Happy National Moscow Mule Day!

Copper bottoms up, folks, because not only is today National Moscow Mule Day, it’s also Friday, and for some… PAY DAY!

Fun fact: it falls on the 3rd because there are three ingredients in this drink: vodka, ginger beer, lime juice, with a lime garnish. (cue light bulb)

Level 2 fun fact: turn the 3’s on their sides to say M-M. (cue bigger light bulb)

Level 3 fun fact: calling it a mule was a clever play on words for it’s technical term, a buck, or rather, any cocktail that involves ginger beer/ale and citrus juices. I’ve even read somewhere that if you add absinthe, it becomes a donkey. (Okay, that one is less exciting…)

Icy Cold Moscow Mules

This refreshing cocktail was invented in 1941, but as to where and by whom, there are two sides.

  1. John G. Martin of Heublein, Inc., who acquired the rights to Smirnoff Vodka in 1938, and John “Jack” Morgan of Cock ‘n’ Bull bar, and producer of a ginger beer of the same name, created the drink to sell more of their ailing products. There are stories that it started in Manhattan at the Chatham Hotel, but many stick to the bar in Santa Monica, CA.
  2. The bar’s head bartender, Wes Prince, said the cocktail was his invention borne out of some spring cleaning: “I just wanted to clean out the basement. I was trying to get rid of a lot of dead stock.” He first served it to actor Broderick Crawford and “it caught on like wildfire.”

A deeper read will give you more context and insight on how copper mugs came into the picture, but for those itching for the 5 o’clock somewhere, here are some recipes for you to try at home, starting with my own. If you don’t want to do the work, hit up Koi Bar & Lounge and I’ll make you one myself. They’re doing a $6 special all month for their Mule Madness. =)

Kentucky Mule

If you’re like me and want a spirit that bites back, substitute the clear for a brown of your choice, add some bitters, and there you have it. I promise you won’t regret it.

1.5 oz. bourbon

0.5 oz. lime

2 dashes of Angostura bitters ()

Fill with ginger beer (I like Goslings and Fever Tree)

  1. The Garden Mule (featured in Huffington Post)
  2. Apple Cider Moscow Mule (good for the winter)
  3. Mexican Mule (bites you back harder than bourbon)
  4. Moscow Mule Jello Shots (if you’re feeling college-y AND classy)
  5. Strawberry Moscow Mule (great for the summer)
  6. Gin Buck (my favorite spirit)
  7. Jamaican Mule (basically a Dark ‘n’ Stormy with lime juice)
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Bye Bye My Banh Mi Amour, K Sandwiches

It is with great sadness that a local favorite, K Sandwiches, has closed indefinitely. A little before 9:00pm Tuesday night, a fire set ablaze the kitchen, then roof, and was deemed a total loss. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the 88 year-old owner was hospitalized due to stress. Investigations show a faulty stove as the likely culprit for the $1.5 million worth of damages.

K Sandwiches Cover

I’d like to think it is without personal bias when I say that if you have not had a bánh mì sandwich, you haven’t lived. What is a bánh mì sandwich, you say? Born of French influence during their colonization of Vietnam, this is a simple, yet delicious, example of fusion done right. The sandwich is comprised of both French (toasted baguette, pâté, mayonnaise) and Vietnamese (cilantro, cucumbers, jalapeños, pickled daikon and carrots) ingredients, and then your protein of choice.

Us Vietnamese love our pork, so popular choices are chả lụa (pork meatloaf or sausage) and thịt nguội (pork cold cut), but there’s also the thịt nướng (barbecue beef). Of course, without fresh, quality ingredients, you can’t have a quality product; however, to me, the bread is always the deal breaker. If it does not have the right ratio of a soft interior and flaky exterior, the whole thing is ruined. What can I say? I love my carbs. =)

Here’s a photo of the first one I had during my first Vietnam trip in 2013. Go ahead, take a bite. =)

IMG_20140628_014814

There’s even a breakfast bánh mì sandwich. I’ve yet to see a restaurant that has it on their menu, but they can easily make one upon request. Or… OR… try something new and make it at home. Baguette, sunny-side up egg, green onions, soy sauce, = breakfast. This sandwich is so popular, a lot of American restaurants are putting their own twist on it, and jumping on the bánh-wagon. Though far from authentic, they’re a pretty tasty, albeit pricier, alternative. Also, seems like they all know better than to go with anything other than pork:

I’m old school, so I suggest going to one of the following in honor of the 10 year-old mom and pop. In addition to the multitude of Vietnamese restaurants that have it on their menu, try these out:

  1. Avian Fresh Drinking Water | Lucky Bánh Mì

For years, this particular address was known to the Linda Vista residents as Ba Le Sandwiches. It shuttered its doors years ago, but re-opened as, what do you know, another bánh mì sandwich shop. The sandwiches are made to-order, and you guessed it, has perfect bread. Finding this shop may prove confusing as the sign says “Avian Sandwiches.” Really, it’s nestled inside the Avian Fresh Drinking Water business. Multi-task—fill up while you wait for a sandwich.

6937 Linda Vista Rd., Ste. C, San Diego, CA  92111 | 858.751.0890 | Sun.–Mon.: 8am–7pm

2. Cali BaguetteCali Baguette Logo

A booming chain, this is a go-to for many, and K Sandwiches main competitor. Cali Baguette has several locations including a sit-down restaurant and drive-thru shops. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again… grab a pâté chaud (meat puff pastry) while you’re there too. You’ll thank me later.

Various locations | Various hours

3. Saigon Sandwiches & Deli

Saigon Sandwiches & DeliCity Heights, affectionately Little Saigon, has the largest Vietnamese community in San Diego, and this combo convenience store/sandwich shop is a popular destination.

4133 University Ave., San Diego, CA  92105 | 619.284.3034 | Sun.: 7am–4pm | Mon.: Closed | Tues.–Sat.: 7am–5pm

4. Bale French Sandwich Shop

To round it off, here’s another one from City Heights. Don’t let their facade fool you. Native San Diegans know some of the best Mexican food in town comes from hole-in-the-wall, so here, what they lack in presentation, they make up for in taste.

4879 University Ave., Ste. A, an Diego, CA  92105 | 619.283.4352 | Sun.: 7am–5pm | Mon.–Sat.: 7am–6pm

14 Drive-Thrus in Honor of “The Fast and the Furious”

On this day, 14 years ago, “The Fast and the Furious” came out, revving up to become the famed franchise it is today, with the most recent addition paying homage to the late Paul Walker.

In honor of that, I thought it would be fun to list 14 notable San Diego drive-thrus. Of course, this list would be full of Mexican shops if it was up to me (wait… it is up to me…), but to be fair, I’m limiting it to just a few. Here they are, in no particular order… enjoy!

1. Tacos el Gordo de Tijuana B.C.

Tacos el Gordo 2An online perusal for San Diego drive-thrus surprisingly did not bear any hits for Tacos el Gordo. Well, this original Tijuana taqueria expanded to three locations in SD (the Highland location apparently closed down recently… anyone?) and one in Temecula (its doors shuttered last spring). The only drive-thru is located at the original H St. location.

This is my go-to for out-of-towners looking for an authentic experience, the ultimate reason being that they accommodate both the safe Mexican food purveyor (carne, pollo, adobada…) and the more adventurous (lengua, tripas, cabeza…). Also, you’ll dream of the home-run green sauce they use on the adobada tacos and fries (the latter only available at the Palm Avenue location).

689 H St., Chula Vista, CA  91910 | 619.691.8848 | Sun. – Thur.: 10 AM – 2 AM | Fri. – Sat.: 10 AM – 4 AM

2. Alta Dena Dairy

Alta Dena Dairy 2New Orleans, affectionately NOLA, has drive-thru daiquiris, and although we don’t sell alcohol this way, at least we have Alta Dena Dairy, the only drive-thru convenience store that I know of. You can’t get more literally than driving through the store and telling them what you want. They will bag it up for you so you can be on your merry way. How cool is that?! Now, you really don’t have an excuse not to do your grocery shopping.

6426 Mt Ada Rd San Diego, CA  92111‎ | 858.279.0366 | 8 AM – 9 PM Daily

3. Sonic – America’s Drive-In

SonicThe only “fast food” chain in its category on this list, Sonic blows all of the competitors out of the water when it comes to sheer quantity, from the number of drive-thru lanes, to their famous drink menu, which consists of a whopping 56 options, in addition to 55 frozen offerings such as shakes, blasts, floats, and more. My OCD conspires that they don’t have 56 of the latter to bother people like me.

For years, I yearned for Sonic because I was only aware of the Vegas location. I envisioned this fast-food oasis in the land of lights, and urged my friends to go before beginning our long drive back to San Diego. I was happy with my order, but now that there are six local locations, including two on Camp Pendleton, I’ve yet to go to a single one. Go figure.

4. Evolution Fast Food

Evolution Fast Food 3With so many unhealthy drive-thru options, Evolution Fast Food is the answer! A vegan (just hear me out) joint that serves shakes, smoothies, salads, wraps, sandwiches, desserts, and much more. Times are changing, my friends. “Meat” can now be done really well, to the rejoice of those who cannot partake, so good in fact that more meat-eaters are choosing to have a vegetarian meal. They offer three burger patty options: tempeh, “beef,” and black bean, and many menu offerings are gluten-free.

A fire tore through their kitchen on May 16, but they didn’t let that stop them. Six days later, they were re-opened, ready to serve you and change your minds about both vegan and fast food. Heck, they even have an improv storytelling session every third Saturday, AND they cater! Give it a try.

2965 5th Ave., San Diego, CA  92103 | 619.550.1818 | 11 AM – 9 PM Daily

5. Vallarta Express

Vallarta Express 2To put a Mexican food establishment on this list, I concluded that it had to be because of a famous menu item, and Vallarta Express, my friends, is on the map due to their Christian (Jesus) Fries that originated from the Genesee location, I believe. Just think of your typical carne asada fries order. Now, add two sunny-side up eggs and a crap ton of bacon. I had me at bacon… what?

Side note: there are three locations, with a fourth on the way opening up in PB off Garnet.

Various locations | 24 Hours Daily

6. Panda Express

Panda LogoYou heard right! It’s quite common to have a drive-thru Panda Express, but there are only four here in San Diego County, three located in North County (Oceanside on Mission Ave., Vista on Sycamore Ave., and Escondido on West Mission Ave.) and one in San Diego proper, Barrio Logan to be specific.

This definitely makes the option of having Panda for lunch more feasible… and dangerous. I mean… Orange Chicken via drive-thru?!

2850 National Ave., San Diego, CA  92113 | 619.702.8120 | Mon. – Thurs.: 10 AM – 9:30 PM | Fri.: 10 AM – 10 PM | Sat.: 10:30 AM – 10 PM | Sun.: 10:30 AM – 9:30 PM

7. Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii

Bad Ass CoffeeHawaii is the bearer of much goodness, and coffee is definitely one of them. Many of us think of Kona Coffee (which they serve), but there are little ones out there that deserve some recognition as well, so give Bad Ass Coffee a try. They’re also the only ones that do coffee ice cubes. Yes… it’s a great idea to save waste AND cool a customer’s coffee without watering it down. Smart.

They also serve coffee from all around the country including that from Oahu, Kauai, and Maui. With only one location, those living a little north have a spot to check out.

9878 Carmel Mountain Rd., San Diego, CA  92129 | 858.240.7077 | Mon. – Sat.: 5 AM – 10 PM | Sun.: 7 AM – 9 PM

8. Better Buzz Coffee

Better Buzz CoffeeAs a lover of beer, I honestly think the overlap between coffee and beer drinkers is major, and San Diego’s craft coffee game is on point. Better Buzz produces and roasts their beans in Vista, so it can’t get any more fresh than that. Just last year, they opened their Point Loma location, creating a drive-thru (and walk-up) from, what else, a former drive-thru. You can get a majority of the menu cruising in, but the more complicated drinks require you to hop out of your car. Note: the PB location is just a walk-up.

904 W. San Marcos Blvd., San Marcos, CA  92078 | 760.471.3899 | Mon. – Sat.: 5:30 AM – 7 PM | Sun.: 6 AM – 7 PM

1480 Rosecrans St., Point Loma, CA  92106 | 619.222.2899 | Mon. – Sun.: 5 AM – 9 PM

9. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

CB&TLMost are aware of the drive-thru Starbuck stores around town, but how many of you know there’s at least one drive-thru CB&TL? If you’re like me, you’d be happy to hear about an alternative to the green and white.

Fun fact: since 1999, all of their products are certified kosher, and in Los Angeles’ Fairfax district, one store in particular only serves halal food to accommodate their mostly Orthodox Jewish customer-base.

9343 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA  92123 | 858.505.9909 | Mon. – Fri.: 5 AM – 8 PM | Sat. – Sun.: 6 AM – 7 PM

10. Pirates Cove Coffee & Tiki Port

Pirates Cove Tiki PortTo close out the beverages section of our list, Pirates Cove is a little interesting. They serves coffee, smoothies, acai bowls, but being right by the beach, they also offer board wax and cigarettes. Hmm…

Anyway, they have a fun tropical look, very kid-friendly, and will offer you a free coffee after your 7th purchase. They’re a friendly stop, so give them a try.

4896 Voltaire St., San Diego, CA  92107 | 619.621.7353 | Hours unknown

11. Roberto’s Taco Shop

Roberto's LogoYou cant throw a rock in this town without hitting a Roberto’s Taco Shop. Roberto Robledo started out by selling 10-cent Poor Man burritos as well as a tortilleria in San Ysidro before opening his first taco shop at 4920 University Avenue (now a Taco Fiesta) in 1964. Read more about his life here.

Roberto’s is arguably the first taco shop in San Diego, and apparently, Mr. Robledo invented the carne asada burrito. However, with so many locations, the quality will vary, and undoubtedly, the nomenclature will throw you off as there are many -berto’s variations (Rigoberto’s, Alberto’s, Umberto’s, Adalberto’s…), so it’s difficult to tell if it’s still the same shop or a copy cat.

I think most San Diegans will agree that finding good Mexican food in town is not a difficult task, but finding the best? Well, that’s in the eye of the burrito-holder.

Various locations | 24 Hours Daily

12. Cali Baguette

Cali Baguette LogoThis chain has taken banh mi to the masses. I grew with mom and pop bánh mì shops, and in addition to Lee’s Sandwiches, this large chain is garnering widespread attention.

With over a dozen sandwich combinations and several appetizers, there’s something for everyone. My absolute favorite item is their pâté chaud–meaty, puffy, pastry-y goodness! I drool just thinking about them. Their Vietnamese coffee is on point as well. Tidbit: there is a sit-down Cali Baguette in Chula Vista.

Various locations | Various hours

13. Crazy Bowls and Wraps (CBW)

CBW LogoAnother healthy alternative on the list, Crazy Bowls and Wraps serves up “fresh food fast.” Clever. Only found in three states, this chain is growing in popularity.

Aside from their salads and wraps, they have a Subway/Chipotle/DIY-style bowl where you choose the size, protein, grain, veggie, and sauce, and voila! Lunch is served. You’ll find long lines, so give their drive-thru a try, especially in this heat. You’ll want the air-conditioning.

822 Grand Ave., San Diego, CA 92109 | 858.273.9727 | Mon. – Sat.: 11 AM – 10 PM | Sun.: 11 AM – 9 PM

14. La Posta de Acapulco

With no website or even a logo to their name, they belong on this list for one of my guilty pleasures–the Burrito Especial. It’s a carne asada burrito, but what makes it special is the quesadilla they use to wrap the thing. It’s a little crazy, but it’s mad good. Their red sauce is great as well, but be forewarned, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a lot of food and you’d be better off sharing it with at least two other people. Yes… it’s that big.

Various locations | 24 Hours Daily

Honorable mention: Jack in the Box

downloadObviously, many fast food chains offer drive-thrus, but the sole reason why I feel Jack in the Box deserves a shout-out is because they are headquartered here. The unfortunately fact is that there are few other companies that share that fact. It’s as local as local gets, and supporting local, albeit mammoth, business is encouraged.

They cast a wide philanthropic net. I’ve personally worked with them in the past (pst… I’ve met Jack), so I value their local presence, especially in the wee hours of the night. I’d like to think me, along with many other college students, invented the Jumbaco before it was a thing.

Various locations | 24 Hours Daily

In Sync: Pi, Pi, Pi

pi, n.:

  1. the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet ( Π, π ), transliterated as ‘p.’
  2. the numerical value of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter (approximately 3.14159).

A majority of the population knows pi to the second decimal place, thus making the annual Pi Day a fun occurrence. Those who know pi to the fourth place will know this year’s date is a tad more special.PiDay

Due to the raging world of social media, and hopefully more so due to math, many know of this once-in-a-century treat. Today, on 3/14/15 at 9:26:53, we will all experience the ultimate pi moment, pi to the tenth place! (If you are so inclined, learn 139 digits of pi with Danica McKellar, through song.)

Now that my geeky squeal has subsided, I can now move onto the food portion of this segment. Many people will indulge in some sweet pies, or savory pizza slices, so I would be remiss not to share some specials with you.

* Blaze, Clairemont

Blaze's $3.14 Pi Day Pizza

* Betty’s Pie Whole, Encinitas

  • $3.14 off any 9 Inch pie
  • $3.14 /each for whoopie pies
  • $3.14  off 24 mini bite-sized pies

Stone Brewery, Escondido, Point Loma

For those who enjoy a more… liquid diet… bust out the π-nt glasses and partake in their current Enjoy By series that specifically celebrates today’s nerdy date.

Stone Brewery Enjoy By 3.14.15

Rancho Bernardo Inn, Rancho Bernardo

Get their signature mini key lime pies for, you guessed it, $3.14.

* Pie from anywhere in Julian

My personal favorite is Mom’s Pies, Etc. (mmm… bumbleberry crumble), but the whole mountain is nationally famous for their apple pies. With 17,000 apple trees, you better know a thing or two about apple pie.

To end, I’d like to share this little gem I found that trekkies and math enthusiasts can relish in. Happy Pi Day, everyone!

9 Cool Facts About St. Paddy’s Day!

Today is about learning, folks! Don’t worry… I made sure to pick the more interesting tidbits for you. Enjoy!

Image1. March 17th is the day of Saint Patrick’s death, not his birth date.

His birthday is actually… well, we don’t know that one. It was the year 387 AD, though.

2. Saint Patrick was not Irish.

He was born in Scotland, but is celebrated in Ireland because he was successful in bringing Christianity there.

3. It’s spelled “St. Paddy’s,” not “St. Patty’s.”

Yup, I learned that myself recently. Some easy ways to remember:

* “Patty” is for Patricia, while “Paddy” is for Patrick.

* Or “Paddy” rhymes with “daddy”–yes, this is how my mind works, sometimes.

* Patrick is derived from the Irish name Pádraig (pronounced paw-drig), which is spelled with a “d” so… yeah…

Speaking of dying things green and not-so-subtle transitions, Chicago is the first and only city to dye their river green each year, but here is another interesting fact:

4. It takes 40 lbs. of a dye that begins as orange before turning into the vibrant green you’ve come to know.

They’re so proud of this tradition, there’s even a website dedicated to the whole event.

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Now, after speaking about dying things green, let’s talk about why it should be blue:

5. Saint Patrick’s color was actually blue.

It is believed the transition to green came later to associate with Ireland’s beautiful countryside, or its nickname, the “Emerald Isle.”

Now, this wouldn’t be a food post without some mention of Irish cuisine, right? I can’t say I’ve ever made any Irish food myself, so I’m pretty green in that arena, so I tend to like the more festive, less traditional recipes that just require added food coloring.

6. Corned beef is not a traditional Irish dish.

Beef wasn’t cheap then, so this dish was for the wealthy British who made it a mainstay after they conquered most of Ireland.

And celebration wouldn’t be complete without some beer and spirits to raise our spirits, right? Now I can move onto our last, but definitely not least, facts for the day:

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7. St. Patrick’s Day was a dry holiday in Ireland until 1970.

Irish law prohibited drinking on religious holidays, so St. Patrick’s Day celebrations were dry from 1903-1970.

Pubs were closed this day each year, until the law was overturned, a wise choice as it became apparent that the boost in commerce and tourism was the much-welcomed aftermath.

Image

8. You may break from Lent on this day to fully celebrate with food and drink.

When I first learned of this tidbit, I got all giddy, haha. Have fun with this one, folks.

9. The Irish cheers by saying, “Sláinte!”

It is likened to toasting to another’s health.

And now, please cue the star and rainbow… the more you know!

Happy St. Paddy’s Day, ye goats!

Holiday How-To: Be a Good Guest

Thanksgiving is on the horizon, and Christmas is already upon us for some (ahem: retailers). Here are some tips on how to be a good house guest to help ensure a coveted spot on the re-invite list for next year’s gatherings:

1. Prep/cook off-site as much as possible.

The host is usually in charge of the turkey, ham, or a slew of other dishes so asking them an hour before the party to use their counter space or oven can be stressful. That’s just poor planning or decision-making. Start earlier, choose a different dish, or clear it with the host ahead of time.

If you tinkle...

2. Clean up after yourself.

The rule of thumb is to leave a place as good or better as you had found it.

If you can see the crumb you dropped, so can everyone else. Leave it and karma will make sure you step in something fierce if its doing its job. Also, don’t forget the bathrooms.

3. Top it off, drop it off.

Don’t be that person who pushes all the trash down to make room for your own out of laziness. Chances are, three others have already tried before you, and you’ll end up tearing the bag, creating an even bigger mess.

4. Take home your leftovers.

Don’t be offended. Some people just don’t do leftovers, and there is such a thing as too much food. Respect the host’s wishes and take your dish home. Share it with others, or get creative with your next few meals.

5. Respect the no-shoes rule.

No shoes...

When asked to take off their shoes, the resistant responses are endless:

“Really??”

“Do I have to?”

*rolls eyes* “Sigh, fine…”

Not every household does this, but it isn’t just for Asian households, folks. Imagine walking through late autumn/early winter rains and snowfalls, then trudging all of that water and muck through someone’s pristine home. Sure, it’s not your home, but… it’s not your home. Play by their rules.

6. Be sensitive to others’ dietary needs.

By all means, make the dish you want, but if you can help it, why not put the bacon bits on the side if you know a vegetarian is attending? If you can’t help it, make a sign that says, “This dish contains peanuts.” Don’t put yourself out too much, but people will note your thoughtfulness.

Also, if you have an allergy, let it be known or you’ll have little reason to complain about your limited food options the day of.

7. Have fun!

It’s a gathering. Enjoy good food and drinks surrounded by good friends. If you are down about something, use the party as an opportunity to focus on the good in your life. Smiling can make a big difference, and causing others to smile makes an even bigger one. =)

Have Fun!

San Diego Night Market

Night marketsn.:  street markets which operate at night and are generally dedicated to more leisurely strolling, shopping, and eating than more business-like day markets.

Coincidentally, my first food post was about the San Diego Public Market and a year later, here I am writing about another one, the San Diego Night Market. It’s going down on Saturday, September 28, 2013 from 5-11 p.m. in the new Zion parking lot.

Night markets, or night bazaars, are part of daily… er… nightly… life in many parts of Asia, most notably Taiwan and China. Taipei’s largest and most famous market is the Shilin Night Market with hundreds of booths to boast.

Street food at Shilin Night Market, Taipei, Taiwan.

Street food at Shilin Night Market, Taipei, Taiwan.

One that just enjoyed its second year this past August is the San Francisco Night Market. The 626 Night Market lays claim to being the largest one in the United States, but each time it happens, the parking and crowds are nearly unbearable. Let’s hope our local one keeps that under control.

This is technically not the first night market to happen in San Diego as several smaller community ones have popped up here and there over the years. This one seems promising as the would-be largest one, so check it out if you have the time.

Street food is fast and fun, and when done right, downright delicious. When it comes to food, I like going in groups so that we can do small, succulent samples of everything. Remember folks–sharing is caring.

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San Diego Night Market

7655 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.

San Diego, CA 92111

Market: 5-11 p.m.

Beer Garden: 5-10 p.m.

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Photo credit: Serious Eats