Category Archives: The Capers of Solomon Lox

Food & Travel missives, inspired by the adventures of a mythical Vietnamese electrical engineer-turned-chef.

Oscar-Worthy Snacks: Part 1

As the 2016 Oscars approach, the thoughts on everyone’s minds are
1. Is this Leo’s year?
2. What am I going to eat while watching?!?

We have no insight into Leonardo’s fate. We do, however, have a few ideas when it comes to Oscar-worthy snacks. Idle time created 8 recipes to pair with each nominated Best Picture. Pick your favorite recipe, or make them all. The choice is yours.

The Room Service Cocktail

Inspired by Room, Idle Time brings you the perfect cocktail pairing.

Room Service Cocktail

Ingredients: 

  • Bottle of Vodka- chilled
  • Lemon (optional)

Preparation: 

  1. Shake vodka over ice.
  2. Fill glass.
  3. Garnish with a twist (optional).
  4. Drink. Repeat. Forget.

Continue reading Oscar-Worthy Snacks: Part 1

National Tortilla Chip Day: What You Need To Know.

  1. This is real. National Tortilla Chip day is celebrated every year on February 24th.
  2. Know your tortilla chips and where they came from. Tortilla chips, today’s crunchy snack enjoyed during game day festivities as nachos, or simply as vessels to deliver salsa to your mouth, were first introduced to the U.S. in the 1900’s. They started as a simple addition to meals served in Southern California restaurants. As you can probably guess (or maybe not) these were created from leftover tortilla dough. Frito-Lay brought the world Doritos—my personal favorite being one I found in Iceland: Cool American. Yes folks, those tasty little bastards are just fancy tortilla chips.
  3. Now that you know your facts, let’s talk about what to eat them with today. Three of my personal favorites:

Continue reading National Tortilla Chip Day: What You Need To Know.

National IPA Day: Five California Favorites

Folks who love their IPAs are passionate about the piney punch of Humulus lupulus and know how to appreciate a well-crafted India Pale Ale. And although asking twenty different beer drinkers to name their favorite IPA will likely get you twenty different answers, one factor seems universally important: drink it fresh.

So to celebrate National IPA Day, here are five Idle Timers with five different California-born brews. Drink local, my friends. Local to us, anyway.

Stone_Go_To_IPAStone Brewing Co.
Escondido, CA
Go To IPA
RF: Stone’s Go To IPA is a solid favorite. And their San Diego-area tasting resort is fantastic. From the website: “we employed ‘hop bursting,’ a new technique wherein an irrational amount of hops is added during the final phase of the brewing process to coax out extreme flavors and aromas while also imparting a burst of desirably pleasant bitterness.” Continue reading National IPA Day: Five California Favorites

The Final Salvo: Jack in the Box’s Munchie Meal

Some of the more conscientious readers out there may wonder why Subway’s five-dollar foot long isn’t on our five-dollar meal to-do list. My immediate response is that it’s just not sexy. Look at Jared. He may be healthy, but he’s also kind of creepy. Subway is for those people who don’t want to feel guilty after eating. This is not an experiment on what’s the healthiest thing to do with five bucks. If you go into a fast food place expecting every brick of the food pyramid to be appropriately represented, then you’re kind of missing the point. Also, and I know I have some friends out there who feel me on this, in Subway’s commercials, their guacamole sandwiches look like they’re suffocated in guacamole, and then when you actually get there, they give you half a tablespoon of guac. Fuck Subway. This juicy bit of bloggorhea is about finding out what these huge corporate food vendors think five bucks is worth, and how they entice us into spending that money. And it’s also an opportunity to make poop jokes.

With that in mind, this adventure in fast food gastronomy has to end on a grand note. My final stop has, what I believe to be, the most intriguing name and the clearest target market. Continue reading The Final Salvo: Jack in the Box’s Munchie Meal

Fast Food Lunch Fight, Round Four: Burger King

When I began this investigation a few short days ago, I didn’t know exactly what I was going to get out of it.  Now, I admit that this whole thing has been more fun than I expected, and so far I think every joint that thinks I’m worth five bucks plus tax has its merits.

a-suggestive-burger-king-adSo, maybe if I was more familiar with Burger King’s current ad campaign, I wouldn’t have had high expectations. If someone were to literally poop in my cornflakes, I’d suppose it’d be fair to say that this would make me feel that way.

When I walk into the Ellensburg Burger King, I ask if they have a $5 lunch, and the cashier says, “No.” Taking her word for it, I leave the restaurant and head towards the Jack in the Box, thinking that MMDG was mistaken when he put BK on my to do list. A couple of quick messages to him assures me that BK has a $5 deal.

He tells me, “They have ‘we re-invented the $5 bill’ commercials.”

I don’t think these guys understand what’s out there.

Continue reading Fast Food Lunch Fight, Round Four: Burger King

Fast Food Frenzy Day Three: Dairy Queen

I think it’s pretty easy to see that fast food places like advertising to stoners and students. You can tell that these restaurants are doing this when in one of their commercials a group of bros appear at a gathering with a box of tacos and then the party really gets started, or when some dude suddenly transforms into a puppet. However, I can’t tell who Dairy Queen’s target market is. Commercials for DQ straddle a line between friendly and stupid, so they attempt to appeal to everyone, but fail to establish a strong personality. These ads are few and far between and they’re probably more frequent than actual DQ storefronts. I can’t even remember the last time I went to Dairy Queen, but more than likely it was to get ice cream, not a lunch. With so few locations and a damn near invisible brand, I’m curious as to how Dairy Queen can compete in this fight for five bucks.

SubstandardFullSizeRenderOne of the wonderfully strange things about Ellensburg is that there are two Dairy Queens. One of everything else, two Dairy Queens. This place is as cold as Narnia and now twice as magical. If anyone is wondering where their local Dairy Queen is, Ellensburg probably took it. One DQ is located next to the university. My mom tells me this one is nasty. The $5 meal she ate there came with a cold hamburger with mealy meat, a small soda and fries, and no ice cream. This does not get me jazzed. Fortunately, there is another, and I venture to the Dairy Queen on the far side of town, near the freeway. Continue reading Fast Food Frenzy Day Three: Dairy Queen

Five-Buck Lunch Day Two: KFC

To be honest, I knew how my Taco Bell experience was going to end. Though I’d say I’m a pretty healthy eater, I’m no stranger to fast food, particularly Taco Bell’s value-to-flavor ratio and the eventual digestive wringing that follows a meal. Knowing and accepting that eventuality makes it easier to enjoy the experience, but I did not approach my second outing with the same calm resignation.

I usually don’t mess with KFC.  I admit I fell into the whole “KFC doesn’t use real chickens” hoax, and even though it’s been disproved, I think the very idea of a mutated chicken that’s mass produced in a lab to supply a fast food chain is too close to plausible for me to take the risk. Test tube chicken aside, KFC just looks unhealthy. All of the food from there comes in mostly shades of brown, which speaks to its nutritional value and I think is an indicator for the “T + 3” effect. Continue reading Five-Buck Lunch Day Two: KFC

Fast Food Lunchbox Blitz Day One: Taco Bell

If the 20th century adage, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” is true, then the next best thing must be a cheap lunch. A recent fad in fast food marketing has several restaurants fighting over customers’ lunch money by trying to lure them in with a five dollar meal deal. A cousin to the dollar menu, these five dollar deals promise more for less; a hearty serving of tasty chow that leaves you with enough change to rent a Redbox, buy a lotto ticket, donate to charity, etc. MMDG brought this trend to my attention, and issued a challenge: to spend one work-week sampling the meal deals from the various institutions eager to win my wallet through my stomach. Normally, MMDG would handle this sort of business himself, but the idea of consistently eating fast food is something he can’t commit to in good conscience. “It’s a young man’s game,” he explained. Well, I’ll throw my hat into the ring on his behalf. I intend to eat one $5 lunch per day for one week in search of value, nourishment, and satisfaction. I’m skeptical as to whether I’ll find all three at one time, but I’ll take two out of three. I mean, technically whatever they serve me counts as nourishment, right?

My first stop: Taco Bell.

Continue reading Fast Food Lunchbox Blitz Day One: Taco Bell

2nd Annual Sunday, Bloody Sunday

I do enjoy a good Bloody Mary. And while the International Bartenders Association sets specific parameters regarding the composition of Brunch’s Best Friend, its interpretations and modifications are almost as numerous as the bartenders who serve it. No wonder it’s been called the world’s most complex cocktail.

judges table featuring all nine Bloodys

This past Sunday, Scala’s Bistro in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel played host to the 2nd Annual Sunday, Bloody Sunday competition. Bartenders from restaurants and hotels all over San Francisco unveiled their signature twists on this classic recipe in the hopes of claiming the title of this year’s Best Bloody Mary. Convention was thrown out the window as nine very different cocktails were served to an eager crowd of thirsty patrons and a panel of judges. I’m not an expert by any means, but I’ve sampled more than my fair share over the years (enough to be in the process of finalizing my Top 5 Bloodys in SF) and was eager to cast my vote (by dropping a Sir Francis Drake bottlecap into the appropriate vase) for a worthy candidate. Here, then, are all nine drinks ranked on my scorecard worst to first.

9. “Indian Summer” by Kate Bolton of Maven

I’m not exactly a purist when it comes to this cocktail, but I do have certain expectations. Like tomato. Like spice. Savory and pickle-y. This strawberry wine cooler that somehow managed to sneak into the contest by virtue of a splash of “tomato water” and perhaps a dash of “aged balsamic vinegar” was about as close to a Bloody Mary as my morning coffee. It was a decent enough summer beverage, and I didn’t mind fishing out the honey-kissed strawberry slices floating around in my plastic cup, but… “not a Bloody” is all I really had to write on my scorecard. Continue reading 2nd Annual Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Procrastinators Alert! California bans Foie Gras in T-Minus sooon!

That’s right…June 31st is coming fast…

You:  Fast to what?

Me: The end of Foie Gras dummy!

If you are not yet out the door with the car keys and an Open Table rez, you are probably torn between the desire of tasting something good and the desire to do good.  But don’t worry, I have to sort out the scuffle between my taste buds and my Mirror Neurons (read: animal empathy) every time I am at the kitchen table.  So allow me discus…

The human battle of the senses between gastronomic euphoria and spiritual purity does not rage on stronger in any other place than right here in The Golden State.  California is the melting pot of the modern world, where foodies and activist coexist in one big, “happy” place.  On July 1st however, when the Foie Gras ban takes place, the balance may shift in dramatic fashion, as one group’s rights will be imposed over another.

The irony here is that by banning Foie Gras, that the activist groups are the ones who are taking rights away from the people.  History has shown that when it comes to food, nothing last forever.  Google: Prohibition, Chicago Foie Gras Ban repeal.  And the people who actually have done something to improve the quality of food and general welfare of animals are the people who embrace good food.  Google: Slow Food movement, Alice Waters.  Yes I must admit being Vegan can be great for the environment and all, but if you think PETA is turning people into vegetarians by stalking and harassing omnivores, think again

I am glad the Foie Gras ban is now coming.  To be honest, I probably didn’t have my first bite of Foie until 2004, when the ban countdown was started.  I don’t think the ban will last forever.  But I am not a gambling man, I invite you to take part in the Foie gras tastyness and decide for yourself if see what all the fuss is about.

Remember June 31st is the last day to get yours in CA, who knows when we might see Foie Gras on a Californian menu again. Below is a short list of restaurants that serves the decadent dish on any given night.

L’Ardoise’s Foie Gras Terraine and buttered toast

L’ArdoiseBistro Central ParcChapeau!

San Francisco, CA

I call this the axis of super nice and awesome French bistros.  They all meet the following requirements; charming neighborhood locations, great chefs and owners, unpretentiously good, classic French restaurants at reasonable prices.  These are all must try’s for any San Franciscan resident, and what’s best all these are for some reason perfectly unattractive to tourists.  They all serve Foie Gras in some fashion; seared, terraine, on a salad, etc.  All good and won’t break the bank.  A perfect place to start your venture into the Foie Gras excitement.

Incanto’s Foie Gras Ice Cream

Incanto
San Francisco, CA
Chefs Mark Pastore and Chris Cosentino are probably some of the more outspoken chefs for the repeal of the ban, which makes this place good one to try.  Incanto could be described as New Italian, fusing classic Italian flavors with fresh, yet simple dishes.  The buzz around this place Is about the Foie Gras Ice cream!

Animal’s Foie Gras Biscuit and Gravy

Animal
Los Angeles, CA

I have been wanting to try this place for a while now.  Popularized by their no animal part goes to waste ideology, Animal has really set a great example on how to appreciate food the right way.   With the Foie ban looming, Animal has been host to 12 course foie extravaganzas, and an equal number of Pro-Geese PETA protests.  No better place to get in on the action in my opinion.

Morimoto’s Duck Duck Goose

Morimoto
Napa, CA

Japanese Fusion brainchild of Iron Chef Morimoto, blends Western Classical cooking techniques with hip intellectual Japanese tastes.  I have had the honor of trying the original Morimoto in Philadelphia (where the city has a Foie Gras week, celebrating the decadent ingredient).  To attest to how good this stuff really is, the best dish at an acclaimed sushi restaurant was the seared Foie Gras, how ‘bout them apples?!

La Folie’s Seared Foie Gras on Toast topped with Caviar and Balsamic reduction

La Folie, Jardiniere, Fleur de Lys
San Francisco, CA

Frenchity French French.  These are the big names in town if you want “real” French cuisine.  I say that because each of these restaurants come with the stereotypical idea that when you go French, you are going big, big names, big flavors, big price tag.  If you have a taste for fatted liver, and have the wallet to back it up, then you can literally put your money where your mouth is. These chefs are known to have multiple dishes of Foie Gras on the menu.  If you are trying to stalk up on Michelin Stars or whittling down that James Beard Award winners to eat list, these restaurants are probably on your menu.