Beef Noodle Soup for the Soul

I was driving back from a deposition in Newport Beach yesterday, and once I was on the 405, realized it was only the briefest of detours to go to a Taiwanese restaurant off of Jeffrey in Irvine. Beef noodle soup sang out to my soul (or was it Fetus craving something?) and I exited Jeffrey to stop for lunch at A&J Restaurant (半畝園).

I don’t bullshit myself; A&J does not have amazing beef noodle soup and cannot compare to Taiwan, but it absolutely satisfies the craving and it is not possible to eat here and leave unhappy. I have consistently ordered beef noodle soup with the wide noodles, half tendon, half meat every time I come here for the last 19 years, but there are other great things on the menu as well including the green onion pancakes (蔥油餅) and some other carb-loaded fried dough, the name of which I do not know in English (抓餅). One of these days I want to bring husband here for a traditional Taiwanese breakfast/brunch for soy milk soup accompanied with some other fried dough dish (油條). Noodles, fried dough, more fried dough… this is how Asians get the diabeetus.

This place has been around for a long time; it’s been there since probably well before my family moved to Irvine in 1998, and as far as I can tell has employed the exact same personnel since at least then. We used to come here all the time when I was in high school, and it appears that almost 20 years later, with the exception of maybe one extra person, it’s the exact same ladies who seat you and serve you. I don’t know their names, but I know them by face, and I suspect the one random Hispanic lady who’s still there has a decent command of Mandarin by now. I was last here just about a year ago, and one of the waitresses recognized me, commenting that I used to go there all the time with my family. She asked, “Didn’t you used to have a little brother? Where’s he?” I responded that my “little” brother is now 26 and living in New York City, and we laughed about how much time had passed.

After lunch, I spoiled myself some more by walking into Sunmerry bakery for unearned treats (unjust desserts?). Had a pineapple bun and bought two Portuguese style egg tarts for dessert after dinner. I ate the pineapple bun while sitting in traffic on the way back to San Diego and saved the egg tarts for after our carne asado burrito dinner. It was a decadent day, as far as food goes.

WTF I Ate Moldy Tortillas

Father, I have sinned, for I ate medium rare steak twice in the last two months, had sushi (salmon, not tuna, to avoid mercury), and also drank more than 12 ounces of coffee on one occasion, perhaps two. I also had a taster of beer recently and a bite of shrimp ceviche.

They tell pregnant women not to eat sushi, uncooked seafoods (ceviche! smoked salmon! sob!), medium rare steak, hummus, deli meats, among others, but no one said a damn thing about moldy tortillas, did they? I had a couple of tortillas that tasted fine, only to check the package later and realize some of them were growing mold. I then proceeded to have stomach problems for the next 24 hours.

Of course the culprit would not be anything listed in the first paragraph, but something like flour tortillas. Irony.

 

Preggo Shopping

Over the weekend, I drove down to Pacific Beach to my husband’s cousin Amy’s pad, where she had laid out a beautiful spread of snacks and drinks on her dinner table for a ladies’ day. Her smorgasboard included sweet peppers, a whipped garlic spread, brie, homemade fig jam, plum preserves, baguette slices, tapenade, among other treasures that sang to me. These were paired with champagne and beers for others (so jealous), but Amy was incredibly thoughtful and had a couple of fancy non-alcoholic options for me. After gorging on the snacks, paired with a coconut (mango?) oolong tea, and an elderflower and rose lemonade, we went shopping with a crew of ladies.

The first stop was a store I’ve been to on a couple of prior occasions. Half of it contains normal clothing. The other half is most accurately described as an awesome costume/stripper store, featuring wigs in all colors of the rainbow, garter belts, masks, S&M collars, corsets, animal ears, steampunk goggles, and things normal people do not wear out in public. Every time I am here, I Snapchat a glimpse of this wonderland to my stripper friend. If I lived closer, I’d be here all the time. Being about 5 months pregnant, I briefly felt reminiscent browsing through slinky dresses I could have previously worn. Amy assured me I could buy them anyway because I would eventually fit into them again, but I am vehemently against buying ill-fitting clothes many months in advance (especially considering how fickle I am in my style). However, she did plant a seed in my head, and without much further deliberation promptly decided I could still wear these things if I bought items made of stretchy material, and in the largest size available.

So I left the store with a form-fitting black spandex dress (size L) that was not made for pregnant people and a gray, over-sized, shirt featuring the classy slogan, “ALCOHOL YOU LATER.” Although this may not have been the shirt’s intent, I figured this was entirely appropriate for me, since indeed, I cannot alcohol until many months from now. Additionally, I picked up a black, lacy, billowy dress with spaghetti straps for $5 that seemed perfect for preggos, which is also probably why it was on the sale rack for $5 in a stripper store. I wore the black spandex to the bowling alley with 5-inch wedges the next day, because fuck it. YOLO.

On a side note, in our shopping adventures, I noticed an abundance of choker necklaces, ribbed shirts and dresses, and floral prints. Holy shit, are the 90’s back in? Goddamn I am getting old.

Stone Farms

I drink Stone beers all the time, and have been to Stone’s restaurant/breweries in Point Loma (Liberty Station) and Escondido, but they’ve come up with something new recently. Stone Farms is a 19-acre farm where they purportedly grow some of the food for their restaurant (I think I read that somewhere). On Wednesday and Friday evenings, they have live music until 7:30. They have a small bar there, though beers aren’t cheap ($7). You can bring your own picnic, or they have pizza.

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I’d been wanting to come here for a while, because I saw a random post on Facebook, it sounded neat, and I wanted to come here before it became cool. The grounds featured various types of flowers, cacti, and vegetables. There were several rows of squash vines, though I have far from a green thumb, so don’t quote me on that. There were a few picnic tables placed in dark recesses under the vines, which could potentially be quite romantic if you had a picnic basket and some wine. There was a chicken coop, complete with chickens (duh), roosters, and a token peacock. There was also a pigeon coop. I don’t know if they serve pigeons at their restaurant; I’m not quite sure of the purpose of pigeons. Maybe the pigeons serve as messengers and deliver messages to the brewery/restaurants as to what will be the special du jour.

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They were all out of Cali-Belgique when I tried to order it, but it was for the better since I drink that frequently enough. I had a “Delicious” IPA or some shit like that. They said it was not their normal IPA, which I also drink too often. You can’t really go wrong with any Stone IPA in any event, and this one was no exception (yum).

There was a an area with a small stage for the music. The stage is framed by a bunch of bales of hay (seating), and an enormous oak tree that provides a great deal of shade for the multiple picnic tables underneath. The music wasn’t bad. The performer looked like a total hipster. Hipster hair and beard. Tight-fitting flannel shirt and skinny jeans. His music was unexpectedly hippie as opposed to hipster though (not that I would have minded either way). He played some old-timey country, folk songs, and even threw in Friend of the Devil by Grateful Dead; I was super stoked about that.

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The hot sauce has nothing to do with the farm, but while we’re on the topic of Stone, I thought I’d mention it. I got it at the grocery store the other day because it was on sale. I love spicy foods and was looking forward to it. It’s not bad, and is excellent on some scrambled eggs. However, as a person who enjoys spicy foods that make me cry, this sauce oversells itself a bit. It’s not terribly bastardy and it doesn’t really “double burn.” You can do a lot of burn with habanero, but this was on the sweet and mild side.

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Went to Shane’s Pizza & Pints for dinner and some drinks. It used to be Hendo’s. Hendos’ food and drinks were alright. Their meatballs were notable. Everything else was rather standard, and not particularly cheap either. It’s certainly convenient, so I end up coming here more for that reason. Currently, they are still using Hendo’s menu, and I’m not quite sure what changes are going to be made.

It’s not surprising for Stone to have good beers. This one was decent. It was floral, hoppy, with a very bitter edge. It was a little heavier than I would have preferred, and I think the bitterness was one of the most noticeable and immediate qualities. It’s not one of my favorites though. A little too floral and too bitter.