Free burritos on Leap Day

4933-burrito-thumb-400x300.jpgFor Leap Day, McDonald’s gave away free McSkillet burritos with the purchase of a medium or large drink. For $1.72 (including tax), you get an extremely unhealthy breakfast plus coffee. The burrito includes eggs, potatoes, sausage patty, a dash of salsa and almost undetectable amounts of bell peppers and onions.

Here’s the nutritional (not really) highlights:
Calories: 610
Calories from Fat: 330
Total Fat: 36g (56% daily value)
Saturated fat: 14g (69% daily value)
Cholesterol: 410mg (137% daily value)
Sodium: 1390mg (58% daily value)
Carbs: 44g (15% daily value)]

Whatever you do, don’t make a habit of eating breakfast at McDonald’s. You won’t live long.

Spike’s is no more

This comes from sports reporter Steve Ramirez:

The news business is often filled with shocking, unbelievable stories.  But today was like no other.

Spike’s, one of my favorite eateries, is closed.

I was visualizing today my favorite – a chicken teriyaki bowl with steam rice – for lunch, only to be broadsided by a sign that simple read: “Permanently closed due to illness. Thanks for 15 wonderful years.”

I was completely shocked. I had to give it a second read, just to be sure.

I was enlightened to Spike’s by former Tribune staff writer Joe Haakenson, and it was always a must visit, at least once a week. I always stopped by in the spring before I headed out to a Cal State Fullerton baseball game. There was nothing like watching the Titans while eating a chicken bowl.

Oh well, I guess Panda Express will have to suffice for now.

Steve is referring to the Spike’s location in Covina on 420 N Azusa Ave. There are two other locations in San Gabriel and in Ontario. Hopefully, those restaurants are still open.

Brunch

Weekend Brunch: Does any other meal generate as much anticipation and satisfaction?

Brunch can be a simple affair — an omelet with fresh vegetables, toast and coffee. Or, it can be an elaborate buffet of carved meats, sushi and sashimi, fresh fruits and smoked salmon.

Last weekend, I searched the Internet to find a good Sunday brunch restaurant, and one place stood out. For $62 a person, you can have an extravagant champagne Sunday brunch at the Gardens Restaurant in the Four Seasons. I found other restaurants in the LA-area that quoted $36 or $24 price tags for their buffets.

Instead, I opted for something more affordable, but no less satisfying.

4584-IMG_9801-thumb-400x300.jpg
4582-IMG_9803-thumb-400x300.jpg

A few steps from Pasadena City Hall, it’s easy to miss Marston’s Restaurant, which looks like a small house. If you get there early (before 11 a.m.), you probably don’t have to wait too long for a table.

Inside, the restaurant feels like a friend’s crowded living room. It’s close quarters but not uncomfortable. The servers are very friendly and attentive in pouring coffee refills.

The breakfast menu is fairly simple: a variety of egg dishes, pancakes, omelets and a few sides.

My friend ordered the French toast rolled in corn flakes. Crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle, the French toast was fantastic.

I ordered the Californian omelet, which includes chicken cilantro sausage, spinach, cheese, avocado and sour cream. The eggs were light and fluffy, and the toppings were generously portioned. I didn’t taste cilantro in the sausage and thought the sour cream was unnecessary, but it didn’t ruin the dish.

My only complaint is of the poor air ventilation. After we left, I could smell the food and aroma of brunch in my clothes and hair. Still, Marston’s is definitely worth a visit.

Marston’s Restaurant
151 East Walnut St.
Pasadena, CA 91103
(626) 796-2459.

Boca Del Rio tacos

Dining on a budget:

I have tasted a lot of good Mexican cuisine over the years, whether it be homemade or of the fast-food variety.

Some of the best Mexican food comes from small mom- and-pop eateries. Boca Del Rio, located in Covina, is one such place that serves delicious fare.

Tacos and burritos dominate Boca Del Rio’s menu, which also offers drinks such as an Orange Bang and a horchata.

When I visited Boca Del Rio, I ordered three tacos. After finishing my meal, I came away thinking that I just tasted the best tacos out there.

4437-Boca Del Rio tacos-thumb-100x75.jpg

My tacos consisted of meat, cheese, cabbage and a red chili sauce that gave my dish the right amount of spicy kick. Carne asada and grated cheese enhanced the taste of the tacos.
Continue reading

Art’s in El Monte

4420-Art's in El Monte-thumb-200x267.jpg

It was getting close to lunch time after an assignment in El Monte today and as I was leaving saw a nearby burger joint.

Ironically, the assignment was about a story on woman’s health and fitness, (I’ll start the diet on Monday).

‘Art’s – The Art of Burgers” the sign read for this small location on Valley Boulevard. The set-up reminded me of a typical In-N-Out or Tommy’s stand.

Drive-thru on both sides, walk-up window, small parking lot and a few tables nearby.

Coincidentally there is a Tommy’s right across the street.

The menu was typical of a burger stand – hamburger, cheeseburger, double-cheeseburger – with a selection of sandwiches as well. Chicken, steak, etc.
Continue reading

Spam anyone?

4366-Spam_can-thumb-150x127.jpg

You know growing up ‘poor’ as my family and I did, I never had Spam.

I’ve been to Hawaiian restaurants and seen it on the menu and been interested but never enough to actually try it.

Last night, my boyfriend (the cook) decided to make for dinner, a dish he said his mother used to make when they were a family of six growing up poor, (which from my standards was more middle-income).

The dish included a can of mixed vegetables, potatoes and cubed pieces of spam in some sort of thick tomato sauce.

It looked weird and Spam sounded weird to me. And of course since he doesn’t like to reveal his secret ingredients I just had my eyes and nose to tell me what this dish could possibly taste like.
Continue reading

Troubles for celeb chef Robert Irvine

There’s a fascinating story in the St. Petersburg Times about chef Robert Irvine stretching the truth about his resume. (Robert Irvine stars in Food Network’s “Dinner: Impossible.”) A few of the allegations:

  • He’s not a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
  • He’s not friends with Prince Charles
  • He didn’t really work on Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding cake
  • He doesn’t exactly have a bachelor’s of science
  • He hasn’t cooked in the White House

And here’s the follow-up story with reactions from bloggers, execs, etc. And another story about abandoning plans to open two restaurants in Florida.

Food and movies

A heated discussion about movies during lunch got me wondering: What good movies are out there about food? or bad ones?

I’m into comedy, action and suspense movies myself, so it took some delving to think of movies I have seen that involve food.

The first one that came to mind was ‘Waiting’. It is a comedy and it takes a look into the workings of a restaurant similar to an Applebee’s or TGIF’s.

4313-Waiting-thumb-150x150.jpg

I loved this movie because it was pretty funny and real from what I’ve heard from friends who have worked at restaurants such as the one portrayed in the movie.

It did take a while for me to really trust anything served to me when I ate out but as soon as I took a bite of my favorite burger somewhere, I was fine.

I didn’t see the ‘Chocolat’ and such movies, but in high school French we had to watch a French movie that I actually came to love.

4315-Babette's Feast-thumb-150x140.jpg

‘Babette’s Feast’ is kind of a dramedy. From what I can recall about the plot is about a woman chef from France who comes upon a small isolated town in Denmark and for a special occasion asks to be the one in charge of preparing dinner.

In case some don’t know, in France, dinner consists of seven courses. The little townspeople who attend the celebration are very religious and don’t believe in indulgence and praise.

Yet they can’t help but rave and moan in delight as they are treated to this amazingly grand and relishing feast.
There are more stories brewing under the guise of this feast and celebration but you’ll have to rent the movie to find out.

Send me your favorite or not-so-favorite movies with food themes. I’m ready with fork, knife and remote!