Fear the Walking Hungry: Where to Eat Downtown for Comic-Con

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Here we go again! San Diego Comic-Con arrives this week and while free snacks and drinks connected to various promotions might be flowing downtown, it doesn’t match the wealth of great dining options in the area. Keeping in line with my post last year, here’s a list of places to go for budget lunches, cocktails and everything in between — and without a comic book-themed cocktail in sight!

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Grocery Stores
Ralph's

Ralphs

Here’s your place for go-to provisions and a mainstay in my previous comic-con guides. If you’re not picky, lunches like pre-made sandwiches and even a salad bar can be found here. Prep in advance and grab yourself a free Ralphs card for even more savings. Added bonus: this store is open 24/7 if you’re in need of something in the wee hours. 101 G St.; 619-595-1581

Jimbo's

Jimbo’s… Naturally

Bypass the Ralphs and make a trek over to Horton Plaza for this health-oriented grocery store. Like Ralphs they have several hot food bars and slew of grocery items that’s ideal to snack on throughout the day. But unlike their mainstream competitor, they close at 9 PM so get in early. 92 Horton Plaza; 619-308-7755

Cheap Eats
FoodShop

Food Shop

One of the brightest restaurants downtown by Iron Chef Vietnam is also budget-friendly. Head here for supreme Vietnamese classics like banh mi sandwiches, stir-fried garlic noodles and pho all around $10. The shop is small with limited space so my advice is to call ahead and place and order. While you’re also at it, grab their very potent Vietnamese coffee to go for afternoon fuel. 455 5th Ave.; 619-359-8894

Lolita's

Lolita’s

Mexican food can be hit or miss in San Diego but for a cheap, worthwhile option, check out this place on Park Blvd. This local favorite serves tacos and burritos galore with the most expensive thing on the menu topping off at $8.25 for a fully loaded chimichanga plate. And if you’re new to the area, don’t leave without trying a San Diego exclusive: California burrito ($6). All the good things in a carne asada burrito plus french fries. 202 Park Blvd.; 619-269-6055

Schwarma

The Kebab Shop

It’s a bit more of a walk from the convention center but the promise of spiced lamb- and chicken-filled shawarmas or döners (flat bread) meet you at the end for $7.99 each. For a low-carb option, order their döner box that omits the bread completely and is filled with your choice of lamb, chicken or falafel with assorted greens. There is no additional charge to add rice or fries to the box. Also look for their wide selection of fresh salads at the front for those looking for healthy sides. 630 9th Ave.; 619-525-0055

Pizza Studio
Pizza Studio

For a hot custom-made pizza with unlimited toppings, Pizza Studio is worth a visit. It’s one of many customized pizza concept places hitting San Diego but this is the closest to the convention center. A 11-inch thin pizza is $7.99 but bargain hunters looking for something cheaper can’t go wrong with a margherita or pepperoni creation for only $5.99. For added savings (and if you think you’ll be hitting the pizza train often), sign up for their rewards program that awards free pizza. Gluten-free crusts are available for an additional $2. 119 Broadway; 619-501-2076

For Something Sweet
Le Parfait Paris
Le Parfait Paris

Looking for a little sugar high and that free candy just won’t do? Consider Le Parfait Paris, a newish French bakery that opens early and closes late. But consider going in early before they run out of sweets. Under the glass display, you’ll find colorful French macarons, eclairs and croissants alongside savory options like quiche and sandwiches. Gluten-free options are also available. 555 G St.; 619-245-4457

A Place to Get Away From it All (But Not Too Far)
Stella Public House
Halcyon Coffee/Stella Public House

This up-and-coming part of San Diego is a short jaunt and boasts terrific views of the harbor with lots of outdoor patio space. Halcyon, the coffee part of the space serves a terrific cup of coffee in a cool, loungey atmosphere. By evening, head into Stella Public House for beer cocktails, pizza and other awesome apps. The shop opens early and closes by midnight. Bring your computer to take advantage of the free WiFi if you have to work. Note: The walk to the area can be a bit sketchy so keep your belongings close. 1429 Island Ave.; 619-234-0808

Bottega Americano

Bottega Americano

Accessible by trolley or foot, this gleaming destination filled with marble-topped tables is worth the trek. Head here for Italian-inspired lunches or dinners and they also have some amazing cocktails. Added bonus, they also have a cute marketplace by the entrance to fill up on treats or ready-to-eat foods. Added bonus: the restaurant is open until 11 PM every night of the con with happy hour 11 AM until they close! 1195 Island Ave.; 619-255-7800

For Cocktails
Nobel Experiment

Noble Experiment

If a cool, hidden bar within a bar is your thing, this cozy place that’s no bigger than a double-wide trailer will suit your needs. Head into The Neighborhood, push on the kegs near the back and you’ll find a secret bar with some of the strongest drinks in town. But take note: reservations are absolutely required. 777 G St.; 619-888-4713

Monello

Monello

Take a trolley to Little Italy— San Diego’s hottest dining neighborhood. While there are many choices for cocktails including Richard Blais’ very hot Juniper & Ivy, go to this Italian restaurant for their housemade vermouth. Hint: grab a seat at the bar area between 4-7 PM and with every drink, they’ll bring a selection of appetizers for free! I promise, you’ll want to stay for dinner as well. 750 W Fir St.; 619-501-0030

Zymology21

Zymology21

This quirky, eccentric place with a science-theme serves lots of fun cocktails and has an awesome happy hour to match. (Lobster corn dogs anyone?) Test tube cocktails served in a beaker will catch your eye as notable scientists painted on the wall watch you silently. If you’re daring, order up the cotton candy cosmo for two. 750 5th Ave.; 619-546-9321

Related: Destroy All Hunger: Where to Eat At Comic-Con (2014)
San Diego Comic-Con 2014: I Crashed A Party and Saw and Made Friends
The League of Extraordinary Appetites: Where To Eat At Comic-Con (2013)
Comic-Con 2013: A Mish Mash of Things
Agent of L.U.N.C.H.: Where to Eat Downtown During Comic-Con (2012)
San Diego Comic-Con 2012 Wrap-Up: All Things Related to Food
Crisis on Infinite Plates: Where to Eat Downtown For Comic-Con (2011)
Culinary Culture in Comics: Comic-Con 2011 Wrap-Up

Hawaii Sights and Spam Jam

Honolulu Airport

It’s been a while hasn’t it? Since my post way back in April, I’ve been busy pumping out posts on Zagat and also did a bit of traveling. Namely to Hawaii.

View from plane

I visited back in May to cover Spam Jam. I was by myself and a short trip with less than 72 hours on the big island. Flying in was easy. Five hours and you’re in Hawaii. From my window seat I can peer into the island before landing.

The last time I was in Hawaii was when we made the move from the Philippines to San Diego. I have a photo somewhere of me wearing flower pants and yellow bows in my hair at the Buddhist garden found within the airport. There are no walls separating the outside from the airport and the concourse. Like me, a lot of people disembarking from the flights took a moment to take a photo.

View From Hotel

Between scheduled events I had to attend, I had plenty of time to wander Waikiki. Outrigger Resorts, a sponsor for Spam Jam, put me up on the main strip. It’s a busy center located right by the beach. Looking out from my patio I could see the main drag that was busy until well after midnight. To the right was the beach.

Statue

A short distance from the hotel was a statue of Hawaiian surfing legend Duke Kahanamoke festooned with leis. I heard about ABC shops being everywhere and my walk revealed one on almost every corner selling the likes of bathing suits, sunscreen, souvenirs and even selfie sticks.

Spam musibi

Food at the convenience store was my main draw, especially since I was eating by myself most of the time. I started taking photos every time I saw a Spam musubi but gave up after the fifth time.

Hawaii Bagels

Mochi Ice cream

Some food items that drew my attention were the tropical-flavored bagels (taro, pineapple and strawberry-guava) and mochi ice cream.

When I wasn’t wandering by myself, I took an outing with a few other guests to KCC Farmers Market at Kapiolani Community College. Locals and tourists alike filled the parking lot of the campus. Visiting the farmers market afforded me an opportunity to see the local produce — some which I’ve never seen in San Diego.

Hawaii Farmers Market

Hawaii Farmers Market taro

Hawaii Farmers Market lunch plate

Spam Jam Taste of Everything

As much as I wanted to eat everything at the market, I saved room for Spam Jam. You can read all about it here.

Before heading back to San Diego, I met up with friends and Nemu*Nemu comic creators Audra Ann Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga who took me away from the strip for breakfast. We also made a stop a Leonard’s Bakery, known for their malasadas.

Leonard Bakery exterior

Leonard's Bakery

Lines formed outside for their fresh-from-fryer pastries. They were a whopping dollar each and served hot. Bringing them to share with Paul was a wee bit unsuccessful since the flavors of each one mingled in my carry-on bag but I really enjoyed the custard-filled one on my hotel deck.

Leonards outside

Why You Should Revisit Paris Baguette Stat: Chilled Cream Danishes, Brioche Stars and Meringues

Paris Baguette selection

If 85ºC Bakery has been your go-to for Asian baked pastries lately, I think it’s time to revisit Paris Baguette. Since opening last November, I’ve been guilty visiting 85ºC Bakery & Cafe for my salted mountain green tea fix while picking up pastries along the way. But recently I wandered into Paris Baguette to check it out and happily discovered they’ve upped their game with new items.

The latest finds are their chilled cream danish, brioche star and meringues.

Chilled Cream Danish

The chilled cream danish is almost hard to resist with a PB on top of each pastry. Retailing for $2.25 each, the flaky pastry is halved and filled with vanilla cream. I still haven’t had an authentic Dominque Ansel Cronut but I imagine this is what it would taste like. Paris Baguette still sells some variation of their take on Cronut but this is far superior. Despite “chilled” being in the name, the pastry is displayed alongside others in the unrefrigerated section.

Brioche Star

And how can one resist a big yellow star on top of a brioche pastry? That’s basically irresistible in my book. Maybe I should have picked this up earlier in the day but the brioche wasn’t as soft as I’m used to. The chocolate ganache inside was a big plus.

Paris Baguette cross section

A cross section of the chilled cream danish and chocolate ganache show a pretty solid filling base without being too overwhelming.

Also the same trip, I also spied meringues: chocolate and caramel.

ParisBaguette merigue

Since I already had two items on my tray, I opted just for the chocolate fearing the caramel might be overly sweet. I tend to sway away from the smaller meringues which I find too dry but this meringue was soft in the inside and reminiscent of a pavlova.

Have you entirely forgotten about Paris Baguette since 85ºC opened up? Are you like me and starting to recognize the employees at 85ºC? Which do you think it better? Or maybe you think I need a pastry intervention? Let me know.

Found at Trader Joe’s: Baconesque White Cheddar Popcorn and Crispy Cookies

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Another day, another trip to Trader Joe’s — also known as one of my favorite ways to break up my day.

This trip happened after one of my intensive workouts — a necessity with my eating schedule. Since Trader Joe’s is on the way home, it only makes sense to combine the trip to the gym with grocery shopping regardless of how I look. Alongside my regular list of go-to items, I picked up two new items I’m really excited about.

Baconesque White Cheddar Popcorn

Popcorncloseup

The store was relatively empty in the morning and a few employees were tasting new products and wrangled me in to try them. I’m not one for eating popcorn at 10 AM but I was lured in by the bacon flavoring.

Retailing for $1.99 for a 5 oz. a bag, there’s no real bacon in the popcorn; it’s instead substituted with smoke flavoring. I appreciate cheese popcorn already so the added bacon flavor adds a real wallop of flavor. A closeup of the kernels show pristine white popcorn with a light sprinkle of baconesque seasoning.

The packaging uses Trader Joe’s old-timey clip art and with the lack of real bacon in the popcorn, the name of the product makes perfect sense. There’s supposedly 5 servings per bag but I can imagine it going fast between two people.

The cashier clued me in that these bags go fast so I recommend getting two or more if you have a chance.

Crispy Cookies Filled with Belgian Chocolate

CookieCloseup

In the realm of Trader Joe’s knockoff brands, this one is very, very similar to Pepperidge Farms Milanos.

Like its mainstream cookie counterpart, it’s a plain cookie filled with chocolate. Look a little closer and you’ll find some differences. First, the shape. While the Milanos are oval, these beauts are rectangular with a slight rough edge. Taste-wise, the Belgian chocolate filling is a huge upgrade to whatever Pepperidge Farms uses in their product.

If I had to pick at one thing, it would be the cookie itself — or maybe that I’m used to the Pepperidge Farm version. It’s drier than the original. Blame it in lard or whatever preservative that’s used in the Milano for the difference in texture, but that alone won’t stop me from purchasing these again if the mood strikes.

A 7.5 oz. bag of 16 cookie retails for $2.79. I have my gal pal and fellow food writer Erin Jackson to thank for this awesome nugget.

Friday Fast-Food Fishtacular — Burger King’s Spicy Big Fish

What happens when a ubiquitous fast-food chain swaps out tartar sauce for “spicy sauce” on their fish sandwich?

You get a happy customer.

BKlogo

Burger King‘s Spicy Big Fish Sandwich is their latest deep-fried ichthological offering. It appears to be roughly the same build as their Big Fish Sandwich (which I reviewed here), so for sake of brevity, I’ll just give the highlights.

BKFish

The slab of panko-crusted white Alaskan pollock comes with pickles, lettuce and a “spicy sauce,” all within a “brioche-style” bun. Not a true brioche, apparently. The sandwich experience is largely the same as their Big Fish, with one exception.

BKFish_inside

The “spicy sauce” replaces the tartar, and it’s a welcome change. Though not as spicy as their “Zesty Sauce” (the condiment-of-choice for their onion rings), it did change the overall flavor profile to something better — and more memorable — than tartar sauce. Which, in the world of fast-food fish sandwiches, is a good thing.

The Spicy Big Fish is $3.89. The Big Fish was $3.59 in 2013, so I don’t know if this is just a regular price increase or a $0.20 upsell for the spicy sauce. It also clocks in at 470 calories, 24g of fat and 1150mg of sodium — all lower than the Big Fish (and significantly lower than 2013’s Big Fish).

Not bad, Burger King — perhaps the tide is turning in your favor?

Read other Friday Fast Food Fishtacular posts here.

Friday Fast-Food Fishtacular — AM/PM’s Fish Sandwich

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It’s been a while since my last Friday Fast Food Fishtacular, mainly because I’ve exhausted all the fast-food fish sandwich offerings in the tri-county area. In fact, I was considering a series of critiques on fish tacos/fish burritos, but that could escalate into shrimp po’boys or tuna melts. No, fish sandwiches are my jam. Last week, I was completely taken off guard by a new fish sandwich from a most unlikely chain — AM/PM.

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Actually it was Darlene who spotted the banner ad as we were waiting for a green light, and I was instantly intrigued. First: How did AM/PM crack the fish sandwich code that fast-food chains held in complete secrecy for half a century? Second: How fresh/tasty could these sandwiches possibly be, in the absence of a deep-fryer or skilled fishmonger? Third: Is AM/PM considered “fast food?” I figured $1.99 (+ tax) would give me some answers.

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Of course the fish sandwich was served in a foil hotbag in their self-serve heatlamp box (where their burgers, dogs etc. reside). It had a cryptic expiration time on the bag, which said “Enjoy by 1:30″ but “5:00″ was circled on the clock. Seeing as how this was about half-past noon, I had no idea what any of this meant. I applaud that they try to make these as fresh as possible, but the problem is right in front of me: are we talking AM or PM? Was it made at 1:30 AM? Would I die if I ate it after 5:00 PM? And isn’t 5:00 PM technically before 1:30 AM the following day?? It’s the Gremlins Paradox: Don’t feed Gizmo after midnight… but isn’t 8:00 AM after midnight? WHAT DO I DO??

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From the initial reveal, it certainly looked like a fish sandwich, probably not too far off from what you’d get at the university’s dining commons. According to the bag, it’s a deep-fried slab of Alaska pollock with a slice of processed cheddar cheese. What it DIDN’T have was a fat blanket of tartar sauce or a beautiful bed of lettuce (see banner ad photo up top for reference). Maybe I missed the lettuce bin and the tartar sauce pump bucket?

ampmpockets

What it DID have was a curious case of shrinkage. In the above photo I highlighted two areas of the fish patty where the fish actually shrunk within its deep-fried coat of breading. Weird. Your results may vary.

ampmcrispy

Onto the eating experience itself — it was not as horrible as I imagined. (AM/PM, if you’re reading this, feel free to use that sentence as a testimonial in future ad campaigns. You’re welcome.) The geometric fish slab was crispy and tasted fine, the bun was soft and not stale/dried out from the hotbag and the pasteurized and processed cheese tasted as you’d expect from its description on the back. A week later, I’d say the takeaway was a cheese-flavored sandwich with some fish essence. Certainly not worth two bucks or whatever regrets you’d have afterward.

The AM/PM Fish Sandwich has 357 calories and 8 grams of fat. Surprisingly, that’s fewer calories and fat than the Jack in the Box fish sandwich, but that apparently reflects the absence of tartar sauce.

The ball’s in your court, 7-Eleven.

Read other Friday Fast Food Fishtacular posts here.

Gilding the Lily: Deep-Fried Spam Musubi

Deep Fried Spam Musubi

Spam is the big joke in the food world but to me, I love me some fried slices with a bit of white rice. I try to always have a can in the pantry for impromptu meals when there’s nothing else to eat. In addition, I’ve eaten my way through as many varieties of Spam as possible (hint: stay away from Chorizo Spam).

Recently, a food writer friend told me about the deep fried Spam at Homestyle Hawaiian Restaurant & Catering. I haven’t really forgiven the restaurant for shutting down their shave ice stand but I was willing to give them another chance because of Spam.

There’s a make-your-own musubi with a choice of Portugese sausage, egg, teriyaki chicken or beef for $1.75 each. A regular Spam musubi is the same price but for a little more, you can order the deep fried version at 2 for $5.

I ordered it to go and took the most disgusting photo. Imagine four pieces of cynical Spam musubi squished into a styofoam box with orange sauce all over. For two people, its really quite a lot. And with the added crispy coating plus unnecessary “lava sauce” (a mix of Sriracha and mayo), it was too much flavor for something that’s already perfect on its own.

Unless you’re looking for an over-the-top musubi, just pass on the deep fried spam.

Homestyle Hawaiian
7524 Mesa College Dr.
San Diego CA 92111

The Case of the Curious Roll: Dickey’s BBQ

Dickey's Roll

As a Clairemont Mesa resident, I’m excited that I’m able to walk to 85ºC and slew of other restaurants in the area. Granted, they’re all chains but having choices is part of the fun. And I’ve been to all with mixed results. Chicken Charlie’s FRYBQ, in my opinion, is really a one-visit type of place and unless you’re really missing the fair doesn’t need to be in your restaurant rotation. And Boudin is really just an excuse to carbo load if the lines at 85ºC is out the door. And although Ototo Sushi is passable, the problems with service will keep me out of there for a while until they can smooth it out. Which leads us to Dickey’s BBQ across the street. Curious enough, it’s right next to vegan restaurant Native Foods which I surprisingly enjoy.

But back to Dickey’s. We happened there one Friday night for a relatively early dinner. At one week since its opening, it seemed like all of Clairemont was out for chain BBQ food. After some confusion of where the line started and ended, we both settled on one-meat plates that included a choice of two sides and a bun. By the time we finally were at the front of the line, sides were starting to run out (no baked beans for Paul). We got the last of the potato casserole, the mac ‘n’ cheese looked a tad soupier than I like and the bun that accompanies all plates looked to be part of a roll used for their sandwiches.

On asking about the roll when our trays were handed out to us, the lady at the casher confirmed without question that the measly portion was “the roll.” Paul’s plate fared no better looking like the top half of the same bun. Conditions for a Friday night were cramped, condiments were constantly running out and the bun just got us down.

Overall, the meat was OK and didn’t have that authentic, long smoke taste. Definitely not worth the wait. (According to the diagram by ordering station, the total weight of one meat plate should equal .19 lbs.) Aside from the starring component, the sides were pretty good. I loved the okra and mashed potato casserole but as a BBQ venue, I give it a complete pass. At least we made it up with a free vanilla cone.

Dickey’s BBQ 
5064 Balboa Ave.
San Diego, CA 92111

The Story of Allan

It would have been some time today that I’d call my mom up to share our fondest memories of Allan, and even some sad ones. I’d set aside some time and just talk. Call it part of our shared grieving process but even decades after his death, knowing how January 22 defined us meant a lot to me. But unless you knew me when it happened, I never spoke of him unlike my mom who talked like he was in the room next door waiting for us. A visit to his gravesite was always casually phrased as “I’m visiting Allan.” And as years went on, I tucked him further and further in the back of my mind despite my mom’s suggestion that’s there no shame in sharing it with people and not a pockmark on me as a person. In retrospect, I did it because of the explanation of how he died is a jumble of childhood memories and emotions. And talking about death in general — even in the past tense — makes people uncomfortable. Sadly, with my mom’s passing, there’s no one I can share memories about him. So I’m opening up and sharing the story of Allan.

—-

Allan My maternal grandmother, Warren, Allan (wearing a Superman shirt) and me.

Allan came to my family in the blustery cold day in November. Me, at the age of five, was unaware that my mom was pregnant until one morning, the sweet grandmotherly lady next door came over and prepped me and my other brother Warren, for a trip to the hospital to pick up the newest member of our family.

My first sight of Allan was a shrunken little thing. I squished between the bucket seats of my dad’s Datsun as he drove home trying to get a better look at my new brother. Even days after, they wouldn’t really let me see him. Or maybe I was just too involved in the busy life of a kindergartener. My dad was my main caretaker tying my waist-length hair into a painful ponytail while my mom tended to the baby.

For Allan’s first Christmas and a little more than a month old, he cradled was in his cradle looking like Santa Claus with white eyebrows. (My mom never explained what was going with that.) And I received the best present: a baby brother.

Being five years old with a baby brother was a dream. Allan was a living doll and I didn’t care he was a boy. I changed his diapers, dressed him, fed him and appropriately teased him. Our favorite song was singing “Kentucky Fried Chicken, they do chicken right” at the tops of our voices into each other’s cupped ears causing momentary deafness. I also stole food from him at the dinner table for faux dinner parties later on in the day. No wonder Allan was the skinniest of all the kids and the most resembled my mom. More importantly, he eagerly played house with me while Warren, who was two years older than Allan, willingly pretended to be “our child.”

We were due for a family trip the Navy Exchange where all military families went to do their bargain, tax-free shopping. Before leaving, my dad was delayed inside the house fixing a lamp while Warren, Allan and I played in the front yard. At the time, I was obsessed with ladybugs while Warren and Allan were doing boy things, namely playing catch with a softball. In between head dives into a bug-filled bush in our front yard, I reminded Warren and Allan to look ways before crossing the street but there was no really worry for traffic. At that time, a small farm was across the street in our sleeping neighborhood.

After spending three years, one month, 22 days and handful of hours with Allan, we lost him. I had a ladybug in hand one moment and in the next Allan was lying on the road with a car stopped in front of him. He lay down broken with the softball next to him. There was a rush of things that followed soon after (I know because I had to recall it to a lawyer months later). I called out to my dad and he rushed out, immediately holding Allan on his lap in the middle of the street as a crowd of our neighbors formed. A passing car took them to the nearest hospital and Warren and I were shuttled off to our cousin’s house a block away as my mom followed in another car.

Day turned into evening watching “The World According to Garp” and eating popcorn. (The last thing Warren, Allan and I ate was Jeno’s frozen thin-crust pizza.) When it was time to go home, my uncle walked Warren and me home without a word where we found our dad sitting on the piano stool crying.

The days that followed were a rush of relatives and close family friends flooding the house throughout the week. And there were the unforgettable open casket visitations that have scarred me far deeper than anything to date. Lying in the baby blue casket wasn’t my baby brother. Instead a pasty, slightly bloated little boy looking similar to Allan was wearing a white suit — something I would never consider dressing him in. I couldn’t bring myself to touch him even as my mom kissed his forehead before the casket closed for the final time.

Allan

Returning to school was surreal after a week off and things had changed. I was that student kids would point at, whose family was in the news making an already shy kid more unlikely to open up. Throughout my adult life, from elementary school to my adulthood, I never mentioned Allan again. I only had one brother to avoid explaining Allan. Realizing this my mom encouraged me to talk more and more about him, put out his photo. My favorite, is him as a baby and me posing with my pants cuffs sitting on our heads. You know how they say that time makes grieving a bit easier? It does but it never completely goes away.  I wish he was still around even more this year to help me share memories about our mom.

Whole Grain Diet: Bacon & Scallion Farro

Farro2

Hey. Have you been noticing the new blog design? Seems like last year I was playing around and completely screwed up my template so this is only the third and possible last version you’ll see in a while. Along with the new template, I’m writing more. Heck yeah! It’s not a resolution but I just have a lot to say and share. And this looser style of writing is so fast that I can churn something out like this in 10 minutes.

FarrowithDoctor

Between the new template and more writing, I’ve been focusing on more mindful eating and taking care of myself from the inside out. Late last year, my body felt like it was shutting down both physically and emotionally. And with everything going on, I was warned that on a physical level, I had to take care of myself. So I sought out to nourish myself with whole grains, lots of greens and nutrient-rich proteins. Spinach salads and baked salmon could only take me so far and I needed something that could be refrigerated for a few days and reheated. And then I spotted this recipe for farro using bacon on Bon Appetit.

Farro Package

I’ve been meaning to play around with farro and this recipe hit all the right notes featuring cheese, the tang of lemon juice and lots of bacon pieces. It cooks a lot of like risotto but the only difference between my recipe and Bon Appetit’s is the cooking time is reduced in half. Go ahead and spend up to an hour in the kitchen if you want to make this, but if you want to spare a little time, look for a package of 10-Minute Farro at Trader Joe’s.

Farro1

Bacon and Scallion Farrotto

Adapted from Bon Appetit

2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
6 slices bacon, cut in 1/4″ chunks
2 bunches scallions, thinly sliced with white and green slices divided
1 package 10-Minute Farro from Trader Joe’s
1/2 cup dry wine wine
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

Bring broth and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.

Heat large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp. Move bacon to paper towel to drain fat.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pan. Add scallion whites to pan and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 2 minutes. Add farro and cook until lightly toasted for about 3 minutes. Add wine and stirring, until liquid is almost completely evaporated.

Add 1 cup warm broth mixture to farro and cook, stirring often, until broth is absorbed, about 4 minutes. Continue adding broth mixture by cupfuls, stirring often and letting broth mixture absorb before adding more, until farro is tender but still firm to the bite. Stir in lemon juice, half of scallion greens and ½ cup grated Parmesan; season with salt and pepper.

Serve topped with bacon, more cheese and remaining scallion greens.