Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cruisin: Catalina

Our first port was Catalina Island. You have already heard me wax poetic about the island’s pleasures.

Dating of the construction of the Green Pleasure Pier Pier varies by several sources. Here's what they say: 1) Pier Green or the Green Pleasure Pier is listed as being constructed in 1910. 2) The pier was constructed in 1920. 3) The current pier is a replacement of the original, built by the Department of War in 1907 but destroyed by a winter storm in 1908. The Green Pleasure Pier is approximately 407 feet long and contains wooden planks on its causeway. -Beach California

Catalina regulars always tell you the best fish and chips on the island is at the green building on the pier. I was not very impressed with my fried fish sandwich and didnt even finish it. So maybe I had the wrong building. This one is kind of light turquoise. I think I was supposed to go to Rosie's. Next time.

Antonio's Original Pizzaria is a red checker tablecloth joint that's been around for 30 years. Don't confuse it with Antonio's Pizzaria and Cabaret by the water.

You are also familiar with my love of Original Antonio’s cheese crisp from my Catalina Story. I am still in love with them. Here is one before it goes into the oven

And after mmm...cheese and pepperoncini

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I recently took a 3-day cruise to Baja. After the food we had eaten on the cruise to Alaska, I was none too sure what my dining options would be. But hey, I was going to Mexico, right? So what the hell. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the food on the Carnival Cruise line far exceeded the food on Princess.

The interior cabin – the one that is advertised as the “starting price” was teensy weensy. I was afraid I would fall out of bed. But once I cuddled up in the overhead bunk with a comfortingly secure wooden bar on the side, I slept like a babe in a manger. Pitch-black and quiet, I sometimes slept through the afternoon.

These towel animals do kind of freak me out a little though.

The painting on the wall was of something we started calling “meatball bushes”.

First I checked out the buffet. Huge buffets are hard to do. Plus this is where screaming children in wet bathing suits went to shriek. After reconnaissance, we ate in the dining room most of the time.

One thing buffets do really well is dessert

Nice views in the dining room

Carnival is all about FUN. And dang it you are going to have F-U-N at any price. Even in the chic dining room the waiters put on some kind of song and dance every night. It takes true talent to take orders while dancing like you work at Chippendales.

The dinners ranged between satisfactory and surprisingly delicious. My friend turned me on to the fact that on a cruise you can order three entrees if you want. In fact, you can order three appetizers and all of the desserts. Dangerous information.

A typical app was tempura shrimp

One thing I found out early was that they could cook the hell out of a steak, so that became my fallback meal. Sides were super old-school. The mac and cheese was made with a delicious béchamel. But what was up with the peas? They were also in a rich béchamel with…are those pimentos? What year is this? Once I gave the peas a fair chance I kind of liked them.

I keep checking the color, but the prime rib really was this color

Mmm short ribs

Another fallback was the chocolate soufflé. Can’t miss. Oh, and then there was the Grand Marnier soufflé in case you got bored. They made an excellent ceme anglaise.

Food I have no memory of eating:

What do you want to bet that the guy in the middle is the choreographer

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Recipe Cards on Parade: Frozen Salads

Yum! Don't the words frozen and salad together in one dish make your mouth water?

Aren't you tempted to just jump right into the computer screen?

This recipe is a sweet one! Let's see, cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, salt, canned apricot halves, crushed pineapple, canned cherries, and marshmallows. So it's sort of a frozen ambrosia.

So what makes it a salad? It's served on lettuce.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Accidental Nazis with Brad Pitt

See Brad Pitt eat a wasabi swastika!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Recipe Cards on Parade: Tangy Tomato Aspic

Oooh, tangy!

Tangy is another word whose appeal has fallen by the wayside. Combined with aspic - which is actually lemon Jell-O in this recipe, and tomatoes, how can you go wrong? Why not add some vinegar, onion juice, celery and cloves.

If that doesn't get your juices flowing, the recipe recommends that you serve with a side of mayonnaise. Or you can fill the ring with your favorite seafood sald.

That is the beauty of the ring mold. You can fill it with anything. Anything at all.

Come on, what else is in the cupboard?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Central CA: Nipomo by the Sea

As long as I was taking the long way home, I thought I might as well visit my brother, Johnny, who was hosting a BBQ at the local bar. But first I had to make a stop at the traveler's mecca of strange - The Madonna Inn. I loved coming here as a child, with the profusion of giant pink pastries, and carousel bar.

Even something as simple as an iced tea to go gets a little touch of whimsy with a rock candy stirrer to sweeten the tea.

Their dining room is a trip, centered around a gigantic gold tree with Pepto-Bismol pink booths. I considered getting married here, but they were really uptight about noise and curfews so I knew that was not for my family.

The rooms are all themed, the "caveman room" being the most popular. There are a lot of rock-themed rooms. Some of them are just lime green from top to bottom. Seriously creepy. And the names are usually unrelated to the themes, which most often seem to be "made over basement" or "staying in Uncle Al's guest room in the basement"

Check out the rooms

These are a few of the most amazing ones

Blue much?


Do not take acid and stay in this room

For the 12-year old Brady in you

Krazy Daisy..the names are getting more appropriate

Just look at this ceiling

OK I can't stand it any more

They even have a little tiny bathroom especially for little girls. The boys bathroom has a trough, and another men's room has a waterfall.

I picked up a pastry for Johnny and headed over to the Nipomo Saloon. Yeah, this is the kind of town where you have the Nipomo barbershop, the Nipomo Foot Clinic, and Nipomo Sushi all in a row.

I arrived too late for the BBQ and missed out on Johnny's tri-tip. Luckily the Saloon is right across the street from Jocko's. Jocko's is the only reason some people even know Nipomo exists. The bartender called me in an order and when I got there I discovered a steak and garlic bread cut into little bites and stuck with frilly toothpicks like at a cocktail party. They were down with the saloon.

So I was also behind everyone on the drinking. Beer was flowing, a super loud ragtag band of sorts was playing, and the guy who points in the air was pointing.

Even when sitting he can't stop pointing. It's the rock and roll that does it. Or whatever's on tap.

It's pretty contagious

The golden sun looked beautiful on the hay. I know, I have a brother who lives where they sell hay! It must be in our blood. It just makes me want to point my fingers in the air!