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San Diego (Day 3): A Sweet Sendoff (Il Fornaio and Phil’s BBQ)

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It has finally come to the end of the line for the San Diego travelogue, and perhaps my last blog post in a long time to come as I begin my journey through graduate school tomorrow.  I’ll try my best to post on her, but life has a funny way of hijacking my best material.  As always on Mastication Monologues, I plan on highlighting the culinary stops we made along the way during our travels as well as any fun or exciting events of note.  Day three was much more laid back than day one or day two aside from a little shoe scare toward the end of our trip.

As we woke up from our deep slumber from the crazy night before, we were definitely feeling the results of dancing and indulging ourselves all night long with great company.  Thankfully, the newlyweds were hosting a farewell brunch for guests at another eatery on Coronado Island called Il Fornaio or “The Baker” in Italian. img_9746 It was one of seemingly a million Italian eateries strewn about San Diego, but it was clearly inspired by the signature villas one could find in the Tuscan countryside with the sand colored walls and arbor vitaes lining the entrance.  On the inside, it was light and airy with exposed woodwork and a kitchen that was open to the public eye. img_9744img_9743 While we didn’t eat from the official menu since it was picked out to be more wide ranging for the multitude of guests’ palates, img_9742the waffles, eggs, and sausage that were provided were all excellent, especially the fluffy waffles topped with a spritz of whipped cream and some freshly sliced strawberries.  We didn’t touch any of their alcoholic offerings like their signature mimosas or bellinis (a nod to the classic Venetian drink at Harry’s Bar), but they didn’t mess around when my fiancee asked for her personal elixir of life:  Diet Coke.

Now that's service!

Now that’s service!

Once finished with chowing down on the delectable morsels, we strolled out onto the outdoor patio that overlooked the entire San Diego skyline. img_9745 A breathtaking view for a trip that has felt the same way at certain points due to the immense amount of activities that were planned.  We were under the canopy, soaking up the last few rays of humidity free weather, when suddenly Janice remembered she didn’t have her high heels from last night.  I quickly traced our Uber driver down online and called him.  Luckily, he had them in the back of his car, and offered to drive to the restaurant to drop them off.  After we wished the Cua and Ng family goodbye and thanked them for their hospitality, our Uber driver arrived right on time with the goods.  It seemed like nothing could stand in our way on this perfect vacation.  Not even when we looking for a place to satisfy our rumbling stomachs as we waited for our plane.  As mentioned in my day one post, the wedding party hosted a rehearsal dinner with barbecue catering.  Lo and behold, Janice and I ended up eating at the same company’s franchise location in San Diego’s airport:  Phil’s BBQ.img_9747  After looking over their full menu of chicken, ribs, salads, sandwiches, and fixin’s, I decided to share a quarter rib dinner with Janice ($10).  It included four of their ribs and with two small sides or one large side.  We opted for the former choice in the form of potato salad and macaroni salad.  It also came with a side of cornbread which might not be offered at their main restaurant locations.  The ribs were smaller than the gargantuan ones offered at Sabrina and Thompson’s rehearsal dinner, but that didn’t mean that they were lacking in flavor.img_9749  The tomato-based sauce was on the sweeter end with not much of a smoky profile to it.  They weren’t as mouth-wateringly transcendent than the Twin Anchor ribs back in Chicago, but they were better than some fancy Italian dining at Sbarro.  The sides were competently made but nothing of note.  I did enjoy the cornbread that was warm and soft without the waterfall of crumbs that typically accompany each bite of cornbread.  I’d recommend trying Phil’s BBQ if you have a layover and want to try some Ohio style bbq, but it isn’t a must for any traveler.  At least the food was more satisfying than the Euro 2016 final between Portugal and France we watched.  By the time we were boarding, Ronaldo was lifting the trophy, elated beyond words, while we were less than enthused to come back to reality after such a wonderful time.  Perhaps the West coast really is the best coast after all that we saw, experienced, and tasted.   Until next time, readers!  Keep on traveling and eating!13606960_4451837091114_8145190808412734475_n

Il Fornaio Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Phil’s BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Throwback Post: Sachertorte in Vienna and A Bit of Bratislava

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Willkommen zum Mastication Monologues!  Today’s post is part 4 in my throwback Europe series where I recall my various excursions throughout the continent during my time abroad in 2008-2009.  I’ve been going through my Eastern European adventures so far, and today’s post creeps a bit further west.  Kevin, his girlfriend, and I had decided to travel throughout Eastern/Central Europe for our Spring Break, so we started in Hungary, moved to Poland (post coming soon), moved onto Slovakia (this post), and ended in the Czech Republic.  However, today’s post talks about our brief visit to Vienna via Slovakia, so let’s start with the latter.

Slovakia is the less popular part of the former binary state known as Czechoslovakia up until the fall of the Iron Curtain.  I mean, the Czech Republic has the whimsical and enchanting capital city of Prague, great beer, and a pretty good hockey team.  While Slovakia is only popular for its dreariness as portrayed in the movie Eurotrip.  The actual Slovak capital was quite the opposite.  Not only were there no grown men scrubbing themselves down, I didn’t hear one strain of Soviet choir music.  Only the finest Eurobeatz the Bratislava dance clubs and grocery stores had to offer.  It was in reality a quaint town that wasn’t as awe-inspiring as its bigger Czech brother to the west though. 2819_1239059973694_6203913_n It was relaxing to just walk the streets and take in the more laid back atmosphere which was the opposite of Prague’s congested walkways. 2819_1239059933693_3738150_n I think the highlight of Bratislava was the friend I made at our hostel.  He was about two feet tall, covered in hair, and had severely bowed legs.  His name was Tyson the bulldog, and he was quite the character.  He greeted me in the morning when I opened the door like a living, slobbering, sack of potatoes.  Talk about hospitality.2819_1239060133698_2425651_n  When Kevin, Daniella, and I were eating breakfast, we were interrupted by a loud noise in the kitchen.  It sounded like a dump truck trying to start its engine, and it turned out to be ol’ Tyson hoovering up his food under the table.  I really miss that severely inbred little guy.

Meeting of the minds

A tearful goodbye

While it would have been fun walking around with this snuffling gentledog, we took a day trip to Vienna.

The Austrian capital was just like Prague in the sense that there were a billion tourists snapping pictures of everything around them which made walking a chore, but I did jump for joy when I had the chance.2819_1239068853916_7611012_n  It was unseasonably hot as well, so that caused a bit of frayed nerves as we were sightseeing.

All's cool with Mozart and I

All’s cool with Mozart and I

2819_1239069573934_7010964_nLuckily, I only wanted to do one thing while in Vienna on our condensed timetable:  try the Sachertorte.  In Vienna, there is a very famous hotel called the Hotel Sacher, and it is known for making a world renowned chocolate cake without equal, i.e. the Sachertorte.  It’s a dessert that originally was commissioned by Prince Klemens von Metternich who was quite possibly one of the most important statesmen of 19th Century Europe aside from perhaps Napoleon or Otto Von Bismarck.  His head chef fell ill, so the responsibility for creating a dessert for his esteemed guests at a dinner party fell to the chef’s 16 year old apprentice, Franz Sacher.  It was extremely popular, but its popularity didn’t explode until Sacher’s grandson made the cake for his hotel, Hotel Sacher, in 1876.  The rest is history.  We entered the monstrously large hotel and had the option of being seated in sumptuous surroundings or outside.  The weather outside was better, so we sat outside.cn_image_1.size.hotel-sacher-vienna-vienna-austria-105018-2 We  looked over the menu, and it elaborated on the struggle between Demel Bakery and Hotel Sacher as to who serves the “real” Sacher Torte. 2819_1239069373929_3041113_n Who knows which establishment utilizes the true secret recipe? 2819_1239069133923_6309778_n When it came out, it was a perfect slice of cake composed of two layers of apricot jam, three layers of sponge cake, and triple chocolate frosting with a side of unsweetened whipped cream.2819_1239069413930_5951873_n  It was a simple but very rich cake. 201210116144035931145 I’m never a huge fan of jam and cake combined, so I think the apricot took away from the overall dessert. The cake itself was a bit dry, but the frosting was the icing on the cake (pun intended).  Overall, it wasn’t the best cake I’ve ever tried, but it’s something that you kind of have to do in Vienna to taste a bit of local history in one of the most opulent hotels I’ve set foot in.

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