When in doubt, toss it out!

That applies to restaurant food as well.

Eating is supposed to be a somewhat pleasurable activity.  However, it can leave you with a very bad feeling if the food you eat is a little off.  No, I don’t mean off as in the chef put in an extra tablespoon of sugar or salt.  What I am talking about here is a lot more serious.  I am talking about food that smells or tastes like it is rotting away as you eat it. Some food recipes are meant to be stinky.  A good example of that is a Chinese dish called stinky tofu.  That is a stinky dish that is perfectly OK to eat for most people, although not always pleasurable for everyone who tries it.  However, if the thing that smells funky from your meal is the chicken, you should think twice about eating it. Chicken can go bad in a pretty short amount of time compared to other meat products.  Plus it is more dangerous to consume than other meats once rotten.  Therefore, you should be extra careful when faced with suspicious-smelling chicken.

Most of the people that I personally know would never cook chicken after they have had it sitting around too long in their fridge.  However, when it comes to ordering chicken at the restaurant or for takeout, many of them just hope and pray for the best.  They assume that the restaurant would not dare to sell chicken that has gone bad.  So they eat it even when a part of their brain tells them to do otherwise.  But really, whether dining out or at home, the same rule should still apply.  When it doubt, toss it out!

Mio's Pizza in Loveland, Ohio

Mio's Pizza offers quality cuisine in generous portions

Mio's Pizza is a nice pizza parlor that is located in Loveland, Ohio. However, this location is not really in Loveland city proper, but located in one of the suburbs of this town. Recently I had the opportunity to eat at this location, and I have to admit after reading one review on Yelp, I was kind of scared because the reviewer said this, "The owner(s) are clearly not about customer service and quality." This review did make me scared, but I decided I would forgo this information and try the location anyway. 

The first thing you will find when you arrive at the location is that it's situated in a fairly new building. The outer appearance of the location does provide you with some comfort because of how nice the place looks. However, you need to realize this is just the exterior and maintained by a different company, but the interior is controlled by the restaurant staff. You may also find the location can be hard to locate because of where it is situated off of a dead end street, next to some condos. 
 
Upon entering the location, you will find a clean and quiet location. This really impressed me and the restaurant did not appear to be dated in any manner. However, you will find the table clothes are unique in they are the coloring sheets for your kids and will be torn off later on. Another thing you can find enjoyable is looking at the different kids' pictures that made it to the wall for you to look at. 

Now, you are probably more curious about the food Mio's Pizza can provide for you. The first thing you can find is the menu does cover quite a bit of the regions of Italy and provide you with multiple menu options. Once you have made your way through the menu and placed your order, expect to wait for about 10-15 minutes for your food to arrive, depending on the order. However, the wait is well worth the time because the food, when it arrives, is fresh and very hot. 
 
Mio's Pizza cuisine is of great quality. This food will arrive at your table hot and ready to eat. With this type of quality, you will not mind eating the food, but be warned the size of the meals is rather large depending on the size you order and you may have some food to take home with you. If you are looking for some great food, which can make you recall Italy, though, you should try dining at Mio's.
 
Having the best experience at a restaurant can be a great thing. This is when you should know about Mio's Pizza in Loveland, Ohio. When you are in this area and want some good Italian food, you need to make sure you check out this location. Once you check out this location, it is easy for you to sit down and enjoy some great food in one of the cleanest restaurants I have ever eaten in. 

Pizza buffets not worth it

Pizza buffets don't offer much variety.

I am a huge buffet fanatic.  Whenever I hear about a new buffet opening up, I am always eager to give the place a try.  Yet I have vowed to never again dine at a pizza buffet.

So why am I saying no to buffets that focus on pizza?  Based on my experiences, I don’t really think it is worth the money.  The pizzas served at the pizza buffet usually only have one or two toppings.  Meanwhile, I typically order specialty pizzas whenever I am in the mood for a good pie.  Therefore, it is easy to understand why I would feel that the pizzas with the limited amount of toppings are lacking in flavor.

From my previous experience with pizza buffets, the cost of the buffet is usually about the equivalent of a medium or large specialty pizza at the same restaurant.  I, personally, can never eat an entire medium pizza by myself.  For that reason, it would end up costing me more to eat at a pizza buffet than for me to buy a whole pizza pie and make at least two meals out of it.

What can pizza buffets do to get me to give them another chance?  Add hot wings into the mix.  Forget the bread sticks; give me some tasty hot wings instead.  Sure, they can raise the price some, since that is something I would expect for them to do.  Just give me my favorite side order at a pizza place, and I will be happy to eat pizza buffets again. 

Sunrice in Seattle

Healthy Eats Near University of Washington

If you're looking for great Korean-inspired food in Seattle, look no further than Laurelhurst, just minutes from University of Washington. Sunrice is getting rave reviews on Yelp!, and it's easy to see why. The food is excellent, inexpensive, and totally healthy. 

  

   

Everything on the lunch menu (and there's only a lunch menu; the restaurant is planning on extending their hours, but they're currently not open for dinner service yet) ranges from $4 to $10. Don't get skeptical about what your pocket change will buy you. Sunrice has a wide variety of Korean fare including tofu, chicken, or beef in Spicy Sunrice Sauce. For the more adventurous palate, try their Super Spicy Sunrice dishes. They also have some of the best kimpap on the planet. What's that you say? You're a vegan? No problem! While not all of the dishes listed on the menu are vegan, any dish can be made vegan. 

When you pop into Sunrice, not only are you getting great eats, but you're also supporting a local business. When the owner, Kim, was a student at the University of Washington, she wished that there was more in the way of Korean food on campus. She eventually followed her dream and started providing Korean style ready-to-go meals to the University of Washington. Her restaurant came about after landing her first wholesale account at UW. Her goal? To provide wholesome, honest and conscientious food to her customers while avoiding preservatives and artificial colors and flavors. 

 

Can't make it over to Laurelhurst for lunch? No worries. You can find Sunrice products at the Metropolitan Market, Madison Market, Children's Hospital, Virginia Mason Hospital, and even the University of Washington. If you don't live in Seattle, there's no reason to cry into your kimchi. Sunrice products are currently carried by Whole Foods, Safeway, and Thriftway on Vashon as well as co-ops in Olympia and Port Townsend. That means more coconut curry tofu, miso carrot tofu, and brown rice kimpap just for you. If you can't find it at your local store, pester the product manager about ordering Sunrice products wholesale. Enjoy! 

 

 

Stop using women’s bodies to sell food

Do you really need cleavage with your burger?

Hooters pretty much sums up our culture. People love to joke about it—in fact, a relative once bought my then-toddler a “Future Hooters Girl” t-shirt, which I promptly threw away—but it’s a disgusting example of misogyny in our culture. (And boys in my high school were allowed to wear Hooters shirts and jackets while girls got written up for wearing sleeveless shirts, by the way.) But you know what? At least it has honest advertising. The name alone tells you what the place is about, and as unfortunate as it is, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to—and you certainly aren’t being lied to about it.

Unfortunately, other restaurants are jumping on this using booty to sell beer mentality, but they’re doing it much more deviously. We had a Tilted Kilt show up in town a couple of years ago, and they actually advertised themselves as a “family” restaurant; yet their billboards showed women in tiny, cleavage-bearing shirts and short skirts. My sister informed me that you had to “try out” to be a waitress and that you had to have certain measurements to work there. I don’t give a damn how good their fries supposedly were; we never went to the place on principle alone. And guess what? They’re not even in town anymore.

They have been replaced, however, by another restaurant that, again, uses provocatively-dressed girls to sell food. Can we stop with this horrible selling technique? Do you really need cleavage with your burger? I doubt anyone would pay extra to be served by a guy wearing boxers, his junk waggling around in your face while you try to drink your margarita. So why hire girls?

Well, we all know the answer to that one. And most of us—at least half of the population—isn’t happy with it. But like anything else in our woman-hating, rape-loving culture, it’s probably not going to change anytime soon.

My little sister says, “Why not?” She’s gorgeous and has waitressed before, and along with generous tips, she also gets marriage proposals, stalkers, pinches, “boob grazes” and plenty of other harassment. The guys laugh like it’s just fine since she’s a cute girl, but if asked if she enjoys it, she looks uncomfortable and says, “Not really, but I make good tips.” And has she made as much money in all of her other jobs—particularly in the medical profession she is currently in? No.

That, too, is the problem. Women are more than their bodies, and it’s about time that society caught up with that fact. I am utterly amazed at the men who stand up for gay rights, the environment, dogs—but when it comes to rape or the whole Tosh controversy, they scoff, get defensive, or start becoming misogynist cavemen altogether.

Half-dressed dining? I don’t even know why I’m surprised.

Le Refuge for French cuisine in VA

Whenever I visit a new city, I always try to sample a French restaurant in the area.  So far, none have been as good as Le Refuge.  Although it is small in size, Le Refuge is big on flavor.   Situated in Virginia, Le Refuge has been around for nearly 30 years. 

When thinking about French cuisine, you probably conjure up images of stuffy places where the waiters all wear bowties.  That is not the case with Le Refuge.  It is a casual place where the waiters are all very friendly.

For appetizers at Le Refuge, I recommend that you try their French onion soup.  It is the absolute best one that I have tried so far.  Its cheesy flavor really cannot be missed.

From their menu, my favorite entrée is their roasted rack of lamb.  They always prepare it just right.  However, I usually do not order the roasted rack of lamb when eating at Le Refuge.  That is because I usually order the stuffed quail whenever it is on their daily special menu.  The stuffed quail is simply the best!

Desserts at Le Refuge are pretty awesome as well.  However, I usually don’t get to eat it because their entrees are enough to make me feel full.  Nonetheless, I would definitely recommend trying out some desserts, if you are able to save some room in your tummy.

Since Le Refuge is small in size, you should try to make reservations before you go.  The seats in their dining room fill up very fast.  So call ahead and prepare to be delighted!

Batali Settled Lawsuit

"An official verdict for Mario Batali’s restaurant lawsuit will not be given. "

Whenever I am bored with nothing to do, one of my favorite ways to past the time is to watch the cooking shows on TV.  Of all the celebrity chefs who get to appear on the television screen, Mario Batali is definitely one of my favorites.  Although I have never had the chance to taste any of his foods, I do imagine that they do taste great.  After all, the things that I do see him cook on the cable channels look simply amazing.

I would not go as far as to say that Mario Batali is my cooking idol or anything like that.  However, I would say that I definitely do have a liking for him.  For that reason, I was highly disappointed to learn of his recent restaurant lawsuit.

Why was Mario Batali’s restaurant involved in a lawsuit?  It was because there were claims that his restaurant has been taking the monetary tips from the selling of alcohol to pay the salaries of some of his restaurant’s staff members.  This sort of practice is against the regulations for wages in the restaurant industry.

An official verdict for Mario Batali’s restaurant lawsuit will not be given.  That is because Mario Batali and his team of lawyers have all decided to settle.    Therefore, Batali’s restaurant lawsuit will not be settled in court.

If the claims against Batali’s restaurant were indeed true, then I am highly disappointed.  Wait staff do not get paid much by the restaurant as it is.  So there really is no reason for any of their tips to be taken from them.

Marilyn Hagerty's Olive Garden review

Aren't we sick of being big-city pretentious yet?

If you haven’t been following the Internet sensation that is 85-year-old food columnist Marilyn Hagerty, you’re missing out. The Grand Forks, North Dakotan columnist wrote a review of the Olive Garden, a restaurant which just reached the town of 50,000 in February, has racked up over 200,000 views since Hagerty posted it on Wednesday. Some are reacting positively to Hagerty’s no-nonsense review—it’s only dinner, after all--with others wondering if her piece was an Onion-esque satire, or chuckling about the writer’s naivete.

Marily Hagerty wants you big city elitists to know that she doesn’t give crap.

Unlike most viral articles where the writer only serves as a personality-less photograph representing the place, Hagerty’s been interviewed by the Village Voice about her reviewing. She says that it would be idiotic for her column only to review fine dining restaurants—as reviewers can afford to do in larger markets—because she would be finished in three weeks.

Hagerty’s viral piece is a straightforward review of the ubiquitous Olive Garden, saying:

After a lengthy wait for Olive Garden to open in Grand Forks, the lines were long in February. The novelty is slowly wearing off, but the steady following attests the warm welcome…My first visit to Olive Garden was during midafternoon, so I could be sure to get in. After a late breakfast, I figured a late lunch would be fashionable.The place is impressive. It’s fashioned in Tuscan farmhouse style with a welcoming entryway. There is seating for those who are waiting.

The reason that Hagerty’s piece went viral, of course, is because we look at an earnest review of The Olive Garden as homespun and a bit idiotic in contrast with reviewers who write equally earnestly on tastiness of the pork-belly infused martinis at the latest Korean-fusion joint in Seattle.

But it’s equally idiotic of “worldly” food columnists to make fun of Marilyn Hagerty’s piece. She’s writing for the market she lives in, a small one, and the review seems no different from any other in a small town with a limited number of dining options. She doesn’t need to skewer The Olive Garden because, unlike cynical food reviewers, she probably didn’t hate it.

The only complaint I could find towards Hagerty’s body of restaurant reviews, which also include news-worthy depictions of Taco Bell and Dippin’ Dots, is that she neglects the regular folks restaurants that—like the mom-and-pop places in bigger markets, city folks—may get run out of business by chains with national marketing campaigns like The Olive Garden. She mentions that North Forks has “lots of restaurants,” so perhaps Hagerty could consider using her newfound fame to give some of those the press they deserve. Perhaps if the cruelty were removed from big city writers’ comments, all they’d really be saying is that The Olive Garden doesn’t need anymore press. 

Ad Hoc is Overrated

"According to Yelpers, the best thing about Ad Hoc is the fried chicken."

Thomas Keller is an accomplished chef.  He owns one of New York’s finest restaurants, and he has a couple of famous restaurants in California as well.  His restaurants are very well received by the Michelin Guide, and many people have to make reservations months in advance in order to have a place to sit in one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants.

The restaurant that Thomas Keller owns in New York is called Per Se, and his California fine dining restaurant is The French Laundry.  Both of these restaurants are expensive, and by that I mean you and your date can easily spend close to $1000 for a dinner date.  Ad Hoc is another one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants.  However, unlike Per Se and The French Laundry, Ad Hoc is actually a more casual type of restaurant.

The atmosphere at Ad Hoc might be casual, but the prices sure aren’t.  Dinner at Ad Hoc is $52 a person—definitely not something to sneeze it.  Yet many consider it a bargain in comparison to The French Laundry that is located nearby.

According to Yelpers, the best thing about Ad Hoc is the fried chicken.  They claim that it is good enough to justify the $52.  Upon reading that, I was determined to give Ad Hoc a try during my Napa Valley trip last year.

So was Ad Hoc worth it?  The ingredients were fresh and everything, but it just was not all that great.  Fried chicken was not served the night I went, but the sautéed chicken and shrimp dish that was served did not taste any better than much less expensive restaurants.

Top Chef: Finale

The winner is...

The finale of Top Chef in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, the two top contenders throughout the entire season, Paul and Sarah, competed against each other for the ninth Top Chef title.

The chefs are assigned the task of creating another restaurant concept and to conceptualize four dishes. True to form, Paul creates four Japanese dishes with Asian inspiration, focusing on the details and complex flavors while Sarah makes a meal of Italian-German fusion with some unusual—and gutsy—Asian flavors.

The chefs are given four sous chefs chosen from a hodge podge collection of eliminated Top Chef contestants—a few who didn’t make it past the early Alamo rounds—and two James Beard award-winning chefs. Each of the potential sous chefs cook a dish for a blind taste test by the two finalists.

Sarah chooses dishes by Nyesha and Grayson, but also inadvertently chooses 22-year-old Tyler, a chef who was eliminated in the first round because in inept butchering skills, in trying to find her friend Heather’s dish. She later chooses Heather, as well.

Paul chooses one of the James Beard award winners along with the hunky Paul, Ty and Keith.

For his first course, Chawanmushi, a Japanese egg custard dish with gingko root, served with edamame, pea shoots and spot prawns. His next course was a grilled sea bass with clam dashi, pickled radishes and mushrooms. Next came a congee, a rice porridge served in many Asian countries, topped with scrambled eggs, uni, kale and smoked albacore. His dessert course was coconut ice cream with puffed rice, kumquats and a mangosteen Thai chili foam.

Sarah’s first dish was a squid ink tagliatelle with spot prawns and coconut that Gail Simmons said should have been thought of long ago. Next, she served a rye-crusted steelhead trout with fennel seeds and pickled beets. Her next course was braised veal cheeks with crispy veal sweetbreads. Sarah’s dessert was a hazelnut cake with kumquat and roasted white chocolate ganache that the judges agreed was one of the best desserts in all seasons of Top Chef.

After much deliberation, and Tom Colicchio’s certainly heartening compliment that their dinner was one of the best dinners in all of the seasons of the show, the winner is announced. As was to be expected, the season’s frontrunner, Paul, took home the trophy. His parents, who Paul said he disappointed when he dropped out of college, are both crying with happiness.

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