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Monday, December 24, 2007

My All Time Favorite Christmas Novelty Song

One of my favorite Christmas Novelty songs of all time Courtesy of Cheech and Chong. Its on You Tube for Audio only as there never was an official video for this track. Hell it was recorded in 1971-long before videos reared their ugly head.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Crazy Rant and an Old Favorite

So Im watching the hockey game last night and they show the Burger King commercial where the mothers try and run down the King because his new home style burger is so delicious the kids aren't eating Moms food anymore.

Heres the ridiculous part-on the bottom of the screen it says "Professional Driver on a Closed Course Do Not Attempt."

Thats all and well but-how do you attempt to run over a Fictional Character?

This is ridiculous when we've come to the point where commercials are running disclaimers for things that are 110% impossible of ever happening.

So now I'm currently working on a plan to assassinate Count Chocula. After that Im going to give the Pulp Fiction Zed treatment to Elmer Fudd. And after that Im going to torture Donald Duck as well as Huey, Dewey, and Louie.

My question-since Ive clearly described my intent will I be legally held responsible for these threats even though the victims are fictional characters and don't exist?

As for Betty Rubble...dont get me started on what I would do that fine piece of animated art-lets just say it involved Dino the Dinosaur as well as the Great Gazoo....actually just his helmet. Im going to show it over the net with my web cam as well and post it to youtube.
Who wouldn't want to see that right?

Anyhow...check out on old Monty Python sketch I always find humorous.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

BBQ Review and Sneak Preview

Figured Id do my last BBQ of the season before the season change and for some reason went with charcoal and fluid over the normal tried and true Propane power of Old Betsy. Lets just say things didn't quite go as planned. On a side note, with BBQ season approaching an end stay tuned for some sneak peaks into my musical interests and some serious discussion regarding Elvis, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and KC and the Sunshine Band.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fun with Pumpkin Carving

Some quick pictures of my pumpkin carving I did this weekend...its amazing the fun you can have with a $6 pumpkin carving set. I have yet to graduate to the point where I can come up with my own designs so I'm still using the ones that came with the set. On that same note-whats the best way to take night pics of glowing pumpkins?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Off topic DVD Review; Lennon Legend

No secret in some of the forums I hang at that I'm a huge Beatle Geek.

Watched the John Lennon Legend DVD last night after adding it to my NetFlix queue and thought Id share some thoughts.

The Videos-Some are good some are so-so. There are some that IMO pay too much attention to Lennon's Murder and not enough about his life but thats just my opinion. There are a lot of rare pretty good quality clips though that give a glimpse of Lennon I'm sure some here have never seen. Call the videos a bonus as the real benefit of the DVD lies in sound quality.

It's also no secret I enjoy 5.1 surround sound so I ran this DVD through the tests. The DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 quite frankly were unimpressive. There was little use of rear channels and at first I was a bit disappointed. But when I switched to direct MultiChannel it was a whole new ballgame. Each distinct part of songs were clear and concise. Whatever Gets You Through the Night was never actually a favorite Lennon song of mine but with the multichannel the piano lines very much stood out as did the acoustic guitar. Generally I'm used to these sounds meld together and you cant really hear the distinct parts but with multichannel 5.1 it sounded very very good. Other things that stood out were Beautiful Boy. There are some background vocals that have some type of flange effect that sounded like it panned from the Rear Speakers to the Front Speakers. Once again something you would never notice with a regular CD. I'm not sure maybe if those weren't added specifically for the DVD or if they were there the whole time but it was very cool. Also the steel drum or timpani instruments really stood out as well. The other cool thing about the songs were they used studio master tapes for the DVD and they let them run a bit longer including some studio chatter as the song ended. In other words when your used to hearing a normal song end there was another 15 to 20 seconds of music.

All in all strictly based on sound quality in multichannel format the DVD would be well worth the purchase. Much like the Beatles Anthology DVDs are currently the best sounding cuts of Strawberry Fields, I'm the Walrus, and Day in the Life this is without question the best sounding source of the Lennon songs.

For the Videos I give a C+, for the 5.1 I give an A. Very surprised to hear just how good of job they did with this DVD. For those only with DTS or Dolby systems maybe worth the rent but for those with multichannel its a must buy.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Catching up....

Some quick pics to get a bit caught up...sorry I am late in doing this-I know you have missed me.

A Quick wine review-Wildwood Syrah. After drinking this wine I now understand what they mean when a wine is described as "complex." A whole lot of stuff going on with this wine. Not that it wasnt good it was...just a bit busier then what I am used to. More to come....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

BBQ'ed French Onion Soup

Blotto from the LGK board posted this recipe that I found intriguing. Have yet to try it but once again it looks delicious and is very simple to prepare.

- One medium to large, heavy and firm yellow onion per person. Heavy because the more water content the better. And I was told that the sweeter varieties came out too sweet... but it's up to you. The yellow was GREAT.
- One Bouillon cube. Or a half cube maybe for a smaller onion-or if you don't want it too salty.
- A pat of butter, or drizzle of olive oil.
- Aluminum foil.
- A little grated cheese. I used cave-aged gruyere (naturally!) but the French one called Comte. Niiiiice and creamy and super stringy.

Peel the onion and open an X-shaped slit from the top. Stuff the bouillon cube and butter inside the slit, and wrap tightly with double layer aluminum foil because if it leaks you are SCREWED my friend. If using olive oil just drizzle some in the opening. And VERY IMPORTANT: it needs to roast standing up; and you'll want to check it later by opening the top so wrap accordingly.

Roast either on the grill (indirect heat if you can) for 45 mins to an hour or more depending on temperature (or you could tightly cover in ramekins for the oven or toaster-oven at 300-350). No need to open it right away to check. Takes time so just leave it be. It'll become extremely tender and translucent and sort of "collapse" when ready. Open them carefully and transfer to bowls--because what you'll have is a cup or more of broth from the oinion's juices and bouillon. It'll be one seriously hot and steamy mutha, so grate cheese over the top (it'll get stringy right away) and tuck in. No crouton, so call it "low carb" I guess. You won't miss it.

You could add anything you want and tweak this, but we didn't even crack pepper. DAMN it was good. I'll probably pre-heat a little early and do this every grill-night--regardless of what's on as dinner.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Maui/Honolulu in Review

First day back to work from my Maui/Honolulu vacation...thought Id share some thoughts and pics.

Kahana Sunset Maui-great place to stay. Private beach w/great snorkeling. Condo had 2 balconies and you could hear the surf at night. Very nice place.

The Gazebo-it was too crowded for me to eat there but I recommended it to my cousin who said it was great.

Maui Coffee Company-Great breakfast pastries. I had a Quiche and a Sticky Pecan Bun and both were awesome. I wish I had a local place with breakfast snacks this good.

Hula Grille-Food wasnt too bad but the drinks were horrible. Worst MaiTai I ever had served by a lethargic disinterested waitress.

Lahaina-Cool city with some great ice cream. Forget the name of the place but it was across from Bubba Gumps.

Eiw Valley-Not a whole lot to see on the whole but very cool and scenic. Tons of greenery with a nice big stream flowing through it.

The Crater- Very cool in the sense that the area looks much more like Big Bear then Hawaii. At 10,000 feet elevation had a very nice view as well once the clouds cleared.

Honolulu-everyone has been here before so I share 2 cool things.

Eggs n Things-Was my second time eating there and it was as good as I remembered. Arguably the best breakfast Ive ever had(I said the same thing when I ate there the first time.)

Awa-This is a root herb they make a drink out of. Its a natural muscle relaxer and mild hallucinigen. It was served at a little health club/store near diamond head. It made my tongue numb and after drinking the smoothie the awa was in decided to walk the 30-40 minutes back to the hotel. Very interesting walk to say the least. If you are in Honolulu this is a must try. I only hope I can find a place in Maui that serves this and we decided next time we go to Hawaii we will spend the whole week in Maui.

Things we didnt do that I regret-the Road to Hana/Snorkeling with Dolphins. These are most do things on my next visit as well as the Winery.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Homers Dorado-Northwoods Style

Homer from the LGK board got back from a couple of days fishing in mexico and was nice enough to throw a couple of filets of dorado my way. I broke out the Penzeys spices and immediately went to work. Pictured below is Grilled Norhtwest Style Dorado with Cappelini Pesto Pasta and Fire Roasted Peppers. Sorry to say no wine was featured as I was finishing my last couple of glasses of Black Box Cab.

More to come.........


Monday, July 9, 2007

I rove my baby back libs....

The Local Supermarket had baby back ribs on special so I whipped out the old top secret recipe and cooked up 5 slabs for me and my brothers families.

Here is the platter of Slabs cut in to 1/3rds along with a couple of brats I cooked just in case the kids thought the ribs too spicy. And considering the dry rub had habanero chile powder and the glaze used Tabasco Red Pepper Jelly was probably a good choice. I tell you though there is nothing cuter then the look on your toddlers face once those heat units kick in-whats even cuter is watching them drink pouch after pouch of Capri Sun Fruit Drinks in a vain attempt to put that fire out.

Here is the Full Spread....the already mentioned meat platter along with some yellow corn, baked beans, just to the side the cool salad with korean style dressing and sesame seeds, some typical baked beans, and some chips with tomatillo salsa. I had some wine as well....a bottle of Cameron Hughes Lot 34 and some Zinfandel I picked up from Trader Joes. I was already on the 3rd or 4th glass which explains why I forgot to include it in the picture. Probably a moot point as there are only a handful of people reading this anyhow-Thanks for all your support Mike, Greg, Sandra, Wallace, and Bryan A.

Here is a picture of my brother looking in pure admiration.

I have to tell you though....the spice and salt factor in dry rub along with the endless wine I drank that night in combination with the balmy evening temperatures certainly left me a bit dehydrated. Anyone have a tip for this? I probably drank a 1/2 gallon of water before bed and it didn't even put a dent in the thirst/dehydration factor. Maybe a new mixed drink spritzer using 1/2 wine and 1/2 Gatorade?

Any help and all comments certainly welcomed!

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Police-Then & Now

A Tale of Two Bands

Regarding my convert review below found a couple of interesting pictures...

From Cool, Young, and New Wave

Rare Non Food Post-The Police in Concert Review

Evening started off on an odd note when Dodger Stadium Security informed us that standing in front of your car drinking beer isn’t allowed in the stadium and we were supposed to head right in. I don’t know what this country is coming to when the pre-concert tailgate is taboo. What is next-banning dodger dogs due to their high transfat content? Anyhow, once our parking section filled up Johnny security left and never came back which was great since beer in the stadium was $10 bucks a pop. Parking itself was $20 bucks. I should have just mailed Sting my credit card directly.

I missed the first act who was Stings Sons band but was there for the Foo Fighters Set. My first time seeing them so was very much looking forward to it and they didn’t disappoint. Dave Grohl is arguably the coolest guy on the planet and this set did nothing to dispel the myth. Would love to see them is a smaller setting. My personal highlight and memory I will always carry with me was the big boned twenty something lesbian who held up her Pizza Crust and moved it in fist pounding time in obvious approval as the Foo Fighters played the anthemic “Best of You.” She and her girlfriend were very nice though and recomended someone named Lily Allen to me along with Amy Winehouse as we later debated the merits of the song "Rehab." Lots of energy and good old fashioned loud Rock from the Foos though and if memory serves they belted out a lot of their hits sans the Mentos tune. Great Set though and if they play the Pond or Verizon I would certainly try and see that.

Then the Police came on, I had no expectations per se so was looking forward to their act. They opened with Message in a Bottle. The one thing that really stood out amongst their set was how good of drummer Stew Copeland is. He really earned his keep and must have been exhausted after the show as he really was the one doing most of the work. Nothing really bad to say about Sting except for the fact that he turned almost every song into an audience participation with some form of getting the crowd to copy his vocals with some type of “Ooooooo Eeeeeeee Ooooooooo Whoa Whoa Whoa.” By the end of the night I felt like I sang about 50% of their songs. One or two songs is always cool but almost every song turned into some attempt at audience participation.
Some of the crowd was certainly apathetic-I would have thought “Da Doo Doo Doo Da Da Da” would have gotten a bit more enthusiasm but that’s LA for ya. They really did a good job of playing most of their hits only point of contention seemingly being their ability to stroke out an additional 5 needless minutes or so on almost every song. "Roxanne" is always a crowd pleaser and they cleverly rearranged the tune as so the chorus came late late into the song as opposed to the traditional arrangement.

And Andy Summers certainly did not have a good night. A couple of botched notes here and a botched solo there-off the top of my head I would say at least 5 or so gaffes for him on the night where there was either some combo of botched chord or a segment where his guitar seemed out of tune. I was unaware of the fact that hes well into his mid 60s though so maybe Ill give him a pass. He was born in 1942-that would make him the 2nd oldest Stone if Im not mistaken.

It was great to see a legendary band plow through all their hits though and its easy to see why Sting is beloved-he really is one of the great all time front men. Also interesting to see the band pull of such a great sound as a 3 piece with no backup performers or musicians and little or no sound effects/backing tracks/ Synthesizer accompaniment. I wouldn’t say they were as good as the Stones when I saw them at the Stadium last year but for those people who were big fans back in the 80s I am sure they didn’t go away disappointed.

And the 40 plus minute wait to exit the stadium along with the 45 minutes or so drive back to OC left me with the realization that sans another Stones tour I will most likely never go to another concert at Dodger Stadium again. Fun Night-not perfect but fun.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day BBQ Revealed

Some Quick Weekend highlights for you. I actually did 3 BBQ's this weekend but only took pictures of 2 of them.

The first couple of pictures are of some chicken strips I marinated overnight in Buttermilk, Green Onions, and Spices. I did it 2 ways actually the top picture being the chicken no frills simply BBQed as is. The Second kind of blurry pic(my bad on the blur..make you own wine/blurred vision joke if you like) is the same Chicken with some rub and some sauce.

Below are some pictures of food prepared in my brother's Texas Style Smoker. From left to right-Smoked BBQ Backs, The Middle is some Beer & Garlic marinated Tri-tip, and on the right some Sliced Rump Roast. Believe it or not the Rump Roast after 5 hours of smoking was wonderfully delicious. I could have sold people on the fact that it was prime rib and they might have believed me. And after manning the smoker from 8AM to roughly 2PM I really dropped the ball for not taking any pictures of the ribs and other cuts of meat on the grill itself. It was poetry I tell you....poetry.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Red Snapper-2 different Kinds

The local gourmet market here in Southern California had a pretty good special on wild red snapper so I figured I pick up some filets and see what I could do with it.
Snapper is a very easy fish to work with and works great on the grill w/ a fish basket. Unly takes about 5 minutes on each side over low to medium heat.

Here we have my attempt at grilled snapper with Singaporean Satay Seasoning. Its almost 1/2 Satay 1/2 Curry. You don't normally associate Curry with BBQ so I thought it would be interesting. True to form it had a nice indian style flavor that wasnt too spicy(which made the wife and son happy).

Here we did a Snapper with Northwoods Seasoning. Northwoods Seasoning is a specific blend they sell at that works wonderful with Chicken or Fish. Its not quite cajun and not quite jerk but looks and tastes great. I highly recomend Penzeys for anyone looking to get high quality spices without breaking the bank. Ive yet to be dissapointed from any of their stuff. If anyone reading this knows a better place to get spices though Im all ears!

Not pictured was that nights wine which was a French offering called Quintessance. The Misses really liked this wine. It had a nose that was half wood and half wet hay and while a bit on the dryer side for my liking certainly had all the characteristics of a much pricier wine. Wonderful finish and very smooth almost silky texture. Why I didnt take a picture Im not bad! Also had the new Cameron Hughes Meritage offering as well. I preferred it the Quintessance as it had a bit more berry character to it but truth be told I could have went either way on those choices as they were both very good for the price. I also picked up a bottle of the Cameron Hughes White offering that I will be reviewing in the near future and hopefully a bit better then this meager offering.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Something I stumbled upon....

Maybe its because its late on Friday afternoon and all the hard hours have caught up with me but this is something I found that struck a chord with me for whatever reason. Basically it is a slide show of vintage pictures taken at Disneyland. Growing up here in Southern California and having a dear family member working at the park I used to spend quite a lot of time there. Of course its changed a lot today then what it used to be(what hasn't?) this is a wonderful pictorial and real slice of americana that hopefully you will enjoy. For the record as well-should have my latest creation posted this weekend sometime- Shrimp and Scallop Brochette wrapped with Bacon and stuffed with pineapple. Truth be told I may do a Mango/Pineapple salsa but we'll have to see. Anyhow enjoy these pics!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Robert Parker-10 Great Wines under $10

Straight from Business Week online written by the man himself. Surprise Surprise-the 2003 Borsao makes #3 on his list.

Great Wines Great Price

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Grilled Mahi, Red Diamond Cab, Borsao and Shrimp

Here we have a couple of shrimp and veggie skewers and a marinated sirloin pinwheel. I wont lie...I bought the pinwheel at El Toro Meats here in Sunny Southern California. It was overpriced but I had a coupon so figured what the heck. It was very very good though. The marinade was some type of Worcester Sauce and some type of Oil I will presume. Basically they take a sirloin strip and run it through a tenderizer where they roll it up(hence the pinwheel), wrap it in bacon, and marinate it. Great flavor and great texture. I normally run for the hills on any item that needs to be run through a tenderizer but this was very very good. As for the Skewers-you just can't go wrong with your basic Olive Oil, Garlic, and Lemon Pepper mix and that exactly what I did here. For those wanting to do this at home make sure you do the shrimp as the very last thing...they cook quick so make sure you throw those on the grill right before the veggies are done.

Here we have Maha-Mahi served atop roasted Maui onions with grilled mushrooms and asparagus sided with some sun dried tomatoes. I once again went the east route here using some of the frozen Mahi fillets at Trader Joes. I've since also tried their marinated tuna and can say unequivocally the Mahi is superior. The onions I simply sliced lengthwise into large slices. They are very sweet and roast on the grill nicely. Once they get that nice opaque look to them you know they are pretty close to being done. Very flexible, you could probably drizzle any oil based dressing onto them for a nice touch. Your standard bottle of Kraft Italian will even work in a pinch but I generally stay away from that massed produced stuff. I once used Franks Red Hot Sauce actually and even that turned out to be decent. The rest of the Veggies were simply some things I had in the Fridge thrown onto the grill.

If I had it to do over again I would have certainly wrapped the asparagus in bacon...maybe even cut the shrooms in half, placed them on the asparagus, and wrapped the lot into bacon. I'll have to try that sometime this summer. As for the Wine(s), I never promised this blog was going to be high brow high digit so these are just a couple of standard wines. My next review will be a review of Australian Woop Woop that a co-worker recommended. I sampled a glass this previous weekend so hopefully will be able to give a more comprehensive review at a later date.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pizza Night w/Alexander & Fitch

Took a rare night off from the grill and thought Id indulge in one of my other favorite that is homemade pizza and Cabernet Savignon!

I know at first glance when you see the Alexander & Fitch label you must think "Oh, Hipcheck must have found some small cool new winery that will soon attain cult status." But truth be told-this is a wine that was recommended by some schmo on one of the many varied hockey forums I lurk at occasionally and was purchased at a local Trader Joe's for a whopping $5.99 a bottle. I decanted it and let it breathe a bit and even then had "$5.99 a bottle" written all over it. It had a nose that was somewhere between turpentine and paint thinner(if there is a difference...they may be the same thing but anytime the nose can be compared to an industrial solvent you know the overall review isn't going to be glowing by any stretch). I couldn't really single out any particular fruits and with its reduced 13.2% alcohol level its was almost an exercise in futility. If only I would have been smart enough to buy a case of the Indigo Hills Cab when it was available at the local wine club for $6.19 a bottle.

To the food-The salad was romaine lettuce served with a creme sherry vinaigrette blended with sun dried tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, and sliced Haas Avocado. Very Nice! The creme sherry vinaigrette was much more delicate then your average vinegar and would have probably been been better served with some mixed baby greens but with a family budget you cant have it all.

For the pizza we couldn't decide if we wanted to do it Italian Style with Sweet Soprasata or Shrimp w/Parsley sprinkles so we went half and half. The salami portion went very well with my ever so artistic leaning soprasata searing to a nice bacony crunch working well. The shrimp may have been more flavorful had I done some type of quicky marinade but even on its own without any seasoning or marinade still had a nice delicate flavor. The heating method(slow roasted on top of pizza) actually gave it the perfect texture. Not at all too shabby considering it was made almost solely with leftovers! Let that be a lesson in budgeting frugality-pasta on monday or tuesday with the remaining sauce serving as pizza sauce later in the week. How this entry went from a serious wine and food review to Hints from Heloise is beyond me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reservas, Halibut, Tuna, & much much More

What a delightfully marvelous weekend it was; I grew weary of steaks and chops and what not so decided that I needed to get more seafood into the diet and onto the grill.

Pictured here is the entire meal....

Asian Marinated Albacore Tuna adorned w/Japanese mayo and capers, roasted red and yellow peppers , bacon wrapped asparagus, and sliced pesto foccacia. Citrus Pepper Halibut served crowned with symbolic mushroom cap as well grilled summer squash.
Balsamic Tomatoes and Avocado Spears and the obligatory Cajun Chicken Breast.

The Asian Tuna was actually prepared by my beautiful wife by slicing the filet into 1/3rds and marinating in mirin, miso, soy sauce, chili sauce, and garlic. This was hands down the evening's best food. The marinade gave the fish a wonderfully subtle japanese/asian flavor with just a hint of spice from the chili sauce. Quite frankly, I was jealous and showed my disapproval by making her sleep on the couch later that evening.

The Halibut was good though...Halibut is a great versatile fish for the grill and so easy to cook. I didn't marinade at all but simply used a dry rub of Florida Citrus Pepper in Conjunction with some freshly ground Sea Salt I crushed with a mortar and pestle. I pretty much use a mortar and pestle at all times when using herbs...its as common of staple on BBQ night as my wine decanter. You may be wondering about the Family Guy magnet. Hipcheck Jr. thought the plate needed once last final finishing touch and couldnt decide between the Kale, Radish Floret, or the Peter Griffin magnet on the fridge-Call me crazy but I thought he made the right choice.

As for the other items-really for the most part they were simply garnish. I was going to prepare a pesto/mayonnaise remoulade for the halibut but absent-mindedly forgot to pick up the basil. By the time I realized I was already on my second glass of wine....

As for the Wine-It wasn't particularly notable but by that same token was horrifically bad. Maybe I had a bit of sinus congestion but couldn't really disseminate anything on the nose much less on the palate. Maybe I was just in a crappy/indifferent mood. Did you ever notice that the more joyous the celebration the better the wine tastes? Even the cheapest bottle is palatable with the right atmosphere while generally a good wine wont particularly stand out with as unimpressive or otherwise bland evenings fair. For instance-the Marquis Philips certainly stood out as superior to the Cousino-Macul but was tasted during a family gathering and thus seemed a bit more celebratory. Maybe it's just me.

Stay Tuned-Ill be doing a New York Steak as well as Lamb Tenderloin in the next entry.