Sandwich Chronicles: BMH Italian

Week Three:

I had never heard of BMH Italian before my sandwich quest began.  I found it via Yelp as a best rated local spot and after seeing a review by a woman who said her grandma recommended the place to her, I was sold.  If an 80 year old woman thinks it is worth spending what precious little time she has left eating this food, I feel obligated to take this place seriously.

BMH is located at the mouth of El Cajon Boulevard.  Now there are pockets where El Cajon Blvd is really kind of cool with some great restaurants and bars (Ould Sod, I’m looking at you).  This is not one of them.  This is exactly how you picture El Cajon Boulevard to be–seedy and the possible location of a stabbing.  On their to-go menus, BMH lists their location being “just West of Saint Martin’s church.”  I would have said “across the street from Paradise Auto and Random Boat Engine Sales” or “next to the guy on the corner wearing a hoodie and drinking out of a paper bag.”  However, once I got past the exterior and located the health department’s A-rating in their window, I was so very happy I came.  The place reminded me of Satriale’s from the Sopranos, which is fitting seeing as how they has a signed Sopranos poster for sale in the foyer.

But really, can we talk about how the show ended real quick?
But really, can we just talk about how the show ended real quick?

They have a mini dining room to the left of the entrance and some dry goods and homemade, frozen pasta dinners for sale in the deli area.  When I entered, there were a couple Italian women sitting at a table, gossiping.  For whatever reason, I found this incredibly comforting.  I was still studying the menu when a man walked out from a back room, heartily greeted me, then turned to yell, “Come on!  Whaddaya doing?” to one of the women chatting.  The bleach blonde, tattooed lady got up slowly, still talking, and sauntered around the counter to take my order.  I was with my brother, and when he requested the torpedo, she asked if he wanted the regular price or the $5 one.

“Is it smaller?”  I asked.

“No.”

“Sooooo, it’s 12 inches.”

“Yeah.”

“For $5?”

(I clearly wasn’t getting it.)

“Yeah, it just has a little less meat.”

Ooooooh, okay.  We wanted the full experience in order to fairly judge them, so we just went with the regular torpedo as it was only $6.75–still incredibly cheap for a full-sized sandwich.  I myself ordered the Southside.  She asked for my name for the order and when I gave it to her she responded, “OH!  That’s my name!  But I go by Gigi.”  Of course you do, Gigi.  Of course you do.

Alright.  These sandwiches.

The torpedo, in all its meaty glory.
The torpedo, in all its meaty glory.

Brian’s was ham, provolone, cotto, and genoa salami.

Don't worry, mine was a foot long too.
Don’t worry, mine was a foot long too.

Mine was ham, cotto salami, genoa salami, capicolla, provolone, and hot girdinera.

They were SO.  GOOD.  I’d never had girdinera before, but it’s basically just spicy, pickled peppers and is a great substitution to pickles or peperoncini’s.  They had a depth in their flavor that was a really nice addition.  Brian and I both got them with the works which is just mayonnaise, mustard, shredded lettuce, tomato, paper-thin red onion slices, and their house dressing.  What really stood out to me about this sandwich–besides the freshness of ingredients–was that dressing.  It was really herby and aromatic and had more of a balsamic richness than a typical vinegar I come to expect from an Italian dressing.  Also, I swear there was a hint of rosemary.

They had so many delicious-sounding sandwiches and the shop possessed such a homey, familial comfort, that I know I will be back.  Honestly, places like BMH Italian are the reason I am doing the blog.  I never would have tried it otherwise, and I know this will now become a staple in my sandwich repertoire.

OVERVIEW FOR THE LAZY:

Price: $7.75 for a 12 inch torpedo

Menu:

It was so hard to choose.
It was so hard to choose.

So many options, such good prices.

Ambiance:  I felt like I was walking on set in a Scorsese film.  A+.

Sides:  Lots of chips and sodas, and even some pasta salad sides available as well.

Second Trip Worthy?  Most definitely.  And you’ll get to virtually come along with me!

Overall rating: 11 out of 10 sandwiches!  Really, it was that good.

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December Birchbox

Even though I hate the 1%, I wish I were one of them from time to time.  I don’t envy their Ferraris or their Teslas, rather the comfort they have in knowing that their car will make it from point A to point B without breaking down.  I want to be able to buy a new pair of jeans every once in a while; I’m not even asking for Gucci, maybe just Gap.  Simply put, I would like a little bit of luxury in my life.  However, I reside somewhere within the 80-99% and don’t have quite as many options.  So I decided on the best form of Poor Girl Pampering: Birchbox.  Here’s the deal: you pay $10 a month and they send you 4-6 samples of beauty products based on the preferences and styles outlined in your profile.  It’s simple, fun, and gives me hope that some day I can afford the full-sized products.  I have finally tried out all the products in my December box and shall review them so that you too can see what may be worth investing in once you marry rich or finally figure your life out.

Here is my Birchbox:

Ta-daa!
Ta-daa!

1.  Juara Tumeric Antioxidant Radiance Mask:  This is one of the products I was really excited to try.  I’ve never done a mask before but I have always pictured it as the pinnacle of relaxation.  I blame Hollywood as I do for most skewed images of things because it’s easy and makes me feel righteous.  But let’s be honest, when you think of a mask, what comes to mind? I conjure up an image of Samantha from Sex in the City donning one while soaking in a bath, room lit only by candles, sipping a glass of wine while a long-haired Spanish model 15 years her junior massages her feet.  Glamour to the extreme.  I wanted to create that spa-like don’t-fuck-with-me-during-beauty-time vibe but all I had was a robe, wine, and Sam Smith on Spotify.

lala
Satin robe and $5 wine.  Classy as shit.

I made it work.

Since this was my first time applying one, I wasn’t sure how much to put on.  I kind of slathered it until there was a smooth, creamy layer evenly across my face.  This mask was supposed to stay moist rather than harden and crack or whatever (I guess they do that?), so I took that as a plus.  About halfway through application, my face began to feel warm.  When I was done with application, the heat had elevated to a raging burn.

This can't be good.
Am I pretty yet?

My mind automatically darted back to the time 6 years ago when I decided to have a similarly relaxing evening and drew myself a bubble bath.  Accompanied by The Sound and the Fury and a nice glass of chardonnay, I remember smiling complacently.  “This is it, Gina,” I thought.  “This is the life you will lead.”  The next morning I awoke in an itchy panic, stumbling to a mirror to discover my skin was bright red, miniature hives cascading in a grotesque mountain range from my forehead to the soles of my feet.  The long-sleeved turtleneck maxi dress and floppy hat of Amal-sized proportions could not even save me embarrassment.  Those were a dark and shameful two days that I never wish to recreate.  And for the record, oatmeal baths are not as rewarding as bubble baths.

Fortunately, the Juara mask is formulated for sensitive skin and after about 5 minutes of deep-breathing and empty promises to a handful of deities (sorry Buddha, I’m still going to eat pork), the tingling of the mask began to fade; by the end of the full 15-minute treatment, my skin felt perfectly normal.  I rinsed it off as instructed (which was actually quite difficult to do considering how thick, creamy, and non-lathery the formula is) and was quite pleased with the results.

You can see the difference too, right?
You can see the difference too, right?  I’m not crazy?

Though uncertain whether it’s reality or my delusions of grandeur speaking, I swear my pores looked smaller, and my skin looked brighter and healthier.  I would definitely consider investing in this product if not for the effect than for the fact that it helps me perpetrate the illusion of a glamorous lifestyle.
BRASS TACKS:  I was given a 0.5 oz sample which provided me with about three masks.  The instructions say to use it 1-2 times a week.  The retail value of the 3 oz container is $35.  Oh God.  This is an actual time where I need math in real life.  Give me a minute.
…..
Okay.  So you’d get about 18 masks out of a full sized product.  That’s about 9 weeks worth of masks.  I guess that’s not so bad.  Also, shout out to Mrs. Anderson, my 9th grade math teacher, for teaching me enough algebra to figure that out.

2.  Acure Organics Sensitive Facial Cleanser Argan Oil + Probiotic:  Along with my mask, I received a face wash also for sensitive skin–I’m not going to read too much into it.  The wash reminded me of the Neutrogena Deep Clean Cream Cleanser–it doesn’t lather and feels a little heavy.  It didn’t make my skin dry or break out or anything which is always a worry with new skin care products (reference above bubble bath story), but it didn’t have a particularly positive effect either.  I think I will stick to my regimen of my good ole’ orange Neutrogena Facial Cleanser and St. Ive’s Green Tea scrub every couple of days.

3. Vasanti Kajal Extreme Intense Eye Pencil:  I was a little disappointed to see this product in my box, not because I don’t enjoy a good eyeliner, but because I don’t believe in wearing one in the color rose gold.  I swatched it on my skin though and besides it being a really pretty color, it stayed put until I washed it off with soap, so I figured I would give it a try.  I decided to use it at as double eyeliner–lining my usual black cat eye for a night out.  I used Chopper from my Naked 2 palette for my eyeshadow and it created a shimmery, iridescent look.  I wore it out to the boyfriend’s show at Hard Rock and, being the lazy girl I am, slept with it on.  It stayed remarkably well.  I retouched the next morning and was happily surprised by how well it translated to day-wear.

Mmhmm, fly as hell.
Mmhmm, fly as hell.

So I will never wear this alone, but it was a pretty fun addition to my makeup collection.  And isn’t that the whole point of a Birchbox?

4.  W3LL PEOPLE Bio Brightener Stick:  This is the only product I don’t see myself using at all.  Unfamiliar with where this stuff is supposed to brighten me up, I had to google it.  From what I could find, it is supposed to serve as a highlighter and an under-eye concealer-esque brightening thing.  I tried it out on the spots I usually highlight around my eye–under the brow bone and in the inner corner.  It was pretty dim compared to what I usually use (Bootycall again found in the Naked 2 palette).  I tried it under my eye and it gave me a pallid spooky tone, like a middle-aged ghost.  The only spot it looked halfway decent is on my cupid’s bow, but it rubs off quickly.  Not a fan, W3LL PEOPLE, of your product or your name.

5.  Davine’s Replumping Shampoo, Conditioner, and Hair Filler Superactive:  I will admit, I wrongly judged this sample.  When I first saw it, I was disappointed.  A little one time use packet of shampoo and conditioner?  Some weird spray?  Don’t they KNOW my hair is incapable of being prodded into doing anything I want it to?  Also, THE fuck does Replumping Hair Filler Superactive mean?  Well, Past Gina, it means it will give your hair a normal texture.  It means that this weird mid-winter hot dryness will not cause your strands to stick to your face with electricity or fly up in an untamable Einsteinian fashion.  It means the grease that usually begins its daily crawl from your roots downward is halted or at least slowed.  It means you feel good about your hair, for a few days at least.  My only complaint is that the spray smells incredibly strong.  It’s as though they took every salon product, boiled them down all together, and made a concentrate.  They then injected that concentrate with poison.  That is how this smells.  The scent fades a few hours later, and with it goes the headache and nausea.

Volume like I've never seent
Volume like I never seent

The effects of the product are supposed to last for 6-8 days, making this product super cost-effective.  Here’s the best thing about it–I received a 50 ml sample.  The full-sized product is 100 ml and sells at $39.95.  See that?  The box more than paid for itself with just one product.  Cheap girls for the win!

The Sandwich Chronicles: Gaglione Brothers

I’ve been watching a lot of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern lately (not to be confused with George Zimmerman, Brian).  This week I saw one where he traveled to the exotic land of Philadelphia.  He tried some old cheeses, scrapple (trust me, it’s not as cute as it sounds), and the coveted cheesesteak.  He went to a place called John’s Roast Pork and watching him devour that sandwich, heaping mounds of meat and cheese being stuffed into his fat, disgusting face really made me crave one for myself.  I have been lucky enough to have a cheesesteak from Pennsylvania in the past; though it was years ago, I still remember the flavors.  Salty meat, rich cheese, soft bread.  A warm feeling of happiness blanketing my core with each bite.  Or maybe that was the feeling of fat trickling through my ventricles.  Regardless, it was extraordinary, good enough to stay with me all these years later.  That being said, I was well overdue for a cheesesteak and decided now was the prime time to satisfy that craving.

WEEK TWO: GAGLIONE BROTHERS

I’ve driven by the Gaglione brothers a few times in the past, and it always seemed like a chain to me.  Maybe it’s the shopping center where it is located (a little strip mall on Mission Gorge), maybe it’s the font they chose for the sign.  Either way, when searching for a good cheesesteak on Yelp it received some pretty rave reviews.  Those reviews, and the fact that their mission statement is to ” serve delicious, fulfilling cheesesteaks and subs,” won me over.  Anyone who describes food as fulfilling understands who I am on a spiritual level and deserves my business.  As it turns out the Gaglione brothers are California natives who have lived in San Diego for years.  They have only two sandwich shops: the flagship location in Point Loma and the one on Mission Gorge.  I went to the latter as it’s closer to home.  Inside, it had a slightly industrial vibe–think brushed steel and brick–but with a homey touch of framed photos of the brothers on the wall.

Awwwwww.  Okay, I'll give you my money.
Awwwwww. Okay, I’ll give you my money.

They had a few variations, but I decided to go with a 12-inch traditional cheesesteak with onions and a side of garlic fries.

Something's off.
Something’s off.

Okay, now by this point you should be able to tell that something is wrong.  You see that?  There, on both ends of the sandwich?

Something's missing...
Let’s take a closer look…
...closer...
…closer…
...cloooooser...
…cloooooser…
(gasp!)  J'accuse!
(gasp!) J’accuse!

That’s bread.  You should not be able to see that bread.  Bread should only be visible on the outside of the sandwich.  It should play the same roll as a sausage casing–to hold in the meat.  I would have liked to believe this a fluke, but sadly my brother got the same sandwich and had the same disappointment–they were both completely under-filled.

“Um, Gina?  It’s probably healthier this way.  Do you really need that much more meat?”, you might be thinking.  And to you I say YES, YES I DO.  I have abnormally low levels of B-12, but THANKS for judging me.  Also, one does not order a philly cheesesteak with health in mind.  I understand I am about to do something really terrible to my body when I decide to eat it–I consent to cutting a few months off of my life with the first bite. But enough about me–let’s get back to the sandwich.

Now I admit that I am prone to hyperbole, but I am being 100% honest when I say the cheesesteak I had in Pennsylvania had at least three times the amount of meat.   To be fair, the meat at Gaglione was well seasoned.  The bread was crusty yet soft.  It tasted pretty good, there was just not nearly enough of it.  I also had a problem with the onions–they were overcooked and almost melted into the rest of the sandwich.  I was expected a heap of stringy, caramelized goodness and got more of a sprinkling of blandness.

One cool thing about Gaglione’s is their pepper bar.  They have eight or so different kinds of peppers for you to top your sandwich with, from jalapenos to banana peppers to–my personal favorite–peperoncinis.  I loaded these onto my sandwich but they somehow kept getting lost in the flavor.  In the end, I piled on about half a cup and only then did they really announce their presence.

As for the fries, they were pretty good.  I love garlic and I love fries, but sometimes the mixing of them together can be overwhelming.  These had a good balance of garlic to fry, and the garlic was cooked up a little before, making it lose that acidic bite raw garlic leaves behind.  They were a nice, heart-clogging side to this sandwich.

RECAP FOR THE IMPATIENT:

Price: $10.29 for a 12 inch

Menu: A handful of different cheesesteaks and some classic deli subs too.

Ambiance: The childhood pictures added a personal touch to an otherwise standard decor.

Sides: Garlic fries were pretty remarkable.

Second Trip Worthy? Perhaps to try a different sandwich.  I would like to see if the original Point Loma location had the same meager serving size.

Overall rating: 6 out of 10 sandwiches

I Zig, You Zig, We Zag

With all the craziness of Christmas, I did not have time to really do up my nails last month.  I did a candy cane and a snowy pattern, but it wasn’t nearly as much as I would have liked.  Now that the holiday chaos is over, I’m itching to make up for my transgression.  Though I didn’t have much time today, I still decided to do a quick lil’ somethin’.  If you have the Seche Vite quick drying top coat, this should only take you about 10-15 minutes.  If you have any other top coat, I’d give it 30 minutes to seven hours.  Honestly, I don’t know how you girls function.  But it’s an incredibly easy zig-zag design, most likely subconsciously inspired by some Barbie I owned in the 90s.

So Mattel.
So Mattel.

Now, into the tutorial!

IMG_1901
The essentials.

Step 1:  Gather your materials.  You will need a top and base coat, two colors of your choosing (I mean, mine are the best but whatever, do what you want I guess), some tape, and scissors.  I have ones that already cut the zig-zag pattern because I spend my money on important things.  If you do not, you can easily create this pattern with regular ones.

Bare nails--I feel so exposed.
Bare nails–I feel so exposed.

Step 2:  Apply your base coat.  You don’t own a base coat?  You should.  Go to the store.  Buy one.  Come back home and apply.  See how shiny and pretty they look?  All healthy and well-taken care of?  Base coats really are underrated.

Step 3:  Paint your nails with two coats of the color you want to be on the bottom half of your nail.  I went with Fun in the Gondola by Essie which sounds more like a romance novel than a nail polish, but I guess they have their reasons.

Step 4:  Apply your top coat.  Let your nails fully dry.  This is a great time to play games on your phone or take a Buzzfeed quiz to find out what supporting character in a Disney movie you should marry (spoiler alert: it’s Rafiki!).

Step 5:  Take your scissors and cut your tape into pieces big enough to cover half your nail.  I have used scotch tape in the past and it has its good and bad qualities.  On the one hand, it sticks well, making your design sharp and the edges clear.  On the other hand, it sticks too well and can easily uproot that beautiful first color you painted.  Dilemma!  If you want to have that zig-zag be extra zig-zaggy, you could paint your first color in the morning, go about your day, do you, and in the evening, complete this with the scotch tape.  If you take the is-she-serious-no-one-really-gives-a-shit-what-it-looks-like-it’ll-chip-in-a-few-days-anyway approach, I suggest you use your good ole painter’s tape.  The edges are softer, almost wavy, but it still looks cool.

Being a girl is weird.
Being a girl is weird.

Step 6:  Apply the tape to your nail.  I started with my thumb and angled the tape up; on the pointer I angled it down, middle I angled it up, etc. etc. etc. so that on top of the TAPE being zig-zagged, the nails TOO are zig-zagged!  I take my themes very seriously.  Also, if using painter’s tape, be sure you really get that tape down on there good, especially at the edges where the nail meets the skin.  It can lift up and kinda ruin the effect a bit.

Step 7:  Paint your second color over the showing nail.

Step 8:  Remove the tape!  Hurry, remove it already!  If you wait too long it will dry but only sort of and when you go to pull off the tape, some of the fresh polish will come along too and you’ll get weird stringy lines all over your beautiful goddamn design!  Did you remove it yet?  Okay, good.

BOOM.
BOOM.

Step 9:  Apply your top coat to seal in the colors and smooth everything out.

And there you have it!  Since this requires 3-4 coats of polish, it does tend to peel off fast once it begins the dreaded chipping process. I would give it three to four days of life, making it best to wear for a fun night out or if you’re feeling really nostalgic for the 90’s.  But let’s be real–when aren’t you feeling nostalgic for the 90’s?

The Sandwich Chronicles: Cheers!

I love sandwiches.  All kinds, really.  Hot, cold, grilled, veggie, meaty, ice cream–you name it, I will devour it greedily.  Like with most foods, I have a handful of go-to spots that I stick to because (reference blog name) I’m just too lazy to find somewhere new.  I also like the comfort of knowing just what something will taste like–the turkey sandwich at Windmill Farms will always come out the same, simple way, no tricks, no funny business.  However, this year I am trying to lunge outside of my comfort zone.  Life is too short to not order a banh mi every once in a while.  And so starting today and running through the end of the year, I will be visiting a new sandwich shop once a week and trying something different.  I will log my eatings here so you all may applaud my courage and take this life-enriching journey with me.

Okay, let’s get started.

WEEK ONE:  CHEERS DELI

I decided to ease into the quest with a simple sandwich from this San Carlos institution.  On the outside, Cheers is not the most appealing of all stores.  It’s unassuming, a hair too dark, and has an old 60’s vibe complete with lattice and bunches of fake grapes dangling from the ceiling.  This is usually a sign that the place is either guilty of a few health code violations or is the real deal.  Cheers is the latter.  I’ve had a hankering for a turkey sandwich (oh shut up; I’ll try something adventurous next week) and so I decided on the Swiss Alps which comes topped with bacon, swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, red onions, shredded lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and dijon mustard.  I got mine on a french roll and added avocado for a dollar more (someday I hope to live in a world where there is no extra charge for this).

GODDAMN DELICIOUS.
GODDAMN DELICIOUS.

As far as turkey sandwiches go, this bad boy was delicious.  The turkey was thinly sliced and the serving was generous.  I couldn’t quite taste the swiss, so it was nice to have the bite of the cheddar in there to cut some of the saltiness of the meats.  The avocado was perfectly ripe and was a nice addition to the sandwich, though I am the type of person who could add avocado to cake and think it a nice addition, so maybe you shouldn’t take my word for it (but really, avocado cake? How is this not yet a thing?).  Oh, hey, speaking of foods I love in a creepy, obsessive way, this sandwich also had Dijon.  Was it enough?  Was it dripping out of the sandwich and running down to my elbows?  Was I sopping it up off of my plate with bread afterwards, happy and sighing and at peace with the world?  No.  I was not.  In truth, the mustard was barely present.  I was also disappointed in the lack of acid–there were no pepperoncinis on it and not even a pickle spear served alongside.  I blame this for why I did not finish the whole thing.  I needed something to get in there and break up the flavor.  All in all it was a good sandwich; it came with a side of macaroni salad, and only cost me $8.95.

Since sandwich day is usually a special time for me, I decided to fully treat myself and I got a nice bag of chips and a craft soda.  Cheers really lacked variety, but I found a butterscotch root beer and a bag of Dirty Potato chips that sounded weird enough to try.

These brands really need to rethink their names.
These brands really need to rethink their names.

Despite the fact that I felt like a sassy 80 year old woman drinking her Dang! soda and eating Funky Fusion chips, these were some pretty good sides.  The chips were dusted with a mix of random spices including but not limited to paprika and garlic salt, and had a tangy, sweet, bitter thing going on.  Not bad.  Pretty funky.  As for the soda, I’m in love.  In my 14 year quest since first reading Harry Potter, this is the closest I have come to the highly coveted butter beer.  I tried the Flying Cauldron brand butterscotch soda and it was too sweet–I could feel a mossy film grow on my teeth with each sip.  However Dang! (*shudders*) achieves the perfect balance.  The root beer flavor mellows out the butterscotch and makes it smoother and creamier.  I would drink these every day if it were not for the bottle.

Alright here’s a quick rating for those of you who don’t like so many words:

Price: $8.95

Menu: Lots of variety–from classic deli meats to Philly Cheesesteak to breakfast sandwiches.

Ambiance: Weird, but in a good way.  Like going to the gym drunk.

Sides: Good, though few to choose from.

Second Trip Worthy? Most definitely.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10 sandwiches