I’ve Been Searsuckered!

Last weekend my sister and I were both craving a good brunch and a good drunk.  Or, I guess in layman’s terms, just a good brunch.  Being the insufferable foodies that we are, we wanted to try something a little different, something a little more upscale.  A former coworker of mine had mentioned how great Searsucker was.  “It’s really cheap for all you can drink Mimosas!”  He had told me.

“Oh yeah?”

“And the food is great!”

“Well, it’s owned by Brian Malarkey.  Can’t be bad.”

“Yeah.  The mimosa brunch is juuust great,” he repeated.

“I bet.  What’d you order?”  I asked.

“Eh, I dunno, something with eggs.  I drank so much.”

“Nice.  Got your money’s worth.”

“Yeah; took a power nap, and now I’m here!”

Now that I think about it, it was probably the four plus hours of bottomless champagne that fueled his enthusiasm.  However, the menu sounded great, the owner is a former Top Chef finalist, and I heard the mimosas were a steal.  So when Saturday rolled around, we set out for Searsucker.

After a slightly dangerous and politically-charged Uber ride (sorry, James, but I don’t see Carly Fiorina as our next president, and could you please quit turning around and keep your eyes on the damn road?!), we arrived at our destination.  Once seated, I turned immediately to the drink menu.  I was devastated to find the all-you-drink mimosas I had heard so much about were $20.  Twenty whole dollars!  I could buy five bottles of Andre for that price!  Dismayed, I decided to order just a single one to start; that turned out to be the right call as our server, though friendly and very personable, only came by to check on us once.  Twenty dollars for two mimosas would have been criminal.

My go-to brunch food is a benedict, and after seeing the Green Eggs and Ham, I knew that it would be mine.

More like GREENS and eggs and ham.

I know what you’re thinking, because it’s exactly what I was thinking when it was set down in front of me–why is there a salad when there should be potatoes?  Or maybe it’s the second thought I had–why is there only one?   Or perhaps my final, I’m paying $14 for this?  Correct me if I’m wrong, but customarily, one receives two benedicts per order; it’s kind of an unspoken rule.  The menu is written very sparingly (the description for this was “nestled egg + pork belly + brioche + herbs”) so though it wasn’t stated outright, I assumed it would come with the standard two, the way I assumed it would be dressed with a hollandaise and that the food would be cooked.  I also dumbly thought potatoes or fruit OR ANYTHING BUT A SALAD WOULD ACCOMPANY IT BECAUSE WHY WOULD A SALAD COME WITH BREAKFAST, BRIAN?!

After my initial upset, I took a deep breath and dug in.  Now if you looked closely at the photo I provided, you may have already noticed my next disappointment: the pork belly was severely overcooked.  I expected my fork to slice effortlessly through the buttery soft, lusciously fatty meat, but alas, I was met with undue resistance. Eventually, I gave up and resorted to using a knife.  A knife!  On pork belly!  That to me, a lover of all things pork, was just hurtful.

To be fair, the flavors were pretty great–the hollandaise being one of the best I’ve ever had, perfectly salted and herbaceous; the buttery brioche serving as a great foundation for the dish–but $14?  For a single benedict and a handful of lightly dressed greens there to fill the plate and trick me into thinking I didn’t just get served a single benedict for $14?  Unacceptable.

Katy, being the more practical/intelligent of us Leenerts sisters, opted for a hearty Corned Beef Hash, and I was glad she did; after my meager serving, she gave me some of her potato scraps.

Clearly, someone’s going through an arugula phase.

After eating, I felt slightly taken advantage of, and was ready for a place more honest and comfortable.  Katy decided upon Half Door Brewing, and I am so glad she did. Built to look like an old two-story house and being half a block from Petco Park, it has a comforting, Old Time American feel to it.  Katy and I took a shady table on the second story deck and, lulled by this homey atmosphere, spent an hour and a half ordering drink after drink and discussing the finer things in life, like Game of Thrones and how Drake could do better than Serena Williams (no shade intended).

Some booze with a view.

Alcohol, sunshine, and a beautiful view–I’ll take that over a single benedict any day.

Sandwich Chronicles: Panama 66

WEEK EIGHT

Work is pretty rough this time of year.  We are currently in our post-Christmas dead period where all the New Year’s Resolutionists have finally given up on their goals of weight loss and reading more and have settled back into their respective couches with takeout and Netflix, not to return until next Black Friday.  Due to this sudden lack of cash flow, payroll gets all kinds of tight and we basically just end up sending everyone home after they hit the required two hour mark.  Last Tuesday was my turn: after coming in at 6 am, commute lit by a gorgeous crescent moon, I was off by 9.  I had already been fully awakened by that point and had an entire day ahead of me; while I had a lot of Workaholics to catch up on, I figured I could save that for the last seven hours of the day, and agreed to meet Erica in Balboa Park to explore the free museums.  It was the third Tuesday of the month so the Museum of Man and the art museum were among the ones free of charge; we decided to start with the SDMA, grab lunch and a drink at the newly opened Panama 66, and catch some mummies afterward.

The art museum was, you know, the San Diego Art Museum.  We walked around.  Laughed at the ugly stuff we could probably do ourselves, saw some paintings of Jesus depicted as a Man-Baby.  The usual.  Also, FYI, searching Google images for “Jesus as man baby” does not disappoint.

First there’s this little guy, apologizing to Mary for making everyone think she’s a ho.

First there's this little guy.
Forgive me, mom.  I know not what I do.

Then there’s this little hipster baby Jesus, who was probably a Vegan and built his own tree house.

Then there's this sweet little bearded savior.
Baby Jesus had a beard before you even knew about them.

And finally this guy comes along and raises some important questions about race and the white-washing of our dear Emmanuel.

And then this guy comes along and raises some important questions about race and the white-washing of our dear Emmanuel.
Or maybe he’s just a guy named Jesus Manbaby.

Just thought that needed to be shared.

Obviously we had worked up an appetite after the strange and intriguing museum visit and headed straight to Panama 66.  It is owned and operated by the people who run Tiger! Tiger! and Blind Lady Alehouse, so I had some pretty high expectations.  Though I’ve never dined at Tiger! Tiger!, I have a very special place in my heart for Blind Lady’s egg and bacon pizza.  The egg is cracked in the center.  It cooks just enough to leave the yolk runny.  It’s topped with swiss chard and truffle oil…needless to say, I could eat this for breakfast everyday.

Panama 66 has a different feel to it, which is to be expected given its touristy location.  It’s an open, outdoor area with a bar/counter where you order.  Erica and I snagged a seat and pored over the menu.  I was happy to find they had a decent selection of good beers for pretty cheap.  I found this especially surprising in Balboa Park, where a soda can set you back $5.  They also had many delicious-sounding sandwiches and I had been told by a friend I had to get the pork loin, but for whatever reason, I went against her guidance.  I was interested in something light and the butternut squash sandwich caught my eye.  So that’s what I got.  And I never regretted a sandwich more:

UGH.
Ew.  Just ew.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the densest, nuttiest, richest sandwich you will ever eat.  Or, if you’re lucky, won’t ever eat.  It sounded so refreshing in theory:

Roasted butternut squash, shiitake mushrooms, kale slaw, pepitas, miso vinaigrette on house-made focaccia.

You know, reading that over now, it doesn’t really sound refreshing at all.  It actually sounds pretty heavy.

So maybe I didn’t really think about how that would all come together until it was too late, but whatever, I still don’t think it’s my fault.  Basically the bread was good, but too heavy for that thinly-sliced squash.  The squash itself needed some kind of flavor.  The mushrooms and the pumpkin seeds really had no place on the sandwich and, combined with the miso, only brought that umami flavor to an almost unbearable level.  And the kale?  That’s not a slaw.  That’s just kale, cut up.  So basically, nothing on this sandwich worked.  And I hate to say this, but I didn’t even finish it.  Scratch that–I couldn’t even finish it.  While I was yet again learning the hard lesson to never order vegan when pork is on the menu, Erica got one of the most gorgeous turkey sandwiches I ever seent.  She even let me have a bite, probably because she’s a good friend and not because I was eyeing it with the same intensity with which a lioness stalks her prey.

That's me, across the table, crying into my gross food.
I’m just about ready to pounce.

This was hers, a combination of turkey, brie, butter lettuce, bacon, and a cranberry mayo which is, in my opinion, just delightful.  This sandwich changed my mind on Panama 66.  This sandwich offered them hope of redemption.

Plus, it’s hard to swear off a place with this view:

Goddamn, San Diego.  Why you so beautiful?
Goddamn, San Diego. Why you so beautiful?

RECAPPIN’ IT

Price: Unlike the beer, the sandwiches run a little pricey–my abomination was about $9, and most of the meaty ones were $11ish.

Menu:  It’s a little underdeveloped, but it is also a new spot.  With time, they may beef it up a bit.  The sandwiches they do have are unique, though in some cases, like, oh I dunno, a butternut squash/mushroom/pumpkin seed sandwich, uniqueness doesn’t pay off…

Ambiance:  Outdoors in Balboa Park–gorgeous.  Reference above glamour shot of the Museum of Man bell tower.

Sides:  For an additional $4, you can grab some fries?

Second Trip Worthy?  I’d like to give their pork loin a go, but I’m not going to go seek it out.  If I am ever exploring museums in the future, I’ll swing by.

Overall rating: On the sandwich alone, 1 out of 10 sandwiches.  I never thought I would hate a sandwich so much.  I need to sit and think about my life.

Sandwich Chronicles: Rubicon Deli

WEEK SEVEN

You guys.  I’ve finally gone and done it.  I’ve been told for years it is the best sandwich shop around and while I held high hopes, I didn’t realize just how good it would be.

I ate at Rubicon.

I must say, when I arrived there, I kind of didn’t know where it was.  I knew it was on India by Shakespeare’s Pub but I could not for the life of me find a sign.  So I parked, got out of my car, and saw a line of people directly in front of me.  I figured that had to be it.  Then I saw people eating sandwiches on the little sidewalk patio and knew by the looks of those culinary marvels that I was in the right place.  Though the line went out the door, it’s only because the counter is basically three steps inside the building.  After a short wait, it was time to order.  I had heavily researched this establishment prior to arriving and was set on ordering either the Dapper Dipper (a fancy french dip) or the Rich Boy (chipotle grilled chicken, cheese, and avocado).  However, once I got to the front of the line, I began to have second thoughts.  The dip sounded/looked and smelled delicious (one of the patio people ordered it, okay?  He was right there and I was just kind of casually leaning over, checking it out…it wasn’t as creepy as it sounds).  However, it was about 85 degrees out and as much as I love au jus, I thought I should maybe save it for a time when it could be more fully appreciated.  The Rich Boy was highly favored on Yelp, but it sounded pretty similar to the sandwich I got from BFD (https://lazygirltrying.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/the-sandwich-chronicles-bfd/, in case you missed it!), and I felt obligated to try something a little different.  Then I saw it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Belly Up:

Cue Lord of the Rings theme
Cue Lord of the Rings theme.
One sandwich to rule them all
One sandwich to rule them all!

This sandwich is unlike any other sandwich I have either reviewed or ever eaten.  It’s pork belly with a sweet and tart Asian slaw, lettuce, and a miso ginger mayonnaise.  You choose your bread and, being unsure of what it would go best on, I went with the recommendation of the guy at the counter–the pesto roll.  It sounds weird, but it works so well.

As a rule of thumb, I’m not usually a huge fan of coleslaw on sandwiches.  As with potato chips, I adopt a very conservative policy of segregation–they are sides, that is where they should remain!  However, I wholly support the integration happening in this sandwich.  The pork belly, being as fatty and rich as it is, needs something slightly sweet and acidic to break it up.  Not to mention the crunch of the slaw also adds a nice texture to a sandwich that would otherwise be, well, soft and flabby (don’t take that the wrong way, pork belly; I love you just the way you are).  Though it is expensive, weighing in at $12.99 for the whole, it is also gigantic; half is basically the size of a homemade sandwich.  Considering the quality of ingredients and the fact that I could never make this myself, I say it is well worth the price.

Because this was a really special sandwich day, I decided to splurge and get myself a side of their bacon potato salad.  I love potato salad so very much, and have honestly never found a place that serves it with bacon.  I don’t know why this is; it only makes sense, especially if it also contains hard boiled eggs…it’s like breakfast in a creamy, mayonnaisy scoop!  Who wouldn’t want that?

WAAAAAIT a minute...
What is this shit?

So you can imagine my disappointment when, at home, I discovered they gave me not the glorious meaty potato salad, but fucking QUINOA.  MOTHERFUCKING QUINOA.  Sure, it was the healthier option, and sure it probably saved me from having a heart attack that day, but there is nothing as disappointing as expecting bacon and getting a super grain.  To be fair, it was really good, even better the second day, once the flavors had time to meld.  It had a nice garlicky richness, a vinegary bite, and the tomatoes and cucumbers were refreshing..so yeah, it wasn’t the worst side I could have received.  But still, man.  Goddamn quinoa.

BULLET POINTS:

Price: I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty expensive.  But if you’re going to budget for a sandwich, this should be the one.  Also, I don’t think it is humanly possible to eat a whole in one sitting, so you really get two meals for the price of one.

Menu:  A large handful of unique specialty sandwiches along with the option of building your own.  They also offer salads, for the weak.

Ambiance:  Is artisanal an ambiance?  Because I think it should be.  Okay, if not it’s young, it’s hip, it’s fun, but you can tell they all take it seriously and know what they’re doing.  Except for the guy packing to-go bags.  He needs some retraining.

Sides:  Well as you know there are potato and quinoa salads, and also a bunch of potato chips.  OH!  Before I forget!  They have the most amazing soda fountain–all the sodas are made with pure cane sugar and the flavors include lemon lime, diet cola, cola, root beer, orange, and SHIRLEY TEMPLE.  Where have you been all my life?

Second Trip Worthy?  It’s taken every ounce of willpower I have not to go back and try that Dapper Dipper.

Overall rating: 15 out of 10 sandwiches!

The Sandwich Chronicles: Bite of Boston

WEEK SIX:  THE LOBSTER ROLL

Lent has begun, and though I am not exactly a “practicing Catholic,” I do still feel compelled by the guilt of Jesus Christ to participate.  This year I’ve given up buying coffee…for the most part.  I mean, I basically just want to be more conscious about when I choose to do so, and not automatically buy it every day.  And yeah, sure, I got one today, but I felt like treating myself, and vanilla iced coffee sounded like a great way to start my morning, and okay GOD, I’M SORRY!  I repent and will do ten Hail Marys!

Along with the giving up of something, we’re also, for whatever reason*, supposed to cut out meat on Fridays.  As this past Friday was the first of the Lenten season I chose to start the forty days off right and avoid any crushing remorse by getting myself a nice meat-free sandwich.  I found a place called Bite of Boston just minutes away from my work and thought it fitting: being Bostonian, they have a 99% chance of being Irish Catholic (at least that’s what The Departed has led me to believe), and I would be in like company.

Though I’ve never been to Boston, I can imagine they are a very proud city.  At least that’s the vibe I got from the decor.

I'm guessing they like sports up there?
So I guess they like sports up there?

The walls were covered in Boston memorabilia, most of it sports-related.  Any other time this would cause me to cower and run from a place, but here, I remained calm.  While waiting for my food and wondering why I was so serene in such a seemingly horrifying environment, I had a revelation.  It’s not the sportiness that I hate in places similarly decorated, but the twenty or so flat-screen tvs, each playing a different game, creating a sweaty whirlwind of chaos and causing me to shout across the table about how funny the last episode of Broad City was LIKE I’M THE WEIRD ONE FOR WANTING TO HAVE A CONVERSATION OVER DINNER.  But in Bite of Boston?  There isn’t a single tv.  I could scroll through Buzzfeed in peace, with just the casual chatter of overweight old men fluttering around me.  Not that I was waiting for long–the food was out in just about five minutes.  And speaking of the food…

isjdflsjd
Mmm, cholesterol.

Ladies and gentlemen, the lobster roll, served alongside a bowl of clam chowder.  Now, candidly speaking, the only other lobster I’ve ever had was either in a bisque or a taco.  That being said, I wasn’t sure if this was a traditional take on the lobster roll or if it is to the sandwich what McDonald’s is to the hamburger–bearing a resemblance, but only vaguely.  I did a little research and found that their roll is indeed made with Maine lobster, flown out from the East coast twice a week.  A for authenticity, F for their carbon footprint.   Though I was incredibly underwhelmed by the size of the sandwich (served on a buttered and grilled hot dog bun and coming in just under 6 inches), I have to say, the taste was pretty great.  Again, thanks to the internet, I learned that many lobster rolls have much more mayonnaise and chopped celery–this one was very lightly dressed with both.  Less fillers = more seafood = a happy Gina.  And though it initially looked small, the buttery roll and rich flavor of the lobster meat really ended up being quite filling.  Though I would have liked more lemon, either in the dressing or on the side; I’m partial to acid (no, not that kind), and it would have helped break up all that heaviness.

As for the clam chowder, it was perfect, and cheap as far as they go; I got the 8 oz bowl for just $3.50.  Though it was amazingly rich, creamy, and hearty, Damon makes a pretty mean chowder as well.  However, he does use bacon in his soup for a little extra flavor–it looks like I’ll be sticking with Bite of Boston’s until Easter’s over.

THE CASTING OF FINAL JUDGEMENT

Price: A bit steep–the small lobster roll is $12, and the large is $15; then again, the price of lobster is always steep.

Menu:  They have a handful of hot and cold sandwiches, though nothing that really jumped out at me; they also have some other seafood goodies, that obviously jumped out at me (fried clams, anyone?)

Ambiance:  Boston, with a touch of Boston.

Sides:  The standards–coleslaw, mac n’ cheese, potato salad, and Boston baked beans, because of course.

Second Trip Worthy?  Only if I ever get the craving for a lobster roll.  Though when that craving strikes, I’d rather try something badass like a whole goddamn lobster, killed/cooked with my own two hands.

Overall rating: 6.5 out of 10 sandwiches!

*because the Pope owns Long John Silvers.

The Sandwich Chronicles: BFD

WEEK FIVE:  BIG FRONT DOOR

After the past few weeks of exploring uncharted territory, I felt the need to eat something comfortable and familiar.  Big Front Door is one of the places already in my rotation and is, in my humble opinion, the perfect sandwich shop.  The reasons are as follows:

1.  They have a bunch of fun, interesting ingredients (roast beef, broccoli rabe sandwich?  Smoked potato and whipped avocado?  How did the world never think of that?)

2.  Their name automatically brings to mind my second favorite Roald Dahl book, The BFG, and infuses the place with a magical air.

and

3. It has a very San Diego feel to it–clean, open, sunny, and with a lot of little crafty touches.

One of the oh so San Diego things about it is their institution of a seasonal sandwich.  It rotates from time to time and uses ingredients that are, well, in season (go figure).  I got one last Winter and came with hopes that it was still their seasonal sandwich this year.  I was lucky.

Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes on the Season’s Past.

She's so gorgeous.
She melts my heart.

It consists of blackened chicken, brie, roasted brussel sprouts, honey-dijon mustard, garlic aioli, and is served on ciabatta bread.  The sandwich may seem a little pricey at $10.50, but let me assure you, it is worth every red cent.  Here are a sample of the notes I wrote during my tasting:

“Lots of craft sodas.”

“God I love it here.”

“Sandwich takes a long time to make.  10 minutes?”

“It’s hot though, makes sense.”

“So good.”

OMG sososososo fucking good.”

That basically sums it up.  Everything is so perfectly balanced–the salty, peppery chicken is mellowed out by the creamy, gooey brie, is brightened and sweetened by the honey-dijon.  The earthiness of the brussel sprouts (which are cooked perfectly, by the way) add a good rustic element.  It’s pretty filling so I had half there and saved the other half for later which, honestly, is just as good cold.  Since it’s more of a meal than most sandwiches, it actually benefits from the flavors sitting and mingling together over a little bit of time, and the ciabatta is hearty so it holds up well to a little moisture and doesn’t get all soggy.

BFD also has some great sides to choose from.  I usually stick to the chipotle potato salad because how could I not, but they have a red quinoa salad, regular potato salad, macaroni, thai cucumber salad, and a handful of others that all look amazing.  I got a small size and can’t remember exactly how big it was but it only cost $1.50 and serves about two people.  As I hinted earlier, they also have a great selection of craft sodas.  I’m trying to cut out my soda intake, but mostly Coke and Dr. Pepper.  I keep seeing people post videos about how Coke will eat through metal or how it does something horrifying when boiled.  I don’t ever watch these mostly because they always have captions like “She thought Coke was okay.  Then she boiled it.  You’ll never guess what happens next!” and I think all videos promoted in such a style should be wiped off the face of the earth; also, I really like Coke and sometimes (ahem, when hungover), I just need it.  That being said, I do understand how horrible it probably is for my delicate innards and have being trying to make the switch to things less destructive.  This is why I really like craft soda–I choose which one to get based on the amount of normal ingredients they have.  The one I settled on this week is Black Cherry from the Boylan Bottling Company and it had only one ingredient that sounded a little confusing.  Compared to the all of them in Coke, it seemed like a safer option.

So much variety.
Okay, I’ll just have one of each.

But wait.  What’s that on the top shelf?  Is it–?  Could it be?

Dang, Gina!
Dang, Gina!

Dang! soda strikes again!  I expect this won’t be the last I see of it.

THIS ONE WAS REALLY FUNNY, I HOPE YOU READ THE WHOLE THING:

Price: The sandwiches are all around $10, but their ingredients are a little fancy so that is to be expected.  I spent $15 for my sandwich, soda, and side.

Menu:  A great variety of hot, cold, and vegetarian options.  Also have some intriguing salads (duck cranberry is on my To Eat list).

Ambiance:  Very open, bright, and with a little dab of hipster.

Sides:  Great variety with healthy, house-made options.  In addition to their sodas, they have some great brewed iced teas.

Second Trip Worthy?  100th trip worthy.

Overall rating: 10 out of 10 sandwiches!

January Jonseing

The past few years have flown by a little too quickly for my liking.  That’s why one of my resolutions this year is to try and slow down time.  As some of our best scientists have still not figured out a way to actually do this (can we stop trying to cure cancer or discover more planets for A MINUTE and get on this please?), I will have to do it in the only way I know how: enjoying life’s little moments and embracing mindfulness.  Taking advantage of a day or afternoon off.  Eating a lot.  Seriously though when I eat enough, my heart slows down, each minute drags on…I’m onto something here.  Regardless, I think the past month has gone by much slower than the prior Januarys, and in order to ensure I remember all of these joyful moments created in years to come, I would like to document them here.

Things I Ate But Probably Shouldn’t Have:

How could you say no to that open-face?
How could you say no to that open-face?

1.  Influx’s Breakfast Croissant:  Melissa and I were having a panic day pretty early into the new year.  We decided the best way to cure this one was to grab breakfast to-go, pick up a bottle (or two) of champagne, and watch Two-Night Stand in her apartment with the blinds drawn.  I believe their croissants are made in house and are smothered with basil, tomato, and melted brie cheese.  Top it with the generous portion of Dijon mustard provided?  It is a perfect pick-me up.  Or maybe that was the champagne.  Either way, panic was eradicated.

Cheeses-take 2
Cheeses-take 2

 

2.  Damon’s Cheesesteak:  Damon loves food maybe a little more than I do which, I know, sounds impossible.  After reading my hilarious and insightful cheesesteak blog (what?  You missed it?  Read it here! https://lazygirltrying.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/the-sandwich-chronicles-gaglione-brothers/), he was determined to make one to surpass the Gaglione Brothers’ and restore my faith in the power of the cheesesteak.  I wasn’t going to argue.  We got freshly baked bread, provolone cheese, thinly sliced rib eye, mushrooms, and onions.  The end result was heavenly.  The meat was perfectly seasoned, the mushrooms added a nice heartiness…and it all cost about as much as the one from Gaglione Brothers did.  Home-cooking wins again!

So much meat...so little time.
The carnage.

3.  Fogo de Chao:  Since Damon and I didn’t get each other “experience gifts” this Christmas (something we can do together, i.e. kayak whale watching), we decided to treat ourselves to a nice evening out.  For us, that means stuffing our faces full of Brazilian meats until we either throw up or get gout (I’m pretty sure I left with the latter).  This was our second time at Fogo de Chao, and while I ate slightly less this time around, I still got my money’s worth.  Not only do they have eight or so delicious varieties of meats that they pile on your plate non-stop, they also have a gorgeous salad bar, complete with cheeses, deli meats, and fancy vegetables.  This year, I really relied on the artichoke hearts and fried plantains to break up the flavors of the meat and help me eat myself to a state Liz Lemon surely would be proud of.  Leaving the restaurant, stomach protruding, hobbling down the street in an ungainly gait, stuffed to the brim with animal flesh and blood, I imagined that’s how King Henry VIII felt every day.  (Sigh)…what a life.

How I am not from the South?
How I am not from the South?
No, seriously.
No, seriously.
I don't belong in California.
I don’t belong in California.

4.  Felix’s BBQ with Soul:  My sister Katy works in a…troubled neighborhood, but sometimes those places hold little treasures.  Located on the Four Corners of Death (yep, that’s a real thing), aka Imperial and Euclid just a few blocks from Katy’s school, Felix’s BBQ with Soul is one of those gems. It is exactly what it sounds like–a soul food restaurant, and an authentic one at that, which is incredibly hard to come by in San Diego.  The owner is from the South and you can taste it in his food.  We lucked out and went on a Sunday during their brunch.  Not only were traditional breakfast foods available (eggs, breakfast potatoes, etc), but traditional southern fair as well.  What I had is as follows:  biscuits and sausage gravy, shrimp and grits, red beans and rice, collard greens, endless riblets, half of Katy’s endless fried catfish, mac n’ cheese, bacon, candied yams, and more collard greens.  It was only $22 for the brunch, it came with a drink and dessert, and allowed me to try virtually everything on the menu.  I do need to come back for their fried green tomatoes, gumbo, and a po’ boy for my sandwich exploration, but that will be for another time.  Honestly, I kind of like that it’s in the most deadly location of San Diego; if not, it would be impossible to get a seat in there.

Things That I Bought That I Didn’t Have the Money For:

You gotta treat-yo'self.
You gotta treat-yo’self.

1.  Urban Decay Anti-Aging Primer and Physicians Formula Bronze Booster:  My sister got me the Naked 2 Palette for my birthday,
and it came with a sample of their eyeshadow primers.  I never used a primer before that point, had always been skeptical of the necessity of one, but after using it for the first time, I knew there was no going back.  There were four samples with the palette and only this month did they finally run out.  I had a hard time choosing between Eden (one formulated particularly with matte shadows in mind), and the Anti-Aging one, but my fear of looking old and haggish got the better of me yet again, and I went with the latter.  While at Ulta, I decided to pick up the Physicians Formula bronzer  as I’d heard good things about, but had never tried.  I had to buy a brush to apply it with since the one that comes in the package is thin and janky, but otherwise I’m very pleased.

My new clothes, or a lesbian couple that has just been Raptured.
My new clothes, or a lesbian couple that has just been Raptured.

2.  Forever 21 “Haul:”  I have been in desperate need of new work clothes since, oh, I first became employed back in 12th grade.  The problem is, I hate business casual, do not feel like myself in it, and would rather put my money into clothes I actually want to wear and don’t totally kill my vibe.  That’s why I currently love Forever 21.  I found these black pants that are work-appropriate, but still feel like me.  And get this–they’re only $8.  RIGHT?!  And those cardigans?  $9!  The camisoles?  LITERALLY $2.  I’m sure you can sense my elation.  I grabbed a couple of each, a nail polish (because I’m me), a cute little cloth headband, adorable seashell socks, and a striped-cotton top for just under $60.  All of these are work appropriate, but also Gina’s-life-appropriate and that’s what matters most.  Thank God for sweatshop prices, amiright?

For the ladies in the place with style and grace.
For the ladies in the place with style and grace.

3.  Biggie Smalls Sweatshirt:  Janine and her husband were flooded out of their apartment on the first of the year, and very quickly found a new place.  In order to celebrate this good fortune (and celebrate Corey’s birthday, I guess), they threw a 90’s-themed party.  I went to Forever 21 in search of something velvet or crop-toppy, and left with this.  Comfy, oversized, unique…something Mr. Smalls would have worn himself.  It went over incredibly well at the party and adds a touch of style to my nightly Netflix binges.

Alright, that is it, my little ones.  I ate, I bought, I conquered.  Hopefully February will have as much in store.

The Sandwich Chronicles: Classic Rock Sandwich Shoppe

WEEK FOUR:

I entered Classic Rock Sandwich Shoppe with some low expectations.  Back when I was a North Parker, I used to pass this place on a weekly basis.  It’s in a strange location–on a dead block of North Park Way next to Lucky’s, a breakfast joint/front for a drug cartel.  While Lucky’s is only open three hours a day but constantly has its lights on and door ajar with the metal screen door bolted to better obscure whatever funny business is occurring within, Classic Rock Sandwich Shoppe is open all day, but remains dark and lifeless.  Lo and behold, it is still in business and had some pretty solid Yelps, so I decided to give it a go.  Honestly, with a goal of 52 sandwich shops by the end of the year, I have lowered any possible standard I may have had: if the place sells something edible in between two pieces of bread, I will eat there (let’s be real though, that isn’t too far from my everyday requirements).

When I entered the shop, it was empty as predicted, save the music of Led Zeppelin and a middle-aged man and woman, both employees.  They both greeted me with genuine smiles and the woman swiftly grabbed a binder and asked if I had been there before.  I responded that it was my first time, but that I had looked at their menu online.

“Did you see the one with pictures, or without them?” she asked.

“With the pictures?  I guess?”

“Okay,” she said, opening the binder.  “There are two menus online–one with pictures and one without.  The one you saw doesn’t have all of the sandwiches.  We have fifty to choose from,” she says casually, turning page after page, “turkey, beef, ham, veggie, spicy ones,” she looks up, with a warm smile, head slightly tilted, “and we have 15 more coming soon.”

Alright.  So they have variety.

I wanted a spicy one since that seemed to be their thang, and was grateful that she warned me of their heat scale–the first one listed is a one, the last one listed is a 10-20, depending on the sandwich artist.  Just kidding, only Subway is douchy enough to call a deli worker a sandwich artist.  For real though, they get that hot, not that I should be surprised considering it contains spicy chicken, habanero mayonnaise, and habanero/jalapeno/cayenne cheddar cheese.  Yeah.  That exists.  I went with the Sultry Stevie, which still packs a punch, but a less abusive one, like an angry girl done wrong as opposed to a drunk Marine in PB.  When she asked what bread I wanted, I asked for the roll.

“Yeeeeaah, that’s one that I wouldn’t recommend with this sandwich.”

“Oh?”  I was slightly taken aback.

“It’s a little too much bread.  The sandwich is better on these,” she pointed to the first few breads listed.

I was thankful for her input.  It’s not every day someone will tell you in what ways their sandwich isn’t good.

Seeing as how I was the only customer, Middle-Aged Man began my order as soon as I decided on it, and rather than just stand there awkwardly sneaking pictures of their shop (though I did that too), I had a little time to chat with the woman, Cheryl, who turned out to be the owner.  She asked me what made me try the place and when I mentioned my noble sandwich quest, she told me she really didn’t like sandwiches for most of her life.  I didn’t realize that was a thing.  She said she had just gotten to a point where she was sick of roast beef and ham (again, I didn’t really understand what she was saying here), and didn’t think there were many other exciting options available.  That’s why she made her shop, complete with a bunch of vegetarian and white meat sandwiches for those in the world who felt as she did.  Simply put, she wants something for everyone and wants every customer to leave happy.  Her bright smile, passion, and genuine interest were enough to do that for me.  Oh, and look at all them posters.

hahaa
Fun fact: that plate on the counter has those orange-colored peanut butter sandwich crackers from the 90’s on sale for a $1.

Yes, I did take these while pretending to watch a video on my phone.  Yes, I fake-smiled and laughed to appear convincing.

jfjf
Cheryl pointed Stevie out to me.  I felt obligated to take a picture.  Secretly.

And yes, I am the most awkward girl in America.  Now, on to my Stevie.

So sultry.
So sultry.

This bad boy (or more appropriately, little lady) is comprised of rotisserie chicken, avocado, provolone cheese, pineapple-habanero sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onion, sprouts, and habanero mayonnaise.  I got the sandwich to go and in the fifteen minutes it took to get from the shop to my home, the bread had already become a little mushy. I blame the sauce, which could have benefited from being thicker and not so runny.  Despite this, the flavors were pretty good.  The chicken was nicely seasoned with a bit of a cajun vibe, and the habanero mayonnaise had a nice bite.  The first few bites were pretty solid.  A little hot, but manageable.  It was with the fourth that I began regretting my decision to drink a cream soda rather than a milk.  I’ve never really had a sandwich that clears my sinuses and makes me wish I were genetically better predisposed to tolerating heat.  That made me like it though.  It was a little fun, a bit more adventurous than your typical deli sandwich.  While eating it however, I kept thinking of slight tweaks that would improve the sandwich.  Maybe nix the pineapple habanero sauce and make a pineapple habanero mayo?  Add a slice of pineapple even.  I would have liked another few (seven to ten) slices of chicken to bulk up the sandwich and make it good on any bread choice, rather than just the plain wheat.  And maybe throw some arugula in there for a peppery touch?  Overall, it was good, but there is a better sandwich within this Stevie.   I think what we see here is too strong a focus on the quantity and, in turn, the quality suffers.  The menu is a little confusing honestly, with their long, obscure names for toppings (it’s technically called the “spicy wouldn’t you love to love her pineapple habanero” sauce) and there are just too many sandwiches that are too similar.  If not for Cheryl to walk me through the menu, I may have been a little too overwhelmed to choose.

I REALLY HOPE YOU READ EVERYTHING I JUST WROTE AND DIDN’T SKIP IT ALL:

Price: $9.25 for a sandwich the size of which I can easily make at home.  Definitely needs more meat to warrant this price.

Menu:  Massive, with 65 unique sandwiches and the ability to create your own.

Ambiance:  Very warm and hospitable.  You can tell these people care.  A bit vacant inside though–enjoy a nice chat with Cheryl, then take your sandwich to go.

Sides:  I didn’t see any chips, though there were individually wrapped cookies and cracker packs randomly on a plate for sale.

Second Trip Worthy?  There are 64 more sandwiches to try and they offer a club card that gives you your 10th sandwich for free.  So obviously.

Overall rating: 6 out of 10 sandwiches!