Confoundingly Fun Fondue

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There is never a dull moment whenever I hang out with Melodie. For her birthday, something completely unexpected happened – her chocolate fondue caught on fire!

Melodie was after an interactive kind of dining experience – one where the everyone was active participants in cooking the dinner, so something like the Turf Club or the Strip Club sounded good or even Benihana. Fondue fit the concept nicely, so Fondue Fusion & Bistro, formerly known as Forever Fondue, seemed like a perfect choice.

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Saturday night was her birthday, and a lot of Melodie’s friends showed up, including some mutual friends of ours Gema and Rob, also known as Downtown Rob. We know each other through Twitterville, but several of Melodie’s other friends know her through other contexts, such as work and yoga classes. I got to talk to some of them as I was seated at the other table.

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The owner obviously loves Picasso, as there were reproductions of his work on every wall. However, Gema found the display of a Guernica print very disquieting. Perhaps the owner didn’t think through the effects the painting may have had on the diners. However, the lack of thoughtfulness didn’t seem to end there.

The menu itself was bewildering, especially the fondue combinations. It took the waiter several times to explain to all of us how the combos (or All Inclusives, as they were called) worked, and even then we were all confused.

I found the booths to be very cramped, but I’m a very big guy. Thankfully, there were a few chairs at my table.

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To a minor digression from my mini-rant: Drink Porn. These martinis were very lovely.

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Rob wanted to get a signature shot of him holding a martini, so here it is. In the short time I’ve known him, I can tell lots of stories. He’s that colorful a person. He’s also very fun to party with, which is a source of all those stories.

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In spite of my earlier complaints, the food was actually very good. My newfound friend and I got to enjoy Queso Fiesta, which consisted of beer, Wisconsin Cheddar, and some jalepeños. There was plenty of sourdough bread, apples, and vegetables for dipping. Then there were the salads, which were satisfying, but were too much. Then, the main course, which consisted of meats and vegetables to be cooked in broth were delicious and easy to cook.

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Some more cheese fondue. Yum!

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Here is the birthday girl enjoying some of her fondue.

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While waiting for the broths to boil, it was was fun to watch the vegetable broth. With the vegetables swirling about, it looked as if there were tiny fish swimming around.

The dessert fondues were also wonderful. My neighbor and I ordered the same items for our inclusives, so we got a chocolate and Irish creme sauce. Melodie’s was simply a chocolate fondue. How it caught on fire I don’t know, but our friend Rich poured something on it to get it to burn brighter. It took a few clicks to get it right, but I finally wound up with the intense photo at the top of the entry.

Overall, a very good time was had by all despite whatever confusion occured. I even got a pleasant surprise in the end. In the tab shared by me and my neighbor, we expected to pay $37 each for our All Inclusive. We were only charged for one, so it was cheaper for both of us. After that, a few of us went out for drinks and karaoke.

Spoke Too Soon

Late last week, I mentioned how nice and warm it is in San Diego. It was so wonderful to walk outside in December, especially at night, with a light jacket at the most. I thought my peacoat and scarf were retired, but I was wrong. During the weekend, we experienced some drizzle, but we had a full-fledged rainstorm yesterday.

Strangely enough, the rainstorms also reminded me of the personal blog meetups I had with the guys who formed my immediate, but somehow national blog community. Last year in December, Chris was in town for a conference, so I whisked him away to the gastromonically incorrect & gay owned diner Brians’ and then for some beers at Sole Luna. During my brief early summer holiday in DC, it rained most of the time I was there. I lost a pair of Kenneth Coles on that trip, but I got to meet up with Brian and Fredo in Dupont Circle. Fortunately, the weather cleared up and we had dinner at Lauriol’s and beer at the bar across the street.

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Here is the scarf I wore. I’ve had it for a few years; I suspect Clinton and Stacy would make me part with it if I were ever on What Not To Wear. It reminds me a bit of Tom Baker‘s The Fourth Doctor scarf, but not as long. Winter scarves in San Diego are usually ornamental, but on a day like today, it kept my neck warm.

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I was going to do drive-thru Starbuck on Mission Gorge, but I saw this line. Frak that. I parked and briefly braved the rain for some counter service. It was a much quicker wait than if I remained in the car.

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At Starbucks, my name is John. I’ve never felt like telling a total stranger how to spell my name or butcher it, so I’ve often given my middle name. Here to get me through the rainy drive was some venti Christmas coffee and a peppery bacon egg muffin.

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This was on the way to the East County college. It was very, very nasty on the 8, and also very, very slow. I had take the 125 north. Not as bad as the 8, but still rainy road condition. A majority of my students made it to class, though I would not have blamed them for not showing up. The remaining few got through their presentations.

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Can you believe this was taken around 12:45 pm? I left the East County College for the Urban College, but I had no idea what kind of ride I was in for.

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Going west on the 8 was scary. A few miles of the freeway were covered in a small layer of puddles, enough to make cars hydroplane. I kept going for a few miles until I returned to the Mission Gorge Starbucks and then took the off-freeway detour to the Urban College. It took twice as long as it normally would on the freeway, but I was nerve-wracked. I was also crazy enough to take some pictures.

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After my Urban College course was over, I took the long way to Mission Valley to get some gas. By Texas and Madison, I wound up taking this Anton Corbijn-like photo of a police car that had pulled over a limo. I wound up seeing a second police car closer to Costco. Apparently, people in San Diego drive stupidly in the rain.

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Before meeting some friends out for dinner, I stopped by the Twiggs on Adams and Idaho. I could have used a gondolier.

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Here’s a closer view of the corner from Twigg’s entrance. The fun was finding the water at its narrowest point to cross to and fro my favorite cafe.

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Here I am in my scarf and peacoat. I like it much better than shorts and a t-shirt, even if warmer weather’s more comfortable.

It’s still raining in the middle of the night. No doubt will it still be raining sunrise. My lesson leaned: Do not gloat about warm winter weather. Perhaps I should drive to Julian some time tomorrow to see if the entire town is snowed in.

Winter in July

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I hate to rub it in for people in colder parts of the country, but this December has been the warmest one we’ve had in a while in San Diego. For me, that means the peacoat and other wintery garments collect dust. For these guys, they can wander around in shorts. It’s not July hot, but it’s warm enough.

Out for Food Burlesque…

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It’s been a while since I’ve uploaded some food porn to ShindoTV. For a while, I was going out to lunch or dinner every other day and taking pictures. Food is fun and so are the pictures, but there’s only so much dining I can do in this economy. In the second night that I’ve hung out with Jen in a row, I joined her, our mutual friend Melodie, and some of her friends out at the Linkery. Jen was still in birthday mode, so what better place for her birthday than where the food is dramatically presented?

As pictured above, the kitchen is only separated from the dining area and bar by glass windows. While this has the advantage of keeping the kitchen staff from doing nasty things with the food, the true objective is more likely to give the diners a show. This is how the food is prepared and it is definitely sexy! Also, everyone can feel like they are at the chef’s table.

I could have easily included the table drinks in the pics, but your need for alcohol porn, especially beer, will have to be satisfied with the two photos below. The menu contains a bewildering list of wines, beers, and ciders, and they all can be paired with starters and courses. I played it safe and asked the waiter what went well with the link plate (where the diner can have 1-3 sausages). I ordered the Choucrotte, which essentially was three sausges with some sauerkraut. I’ll save the fun details for two photos later.

Alex, one of Jen’s friends, had a plate of flat bread with some links. Looked tasty like a pizza. Also, it was very light on both the wallet and the stomach.

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Now here is where it gets fun. There was a mix-up as someone else at our table also ordered a link plate (the picnic plate). At first, I thought the chef put the wrong sides on the plate, forgetting my sauerkraut. I figured I’d ask the waiter for some sauerkraut when he came back to our table . In the meantime, I got the money shot of this plate, and Melodie and I sampled the potato salad. We only had a few bites between us.

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Needless to say, the other person at our table had my plate. Once we realized that there was a mix-up, there were some casualties. As mentioned before, Melodie and I took a couple of bites out of the potato salad. On the choucrotte, one of Jen’s friends amputated one of the weenies.

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She didn’t eat the piece, but I wouldn’t have been offended. I did eat some of her potato salad after all. I was left with a John Wayne Bobbit piece of food porn, though.

Now to the alcohol presentation. Food and beverage storage is usually out of site for the customers, but the Linkery has the bottled beers in plain sight for any customer who wants to walk up to the pantry in the back and see the inventory.

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Modern beer kegs are ugly devices; however, the beers created by the Linkery brewery are also in plain sight. Too bad no staff member was around to give me the money shot.

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The last time I was at the Linkery was in its old location, a few blocks south of the new one. The food theatre component is part of the new location. Given that there was a lot of stage tease with the food and drink, lovely presentation, and the comedy of errors regarding some link plates, I’ve been out to a night of food burlesque.

SDTwineup

If you wonder what an SDTwineup is, it is essentially a smaller Tweetup (a meeting for Twitterers) with a healthy dose of wine and cheese. Organized and hosted by @DowntownRob, the soft opening of the Twineup was held in Rob’s West Downtown apartment, which has a very beautiful view of the Marina District and even the new Electra Tower. Among the Twitterers represented were your truly, @NREK, and @Nomatophobia.

The benefit of the Twineup is that there is more of opportunity to meet and get to know fellow Twitterers, which is present at the Tweetup, but there are fewer people with a less hectic party pace. And, there is nothing like some wine and cheese to help the conversations get going, very good ones indeed.

The Twineup eventually migrated to Altitude, which had an excellent view of Petco Park’s baseball diamond. We eventually met up with @MyMelodie, who was with her friend @jenniferaron. At one point, several of us couldn’t resist doing a runway walk, which was only a small part of the crazy fun post-wine.

A special thanks to Rob for his hospitality and for creating the event. As I’ve mentioned before, Rob is a big part of the San Diego online community, helping to organize the Blogger Meetups and recently co-sponsoring last week’s SDTweetup. His internet server business, Webwizards.Net, has a special 60 day trial plan available to Twitterers. Check it out and make your grand presence known beyond Twitterville.

The next SDTwineup is on October 24, 7pm.

I’m wearing my headphones so I don’t have to talk to you…

Yesterday, I was at Twiggs in University Heights to unwind after a day of teaching, around 6’ish pm,  when I saw some people with clipboards hanging around outside by the entrance. I didn’t know what they were up, nor did I find ever find out. I just didn’t care to find out. They may have even been working for some cause I’m for, but the strategic ambush posture didn’t go very well with me.

As I did my Internetting and sipped my coffee, I thought of my exit strategy. I imagined being rude, I contemplated simply running past them, and I thought of running towards the street corner and crossing the street. I just did not want to engage in conversation with them at all, as they would have kept talking so I would buy whatever they wanted to sell, whether it was making a contribution to their cause or consider their product. It reminded me of when I was recently in Washington DC walking around in Chinatown, only to be accosted by someone from Greenpeace. I didn’t mind the initial conversation, but I did not want to get roped into making a donation right there on the spot. I simply made an excuse that I had to meet some friends to get away from her, but the woman wasn’t too happy that I got out of her grip.

I settled on wearing my headphones and listening to my iPod. However, they weren’t deterred as two of them tried to rush me when I was a few feet out the door. I then put my hand up in the classic “talk to the hand” gesture and moved on. I called Twiggs afterwards to voice a complaint about the clipboard people.

A part of me felt rude for quickly dismissing them like that. However, I resent that they placed themselves in a position where they had a captive audience.

The outdoor solicitor problem got so bad at the Trader Joe‘s in Hillcrest/Uptown area that they put up a sign telling customers that they were not obligated to talk to these street hawkers. It’s pretty bad when we need institutional blessings to say “No.”

#SDTweetup @The Pearl Hotel

Last night, I went across town to the San Diego Tweetup at the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Like many of the past tweetups, this one was organized by Jennifer Van Grove, also known as @jbruin on Twitter. I’ve only been to the Tweetup earlier this month (held at the W in Downtown) and the one last night, but both were done with great style. Swank venues and sponsored free drinks, especially the ubiquitous martinis/cosmopolitans, helped make for some very memorable evenings.

Many local Twitterers, or Tweeps, were present, including @DowntownRob, whose business WebWizards Web Hosting was one of the sponsors of last nights event. He’s done a lot for the local online community, as he’s also an organizer of the San Diego Blogger’s Meetup.

One interesting feature was the Twitter Board, a screen where various tweets were projected. Many people present had their iPhones, including yours truly, and we were all standing around and posting. Oh, I shouldn’t forget about the Crackberries and the other kinds of mobile phones. Those were present as well.

I got to see a few people including my new friend Gio (@giographic), and Daniel Phillip (@danielphillip) and his partner Richard Allen (@richarchallen). I also got to meet up with Eileen (@eyemusing), whom I’ve been trading tweets about what I call the “fashionista trainwreck shows” and Alan (@awanisAlan). I had some good conversations with Tom (@big_perm) – thanks for the beer – and a brief chat with Richard (@richandcreamy), who went around taking pics of the party. Good times.

I was hoping to meet Shindy.TV at the tweetup but that never happened. I don’t doubt they were there, but I was talking to various people and just didn’t get around to meeting them. It would be fun for Shindo to meet Shindy. It’s gotta happen sometim in the future.

Thanks, Jennifer, Rob, Newsforce, and Engine Ready for making this Tweetup possible. It was awesome!

I now look forward to the Blogger’s Meetup later in October.