It has been unbearably long since my last post. Not by choice exactly. I just did my second and last round of the LSAT (because I sucked the first time around), so all of my free time was devoted to burying my head in prep books and sample tests. But now that’s over with, I’m free as a bird! Well, almost, now I get to worry about law school applications. Oh, what fun!
Anyway, I have been meaning to blog about so many things! First and foremost, Mr. Tall’s dad was in town a while ago, and he graciously took us out to dinner. Mr. Tall took him to Mama Testa the first night, which he really enjoyed. Can I please mention just one more time about how much I am in love with that place? Because I am! The next night, Mr. Ornelas took Mr. Tall and me to Rei de Gado, which is an all-you-can-eat Brazilian barbecue restaurant. Mr. Tall had taken me there once before for lunch. The price for lunch is less expensive, but the dinner generally runs about $35 per person. And let me tell you, I got my money’s worth. Although lunch was more of a bargain, the dinner had a much larger selection of meats and salad bar offerings. If you have never been to a Brazilian barbecue, waiters walk around with a large metal skewer with a freshly cooked chuck of meat and cut you an individual serving right at your table. Each table is equipped with a wooden knob of red and green on opposite ends—green if you want more meat your way and red if you’ve had enough of the protein. The salad bar is probably more than most would expect. It has a variety of vegetables, sides, fruits, etc. But the best thing at the salad bar is definitely the fried baby banana. They’re probably pan-fried without a batter; what you get is soft but not mushy little banana that are great as a break between the proteins or to end your meal.
Among their variety of meats were chicken, lamb, pork and various cuts of beef. One of their popular items if probably the filet mignon wrapped with bacon, but my absolute favorite this time was the garlic roasted lamb. It was so good beyond what I would ever attempt to explain to you. They also offer desserts in addition to the all-you-can-eat meal, but even a dessert lover like me does not have any room after I shook down, Kobayashi-style, the last fried banana.
The following week, my sister visited for an entire week for her Thanksgiving break. Yes, I know Thanksgiving was so long ago; I’ve obviously been lagging on updating my blog. Anyway, it was so fantastic having her around, and we indulged ourselves quite thoroughly. After Mr. Tall and I picked her up from the airport, we took her to, where else, Mama Testa! Of course, I got my usual Mojados de Carne (see previous post for its gloriousness) and I think my sister had the Bistec (grilled steak tacos). Pinnerton really enjoyed the food, especially the salsa bar.
From a coupon in the Uptown Magazine that we receive at the apartment, my sister and I did Sunday brunch at the LEI Lounge, located in the heart of University Heights. Upon entering the restaurant, the front is fully exposed into the bar area with a wall of waterfall. Once we passed the bar section, we enter the rectangular, hard-wood floored patio with table and booth seatings. The tables are draped with white table cloths and topped with a pink lei. The atmosphere was very lovely and chill … You feel as if you’re vacationing in Hawaii. I ordered the Ahi Tuna Benedict with a Gorgeous Geisha, which is a cocktail of champagne, strawberry liqueur and lychee juice. Pinnerton ordered the Stuffed Brioche French Toast with a side of sausage with a cranberry spritzer aka cranberry and soda water. The Ahi Tuna Benedict was served on an English muffin with poached eggs and topped with a generous amount of chipotle remoulade, which I really enjoyed. Pinnerton’s French Toast was served with a variety of berries, rum raisin syrup, and whipped cream. We both shared the dishes and enjoyed them thoroughly. My only small criticisms are that the food wasn’t particularly warm enough for some reason (even though the food arrived relatively promptly) and the sausage was far from impressive. Oh, and the Gorgeous Geisha wasn't as tasty as I had hoped; I could barely taste the strawberry liqueur and lychee juice. Overall, I would definitely make another trip to LEI Lounge (they also have an attractive dinner menu).
On Monday, I took my sister to audit a class at UCSD and made a stop for lunch before heading to the San Ysidro outlet. And guess where we went? McDonald’s! For some reason, I remembered having a McRib a long, long time ago, and for some reason, liking it. Pinnerton and I both order the McRib meal, and all I have to say is that I’m definitely never ordering it again. For those of you who don’t know what a McRib is—it’s basically processed pork, pressed into a shape of a small piece of rib, slathered with barbecue sauce, and served with onion and pickles on a bun. So for those curious about the McRib, I think the only thing that attracts people to them is the fact that McDonald’s only sells them for a limited amount of time. I’ve concluded that I am not a fan of the McRib or McDonald’s for that matter.
Since I know my sister likes sushi, I definitely wanted her to try Sushi Deli. We walked over to Sushi Deli 1 from my apartment (it's only about a 10-minute walk), but there was a very long wait so we decided to order for take-out. While they were preparing our order, Pinnerton and I made a grocery trip for some Thanksgiving items. Definitely a good use of our time. We got a couple of rolls (I don't quite remember), the Hot Hot California Roll (my personal favorite), and the Dynamite seafood appetizer (picture shown). The sushi were good as usual, but the appetizer was very disappointing. The seafood was mostly pieces of fish and imitation crab. Still, my sister was amazed with how much food we got for the money. That's a Sushi Deli deal for ya. Some people may not like the Americanized style of sushi that they serve, especially when sushi is slathered with the spicy sauce (I believe it's a combination of Sriracha chili sauce and watered down mayonnaise), but I love it! My sister and I both share the love for spicy foods so much that we used Sriracha, instead of wasabi, with soy sauce to dip our sushi-it was actually really good! I agree that perhaps the quality of the sushi at Sushi Deli may not be necessarily be premium, but for common folks like myself, the prices keep you going back.
Finally, our Thanksgiving dinner arrived! Our small celebration consisted of Mr. Tall, Taurin, my sister, and me. Mr. Tall was responsible for our 10-pound turkey, and I was responsible for the sides and dessert. He brushed it with melted butter and seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and just threw some herbs in the body cavity. It took only approximately 2 and a half hours to cook, and it was actually, really good! The sides were relatively simple. I cooked up some green beans, sweet potato casserole with lots of butter and brown sugar, and Brussels sprouts with pancetta (a recipe from Giada DeLaurentis’ Every Day Italian). And a must-have item was the whole-cranberry sauce from Trader Joe’s, which is my favorite. Taurin brought over some sparkling apple cider and whole wheat dinner rolls. We ate almost the entire turkey! Pretty impressive. We ended the meal with Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Pie with freshly whipped cream, which was quite tasty especially for the pumpkin lover, Mr. Tall. All in all, we had a very nice Thanksgiving.
Before my sister departed, we made yet another trip to Mama Testa. Apparently, they started having lunch specials! There were about 5 items, with a side of rice and beans, and a drink—all for $5.95! I had to order my usual (I really think I am addicted to it) and the lunch special of a Steak "Cesar" Salad. The salad was a very good size topped with a grilled thin strip of steak, tossed with a kicked up Caesar dressing. It was definitely more than a good deal. I am officially declaring myself an ambassador of Mama Testa!
I’ve got more foodies to blog about, but it shall be the next post! Coming soon—Little Miss Contrary’s Favorites List of 2006!