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Memory Monday: Sushi, or Giving Chances

*All images are taken with Samsung S3 except for Last Call.

Other than recalling eating different kinds of sushi in Okinawa, Japan, I also want to talk about giving things another shot.

At first taste, I didn’t like wine. When I got to Italy, I tried some of their great tasting wine and now I love it. Same thing with dates, beets, Jagermeister ;), brocolli :D, and really a lot of things of those I tried eating for the first time. It’s not that I got weirded out eating sushi, the taste just didn’t appeal me at first. There’s a restaurant called Sakura in Mississippi that completely changed my perception of sushi. They have a bento box that includes small pieces of sushi. After that, I have gotten quite an acquired taste for sushi.

I love sushi. Though to me, it gets expensive for food that doesn’t really fill me up after eating. In Japan however, they have cheaper price for sushi. Not only I got some spare change, I also got the authenticity so I was chowing away with sushi and ramen when I was in Okinawa.

I brought this up before on my Food and Travel (Part II) post. When I first ordered sushi in Okinawa, I was expecting to get the usual traditional sushi roll. Instead, they served me this …

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… A slab of raw fish on top of the rice part. It was a challenge for me to eat the whole set because it is hard for me to eat raw fish. Even given that I loathe wasting food, I still shamefully didn’t finish that plate.

Although… I enjoyed it after few more tries. :D What converted me from nigiri-sushi virgin to a nigiri-sushi lover is this sushi go-round place …

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I gooooooogled it in the internet a lot of times but I really can’t figure out the name of the place. It is leading me to believe that this place really is amply and simply called “Sushi Go-round”. :D This is in American Village.

Such neat idea. They make the sushi, put it on the carousel, and customers get to see to pick what they want from their selections of sushi. Plus, it also gives you variety instead of just one type of sushi in one plate like the ones in almost all sushi places in the US.

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They also have fish egg sushi. Not for me.

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Most plates have two sushi of one kind. The sushi there are smaller than the first picture up top. I think I walked away the most with 9 plates. My friend loves eating sushi that I think he had 13 plates (so that’s actually 26) in one sitting.

Moving on…

Of course, I also just want to bring back my experience when I ate a blowfish in the form of sushi.

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You can read my post all about the danger and “ethical dilemma” of eating blowfish here – To eat, or not to eat blowfish, that is the question.

Last…

I also love this display I brought back with me here in the US.

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He bobs his head continuously and his hand also moves continually tapping the sushi. I used to place it on my office desk so when I want my mind to drift off during work, I just look at it. ;) It’s a cool display.

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You see, you shouldn’t really go off of your first tries. You should give things a second or third or so on chances as long as you finally had enough attempts before setting on a conclusion. You should allow them another shot. You should give people chances. People who get discreditted are better when they seek redemption. And they get even much much the best when they did find redemption and once they recovered.

Last week, I finally talked to a dear old friend that I ignored for such a long time because of issues we had. ;)

Last Call…

Some of you may remember this sushi master from my black and white post titled Blaque.

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Food and Travel II

How much is food a part of your travel? What’s your most notable food exploration amongst all your travels?
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Some people would say, “What is travel without food”. I say it’s still a travel. My blog shows evidences that food is not a big part of my travels. Being a very spontaneous, shoot-from-the-hip kind of guy I just let the chips fall where they may. I don’t plan on what I was going to eat when I travel. I’m actually stingy with food when I travel. I sometimes just bring a lunch box before I head out. I am no epicurean. I even buy those taquitos, hotdog or small burger at gas stations because they’re filling for such small price. If you eat near your travel destination, you expect the cost to be higher than regular. I sure can sacrifice food in replacement to other travel expenses.

There’s an exception to every rule, of course. That means, there must also be an exception to the rule that every rule has an exception. Unless the food exploration is the travel destination itself, then I’m all for it!

Itadakimasu! (Let’s eat!) This is Food and Travel, Japanese version. ;)

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One of the most well-known festival food here in Okinawa is takoyaki or octopus balls. Don’t get excited. These are not actually “crown jewels”. :D They are just octopus meat in a shape of a ball. These balls don’t dribble either. However, these balls do come in a very satisfying package. :lol: Not my liking, but definitely worth the try when in Okinawa. The takoyaki, that is. :D

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Most festival stalls also sell churros (better believe it, although it’s more like a snack junk food) grilled meat on a stick, fries, corn, and this delicious noodles …

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Moving on…

One of the biggest surprises for me coming here in Japan is their sushi. Apparently, I don’t pay too much attention to details when I watch Japanese movies or movies set in Japan. When I first ordered sushi here in Okinawa, I was expecting the typical traditional sushi roll. Instead, they served me this…

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… A nigiri-zushi. To me that is sashimi (raw meat), which I didn’t really eat, up to that point. The only thing that separates sashimi and sushi is that sushi has rice with it. One thing you must know about me is that my biggest pet peeves is wasting food, so it was a big challenge for me to eat that plate. It even has wasabi in between the raw fish and the rice.

I shamefully didn’t finish that set because of the raw fish. Although, after a few more sushi places I’ve grown to love this kind of sushi.

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That’s my shrimp sushi on a boat. When one sushi jumped out, I called out “Sushi Overboard!”. :D

I love sushi but they are expensive in the US. Over here, it’s cheaper, and they offer more combinations in one order.

Last one…

Mochi! (Rice Balls!) It’s a traditional food usually served during New Year. The first time I tried it, we actually made it from scratch. It was so much fun. We pounded it, dipped it in kinako (grains of soy beans), formed it into balls, stuffed it with anko (sweet beans), and then we served it to Japanese school children. ;) I took home some for me…

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That day, some Japanese men also offered me to eat sweet azuki bean soup with mochi balls in it. It’s a familiar warming soup for the winter breeze. :D I rubbed my belly to show how I’m loving the food and how full I was, but they immediately freaked a little and pointed me the direction to the restroom. :lol:

Last Call…

Just my girly dessert from a buffet…

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All images are taken with Samsung S3.

To eat, or not to eat blowfish, that is the question -

There’s a Japanese phrase “Itsuyaruno? Imadesyo!” which roughly translates to “When are you going to do it? Now, right!?”

To eat or not to eat blowfish? For those of you who are unacquainted, eating fugu or blowfish can kill you if it’s not properly prepared. Only certified chefs can deal with this fish prepation.

There are plenty more things I’d like to do before I exit out. Plenty of places I still dream of going to. Realistically speaking, I like to see, amongst many, The Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and New York. I like to go back to Chicago and Texas since I didn’t really have the chance to explore it when I was there years ago. Hopefully by the end of this year I get to go to either Greece or mainland Japan. I hope to one day organize a big charity event. And if we’re talking brainstorms and daydream I’d like to have a dinner with my lifelong celebrity crush, Jessica Alba. I promise myself to get one or two college course done this year.

To eat, or not to eat blowfish? That question’s been “eating me alive” for months. Long I contemplated whether to do it or not. So much more I want to do in my blessed life, and I’m dancing on the razor’s edge for a single dish? It’s like diving into the deepest part of the ocean with only the hands of the supposedly expert stranger as my breathing apparatus. Eating a blowfish is not just a challenge on courage, it really is also an insanity test!

Then again, people do live dangerously. Some do it more adventurously like skydiving, swimming with whale shark or bunjee jumping. Most of us in our daily lives, it starts when we hop on our cars to when we enter a public restroom. Even a ride in the “happiest place on Earth”, Disneyland, is associated with risk that involves trusting others for our safety.

According to my friend Wiki…

Statistics from the Tokyo Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health indicate 20 to 44 incidents of fugu poisoning per year between 1996 and 2006 in Japan (a single incident may involve multiple diners). Each year, these incidents led to between 34 and 64 victims being hospitalized and zero to six deaths, an average fatality rate of 6.8%.

To eat or not to eat blowfish? That is the question. Not only it is deathly, it also raises moral dilemma for others. Fishing grounds for pufferfish are being depleted. However, there are regulations set in place. Most fugu are now harvested in the spring during spawning season and then culturing the fish on aquafarms.

Despite its danger and the ethical dilemma it imposes, brave and curious millions have bet their bottom dollar eating fugu.To be honest, my confidence in seeing the next daylight after eating blowfish was more and more greatly boosted by those I know who lived to tell the tale. They go out to eat blowfish with zero worry, and come back from a restaurant with bellies full and tastebuds satisfied. And I do live vicariously. I, personally, do feel that the fatality of eating fugu is like chancing to pick one country out of all the countries in the world.

I’m not a vegetarian and will never be one. No, I won’t ever eat shark fins because they really are endangered. I’ve eaten dog as a kid in the Philippines, but won’t ever do it again. Yes, the adventurous in me did try eating blowfish. It was satisfying and fulfilling, and it gave me a new lease on life. It is off my list, and off my mind. I won’t do it again as well. As long as I can stomach it, I want to try more exotic food and preparations. One day, I may eat an animal that I fear like a snake. There’s a ruling, stubborn, fat kid in me who basically eat whenever whatever. Remember when you were so young and you dropped a food on the ground and still ate it. That’s what my mindset is whenever I try more feared or unique dishes.

We really are savage indidviduals. Gluttony is our friend especially when we are down and blue. Sometimes it’s not even the flavor that we savor but the idea of eating. They have sailed seas to find spices and trades, which we continue to do. We will never run out of choices. All types of cuisines and gastronomy readily available for us. We explore food. We will never ran out of taste, of food to try out of our own preferences. Meals that were fit for the king are deduced down to lower level which we now eat as long as it’s accessible. And given the time and opportunity, we might eat whatever is in front of us. That’s whether it’s for survival or for guilty pleasure.

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We eat just because. No longer it is just for necessity. It’s a pasttime, a craving, a habit. It’s for entertainment, an indulgence.

I did say upon arrival here in Japan that ‘these are my  moments’. I promised that I’m going to bask in the different experiences in this unique culture. I’ve tasted pig feet here as well as meats of kangaroo, crocodile and camel. I had some culture food and drink like octopus balls, habu sake (snake wine) and mochi (rice balls). I just couldn’t let go of this constant prodding temptation andnagging question of eating blowfish. I’m ready for more risks, opportunities and whatever adventure 2014 brings me.

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Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park

After Palm Springs, I spotted another sign on the road that interest me. I did a little bit of research, found a decent price hotel, and off I went to 29 Palms.

I got there at night, perfect timing actually. Palm Springs was so good, Joshua Tree was very promising, and Rommel was just pumped up ready to do something but was getting eaten by boredom.

I remedied that with a relaxing, feel-good undertaking …

Drive-In Theater

A blast from the past, very cool Drive-In Theater! I got me a popcorn, nachos and soda, and was just eating and sitting at the comfort of my car. It sounds low but it really was just awesome experience to me. I mean, you don’t have to worry about cellphone ringing, muttering voices, people standing up for nature calls and tugging feet at the back of your chair.

Ow, I also found this on the way to 29 Palms…

Sonic in California

America’s Drive-In. Weee!Two Drive-In,’s sweet! I miss this so much.
i used to go here all the time when I was in Mississippi. Basically, for those who are not acquainted, this is Southerners’ pride Fast Food where you can park your car, get your order, stay there because they bring your food to your car so you just sit back and relax, and eat! I got me a grilled cheese sandwich, a hotdog, their tots and a slush. Exactly the signature Sonic meal.

Do check out my post on the Jumbo Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park


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Continuing on …

Being a mecca for all things outdoorsy including numerous hiking trails, Joshua Tree National Parks, to me, is an instant addition to my list of Absolute Musts.

Cholla Cactus Garden

First off was a quick stroll with these interesting kind of cactus …

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It was cool because there’s a garden of these Cholla cacti. But then, one spool of spines clung to my jacket and poked me. It was so hard to detach it without any gloves. That’s all I’m gonna say :D..

Skull Rock Trail

I was confused with this trail. I didn’t think I followed the trail. I stayed around because the entrance area alone is already magnificent, and fun! There were people going up the rocks, jumping from one rock to another, ducking in between rocks, and just reeling in the fascination of these rocks…

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Clever of them to call this Skull Rock Trail.

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There’s a cool guy who posed for the camera…
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Unto the Wall Street Mill Trail I went on…
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At the edge of the Wonderland of Rocks sits the Wall Street Mill, a finest example of gold processing mill remaining in the park. This trail shows what’s left during the second gold rush which happened here – the mill, dilapidated buildings, windmill, and some awesome old cars.
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Last Call..
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At times I get frustrated when a pamphlet would tell you that you can see these species and flowers that a lot of times, in reality, are actually hard to come by. Well, after coming back from this 2-mile round hike, I spotted this bird. :)
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I even sushed some people, not to startle the bird so I can capture it. :D

I always envy those who hike farther and more regularly, esp. RV’ers. I guess with Joshua Tree National Park, i found myself extremely content having gone to a RV-type, kind of location. :) And eventhough I resulted to shorter hikes, as I always do, it’s just not at all hard to love Joshua Tree National Park. Driving there alone, seeing the magnificent rock formations is already a bliss.

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Food and Travel

How much is food a part of your travel? What’s your most notable food exploration amongst all your travels?

Some people would say, “What is travel without food”. I say it’s still a travel. My blog shows evidences that food is not a big part of my travel. Being a very spontaneous, shoot-from-the-hip kind of guy who just let the chips fall where they may (I actually don’t get the phrase, I’m pretty sure chips fall on one place, which is a poker table :D), let alone I plan on what I was going to eat when I travel. I’m actually stingy with food when I travel. I sometimes just bring a lunch box before I head out. I am no epicurean. I buy those taquitos, hotdog or small burger at a gas station because they’re filling for such small price. If you eat near your travel destination, you expect the cost to be higher than regular. I sure can sacrifice food in replacement to the price of parking or admission to where I go.

There’s an exception to every rule, of course. That means, there must also be an exception to the rule that every rule has an exception. :D Unless the food is the travel destination itself, then I’m all for it!

All that I mention here are from California. There’s definitely much better food exploration opportunities outside the country. Here is the post where I sum up my food explorations outside the country – I Crave (Expanded).

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One of my notables is in City Heights in San Diego. The special thing about eating at an African restaurant is that you have to get your hands dirty, not literally of course. You eat without any utensil. No spoon, no fork, no knife, nada, niente, wala! You tear the sponge-like bread, injera, and use it to scoop the sauce and the meat. I went to Asmara, a very decent establishment, and actually quite popular. You can definately taste the spices, this time literally. The taste truly emanates and the hot-ness will have you constantly reach for the glass of water.

Next. When I went to San Francisco a month ago, I got to indulge into a “Menage A Trios”. :D :P

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… Sorry, it’s not the kinky stuff you have in mind. :P Ike’s Place is a cool place. That is, your regular Joe kind of sandwich joint. They don’t even have tables for crying out loud. Their cashier is just a regular stainless table. Another interesting thing is that they do not have Doritos for you. They have some unknown brand names of chips and drinks. The best part is their sandwich names – Backstabber, Hot Momma Huda, [Name The Girl I'm Dating?], Ugly Owl, We’re Just Friends… and you can read the others from the picture. Geez, I don’t have to write it all for you :D. Do take a notice the numbering on the menu. :D
There is a complete listing of sandwich names on their website – ilikeikesplace.com

Ike’s Place was featured on a TV show “Man Vs. Food”.

Let’s go back down South. Philippe’s The Original is THE birthplace of, air-quote, French Dipped Sandwich. It is surprisingly located in Chinatown in LA. Look at all the cool old signs!

It’s another no supercilious food place. Going down the stairs upon entering, it was like getting into an underground banquet, only workers and locals frequently hang out here. Looking around, there are old newspaper articles in frames where you can read significant periods of this old place all the way back when they were serving .05c per cup of coffee. They also made room for a little Museum of Railroading.

Last one, hang in there. :D My favorite hang-out spot in California is a food place slash vintage store slash bath accessory store slash candy store slash PHARMACY!

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This is Fair Oaks Pharmacy. Like said, it’s a blast-from-the-past establishment where you can buy vintage memorabilia, old candies, wind-up toys, etc. They also have made-to-order sodas!
And their ice cream is just … wait, what’s that food adjective again? …

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Their ice cream is just … hmmm …. More on my post about Fair Oaks Pharmacy.

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Gourmand Chic is my favorite food blogger. She cooks, shares food stories, writes restaurant reviews, explores exotic food, and shares her recipe and tips. What I love about her is she’s not your ordinary snooty food bloggers who only focuses on their blogs :D. She’s one cool gal who also participates to Weekly Photo Challenge, travels around, and even shares some Youtube videos.

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So, what’s your most notable food exploration again?

My post on Italian Food.

Banana Festival and The Port of Port Hueneme

Another event that is just a stone-throw away from where I’m residing- it’s the 75th Banana Festival. Extra activities from the usual music stage, booths, contests, car shows, etc. are Banana Arts and Crafts, K9 demonstration, Underwater Construction Greet and Exhibit, and the real highlight, a boat tour ride of the port of Port Hueneme.

I was going with somebody else but she cancelled on me the last minute for something else. No worries, I met a bunch of acquaintances and familiar faces there. To be completely, utterly, openly honest, as much as I want to brag for the community, she wasn’t really missing much out of this event. It was quite disappointing, I must say. Even the “banana” food treats were so limited to just banana shakes/smoothies, banana dipped in chocolate and banana split. Yellow was highly visible but there wasn’t truthfully much “banana” decorations around. I wish the fair and arcade were included, might had lightened the event. It’s not usually “the” center of attention during cultural festivals, but this time, the music stage, however, seemed to gained the spotlight. The Military’s Underwater Construction Team 2 was generous enough to entertain the attendees. Lots of smiles to their area. I also liked the kiddie drawings.

- This drawing made me laugh. It actually took me a bit before I got it. *BIG GRIN* -

Although I got ditched, something good came out of it. The Port Tour line was long, and that people that were in line didn’t actually sign-up for it. They were in line only hoping to get free spots left by those who did sign up. I was one of them who tried and stood for good minutes just hoping to get on the boat. They only board about 60 people every hour, for 5 different times. That means -only about 300 people, adult and walking kids, were fortunate enough to take the tour that day. The others waited long hours and got nothing out of it. Now for my good luck *KNOCK ON WOOD*. They called out, “Who’s by himself?” . I immediately raised my hands, and as instantly, I was given the head of the line privilege. I blurted my favorite WP comment word, “Awesome”, as I left the long line to the port gate.

I was static. This exclusive boat tour made up for the wow and whoa moments this event was lack of. On board, with a tour guide narrator, we received the ins and outs of what goes around this busy port. Importing and exporting globally throughout six continents, the Port of Hueneme is among the top 10 U.S. ports for automobiles and fresh produce generating 1,500 jobs locally. The California weather was fine. Seal were visiting. Military, cargo and armory ships were gorgeous sights. And just the general feeling of being on a boat cruising over the water is always a good experience.

Belly growled, and I looked forward for my very first banana split. Yup. I just couldn’t grasp the concept. A banana cut in half, with ice cream on top -I’m shrugging that it ain’t anything special to get quite remarkably popular identification and name for itself. Since it fits for the occasion, I finally welcomed it.

I think I let the picture tell my conclusion of it.

I Crave (Expanded)

Related:
Pralines, Frites and Escargot
Italian Food
Category: Food

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This post is taken from an old post title I Crave.

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I’d go back to Diego Garcia even just to order rice and bulgogi.

I’d go back to the desert and start a day with a cup of Joe or chill with a frappe from Green Beans Coffee.

I’d take another trip to Brussels just to indulge myself for some Belgian chocolates, try their waffles once again and enjoy sipping on escargot’s broth.

I can settle for another 6 months in Spain, have breakfast of Spanish omelette and have dinner of paella.

I’d take a long-been-missing vacation in Zambales and know that in every meal, there’s mango for dessert. I’d stay there for the entire summer knowing I can munch on their proud pastillas.

Yes, I can even endure Mississippi, maybe for a day or two, simply to satisfy my curiousity once again to the taste of crawfish.

crawfish

I’d cherish another moment with Isabela kakanin.

I’d get drunk again in Bourbon St. in New Orleans with hand grenades in both hands.

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Sure, if given the chance, I’d have another gulp of Baguio’s peddler food strawberry taho.

I knew I’d long for caffe italiano servito nel bicchiere piccolo.

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But, if I were to choose between any of those, I’d skip all my world’s food travel in exchange of going to Vigan and getting a load of their authentic empanada. Nothing, ain’t nothing, can beat how much I crave for Vigan empanada….

-.-

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Others:

Top Left: Lugaw (Philippine Congee)
Top Right: Tinubong (Small strips of coconut inside a bamboo stick)
Bottom Left: A street vendor selling barbequed chicken parts
Bottom Right: Halo-Halo (A coconut filled with colorful ingredients)

Top Left: Cheese and Meat Food Truck in Italy
Top Right: Artichoke
Bottom Left: Kebab
Bottom Right: Trdelnik (Czech)

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Here is Marianne, an outstanding ambassador of Andalusia, Spain particularly East of Malaga. Check out numerous posts that will whet your appetite. There are tapas, paella making to all kinds of recipes combined with mouthwatering images. My favorite is her submissions to Capture the Colour contest – see her pic of paella making. This blog is a great source for all things Spanish -learning the language, recipe and lots of insights to everyday living. Mind you, Marianne loves to travel, not just locally, but throughout Spain, and other European countries. So, prepare to be amazed to the amazing photographs she loves, and you will sure love as well.

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This post is part of Flashback Friday *sticks tongue out*

Last Call:

Now, this is California’s favorite fast food…

Fair Oaks Pharmacy: Your First Stop to Route 66

A pharmacy? You might ask. Yep, this pharmacy situated so courtly with outside tables at the corner of Mission St. and Fair Oaks Ave. has adjoining vintage store and soda, ice cream and coffee bar counter. I don’t know where else I’ll be exploring the historic Route 66, but I’m telling you, my first stop is raising the bar high.

First of all, I got there as they were only opening so there wasn’t much people yet. I heard the place can get crowd-y, and rowdy, for its mighty goodness so make it your first stop. It’s a great place to start your journey to the Old Pasadena and the rests of Route 66.

I was greeted by Paul. He was so attentive to my curiosity of the place that he even abandoned his post and showed me the old pictures of the place in 1940′s. I wasn’t even going to try their soda fountain but Paul generously showed me how they make their own carbonated drinks, and then offered me what he prepared. Be sure to check it out if you do come here. They have a buffet of different flavors. I bought one of their Route 66 soda and took home the bottle. An immediate souvenir! With that friendly and attentive service, we talked over brownies and cappuccino, and before I know it, my schedules to see more of Pasadena were all pushed back. It’s okay, I traveled back in time in this cozy place.

Fair Oaks “Pharmacy” is also a sandbox for the sweet tooth. And it isn’t only because it’s a candy store, IT’s a vintage candy store! So, the trial and triumph exploration is limitless, and timeless.

Their variety of huge servings of ice cream is high-praisingly a word of mouth. I didn’t get to try it, but will make sure the next time. There’s definitely a next time… and more after that.

Wait, there’s more. Fair Oaks Pharmacy is also adjoined with a gift store. The whole place is decorated with paraphernalia and collector’s items of pop culture icons like Elvis, The Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, Alice and Wonderland, I Love Lucy, superheroes, etc.

This truly is a blast from the past. Technological kids of today will require a lot of effort to operate these old toys. I bought a wind-up train toy for a kid I was going to meet at the end of the that day. Today’s toys are just a push-button-and-go. Still nothing beats the hardship-before-reward quid-pro-quo for small kids. The 3-year old kid really enjoyed what I bought him.

Last Call … These robots are OH-SO COOL to look at!

You see it isn’t hard to love this place, an easy favorite amongst many. Neat and well-kept. Happy people enjoying their treats. Time-traveling is overflowing. Classic rock and roll tunes in the background.  Your order is guaranteed to be prepared well. Someone order malts and Paul prepared it for a good ten minutes. They also have an added Bath Accessories section. I don’t generally talk about business establishments but this one is so post-worthy not to mention. If you are planning to take the historic Route 66, Fair Oaks Pharmacy is NOT TO BE MISSED!

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Check out Xandre Verkes’ post on Edmonton in Canada. Love the blog for its simplistic grandeur, an oxymoron I know. There are times that she’d blog a travel post with guaranteed good quick reads and enjoyable quirks. There are times that she’d post impressive images, mostly of serene-scene from all her travels. Accompany her “travel-withdrawal symptoms”  in UK, Canada, Paris, Austria, etc in Everything & Nothing. Life.

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Future Posts: (I have so many promises.)
Old Pasedena
Arboretum

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California Strawberry Festival in Oxnard

Awesome, absolutely awesome!!! This big event is just a stonethrow away from my place. Actually last year, I didn’t get the chance to witness this festival as I was just arriving to California after seven years. I almost missed it again this year because of work schedule. So pardon the excitement. I’m just static that I get to finally see the florid festival this time from around my area and share such a significant event to the state of California.

     

 It was a day of lavish red enticements. I actually had to step back and look at all the booths before I make the decision in choosing which of those creams of the crops I indulge my taste buds with. They have strawberry pizza, strawberry crepe, strawberry funnel cake, strawberry shortcake, strawberry dipped in chocolate, strawberry popcorn, and all the images and tastes that flow to every visitors’ eyes and imagination. When I bought me that strawberry nacho, the server humored me to “go have a beard”. I sat down on a hay seat and scooped away in delight.  I loved the unique taste and the way the nacho crumbles.

     

They also have something to gulp the food with such as strawberry smoothies, strawberry dropped in a glass of beer, strawberry in wine, strawberry margarita, etc. I know it’s easy to figure it out but it’s still cool to see how one strawberry is submerged in the bottom of the beer glass and one is suspended on top.

  

Actually the cool part is how fast the drinker be to get to that bottom strawberry.

Of course, just like any other festivities and fairs …

 

The “jam”-packed event is fun-filled with rides, thrills, games and competitions to include strawberry pie eating and throwing contests, music and all kinds of entertainment. Oxnard celebrates California Strawberry Festival annually every third week of May with proceeds benefitting charities.

California is prospered with bountiful harvests. It is actually the number one in agricultural products in the world enriching the state and employing thousands of its diverse population. Whenever I go to a farmer’s market, I always have oranges, apples and of course, strawberries inside the green bag. I highly encourage everyone to support your local farmers giving us fresh dailies on the table.

Italian Food

Ristoranti will have different kinds of pizzas on their menus. Most of which are personalized. They put anything on it, eggplant, french fries,  lettuce and other leafy vegetables, hotdog, chicken meat and what-have-you’s. Now in Naples, in all technicalities, there are only two true Neapolitan pizzas. Those are Margherita and Marinara.

To distinguish from each other, Margherita has the famous mozzarella while Marinara is covered with tomatoes. Even the movie Eat, Pray, Love showed one of these two simple and basic ingredient Neapolitan pizzas. Neapolitans takes pride on their pizzas and will emphasize about these particular two. Naples is known for their production of mozzarella.

 Now, I have a friend who was excited to tell me about the Italian pizza he had in New York. While I can agree it all good-tasting. I’m sorry to sound condescending and snotty,  but I cannot believe it to be Italian unless it is oily and hard to pick up. To which the said pizza was not. As you know, Italians are heavy on olive oil.

It’s exactly the same thing with Gelato. I cannot find any real gelato anywhere in other countries other than in Italy. They even have an ice cream in my area where, instead of scoping, they are scraping their ice cream hard because it is frozen. Gelato’s are supposed to be smooth. The texture  alone is distinctive and actually makes it even more appealing.

Gelaterias are sometimes adjoined with pastieras and cafeterias.

I guess cafe is European. Italian looove their cafe. Based on my observation, more than in Spain. It doesn’t matter what time of the day nor where you at. They drink it at home, on their way to work, at work, while working, lunchtime, after work. I wouldn’t be surprised if they drink it in their sleep. That’s exaggerated. What else can you expect, cafeterias are everywhere.  Cafe is served in small cups, you drink it like liquor shots.

I am a sweet-tooth. When I resided in Italy for 2 years, pastieras became my paradise. I can’t name them all here. Just too many to mention. What I can say is watch out for seasonal-holiday desserts and cuisine. The picture on the right is an Easter Italian pie. Babka, yeast bread, is traditionally baked during Easter Sunday. Chiacchiere is only served during Carnevale season. Struffoli in Naples during Christmas. During Christmas, it’s traditional to eat lightly and meatless as a form of fasting. Also during Easter season, many places in Italy makes lasagna from scratch. For more Italian pastry, my favorites are tiramisu (of course), Panino Neapolitano and sfogliatelle. I’ll let you explore the other ones.

My favorite discovery is Piadina, which is pretty much an Italian-style quesadilla. This is normally served in the Northern part of Italy, mainly in Milan and San Marino. I had this in Caserta, in the region of Campania.

Italian fine dining is consist of 5 or more courses. The courses typically consist of antipasto, primo, secondo, contorno and dolce. Others consider adding cafe and fruits and vegetables as courses. I love it when the restaurant gives out plates and plates and plates of antipasti (appetizers) for collective, reasonable prize. Italians are known for their pasta. Ding, ding, ding. My favorite is the usual carbonara. Don’t be surprised when the pasta you are ordering is not the same in one place to another. It’s a plus to a restaurant where you can ask the cameriere whichever ingredients you want in your pasta. Italians always take their time when dining. An already fine meal gets even tastier when you eat with conversations and laughter.

I never thought I’d like vino until I came to Italy, granted I went to Spain first for 6 months. I always rejected it. One day, attending a christening, I drank a glass of Moscato as a courtesy to the occasion. The wine may had been a popular one, but lo and behold, I became fond of drinking any wine afterwards. 

I’d run out of breath if cover it all. Carciofo or Artichokes, you hear it there and there but in Italy, you’ll usually find it in any market. Kebabs, like in any other European countries, are also everywhere. Kebabs in Europe are not on a stick but a wrap. Nutella is the popular spread for panino and other pastries.  Not to forget cheese, extra delectable when in Europe.  Bruschetta! mainly bread and tomatoes, and together with other stuffs. Saltimbocca is a Romanian veal. The name literally means jump in the mouth.

Okay I’m gasping for air. I’m spilling everything already.

I’ll end this post with everybody’s favorite, Gnocchi. No contest, no argument. It’s a must for every one who comes in Italy. This taste of heaven poses like a pasta. It is actually made of potatoes.

Buon appetito a tutti!
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Want to know more of Italy? Check out Bagni di Lucca’s blog. Plain and simple Everything you need to know is there … and then some.

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