Friday Fives – a bacon meltdown. Then, I tried to make paella. That didn’t go well. Oh, sorry, have you tried to make a paella? Things happened, man… where were you?

What is the bestest thing you have eaten ever?

Probably the ‘Chicago South Sider’ sammich from the Safeway Deli. They discontinued it, because they hate happiness. It was horseradish mayo AND horseradish pepper jack. Then, a tasty sourdough bread, THEN a shit-ton of roast beef. THEN… they would butter the bread and grill it. Of course, that was called a ‘panini’. Remember the panini?   It was ALL the rage like 5 years ago. Everything with bread was called a Panini. I miss that. You know how Subway loves to toast sammiches? That is great, and I am happy about it… but adding butter and then grilling a sammich? That is just plain heroic.  Update, here is how over America is with paninis… my spell check doesn’t even recognize it as a word.  Wtf?  Not a word?  It’s only the most important word ever.

I just found this info. Here is the recipe, but ours never had pickles. Here is another pro tip that only a real sammich fiend would get. If you got a good sammich lady (not being sexist, it just was a lady every single time)… if she is good, she will hold the lettuce and tomato and add it AFTER you grill it. That was it is still cold and refreshing. If they add the tomato and lettuce, and grill it, it just gets mooshy.

Roy has had one. We used to make lunch pilgrimages to Safeway. Yeah, there were about 200 restaurants in the Park Meadows area… but absolutely nothing was as tasty as a South Sider from Safeway. Roy (he is feeds me these questions, and turned me on to blogging, also knows the love of a good sammich. He is the one that turned me on to crazy jerry.)

Also, mad credit to crazy jerry’s sandwhich shop.  Super good, and a super long separate conversation.  Sadly, that closed a few years ago and Gerry moved up to the mountains.

So, what is the worst thing you have eaten?

It wasn’t even something I ate… but it was food. I had smelled it. I was at a little coffee shop in Parker, on main street. They had a bunch of those flavor syrups. I saw they had a bacon one. It was likely this product. I asked the nice lady if I could smell it, and promised not to touch or drink it. I smelled it. It was SO concentrated a smell, I nearly threw up. I love bacon, we all do. It smelled like a thousand strips of bacon were smooshed onto the top of a pen. It was SO gross. The smell was so powerful that I didn’t even eat bacon again, anywhere, for a few months. It was that bad.

It was SO disgusting and food-traumatic that I easily consider it the worst thing I have ever eaten.

What’s the hardest thing you have ever attempted to cook?

Paella. It’s a Spanish rice dish, and its about the best thing in the world. Wifey and I were in Barcelona for a week or two on our honeymoon and we ate a LOT. Every restaurant had their own recipe, just like sangria. We took a love of both of those back home. Anyhow, Paella is super complex to cook. I didn’t know this the first time I tried to make one. I am a good cook, so I just thought I just needed the ingredients – rice, saffron, clams, shrimp, sausage, tomatoes… and we are good, right? Oh my god no. It’s a multi hour and multi tiered cooking process. Even the rice is extremely specific. In fact, the best rices are so specific that they literally print a paella recipe on the cloth package. Look, see.

Oh, and Saffron? It is this beautiful tiny yellow flower that turns your rice yellow, and it is the most expensive and valuable stuff on earth. It is that flower above at the top.Honest. Let’s say the weight of a quarter coin.. if you had that weight in Saffron flowers, it would be about $500. That picture up there, that is about $150 worth. It’s really yummy, though, and unique. Also, it only takes a tiny bit. As I understand it, it almost always goes with rice. However, it is probably used for a lot in other stuff in Spain. Spain was great, btw. My favorite place on Earth that I have been is Barcelona. Paella and Sangria for every dinner.   Nameless flamenco bars were you watch a family of ten folks, 3 generations, all playing guitar and clapping and calling out. It was the whole gypsy kings experience. Seriously, THIS is the shit you find walking down the streets, or in the dark bars down windy unnamed alley-ways.

Spain is that great. Oh, and Gaudi’s architecture? This is another discussion already. Weren’t we talking about food? I would move to Barcelona tomorrow if you had a job for me. Same with Italy, too. Spain was better, though. You get this shit on the side of cliffs. It is like the whole country was photoshopped out of a travel magazine.

I should note that for my birthday, the wifey learned to make Paella. It was wicked good, and she made it perfectly.  It was so complex it literally has it’s own special pan.  Here is how that worked – she is a process writer, and a very successful one.  That is what it takes to make a paella.  OR… a 70 year old Spanish grandmother who looks like this.  She knows had to make one, they all do.  Sorta like tamales and Mexican grandmothers.  Ask anyone for the rest of your life, I am serious here, “who made these tamales” (even at a restaurant” and they will say it was someone’s grandmother.

Do you have quick (not fast food) thing you can cook that despite the ease, impresses people?

Oh yeah, for sure. I mean, that was my thing. I have always been able to cook. I would make chicken over pasta that was so tasty and beautiful and SO simple. Sorry to be gross, but since you asked… my dish should have been called ‘panty remover pasta’.

What foods do you usually try to avoid cooking?

Fish. I really enjoy fish, but almost never mess around with cooking it. Mostly, it cooks super duper quick. Plus, it’s tough to easily tell if it is done. Plus, with fish… you don’t get ‘rare, medium, or well done’. It is either cooked, or not. This is also tied above to that thing I mentioned above… trying paella. Plus, fish is very seasonal. Long ago, my mom taught me to never eat fish in months without ‘r’s. I guess that means summer.

Lastly, to impugn the freakish cooking process of fish that validates my fear of cooking fish… fruit juice.   You know another way to cook fish… in ice cold liquid? Yeah, you can cook fish in lime juice. It is how you make ceviche. Ceviche is super yummy. It’s like a pico de gallo salsa, but with fish. Fish that you cold cooked in lime juice. So… um… yeah – I don’t much cook fish.  ‘Cooking’ anything in cold liquid is weird.  How about if I said “I make this great filet Mignon dish by soaking it overnight in ice tea”?  You coming over for that?  No way, it’s like that great camping joke**** that ends ‘great… wanna go camping then?’

Oh, and this; try and grill fish?  Like, on a bbq.  You can’t.  Even if you oil your grill, that fish is coming apart like crazy when you try and flip it.  It can’t be done.  My brother cooks a lot of fish.  He said the trick is using foil.  Well, ok… but we aren’t really grilling it then, are we?  You are steaming it, and I can do that in the oven.  Also, steaming any other meat sucks.  You would never, ever, steam a steak.  So, I am suspicious of the whole thing.  Thanks a lot, Obama.

****  You ask: “If you were camping and woke up with your pants down and vaseline on your butt, would you tell anyone?
He says: ” Hell no!”
You say ” Do you want to go camping?”


Friday Fives- smells and memories edition

sorry, that is a crappy title.  I get the questions from my editor.  The titles, though, I make up myself.  These questions can only be summed up by my editors deep hatred of me.   and fish.

What is your favorite underrated TV show that everyone should know about?

nothing I can think of.  I watch the same shows you do, and they aren’t exactly underground:  duck dynasty, dexter, breaking bad.   OOOHHH WAIT.  I thought of one;  CNN has a show called ‘Inside Man’ by Morgan Spurlock.  He is the guy from Supersize Me.  He is a genius, and I love all of his work.  If you have seen any of his movies or shows… this new show is exactly like those.  That is ok, though, because I love Morgan.

Speaking of CNN and new shows, Anthony Bourdain has a new show on CNN, too.  Here is where it gets weird, though.  Ever seen his other shows:  a cooks tour, kitchen confidential, no reservations, the layover?  Well, this new show is EXACTLY like those  shows.  I love Bourdain.  Read his book and I follow his writings.  However, his tv shows are identical.  Freakishly so.  I don’t know if I blame Bourdain for that, or CNN. If I were a good journalist… or journalist at all, I would likely google the name of the new Bourdain show for you.  My articles, as you can see, and impeccably well researched. I am not researching Bourdain’s show as a matter of principle.  Just called it ‘No Reservations 5’.  It is the 5 iteration of that show.

Hell, Bourdain travels the world and gets paid to eat and be a snarky hipster who makes his bones being snarky about hipsters.  So, he has the last laugh.

That got a little tangenty, so I will sum up here.  Big yes to ‘Inside Man’ from Morgan Spurlock, and a meh to whatever the hell they are calling the Bourdain show.  Skip the Bourdain show and read his amazing book.

Also, since we are talking about what TV shows everyone is watching, I have to say this.  I don’t watch ‘Game of Thrones’.  Apparently, I am the only person on Earth not watching it.  Every time someone asks me about it, which is literally daily, it makes me not want to watch it all the more.  Ok?  Shut the fuck up about Game of Thrones.  I have zero bandwidth for new shows right now.  In a month, I will have plenty of time.  Dexter, Breaking Bad, and Under the Dome will all be over.  So, I will use that time to watch even more West Wing.  I know I am late to the party on that, but I just started watching from scratch about a month ago and i LOVE it.

Then, if I am going to go back and pick up a new show, it would be Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men, or the Wire.

What would your sixteen year old self say if they could see you now?

Oh man, I have actually written a lot about this.  I hate to re-write that story, so lemme see if I can find a link to one of them.  I am so often so correct that there is no need to repeat myself. FOUND IT.  It’s right here.  Here is the fun part about this, I wrote it almost ten years ago.  Let’s see if it still holds up.  Well, read it first.  Did you read it?  Ok, some changes 10 years later.  Don’t much go to parties or concerts.  Well, I do, but not like I used to.  I can’t sleep 12 hours in a row anymore, which is sad.  I still love love love sleep, but now I sleep like a regular person.

I still have the wife and the truck, and life is still grand.  I have gone farther with that dream of ten years ago.  I said something about not having a camper.  Well, now I have two campers!  Plus, I live on my own ranch now.  So, it’s like going on vacation every day when I come home.

Ok, here is my big lesson.  Ashton Kutcher said it here, and so did Thomas Jefferson.  Opportunity looks a lot like hard work – Kutcher said that. I am sure millions have.  But, I super respect an actor/model receiving a teen choice award standing up and saying it out loud for a new generation. Thomas Jefferson said “the harder I work, the more luck I have seem to have”.  My dad had another one “you cay pay now, and play later… or play now and pay later”.  My step dad, Roj, taught me even more by example.  Hard work is the key.  Oh, and monotonous work.  That is a big part of it.  You go in every day, always.  Be there before they get in, and after they are gone.

Oh, and I would say this to my 16 year old self “cool beard, huh?”  See, I always wanted a beard but could never grown one.  Oh, and I would point out to 16 year old self I am a in a rock band now.  So, growing up and old isn’t so bad.  I am living the life I always dreamed of, just with less hair.  Speaking of that, here is a picture of me at 16.

What is the most horrid smell you’ve smelled?

bacon coffee syrup.  I was at this nice little independent coffee place here in Parker on Main Street.  As I was walking out with my coffee, I saw all their flavors.  They had the usuals – hazelnut, vanilla, french cream, chocolate, caramel, and bacon.  Bacon?  Bacon!  I told the lady I just had to smell the bacon syrup.  Why?  Because I love bacon.  Like every guy, and maybe a bit more, I love bacon. so, I smelled it.  I was ripe with confidence that I may have discovered the new greatest thing.  My two passions > coffee and bacon.  So, I smelled it.

It was disgusting.  It smelled like bacon alright, but super duper concentrated.  It smelled like 1000 slices of bacon distilled down to one liquid.  It was SO strong that after that whiff I did not touch bacon again for three months.  I looked online, and found it.  Here is proof!  try it, I dare you.  It’s like super hot wings.  I will pay for them just to watch you sweat.  We are doing that at work today.  We are going to see if we can break Suchocki.

Who is the one actor/actress that you can never like?

I have really tried to dislike the Scientology.  Problem is, they are all great actors, and incredibly nice people.  Besides their totally absurd beliefs about secret volcano gods, there is nothing wrong with these people.  Jason Lee, Tom Cruise, Mimi Rogers, Giovanni Ribisi, that guy who played Hide on that 70s show.  Oh, and Beck.  All cool and interesting people.  Oh well, who am I to judge?  Just kidding, I AM the judge.  Scientology is bullshit and I can prove it.  See, I don’t care about the mythology.  Its not much dumber than the Mormons.  No, what is wack about Scientology is they charge you for the knowledge.  So, it takes years, and hundreds of thousands of dollars to be told the truth.

back to the question – actors I hate.  Well, the late Dennis Farina was one.  Why?  For 30 years he played the exact same character every time.  Drives me nuts.  It’s not acting at that point.  Just reading lines and collecting checks.  Not exactly high art.

What are your go-to karaoke songs?

I don’t do karaoke.  Not because I am above it, but because I can’t sing.  i know, I know.  I am in singer in a rock band.  Trust me, I am always working on my singing, but its in band practice.  Plus, when you go, you have to hear ‘Black Velvet ‘ and ‘Friends in Low Places’ so many times it makes me want to stab my eyes out.  Wait, no.  That would be dumb and then i couldn’t play guitar.  So… amendment,  It makes me want to stab your eyes out.

oh, and I tried it once.  I won’t tell you what song it was, just that it went horrible.  I can sing in D.  Small problem, though, its the only key I can sing in.  It literally took me forty years to figure that out.  So, anything that isn’t in D does not go well for me.