why she’s almost as nuts as me
spinach and carrots
the diet of a killer bunny
every time I find a product I like, either it’s out of stock or discontinued… grr!
Redondo Beach Pier
holy mackerel, batman!
The nice thing about long weekends is that the weekend technically starts the day before the holiday — in this case, Thursday, July 3rd. My work let out early (in fact, I was the only one who came to work on my floor — the slackin’ bastards!) and we took a little trip to Redondo Beach Pier to visit my favorite fish store and oyster bar, Quality Seafood Inc.
I was happy to see that Quality Seafood continued to carry my favorite type of oyster, the Kumamoto. Prices had gone up since the last time I visited. The Kumamoto oysters used to go for $0.85 each — but candy was a nickel and comics were a dime back then, too. 😉
Our two happy shuckers…
While the oysters were getting shucked, I poked around the rest of the store. One of my favorite things about Quality Seafood is its great variety of shellfish and crabs. They have all sorts of clams, including the steamer clam being held up here. Steamers are native to the east coast, and you will rarely find them in west coast stores or restaurants because they are EXTREMELY fragile-shelled clams and many die in transport, thus making them unprofitable.
However, they are very, very tasty — as I’m sure most of you east coasties know.
I believe Quality Seafood is the ONLY place that carries these steamer clams on the west coast. I talked to the manager and he said that with every shipment of clams they received there were at least ten to thirteen pounds of broken and dead clams that could not be sold. He didn’t mention how large the total shipment was, but it’s safe to say the shipments run about 40 to 50 pounds. Bummer…
…but I am SO GLAD Quality Seafood carries these clams. I will buy a few pounds in the future to feature on one of my recipe posts. Here is one more hero-worshipping photograph of these tasty mollusks.
A view of half their fish counter. Their selection in fish is okay, it really is their selection of shellfish that sets them apart from other stores. Quality Seafood even carries live sea urchins! You can opt to have them steam it for you or you can eat it raw after they cut open the bottom of the shell and serve it to you like the monkey brains in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Our spiffy lunch!
Those are Kumamoto oysters in the foreground. The larger oysters in the back are Hama Hama oysters from Washington, another one of my favorites. Both these varieties have a sweet, mild flavor, so if you’re an oyster rookie, you’d be well-advised to try these types.
On the right, we have another one of my favorites, raw littlenecks (or cherrystones — they are smaller version of the quahog clam, also native to the east coast). As for the lemons, our shuckers told us when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Not sure fish-flavored lemonade is a good idea, though.
I always suggest, when eating raw shellfish, to try it first with just a squeeze of lemon so that you can fully appreciate the unique flavor. After that, feel free to slather on the cocktail sauce (yum), horseradish (even more yum), or mignonette (made from shallots and wine vinegar — my favorite).
Quality Seafood’s selection of prepared seafood also included a tasty ceviche. Yummers!
Here is a view of the newest section of the pier. A few years ago, the pier went through a renovation that expanded the originial wooden pier with a concrete addition tailored to fishermen.
On a nice day, this pier is PACKED and it is hard to get a good spot without getting there early. The most common fish caught on this pier is mackerel, which, when prepared correctly, is delicious. Otherwise, it’s just a fishy fish.
Yes, that is an orange tent back there…
…and look, there are more tents. Great way to keep the kids out of trouble…
Since we got to the pier late, we couldn’t get a good spot and ended up catching just one lone mackerel. But, it was okay, we had enough good seafood before we went fishing. 🙂
Quality Seafood Inc.
130 South International Boardwalk
Redondo Beach CA 90277
Hollywood Jack Memorial One-Pocket TournamentHollywood Billiards – Hollywood, CA
Jay “Someone Say ‘Ref’?” Helfert was the tournament director for Hollywood Billiards’ July 4th weekend of one-pocket. The excitement started Friday with a single-elimination mini-tournament and continued through Saturday and Sunday with the main event.
5750 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90028
Friday – July 4, 2008
The Friday mini-tournament was a nice little soiree, and it was nice to see some of the local players playing in it as well as the road players warming up for tomorrow. Ernesto and Oscar Dominguez were finishing up recovering the last few tables at Hollywood when I trotted in.
I settled in with deep-fried cream cheese-stuffed jalapenos and a Coke. I don’t play this game at all, but I find it fun to watch. Oh, and a shout out is in order to Ventura County in this photograph as well… 😉
Here, negotiations for later action in the evening have begun.
On the right, we have Adam “The Sleeve” Behnke (yeah, you’re stuck with that name FOREVER) in white next to Mike “The Pain” Dechaine in a striped shirt. They are talking with Oscar Domingueze on the left.
That chartreuse-shirted man is Jay “Day-Glo, Daaaaaaay-Glo” Helfert who chose an outfit that would match Louis “Get Beat By A Glowstick” Ulrich’s fluorescent Steve Lomax cues.
Danny “I Swear I Won The Lag” Petralba measures up against Rafael “Dude, It’s SO Obvious I Won The Lag” Martinez. Mr. Petralba did not win the lag… or the match.
The Friday final between Sylver “Someone Find Me A Clever Nickname” Ochoa and Jose “Amang” Parica. Mr. Parica won… this round. 🙂 It was a very enjoyable match, and even an unknowledgeable hack like myself can see that Mr. Ochoa has a ridiculously awesome one pocket game.
After-hours entertainment included a match-up between Mr. Dechaine (pictured) and Mr. Dominguez (on the right), 12-ahead 10-ball for $6,000 (hope I remembered that correctly). The distinguished gentleman in the middle with the clown sandals and extended pinky is none other than Eric “Le Gros Garçon” Petersen, proprietor and director of FAT(boy) Summer Camp, whose current attendees include Mr. Dechaine and Mr. Behnke.
The evening ended with Mr. Dechaine up seven games in the set. Court was adjourned until tomorrow evening, at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday – July 5, 2008
I left my camera at home today so no photographs for you! So sorry.
Dominguez vs Dechaine results for the evening had Mr. Dominguez up six games. That’s a 13-game swing from yesterday night. Southern California (which has been action-dry) is thoroughly enjoying this event.
Sunday – July 6, 2008
The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) has always been one of my favorite restaurants. Well, I shouldn’t say IHOPs in general — just one particular IHOP down here that I believe is the bestest, most fabulousest IHOP ever built. And it’s 24-hour, too!
Since my better half and I were not playing in the tournament today, we decide to have IHOP for breakfast instead of our usual three pounds of fried chicken wings at Hollywood Billiards.
This colorful, patriotic breakfast option immediately caught my eye…
What they brought me was pretty close to the picture — a rarity in some places.
International House of Pancakes
5655 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
* OPEN 24 HOURS! *
Filled with the warm glow only fried food can bring, we set off for Hollywood. A good part of the room was riveted by the Wimbledom finals match between Roger Federer (defending champion) and Rafael Nadal. This is Federer (just for you, SunnyDay!). It was the longest Wimbledon final, and arguably the best-played. In the end, Nadal takes the title and breaks Federer’s Wimbledon streak.
Here, Jay “You’re On Two… Faults” Helfert commentates on Wimbledon for all watching, while also running the one pocket tournament. He’s a multi-tasking madman.
After Wimbledon was over, it was time to get back to the action. Here is Rafael “No Shot: Impossible” Martinez, very much alive, and doing what he does best: shooting some ridiculous, low-percentage (to us) jacked up shot — and making it.
I wonder if wearing a striped shirt in a spring pastel will up my one pocket game by a few balls. Mr. Frost on the left rocks a shirt in baby-duck yellow with baby blue while Mr. Parica on the right shows off his beer investment in Hello Kitty pink (with a popped collar, no less).
Mr. Parica, after his match.
I was still hungry after IHOP so we ordered three pounds of chicken wings (sauces on the side). That’s the glorious pile of grease in the foreground… After our order came, everyone decided to get chicken wings. And they are right to do so, they are GREAT at Hollywood Billiards!
This is an artsy photograph of half a cup of cranberry juice… just kidding! This is Wayne “Parsimony” Pullen, a staple of the one pocket scene in Southern California. As for those balls near the side pocket, I have no idea how they got there, but it’s fun to watch good players deal with crap like that and crap like that comes up fairly often in one pocket.
The One Pocket Battle of Los Angeles featuring Mr. Pullen and Rich “One Pocket Rich” Grenier.
After the main event was over (Mr. Frost comes from the one-loss side and wins over Mr. Ochoa in the finals), the two-man tournaments started!
Ernesto (far right) and Mike “Le Pain” Dechaine (in French that means Mike “The Bread” Dechaine — it seems fitting, I don’t know why) resumed their 12-ahead set for the third night in a row, with the money being increased yet again.
In the middle, Mr. Frost glows like a setting sun in twilight with his duckling shirt while his opponent Mr. Ochoa studies the table. They are playing one pocket for a very, very decent amount per game.
Somewhere in the mix, Le Pain and Mr. Dominguez exchanged some heated words and the match was called off. I wasn’t privy to what was said, so I’m not exactly sure what went down. I do know the match stopped when both were even, so neither side had lost any money.
In the end, the House always wins…
After all that excitement, I felt like doing what our illustrious tournament director is doing here…
See y’all at the next tournament…
Best of the West / Battle of Los Angeles
Hardtimes Billiards – Bellflower, CA
…which would be “The Battle of Los Angeles / Best of the West / Million Dollar 9-Ball Shootout Qualifier” tournament put on by Corey “I Can See The Top Of Everyone’s Head” Harper of Tiger Products.
While ten players were signed up initially at $500 apiece, two of them withdrew at the last minute. Thus, instead of using the tournament as a qualifier for the Million Dollar 9-Ball Shootout (which requires a $5,000 entry fee), the decision was made to change it to a winner-take-all $4,000 Best of the West tournament in honor of the late Chuck Markulis.
The grueling format (this is SPARTA!) was round-robin races to 11 with the top four finishers moving on to a single-elimination race to 11 format. The tournament director was Frank “The Barber” Almanza, a legend in his own right who also happens to have the baddest-ass home recreation room you’ll ever see… 😉
Our sparring warriors for this event were:
- Ernesto Dominguez
- Oscar Dominguez
- Max “Mad/Miracle Max” Eberle
- Corey “Crown City Corey” Harper
- Dave “Big Wave Dave” Hemmah
- Rafael “That’s Not Safe” Martinez
- Ismael “Morro” Paez
- Louis “Crab Louis” Ulrich
I didn’t get a chance to run around and do my paparazzi duties mainly because I was honored with the job of commentating on the Day 1 matches in the TAR booth. I know Justin “Poo Falls, South Dakota” Collett looked at me and thought to himself, “There’s a chick that’ll never shut up — let’s have her commentate while I get some food and shuteye.”
Luckily, I was paired with Jay “Fancy Meeting You Here” Helfert in the commentator’s booth so I let him do all the ESP(N) shot predictions and I just sat there and enjoyed my front-row seat to all the action.
I was glad to see that the bleachers were filled with spectators for this event and there were even more spectators standing to watch matches. It’s been a long time since Southern California had a tournament with players of this caliber. For those of you who don’t know, the biggest tournament we have down here on a regular basis are the 1st Sunday tournaments at Hardtimes Bellflower. In that tournament, it is a race to five on the winner’s side and a race to four on the loser’s side, with the top professionals (pretty much everyone listed above) spotting all others a game on the wire.
This format of a round-robin and races to eleven was a a great way to let the top players play a tournament with long races and no spots. We certainly need more of those in Southern California (if only because I demand quality entertainment)!
In the end, the title of “Best of the West” went to Mr. Eberle, and there was no denying it, as he went undefeated through both the round-robin and single-elimination formats. It was very nearly not to be his title, though, as the final between him and Mr. Ulrich went to a gritty hill-hill match. Actually, there were quite a few very close and hill-hill matches throughout the event — another testament to the skills of the players.
I wish I had more to comment on, but honestly, I had shut down my brain to watch the matches, so I don’t have very many witty observations to share with you.
- Mr. Paez still bounces around like a ballerina with every shot and occasionally yells, “Cheese and rice! (Jesus Christ!)”.
- Mr. Martinez, for all his nonchalant playing, still scares the hell out of us with his offensive play and amazing kick shots.
- Mr. Hemmah lost his first match and really got it together to make it to the final four.
- Mr. Eberle’s head has the texture of a finely-trimmed fairway.
- Dominguez, Jr. is becoming more and more of a runout machine every day (ooh, and I learned a five-rail position shot from watching — thanks, dude!).
- Dominguez, Sr. had the worst record of all participants — that, more than anything, should tell you the quality of players and play in this event!
- Mr. Harper’s legs need a tan.
- Mr. Ulrich’s cue still sears my corneas.
This was a GREAT event and Mr. Harper has mentioned that there is a possibility of holding this event every three or four months. That would be just spiffy — a tournament every time the seasons change. I am all for it, and I promise I will come watch, even if the venue has no alcohol (but, please, consider a venue with alcohol, thanks).
Many thanks go out to the following and if you enjoyed this event in ANY way, whether you were here or watched it streamed live, please drop these fine dudes a note of appreciation…
The Action Report (TAR) : They streamed this live over the internet FOR FREE so all of you not so lucky to live in La-La Land were able to watch the action. Mr. Collett flew out here out of his own pocket so if y’all could do a lil something (like buy a product from their store or make a donation), it’ll help keep quality pool STREAMED LIVE and COMMERCIAL-FREE available to everyone. *** Don’t forget, if you buy any item from their store before August 1, you will automatically be entered into a drawing to win a badass Jack Justis case (it says “BET SOMETHING” how could you not want this case?!). Do it. Now. ***
Hardtimes Billiards Bellflower : The home of champions lived up to their name and the 4″ pocket nightmares all of us suffer from.
Tiger Products : Thanks for sponsoring many tours and events across the nation, and thanks for spending your money and products at home this time!
Extreme Focus Energy Drink : Thanks to you, I never blinked once during the tournament and, as a result, never missed a good shot or safety. I learned a lot, and having my contact lenses welded to my eyeballs from being dried out was totally worth it.
YOU : Because you came, you saw, and you said, “Dang, that’s why they’re professional players!”
Cooking Class : Chicken Provençal
so you have something to do while I’m gone
The classic tastes of Provençal include its distinct herb mix(es), onions, tomatoes, and olives. This dish is a little chopping-intensive, but very easy to cook and assemble. Feel free to adjust the herbs as you like.
Ingredients for Marinating Chicken
- 6 chicken thighs, skin and excess fat removed (about 2 to 2-1/2 pounds)
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup cooking sherry
We used organic chicken here to test out the difference between that and regular non-organic (fake?) chicken.
There was a noticeable difference in the amount of fat in the meat. The organic chicken had quite a bit less than non-organic chicken.
Place your skinned chicken pieces in a ziploc bag or a non-reactive bowl.
I like to slice the garlic thin a la Goodfellas. Authentic Herbes de Provence is a must for this recipe. There are several differing mixes, but an authentic mix of Herbes de Provence will have lavender (the little purple-blue flower buds) in it. The lavender will add a very distinct flavor to the chicken as well as a pleasant fragrance. Add the garlic to the chicken.
Crumble the herbs and spices into the bag, add the salt and pepper, and add the olive oil and sherry. Mix well, and marinate two hours or up to one day in the refrigerator. I let it marinate for a day.
When you are ready to cook, take the chicken out and let it come to room temperature.
Ingredients for Vegetables
- 1-1/2 pounds onions, peeled
- 1-1/2 pounds tomatoes
- 3/4 cup pitted brine-cured olives
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, 425 degrees if it’s not a convection oven.
Cut the tomatoes into chunks. You may seed them, if you like — I prefer to seed them, but if I’m running short on time, I don’t bother. Cut the onions into wedges, and slice the olives in half
In a baking dish, toss the vegetables, garlic, fennel seeds, crumbled Herbs de Provence, and olive oil together. Set the chicken pieces so they sit atop a layer of vegetables and are not in direct contact with the bottom of the pan. Scatter some vegetables across the top of the chicken. You may pour the marinade over the chicken as well (I like to do this as the wine adds a nice flavor). Add a few grinds of fresh pepper to the top.
The pan shown above is a standard 9″ x 13″ baking pan. This pan was actually too big for my new toaster oven, so I had to rejigger things to fit in a 9″ x 9″ baking dish.
Behold, my new convection toaster oven named Enzo. Pop the baking dish in there and set the timer for 50 minutes if you have a convection oven, 60 minutes if you don’t.
The chicken is cooked by steaming/braising in this dish, and you’ll see the liquids bubbling. If your pan is too shallow and it’s boiling over, you can remove some vegetables midway through cooking. I didn’t have this problem, but this pan of mine is 3″ high, about 1″ higher than most standard baking pans, and you can see the liquid is pretty close to the top.
A mouthwatering view of the roasted vegetables. Take out the chicken and let it sit for a few minutes.
Serve the chicken alongside the vegetables. The pan juices are delicious, and if you like, you may pour them into a saucepan and reduce on the stove. Swirl in a few tablespoons of butter and you’ll have a smashing sauce to serve over the chicken, which tastes particularly good served with a mix of jasmine and wild rice.
PS. I have this recipe in a word document, but I won’t be able to send it out until I return from my out-of-town trip. If you’d like a copy of it, email me and I’ll send it to you as soon as I get back. Otherwise, sorry for the inconvenience of cooking from blog… :-p