Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Civic - Eat Good Food

Good food is a simple thing, and you can tell when passionate people get together to create something good. Civic, a small (seriously small) new restaurant in Santa Ana, located appropriately on Civic Center (down the street from the courthouse) embodies just that. Good food made with care.
One of my favorite things about this place is that you can tell they enjoy food. On site they make fresh drinks, they source ingredients from the DTSA Farmers Market, and you never know what creative special dish you'll find when you get there. I suppose you can check the website or whatever, but I like the surprise. This day it was a Bacon Truffle Mac and Cheese.
The Mac and Cheese was good, though I thought it could have used more cheesienss. I suppose what it lacked in cheese it made up for with truffle and bacon. But lets get down to business. I came to Civic on the recommendation of an old friend who was totally in a fiend mode for one of Civic's Chorizo Burgers. 
Ain't she a looker.
Seriously though, that is one beautiful burger. The soft, sweet brioche bun, the peppery arugula, the crispy bacon weave. If you look close you'll see some sort of fancy shmeer on the bottom bun. My only complaint, and I typically feel this way of burgers that are not all beef, is that the addition of chorizo to the patty leaves me wanting juice. That point aside, the flavors were all there, there is something natural about chorizo and eggs, and you can really appricaite the love they put into it. All in all, I had an excellent experience, and I've even come back since. The hot dog is real good.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


I've said it before, and it remains true. Jason Quinn is a bad man. Add Ryan Carson to that list. They are both bad bad men. They are bad because of their meat. They find the best meat, and they cook it the best way. They are bad men.
The Ultimate Steak Dinner.
5 cuts of steak.
2 Very very bad men.
1 gangbuster of sides.
Above you see Jason explaining some things. Eat meat, this meat is good, you won't find this meat anywhere else... I'm a bad man, that kind of stuff. 
Open with a tasty wine based cocktail. 
Ryan Carson. He's a bad man. You can tell by his face.
Here are some of the sides. It is worth noting that the sides in this meal are so great that they might merit entire blogs of their own. Perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes, creamy slaw, and magically garlic bread. I can't overstate how perfect this garlic bread is. It is better than your mother's garlic bread, and her mothers too.
Here are some men at work, men doing work, bad bad men. Grilling perfect things, being passionate about food in a way that very few men will ever understand. Just so you know, that grill burns about the temperature of the sun.
Hey look at these sides, aren't they spectacular. Pan roasted mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, creamed corn, roasted asparagus, and creamed spinach. All these things go great with steak. The mushrooms were savory, the slaw was creamy and wonderfully salted, the tomatoes were magically roasted, the asparagus firm and soft, and the spinach, well you get the point, just look at the pictures. You imagination and my words are not enough.
Washimi New York. Grassy
Wagu Tri-Tip. Fatty
Akaushi Ribeye. My second favorite.
Akaushi Ribcap. The best. Seriously.
Wagu Skirt. Jason's Favorite.
Ashley Guzman. She's bad too. She makes desserts.
Like this peach cobbler with peach sorbet.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Playground - Brunch Eddition

My dear friend Paul and I went to brunch today at The Playground DTSA. This place seems to be the only thing I blog about anymore. I promise I've been cooking and eating my own stuff, I've just been busy with other adventures. I'll get back into it... I promise.

Brunch starts with coffee. Good, single origin, coffee. This is an Ethiopian Bean roasted locally by Portola Coffee Lab. It was very good. A little brighter than I drink on a daily basis, but not acidic. It was like just right.

First came the cheesy eggs (we go a plate of bacon too, its not pictured). These are the prefect scrambled eggs. Creamy, light, and packed with cheddar cheese. The Playground has ruined me on eggs. Now that I've had their eggs, every time I see any other scrambled eggs all I can think of is how overcooked they are. If they're dry in the pan, they're over cooked.

Being a good southern boy (Southern California counts right?) I love biscuits and gravy. This biscuit and this gravy take it to another level. I make a good biscuit, let me tell you. This was better. Crispy edges with a fluffy soft center. They would have stood on their own with a pat of butter, but no. The Playground tops them with more scrambled eggs, and the fanciest gravy in the world. I don't know whats in this stuff, but it is savory, sweet, spicy, and good.

If you go to The Playground and you don't get Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken... shame on you. If you go to their brunch and don't get the Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken and Waffles. They were good, the Uncle Lou's sauce paired well with the sweetness of the maple. But they used chicken breast pieces instead of a chicken. There were no flavorful dark bits, no crispy skin bits, no freakin' bones to hold on to. On top of that, the waffle was kinda soggy. If I had to forgo one item from this brunch, it was this. 

Beer is good. I like beer. This is sour beer. It was good. I liked it.

We had to finish the meal strong. We were a little too full, but we couldn't end on the chicken and waffle. And for our diligence we were dutifully rewarded. We were between getting a Crab Cake Benedict, and Huevos Rancheros; we ordered the Huevos Rancheros and it was astounding. Black beans, a crispy tortilla, fried eggs, pico de gallo, some green stuff, and a gangbuster of the best ranchero salsa in the universe. I swear Paul and I ate the sauce off the plate it was that good. Food of this caliber is the reason I blog food. Thanks The Playground. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jason Quinn is a Bad Man - Playground 9.4.2012

I'm sorry Jason, but you are a bad man. You take food to new places where food simply should not go. You do things with fish sauce and other parts of other food-things that you should be ashamed of. You create mouth pleasure meal-time experiences that are un-natural, and simply un-godly. You've poisoned me, and I can't wait to go back and do it all again.

Brussels Sprouts, Benton's Bacon, and baby potatoes. These savory little greens tossed in a wonderfully mustard vinegary perfection carry the smokiness of the Benton's Bacon just perfectly. If you did not like Brussels Sprouts as a child, you should try these, and you might find that you like them now.

Risotto, Benton's Bacon, Manila Clams, and Chives. Lets be honest about this dish, Manila Clams are awesome. Benton's Bacon is awesome. Risotto is awesome. Chives are green and make stuff look good (I guess they awesome too). What is better than savory ocean stuffs. I'll tell you what.

Taglialini, Lamb Meatballs, San Marzano. This food is stupid. I don't know what a San Marzano (I think its a tomato) is, but this is the pasta and meatballs that I wish my grandmother made so that I could tell people that their pasta and meatballs is good, but that my grandmother's is better. My grandmothers is not better. This is better. The lamby meat balls, the sweet tomatoes, the fresh made pasta... this is better. I'll say it again.

This burger looking thing... its Nothing You'd Be Interested in (Hot Hatch Chili BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger with Avocado on house made bun, no big deal).

Fish Sauce Caramel Glazed Half Salmon Head. The Coup de Grace. The salty fish sauce caramel glaze on the fatty savory soft bits of salmon face, they will change your life. Some people might be squeamish about eating a salmon face, I am not. The variety of textures in the meat, the chared extra carmel bits of salmon skin, the especially savory cheek meat, every bit of this food was the best bite. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pork for Dessert - Birthday 28.4

What birthday meal would be complete without dessert? Certainly not my own. There were however no cakes to be seen. Instead pork infused ambrosia, the pork of the gods.

The first desert was candied bacon coffee iced cream. Rich creamy espresso ice cream with flavorful bursts of salty sweet candied bacon. The "caffeinated hog".

The second dessert was a bacon grease infused beinget, served with a bacon infused white Russian, the "dirty southern doughnut with a money shot". The sweet and savory adventure was coming quickly to a climax.

The final dessert course, and really the best last thing that anyone could want to taste, candied bacon creme brule. The coup de grace of this meal, and honestly, the perfect dessert. This food is perfectly balanced, sweet vanilla custard, crackly caramelized sugar, and salty savory candied bacon. You have not lived until you have known the mouth pleasure of this food. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Piggy Surf and Turf - Birthday 28.5

Sometimes you invent a food that breaks the rules. Sometimes you bring pork to a place on the flavor landscape that might get you in trouble. Sometimes you stay up late at night, sleepless, because something like this happens in your mind and you cannot wait until it happens in your mouth. 

We started with slices of pork belly confit. Yes we set a few aside from earlier. Pan seared salty, crispy and golden brown. Then we topped that with a sliver of serrano chili and a touch of grape fruit zest. This is already an interesting place for pork belly to be.

What really breaks the pig rules here, the ingredient that brings this dish to a new level, Hamahi Sashimi. Sushi grade yellow-tail. We topped the pork belly with a slice of sushi grade yellow-tail and then drizzled it with a touch of grapefruit juice. 

The flavors in this dish are absolutely inspired. The freshness from the hamachi, the salty fat from the pork belly, and the spicy kick of the chili followed by the sharpness of the citrus zest, it was just bold enough to be unbelievably complex without being noisy. It was perfectly balanced. We had some sashimi left so we fixed it up and ate that too. Hamachi Sashimi Grapefruit Zest and Serrano Chili, smothered in grapefruit juice. This food was truly delicious.