Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ba Ren - San Diego Ca

What a night for tripping on curbs and photog mishaps. Oh vey. Tired of the rotation of pizza houses on our quest for the best pizza in town, Taylor and I decided while Sue is on assignment on the East coast covering Tony Gwynn's induction into the hall of fame and rating the hot dogs at Shea and Yankee stadiums after dogging our hot dog review of Dodger dogs. We needed a palette cleansing meal and a much needed respite from the normal restaurant's we usually roll with.

After hearing from friends and fellow bloggers about Ba Ren. We decided to take no chances and go with solid a recommendation from knowledgeable bloggers like Kirk the main man at mmm-yoso!!!. We arrived before the sunset and parked in the rear of the place. We walked to the front to get a picture of the building and after I took this very bad picture, Taylor trips on the curb and smashes a gash in his knee. Nice start. We stroll into the place Taylor with bloody knee and all. We were seated immediately and someone brought out and ice pack and bandages. After myself and half the staff operated on Taylor's knee it was time to peruse through the massive and one of the most interesting menus I have ever seen. It had everything from frog legs to duck, Lamb to eel casserole. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I will be the first to admit that I am not an expert on the Szechuan style of Chinese cuisine. Not that we haven't been to any. It's just that like a lot of restaurants in town it just never interested me in San Diego because I have never had really good food at any of the other so called Sezcuan eateries around town.

After a few moments of debate and a Tsingtao we decided on what to order. Taylor, being the youngest of the foodopolis crew ordered from the American style side of the menu. That old chestnut, Orange chicken Szechuan style. Me, Lamb casserole and Garlic flavored spare ribs. Being Italian anything with garlic in it can't be all that bad.

I must say that we were the only Anglos in the joint. A great sign by the way. If you ever go to an Asian restaurant and there ain't no Asians in the place. Run don't walk to another eatery. You never want to buy a Ford from a Chevy dealer and you don't want your Carne Asada burrito made by some guy named Todd from Encino.

The Lamb Casserole was the first dish up. Wow. Surprised I was at how it resembled a bowl of Pho from a Vietnamese soup house. Only this bowl had many depths to it. Number one, heat. and number two, more heat. But this was one of those different kind of heats. This was a heat with layers of flavors. Not just a single dimensional Jalapeno heat. No, This heat was on a par with the heat that comes with that first passionate kiss you and your true love have. That is real heat. that leaves you flushed for more. AMAZING!, I have never had a culinary experience like that. an Epiphany of culinary delight.

At first it seems to be too hot to eat. then your mind and body literally warm over and you start to get into a calm state and the more you eat, the more the heat doesn't effect you and you get into a culinary transcendental state of awareness. With heat comes depth, character and flavor!
Nice stuff.

Next up. Orange Chicken. Hot and spicy as well. But with out that many layered depths of heat as the Lamb. This was done quite well. No sugar coated Pick up Stix orange flavored candy oozing over it. It had the most mild but yet intense orange flavor to it. Made with large chunks of the orange skin which by the high heat of the pan it was cooked in had fried up to a crisp and all of the essential oils had been extruded into the sauce. Excellent dish as well.

As you can tell more bad photos. Ugh! We are working on that, so bare with us. Anyone want a staff photographers job? No pay but lots of bene's. Anyway. The last to arrive was the Garlic Flavored Spare Ribs.

Interesting flavors again here. Crispy fried pieces of spare ribs covered in a light slightly sweet coating and then diced and sauteed pieces of garlic poured over it.and NO HEAT! What a knockout. We started out with hot stuff then ended up with a very sweet dish. I am still trying to figure out what they coated these ribs with. light and sweet. Another dish that totally caught me off guard.

What an incredible restaurant. Absolutely on the must go to list in San Diego. Prices are very reasonable for this slightly off the beaten path family restaurant. Remember though. HOT, HOT STUFF served here. But if you can feel your way through the burn. Your palete will congratulate you with depths of flavors you have never experienced before.

Ba Ren

4957 Diane Ave

San Diego

(858) 279-2520

再见! (good bye in Chinese. hopefully)


Jane's Country Kitchen - Lemon Grove

What can you say about a place that immediately sends you back in time anywhere from 1957 to the present when you open the door. That is what Jane's does to you . A small hole in the wall dive in Lemon Grove. The place is filled with regulars. And everyone knows each other, where a cup of coffee and a "hey how Are you" greets a long timer before they even sit down.

The nice thing is when you walk in. They make you feel like your welcome. Just like a small town eatery would in The Andy Griffith Show. All that is missing is Floyd the barber.

This is unpretentious food of love at it's utmost finest. No trying to be anything other than what they have been since they opened. The best breakfast house in San Diego. And I would dare to say in Southern California. Beats out Roscoe's House of Chicken N Waffles and a few other institutions in Los Angeles. This place is still family owned and worked. This is the kind of place you would expect to find Anthony Bourdain sitting in, Drinking coffee and choking down a Marlboro. The sounds of the Beach boys and Zombies, Ritchie Valens and Gerry and the Pacemakers help you to slide into a constant summer of love feeling here. This place gets crowded in the mornings so I would suggest going after 11am.

The menu is all about breakfast. Simple like an In-N-Out menu. What sets the food apart. Is the Omelets. Better come hungry. This is a place you go to when you say to yourself. "This is the last day I'm eating, because tomorrow I go on a diet". This is that place. Omelets range from $6.95 for a small to $16.95 for a Jumbo! No way anyone on this planet has ever finished a Jane's Jumbo omelet by themselves and lived to tell.

The omelets are what they come for here. These boys are not made in an omelet pan. no such pan is big enough to hold these at times shoe box sized concoctions. You have to try the Machaca omelet. I can only eat a small one and that is when I am very hungry. The Machaca at Jane's is in my humble opinion the best I have had in San Diego period. So tender and tasteful. not dry but juicy. Filled with the right amount of shredded beef and bell peppers. The eggs here are used basically as more of a wrapper for the fillings they put in. More of a Protein tortilla.These omelets are bursting with stuffing.

The cook cracks the fresh eggs per order and then pours them on a stainless steel grill. No flipping of the omelets. They fill them with your choice of fillings and then gently fold the egg over it until it looks like a small rolled sleeping bag. Then a cover is put over the top and they are allowed to steam until finished cooking.

They come with fresh and warm large tortillas. The chickens gladly gave up they're eggs for these omelets.

The table has various bottles of homemade salsa as well. The bottles are very old and you can barely make out where it used to say "hot" or " Mild". But either is a good call. the hot ain't so hot and the mild is very mild. Bottles of straight up Habanero sauce are available on request.

Taylor had the Pancakes with bacon , scrambled eggs and potatoes. Large plate and large portions.

The potatoes are very interesting as well. Not really a hash brown, more of a shredded and slightly fried concoction. Very good stuff.

Worth going out of your way to come here. You leave not only feeling full, but also with a sense of what the days of old were all about. Good food, good people Jane's will have you singing some old tunes you haven't heard in years, For the rest of the day.

So Remember, What's your name? Who's your daddy? Answer. Small omelet. Machaca.

Jane's Country Kitchen
8125 Broadway
Lemon Grove

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Chicken Cacciatore ala Tarantino

This week the foodopolis test kitchen staff went on the road to cousin Joe's house for his rendition of the classic dish Chicken Cacciatore. Cacciatore in culinaryease means food prepared "Hunter style". Usually with such wild and "hunted" items as mushrooms and that slow chicken in your chicken pen. Well these days most of us do our hunting in the grocery stores.

Joe's version is slightly different from the classic rendition of this dish. His philosophy on it is a very simple fresh ingredient driven dish that retains all of the individual flavors as they pass by your taste buds.
It is best to make the sauce a day ahead of time for this dish. See our recipe for basic red tomato sauce in our recipe label on the blog.

You can make this dish under 40 minutes and dare I say it. Quite possibly in 30 minutes or less.
We will just call our version the under 40 minutes or less Chicken Cacciatore ala Tarantino.


1 lb -boneless chicken thighs
2 Tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
1-8 ounce package sliced Crimini Mushrooms
3-4 cloves garlic chopped
2 cups basic red tomato sauce. See recipe in recipe section.
1/4 cup Maiderra wine

1/3 cup Pine nuts toasted
Pinch of oregano
salt and pepper to taste.

Grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Heat a good skillet and add the olive oil and chicken saute 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute an additional 3-5 minutes. Add the Madeirra, making sure to remove the pan from any exposed flame prior to adding it. after a couple of minutes add the mushrooms and tomato sauce, Oregano, Pine nuts and salt and pepper. Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to let the sauce tighten up.

Pour the whole mix over a steaming plate of your favorite pasta and sprinkle a generous portion of the Pecorino Romano cheese on top. We like Linguine for this one by the way.
Open a bottle of Chianti and there you have it.



Basic Tomato Sauce

Here is the foodopolis version of basic tomato sauce. My mom used to make it this way but she added a pinch of oregano. There are so many ways and versions to make a basic sauce. As with all recipes, you need to make them your own style. If you want to add a little chili flakes, why not. Or instead of sugar you can dice up really fine a carrot and saute that first for more of a ragu style. And depending on your version or what part of Italy your family is from you either discard the garlic after you saute it to extract it's flavor or keep it in the sauce. Me. I love garlic. I keep it in.


6 Tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil

4 to 5 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped.

1-28 ounce can of whole tomatoes. Best quality you can find. I like Hunts, Progresso or better yet. you can pick up about 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes at your local farmers market instead of the canned stuff.

6 -large fresh basil leaves

1 -Teaspoon sugar

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Place the oil in a sauce pan over high heat. Add the garlic and saute until lightly browned. Be careful not to burn it. At this point you can either retain or discard the garlic. Add the tomatoes, basil, sugar and salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer the sauce over low heat for 30 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

Use on pasta, pizza or anywhere a red sauce is called for. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pink's Hotdog Stand - Los Angeles Ca

When most people think of hot dogs they immediately think of the street corner vendors of New York City. But we on the left coast know that we have some of the greatest hot dog's and hot dog eating establishments in the country and many are right here in Los Angeles. LA might not have vendors with stands on every street corner. But what it does have is the home of the best taco's cooked on mobile trucks that roam the streets like carne asada vending ice cream men. And the best independent hamburger joints anywhere. And a multitude of some of the best Asian restaurants around.

LA's street food has been drastically underrated.

And of course you also have Pinks located on the corner of Melrose and La Brea. Just down the street from the gates of Paramount Pictures. Established in 1939. The same year little Dorothy was being chased by the wicked witch of the west. Both are legendary institutions.

Pink's has been in the same location since it has opened. hundreds of signed photos of the stars line the walls in the building and some even have hot dog's named after them. You just gotta love a place that names a hot dog after Huell Howser and Martha Stewart. Your gonna have to look Huell up if you don't know him. He is almost as legendary in California as Cal Worthington and his dog spot.

Pink's uses a dog made especially for them by that great little California hot dog maker, Hoffy. yup, Hoffy another California company that also makes dogs for the other top dog serving places around Los Angeles, Like Chronis and Cupid's

Pink's is open 24 hours a day and usually has lines around it. But the lines move fast as you yell out your order and by the time you move on to the cashier it's already there.

Chili dogs are the main event here and have been for many years.

The chili I must say has to made from a conglomeration of used motor oil, chili powder and meat. and made at a 3 mile island packing facility. I have never seen anything like this concoction.

Not saying bad. Just different. it doesn't drip, it doesn't move and the more you move the chili dog away from the mother ship of Pink's. it coagulates into a concrete type substance. You have to get used to this stuff. You have to remember that no one ever took that first sip of beer and said. "Wow, that's good". It is an acquired taste. I even held one upside down for a picture and not a drop spilled.

But what about those dogs. Nice and plump and have that snap and pop when you bite into them. I love that. A true sign of a good dog. Tasty stuff on a steamed fresh bun. They put a good stream of yellow mustard and onions on them before the chili. $2.85on the menu. Chili Cheese dog. $3.20.

Is it the best dog in LA? Maybe. there are to many variables between all of them. Pink's is kitchy and touristy with a late night Bukowski feel to it. You will have to decide that one for yourself. Some legendary eateries have a lot more going for them than just a hot dog.

I had two, Taylor had one. And after a few fries and a Bubble Up. we drove down to the Santa Monica pier and beached ourselves and waited for Sea World to come and pick us up.



709 N. La Brea
Los Angeles CA

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bronx Pizza - San Diego CA

Let's get ready to rumble! After eating our way thru the B side players of the pizza world in San Diego we decided it was time to start the season off right with a trip to the Bronx. Bronx pizza that is in San Diego. Voted numerous times over and over again by everyone from here to the actual Bronx in New York City.

I have been to the Bronx in New York and have eaten pizza in New York, but never the Bronx here in San Diego. So I knew of New York pizza and agreed with everyone from New York that, yes. New York had the best pizza around. I didn't believe that, I did not want to believe that. Especially hearing all these years about how New York pizza is the best. blah blah blah. Well. It is. the quality and abundance of pizza houses in New York is astounding. and the majority are excellent. There is nothing like strolling along Manhattan on a late night and walking into a place and ordering up a slice or two.

Could this concept be duplicated here in Southern California? I had heard of the phony Bronx attitude they put on at Bronx pizza here in town. And I knew that attitude thing was really a myth, a stereotype. Actually New Yorkers are the nicest people. Granted they can be loud. and that can be mistaken for rude at times. Anyway. Taylor and I strolled into Bronx pizza after the lunch rush around 2PM on a Monday afternoon.

Walked up to the counter and ordered 2 slices of the pepperoni and a coke special. $6.00. No hassle, no problem, no phony attitude. Like New York pizza. the workers have a nice crust to them. a personality that we in Southern California lack anyway. we are a homogenized group.

They popped our two slices of pie in the oven and we filled our cup with soda. This place was still packed from lunch and more people coming in.

But soon our order was up. "Two slices, pepperoni!" That was us. By the way the counter filled with pizza's was just a beautiful site. Filled with every kind of pizza you can think of. And the white cheese is ricotta not feta by the way. Italian, not foofy SoCal. This is manly pizza the stuff that massive coronaries are made of.

We grabbed our slices and examined them like the apes from 2001 sniffing out a monolith. it looked like the real thing? But the ultimate question was. Was it good pizza. Remember we are not here looking for New York style or Chicago style. But the best.

It was thin and runny with oil dripping off of it. Our taste buds were watering like a Homer Simpson looking at a fresh box of Krispy Kreme's. The crust was a bit more crisp than I would have thought it to be. But nice and fresh tasting. Nice bite of flour. No corn meal. but very crisp and clean tasting. it folded very well into that NY style. In fact it was the only way you could eat it. The pepperoni had actual taste to it. slightly salty and peppery. and oh my, very greasy. the sign of pepperoni nirvana. Check out the grease coming off this slice.

I have to say that so far this pizza is the best we have had in San Diego. Despite the greasy pepperoni. Which we like. it was light and airy and it knew just what to do. These are large pieces of pie and you can still wolf down two of them no problem. A large whole pie to go starts at $12.50!
Bargain believe me.
So comin out swingin is the Bronx bomber making it's debut at number one on the Quest for the best pizza list. and going to be hard to beat.
Bronx Pizza
111 Washington Street
San Diego Ca

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Little Roma - La Mesa CA

In a small strip mall off of Lake Murray Blvd and Baltimore Drive you will find Little Roma. A family run place that has been open for 9 years and run by Guiseppe from Porticello Sicily. A truly nice man and a quaint neighborhood restaurant. Good prices for the area. Plates range from $2.50 for a bowl of soup to around 8 bucks for a pasta dish. Today Sue and I went in for lunch. a torpedo and meatball sandwich sounded great for a late afternoon meal. We were greeted by the owner and sat near the front of the place. there were 2 other couples eating. Little Roma has a nice wine menu with nice quality selections at a very good prices. We ordered a bottle of Merlot from Maddalena Vineyard out of Los Angeles? never heard of this place, but the owner suggested we try it. $17.00 a bottle. Very nice wine. You know Merlot has been given such a bad name over the last few years and undeservedly so. Done right, it can be liquid heaven. This wine was just that. Very smoky but light, with hits of cherry and apricots. Like a very nice Bordeaux. Excellent selection. We will search for this Winery in our local wine shops.

We of course ordered the obligatory Antipasta to go with our wine and sandwiches. Done very nicely. nice and crisp greens and run of the mill but tasty no less, The standard cuts rolled and piled on top. Provolone cheese, mortadella and a mild salami. A little olive oil and way to much red wine vinegar. But over all a good value at under 5 bucks.

The owner came by and asked us about the wine and chatted a little with us. Seems he suffers from what a lot of people who own restaurants do. Burn out. it was a Saturday and he was musing about wanting to be somewhere else than here. I can understand that. It takes such a passion and desire to run a food establishment. And that passion always shows in the food and service. So far service great. To much information from the owner.

Soon the food arrived. My torpedo looked good from the outside. The bread was nicely toasted and similar in texture to a light French style loaf that many Asian restaurants use. very nice. when in an Italian restaurant I never ask for anything special like, what comes on the torpedo sandwich. I always am curious as to how each place has there own version. This one right away I noticed this yellow streak of mustard on the bread. Mustard? on a torpedo? Fugget about it! Strike one. A true Italian sandwich has no mustard or mayo. only red wine vinegar and olive oil.

Filled with the usual stuff. shredded lettuce. Mild flavored cuts of meat. standard stuff. $5.95 on the menu.

Sue on the other hand had the toasted meatball sandwich. $6.95 on the menu. The owner brought it out to us and quickly exclaimed that if it was to "toasted" for us he would have the guy make another one. It was a little on "toasted" side, but Sue never complains. it was OK by her.

Me, I might have sent it back. Although on the dark side. the meatball sandwich looked good. stuffed with an overload of cheese oozing out everywhere. looked mighty tasty. The bread was the same as the torpedo. nice and light. The sauce was very mild and nothing to scream about. The meatballs on the other hand were very dense and thick. you could tell that they were made in a mixer and mixed for awhile. which is the death of all meatballs. makes them hard and chewy. no taste in these at all. like little rocks of cardboard.
It is really tough to find good eating establishments sometimes. It all goes back to that passion thing. I never really understand why people get into the restaurant business that have no taste or passion for food.
Standard fair here. Go for the owner, he is s nice guy and will chat with you for as long as you like.
Sometimes that alone can be a food of comfort for the soul.
Little Roma
5575 Baltimore Drive
La Mesa Ca
619) 461-7000

Saturday, July 21, 2007

El Callejon Restaurant - Encinitas CA

In the words of the immortal Barry White. "Your the first, the last, my everything" He must have been singing about this restaurant. because it definitely is "the first" meaning best Mexican restaurant in San Diego and "the last" meaning it defines the last word in excellence. and it most assuredly is "my everything" everything that a quality Establishment should be.Oh and let's not forget the size of that guy either. He could have eaten here a lot.

There just is no comparison in San Diego county and most parts of the fronteria zone of Mexico that can come close to the consistent quality of fine cuisine, service and let's not forget the over 750 different bottles of Tequila in the bar! Yup, El Callejon, Meaning small alley or street in Spanish, in Encinitas is all of the above and more.

It is also the winner of our last years Quest for the best Margarita in San Diego. No overly sweet prebottled syrupy stuff that most Mexican restaurant's make they're margaritas with. this place uses only fresh squeezed lime and if you sit in the bar for any length of time you can see just how many limes they squeeze a night. The margaritas are a lesson in mixology. perfect amounts of quality tequila. none of that dark cheap well tequila headache inducing stuff. Nope, these are made with 100% agave, Lime, Triple sec and poured over a highball glass that the rim has been dipped in kosher salt. Ahhhhh, heaven on a hot summer day. One will get you wobbly legged. but worth the shot. Literally.

Have Oscar at the bar mix you one up. This is a very busy mostly locals only kind of place. Has indoor and outdoor seating. the bar gets really packed at night. So be patient, your wait will be worth it. Although a locals kinda place and everyone seems to know everyone there. it is still friendly and unpretentious. Unlike some of the local surf haunts that are up and down the coast. the surfers who surf and turf here are an OK bunch. Check out the 5 page tequila menu from the bar. Nice.

OK, on to the food. When you are first seated they bring to your table a basket of freshly fried chips that are light and crispy. watch out for these of course. They are very addicting and it's a bottomless bowl. The chips come with two kinds of salsa. the traditional Pico de Gallo and a salsa Verde. Both of these are house made and you will be hard pressed to find anywhere any better. The Pico De Gallo sauce has a very nice smoky kinda of back of the mouth heat going on with just a hint of Chippotle chili. just enough for the taste but not enough to overpower it. Fresh and endless little buckets as well. The other is an outstanding Salsa Verde made with Tomatillos and fresh limes. this one has a very interesting sweetness to it. To this day I can' figure where that sweetness comes from. similar to a sweet bbq'd ear of corn. Spectacular!

This is not the place to come and get your fill of dollar tacos at happy hour. this is on a par with some of the excellent European bistro's around town. Plenty of "Berto Brother" places for the low priced stuff. you know the ones. Filibertos, Robertos, Jilibertos, and on and on. that is not to say that El Callejon is expensive. To be sure the prices range from $5.95 to $29.95 per entree.

The owner Bernard Jourdain from Mexico, by way of Belgium. Is a man who has carved out an excellent family run establishment. With one in Encinitas, Vista and El Paso Texas. All family owned and operated.

On this night I had the Tampiquena. Carne Asada served with Enchilada de pueblo, Rajas, rice and re fried beans.

Let's start with the Rajas. Many of you might not be familiar with this exquisite concoction of charred then skinned Anahiem chilis that are sliced and simmered in a creme sauce. Oh my. I used to just order these alone with a couple of corn tortillas. Nice and soft with that mild chili taste and smothered in a light creme sauce. Not on the wheel a meal diet plan that is for sure.

The plate had what was billed as an Enchilda de Peubla on it. basically a big name for a folded corn tortilla that was dipped in enchilada sauce. it went very well though with the rest of the dish. The rice and beans are very very good. nice and fresh and nice flavoring throughout. the rice had a light chicken stock back bone to it. Now on to the best part. The Carne Asada on my plate I at home have never been able to duplicate here at the foodopolis test kitchen. it was nicely charred and marinated to perfection. slight hints of lime and chili. just tender and perfect. Very tender. $17.85 on the menu.

Sue had the Camarones Al Mojo De Ajo. $18.75 on the menu. Nice giant fresh juicy and plump shrimp that were lightly marinated in limes and garlic. and then grilled. Served with a Mexican style ratatouille of a variety of sauteed squash. nice and light and very tasty. the veggies were crisp and not over cooked.

A large portion of shrimp on a bed of the light chicken stock and saffron Spanish rice.

Great place for that first date or anniversary. strolling mariachis at night. a walk on the beach and then maybe a night cap of creme brule and a glass of sherry at the the other best restaurant in San Diego. Calypso. Stay tuned for that review.

El Callejon

345 S. Coast Hwy. 101

Encinitas, CA 92024




Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bottle Shop - El Cajon

Next stop before the majors is Bottle Shop Pizza in Fletcher Hills. Opened 21 years ago and still running strong. This is an institution in the East County of San Diego. It's just a take out place, but next door is Tony's Restaurant. the family's sit down eatery. We will review that at a later time.

This pizza could probably be ranked in at least the top 10 of San Diego if it just had a little more oomph to it. I mean the crust is done nicely and the sauce is just OK. Just no outstanding flavors involved here.

I always seem to start with a review of the Antipasto of the various places we are writing about even though it doesn't count in the Pizza Quest totals. They just seem to go together. I mean you can't order a pizza without a salad it would seem. They just go together.

The Antipasti salad the Bottle Shop is really run of the mill stuff. Similar to a big chains version of what it should be.
At least there is no Vinegar marinated veggies on it. The menu says it will feed 4. I think more like 2-3 people. Pre packaged salad dressings of all varieties. Classic poker night with the boys fair. Filled with cuts of mortadella, salami and provolone.

Good deals on Pizza can be had here. Right now they are having a 2 large pizza deal for $19.99. Not bad at this price.

Like I said the pizza with a little push could be ranked a lot higher and could possibly out rank a few old school top 10 lists out there.
The pizza is a classic looking San Diego version. Lot's of cheese on top with the pepperoni tucked underneath. Seems that the east coast guys like to put it on top. Either way it doesn't matter to me.

The crust was of very good quality and had yellow corn meal on the bottom. I really like the cornmeal addition to pizza. gives it a really good corn back taste. Most use the cornmeal as a granular lubricant spread out on the pizza paddle so the pizza won't stick to it.

As you can see by the photo. lots of cornmeal. good stuff. By the way, we at Foodopolis will be upgrading our photo department shortly. We are finding out that reviewing Italian establishments can be tricky photographically as most are still very dark places.

The crust was fairly think around 1/4 inch or more in places. Had a good fresh dough taste. also the right amount of salt. cooked all the way through. with a nice chewy texture that holds up to the sauce and loads of cheese. No burned pieces of cornmeal or dough on the bottom. nice clean pizza oven.

The pizza had way to much sauce on it and it tended to spill out and over when you bit into it. definitely need a plate under your chin for this pizza. If you order. try telling them to put half the sauce on yours.
The Bottle Shop has always been notoriously slow when ordered for delivery. we ordered at 3:15pm and we didn't get a knock on the door till 5:05pm. That alone can put a damper on a good football game party.

We of course ordered the pepperoni pizza on special. It came delivered hot. the mound of cheese on top had started to pull away from the crust and making it a bit hard to eat without a fork. And we know that unless you are eating pizza with the queen of England. Pizza is a hand held food.

You can't go wrong with using a fresh 100% mozzarella for pizza. Later we will take you to an old school pizza place that might win this competition that doesn't use mozzarella! stay tuned on that one.

I stated earlier that this place could be a contender if they had just a little more power to the mix. case in point. This was a pepperoni pizza we ordered. But it might as well have been a cheese pizza. The pepperoni had no taste at all and added nothing to the mounds of cheese and crust and overloaded sauce. waste. Hormel pepperoni all the way.

The sauce was mild and too much of it. over all it is still definitely a cut above the chain stuff.

Now in the second spot. We give you.

The Bottle Shop
2447 Fletcher Pkwy
(619) 469-8410



Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Huli Huli Chicken

Another recipe from the luau we had on Saturday. We came up with this one after a few failed attempts to get that island flavor down.
Many Hawaiian dishes as most good recipes of any nationality are made with just a few simple ingredients. But like making bread. which has the basics of ingredients to it. it is very tough to get the right amounts down other than through trial and error.

We here at the Foodopolis test kitchen have tested this one again and again. this recipe seems to be our favorite version. Or maybe it was because we marinated ourselves first?
Either way. We submit for your culinary approval. Our version of another classic.

Huli Huli Chicken.

5lbs - Chicken pieces
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup Shoyu (soy sauce)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1tbs diced ginger
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 cup chicken stock for sauce.

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl but not the chicken stock. Place chicken in liquid and let marinade for at least 2-4 hours. Place chicken on hot grill and grill until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Don't go to far from the grill, all the sugar that is in this marinade will burn quickly.

Pour remaining marinade in a sauce pan along with the chicken stock and reduce by half. strain it and pour over the cooked chicken.



Sunday, July 15, 2007

Kalua Pork

We had a good friend visit the Chateau Foodopolis this weekend from Washington State. So Sue ordered up a luau to celebrate Traci's stay and asked for Kalua Pork. The crew at the test kitchen went into overdrive. After all Kalua Pork is a mainstay at any luau worth it's salt.

No time to dig a hole in the backyard to bury a pig. So we came up with this version of that old classic. It's not bad. But absolutely nothing beats having this done the old school way on any of the beautiful Hawaiian Islands.

We took from a variety of recipes we found and mashed this one together.
We had no time to run out and get either Ti or Banana leaves to wrap our pig in a blanket. So this Italian cook had to improvise Hawaiian quick.

Here is the recipe.


1 - 4-5lb Pork shoulder Butt

3 - Ripe Bananas

1 - 12 ounce can of Guava juice

2Tbs - Liquid Smoke

Kosher salt

Fresh cracked black pepper


2 - Cloves Garlic crushed

1 - Knob of Ginger sliced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a dutch oven or roasting pan place the pork in the pan and on a rack. Rub the pork very liberally with the salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Pour the Guava juice into the bottom of the pan. Pour the liquid smoke over the pork. Then slice the banana from top to bottom and place them on and around the pork. I added some garlic and ginger as well. you don't have to add these.

Cover with Aluminum foil and place in the preheated oven. Half way through the cooking process mash the now cooked banana all over the pork and continue cooking.

Cook until pork reaches around 150 degrees internally. You want pork to be around 160 degrees. But remember that it will still cook internally when you take it out of the oven.

When done take out of the oven and pour off the pan drippings into a sauce pan. and cover the pork back up and let it rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes. In the meantime heat the pan drippings and reduce by half. add a pat of butter and water or chicken stock if desired.

Slice the pork and pour on da sauce bra. Dats what da Tiki God in da backyard say.



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