Wednesday, November 17, 2010

So There We Were . . .

(Chuck, our friend Tom, and me) walking down Prospect Street in La Jolla Village. We had stopped at the harbor to take some photos and now we were in search of food.

And we had come without a plan. Horrors!!

We passed an almost empty BBQ joint. We passed a fish house the smelled of old oil. We passed the Korean restaurant. We passed a pizzeria. We passed Smash Burger. We passed the gelateria—but made a mental note to return for dessert. Finally we started back-tracking and read the bar menu for Vigilucci’s. An assort-ment of small plates it would be.

We took seats at the bar and began the complex process of selecting three or four different, but complimentary, items. Finally, we decided on an order of the fried calamari (rings and tentacles), an order of three meatballs with marinara sauce, an order of three ahi sliders, and an order of truffle fries.

The calamari was quite good. Lightly coated with a crisp batter, it came with a dish of marinara for dipping. The meatballs came with the same very good marinara, but I do think that $7.00 for three small meatballs was outrageous. The truffle fries were also very good and the truffle oil had been used with discretion--enough to enhance the earthy
taste of the potatoes, but not so much as to be over-whelming.

The disap-pointment was the ahi sliders which were overcooked, dry, and basically tasteless. Not even the arugula that accompanied the dish could improve it.

Having finished the four appetizer plates, Tom and Chuck were still hungry and each ordered a small plate of fettucini alfredo. I, remembering that gelato was in the offing, abstained. I did get a small taste of Chuck’s, and while I think that the pasta had been cooked a bit too long, the Alfredo sauce was rich and at the same time light.

Now off for gelato. Sorry. Photos of this stop don’t exist.

The next day found the three of us in La Jolla Shores looking for lunch. If you think that the three of us spend all of our time eating, you’d be wrong. When we aren’t eating, we are talking about what we want to eat or what we have eaten.

La Jolla Shores is near the beach and is another youth-centric area of California. We finally wandered into Jeff' Burgers. We should have immediately wandered out.

Chuck—with his Charbroiled Super Hot Dog and Gyros Sandwich with cucumber sauce, onion, and tomato inside a pita—probably made the best choices. The gyro was especially tasty and came dressed with plenty of sauce. My carne asada sandwich was described on the menu as a grilled stake (sic) served in a baguette and had been well seasoned but was overcooked and dry. And this was no baguette.

And Tom ordered the Long Italian Sandwich with salami, ham, and Swiss. Too bad the kitchen couldn’t bother to remove the artificial casing from the salami.

The next day found us in Cardiff-by-the-Sea joining Tom’s friends Bob and Jan for brunch at Ki’s restaurant.

This place had it all—a low-key and casual atmos-phere, great food made from local and natural ingredients and

a killer view of the Pacific from the second floor dining room.

Both Tom and I ordered the Salmon Scramble-–scrambled eggs mixed with large chunks of lightly smoked salmon, large cubes of creamed cheese, and chopped tomatoes accom-panied by a side of hash browns and garlic toast. The cheese must have been added at the last minute since it was only slightly melted.

Chuck’s choice was a tomato flavored flour tortilla packed with steak strips, avocado, eggs, and peppers accom-panied by a side of cumin flavored black beans that were cooked with carrots and celery. A truly delicious and filling brunch entrĂ©e.

After a few scenic stops in Cardiff, we said goodbye to Bob and Jan and the three of us took off driving north on Old 101. As we were approaching Oceanside, Tom suddenly smelled smoke. BBQ grill smoke, that is. So we turn on a dime and backtrack to the bright yellow tent set up in a liquor store parking lot. Welcome to Ape Hangers Grill.

(According to Wikipedia, ape hanger handlebars rise far above the mounting location so that the rider must reach up to use them, hence the name. They are popular on chopper motorcycles.)

“Go BIG or go HOME,” has been Randy’s motto for as long as he can remember. He was probably born with a grillin’ fork in his hand.

After years of everyone "ooohhhing" and "aaahhhing" over his BBQ at social events he decided to go a little bigger with his passion and open a grill” (from Randy’s website).

Alright. We had eaten two hours ago. Was this going to stop us. Of course not. For Tom it was two sliders; for me it was the tri-tip sand-wich; for Chuck the pulled pork sandwich with a side of beans.

As I was chatting with Randy, he told me that he smokes with white oak because he likes a light smoke flavor—lighter than hickory or mesquite. He’d like to add some apple wood, but the cost is prohibitive. Since I like a light smoke flavor, I thought it was just right. And, Randy uses some Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning as the secret ingredient in his beans.

So there we were.

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