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Navarro's 3-bottle Wildfire Sampler, $29.50 + 1¢ shipping

I have tried both the regular PN and the reserve (see other post above regarding the regular). I prefer the reserve. It had more fruit and lasted longer in the glass, and also did not have the smoked meat or Slim Jim character of the regular. However, the regular, underneath the smoke, smelled like a Pinot Noir whereas the reserve never got to that point. It smells more like a red wine blend. There was some hint of ash but nothing objectionable. The texture was like a Pinot Noir (not heavy - I liked that) but taste and aroma wise, it was hard to tell. It tasted good, though!

Oct 12, 2010
monkuboy in Wine

Navarro's 3-bottle Wildfire Sampler, $29.50 + 1¢ shipping

I'm drinking the regular Pinot Noir bottling right now. To me, the smoke is not objectionable. What I get is the aroma of smoked meats (sort of like those pepperoni or meat sticks, such as Slim Jims) that initially brings Syrah to mind, but underneath it, it smells like a Pinot Noir trying to escape. On the palate it's the same thing - the smoked meat character but the texture is like a Pinot Noir and you can taste the PN character underneath. Some have likened the smoke to that of an ash tray but to me it smells more like meat smoke, not ashes. I've been slowly sipping this from the glass for nearly two hours and it's probably best not to leave it sitting there for more than an hour as I can tell it begins to fade out after that. However, even after 2 hours it isn't bad. It's an interesting wine. I ordered a mixed 1/2 case of the regular and reserve PN before tasting either one; I haven't tried the reserve yet but I don't regret ordering the regular. It's good for the price.

Oct 03, 2010
monkuboy in Wine

HK style Dining Over Here: Poor and Mediocre in Quality

Well whatever the reason, my experience has been that every HK cafe I've eaten at basically sucks. They are all the same menu-wise and structure/concept wise and while some are worse than others, the best are only mediocre.

Sep 27, 2010
monkuboy in Los Angeles Area

Navarro's 3-bottle Wildfire Sampler, $29.50 + 1¢ shipping

Thanks for posting this offer. After doing some research it sounds like those wines have been pretty well received so I figured you can't go wrong for such a low price and only a penny shipping. The box just arrived at my office a few minutes ago so I'm curious to try them out! (Well, not at the office, of course.. I should wait until I get them at home - depending on what sort of day it is over here)

Sep 22, 2010
monkuboy in Wine

Five Guys Burgers and Fries Opening in Thousand Oaks

I've only eaten at a Five Guys in Utah when back there on a business trip. I spied it and just had to check it out after hearing so many good things. Personally, I like In-N-Out much better. The actual burger patty at Five Guys is very good. But that's about it. The french fries leave much to be desired. The portions are huge, way more than I feel any ordinary person could eat, and the fries are blah and limp. The food is also very expensive. Their normal burger, which is a double, is over $5 and the small one is over $3. If you get a regular burger, fries and drinks, that's about ten bucks right there which to me is too much for "fast food" especially since it is way more food than necessary.

Anyway, it is nice to have some competition and to have a choice but my vote goes to In-N-Out. Five Guys is to be excited about in the sense of something new on the scene but I wasn't wowed at all by their food.

Sep 12, 2010
monkuboy in Los Angeles Area

DJ Cafe Monterey Park

I just looked at the Yelp review.. sounds like an idiot wrote it. His one and only review.. you must be right, that must be the owner or an interested party. : )

Sep 03, 2010
monkuboy in Los Angeles Area

Must have BIG Zin

Someone brought an Opolo (sp?) that he bought at Costco to a dinner not too long ago. I think you could consider that a great big Zin.. it was way over the top. Overripe, heavy, lots of heat, overbearing, too extracted.. like the LeBron James of Zinfandel.

Aug 14, 2010
monkuboy in Wine

Gardens of Taxico - Worst Mexican in LA

Well you are right, we're getting off topic. : ) I just noticed the OP spelled "Taxco" wrong. Anyway, I guess I should count myself fortunate that I haven't tasted worse than El Coyote. I've been to Amigos and to La Fiesta and thought the food was passable but certainly nothing worth going out of the way for. I guess I really have to go way back to my childhood for my first true "Mexican" food: the El Taco fast food stand that was on Western Avenue! Mmm.. I used to love those predecessors to Del Taco and Taco Bell! Anyone remember that place?

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Del Taco
370 N Robertson Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048

Aug 14, 2010
monkuboy in Los Angeles Area

Gardens of Taxico - Worst Mexican in LA

Well I guess I am fortunate since I have not had worse than El Coyote while others say such worse places exist, haha. I still stand by my statement. It was worse than eating a Swansons Mexican frozen dinner.

Aug 13, 2010
monkuboy in Los Angeles Area

Gardens of Taxico - Worst Mexican in LA

Wow, I used to go there quite a bit back in the 70's and thought it was pretty good (except I hated the entertainment). I wonder if my taste was bad or if it has gone that far downhill? Last time I went there was in the early 80's. If it is true what people are saying, that it is worse than El Coyote, that means it must be absolutely horrible. El Coyote is THE worst restaurant I have ever eaten at in my entire life. Not just Mexican, but for everything.

Aug 12, 2010
monkuboy in Los Angeles Area

Best Food Finds at Costco Part 2 6/10

Sorry I can't help you about the tilipia or fishsticks - my Costco carries both, but it is in Southern California. I was wondering if people still have the frozen crab cakes at their local Costco? Mine doesn't sell them anymore, sigh...

Aug 10, 2010
monkuboy in Chains

Best Food Finds at Costco Part 2 6/10

I took one of their red velvet cakes to a potluck the other night and it was a big hit. Such a deal for just $9.99, too - it compares favorably to the trendy boutique cupcakes so popular now and a much better deal. It's probably equal to about 50-100 of those 2-bites for $3.00 ones, haha..

Aug 05, 2010
monkuboy in Chains

Old School Last Night @ the Dal Rae in Pico Rivera

Gotcha.. thanks for clarifying!

Jul 30, 2010
monkuboy in Los Angeles Area

Old School Last Night @ the Dal Rae in Pico Rivera

I've only been to the Dal Rae once but based on that visit your review was spot on. What they do, they do very, very well. I think it is better to go to a place like that who has their act together rather than many of these more trendy places that overreach and fail, and charge you for being trendy.

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Dal Rae
9023 E. Washington Blvd., Pico Rivera, CA 90660

Jul 30, 2010
monkuboy in Los Angeles Area

saving wine for more than one night: freezing//fridge -- initial experiments w/small bottles

I keep the "leftover" wine in 187.5 ml bottles, pouring it in there as soon as the bottle is opened and then having one glass for myself. I keep the bottles in the fridge. I had a couple of questions for you:

Do you fill it literally all the way to the top or do you leave a small gap in the bottle? I have a very small space between the wine and the cap.

Did you have any problems with bottles breaking because of being in the freezer?

And, was there any difference between the fridge and freezer-stored wines? You didn't make a distinction and I was wondering if you could tell the difference. Thanks!

Jul 29, 2010
monkuboy in Wine

Best Pasadena Lunch

Well if they are hand formed then maybe you need to take into account whatever they were touching before they made your burger, too. :)

Jul 27, 2010
monkuboy in Los Angeles Area

Best Food Finds at Costco Part 2 6/10

My Costco started selling Paella in their refrigerated prepared foods section so I bought a pan (it's $5.99/lb). It comes with a generous helping of scallops, shrimp, rotisserie chicken and chorizo slices, along with the rice and peas. I've only had paella about 3 or 4 times in my whole life and can't even remember the last time I ate it so I really don't have much to compare this to, but it was pretty tasty. We heated it in its own pan for about 40 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees as per the directions.

This makes for a nice and quick dinner. The only drawback is the amount that comes in the tray. I chose the lowest weight I could find, which was 2.5 lbs. Most of them are between 2.75 and 3 lbs.

Jul 25, 2010
monkuboy in Chains

The unhealthiest restaurant chain in America

I am not defending Cheesecake Factory, but your headline is not correct. The article says they have the unhealthiest dish in America; it does not say that they are the unhealthiest restaurant chain in America.

Jul 18, 2010
monkuboy in Chains

Private Preserve and other solutions for preserving wine in an opened bottle

Since my wife doesn't drink but I like to have a glass of wine each night, here is what I do:

I open a regular (750 ml) bottle, and pour 1/4 of it into each of three 187.5 ml bottles, then pour the other quarter of the bottle into a glass to drink that night. Then I refrigerate the other three bottles and drink one on each succeeding night until those three are gone, then repeat the process with another bottle of wine.

You can buy a 4-pack of 187 ml bottles of wine from Big Lots for $3.00 that have screw tops. I just wash out the bottles and let them drip dry after each use. Works better than any Vacu-Vin or gas solution, if you ask me. The bottles are small enough to store anywhere in the fridge and you don't have to worry about tilting it or laying them on their sides, etc.

Jun 29, 2010
monkuboy in Wine

Help fine tune a banquet menu at NBC Seafood Monterey Park

NBC is my favorite. They are the most consistent with their food, and the service is friendlier than the other places in the area. Their general manager does a great job of keeping everything running smoothly, especially considering how crowded the place usually is and how large of a restaurant it is. Just wanted to put in a good word for them!

Mar 19, 2010
monkuboy in Los Angeles Area

Free breakfast at Denny's 2/9/10

That is true about the freeloaders but then you shouldn't blame them, you should blame Denny's for making an offer like that. They ought to realize the chaos that will ensue.

Feb 08, 2010
monkuboy in Chains

Bob's Big Boy - in PASADENA???!!!

Thanks for the review. What are the prices like? The website only has a breakfast menu and there are no prices listed. How much is one of those combos that used to be 95 cents when my friends and I would hang out at the one on La Cienega in L.A. in high school?

Feb 02, 2010
monkuboy in Los Angeles Area

What can you not live without from Costco?

Which Costco do you go to that has the gelato? I am in So Cal also but haven't seen any that has that in the food court.

Dec 27, 2009
monkuboy in Chains

Five Guys vs. In-N-Out

Being that we were in Orem, Utah last week and spied a Five Guys, we had to give it a try in order to compare it to our beloved In-N-Out that is so popular in So Cal where we're from.

The place itself was nice and clean, with lots of window space. The people at the counter were very friendly and took the time to explain to us newbies about how you order the burgers, etc. The food was ready faster than the usual In-N-Out wait time.

Now on to the food: Five Guys makes a good burger. It tastes like homemade, not at all like it came from a chain. I ordered the little hamburger since I only wanted one patty. The patty had great taste and, unlike In-N-Out, the taste was not obscured by the sauce. I think I would have to give a slight nod to Five Guys when judging strictly the patty only, but in terms of the overall burger, I say they are tied. The basic In-N-Out burger is very tasty with its synergy of ingredients. Five Guys makes a larger burger. In-N-Out has better buns because of the slight crunch from toasting.

Fries: You get a huge order of fries at Five Guys, one regular order being enough for 2 or 3 people (or even more). That is nice except if you are by yourself it is way too much to eat. The fries look really delicious but taste-wise, I give the nod to In-N-Out, hands down. There is no crunch at all to the Five Guys fries. There's lots of potatoes but they just don't taste that good and I didn't like the texture, either. I would rather have In-N-Out any day, plus the portion size is more reasonable.

Five Guys is also very expensive. I paid $7.67 for a combo consisting of a little hamburger, regular fries and a soda. True, the fries are enough for more than one person but there ought to be a choice when it comes to serving sizes, and then lower the price accordingly. The little hamburger was $3.39 by itself; the fries $2.59 for the smallest order, and the drink was $1.69. You can get an In-N-Out combo for much less than that and it is more satisfying because of the fries.

In my opinion, In-N-Out is still the champ. That said, Five Guys is miles above any other chain place.. it's just that In-N-Out is a bit above Five Guys.

Dec 14, 2009
monkuboy in Chains

Trader Joe's Wine Recs?

I agree, they both have their place! Without TJ's the wine industry would be worse off revenue-wise and so would the consumer, I say.

Nov 22, 2009
monkuboy in Wine

Why is Two Buck Chuck so revered?

I wouldn't say 2BC is "revered." Maybe people see it as reverse snobbism? Personally I don't care for it but if someone likes it, all the better for them because that just means they can enjoy a bottle of wine for a very modest price. Now the question is, let's say that this person loves 2BC because he or she has never tried anything else and just doesn't know any better. So you introduce them to more expensive wines to open their eyes, and that is just what happens - they like what they taste but then they keep spending more and more money on their quest to find something even better and as a result, get into financial problems. Would they have been better off just sticking with 2BC and not troubling their finances, or are they better off now that they have tasted "fine wine?" even though they can't afford it? Now some will answer that they could spend more within their budget and get better wine, but if they like 2BC and are in a blissful state as it is, then why move them out of it?

Nov 22, 2009
monkuboy in Wine

Trader Joe's Wine Recs?

I wholeheartedly agree with you! Too many wine snobs all over the place, dissing TJ's because they don't carry Screaming Eagle and the like.

Nov 22, 2009
monkuboy in Wine

Perdue's BBQ is great -- Pasadena

I've been to Robin's, Gus' and (not on your list) Tony Romas. None of them come close to Perdues. Robins has so many high ratings from people but I found it disappointing, and as for Gus', I like Top's way better than this place (same owners).

Nov 19, 2009
monkuboy in Los Angeles Area

Perdue's BBQ is great -- Pasadena

I hear you! Perdue's is not the best BBQ I've ever had, but it sure beats anything I've had in the SGV, that's for sure. What is nice is you can go eat there and sit at a table. Philips has excellent bbq but I don't think you can go there and sit at a table. At least not inside and if the one outside is being used you are out of luck. I am just glad there is a place with good bbq that I don't have to drive a long distance to reach.

Nov 18, 2009
monkuboy in Los Angeles Area

Perdue's BBQ is great -- Pasadena

After reading the mostly negative posts in this thread, it sounds like my wife and I had an atypical experience over there because our food was fresh and tasty. The service was very good, too. We had read on the Yelp board that it took a long time to get your food and people advised calling your order ahead of time, which we did. When we got there, it took only literally about two minutes before she brought the food to our table. Once we started talking to the girl, she was very friendly. Oh, and we asked for sauce on the side so it wasn't smothered when we got it. Anyway, we were very pleased but I guess we caught them at a good time? I plan on going back.

Nov 18, 2009
monkuboy in Los Angeles Area