February, In Passing

February was way too short, and this post is a little too late, but it still deserves to be remembered.  Here’s to you, February: a month unjustly hated by singles and East Coasters weathering your angry storms.  As for me?  I liked you just fine.

Things I Ate But Probably Shouldn’t Have:

I'm Southern at heart.
I’m Southern at heart.

1.  Homemade Mac n’ Cheese:  The first weekend in February, Damon had to travel to Portland to record with his band, Ape Machine (Never heard of them?  They’re on Spotify.  Go listen; I’ll wait).

Good right?  Alright, back to me.

His aunt happens to be high up at United and as Damon has to travel a lot, she has given him a pass that allows him to fly for free.  The problem with this?  Though he flies for free, it is on standby, which would test even the Dalai Lama’s patience.  More often than not, he ends up spending the day on the floor of SFO, watching Netflix on his phone, cursing the gods, and swearing off flying that way ever again.  He’ll usually end up snagging a seat on the last flight out just for the added drama, and come home achy and exhausted.  This time around, however, was worse than usual.  His train to the airport broke down (at four in the morning, mind you), causing him to miss the early flight.  He spent all day at the airport, finally got on a flight to LA, and from there took a rickety plane to the Carlsbad airport where I picked him up, and then drove the 45 minutes down to his place.  He did not get home until 9:30 at night.  One a day that started at 4 am.  Spent mostly in airports.  AIRPORTS!  It would be heartbreaking if not for the irony that he watched Planes, Train & Automobiles just the night before.  I decided he deserved something special for putting up with that so the next evening I treated him to his favorite meal–Mac n’ cheese.  This is a dish I have perfected over the years and is just as delicious as it is expensive and high in calories.  I’m gonna share the recipe here one of these days, but basically it’s a blend of fontina, grueyre, and goat cheese with pancetta and brussel sprouts, and topped with a thick, melty layer of parmesan.  A bit decadent, but we deserved it.

Hey, look guys!  I'm eating healthy!
Hey, look guys! I’m eating healthy!

2.  OB Noodle House:  In the beginning of the month, I was having some car trouble.  As in, my car would not start.  At nearly 20 years old, I have long feared its demise, but (being me) did not plan or save for it whatsoever.  I had to wait a few days to take it in to our neighborhood mechanic, which was plenty of time to work myself into an anxious fervor.  Without a car, I would have to give up my job.  I would struggle to find one within walking distance, what with the economy.  I would burn through my meager savings quickly and eventually be forced to live on the streets, a homeless, wandering nomad fighting to survive…

So you can imagine just how elated I was to find out all I needed was a new battery and a few replacement belts!  I obviously had to celebrate, and how better than by going to the OB Noodle House?  Though my repairs were cheaper than I expected them to be, they still cost a chunk of change; fortunately, the Noodle House is really quite cheap for how much food you get.  I ordered the meatball, rare steak pho which is $6.95 for the regular size or $7.70 for the extra large.  I always upgrade cuz I’m American and also, 75 cents isn’t going to break the bank.  My friend and I also shared the chicken lettuce wraps which, aside from being the best I’ve ever had, are only $7.50 and make you look healthy.  That’s what I call a win-win.  The only downside to the place is that the wait for a table can sometimes be a little much, but inversely, your food comes out within five minutes of ordering.  Plus they have a bunch of cheap beers to help pass the time with.  Not much more a girl can ask for.

No filter necessary.
No filter necessary.

3.  Marisco’s Fish Tacos:  THESE ARE THE BEST FISH TACOS IN SAN DIEGO WHICH, BY PROXY, MAKES THEM THE BEST FISH TACOS IN THE WORLD.  Really, some foodie guy trekked through all of San Diego on a hunt for the best and nothing surpassed these, or even came close, really; though I’ve known that all along.  They are from a food truck called Marisco’s Nine Seas Seafood located in the old Gala foods parking lot in South Park, conveniently less than a block from Damon’s apartment.  Now get this: the regular fish taco (the one on the left) is just $1.50.  That’s basically free.  The fish is fresh, perfectly battered, and topped with just the right balance of pico de gallo and cabbage.  The white cream sauce is light and good in its own right, but you see that orange sauce in the back?  Waiting patiently, stacked three-tall?  I like to smother it with that, and go through about two containers per taco.  It’s basically that spicy mayonnaise that sometimes comes atop sushi, but a little thinner and less mayonnaisey.  Also, besides being great on fish tacos and sushi, it makes a beautiful dip for boiled artichokes.  That’s why I always grab at least six–you never know when the price of artichokes will dip, and it’s best be prepared.

Though the regular fish taco is definitely filling enough to eat on its own, I’d be remiss if I did not also grab a marlin taco (the one on the right).  The texture of the fish is very meaty and it has the most amazing salty, smokey flavor; it’s almost pork-like, but with the added bonus of not giving you cancer and clogging your arteries!

Mmm, orange.
Mmm, orange.

4.  Jollof Rice, Smashed Yams, and Inedible Plantains:  My sister and two girls who are basically sisters decided to start a book club.  Our first novel, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, follows a man and woman from Nigeria.  The woman, Ifemelu, moves to America when she is 20 and attends college, starts what becomes a famous blog, and dates rich, intellectual, super annoying guys.  The man, Obinze, moves to London, can’t get a green card, and is deported the day of his wedding–he really got the short end of the stick.  I won’t go into it further as some of you may end up picking it up yourselves (as you rightly should!), but the novel continually raises questions about identity–who we are and how we came to be that way.  There were many things in the book that I had never considered before (like how complicated an issue hair-styling is for black women), and feel like my eyes were opened to a whole different world.  Adiche did this thing where she would mention something like, say, the harmattan, and not explain what it is.  It made all of the non-African readers out there stop, pull up google, and find out just what she was talking about.  She did this often with food as well and after reading the book, I thought it would be fun to make some of the dishes she mentioned to fully submerse ourselves in the culture.  For the main course, we chose Jollof aka Party Rice.  It is a relatively simple rice dish made with tomato paste, curry powder, a little thyme, and chicken.  It reminded me of a Mexican rice, but more stew-like.  The yams were slightly sweetened and with a kick of heat, and the plantains tasted like woodchips.  In hindsight, I see that we should have looked up a recipe for those.  The meal was enjoyed while discussing the book and watching The Lagos Housewives, a great Lifetime Channel style drama we found on Youtube.  We learned a lot that night, the most important being if your husband leaves you alone often enough, you may be tempted to join a lesbian sex club, and that malaria is relatively common to catch and can easily be confused for pregnancy.

Too classy.
Just a casual night in.
Too classy for you.
You know, no big deal.

5.Valentine’s Dinner:  There is basically no reason for Damon and I to go out to eat anymore.  We can make almost anything with our own two hands.  This Valentine’s Day we decided to go all out and cook some goddamn lamb, because why not?  We whetted the appetite with some brie, stilton and a warmed baguette.  The main course featured rack of lamb with a mustard, rosemary rub served over a blueberry, balsamic reduction; marscapone mashed potatoes with leeks; and a simple roasted asparagus.  We ate this while watching What We Do In the Shadows, making this Valentine’s Day a close second to two years ago where we dined on scallops by candlelight and the soft, magical glow of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  Romance is alive ladies.

A girl's got to have her asparagus.
A girl’s got to have her asparagus.

6.  Salmon Bow-Tie Pasta:  This is another gem I would like to do a full recipe post on, but here’s a little teaser to hold you over until then: salmon, capers, dill, lemon, tomato, cream.  Restaurant quality, with the added bonus of getting to enjoy it in the comfort of your own sweatpants.

Just because I don’t know what it’s called doesn’t mean I can’t love it.

7.  La Cocina de Rosita:  This gem of a restaurant is hidden away in a teeny shopping center in Golden Hill where the main draw is the 99 Cent Store.  I’ve been a few times and on only one occasion has someone working there been able to communicate with me in English.  For me this really adds to the charm of the place.  That, the homemade corn tortillas that you get an entire steaming hot basket of, and the old lady that set up a folding table in the corner to do people’s taxes last March just give this place real character.  Living in San Diego my whole life along with having worked in a restaurant, I have enough of a base of Spanish to understand the basics of what I’m ordering, though I don’t know exact names.  This is the Pork and Potato Thing, and good God is it delicious.  The sauce has a real kick to it and when scooped up with the beans in one of those warm, hearty corn tortillas…I’m getting lightheaded just thinking about it.  Damon got the pozole this time around which was really nice, much better than the menudo, because no matter how hard I try, I will never get over my aversion to tripe.  I don’t get the appeal Andrew Zimmern. It just doesn’t taste good.  Though La Cocina de Rosita does have lots of soups and hot dishes, they also have all the same foods as an average taco shop.  You can make a day of it–stop in at the 99 cent store for your weekly supply of paper towels, spices, and Kim Kardashian workout videos (for real, they have those), and top it off with some $1 Carnitas street tacos. Poverty doesn’t have to be so bad!

Things I Did That I Probably Shouldn’t Have Done:

Every year my friend throws the Oscar party to end all Oscar parties.  We dress up in thrift store ball gowns, eat fancy snacks, bet on the winners, and becoming sloppy messes thanks to Natalie’s special blend of champagne, vodka, and juice known as the Manmosa.  Though it is just a fun evening for most ladies invited, it is a heated night of competition for me.  I follow the Oscars the way many people follow football, and this night…it’s my Super Bowl.

Thankfully the one person who posed a threat to my winning did not show (SOMEONE lacks dedication, Nancy…), so I won, no sweat.  However, I got a little cocky and a little drunk, and I would like to issue a formal apology to anyone who had to deal with me that night.  I imagine I was a mix of Kanye West and Sweet Dee from It’s Always Sunny: an absolute nightmare.  Here’s a visual for you of my Black Swan-like transformation:

Like Cinderella, glowing with grace and charm
A modern day Cinderella, glowing with grace and charm!

This is early in the night, and I am keeping it classy with a full-skirted, queen-like dress.  Here, I am channeling Princess Diana, telling myself this year, I will keep my shit together.  Notice my boyfriend’s complete lack of embarrassment.

Uh oh.
Hide your kids, hide your wife.

There are many clues here to indicate my decline:

1.  My hair is up.

2.  Glasses are on, indicating I’ve lost all hopes of looking cute and also, thing are probably getting fuzzy.

3.  Purple lipstick has been applied.

4.  Tongue is out–classic drunk Gina.

and most telling of all…

5.  A costume change has occurred.  With the putting on of that purple velvet dress, I removed my dignity.  The hopes of having a calm, classy night were extinguished.

Get money, get paid.
All I see is signs, all I see is dollar signs.

This is me at the end of the night.  That is the money I won in my hand.  I woke up to find this picture along with a video of me dancing with my winnings on my phone.  I was blinded by greed, by my competitive spirit, and alcohol.  But mostly the alcohol.  Here’s hoping that next year I will be able to remain composed and graceful throughout the night.

But I’m not making any promises.


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