Location: 3708 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109. 702.698.7000 (Cosmopolitan)
Date: September 24, 2011
Cuisine: Spanish Tapas
Rating: Fun Tapas Bar
é is the “secret” 8 seat restaurant located within the more mainstream Jaleo, a small chain venture of José Andrés’ bringing moderately authentic Spanish tapas and paella with a modern bent to America.
One of the staff from é (who secured us our no wait table) recommended this excellent and approachable Spanish red. “The 2000 Dehesa la Granja Seleccion received malolactic in French oak barrels followed by an additional 2 years in the oak. It offers more complex aromatics (mineral, cedar, spice box, smoke, leather, and black fruits) but is compact, a bit too structured in the mouth, and the finish is somewhat abrupt. If time pulls this wine together, my score will look conservative.”
The menu. Many of the dishes are variants of Spanish classics.
“Endives, goat cheese, oranges, and almond.” Bear in mind that we did JUST EAT a huge four hour tasting menu — and there are only two of us eating this “post dinner snack.” So we started light. These were very tasty, with bright bright flavors.
“Gambas al ajillo.” In Spain usually called Gambas pilpil. Basically shrimp boiled (fried?) in olive oil and garlic. These were very typical of what I must have had 30 times in southern Spain. The quality of the shrimp here was higher than is often the case at cheap places in Spain.
The only problem with the Jaleo implementation is that in the interest of expediency they don’t cook the paella as long as they should (at least 45 minutes). Instead they force it at a little higher temperature. This doesn’t allow for the maximum paella effect.
“Arroz con cosillas de cerdo iberico de bollota.” Made with the famous black-footed iberico de bellota pig. Ribs in particular. This was an amazing paella, and the sweetness of the pork leant the rice a sweet meaty goodness. Yum!
Overall, Jaleo seemed good. I can’t quite judge it fully as we didn’t have a real meal, just a “snack,” but I enjoyed what we had and having spent a month recently in Spain I have a pretty good palette for the stuff. It tasted pretty Spanish — filtered through a bit of internationalization.
Restaurant: é by José Andrés
Location: 3708 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109. 702.698.7000 (Cosmopolitan)
Date: September 24, 2011
Cuisine: Modern Spanish
Rating: Mind blowing dinner theatre
Our continuing epic Foodie Club Vegas venture brings us to é, José Andrés’ latest restaurant within a restaurant in Vegas. Earlier in the year we hit up Saam, a similar concept in LA. For those of you who don’t know, José Andrés is one of America’s leading chefs, a disciple of the world shatteringly original Ferran Adria. He apprenticed at elBuli in Spain before moving to Washington DC. My parents found him there at Cafe Atlantico fifteen or so years ago and we’ve been fans ever since. He is certainly America’s leading practitioner of modern Spanish cooking. But you can find some other examples here and in Spain. Calima, La Terraza, his own The Bazaar, Trés, and Saam.
é is a secret 8 person (2 seating) restaurant located in the back of Jaleo, also by José Andrés, which is a more conventional tapas and paella restaurant.
Half of the tiny room.
Behind the counter. One of the cool things about é is that the food is plated and prepped right in front of you.
One of the young chefs at work stirring a witches brew of nitrogen and alcohol.
Then finishing off the starter cocktails.
A kind of deconstructed nitro gin and tonic. We have nitro frozen gin, lime, and “tonic foam.”
This is a version before the foam was added so you can see the gin itself. Nitrogen is cold enough that alcohol can be frozen without ice (water). This leads to an ultra-smooth texture and a much higher alcohol concentration.
At work on the next course.
Presented in a cast of José Andrés’ hand is “Spanish Clavel” (some dehydrated fruit thing shaped like a flower) and to the left, caramelized pork rinds. The rinds were sweet and crunchy, very light and airy (for lard). The “clavel” was more about a bit of flavor burst and texture than any massive substance.
Our vegetarian was treated to a pringles-style version of potatoes-bravos (potatoes in spicy mayo) instead of the rinds.
Next course. Is that food?
Due to the difficulty in matching this cuisine with wine, we ordered the beverage pairings. These mix all sorts of cocktails, beers, wines, and who knows what with additional fun theatrics. There was even a non-alcoholic variant available.
This particular “flight” was Spanish cava in a machismo decanter where you are supposed to raise it as high as you can and pour it into your mouth. Due to my full-on lack of machismo and concern for my shirt, I didn’t lift it very high.
“Apple Brazo de gitano” is like edible styrofoam filled with a white apple filling.
It melted in the mouth and was actually quite delicious. Pairing nicely with the apple was a stripe of caramel.
A non-alcoholic tomato and watermelon drink.
“Nitro almond cup.” The black stuff was caviar, the cup itself (but not the rocks) edible and cold. Inside was a kind of almond foam. I’m not sure what the cup was made of. It had about the consistency of nitro-frozen foie gras, which possibly it was.
“Crispy chicken skin in escabeche.” This was a lump of chicken on some chicken skin with a complementary foam. It tasted very chickeny — in a good way.
“Membrillo and la serena cone.” A little edible cone filled La Serena cheese and membrillo (quince) paste. So it’s like slathering this paste on cheese and toast, which is amazing by itself. This is typical of this cuisine, taking these traditional combinations and blending them in new shapes and textures.
“Black Olives Ferran Adria.” Instructions on how to make these can be found here. The pureed juice of the olives is coated in a thin gel. The olive bursts easily in the mouth, exploding intense oliveness into the mouth.
“Bocata de calamares.” This is a mini brioche sandwich containing Uni, mayo, cucumber, and scallion. It’s a riff on a traditional beach food. It was certainly delicious, as almost any hot seafood in such a roll would be.
An inside peek.
A really whacky tasting blend of sherry and beer!
“José Taco.” Jamón Ibérico de Bellota with a blob of real caviar. This ham is regarded as the best in Spain, and among the best in the world. They are fed on acorns. Salt on salt here. A very savory combination.
Sphere making at work.
“Cava sangria.” This is a sphererized white sangria (made with cava). Inside is a bit of watermelon and mint. Basically like a burst of the drink in your mouth.
A ginger beer.
“Artichoke puree with vanilla.” These are little hearts of artichoke with vanilla foam.
“Lobster with citrus & jasmine.” Delectable. I can’t remember if the foam was the citrus or the jasmine. The mousse was the other. The lobster itself was tender and succulent.
The vegetarian version, eggplant instead of lobster.
A surprise visit from the executive chef, José Andrés himself!
“Cel phones and cameras are the bane of the modern chef,” he commented. But he was game to pose with everybody in series.
A non-alcoholic carbonated sangria.
“Chickpea stew with iberico ham.” The garbonzo beans were sphereized which makes them pop in your mouth. A sort of ham and bean soup — and a very good one.
The vegetarian received José’s amazing gazpacho.
This stuff is so good I’ve taken to making it at home.
Cucumber, sugar, and fruit “margarita.”
The show goes on.
There is an egg under that crispy thing.
Then a kind of bouillabaisse broth is added.
“Catch of the day.” A turbot steamed, with black garlic and little citrus spheres. Very nice and light.
One of several nice Spanish wines.
Pouches at the ready.
“Rosemary wild mushrooms in papillote.” Sautéed, then heated with a rich cream and mushroom sauce in the bag.
Pop. These are “lobster mushrooms” with a really thick meaty texture and almost lobster/abalone like flavor.
The rosemary foam complemented perfectly.
Finally a red!
To go with the “secreto of iberico pork.” This is Spain’s most famous pig, here roasted with rosemary and garlic. The cut is fatty, from behind the shoulder.
And served with chanterelle mushroom, black truffle, and balsamic.
The vegetarian got Vegetarian Paella.
And close up.
A medium sweet sherry.
“Orange pith puree with la serena cheese and crisp.” The cheese (which you can’t see) is like a Spanish goat Vacheron (one of my favorite cheeses). So this stood in as the “cheese course.”
And tweezer work.
“Flan.” Flan with a granite of fruit. In any case it tasted like amazing Hawaiian shave ice (the kind with the ice cream).
A kind of chocolate coffee.
Back to work.
“Pan con chocolate aceite y sal.” Basically a big blob of whipped cream, crispy nitro frozen chocolate and high quality Spanish olive oil and salt. You’d think this wouldn’t work, but boy does it.
The sweet and salty and olive oily combo is very interesting and very Spanish.
“Arroz con leche.” A little cone of creme and fruit (lime?) fillings. Yum.
“25 second bizcocho.” This is a 25 second microwave version of some kind of traditional pastry. It was light, fluffy, with a soft citrus cream (the yellow blobs).
“Gin and Tonic.” This is a lovely and more traditional variant on the drink. The bitter tone of the tonic was actually kind of settling.
“Air chocolates.” Puffed white and milk chocolate rice crispy treats (without the rice crispies). Somehow the texture is manipulated into this form.
“Fizzy paper.” This is a crispy sugar confection that tastes like citrus pop-rocks. Very pleasant actually.
Overall this was a staggeringly fun meal. The combination of the playful yet delicious food, the theatrics, and the intimate little cluster of eight people (all of whom were diehard foodies — this being a very hard reservation to get) made for a really fun evening. I’m heading back to Saam in a few days so I can get a head to head comparison, but as it stands é seems to have a leg up on it, particularly in such as the smaller format with the plating in front of you is more intimate and fun.
Another amazing fact about this seemingly immense meal is that it was not in the least overwhelming. In fact, afterward us hardcore foodies went and had an entire second (albeit smallish) three-course meal outside at Jaleo. Those less dedicated to gluttony went to gamble. It’s also worth noting that the service was fantastic and very attentive in é, they may have had four or five staff members to our eight guests!
It’s also worth noting that é only allows non-flash photography. And it’s fairly dark. For me, with my 5D mark II, a fast 2.5 F-stop macro, and 6400 ISO this was no problem. But if you’re trying on a snapshot or with a cellphone, forget it.
Overall an 11/10. Different, but a little more playful and approachable than the previous night’s Twist.
Restaurant: Wynn Breakfast Buffet
Location: 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas, NV 89109. (702) 770-7000
Date: September 24, 2011
Cuisine: Breakfast Buffet
Rating: Quantity over quality
What would a Foodie Club trip to Vegas be without at least one buffet. Being as we were staying at the Wynn Encore, and the Wynn buffet should theoretically be one of the nicer ones in town (and it was comped) off we went. This is the weekend brunch.
Now this is different. Congee. For those that don’t know, congee is a typical Chinese (and other Asian) rice gruel (like oatmeal) that you spice up with toppings. They didn’t have grubs, but they did have 1,000 year old egg. In China, I often saw grubs.
Gelato. That was interesting. It wasn’t up to Italian Gelato standards, but wasn’t awful either.
Overall this buffet suffered greatly from too muchness or quantity over quality. The LA based Tres buffet is an example of trying to do much more with many less dishes. Here, dabbling into every conceivable type of cuisine (Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, etc.). So much that nothing could be well done. They should have just concentrated on classic brunch food perhaps. Who knows. But a lot of the stuff had that scary sitting around in chaffers factor. Yes, I’m a snob. Still, I was able to find some perfectly edible items. It just wasn’t great. The desserts were pretty decent though.
Restaurant: Twist by Pierre Gagnaire
Location: 3752 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109. 888.881.9367
Date: September 23, 2011
Cuisine: Avant Garde French
Rating: Brilliant, Confusing, Tasty, Orthogonal
Pierre Gagnaire is one of the elite crew of three-star Michelin chefs of a generation with Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon. And he’s the latest to venture forth into Las Vegas with an oddball new high end venture. Twist is mostly avant garde haute cuisine restaurant, with a little bit of a bent toward steakhouse? Maybe. Or at least he has a page of steaks and sides on the menu. I have to assume this is just Vegas pandering. We ignored it and went for a mega tasting.
Both the $7 million dollar build out (in the Mandarin Oriental) and the food itself is playful, intellectual, odd, and beautiful. Executive chef is of course, Pierre Gagnaire, with the onsite Chef de Cuisine being Pascal Sanchez.
In any case, the Foodie Club hit it with aplomb.
The globes hanging above remind me of a non-magical Hogwarts cafeteria.
Tonights menu. We of course opted for the tasting. Seeing as six courses didn’t sound like enough (little did we know that most of the courses were in fact 3 or 4!) we threw in a foie gras supplement.
The wine list had some good offerings, but at the typical painful Vegas markups. We opted for a split of both the “classic” and “grand” wine pairings (depending on the person). One of our diners had a mostly vegetarian and fish menu, which the sommelier customized the classic pairing to.
So we open with a glass of classic champagne.
Overall, the amuses were very successful.
“Fish and saffron cocktail.” Red mullet, snapper, and sea bream rest in a gel of bouillabaisse! Had curious similarities to the bouillabaisse milkshake at Ludobites 7.0.
Parker 90-91. “If Pascal Cotat’s 2009 Mont Damnes is not the place to look for sheer refreshment, that caution applies in spades to his 2009 Sancerre La Grande Cote, which pushes 15% alcohol and displays virtually inevitable finishing warmth as well as opulence. Musk melon, Persian melon, and passion fruit are wreathed in elder flower and narcissus. A sense of chalky underpinnings emerges on the wine’s silken, lushly-fruited palate. I would plan on enjoying this over the next 2-3 years and if I held any for longer would be vigilant.”
“Scallop & langoustine. scallops cerviche, mimosa langoustines, jerusalem artichokes gelée, celeriac & horseradish cream.” Like many of Twist’s dishes, very intellectual. The bottom is an artichoke gelée. The scallops like sashimi, but the real winner was the langoustine potato salad like stuff on top.
Parker 91. This highly unusual Italian white tasted like cloves! “The 2007 Cervaro della Sala (Chardonnay, Grechetto) is an especially fat, juicy version of this wine, with generous ripe fruit and a soft-textured personality. The oak is still rather prominent and the wine needs at least another year of bottle age, although it will always remain a very ripe, opulent, yet beautifully balanced Cervaro. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2015.”
Alaskan halibut. Shown table-side before plating.
The Intermezzo. “Sorbet of red wine-pear, onion cream with roquefort, grated yukon turnip scented with walnut oil.” This wasn’t an entirely successful pairing. I like roquefort but it came on very heavy handed against the refreshing red wine sorbet.
Two reds. Sant’Antimo Summus is a French-oak aged blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It is a rich, weighty wine with a soft-textured expression of fruit, excellent length and fine tannins.
A blend of 25% Garnacha, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 15% Carinena, and 10% Syrah and aged for 12 months in seasoned French and American oak. Dark ruby-colored, it has an attractive perfume of cedar, red and black currants, black cherry, spice box, and mineral. In a relatively lean style for Priorat, this medium to full-bodied wine has some elegance as well as good depth and length.
I have to agree with my colleague Kevin (his review of twist here) when he says that this cuisine is “unconventional, surprising, jarring even, with some truly unique combinations of tastes, textures, temperatures, and ingredients.” There were some “out there” dishes here, and I was a bit at a loss as to how the entire meal, and even individual dishes, or pairings or trios of dishes, fit together. But many tasted great, and even the ones that were confusing were highly interesting. Not everything work perfectly, but yet at the same time didn’t seem to suffer from an inferior palette. This is highly intellectual food, best perhaps compared to avant garde art that you enjoy, but don’t quite understand.
Service and presentation was top top top notch here. Everyone was very accommodating and skilled. It’s rare in the states to get this level of service. The wine pairings were superlative and interesting.
I just finished the rough cut of the third major draft of my new novel, Untimed. Just in time too to get out of town.
This weekend will be quiet and post free. I’m off to Vegas with the Foodie Club for some more high end gluttony. Namely Twist by Pierre Gagnaire and É by José Andrés (my review of the comparable Saam here). You can expect detailed coverage when I get back.
For more on the revision process, see this recent post.
As I slog toward the end of my third major draft of my new novel, Untimed, I felt the need for brief procrastination in the form of detailing the process. Most people seem to discount how much grind and sheer time investment is required in writing (and revising) a novel, even a vey steady workaholic like me. Let’s do a little breakdown.
Untimed is actually fairly short, currently at 83,000 words and 38 chapters. This is MUCH shorter than my first book started out. Length is a factor because you have to iterate (i.e. read through the book a LOT of times).
Think of each major draft as a loop (I am a programmer) with various sub loops.
. Generate Idea (for the most part this kind of happens or doesn’t)
. Character Design and High Level Plotting (you could spend who knows how long on this, I don’t find it that useful upfront, most of it just comes to me while doing other things)
. The First Draft:
. Initial drafting: For each chapter (1..38) loop:
. Plot the beats in the chapter. This takes an absolute minimum of 1-3 hours even if you know exactly what’s supposed to be in there. Sometimes it takes several days of banging your head and talking to others.
. Pound out a first draft. I can do 2000-2500 words of new draft in one 8 hour day. I generally make this a chapter. Occasionally I’ll be on a roll and do two.
. Reread it to catch really stupid typos, phrasing, and make sure it makes sense (1 hour)
. Subtotal. For above book that represents 50-60 workdays (NOTE: if you take days off, it’s chronologically much longer). Notes on finishing the first draft, here.
. High level pass:
. It’s impossible when writing a chapter or two a day to see the big picture in the book, so you have to do at least one faster pass through afterward.
. I can do about 10-15,000 words a day like this, which is actually fairly brutal
. Subtotal. About 7 workdays. 1-2 full reads.
. Quick read:
. If you want to judge pacing you have to read it all in a day or two like a normal book, not on the computer
. Subtotal. 1-2 days. 1 full read.
. Draft total. About 60-70 workdays. 4-5 full reads.
. Wait for feedback:
. Since you have to finish something and send it to someone, even a paid editor will take some time to read it and return feedback. This usually takes several weeks. I try and overlap it with the cleanup passes, but it’s tricky.
. Revision Drafts (I’m currently finishing the third major redraft) so I’ve done two of these so far on Untimed:
. Plan, outline, and organize changes.
. Can take from a couple days to a couple weeks. Some thoughts on this with Untimed HERE.
. I can do about 2-3 chapters a full day of revision. So for each block of 2-3 chapters loop:
. Do the actual revision. This can be fairly grueling, involving initial big surgery, a smoothing pass, then a cleanup pass
. Reread it to catch really stupid typos, phrasing, and make sure it makes sense (2 hours)
. Subtotal. Plotting 7 days, revising 15 workdays. Generates 2-3 extra reads per chapter.
. Medium Quick read:
. Checking for consistency
. Subtotal. 3-4 days. 1 full read.
. Total for each revision draft. Approximately 25 workdays. 3-4 full reads. Notes on the second draft HERE.
. Wait for feekback. You have to find out from others, often people who have never read the book before, how a draft comes across. This takes awhile. A reader who gets back to you in a week is amazing. It often takes several and some gentle (or not so gentle) prodding. Or tossing them some money. Sometimes that doesn’t even work. I had one (paid) unemployed beta reader tell me that they couldn’t start it because it interfered with their watching TV! NOTE: Said individual did not get paid.
. Line Editing:
. When the big picture is all settled out one sends it out to an editor for Line Editing. This involves more editor time than author time, but still chunks of the book come back and one must go over the edits and install them.
. My editor will request a “compression” pass before sending it to her. This is an extra pass to try and self edit it first.
. I can do about 8000 words a day like this. Approximately 10 days. 1 read. This is brutal but can be overlapped chronologically with the editor’s line editing. I.e. I can self edit a chunk and then send it out, meanwhile self editing the next chunk while the editor is working on the previous one, then also fit in the next part (processing) of returning chunks in a pipelined fashion.
. I can “process” returned line editing at about 6,000-8,000 words a day. For each chunk loop:
. Read over the track changes version of the line edit in word, approving and rejecting various edits and making cleanups
. Copy over each scene in into the real draft. Cleanup formatting.
. Do a quick read of the chunk or chapters to make sure nothing got screwed up
. Subtotal. Approximately 12 workdays, but spread across more chronological time as the edits can’t churn out this much per day. 2-3 full reads.
. Quick read:
. If you want to judge pacing you have to read it all in a day or two like a normal book, not on the computer
. Subtotal. 1-2 days. 1 full read.
. Total for line editing. approximately 24 days. 4-5 full reads.
As you can see. This adds up to a LOT of days and a lot of passes. Finishing up the third draft here, I’m already on eight months and at least 12 read throughs, and I can look forward to several more of each.
Location: 246 North Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, Ca 90210. 310-888-8782
Date: September 17, 2011
Cuisine: Steak House
Rating: My favorite LA Steak joint
America is full of steak houses at every level from Sizzler to Cut. But I haven’t found one that I like as much as Mastro’s. Granted I’m not a plain steak fan (I prefer my beef more like this, or tartar, or even Fogo). But Mastro’s gets the steak house think right.
The Cannon drive entrance, just a block north of Spago. Inside the place is a ZOO. Sure this was Saturday, 8:30pm on Emmy weekend in Beverly Hills. But this huge restaurant was packed to the gills, including both bars. These are a sure scene. It’s hard to tell the merely underdressed and over siliconed ladies from the pros.
Our table was right in front of the rat pack. It was much more crowded than in this photo.
We were celebrating the engagement of one of my oldest friends so I brought some big guns from my cellar. This wine was the first truly GREAT wine I ever bought (circa 1996). This is the second to last of two cases I once had. It has constantly and without fail scored 100 points from Robert Parker. You will find no better expression of Syrah.
“The 1991 Hermitage La Pavillon follows the pattern of the 1989 and 1990 – it is another perfect wine. The saturated black/purple color is followed by a compelling bouquet of spices, roasted meats, and black and red fruits. Enormously concentrated yet with brilliant focus and delineation to its awesomely-endowed personality, this extraordinary wine should age effortlessly for three plus decades. In a short period of time (Michel’s first vintage was 1989) Chapoutier‘s Hermitage Le Pavillon has become a wine of mythical proportions. Produced from extremely old vines, some dating from the mid nineteenth century, with yields averaging under 15 hectoliters per hectare, this is the richest, most concentrated and profound wine made in Hermitage. There are rarely more than 500 cases.”
Five of us ordered the seafood tower. The quality of the seafood here is impeccable and the only thing we had to complain about was that there wasn’t enough! Really for five we would have expected the two or three story version Still there were amazing shrimp, lobsters, claws, king crab (didn’t taste frozen), and oysters.
One of the things that really makes the Mastro’s seafood tower are the sauces. We have cocktail, a spicy mustard, and the Atomic Horseradish. They use this particular magic brand (you can buy it here). The stuff is — pardon my French — fucking awesomely potent. I’ve taken to buying it myself for home. No other horseradish is this punishing. It has a nice flavor too. I particularly like it mixed in with the cocktail sauce. It can have you literally pounding the table in pain — ahem pleasure.
Since both I and my newly engaged friend were born in 1970, I grabbed from the cellar this puppy. Parker gives it a mere 95 points. Sure it isn’t quite the 1991 Le Pavillion, but it gets extra credit for age. “The 1970 Palmer is one of the great wines of the vintage. It exhibits a dark, opaque garnet color, and an emerging, fabulously complex, exotic nose of licorice, over-ripe plums and blackcurrants, soy, cedar, and minerals. Rich and concentrated, with medium to full body, a sweet inner-core of fruit, firm but silky tannin, and a long, rich finish, this remains a youthful, potentially superb Palmer. While approachable, it will keep through the first 10-15 years of the next century.
Like most steak houses Mastro’s serves up the entrees bare (all the better to extract more cash from you). This is the New York Strip.
And the bone in filet, oscar style. Yes this was mine. Like King Robert, I’m trying to eat and drink my way to an early grave. “Oscar Style” means that it’s topped with asparagus, crab cakes and bearnaise sauce. Bearnaise sauce (French: Sauce béarnaise) is a sauce of clarified butter and egg yolks flavored with tarragon and shallots, with chervil and tarragon simmered in vinegar to make a reduction. Lean and mean baby!
This is “Gorgonzola mac & cheese!” Oh so light, oh so yummy.
In case you don’t get the idea, you have to see it up close. Oh so good.
We continue to suffer on the wine front as well with this third gem from my cellar. Parker 96 points. “The 2008 Flor de Pingus offers up an enticing nose of smoke, Asian spices, incense, espresso, black cherry, and blackberry. On the palate it displays outstanding volume, intensity, and balance. Rich, dense, and succulent, it has enough structure to evolve for 4-5 years and will offer prime drinking from 2015 to 2028.”
So now we get to the desserts. This is “Mastro’s signature warm butter cake ala mode.” Basically a pound cake with an extra four sticks of butter or something. It’s really sweet and really good. Goes well with the magic whipped cream (see below).
The photo is a little blown out, but Mastro’s has the most incredible whipped cream. You can just chow down on it my itself. Made fresh with really good cream and LOTS of sugar.
Overall Mastro’s, while a zoo, and very expensive, is a spectacular steak house experience. You can really feel your heart palpitating as you roll out of here!
Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Genre: Pop Science-Fiction
Length: 384 pages
Read: September 13-18, 2011
Summary: 10: buy book 20: read book 30: goto 10
I read this after two different friends recommended it in the same week. Wow! If you’re one of my (presumably) many readers who love video games. Go buy and read it. This is pretty much the ultimate classic video games novel! And I should know, having been born in 1970, the perfect time to experience the full rise of video games and modern pop culture (inaugurated May 25, 1977). I was so enamored of computers in general and these little beasties in particular that I went and made (and sold) thirteen of them professionally.
But back to Ready Player One. It’s a first person narrative set in a roughly 2040 dystopia where the world has basically gone to shit and most people live inside a gigantic virtual reality video game. It’s creator has died and left his vast fortune to the winner of an elaborate easter egg hunt (think Atari Adventure Easter Egg crossed with the Great Stork Derby). This whole world and contest centers around an obsessive love of all things pop-culture and 80s, particularly films, comics, and most importantly, video games.
In practice the novel is an old school adventure set mostly in virtual reality. But it contains an astounding number of well placed and deeply woven 80s pop-culture references. For me, they were continual fun. I got 99% of them, including some damn obscure ones. I’ve played every game described in the book (except for Dungeons of Daggorath — never had a TRS-80 — but it looks like Wizardry), seen every movie, heard nearly every song, etc. I don’t know how this book will read for someone a lot younger who isn’t up on all this old school geekery, but I sure enjoyed it.
The story is great fun too. The protagonist is likable and all that. It’s not a long book but races along. There are a few second act jitters (the “romantic” period between the first and second keys), but I blew through them fast enough. The prose is workmanlike but unglamorous and there are some cheesy or cringeworthy moments. They don’t distract from the fun. The last third in particular was awesomely rad with numerous 1337 epic moments. When the protagonist faces off against an unstoppable Mechagodzilla avatar and invokes a two-minute Ultraman powerup I felt tears coming to my eyes.
As Science-Fiction the book is a bit mixed. Mr. Cline manages to deftly describe what must to the novice be a bewildering array of virtual reality technologies and concepts. He’s fairly unusual in actually specifying some of the interface elements in his world and he does a credible job with all of this. Nothing stood out as particularly bogus, but was based on decent extrapolation. There are some elements, however, which still exist in his 30-years-from-now future that are already on the way out. Hard drives in “bulky laptops” for example. One only has to look at the iPad and the Macbook Air to see that writing on the wall. Again, I must point out that these minor quibbles do not detract from the book’s extreme fun factor.
Cline is uncannily knowledgable about his video games (and again, I should know), but there is a curious oddity in the biography of the central Bill Gates crossed with Richard Garriot character. He is described as releasing his first hit game (for the TRS-80) in 1987 in plastic baggies. Besides wondering if any TRS-80 game had much cultural impact (Read my own Apple II guy origin story here!), the date is totally off. If he was talking about 1982 that would have been fine. But by 1987 the TRS-80 had gone the way of Allosaurus and plastic baggies hadn’t been seen in years. My first game, Math Jam, was released in baggies in 1984 and that was way late for them. 1987 featured games like Zelda II, Contra, Maniac Mansion, Mega Man, and Leisure Suit Larry. All of these are well after the era venerated in the book. This small, but important, error is odd in a book so otherwise accurate. I can only assume that the author (and his character), living in the middle of the country, existed in some kind of five-year offset time-warp
On a deeper level, the novel toys with one of my favorite futurist topics: Will we all get sucked into the computer? I actually think the answer is yes, but that it’s unlikely to happen via 90s envisioned visors and immersion suits (like in Ready Player One). I think we probably will have retina-painting laser visors/glasses at some point. Then neural implants. But the real big deal is when our brains are digitized and uploaded into the Matrix. Muhaha. I’m actually serious, if flip. Eventually it will happen. If not this century then the next. I just hope I make it to the cutoff so I can evade bony old Mr. Grim and upgrade.
In conclusion, I have to agree with the back cover quotes of some other authors I like:
John Scalzi: “A nerdgasm… imagine that Dungeons & Dragons & an ’80s video arcade made hot, sweet love, and their child was raised in Azeroth.”
Patrick Rothfuss: “This book pleased every geeky bone in my geeky body. I felt like it was written just for me.”
So if you have even the least enthusiasm for video games, virtual reality, 80s pop culture, or just plain fun. Go read this book!
PS. If you are 5-10 (or more) years younger than me (born 1970) and have (or do) read this book. Tell me in the comments what you think of it. I’m really curious how those who didn’t live it see it.
I couldn’t resist.
Restaurant: Joe’s Restaurant
Location: 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
Date: September 16, 2011
Cuisine: California Farmer’s Market
Rating: Consistently good
I’ve been coming to Joe’s since 1995 or 1996 and they are approaching their 20th anniversary any day now. In a major metropolitan restaurant scene, that’s an eternity. Chef Joe Miller was an early proponent of the ingredient driven “farmer’s market style” of California cooking that is very popular right now. And despite the restaurant’s venerable age, the menu is continually rotating and the dishes remain fresh and relevant.
The daily tasting menu, which is a pretty awesome value.
“Heirloom tomato salad, smoked garlic tomato vinaigrette, young greens, seared bread.”
“Bocconcini di bufala mozzarella, smoked o’henry peaches, plums, sweet pea, purslane, almonds, olive oil.” This was a really yummy combo. The fruit was perfectly ripe, the mozzarella fantastic, and all in combination, particularly with the nuts and the purslane pesto-like stuff, it was really yummy.
“Hiramasa Crudo. Pickled plum, shishito, flowering coriander, pickled garlic vinaigrette.” Also wonderful. Hiramasa is just yellowtail, but this was some very good fish, and the vinaigrette had a powerful tang that contrasted nicely with the sweet and sour plums.
“New zealand red snapper filet with potato scales and wild rice. Salsify, red wine sauce.”
“Sonoma lamb sirloin, figs, chantarelle mushroms, wild rice soubise, english peas, huckleberry jus.” Also a wonderful dish. Like rack of lamb, but without the bone. Slow cooked in the sous-vide. The rich jus and vegetables complemented nicely.
It’s been a little while since I was at Joe’s and I somehow expected it to be more staid. The food is just as contemporary and relevant as any other ingredient driven Califonian. It’s not fat focused like the Gastropubs, or avant garde, but it is really good. And setting it far above many wanna-be followers of this tradition, each dish expresses a really balanced interplay of elements.
Location: 1810 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, Ca. 310-394-5550
Date: September 14, 2011
Cuisine: Italian with Cal influences
Rating: The food here is really very very good.
Capo is an occasional favorite of mine and I’ve reviewed it before HERE and HERE. They have a particular high end (but not formal) blend of California style (Farmer’s Market ingredients) and Italian tradition. But it’s not a strictly traditional Italian, more interpreted through a vaguely Tuscan / California vibe.
They have very good bread at Capo, particularly the crispy things.
Capo always puts out this little humus-like spread. I suspect it’s fava beans. It’s addictive though.
We settle down to examine the MENU, which is big, and always a difficult decision because there is so much great stuff on it. They have an odd menu format, in which each item is identified by only it’s principle ingredient, forcing you to guess or ask how it’s actually prepared. Plus they have “fill in the blanks” on the menu which are filled in by a separate sheet of daily specials. No big deal, but it’s kind of bizare. Doesn’t matter though, as the food is great.
I got this 2004 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva at the vineyard in Tuscany. It was just released as it’s aged for 5-6 years in old oak. “From vines in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, is gorgeous, layered and elegant in its violets, tar, licorice and cherries. The finish is long and impeccable, but this is a somewhat ethereal style, with aromas and flavors that are already a touch forward relative to most 2004 Riservas. Ideally the wine is best enjoyed within the next decade. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2020.”
It’s worth noting that Capo has a peculiar corkage policy (I rant on it here). In short, you can bring one and no more than one bottle, and that it must not be on their list.
The amuse, a cone of tomatoes. Essentially like a tomato bruschetta — in a crispy cone.
“Heirloom tomato vegetable salad.” Very fresh Farmer’s Market vegetables.
The same salad, but with Burrata. Which, like bacon, makes everything better.
“Burrata black truffle bruschetta.” Besides the shaved vegetables and the bread underneath this is a big blob of burrata, fresh truffles, and a whole poached egg! It was pretty good, but decidedly rich. In some ways similar to my special eggs, in some ways like the famous Melisse truffle egg.
“Steak tartar.” The fries and aioli are obvious. The meat was delicious! There was a lot of pepper in there, and olive oil. But mostly it just tasted of wonderful raw beef. One of the better tartars I’ve had. Maybe a little shaved parmesan would make it even better!
We killed the first bottle (from my cellar) and bought this one off the list. It makes a horizontal of sorts, being another 2004 Brunello Riserva. It was good, but not quite as good as the Potozzine. “The 2004 Brunello di Montalcino comes across as lean and powerful in its expression of red cherries, tobacco, spices and earthiness. The aromas aren’t perfectly clean and the wine’s structural components seem to have the upper hand over the wine’s density and richness of fruit, suggesting the tannins will ultimately dominate the wine’s overall balance. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2018.”
“White corn ravioli.” You can’t beat fresh pasta in a butter sauce.
This is “buccatini with lamb ragu,” and it’s one of the best pastas I’ve ever had. I’ve come back like three times for it. I love a good ragu, and the buccatini (spagetti with a tiny hole in the middle) is perfect. The dish is rich and meaty, divine. I always order it.
Capo has an impressive wood fire in the corner that they cook a lot of the entrees on. The prices are pretty punitive, but they’re good. Plus the fire lends a wonderful wintery smell to the whole dining room.
And this. This was to die for. “Meyer lemon semifreddo,” with a blueberry or blackberry sauce. Everything about this was spectacular, one of my all time favorite deserts. The cold-soft texture, the bright lemon flavor, and the tart sweetness of the berries. OMFG!
So to conclude, Capo is hands down delicious. The food is VERY VERY GOOD, and the service is top notch. The intimate little atmosphere is great also. It’s just very expensive — definitely not a good value — perfect if someone else is paying :-).
Location: 11500 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064. 310.479.3939
Date: September 14, 2011
Cuisine: Japanese / Sushi
Rating: Top sushi, but not cheap
In a town full of top grade sushi, Mori Sushi is consistently regarded as one of the best. It has it’s own particular style, somewhere between the Osaka school types like Sasabune and the classic Sushi Sushi.
The following meal represents the “Omakase” the largest and most expensive ($170) of the chef’s options. Several truncated or more sushi centric variants are available. This is basically a series of hot dishes followed by flights of sushi.
Sashimi. Left to right: marinated sardines, abalone liver, baby abalone with yuzu/pepper sauce, shitake mushroom, pike eel jelly, marinated Japanese onion, and Japanese okra. The sardines were really good and sweet. The liver reach, like an ugly blob of chicken liver. The abalone tender. And the jelly like a cube of flavorless jello.
One of those subtle Japanese soups. Pike eel (the white stuff), yuzu (the green sliver), and Japanese eggplant.
Santa Barbara sweet shrimp (with the roe), red peppercorns, and in front: scallop, halibut, and octopus sashimi. All this is dressed “new style” with a bit of olive oil and pepper. The shrimp was very sweet and tasty.
Uni (sea urchin) tempura with salt. I forgot to photo it, but this photo is of the same dish at a different restaurant. It was nearly identical, and very good.
Kohada (Shad gizzard) on the left, pickled in vinegar, and Spanish Mackerel on the right. Also very nice fish.
Overall, I found Mori Sushi to be top notch. But it’s not cheap (not in the least). The ingredients are top notch and you pay for it. It has a subtle restrained style. I slightly prefer Sushi Sushi with it’s larger pieces or Go Sushi with it’s more over the top flavors. It hands down beats out Sushi Zo in my opinion. Certainly Mori is in the top five or so places in town — and that’s saying a lot as LA is unquestionably the best place in America for sushi.
Morihiro Onodera (old owner) in the palm shirt. Masanori Nagano left (new owner).
Restaurant: The Hungry Cat
Location: 100 w. channel road. santa monica, ca 90402. (310) 459-3337
Date: September 11 & 25, 2011 & January 1, 2012
Rating: Can never get enough seafood
I’ve been trying for months to find a convenient time to go to the new opening in our neighborhood, the Westside branch of The Hungry Cat. This particular spot, on the corner of PCH and Channel Road is a bit cursed. Years ago it was the Beach House, which got destroyed in the middle of the night by a crazy driver (who literally crashed into the dining room). Then it was the Brass Cap, a lousy and ill-fated brasserie. After 3-4 years empty it’s now reopened as The Hungry Cat. This is a very raw bar and seafood oriented joint.
A special. Raw scallop, uni (sea urchin), various salad bits. The combo is great. The scallops tasty. The sea urchin was a little “fishy.” Maybe it’s the Sunday factor, I don’t know. Overall I enjoyed it, but slightly better Uni would have sold it.
This is the two tier “medium” seafood tower. It was certainly good, although not quite as tasty as the Mastro’s one, but more reasonable also.
Another special, lobster roll with fries. This was SOLID. As good as a lobster roll gets — and I’ve had plenty. On par with this one I had back east last year.
We didn’t try too many things. And I seriously have to come back with some crustacean lovers and get a huge raw bar tower, but I enjoyed this little feline foray. So I’ll return soon enough.
In honor of the recent 15th Anniversary of my baby Crash Bandicoot, I present collected together the original suite of American TV Ads which premiered in September of 1996. It’s the suit that helped make the Bandicoot what he was.
Thanks to Playstation Museum for collecting and uploading these. You’re hurting my elbow!
Restaurant: Upper West
Location: 3321 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, Ca. 310-586-1111.
Date: September 10, 2011
More and more gastropubs seem to be opening up. For those of you unfamiliar this is bar/restaurant with an emphasis on food, specifically tasty “comfort” food emphasizing fattening (i.e. tasty) ingredients. I wrote up two reviews of slightly similar Waterloo and City recently. Tavern is also a similar type of restaurant.
The pubby interior.
From my cellar. Parker gives this silky Rosso 90. “The 2009 Rosso di Montalcino is totally beautiful and elegant in its expressive bouquet, silky fruit and understated, harmonious personality. This is a wonderful, impeccable Rosso from Le Potazzine. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2017.” I’d rate it perhaps 91-92, with a little boost for understated style.
“BACON WRAPPED BACON. prosciutto wrapped-braised pork belly / heirloom tomato / melon / tomato syrup / cilantro vinaigrette.” I couldn’t resist the name of the dish, but I overdid myself here. It tasted good, but…
This is actually the second time we’ve been to Upper West. Both times I was impressed. Not blown away or anything, but all the dishes were well done and full of flavor.
Author: Susanna Clarke
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Length: 948 pages, 308,931 words
Read: August 20 – September 10, 2011
Summary: Really good, really unusual book
This is one of the best and most unusual books I’ve read in a while, although it’s not for everyone. As you can see it’s quite a tome, clocking in at 308,000 words! It’s set mostly in England during the Napoleonic Wars (first 15 years of the 1800s for historical dolts). It’s also written in a very clever approximation of early 19th century British prose. Think of it as Dickens or Vanity Fair with magic. Actually it’s a little earlier than either of those, but still.
This is not your typical modern novel. It doesn’t have a lot of action. It’s stylistic and archaic voice mostly “tells” (as in “show don’t tell”). But the voice is great, if you like that sort of thing (I did). It’s wry and very amusing, with a defined narrative tone. The voice gives the who book a kind of wry feel, as if we (the reader) are in on something.
It’s also a very character driven story. This is the tale of two magicians, the only two “practical” (i.e. real) magicians to surface in England for some centuries. It’s to a large extent about their quirks and their relationship. There isn’t a ton of action, although there is plenty of magic. There are copious and lengthy asides. Every chapter has several pages of footnotes on magical history! You can skip/skim these if you like.
The historical feel is really good. Most of the characters are “gentlemen” or their servants so their’s is a particular rarified world of the early 19th century British aristocracy. I know quite a bit about this era and it felt pretty characteristic. The Napoleonic Wars are well researched, but they aren’t front and center, serving more as a backdrop. This all has a very British slant to it, which is accurate from the British perspective. I.e. Napoleon is a bit of a bogey man. While the British felt this way, it was mostly propaganda. I’m actually a pretty big Bonaparte fan — he did a lot to shake up and form the modern era — even if he was a “tad” aggressive. The 19th century British Empire was itself staggeringly arrogant and well… imperialistic. But anyway…
I also liked the way the book handles issues of enchantment and perception. This is a very fairy oriented magic — as is appropriate to a historically based English Magic — and it’s treated deftly with a strong sense of the fey. Many of the characters are under strong enchantments, preventing them for hundreds of pages from realizing something which seems rather obvious to us readers. This is both fun and frustrating.
If the book has any problems (besides being a bit long) it’s that the end isn’t entirely satisfying. Things are not really explained to either the characters or the readers. They are wrapped up, but not clarified. So I had the feeling of a grand build up without appropriate payoff. But I did enjoy the journey. This is clearly one of those huge first novels that was like 10 years in the crafting — making it unlikely the author will every exactly repeat the phenomenon.
Restaurant: Polo Lounge
Location: 9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California 90210. 310-276-2251
Date: September 10, 2011
Rating: Good but pricey
My wife and I were married (10 years ago) at the Beverly Hills Hotel so it’s a tradition of ours to go back there once a year. We usually wander around and then eat at the Polo Lounge (even though the lounge itself had no part in the wedding, which was in the Crystal Ballroom).
I’ve totally been on a gazpacho kick recently (made it at home here). This is “golden tomato gazpacho, garlic crostini, basil pepper relish.” Despite the yellow color it tasted classic. Very nice smooth refreshing summer texture and flavor.
“Salmon burger, tomato salad, cucumber & yogurt, dill bun.”
“Lobster cobb salad, gem lettuce, tomato, bacon, avocado, quail’s egg, tarragon.” Pretty much a great cobb, the only thing to complain about being the price. The juicy bacon cubes sold it.
Overall, the Polo Lounge has great lunch/brunch food in a stylish setting. Really the only disadvantage is the price, which is pretty punitive. But this is pretty much the usual high end hotel tax — making it a special occasion kind of thing.
I passed 300,000 site visits today! Not too bad for less than a year, so approximately 1,000 a day on average. Probably more like 2,000 a day for the last 6 months. Video games and certain “geek oriented” (and proud of it!) topics are the most popular of course.
Spread the word!
This post is presents an algorithm of sorts for learning to program. It applies not only to the fundamentals, but to all aspects, including the acquisition of small component skills. Thirty years after learning, I still follow the same basic procedure. To tell the truth, modified, it works for leaning most things.
Step 1: Goal. Invent some manageable goal that excites you (in a later context as a profession “excites” is often replaced/supplemented by “need”). My first program was a text-based dungeon master (see here). If you want to be a video game programmer, there’s nothing better than a game. If it’s one of your first programs, make it damn simple. Copy some REALLY REALLY old and simple game like anything from before 1981 (Pong, Breakout, etc.). Truth be told, using text only for a couple weeks/months might not be a bad idea. Graphics just complicate matters. They’re awesome — and you’ll need them soon enough — but first the fundamentals, like variables, flow of control, scope, etc. Any individual task should take no more than a few days. If your goal is bigger than that, subdivide.
Step 2: Environment. All programming is done in the context of some environment, and you must learn about it. You need to start with a simple one. In my case it was mostly AppleSoft BASIC. For learning interpreted is good. Some decent starter environments today are Python, Ruby, Flash, Lua. DO NOT START WITH A LANGUAGE LIKE C. I will elaborate on this environment question in a separate full post, as it’s a large topic and highly religious for programmers.
Step 3: Research. This means reading. If you don’t like to read, either learn to or find yourself a new career. I’m serious. Reading separates the Neo Cortexs from the gibbering marsupials. I’m serious. Be a New Cortex. Your love of reading must be so extreme that you can stomach slogging through 900 page Library Reference Manuals (maybe not at first). Programming is full of details.
Step 4: Theory. Get out a pad of paper, a text file, Evernote, or whatever. Design what you are going to do. Later, you might or might not skip this step (and do it in your head), but it’s useful for the beginning programmer. You don’t need to write out the entire program, but you should design your data-structures and modules or functions. If it’s one of your first programs, you should hardly HAVE data-structures. You might instead write down the modes and loose flow chart between them.
Step 5: Code. Actually try coding your program. This is best done in an iterative way. My advice is generally to start with creating your core data-structures, and then the functions or methods that support them. Test each of these individually. Interpreted languages with a listener are the best because you don’t have to write test suites, but can just test the components as you go at the listener. Time spent debugging individual functions and groupings (say all the methods that belong to a data-structure) pays for itself 100-fold. I still do this. The less code you are testing, the easier it is to spot and find bugs. If you know that your functions are reliable (or semi-reliable) they provide robust building blocks to construct with.
Step 6: Debug. See above in “code” because they are heavily intertwined. Coding and debugging happens together in small loops. Again. The less NEW code you have to debug, the better. Debugging is hard for novices. Do not write an entire big program and debug it all at once. If you are using a language that syntax checks, check each function after you have written it. Fix the syntax errors (typos) and then test and debug the single function (or component of a program). Baby steps. Baby steps.
Step 7: Iterate and improve. Just keep adding things to your program to get it to where you want. Add a new feature. Improve an old one. Rip out some system and replace it. Add graphics. Upgrade them. Try to keep each of these changes as small as possible and test after each change. The longer it has been since it ran, the harder it will be to make it run.
I can not emphasize how important baby steps are. They are the key to avoiding fatal frustration. I have a law that helps define the size of subtasks: DO NOT EVER LEAVE THE COMPUTER IF YOUR PROGRAM DOES NOT RUN. You can take a piss or stretch. That’s it. I lived by this rule my entire programming career. You can’t always follow it, but try. Get your ass back in that chair. Mom wants you for dinner. Shrug. Your co-workers call you for a meeting. Snarl. I always think of a program like a car engine. You can sometimes merely tune it up, but a lot of times you have to take apart the engine to fix/add something new. That time when the engine is apart (the program does not RUN!) is very important, and should not be very long. If it is, you are not subdividing your tasks enough. I write all sorts of custom code to allow the engine to run again (even if in a half-assed way) while big changes are going on. These intermediate constructs are intended as throw-aways. But they save time. Having your program broken, writing more than a couple hours of new code that has not been tested, is a recipe for disaster. You could easily reach the point where you have no idea where the problem is. If you test in small bits as you go debugging is MUCH easier. Bugs are perhaps 80% likely in the most recently stuff. It’s the smoking gun you goto (haha) first.
A starter example of this whole process: My first game was a text based D&D type RPG game. I wanted to include a number of “cool” (to a 10 year-old) encounters. So I structured it as follows: There was the “character.” This was to be just a number of global variables (this is long before object oriented programming) like G (gold), HP (hitpoints) etc. I wrote a couple “methods” (functions – but they didn’t have names in BASIC, just line numbers) like “takes a hit.” This subtracts from HP, and if <= 0 branches to the “you are dead” part of the code (not really a function in those days). Then I wrote a number of “encounters.” These were the main flow of control in that program. It popped from encounter to encounter. They might be like: You have met an orc. draw orc on screen with text graphics (aka print statements). present options: “attack,” “run,” “use magic,” etc. wait for input and apply logic. If you are still alive send the player back to the main navigation loop (the place that doesn’t have a particular encounter).
That’s it. I expanded the program by doing things like: Adding more encounters. Adding resurrection as a pay option when you died. Adding an actual map to the main loop. Moving the “combat” logic from individual encounters into a function. Then adding to the character attributes like strength and dexterity which influenced combat. Beefing up character creation. Etc etc. These are all tasks that can individually be accomplished in a few hours. This is key. It keeps your program running most of the time. It provides good feedback on what you are doing.
The entire above “goal” -> “debug” loop can be repeated endlessly. Example: “add a save game.” You now have to save and restore the state of your player (various global variables). But to where? Disk presumably in those days. So you crack the BASIC manual and read about file I/O. First you go simple. There is one save game. It’s always named “adv.sav”. You write a function to open the file and write the vars into it. You examine the file to make sure it put them there the way you want to. You write another function to read the file. You add options to the game menu to call these functions. Then test.
Next baby step. Allow multiple save games. You add “filename” (or save slot or whatever) to the load/save functions. You hardwire it to something and test again. Then you add interface to the game’s main menu to specify which slot. You test that.
Iteration is king! Good luck.
Date: September 7, 2011
Cuisine: sukiyaki and shabu
Rating: Sleek and tasty
Yojie is smack int he middle of downtown and is one of those new slicker more modernized ethnic places. I.e. there is decor.
They offer both Sukiyaki and Shabu Shabu, but I’ll concentrate on the former. Both are hotpot dishes, cooked table-side by the diners.
Here is the Sukiyaki page of the menu. It’s mostly about the beef. And mostly about the size. I went “sumo” — because I’m well a big eater (you never guessed!).
Here is the beef itself. A little thicker than Shabu Shabu. The rice and the all important raw egg.
And the veggie and noodle plate. Pretty similar to Shabu Shabu.
The difference here is that the “broth” is a sweet Teriyaki-like sauce. Things are cooked a bit more heavily. And then instead of the post cooking dipping sauces you put the hot items straight into the raw egg, which then very slightly cooks as it coats the meat — and certainly makes it richer.
The broth gets all hot and sticky like a yummy thick meaty sweet teriyaki soup.
If you cook a bunch of stuff on it and ladle onto the rice you can make your own Teriyaki bowl type thing. The waiter actually wasn’t paying much attention to our temperature control and let our pots get too hot (we filled the room with smoke).
But he made up for it by giving us free dessert. In this case milk chocolate fondue, which conveniently also uses the hotpot.
These various yummies are then dipped in the chocolate. Not too shabby.
Overall an enjoyable Japanese treat. At the perfectly right thick bubbly consistency (which is hard to maintain) the thick sauce is pretty spectacular with the beef noodle and egg combo.
The Vengeful Polyglot prays to the hotpot gods.