Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I'm Living the Americone Dream

After reading Jay's post about how he's been hunting down the new Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor "Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream" I myself embarked on the same quest to locate it. Over a two or three month period I checked numerous supermarkets but to no avail. Finally, a couple weeks ago I found it at the 7-Eleven near the corner of Warner and Euclid in Fountain Valley. I wasn't able to buy any then but yesterday I went back and got a pint carton of it. I guess the fact that it can only be found at 7-Eleven is obviously to emphasize that 7-Eleven is the American Dream: convenience on every street corner.

Pictures provided as proof of my procurement (notice my "business" card):

The wording on the back of the carton says: "Nation! Have a cold, bold, caramel-swirled, fudgecoveredwaffle-cone-loaded spoonful of Truth: This is Stephen Colbert's AmeriCone Dream! Sweeter than the Bill of Rights, colder than Valley Forge & with twice as much caramel as the Louisiana Purchase. This is the only ice cream with an official thumbs-up from America's greatest news corres-pundit. Please enjoy... or go On Notice!" After that there's a bunch of text about how Ben & Jerry's opposes recombinant bovine growth hormone. My own personal "Americone Dream" is that one day we will all oppose recombinant bovine growth hormone. Ben & Jerry can't oppose it all on their own. Believe me, I'm all for opposing recombinant bovine growth hormone (whatever the heck it is), I'm just glad the Thrifty ice cream cones I got when I was a kid didn't have messages about it.

In a county where Mexican food is omnipresent yet the Americone Dream is hard to find and when we are approaching Memorial Day weekend let us all remember the fallen heroes of our country by hotfooting it over to that 7-Eleven in Fountain Valley and buying ourselves a pint of Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream. Make sure to share it with your amigos and your familia. And if your perro's nice then give him some too. And maybe when Labor Day comes around I'll actually have a job . . . and some new ice cream to write about.

I still await the day when Stephen Colbert invites me on to his fake news show. Actually, I'd much rather go on his cousin Esteban's show: ¬°Colberto Reporto Gigante!

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Frozen Yogurt Craze Sweeps Orange County

Looks like Squeeze OC is jumping on the froyo bandwagon. Their latest online edition contains a list of Pinkberry and Pinkberry knockoffs in Orange County.

Prepare to descend into froyo madness. When one of those hits Fashion Island or the Spectrum, I'm throwing in my towel. Resistance is futile.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Crab Cooker - Tustin

Crab Cooker
17260 E. 17th St.
Tustin CA 92680
(714) 573-1077
Official Site

Went to lunch today at the Crab Cooker, not the famous one in Newport Beach, but the lesser-known inland one (and only other one) in Tustin. Still owned by Bob Roubian who opened the Newport location in 1951 (and the Tustin one some four decades later), the Crab Cooker is the real place to go for seafood in Orange County. Don't be fooled by the imitators. The Crab Cooker is the real thing.

Their clam chowder is their own unique blend and is sort of a cross between the famous Boston (white) and Manhattan (red) clam chowders.

One downside is that there are no free refills on sodas but at only 90 cents a glass it's still a bargain.

Clam Chowder

Clipped to my menu was a little note on yellow paper that said, "Yes, We have it! Alaskan Spot Shrimp!" This is a good-sized prawn that has a taste like a cross between shrimp and lobster and a little firmer than other shrimp. They are served hot with lemon and drawn butter and your choice of two sides (cole slaw and rice pilaf in my case). This may not be a permanent menu item so if you're craving spot shrimp then you should jump at the chance.

Alaskan Spot Shrimp

Their cheesecake comes from the Cheesecake Factory and they generally have three or four flavors a day to pick from so ask your server what's available. You can also help yourself to a complimentary piece of salt water taffy from out of the fish bowl on your way out.

Having gone to the Crab Cooker for as long as I can remember I still cherish my visits. With their authentic seafood prepared with time-honored techniques, and their decor that stubbornly refuses to yield to modernity and contemporary trendiness (even their website seems like it could've been made in the 1950's), it is impossible to go to either location and not sense centuries of seafaring mystique and atmosphere. If you saw their logo on a sign hanging outside a shop in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie it wouldn't seem the least bit out of place. You can even purchase some fresh seafood at their Fish Market display case to cook yourself when you get back home.

Key Lime Cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory

UPDATE (May 12, 2007)

This was entirely unplanned but I ended up going yesterday to lunch at the Crab Cooker on Balboa. They have the Spot Shrimp there too but this time I got the combination plate with fish, shrimp, and scallops on a skewer.

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Monday, May 7, 2007

The District at Tustin Legacy - "the list"

For those of you wondering what ONE MILLION square feet of shoppertainment space gives you, I've got the tenant directory! But since this is about food, I'm cutting to the chase.

* Ben & Jerry's
* Bluewater Grill
* Chaparosa Grill - like in Laguna Niguel?
* Chick-Fil-A - what is this, a revolution?!
* Costco - chicken bake!
* Daphne's Greek Cafe
* Go Roma - related to
* In-N-Out
* Johnny Rockets
* JT Schmid's - like in Anaheim?
* Juice It Up
* Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ - great, another place to make parking impossible!
* Panera Bread
* Peet's Coffee
* Quiznos Sub
* RA Sushi - (start dancing to track 1 off the site)
* Red Brick Pizza
* Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
* Sharky's Wood Fired Mexican Grill - like at Quail Hill
* Tacone - - closer than Fashion Island
* The Winery - a steakhouse!
* Thai Bamboo - like at Quail Hill?
* The Cravery - visit the one off Sand Canyon/Irvine Center Drive if you love pot pies
* Whole Foods Market - featuring a full chef's kitchen

Props to ULTA for finally bringing a location close to my home. It's my new Sephora alternative.

I think we need to have a group outing as the more unique concepts decide to open. Anyone in?

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Charlie Palmer @ South Coast Plaza - coming soon

I was in NYC for Thanksgiving week. We wined, we dined, we got engaged. Some of the most splendid dinners I've experienced thus far were over there. I could only wish for some of those chefs to imagine coming out to the West Coast. I guess the wish fairy was smiling down on me.

We found out earlier this year that Tom Colicchio was serving up a little Craft in Century City. I was elated. Somewhere I didn't have to fly to. THEN I hit the preview night at Bloomies South Coast Plaza and get even better news. Charlie Palmer has designs on a concept {plus wine store!} inside the department store this winter (I'm not holding my breath for fall). Lemme tell you, CP's Metrazur inside of Grand Central Station was a treat. This will surely knock my shoes off (i don't usually sport socks). He has an eye for style and a mind for great menus.

When the time comes to celebrate that special occassion -- book that reservation and utilize the valet. This is where fine dining is going to meet high fashion.

And no, I don't know why I have this tendancy to rave about places yet to open....I just like talking about good food.

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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Say it isn't so.. (Thai Nakorn, Stanton)

So my wife and I found ourselves in Stanton, after a late night at the office last night. Well, we didn't find ourselves there, we intentionally drove near the length of the 22 freeway from her office to a particular Thai restaurant institution, which had relocated a few miles further from us. A particular institution that I had talked about eating at, two days before it burned down.

Their digs in Stanton are a little bit smaller, a little bit less raucous. Although after 9pm on a Wednesday, the restaurant was still maybe half full. They've got their Thai Nakorn sign up now, and their printed menus list both the former as well as the current addresses. Perhaps they're thinking of reopening there in addition to this location. They're down to one fuzzy CRT TV, which that night was showing the demise of the Lakers 2006-07 season at the hands of the Suns, but in a way that made the score difficult to read (you just know when there's three digits to the Suns' score, and two to the Lakers, that things are not going well). Maybe the dismal Lakers showing unsettled my mood.

But we were there to eat. So we ordered our usual dishes: a Pad Thai, the Green Curry with Chicken, Mint Leaf Chicken (which is actually Basil Chicken?), and a new one: the spicy clams. A lot of food for two, but we've been waiting a long while!

Now, I think maybe I'd blown up its memory in my mind to mythical proportions. I recall the pad thai was not quite at the level of Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas, missing somewhat the tamarind taste that sets that dish apart. But this rendition actually failed even to evoke the memory of the former Thai Nakorn Pad Thai in my mind. I was kind of shocked back into a reality that wasn't what I had been building up to.

The mint leaf chicken and the green curry were also unsubtly different. Different enough that it was almost like eating them at a new restaurant. I hope this is simply adjusting to being back in business, but it almost tastes like the chefs have changed. Maybe they were just off that night. Really, the only standout dish was the spicy clams, which my wife noted as a dish she wasn't able to compare with the prior Nakorn equivalent. I think the sticky rice and mangos were alright too, but I was too stuffed to try them.

Okay, so this sounds mostly like a downer review: but even this Thai Nakorn is still among the better Thai places I've ever eaten at. And it's nice to have them back. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt, revisit in a month or so. And for the rest of you, don't go expecting Thai food on a pedestal. Not yet.

Thai Nakorn
11951 Beach Blvd.
Stanton, CA 90680

10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays,
10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fridays through Sundays.

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