Archive for the 'Fun' Category

Jul 22 2014

Totes bloggoats

Published by under Declan,Friends,Fun

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Feb 08 2014

Santa Maria Roadtrip

In researching tritip for my smoking experiment, I learned that it was “invented” in Santa Maria, CA, so I’m sitting in a hotel here now!  I live in San Diego, so the wife and I jumped in the car and drove 5 hrs north and started hunting for good tritip.

Our first stop was at the Rancho Nipomo, and it’s been the best one so far!  The tritip is sliced very thin, and made into a sandwich.

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I was more interested in the meat than the bread, but then the owner, Richard, came over and said he forgot to tell us about the salsa that we HAD to put in the sandwich.  Wow!  It’s a pretty simple, fresh tasting salsa – made with canned tomatoes.  The combo was excellent.  He also had us try a hot salsa, made with Manzano peppers.  I think I’m still sweating!

You can tell he loves what he does.  He threw in a pulled pork sandwich

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and kept bringing us over other stuff to try, like the amazing chili on some chips.  My wife had the pork with a red sauce and nopales.

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It was great, with a good heat.

For Saturday lunch, we tried out Jocko’s in Nipomo, CA, but failed to read that the BBQ pit doesn’t open til 4, so I got a pretty good bbq sandwich.

Next, we headed up the coast, stopping for a bit to see some Butterflies:

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And llamas:

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But the pony ride was a lie!

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Very disappointing ;)

We headed back to Arroyo  Grande, CA to the Oak Pit BBQ.  I couldn’t decide what to get, so I got the sampler, which at $15 isn’t too bad!

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Pork rib, beef rib, tritip, pulled pork, and sides.  Oh, and corn muffin.  mmm! Like Rancho Nipomo above, their tritip was not cooked rare.  It was good, but not as good as Rancho.  Or mine ;)

Elaine was missing vegetables, so she got a salad.  A tritip salad!  ;)

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The cook was VERY nice and told us that they smoked on red oak, just like I’d learned from my research.  I asked where I could get some and he pointed across the street to a market.

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So now I have a trunk full of red oak pieces that are too big to fit into my smoker.  Elaine thinks my solution will be to cut it down, but it occurs to me that maybe the REAL solution is a bigger smoker!  ;)

On Sunday morning we got up and headed back to Rancho Nipomo for more BBQ!  Here’s a tri tip sandwich with the proper salsa:

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Also tried his ribs, which were very good!  Not as smokey as I like, but still great!

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And here’s a picture of that super hot sauce I mentioned above:

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3 responses so far

Feb 02 2014

First try at smoking tritip

Published by under Food,Fun

I got 4 tritips from Major Market in Escondido, 2 plain and 2 marinated. One was wine and pepper, the other just wine, I think.

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I put Emeril’s steak rub on them all. Mostly it’s salt and pepper. They range in weight from 1.77 lb to almost 3 lb.

I put them on at 10:30a, hoping I can get them to a 2p Super Bowl party.  I’m sticking to around 225F and will start pulling them at an internal temp of 130-135F

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11:20 and I’m at 115F internal temp on the 1.77 lb one, pit temp is hovering around 226F.  Worried that I might have put it on too early.

Oh yeah, woods are cherry, oak, and hickory.  The hickory was a huge chunk – hope it doesn’t overpower everything.  Also wonder if I should have rubbed the marinaded pieces, but I like a good crust.  I haven’t done much beef before, just lots of pork.

12:00p and the smallest is at 129F.  I’m going to let it get to 135F.

12:30 and I pulled the small one at 135F, and the next size up at 133F.  I left the others to heat up some more:

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1:00 and the other two were 133F, so time to come out!

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I let each of them rest for 30 mins, then cut!

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SO GOOD!!!

Thoughts later:

So I brought most of the tritip to the Superbowl party and it was a big hit.  People I didn’t know hugged me.  Grown men cried.  Someone snagged a bunch to take home to her husband ;)

I’m thrilled with the results.  The pepper rub really accented the beef.  It was really rare, which people liked a lot.  I brought some buns and horseradish sauce, but no one used it – there was so much flavor in the slices alone.

One of the cuts had a really chewy vein of tissue which didn’t detract from the flavor, but sure lengthened the chewing time ;)  Not sure what I could do about that, other than make smaller slices.

Slicing was kinda hard, so I ended up with much thicker slices that I wanted.  I need to work on my knife skills so I can get it thinner for sandwiches.

The marinaded tritips didn’t seem to taste much different from the plain ones.  That pepper rub probably didn’t give the other flavors a chance.  Maybe I’ll do a rubless one next time.

 

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Feb 13 2011

Tour de Palm Springs 2011

I just got back from my second Tour de Palm Springs Century bike ride.

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Here are some stats:

2011:

Avg Speed: 15.0 mph
Max Speed: 38.3 mph
Time in Motion: 06:35:36
Actual Time on the Ride: 08:33:40

I had a small data problem when my bike computer got paused for about 4 miles after the 50 mile lunch and get-a-new-tire-installed stop. Full Garmin stats here.

Compared to 2010:

Average Speed: 14.1 mph
Max Speed: 36.9 mph
Time in Motion: 7h 10m
Actual Time on the Ride: 9h

It was a little chilly, like last year:

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There were four of us riding:

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Dante, me, Kitchen, and Mike. I’d ridden with Kitchen and Mike last year. This was Dante’s first century and, despite the lack of sunscreen, he finished great!

Just as I was about to ride out in my wave of people, I got a tap on the shoulder. I turned around and a dude says, “You’re Declan!” I said, “yep!” while trying to figure out where I knew him from. I finally asked, nicely, “who are you?” and he said this was his first ride and he’d found my ride post from last year and it helped him a lot. Very cool! Except by then, my riding buddies had taken off and I was all alone! ;) I caught up with Dante pretty quickly, and ditched him trying to figure out his new SPD shoes and pedals. Eventually I caught up with Mike and we stuck together during most of the ride. We never saw Kitchen until we finished. He was riding a fixie, so we knew his pace would be a lot different from ours.

The ride was just like last year, except for more accidents. I saw a really bloody crash in the first few miles of the ride. And I saw at least five others. I wonder of there are just too many riders. The whole ride seemed crowded, and that’s either from the 3000 more riders than the 7800 last year, or I was going a bit faster and keeping up with the pack more.

I’ve been pretty lucky in terms of mechanical difficulties on long rides in the past, but my luck ended at the mile 50 lunch break. There is some dangerously potholed road just before the break, and I felt my bike having trouble as I pulled in. I looked down at my back tire, and it was all swollen in one area. Mike and I had teamed up with another rider named Guido, and he said it looked like the lining in the tire was bad. I took the bike over to the mechanics area, and Guido was right! I was hoping my ride wasn’t finished just half way through, so I asked how much a new tire would be. $10!!! WOW! That works!

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KHS Bicycles ran the mechanics stop and I’m very grateful for the low cost repair. And the no cost service! It took about 15 mins to wait for the tech to get to me, then about 5 mins for the fix! Yay SAG stops!

Here are Guido and Mike at mile 72:

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After the mile 92 SAG stop, Guido and I ditched Mike and shot out ahead. I was dog tired and just wanted to get to the end. Guido eventually got ahead, and we all finished within 40-50 mins. Guido even waited to cheer me on!

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Then my real cheering section yelled at me to come hear them!

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That’s Dante’s fiance Mercedes, Elaine, Erin, and Elaine’s mom Donna.

Kitchen got to the end about 15 mins before I did, then Mike showed up about 15 minutes after me. We never knew what happened to Dante, but I think I spotted him today:

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Elaine rode the 56 mile ride and did great! If she ever blogged or tweeted, you’d hear ALL about it… ;)

5 responses so far

Nov 12 2010

Declan’s Favorite San Diego Beer Places

Published by under Beer,Declan,Fun,San Diego

Friends from out of town often ask me where are good places to have a beer in San Diego. After emailing out the tenth reply, I decided to write up my favorite places, and to put them on a map to help people find them. I hope you find it useful!

Here’s THE MAP.

I haven’t tried to list every place in San Diego, just the ones that I regularly visit and feel comfortable recommending to people. I have certain biases and preferences, so don’t be upset if you’re favorite place isn’t listed. Throw me a comment and I’ll see if it’s a place I’ve forgotten, or some place new I should try!

My main bias is that I’m old and I can’t stand places that blare music. I like to talk with friends over a beer, and a jammin’ jukebox just makes that hard. Only two of the bars I frequent can lure me in past the blare of the music – Toronados and Hamiltons. Their beer selection, and the specials they provide for their customers make them worth the noise. Mostly. ;)

Another bias is that I like a lot of selection. San Diego has a reputation for big, hoppy beers, but I like dark, sweet, funky, and sour stuff.

I list three kinds of places:

    Beer Stores: indicated by the shopping bag icon
    Bars: indicated by the beer mug icon
    Breweries: indicated by the brewery’s logo

It makes for a messy map, and I’ll work to make it cleaner over time.


View Declan’s Favorite San Diego Beer Places in a larger map

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Aug 07 2010

My first model shoot

Published by under Declan,Fun,Photography,San Diego

Gabe and I attended the Amateur-Professional Models and Photographers and More SD meetup run by the energetic, friendly Britt. We met at Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach right at sunset.

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The models were running late, so Britt got down on the sand and helped us set up our lighting and shots. I quickly figured out that coming straight from work was a bad idea… My dress pants and shoes are now full of sand. ;) I also got a great workout squatting and kneeling to get the best angles.

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That’s Ashley, the first model who showed up. I was able to get a little sunset action, but it was pretty cloudy:

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Gabe enjoyed the whole experience:

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Marisa showed up next:

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Then Angel came a bit later:

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There were about 10 photographers:

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The models would pose and move their eyes from one lens to another. I learned a lot about how to give direction by listening to the other photogs. Britt was also very helpful in how to talk to the models and help them give you the best shot.

I had a great time, well worth the $15 Britt charges for the event. She is one of the most friendly people I’ve met and loves helping. She gathered some of us after the shoot and we headed to Pizza Port for a couple beers and she talked even more about the craft. Lots of fun!

Click here for lots more pictures on Flickr!

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Jun 13 2010

Taste of Adams 2010

Elaine and i just finished up trying out the Taste of Adams and had a few reflections:

When we started researching the event, there were 2 different dates referenced on web sites. In fact, the Blind Lady mailed out that they had confused the date too.

The tickets cost $25 each, but Mercedes found a $5 off deal. Still, the ordering site added a $2.50 processing fee, so that kinda sucked. For what we got, we think it was over priced by about $10.

Parking was about the same as normal for Adams, so about 5 mins of hunting side streets. The ticket booth was quick, with laser zappers that read the 2D barcodes nicely. Then we got a necklace badge with numbers that some of the vendors punched, I guess so you didnt come back for another whole bite of soy chorizo burrito.

We started at Blind Lady – a slice of nicely spicy margherita pizza. Then we hit Mariposa ice cream and they were very generous with two scoops of whatever they had. The Mexican chocolate was great! Next was Tams Thai which had a line too long to wait for so we skipped it. Next was Gold Donuts. They gave you a piece of a donut or fritter, or 3 donut holes for yer card punch. That was actually a pretty nice portion and fulfills my donut needs for the next year.

Then we met up with our buddies Kay Marie and Gerardo, and headed back in the other direction. Country Kabob Greek had some steam tables on the sidewalk with a tiny piece of pita with really spicy yogurt, and a bite of yummy spanikopita. Portions too small, but very tasty.

Lestats had iced coffee and brownie bites. Elaine liked the coffee, I never touch the stuff. The brownie was fine – kinda dry. Then we ran back across the street to TAO Thai and had some nice spicy tofu and a great chicken in some sweet sauce with mixed wild rice. No skimping on the portions here! They even had a mini dessert with mochi and bean curd. Right next door was Viva Pops! where they make their own Popsicles. The blood orange was yummy, and the girls said the chocolate banana was great too.

Elaine really liked El Zarape – rice, beans, carne, and chicken. Then a nice margarita shot! Well be back! Then we walked all that off and stopped into Incredible Cheesecake where I think they gave us a wafer thin hint of a smell of a taste of some cheese cake. Really chintzy.

Next was Jaynes Gastropub, who did the best job of all of the venues to treat us as more than a bother. We were seated and served bangers and mash. The portion was tiny, but we liked the service and the friendly people. We stayed a bit and ordered some beers to keep our strength up. Senior Mango was next, and I had a berry smoothy that was a nice size. None of the others had been inside AC Lounge before, so we popped in and were greeted very warmly by the bartender. They were serving half off drinks, but we were worried about running out of time, so we pressed on.

We skipped Twiggs because of time and tried Cafe 21. They had some dried out hash on dried out bread crumbs on a tray. Quite meh. Then we jumped on the trolley, which was a really nice part of the event, and went to the Farm House Cafe and had ricotta pancakes in a butter sauce with oranges. Very rich and tasty!

The trolley driver was cool and let us take our food on board so we didnt have to wait another 10 mins for the next bus. One of my main goals was to get to Ponces, someplace Ive heard great things about, so we rode the trolley all the way to the other end of Adams to Kensington. This was about 2:40, so we had 20 mins until the end of the event.

We tried out the Kensington Cafe, which had really nice people staffing sidewalk steam tables, but served up a minuscule bite of the aforementioned soy chorizo. Double meh. Burger Lounge had a 5 minute wait while they whipped up some more food, so we skipped it and hit Bleu Boheme. My old buddy JenBen was hosting and directed us back to a gentleman serving escargot in a rich sauce. Id never had them, and they were kinda like mussels or salty, chewy mushrooms with a slightly grainy texture. Oh, and they were snails… So that was different. I liked the place and the vibe tho.

Finally, with 10 minutes to spare, I get to try out Ponces!!! But no, theyre rejecting people at the door saying they ran out of food. WTF? How the hell do you run out of food? Youre a restaurant! The snails didnt leave a bad taste, but Ponces sure did. What a shitty way to treat people.

So, all in all, it was a nice event but many of the venues didnt do themselves any favors by being cheap on the offerings.

3 responses so far

Jun 07 2010

LA River Ride Century

EDIT: Awesome! Kitchen just posted the Garmin log:

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/36057011

Time: 07:22:09
Moving Time: 06:02:09
Elapsed Time: 07:22:11
Avg Speed: 12.9 mph
Avg Moving Speed: 15.8 mph
Max Speed: 32.8 mph

I survived my second century ride, the LA River Ride!

That’s 100 miles on a bike… and I’m feeling all of them today :) I really should have taken the day off of work, but I didn’t know I was riding before my Monday had already filled up with meetings. I was going to pass on this ride until I remembered that my buddy Tom lives right next to Griffith Park in LA where the ride begins. Tom and Jen just had a new arrival 7 months ago, Charlie:

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Charlie’s the pudgy one with short hair… ;) He’s a delightful kid who was a lot of fun to play with. So’s Tom! Sorry, Jen, I didn’t get a good picture of you… :)

Anyway, they let me crash on their couch on Saturday night after another buddy, Terri, cooked us a wonderful pasta dinner.

Sunday came too soon and I was up at 5am with cool SMSs from work friends wishing me well. I got outside and started putting the bike together:
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then waited for Kitchen to show up. Of course, he set his alarm wrong and was way late, so I biked the 2 miles over to the park alone to get my registration materials.

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The ride was well organized and I had my bracelet and cue sheet within minutes. On the ride over, I’d noticed that my bike computer was dead, so I borrowed a way-too-big screw driver and got it open in about 20 minutes. It all worked when I shifted the battery around, then promptly died again when I snapped it back into its holder. Damn computers… Kitchen has a fancy pants Garmin bike computer, so I’m counting on him to give me the route and all the stats. Well, I should say he SHOULD have one, but he left it in his car, so when he showed up at 7:30, we picked it up as we started the ride:

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Then we were off on this almost totally flat 100 mile ride! Except they forgot to tell us that the first 4 miles was a climb up the big hill in Griffith Park. That got the heart pumping, especially Kitchen’s as he was riding his brand new fixed gear bike! He had to zig zag up the hill, but he make it! Throughout the ride, people were very impressed with his bike and the effort. They didn’t know he had a motor hidden in the tubes… :) not.

Once we were through the park, we got on the river path:

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The LA River is a concrete bank with water running at the bottom. It runs for miles and makes for a great bike path, but man, it’s kinda ugly. In some places, enough silt has backed up to support trees and bushes. I was surprised how much bird life I saw. Sand pipers, some kind of white hawk, kestrels, and ducks. It might be an interesting place to go up and photograph. I’ll have to go learn about why it was built the way it was. At the very least, many parts of it are a lesson in why to think about aesthetics when you design a city.

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There are a lot of scary creatures in there too:

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I liked these bridges:

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As a spoiled San Diegan, I mostly find LA pretty ugly:

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but Seal Beach was pretty nice:

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Long Beach was the halfway point:

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A mess of bikes:

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Friggin’ hipster:

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More riding:

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More posing:

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Then finally, after seven hours, it’s over!!!

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Time to grab the tshirt and go find a shower!

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I got some great support on Twitter and Facebook! Thanks for that!

2 responses so far

May 31 2010

Yelp Review for West Coast Tavern

Elaine and I had dinner out at West Coast Tavern and liked it so much that I wrote a Yelp review.

Click here to read it.

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May 09 2010

Happy Mothers Day, E!

Published by under Declan,Elaine,Erin,Family,Food,Fun,Nathan

To celebrate Mothers Day, we went and picked up the boy at SDSU and went to Ali Baba in El Cajon. We had the 4 Person Feast, and it started with a blanket of bread:

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and ended with a trough of lamb, chicken, rice, and so much food that we filled three take home boxes. All for $60! Very good deal. Then we dropped the boy back at school:

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and I snapped one more picture:

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