Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Weekend of Food: from Monterey Park to Temecula! (UPDATED WITH PHOTOS)

I was quite busy this weekend, with everything from dim sum to buffalo burgers to Carolina-style BBQ to wine tasting! A very brief rundown:

Ocean Star, Monterey Park

My friends and I were looking for food choices on Saturday, and the idea of dim sum struck me again (I couldn't get it out of my system from San Fran). So my one friend Gil suggested this place in the LA suburb of Monterey Park, again with a large Chinese community, the Ocean Star Seafood Restaurant. The place looked like a hotel inside, and the dining area was humongous! As soon as the three of us sat down carts were being bought to our table filled with all sorts of dim sum - some gristly chicken dish (the only one that wasn't very good), rice steamed in banana wrappers, sesame balls, clams in oyster sauce, Peking duck, Chinese broccoli steamed on site, and bowls of congee to cleanse the palate, among many other things. The three of us left, stomachs bulging (the photo at left doesn't even begin to tell how much we ate). Grand total came out to about $25 per person, for an experience that easily could've cost twice that!

Carolina-Style BBQ with Friends

I visited a friend that same night who made some wonderful Carolina-style BBQ. Originally, our plan was to do steamed crabs, but it was too damn expensive to ship them into SoCal, and even the local Asian supermarkets were either out or too pricey! So BBQ it was - tenderly cooked in sugar and vinegar. Throw it on a bun, add to that BBQ sauce and cole slaw, and eat away! Best with sweet corn smothered in butter and, of course, Old Bay. It's so fun to see people, like some folks in attendance, address the matter of why you would sprinkle seafood seasoning on corn. ***SIGH*** Add to that a heaping bowl of boiled peanuts as nibbles. Mmmm.

Temecula Valley Wine Tasting

Yes, Southern California has a wine industry, based in the city of Temecula. Yes, it's inferior to that of Central California. But yes, there are some tasty wines, none of which can be shipped to Maryland (which is why my buddies spent several hundred dollars on wine yesterday, and I spent, well, none). We stopped at a few wineries to taste some whites, reds, rosés, sparklings and ports. They all make you pay for tastings, usually about $6 to $8 for 5 to 6 wines. Places visited include, among others, the Filsinger Winery, with a very funny wine server, and the Oak Mountain Winery, inside a nice, cool, cavernous round building which is dark but cheery inside. I signed a petition to get Maryland to start allowing out-of-state wineries to ship to them. A lot of good that'll do.

Mad Madeline's BBQ

After the whole wine thing we three went to Temecula's Old Town area, looked around for food, and found our choices were limited to BBQ, BBQ and barbacoa (Spanish for "barbecue"). So, we went to a fairly crowded place, Mad Madeline's (their website is much fancier than their restaurant). Madeline's has their seating outside, under a big porch, and their kitchen is indoors (of course). You can watch country music videos while waiting for their specialties, such as burgers and whatnot. We each ordered burgers - Jim and I the buffalo burgers, Gil the feta burger. These were some of the best burgers we've had in a while. I am already a fan of buffalo, and prefer it to beef whenever I can get my hands on it. Even better is buffalo with red onion, spicy mustard and ketchup on top. Mmmm. Grand total: $40 for the three of us, for burgers, sides and whatnot.

Other photos

Funny vintners with a sense of humor

We didn't eat here, but the name of the restaurant is funny. The sign is even funnier!


Fairfax said...

Can't wait to see you when you come rolling off the plane! Sounds like you are having a brilliant time... $500 to london on BA until 8/17.

John said...

I see that, but after this trip, and before my next paycheck, I'll have to wait for the next big bargain :(