Saturday, February 11, 2012


Hi it's me again. You probably thought I forgot about this whole blog and to-do list thing I got goin on here. Well you're actually not too far off. While I haven't forgotten about it entirely, I've been far from motivated to keep the blog updated or go out of my way to cross things off my list. However, I hate the fact that I've done certain things and haven't written about them yet. So in order to feed my own need for closure, here's an abridged update on a number of items I've crossed off the list but haven't yet shared them with the world, aka the 4 followers I have :)

#88. Wake up before 8 AM every day for a week

Let me first start off by saying I have a new job! This probably should've been one of my top priorities from the beginning of the Day Zero Project but somehow "getting a new job" eluded my to-do list. Nevertheless I now work for the state at the DMV and process registration. Yes it's exciting as it sounds but it does have good benefits and there's a lot of room to switch departments and move up.

One of the other good things about my new job is that it has normal working hours. My old job at Barnes & Noble had me working 4 PM-midnight most nights, including weekends. While it was perfect because I've never been a morning person, it was a horrible way to live. I would usually eat dinner at 1 AM, go to bed around 4 AM, and wake up at 2 PM. I'd barely see the light of day and end up sleeping way more than I should. Definitely not the right way to live a healthy lifestlye. My DMV schedule is a normal 8:30 AM-5:30 PM Monday through Friday. I feel like I'm eating better, sleeping less, and able to enjoy the day a lot more than I used to. So because of this change I was basically forced to complete

Goal 88. Wake up before 8 AM every day for a week

#48. Go to the batting cages and hit 70 MPH

Pretty self-explanatory except at the batting cages Jim and I went to, the highest MPH they had was 90. So I said what the hell and raised the stakes a little. By the third round of balls I was getting some solid hits and making contact on a majority of the pitches. Clearly I'm watching one of the many homeruns I hit in the picture on the bottom. I wish I had some baseball gloves though cuz I had some gnarly stingers and had a fat blister on my thumb for a couple weeks after :/

Goal 48. Go to the batting cages and hit 70 MPH

#9. Go to a comedy show

Aziz Ansari quickly became one of my favorite comedians. I first saw him in a scetch comedy show called Human Giant that was on MTV back in the day. He became pretty well-known in the movie Funny People where he played a comedian named Raaaaaaaandy (with 8 A's). And probably what most people know him for now is his character on the show Parks & Recreations. He always seems to play a guy who's on the verge of being a jerk but you can't help but love at the same time. From what I can tell in interviews and videos he seems like a pretty nice and humble guy too. After going to see one of my other favorite comedians Jim Gaffigan a few years back, I knew I wanted to go to another comedy show. When I heard Aziz was playing in LA last winter, I couldn't turn it down. In the end, the show turned out to be really hilarious and all it did was make me like Aziz even more. It was a really fun night out in LA and I definitely want to see more comedians perform in the future. I can only hope that Aziz doesn't become so popular that his ticket prices will be too expensive for his next special!

Here's a clip of him as Tom Haverford on Parks & Rec:

And here's a clip from his first stand-up special:

Goal 9. Go to a comedy show

#20. Watch the entire LOST series

So obviously I've been holding on to this one for a while considering the show ended about 2 years ago. I honestly just want to get it out of the way and I don't have the enthusiasm, memory, or interest to delve into all the aspects, plot twists, and inner workings of the show. It first aired in 2004 but I didn't start watching until January 2010 online. I was constantly told how good of a show it was and I was always out of the loop when it was on TV. So eventually I broke down and decided to find out what I was missing. I started from the beginning and my goal was to catch up before the finale aired. I eventually caught up in April, 2010 with about 4 episodes left to be aired. Basically I watched all 6 seasons online in about 4 months and I have to say it was so much easier to watch it this way since I didn't have to wait each week for another episode. Everyone knows there were some serious cliffhangers throughout the show and being able to instantly watch the next episode made it a lot more enjoyable. However, a lot of sleep was definitely lost due to watching 5 or 6 episodes in a row after getting off work at midnight.

So that's about as far as I'll go on the subject. All the characters were good. Most of the episodes blew my mind. Top 10 series of all time. Nuff said.

Goal 20. Watch the entire LOST series

Ok, that's it for now. Stay tuned for Update #2. Only 5 months left...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Nice Guys Finish Last...Assholes Finish First

Let's face it...who reads books anymore?? We live in a technological age where movies and TV shows are in 3D, you can play video games that detect your motion in real life, and people are able to bring their entire entertainment systems with them on an iPad. It is challenging at times to put down the controllers and turn off the electronics in order to open up a fat 400+ page book.

However, every so often there comes along a book that makes it worthwhile to put the movies and the TV shows on pause. The best books are ones that are able to transport you into their world where the characters become real and the stories become true. While this book might not compare to cult classics like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, it still succeeds in immersing the reader into a very intriguing world. The book I'm talking about is Tucker Max's "Assholes Finish First" and it is the follow-up effort to his first major hit "I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell".

If you're unfamiliar with Tucker Max, he is considered a founding author of the literary genre "fratire" which is said to be the male equivalent to "chick lit". To make it simple, Tucker tailors his books towards male readers by filling his stories with masculine themes such as hooking up with girls, partying and drinking, and being the alpha male. To draw the reader in even further, the stories in Tucker's books about girls and crazy situations are all based on his own life and are told in an autobiographical way. This adds a certain sense of believability and stability to the stories. Although, one must often wonder exactly how much exaggeration and truth goes into these accounts. It's a lot like reality TV where you're not quite sure what's real and what's fake but in the end, as long as it's entertaining, it doesn't really matter. And that's precisely what "Assholes Finish First" is - entertainment.

Much like his first book, I couldn't put this one down. The ridiculous situations that Tucker gets himself into and some of the things that he says are just hilarious. You want to keep reading story after story to see how he can possibly top himself, and he always finds a way to do it. The book itself reads as a collection of stories, some long and detailed, others simply a recounting of different conversations. In an attempt to capture the essence of the book, I wrote down the following passage:

· “Let’s sum up the day, just for perspective: Beginning at 10am, I poured a constant stream of alcohol down my throat, got behind the wheel of an RV, drag-raced an ambulance, destroyed an apartment building, crashed into dozens of vehicles, hurled bottles and cans at random cars, got into a multi-vehicle chase, terrorized the most dangerous parts of New York City for hours, started a riot, got arrested, sobered up enough to beat every charge within five hours, went back out, got drunk again, and finished the night by sleeping with a Playboy girl at 3am.”

That should give you a clue as to the kind of adventures that Tucker Max supposedly gets himself into and then details in his books. When I first read "I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell" I was often taken aback at the vulgarity of the language and conversations. "Assholes Finish First" follows this shock-factor trend and like I said before, it continually tries to top itself. It is to be expected with a subject matter like this that the most offensive parts are going to be the most memorable and I think Tucker is completely aware of this fact.

Believe it or not, there is more to this book than just a bunch of vulgar one-liners and dirty insults. Tucker is actually a pretty good writer and showcased his progress in this second effort. The way he shares the details of the stories is very smart and the transitions between sections are very fluid. There were even slight signs of maturity toward the end of the book as Tucker mentions the thought of settling down one day. It is sort of redeeming to know that there might actually be a respectable human being underneath all the misogynistic comments and asshole-like behavior. However, with the hint of two more books to follow "Assholes Finish First," one must think that Tucker has yet to put all of his partying days behind him. I'm sure there will be no complaints by his readers though, me included, as they will assuredly be anticipating how the great Tucker Max will top himself next.

#23 Read "Assholes Finish First"

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Some People Have Their Own Bowling Ball, And Their Own Bowling Shoes, And...No Friends

So I happened to be looking at my Day Zero Project list earlier today and realized that my end date is only 14 months away! Basically it's time to step my game up. Some of these goals of mine either need a lot of planning or need a lot of attempts in order to complete them. Time is of the essence!

This leads me directly into one of the tougher goals on my list, at least in terms of the number of attempts I knew it was going to take to accomplish it. If the title of this post didn't give away the subject matter of this goal then I'll let Mr. Jim Gaffigan explain it a little bit further for you:

I actually saw him perform this live at one of his shows and I'm pretty sure I was laughing the hardest out of anyone else in the theater because he was basically describing me to a "T". I have my own bowling ball. I have my own pair of bowling shoes. And yes I own the accompanying "bowling purse" as well. (I do not sing the "Ball In a Bag" song however so I guess there's some saving grace in that.) It is pretty embarassing to own all this stuff, I'll admit it, but the time it saves looking for a crappy ball every time and the couple bucks it saves on shoes each trip is worth the embarassment. Hopefully...

Another aspect of owning your own ball and shoes is that you kind of have to back it up with some skill. You'd look pretty stupid if you're wearing your own shoes, then you bust out a fitted bowling ball, and then proceed to throw gutter balls for an entire game. At least if you're gonna look the part, you have to act the part too. Here's where the goal #40 comes into play -

Break 200 in bowling.

For the past 10 years it somehow became a tradition to go bowling on my birthdays and to bowl whenever I visited my grandparents but I didn't bowl too much other than that. My bowling average has always been around 130-140 but I could never get over that hump. But, as any person who plays sports knows, Practice Makes Perfect. Once I got my own ball, I started bowling a little more frequently and moved my average up to the 150-160 range with my game high being something like 165. Then when I moved to Irvine, where there's honestly not a lot to do and there just so happens to be a bowling alley located up the street from my apartment, I started bowling once every couple of weeks. Nonetheless, 200 was a lofty goal. I had never even come close and I knew it was going to take a lot of games and lot of luck to get there. If I could only turn a couple of those 9/spares into strikes and maybe pick up a few more pins here and there, I'd be on my way.

This brings us to a couple weeks ago. Enter me: bored on a Tuesday night with nothing to do. My solution - probably one of the most pathetic things a person can do - go bowling by myself. I figured what the hell, I've got nothing better to do and I need to start crossing things off my list. Maybe going by myself will help me get a rythym down. Let's just say it didn't start off good. I bowled a horrendous first game and scored a 116. But everything happens for a reason right? Maybe this gave me the drive that I needed since I didn't want to embarass myself any further but the second game was a whole different story. I bowled my highest score ever and got a 193! It was crazy that I could go from playing so bad to having my best game ever.

Obviously I was super happy about getting a new high score but at the same time it sucked that I was only 7 points away from accomplishing my goal. Why not bowl another game and try to ride my momentum??

Well that's just what I did. I rode that momentum 7 points farther and by some miracle from the bowling gods, I improved on my 193 and broke the 200 point barrier!! I was having a decent game but I finished rediculously strong with strikes in the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th frame. Going into the last ball, I needed 6 pins to get 200 and 6 pins is exactly what I got. It was like a weight was lifted when that 200 showed up on the screen and I was so happy to have accomplished this goal. I don't know if I'll ever get 200 again but for once in my life I felt justified in owning my own bowling ball :)

Goal #40 Break 200 in bowling

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nothin Much, Just Livin The Dream

As some of you may know, one of my man-crushes...uh...I mean idols, is the great
Bobby Flay.

Bobby Flay is a celebrity chef who has had numerous TV shows on The Food Network including Grill It! with Bobby Flay, Boy Meets Grill, and my personal favorite Throwdown With Bobby Flay. He is also a beast of an Iron Chef, having had the most battles on Iron Chef America with 47 and the most wins with 30. Furthermore, Bobby is the host of The Next Food Network Star, a judge on The Next Iron Chef, and is set to be a main judge on the upcoming show America's Next Great Restaurant. Combine this with the fact that he is the owner and executive chef of ten restaurants (yeah I said ten!!) and there's no denying that Bobby Flay has dominated every aspect of the food world. Plus he's a ginger so how could you not love him??

This brings us to item #77 Eat at Mesa Grill in Vegas. It was really a no-brainer for me to include this on my list. 1) Bobby Flay is my idol, 2) Mesa Grill is his cornerstone restaurant, and 3)Vegas is...well, Vegas. It's the ultimate dream.


After numerous trips to Vegas, a little begging and pleading, a little more begging and pleading, and a good run at Blackjack by Jim's dad, I finally convinced everyone to make my dreams come true and go to Mesa Grill this past weekend! When we got there I was like a kid in a candy store and I couldn't go without getting a picture with the man himself.

Southwestern Cuisine With A New York Accent
Bobby Flay conquers the world one chipotle pepper at a time

The Warm-Up

Mesa Grill Classic Margarita

Blue Corn Muffin, Asiago Bread,
and Walnut Raisin Bread

The Apps

Mango and Habanero Hot Sauce
+ Avocado Crema

Hot Mustard + Ancho Chile Sauce + Honey

Avocado + Toasted Garlic Creme Fraiche

The Main Events

Mango - Green Onion Salsa
+ Cilantro Pesto Mashed Potatoes

+ Pumpkin Tamale with Allspice Butter

Red + Green Chile Sauce

Let me just start off by saying this meal was freakin delicious. Mr. Flay certainly did not disappoint. But obviously with every meal comes highs and lows. So let me break it down for you:

First off, the margaritas were OUT OF THIS WORLD. As in the best I've ever had, not exaggerating. The bread basket was pretty standard. A nice twist on things with the blue corn muffin though (gotta add that southwestern flare). As for the appetizers, the "rough cut nachos" were extremely rough cut seeing as they weren't nachos at all and were just tortilla chips with tuna tar tar in the middle. Still good with the crema and habenero/mango salsa.
Next we had the crispy quail. Now I've never had quail before but to be honest I couldn't tell you what it tastes like from this dish. I thought the outer skin was just too crispy for me to really get the taste of the meat. On the other hand, the smoked chicken and black bean quesadilla was SUPER DELICIOUS. You could taste every part of the quesadilla in each bite, from the smokiness of the chicken and the richness of the cheese to the garlic in the creme fraiche on top. And let's be honest, avacado just makes everything better.

For the main entrees, I had a taste of most of them but my dish was the GIGANTIC 22 ounce ribeye glazed in chipotle with red and green chili sauce. The flavor of the chipotle glaze was really good and the sauces went perfectly with the steak but I wish it was cooked a tiny bit more. I asked for medium rare as I usually do but it came out slightly underdone.
After a few rounds of margaritas and a bottle of cabernet for the table, I didn't really notice anymore though haha. Jim got the 16-spice chicken and that seemed pretty good. The sauce was tasty and you can't really go wrong with mashed potatoes with cilantro and pesto in them. A friend of Jim's dad got the venison but I don't think I even had a taste of that. All I remember from that dish was the pumpkin tamale with allspice butter which was AMAZING. I could eat a whole plate of those things as an entree.

After all was said and done, we were all wayyyy too stuffed for dessert so unfortunately I missed out on Bobby's chipotle ice cream or whatever southwestern twists on dessert he offers. The funniest thing about the night was the fact that after we finished eating, I still had a huge portion of steak left. Now I'm not one to go wasting food, especially part of a Bobby Flay meal, so I decided to box it up to go.
I carried this steak around with me for the rest of the night. When we were playing blackjack at Ceasars, that steak was there. When we were playing beer pong at Blondie's, that steak was there. And when we were walking back to our hotel along the strip at 4 am, that steak was....being manhandled and eaten straight off the bone, making it the greatest drunchie meal of all time. Oh Vegas, how I love thee.

#77 Eat at Mesa Grill in Vegas

Monday, January 24, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake!!

As some of you may know, it was Marcella's birthday this
weekend and it wasn't just any birthday, it was the mother of all
birthdays - her 21st. Being the awesome boyfriend that I am,
I wanted to do something extra special for her to go along with the numerous gifts, loving mementos, fancy dinner,
and night out at the movies I gave her :)

Since I had goal #71 Bake a cake from scratch on my list, what better opportunity was there than Marcella's birthday to check this one off!

But wait. Before I get into my whole baking experience and drown you with descriptions and pictures, I'd like to set the mood with this comedy routine about cake from one of my favorite comedians Jim Gaffigan. So funny yet so true...

Alright, now that you're all moist and frosted, let's begin.
I didn't really know what would be a good recipe since I've never baked anything before in my life but my idea was to do layers of white and chocolate cake (to symbolize our inter-racial relationship of course). These recipes seemed as good as any:

Pretty standard ingredients I think

When I started this project, I didn't exactly realize making two different layers essentially meant baking two different cakes and twice as much work. Note to self for next time: Don't start baking an entire cake at 2 in the morning :/ But once I started, there was no turning back and I was determined to make a semi-presentable and hopefully edible birthday cake. So before I ramble on any more than I already have, I present to you my birthday cake adventure that took over 5 hours, involved a few curse words here and there, required some steady hands at times, and that finally landed me in bed at 7:30 AM tired and never wanted to see a cake again. Hope you enjoy :)

White Cake

Chocolate Cake (Two Layers)

Vanilla and Chocolate Frosting

Just Powdered Sugar, Milk, Vanilla, and Butter...Who Knew?

Almost There...Just Need To Trim The Sides And Add More Frosting


Wow Look At Those Layers

Want A Piece??

And there you have it folks. My first attempt at baking and it turned out pretty good. The white cake wasn't quite as moist as the chocolate cake so I probably wouldn't make that recipe again but other than that, I'd say it was pretty tasty. One thing the whole process made me realize is that it's harder than it looks to make a cake visually appealing. A cake can taste alright if you have a good recipe and follow the directions but making it look pretty and decorative is definitely the toughest challenge. So props to you Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss haha. Now it's time for me to sign off and go get me some cake! Goal #71 Bake a cake from scratch

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Year Of Travel

I'm back!! It's been about a 3-month hiatus but I decided the New Year was as good a time as any to jump back on the blogging horse. With the New Year usually comes a sense of renewal and anticipation for what's to come but I also like to look back at the previous 12 months and think about all the fun times I had.

If I had to pick a theme for this past year it would have to be travel. Whether it was 2-hour trips to Santa Barbara or quick plane rides home to Sacramento or even a 7000 mile drive across the country, it seemed like I was going somewhere every month! Traveling is definitely a trend I'd like to continue in 2011 because it's exciting to see new places and do things you couldn't otherwise do in the city you live in. And these new opportunities provide the proper setting to complete some Day Zero Project goals of course :)

To start the whole travel theme off with a bang, my first goal is #2 Drive 100 mph!

Just in case some higher authorities (or my parents) are reading this, this is totally a fake picture and I didn't really do this. But for everyone else, I really did drive 100 mph haha. And it was pretty scary too since one wrong bump in the road could've been a disaster. As you could probably imagine, the hardest part about it was taking a picture of the dashboard while I was driving. Luckily when I did this goal it was about 3 am on the road to Santa Barbara when nobody else was around. Weirdly enough I got my first speeding ticket a few months after this on the exact same stretch of road for going 85 mph. Good thing they didn't catch me going 100 because I'm pretty sure that's a felony for reckless driving or something. So yeah I don't think I'll be doing this one again anytime soon. Nevertheless... Goal #2 Drive 100 mph

Next stop on our fake journey is Santa Barbara and we've also come to another goal. The time of year: Halloween. The setting: pouring rain. The result:

Halloween in SB is pretty crazy. Thousands of people in the streets all in costume, cops on horses, and probably more alcohol consumption within a square mile than anywhere else in the country. The problem is that October in SB usually means rainy weather. Sometimes we're fortunate enough to escape it for a few days but this year it came down like the sky was angry at us. But as they say, "When life gives you lemons, say fuck the lemons and bail". Maybe that wasn't the right saying but anyway you get the idea. Marcella and I seized the opportunity to go out into the street and have a few passionate kisses. Except for the fake baby dangling in Marcella's hand, I'd say the picture does a fine job of capturing the moment. As a sidenote, after this kiss, we tried getting a cab home but the phonelines were jammed and we had to walk over 2 miles in said pouring rain :( Oh well... Goal #15 Kiss in the pouring rain

Our last destination for this post will be my hometown of Sacramento. Sadly, I only seem to go home two or three times a year but it's always fun hanging out with old friends and spending time with my parents. Just last month I flew home for Christmas and I figured I had to make the most out of the opportunity since I am rarely home. On one of my last nights there we went out to dinner at our favorite restaurant La Rosa Blanca. If you couldn't tell from the name it is a mexican restaurant and we've been going there since I was like 10 years old. Anyway, when the bill came at the end of the meal, the waitress put it in front of my dad as usual. However, before he could look at it, I reached across the table and simply said "I got it".

Needless to say, my parents were quite surprised and impressed.

Paying for my parents was pretty cool I guess. Since they've paid for literally every meal I've ever eaten with them, I figured it would be nice to treat them this once haha. Maybe next time I'll step it up a notch and actually drive them to a fancy restaurant and let them know the dinner is on me. When's their anniversary again....?

Goal #84 Take my parents out to dinner

Well that's it for this part of the trip. Stay tuned until next time when we visit Bakersfield, Vegas, and New York...

Friday, September 24, 2010


I'm not gonna lie, I suck at updating my blog. There's always so much I want to say but when I think about the tedious task of writing it all down, I get lazy. But this just isn't fair to all my loyal readers, even if there are only three of you out there :( So, to celebrate the new look of my blog and my triumphant return to posting, I decided to buckle down and give the fans what they want: an enormous blog about food obviously!

A major goal of my "Food Endeavors" section is #81 Eat at 25 new restaurants and it seemed like it would be a good way to get me to try new things. I tend to visit the same restaurants time and time again and order the same dishes every time I go. Well this becomes a major snoozefest after a while. I wanted to break free from my monotonous ways and discover new and exciting places to eat. Now you might be saying to yourself "Only 25 restaurants? Pshh, that's easy. I could do that in a month". If you are in fact saying this then you need to stop bragging, but more importantly you're kind of right. I completed this goal within the first 9 months or so which wasn't really ideal since now I technically don't have to go to any new restaurants for the next 2 years. It became tiresome to constantly take pictures and remember names of restaurants whenever I went somewhere new so I'm glad it was only 25 but it would have been better to spread them out among the 1001 days. It would've made more sense to change the goal to "Go to a new restaurant every month" but I guess now I know better for my next list. Anyway, enough talk.

Without further adieu, I present to you all 25 new restaurants I ate at over the last year:

Warning: Pictures and descriptions may cause excessive drooling...

1) Maggiano's - Costa Mesa

Way back in November I talked about going to this Italian restaurant with my family for Thanksgiving. Good times and good food.

One of the Highlights: Baked Ziti with Sausage and Provolone Cheese :)

2) Buffalo Wild Wings - Lake Forest

This is the place where my famous Blazin' Challenge victory took place. I supposedly have my picture up on the wall but I've never gone back to check :/

12 Blazin' Wings in 6 Minutes!!

3) Tupelo Junction Cafe - Santa Barbara

This is an awesome breakfast spot Marcella and I went to after seeing the Santa Barbara sunrise. Definitely a good spot for Mother's Day or something special.

Smoked Bacon, Gouda, Spinach Omelette + Homemade Biscuit and Jam

Ice Water Served in Jam Jars...Say What??

4) The Veggie Grill - Irvine

My first experience with vegan food. I've even been back a few times :O

Healthy Fake Chicken That Tastes Like Chicken + The Best Sweet Potato Fries Everrrrr!

5) Agora Churrascaria Brazilian BBQ - Irvine

I don't know if it rivaled the Brazilian BBQ I had in Vegas but it was for sure a fantastic birthday dinner Marcella surprised me with.

All You Can Eat Meat, What's Not To Love?

6) Gyu-Kaku Korean BBQ - Pasadena

Haha cheers to a fun drunken night out on the town with Jim, Neil, and Molly.

Yakishabu beef = Delicious. Beef Intestines = Nasty Crap.

7) Din Tai Fung Dumpling House - Arcadia

I HAD to try this place as much as Marcella raves about it. Overall reaction - good but I don't see why it's so different from other dumpling houses. I guess I'm not Asian enough to tell.

Juicy hand-made Pork Dumplings.

8) Green Street Restaurant - Pasadena

Known for their Diane Salad and Zucchini Bread. Marcella and I were going for a light lunch but we ended up ordering far too much: the aforementioned salad and bread plus a shrimp quesadilla and sweet potato fries! Our taste buds were bigger than our appetites :)

Famous Diane Salad (Don't really remember what was in it but it tasted good).

Shrimp Quesadilla, Oooh Now We're Getting Fancy

9) Cabo Wabo Cantina - Las Vegas

Don't really remember what I ate here but I know I had a bomb margarita. That's weird too because I always remember everything I do in Vegas....

Happiness In A Glass

10) Boathouse - Pasadena

Marcella, her family, and I went here for Marcella's birthday dinner. Apparently we were supposed to go to a fancier, better place across the street but it was too busy so we settled for this place. I don't know if this is how normal cajun seafood restaurants are but it was a complete mess by the end of the meal. There was basically no silverware or plates and they just bring you big bags of seafood that are covered in juices and you're supposed to peel and eat them with your hands. The Cajun spices made everything kind of taste the same by the end of the dinner but it was a fun experience. It's pretty much impossible NOT to play with your food at a place like this :P

Bag O' Shrimp

The disastrous aftermath!!!!

11) Steelhead Micro Brewery - Irvine

Jim's dad was in town for a night so we all naturally decided to go eat at a brewery. Had a very relaxed, loungy feel to it but it wasn't busy for a Friday night. O well.

We ordered the healthiest option on the menu:
Jalepeno Poppers, Onion Rings, Calamari, and Wings

12) Chinez Chinese Restaurant - Irvine

Sometimes it's hard to find good Chinese food but this place certainly delivered the quality goods. It was a bit pricey but that's probably because we ordered way too much food as usual. But what's Chinese food without leftovers? Also, we ate out of the little white containers the food comes in so it would feel like we were living in a New York apartment or something?? You'll have to ask Marcella what that was all about...

White Rice, Fried Rice, Orange Chicken, Honey Walnut Shrimp,
Pork Chow Mein, and Kung Pow Chicken All For Two People!!

13) China Pavilion - Santa Barbara

Continuing the Chinese food trend, Marcella and I went to a fancier Chinese restaurant on State Street in Santa Barbara. It was ok food but it was weird because there were only about five other people eating when we went in. I guess that made it less awkward when I took pictures of our food when it came.

General's Spicy Chicken

Beef Chow Fan

14) Tacos & Co - Irvine

Happy hour 3-6 every day - $1 tacos, free chips and salsa, and $5.50 pitchers of Dos Equis. Nuff said.

Food is bomb too

15) Nick's - Laguna Beach

Valentine's Day with Marcella. It was romantic although I'm pretty sure our waiter was on drugs. But the special thing about our dinner was that we decided to blindly order what the people sitting next to us ordered. Everything on the menu sounded good so it was kind of a calculated risk but it turned out well.

Asparagus Fries with Parmasan Crust = Yum

Pan Roasted Salmon with Caper Mustard Beurre Blanc Sauce - wouldn't have been my first choice but Marcella was happy

Red Wine Braised Boneless Short Ribs with Horseradish Cream - excellent choice stranger

16) Harbor Restaurant - Santa Barbara

Located on the pier with great views of the water. Marcella and I decided to do something different and just split a few different appetizers so we could save room for dessert.

Calamari Strips, Dungeness Crab Cake, and Lobster Mac and Cheese with Goat Cheese and Truffle Oil

17) Gin Sushi - Pasadena

Possibly the best sushi I've ever had. It was that good. Creative fancy rolls and fried green tea ice cream :)

Baked Lobster Roll Special = BOMB!!

18) Johnny Rockets - Irvine

Even though it is one of the few places to eat that surround B&N at the Spectrum, I never had gone because it was a sit down restaurant. But I finally went after work one night and it turned out to be a pretty decent burger place. I think I got a bbq burger and a peanut butter shake (shocker).

Who else gives you ketchup happy faces with your meal??

19) Guppy House - Irvine

Jim, Marcella, and I were looking for a place to eat after 10 pm and this little asian place was still open. It's located in an asian shopping center with a bunch of other similar restaurants and when the three of us walked in to the Guppy House, we were definitely the only three non-asians in there. Anyway, the food was very different, in a good way. I've even been back a couple times.

Our fried rice was served in a half pineapple and had dried shredded beef on top (I think that's what it was) but it was super good. My "super spicy dumplings" were kind of a letdown but the spicy popcorn chicken made up for it.

20) Cajun Kitchen Cafe - Santa Barbara

I lived in Santa Barbara for about 5 years and I always heard people rant and rave about this place and how awesome the breakfast is here. I've walked by in the morning a bunch of times and it's always packed. Well finally I went there a few months ago to see what all the buzz was about. It was pretty busy as usual and I ordered some sort of eggs and chili dish. Maybe that wasn't the best choice but I must say it didn't live up to the hype. The cajun seasoning in the food was alright but other than that it was like a normal breakfast place to me.

Cajun Chili

21) Pastavino - Goleta

I know we had some sort of pasta dish but I don't remember exactly what Marcella and I ate here. Obviously it wasn't that memorable. It is located across from Chili's and everything that has been in this location has failed. What can compete with Chili's anyway, right?? So with this combination of forgettableness (forgettability? forgettfulness?) and likelihood to fail can't bode well for Pastavino :(

Man, we should've gotten this!

22) Chino's Rock & Tacos - Isla Vista

This is a relatively new place in I.V. and I guess it was put there to compete with the bagillion other Mexican restaurants in the area. Well I went there during a recent visit back to SB and let me tell you it sucked ass. The tacos were literally like Taco Bell tacos and it was super expensive. I'm pretty sure it is more of a place to go and drink versus going to eat their food but they can at least try to make the food taste good. Hint: stick with Freebirds.

23) Irvine China Garden - Irvine

Yet another Chinese restaurant on the list. The good thing about this one is that it is open until midnight. This works out well since I always get off work late and there is nothing open anywhere in Irvine after 10 pm. Food was decent too and not that expensive.

Food always tastes better late at night :)

24) Joe’s Cafe - Santa Barbara

I've passed by this place a million times while walking along State Street and I've never stopped in to eat. It's always packed on weekends because I think it turns into a bar at night but it just seemed like an older crowd that goes there. Anyway, we decided to give this place a try one night since we were in an adventurous mood. The atmosphere was fun since it is like a cafe with an older feel to it. However, the food wasn't too great. I had steak and Marcella had Calamari steak (interesting choice) and it was just so-so. I don't think I'd go back and have dinner but maybe it would be a cool place to chill and have a couple drinks.

25) D’Angelo’s Bakery - Santa Barbara

Marcella and I were looking for a nice little restaurant to eat breakfast on a Saturday. We heard this place was featured on the Food Network so we yelped it up and everyone said it was awesome. Naturally we had to give it a try. It is a bakery so they specialize in baked breads and desserts but people said their breakfast was good too. We each had different omelets and they came with a choice of fresh baked bread and jam. Yum! Both were delicioso but we ended up switching because Marcella's thought hers was too spicy, which wasn't a problem for me. Also, Marcella got a blueberry tart "to share" for dessert. From the tiny taste I got, it seemed pretty good and I'd like to go back and try some of their other choices.

Omelet, Potatoes, Bread and Jam = Perfect Breakfast

To top it all off, we sat next to comedian Dennis Miller and had a conversation with him!!

So there you have it folks. All 25 new restaurants I've eaten at during the last year. For most of them I had the fine company of Marcella with me and Jim was sprinkled in for a few of them as well. The top three restaurants were probably Maggiano's with my parents for Thanksgiving, Nick's with Marcella for Valentine's Day, and the Korean BBQ with Jim, Neil, and Molly. The worst had to be Chino's Tacos, especially compared with other tacos places I went like Tacos & Co which is awesome. But all in all, I'm glad I got to experience new places and try some new foods. I think one of the best ways to experience a new city (like Irvine where there's not much to do) is to sample it's restaurants and local food places. Plus, eating is just one of life's greatest pleasures, don't you agree :)

Goal #81 Eat at 25 new restaurants

As a little side note, on my recent trip across the country, Jim and I decided it would be a good idea to not eat at any restaurants we've ever eaten at before. It was tough (especially avoiding Taco Bell) but we were successful and it resulted in eating at about 23 new restaurants. So as it turned out, I have eaten at about 50 new restaurants in the past year instead of 25. Just thought I'd mention that.