think the Cohens even own Iowa Meats, too.

I am looking forward to your culinary adventures and roaming the streets of San Diego vicariously with you!


“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

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When I saw the teaser of food pics, I thought California, but I didn't guess it would be you. mizducky is a person of excellent taste, folks. Any Afghan food in your immediate future? :wink:

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Despite the change of plans/change of title, you're still going to give us some "Tightwad Gourmand" tips and tricks, right? I could use 'em!

Blog on, Ducky, I'm looking forward to it!


"It is impossible not to love someone who makes toast for you."

-Nigel Slater

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Miz Ducky, what a nice surprise! Moving's such an exciting adventure. Thanks for bringing us along and just think, since you'll be only five minutes away from the Camel's Breath Inn, when the wind is going the right way, you should be able to catch a whiff of the camel breath. (Did it escape from the San Diego Zoo?) This is a great month to do budget food, after holiday blow-outs.

Bloggin', bloggin', bloggin', keep those duckies bloggin'....

Zuke


"I used to be Snow White, but I drifted."

--Mae West

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Bloggin', bloggin', bloggin', keep those duckies bloggin'....

:laugh::laugh:

I'm so glad I like that song. It'll be stuck in my head for a couple of days now.


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

"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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What?????

You started blogging and didn't give me a heads-up?

*pout* (can't find an emoticon for this one)

I'm looking forward to more of your missives from disgustingly sunny San Diego.

See if you can't work the San Diego Trolley into one of your pix. Pleeeeease? (Or are they like most transit systems and don't allow eating on the trains?)


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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From one mid-move blogger to another, more power to you sistah! :cool:

Looking forward to seeing what this week has in store for you.


Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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Oh yeah--despite my fondness for Frank Zappa, there will be no corn sandwiches in this blog

WaWhaWHAAT???

:biggrin:

I beg you to reconsider! :cool:


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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I want a New Toy (oh ay oh), to keep my head expanding (ta).

I want a New Toy (oh ay oh), nothing too demanding (ta).

--Lena Lovich (song originally written by Thomas Dolby)

I am now the proud owner of an Olympus FE-100, a basic little 4.0 megapixel jobbie that will be more than adequate for my relatively simple photographic needs.

I then took my new toy over to the aforementioned Convoy Street in search of lunch.

San Diego used to have an actual Chinatown, in the area now known as the Gaslamp District--back in the day, that whole area was known as the Stingaree and was basically the red-light district. But since then it's been all the way down and then back up as a gentrified tourist area, and all that remains of Chinatown are some lovingly restored buildings, a museum, and maybe a couple of active businesses. The Convoy Street area isn't really a proper "Chinatown" in that there's little actual housing here--just block after block of strip malls jam-packed with restaurants, groceries, and other businesses catering to a variety of Asian ethnic groups, interspersed with a few Anglo-American businesses and a bunch of auto dealerships (and the occasional adult bookstore--the more things change, as they say...)

My destination for today's lunch was a joint I had noticed but not actually gone into before--I was alerted to its potential by mmm-yoso's most excellent blog. Jamillah Garden is a Halal-certified Islamic Chinese restaurant; while it tries to cover all the bases of various Chinese cuisines on behalf of San Diego's sizeable Muslim community, if I was remembering Kirk/mmm-yoso's recommendations correctly, the dishes to really check out were the specialties that actually hail from the Northern Chinese Muslim community. So: here's the joint itself:

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...and here is what I ordered:

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"Green onion pies"

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"Lamb dough slice chow mein"

These are both dishes to which Kirk gave the thumbs-up, and I agree. The green onion pies were served fresh off the griddle--the flavor was extremely mild, but the texture very pleasant, flaky and toasty and slightly oily like parathas. The "lamb dough slice chow mein" (that's what the English says on the menu) requires a little more explanation. These noodles are handmade, apparently sliced off a roll of dough right when the order is fired--and they're wonderful, soft yet chewy, very freeform. The noodles are then incorporated into what seems to be a nicely done, fairly standard chow mein dish--only with lamb, apparently a favorite meat of the Northern Chinese Muslims. The lamb was pleasant, but alas for this lamb-lover it didn't taste particularly lamb-like. Also in the dish were generous bits of scrambled egg, slivers of scallion and carrot and other assorted veggies, all bound together in a well-flavored mild brown sauce. All in all, a terrific comfort food dish, as the relative simplicity of the flavors was more than made up for by those fabulous noodles.

After a few more work-related errands, I'm now back home, and drinking some of this:

gallery_28661_3_511886.jpg

Pure cherry juice is the gouty carnivore's friend! I try to have some kind of real cherry product around at all times, because even with meds the little crystals try to gang up on me, and while I've cut my meat consumption radically I'm just not willing or able to go totally vegetarian.

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I met Ms Lovich once. She had black nail polish.

But Frank! Will you at least call any vegatable by name? :smile:


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Hola MizDucky, or perhaps I should make that welcom to the hood  :biggrin: I'm about 4 miles Northeast of your new digs.

You will love IMFs.  A little spendy, but I've never had a bad piece of meat from them.  Here's the skinny on Iowa Meats.  Local restauranteur David Cohn is from originally from Souix City, IA.  When he moved to SD he opened Iowa Meat Farms and went into the meat business.  It was slow at first so he got the idea to open a restaurant to supplement the meat biz.  So was birthed the Corvette Diner, a favorite local joint.  Both IMFs and the Cohn restaurant empire grew from there.  Did you know that the Cohns also own Sisel's Meats in Bay Park as well?

(Much other incredibly useful info snipped solely to conserve bandwidth--mizd.)

You're entering suberbia where real hole in the wall dining does exist, but you're gonna have to ferret it out.

Thanks for the warm welcome, kalypso, not to mention all that useful info! I have gone to Seisel's Meats and was quite impressed, which was part of why I was so excited to see how near I will soon be to their original biz. And I'd been eyeing that vegetable stand--I hope to capture it for this blog later on in the week.

Kiss the ground for me, mizDucky...anywhere in San Diego will do. :laugh:

Heh. If I can be sure I can get back up off the ground without screwing up the Creaky Knees, I will most certainly do so. :biggrin:

Any Afghan food in your immediate future?  :wink:

Ah. Doing a Khyber Pass run is definitely tempting, but as you saw on your visit, parking in that stretch of Hillcrest can be a royal pain. But I will see what I can do ...

Despite the change of plans/change of title, you're still going to give us some "Tightwad Gourmand" tips and tricks, right? I could use 'em!

Oh, most definitely! Stand by for an upcoming post ...

What?????

You started blogging and didn't give me a heads-up?

*pout* (can't find an emoticon for this one)

I'm looking forward to more of your missives from disgustingly sunny San Diego.

See if you can't work the San Diego Trolley into one of your pix.  Pleeeeease?  (Or are they like most transit systems and don't allow eating on the trains?)

Dude! It was supposed to be a surprise, after all! :laugh:

Yeah, the San Diego MTA is a real bear about people eating on their pretty little trains. But, especially as the brand-spankin' new elevated trolley station is right near my new apartment, it will probably at least wind up in a location-establishing photo in a future post. The darn thing really is quite glitzy--you'd love it.

Oh yeah--despite my fondness for Frank Zappa, there will be no corn sandwiches in this blog

WaWhaWHAAT???

:biggrin:

I beg you to reconsider! :cool:

Oooooooh ... I dunno ... I just *know* that Frank's childhood food fave must have involved canned corn, and after many childhood summers of savoring New Jersey truck farm butter-and-sugar corn on the cob, I just can't seem to get excited about the canned stuff. Maybe if I made an upscale version with fresh-off-the-cob corn and freshly made garlic mashed potatoes on some kind of artisanal bread ... :biggrin:

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Lamb noodles! Great start to a blog! I think those handmade noodles are made the same way as Mongolian soup noodles, though cooked differently.

Green onion breads - yum! (I've only ever made them at home, always curious about what they're actually served with in restaurants?)

I think the blog jinx got to you - my digicam also sputtered and died as I tried to take my first blog photo, and thanks to that, we how have a Panasonic Lumix LZ2!

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I met Ms Lovich once.  She had black nail polish.

But Frank! Will you at least call any vegatable by name? :smile:

Heh. You have no idea how huge a temptation it has been to strew this entire blog with food-related Zappa quotes. Food items definitely seemed to appeal to his sense of humor ... but alas, I don't want to run too far off-topic or off-fair use guidelines, so I'm going to content myself with only the occasional topical epigram here and there.

Meanwhile, as to my Tightwad Gourmand rules--actually, I don't have rules so much as a general heuristic (now there's a computer geek-atroid term!) with regard to having fun with food on a budget. The guiding principle is: of course you can produce incredible results in the kitchen with high-grade ingredients and professional-quality equipment, but it's important to realize that pretty much all the world's great cuisines (as John Whiting pointed out in his cassoulet missive) started out as dishes made by poor people making do with whatever oddments they could not afford to let go to waste.

So, as a self-styled 21st century urban peasant, po-mo bohemian variant, I give myself permission to explore the possibilities of bargain basement ingredients, gear from Target, and other declasse stuff. The magic, at base, is in good technique--if your technique is crap, the finest ingredients and gear in the universe will not save your dinner. (This is not to say that my technique is sterling--far from it--but I'm no slouch if I do say so myself...)

Likewise, behind many of those unpromising-looking mom'n'pop storefronts are excellent cooks transforming humble ingredients with fabulous technique--all it takes is an adventurous soul (and a cast-iron stomach) to seek them out.

This is one of many reasons why I am also a huge Tony Bourdain fan--because he gets all the above and celebrates it. That, and he also celebrates offal--a related concept, as offal traditionally has been poor folks' food. Oh yeah, and it doesn't hurt that he vaguely reminds me of Lou Reed ... :biggrin:

Hauling this further back on topic: all the above does relate not only to the food joints I'll be showing y'all, but also to what I'm thinking of cooking Saturday night. I'm not planning to get particularly spendy on the ingredients for that session. In fact, I'm thinking of trying out another of the dishes from the Chinese home cooking pictorials of our esteemed specialist Mr W.K. Leung a.k.a. "hzrt8w". Either that, or if I discover that pork belly's on special at the local 99 Ranch, I'm going to have myself a little oinkfest a la Daniel. :smile:

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    • By Panaderia Canadiense
      Wow, this is my third foodblog for the eGullet….  Welcome!   I'll be with you from Palm Sunday through Holy Sunday to give you all a taste of the veritable food festival that is Easter in Ecuador.  As usual, I intend to eat on the streets, visit a plethora of small shops and vendors, and talk about (and eat copious amounts of ) the specialty dishes of the holiday.
       
      A bit of background on me and where I am.  I'm Elizabeth; I'm 33 years old and since the last foodblog I've ceased to be a Canadian expat in Ecuador, and become a full-fledged Ecuadorian citizen.  I run a catering bakery out of Ambato, and I deliver to clients on the entire mainland.  I've got a large customer base in nearby Baños de Agua Santa, a hot-springs town about an hour downslope of me to the east; I'll be visiting it on Wednesday with close to 100 kg of baked goods for delivery.  Ambato, the capital of Tungurahua province, is located almost exactly in the geographic centre of Ecuador.  It's at an average elevation of 2,850 meters above sea level (slightly higher than Quito, the capital) - but this is measured in the downtown central park, which is significantly lower than most of the rest of the city, which extends up the sides of the river valley and onto the high plain above.  We've got what amounts to eternal late springtime weather, with two well-marked rainy seasons.  Ambato has about 300,000 people in its metro area; it's the fourth largest city in the country.  But maybe the most important thing about Ambato, especially to foodies, is that it's a transport hub for the country.  Anything travelling just about anywhere has to pass through Ambato on the way; it gives us the largest, best-stocked food market in South America.  I have simply staggering variety at my fingertips.
       

       
      This view, which was a teaser for the blog, was taken from my rooftop terrazzo.  It is a fraction of the panorama of the river valley that I see every morning, and since Easter is traditionally somewhat miserable weather-wise, the clouds stick to the hilltops.  The barrio you can see in the middle distance is Ficoa, one of the most luxury districts in the city.  Ambato is notable amongst Ecuadorian cities for having small fruit farms (300-500 m2) still operating within city limits and even within its most established barrios - it's from this that the Ambato gets one of its two sobriquets: The City of Fruits and Flowers.  The tendency for even the poorest barrios to take tremendous pride in their greenspaces gives the other: The Garden City.  My barrio, Miraflores Alto, is a working-class mixture of professors and labourers, and my neighbours keep a mixture of chickens, turkeys, and ducks in their yards; someone down the hill has a cow that I frequently hear but have never seen.  Consequently, if the season is right I can buy duck eggs from my neighbours (and if the season is wrong, entire Muscovy ducks for roasting.)
       

       
      Today, I'll be doing my largest fresh-food shopping at the Mercado Mayorista, the largest market of its kind in South America - this place covers nearly 30 square blocks, and it exists to both buy and sell produce from across the country.  Sundays and Mondays it also opens up to a huge, raucous farmer's market where smaller quantities are available for purchase.  Sunday is the day of the freshest food and the largest number of vendors.  And I'm going to cross more than half the city to get there - I've moved since the last blog, and my new house, on the slopes of the river valley is further away than the old one on the high plain.  I promise to take many pictures of this - particularly close to the High Holy days, the Mayorista is alive with vendors and there will be special sections cordoned off for sales of bacalao, truly enormous squashes, and if it follows the previous years' trends, a festival of Hornado (about which more later).  Apart from mangoes, which are just finishing up their season, it is harvest time across the country, and the Mayorista will be well stocked with all manner of fruits and vegetables.
       

       
      To start us off, I'll demystify one of my teasers a bit.
       

       
      The Minion head that peeks out of my cupboard every day belongs to my jar of ChocoListo, the Ecuadorian equivalent of chocolate Ovaltine.  Since I gave up coffee for Lent, it's my go-to morning beverage.  ChocoListo normally comes in the plain white jar with orange lid that you see in front of the Minion; that's now my hot chocolate jar because I just couldn't resist when the company came out with the specialty jars.  I firmly believe that one is never too old to have whimsical things!
       

    • By therese
      Good morning, y’all, and welcome to the party chez Therese.
      As per the teaser, this week’s foodblog does indeed come to you from Atlanta, where I live with my two children (hereafter known as Girl and Boy) and husband (hereafter known as The Man). Girl is 11, Boy is 14, and The Man is old enough to know better.
      Atlanta’s huge: the total metro population is about 4 million, and there are no physical boundaries to growth like rivers or mountain ranges, so people just keep moving (and commuting) farther and farther out of town. Atlantans can be divided into ITP (inside the perimeter) and OTP (outside the perimeter), the perimeter referring to the interstate freeway that encircles the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods, separating it from outlying suburbs. The politically minded may note that these areas could be designated red and blue. I’ll let you figure out which is which.
      We’re about as ITP as it gets, with home, work, school, and restaurants all in walking distance. The neighborhood’s called Druid Hills, the setting for the play/movie “Driving Miss Daisy”. The houses date from the 1920s, and because Atlanta has so little in the way of “old” buildings the neighborhood’s on the National Register as a Historic District. Charming, sure, buts lots of the houses need some updating, and ours (purchased in 1996) was no exception. So we remodeled last year, including an addition with a new kitchen, and this week’s blog will look at the finished product.
      So, some encouragement for those of you presently involved in kitchen renovation, some ideas for those who are considering it.
      But never mind all that for the moment: What’s for breakfast?


      Dutch babies, that’s what. And even better, these Dutch babies are produced by my children, the aforementioned Girl and Boy. The first picture is right from the oven, the second is after the somewhat messy job of sifting powdered sugar on top. They are delicious (the Dutch babies, I mean, not the children) and a great weekend treat.

      The Man drinks coffee in the morning whereas I prefer tea. He's not up yet, having played poker last night. I'm hoping he makes it out of bed in time for dinner.

      I also eat fruit whereas he prefers, well, anything but fruit. This is not such a bad thing, as it means that I don’t have to share the fruit. Pomegranates are a pain to eat, but not so bad if you’re reading the newspaper at the same time. This one’s from California, but you can also grow them here if you’ve got enough sunshine (which I don’t).
    • By Shelby
      Good morning, everyone and happy Monday!  
       
      It's me again....that girl from Kansas. 
       
       
      This is VERY spur-of-the-moment.  I was sitting here yesterday thinking of all of the canning etc. that I needed to do this week and I thought, well, why not ask you guys if you want to spend the week with me while I do it?  I got the ok from Smithy so away we go!
       
      This will not be nearly as organized as my first blog was.  But, really, when does a sequel ever measure up to the first?     
       
      Most of you know all about me--if you missed my first blog you can read it here.
       
      Nothing much has changed around here.  Same furry babies, same house, same husband  .
       
      Right now we have field corn planted all around the house.  In the outer fields we have soybeans that were planted after the wheat was harvested.  Sorry for the blur....it was so humid the camera kept fogging up.
       

       
      I just came in from the garden.
       
      I snapped a few pictures....for more (and prettier) pictures you can look in the gardening thread.  I always start out saying that I will not let a weed grow in there.  By August I'm like..."Oh what's a few weeds" lol.
       
       
       
      Here's a total list of what I planted this year:
       
      7 cucumbers
      8 basil
      23 okra
      4 rows assorted lettuce
      20 peppers-thai, jalapeño, bell, banana
      4 rows peas
      5 cilantro
      1 tarragon
      2 dill
      many many red and white onions
      7 eggplant
      3 rows spinach
      57 tomatoes
      5 cherry tomatoes
      7 rows silver queen sweet corn
      11 squash
      4 watermelon
      2 cantaloupe
      6 pumpkin
       
      I killed the cantaloupes...and I tried damn hard to kill the squash lol.....sigh...squash bugs came early this year and we sprayed with some kind of stuff.  WOW the plants did not like it, but they've come back and are producing.
       


      I just love okra flowers

      Found some more smut   
       

       
       
       
       
       
       
    • By Pille
      Tere õhtust (that’s „Good evening“ in Estonian)!
      I’m very, very, very excited to be doing my first ever eGullet foodblog. Foodblogging as such is not new to me – I’ve been blogging over at Nami-nami since June 2005, and am enjoying it enormously. But this eGullet blog is very different in format, and I hope I can ’deliver’. There have been so many exciting and great food blogs over the years that I've admired, so the standard is intimidatingly high! Also, as I’m the first one ever blogging from Estonia, I feel there’s a certain added responsibility to ’represent’ my tiny country
      A few words about me: my name is Pille, I’m 33, work in academia and live with my boyfriend Kristjan in a house in Viimsi, a suburb just outside Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. I was born and schooled in Tallinn until I was 18. Since then I've spent a year in Denmark as an exchange student, four years studing in Tartu (a university town 180 km south), two years working in Tallinn and seven years studying and working in Edinburgh, the bonnie & cosmopolitan capital of Scotland. All this has influenced my food repertoire to a certain degree, I'm sure. I moved back home to Estonia exactly 11 months and 1 day ago, to live with Kristjan, and I haven't regretted that decision once Edinburgh is an amazing place to live, and I've been back to Scotland twice since returning, but I have come to realise that Tallinn is even nicer than Edinburgh
      I won’t be officially starting my foodblog until tomorrow (it’s midnight here and I’m off to bed), but I thought I’ll re-post the teaser photos for those of you who missed them in the 'Upcoming Attractions' section. There were two of them. One was a photo of Tallinn skyline as seen from the sea (well, from across the bay in this case):

      This is known as kilukarbivaade or sprat can skyline A canned fish product, sprats (small Baltic herrings in a spicy marinade) used to have a label depicting this picturesque skyline. I looked in vain for it in the supermarket the other day, but sadly couldn’t find one - must have been replaced with a sleek & modern label. So you must trust my word on this sprat can skyline view
      The second photo depicted a loaf of our delicious rye bread, rukkileib. As Snowangel already said, it’s naturally leavened sour 100% rye bread, and I’ll be showing you step-by-step instructions for making it later during the week.

      It was fun seeing your replies to Snowangel’s teaser photos. All of you got the continent straight away, and I was pleased to say that most of you got the region right, too (that's Northern Europe then). Peter Green’s guess Moscow was furthest away – the capital of Russia is 865 km south-east from here (unfortunately I've never had a chance to visit that town, but at least I've been to St Petersburgh couple of times). Copenhagen is a wee bit closer with 836 km, Stockholm much closer with 386 km. Dave Hatfield (whose rural French foodblog earlier this year I followed with great interest, and whose rustic apricot tart was a huge hit in our household) was much closer with Helsinki, which is just 82 km across the sea to the north. The ships you can see on the photo are all commuting between Helsinki and Tallinn (there’s an overnight ferry connection to Stockholm, too). Rona Y & Tracey guessed the right answer
      Dave – that house isn’t a sauna, but a granary (now used to 'store' various guests) - good guess, however! Sauna was across the courtyard, and looks pretty much the same, just with a chimney The picture is taken in July on Kassari in Hiiumaa/Dagö, one of the islands on the west coast. Saunas in Estonia are as essential part of our life – and lifestyle – as they are in Finland. Throwing a sauna party would guarantee a good turnout of friends any time
      Finally, a map of Northern Europe, so you’d know exactly where I’m located:

      Head ööd! [Good night!]
      I'm off to bed now, but will be back soon. And of course, if there are any questions, however specific or general, then 'll do my best trying to answer them!
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