Wednesday, May 10, 2017

10 Years at OC Weekly!

Today marks my 10th year writing restaurant reviews for OC Weekly, Orange County's greatest paper!

Since that first review (published on May 10, 2007), I've eaten at and reviewed more than 500 restaurants. In the process I gained at least 15 more pounds than when I started, but also wrote what I estimate to be more than 500,000 words.

As a point of reference, Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace ticks at 587,287 words. So if my math is right and I keep at it, it'll only take me two more years to catch up to him.

In any case, I hope my reviews have been informative, fair, and, most importantly, fun to read. It has been fun doing them.

When I reached the five year milestone, I commemorated it by going back to eat Thai Nakorn--the first OC Weekly review I did.

This time, in light of the weight gain I've already mentioned, I'm going to refrain from celebrating with more food.

Instead I will take the opportunity to just thank all the great people at OC Weekly who made it possible for me to turn a hobby into a fun, rewarding, and enviable job.

So, thank you, Gustavo Arellano for your enduring support and mentorship; Lisa Black for happily handling all my late invoices; Dustin Ames for being the best art editor on Earth; Brian Feinzimer for all the beautiful food photos; Anne Marie Panorigan for being a great friend and tipster; Ted Kissell for hiring me; and Leo Tolstoy for setting a goal for me to aspire to.

Last but not least, I'd like to thank you all who are still reading this blog for sticking with me all these years!

*On a more personal note, I'd like to publicly thank my lovely dining and life companion (a.k.a. cookiemonster) and for convincing me to try out for this job in the first place. I still remember your words of encouragement: "The worst they can do is say 'no'!"

So thank you, cookiemonster for always being there for me; for enduring the bad restaurants even though all you wanted to do was stay home for the night; allowing me to order food I know you don't like; and for being my in-house editor-in-chief! Love you, abey!

Sawleaf Vietnamese Cuisine - Tustin

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Are You A Cake-Person or A Pie-Person?

There are two kinds of people: those who love cake and those who love pie.

If you're a cake person, you not only relish the ethereal fluff of a properly made angel food and the coffee-moistened layers of a tiramisu, but also brownies, which, let's face it, is basically a failed chocolate cake cut into bricks.

Pie people, on the other hand, prefer desserts where the flour component and the filling are separate and distinct from each other. Apart from actual pies like apple and banana cream, think peach cobbler and fruit tarts. If you like those, you're a pie person.

You're also a pie-lover if you prefer empanadas over churros or would rather have a turnover instead of a donut for breakfast.

I'm a proud pie-lover. And as one I rejoiced when I saw that Marie Callender's (one of my favorite pie purveyors) was currently offering their Double Cream Strawberry Pie for $8.99, which isn't just cheaper from their regular price by about $7, but also a strong rebuke of those hipster pie shops who dare charge upwards to $8 for a single slice.

And in this pie I found my muse--a dessert with layers of tangy-juicy-sweet fruit, cool pudding, and cloud wisps of whipped cream that's cradled by the crumbly crunch of its crust.

As I ate, I realized no strawberry shortcake could ever match the contrast of flavors and textures I experienced here, in this messy, wonderful slice. And it's for these reasons that I find myself squarely in the pie camp.

There is, by the way, a third kind of people I've not yet mentioned. These are those who like neither pie nor cake. But let's call them by their real names: joyless muggles.

Marie Callender's
31791 Del Obispo St
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Burritos La Palma - Santa Ana